Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. Augustine: "Heretics"

"THE HERETICS themselves also, since they are thought to have the Christian name and sacraments, Scriptures, and profession, cause great grief in the hearts of the pious, both because many who wish to be Christians are compelled by their dissensions to hesitate, and many evil-speakers also find in them matter for blaspheming the Christian name, because they too are at any rate "called" Christians. By these and similar depraved manners and errors of men, those who will live piously in Christ suffer persecution, even when no one molests or vexes their body; for they suffer this persecution, not in their bodies, but in their hearts."

~St. Augustine: The City of God, 18, 51.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

St. Augustine: Creation

“WE are perfectly right in believing that God made the world from nothing, because even if the world was made from some kind of matter, that matter has itself been made from nothing.”

~St. Augustine: On the Faith and the Creed, 2.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On Truth

Statements on truth well-worth pondering:

• “Love truth and let nothing but truth issue from your mouth, in order that the spirit which God has settled in this flesh of yours may be found to be truthful in the sight of all men.” (Shephard of Hermas, Mandate, 3, 1.)

• “All truth wherever it is found belongs to us as Christians.” (St. Justin Martyr: Second Apology, 13.)

• “That is true which is.” (St. Augustine: Sililoquies, 2, 5.)

• “Hence thou must in no manner deny that there is an immutable truth, embracing all such things as are immutably true; a truth which thou canst not call thine, or mine, or any man’s, but which is present to all and gives itself to all alike who discern the things that are immutably true, as a light which in some miraculous way is both secret and yet open to all.” (St. Augustine: De Libero Arbitrio, 2, 12.)

• “Everyone who knows that he is in doubt about something, knows a truth, and in regard to this that he is certain about a truth. Consequently everyone who doubts if there be a truth, has in himself a true thing on which he does not doubt; nor is there any true thing which is not true by truth. Consequently whoever for whatever reason can doubt, ought not to doubt that there is truth.” (St. Augustine: De Vera Religione, 39, 73.)

• “That it was You who taught me, I believe: for it is the truth, and there is no other teacher of truth save You, no matter where or when it may happen to shine.” (St. Augustine: Confessions, 5, 6.)

• “Nothing conquers except truth: the victory of truth is charity.” (St. Augustine: Sermon 358, 1.)

• “Since there are therefore three states or steps of truth, we ascend to the first by the toil of humility, to the second by the emotion of compassion, to the third by the ecstasy of contemplation.” (St. Bernard: The Steps of Humility, 6.)

The Triumph of St. Augustine, by Claudio Coello.
Oil on canvas, 1664; Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection

• “Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord is continually revealing to us the resurrection that is to be. Of this He has constituted the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits, by raising him from the dead.” (Pope St. Clement I: Letter to the Corinthians, 24, 1.)

• “The root of all good works is the hope of the resurrection; for the expectation of the reward nerves the soul to good works.” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Discourses, 18, 1.)

• “Faith maintains this principle and we must believe it: Neither the soul nor the human body suffers complete annihilation; the wicked arise again for punishment beyond imagination, while the good rise again for everlasting life.” (St. Augustine: De Doctrina Christiana, I, 21, 19.)

Artwork: Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb (Cell 8), by Fra Angelico. Fresco, 1440-42; Convento di San Marco, Florence.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

St. Augustine: The Cross of Christ

"ON this cross, indeed, the Christian ought to hang continually throughout the whole of this life, which is spent in the midst of trials and temptations. The time, you see, doesn’t come in this life for pulling out the nails, of which it says in the psalm, Let my flesh be transfixed with nails by the fear of you (Ps 119:120). Flesh means the lusts of the flesh; the nails are the commandments of justice; with these the fear of the Lord transfixes those, and crucifies us as a sacrifice acceptable to him. That’s why, again, the apostle says, "And so I beseech you, brothers, by the compassion of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God" (Rom 12:1).

"So this cross, on which the servant of God is not only not put to confusion, but in fact glories in it, saying, "But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6:14)."

~St. Augustine: Sermons, 205, 1.

Triptych, by Jacobello Alberegno.
Tempera on panel, 1360-90; Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice.

St. John Damascene: The Body and Blood of Christ

"WHEREFORE to those who partake worthily with faith, it is for the remission of sins and for life everlasting and for the safeguarding of soul and body; but to those who partake unworthily without faith, it is for chastisement and punishment, just as also the death of the Lord became to those who believe life and incorruption for the enjoyment of eternal blessedness, while to those who do not believe and to the murderers of the Lord it is for everlasting chastisement and punishment.

"The bread and the wine are not merely figures of the body and blood of Christ (God forbid!) but the deified body of the Lord itself: for the Lord has said, “This is My body,” not, this is a figure of My body: and “My blood,” not, a figure of My blood. And on a previous occasion He had said to the Jews, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. For My flesh is meat indeed and My blood is drink indeed. And again, He that eats Me, shall live (Jn 6:51-55)." "

~St. John Damascene: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk IV, Chap. 13.

The Institution of the Eucharist, by Joos van Wassenhove.
Oil on wood, 1473-75; Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sign of the Cross

“IN all our actions when we come in or go out, when we dress, when we wash, at our meals, before retiring to sleep, we make on our foreheads the sign of the cross. These practices are not committed by a formal law of Scripture, but tradition teaches them, custom confirms them, faith observes them.”

~Tertullian: De Corona, 3.

“AND when tempted always reverently seal thy forehead with the sign of the cross. For this sign of the Passion is displayed and made manifest against the devil if thou makest it in faith, not in order that thou mayest be seen of men, but by thy knowledge putting it forward as a shield.”

~St. Hippolytus: The Apostolic Tradition, 42.

“LET us, therefore, not be ashamed of the cross of Christ; but though another hide it, do thou openly seal it upon thy forehead, that the devils may hold the royal sign and flee trembling far away. Make then this sign at eating and drinking, at sitting, at lying down, at rising up, at speaking, at walking: in a word, at every act.”

~St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Discourses, 4, 14.

Crucifix, by Coppo di Marcovaldo.
Tempera on wood, c. 1261; Pinacoteca Civica, San Gimignano.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

St. Ephrem: "By the Cross death has been vanquished"

“BY the Cross death has been vanquished, Adam has returned to paradise, and has been made an heir of the kingdom, confounding the devil. The splendor and glory which Adam lost when he transgressed the commandment, the Lord gave back to him in baptism when He came; and He will come again at the end and raise him and his children up, and clothe them with glory in the bridal chamber of His light.”

~St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306 – 373): Funeral Canons, 53.

St. Augustine: "Christ's kingship"

"THESE, then, were the words of praise addressed to Jesus by the multitude, “Hosanna: blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.” What a cross of mental suffering must the Jewish rulers have endured when they heard so great a multitude proclaiming Christ as their King! But what honor was it to the Lord to be King of Israel? What great thing was it to the King of eternity to become the King of men? For Christ's kingship over Israel was not for the purpose of exacting tribute, of putting swords into His soldiers' hands, of subduing His enemies by open warfare; but He was King of Israel in exercising kingly authority over their inward natures, in consulting for their eternal interests, in bringing into His heavenly kingdom those whose faith, and hope, and love were centered in Himself. Accordingly, for the Son of God, the Father's equal, the Word by whom all things were made, in His good pleasure to be King of Israel, was an act of condescension and not of promotion; a token of compassion, and not any increase of power. For He who was called on earth the King of the Jews, is in the heavens the Lord of angels."

~St. Augustine: Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tract. 51, 4.

Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, by Pietro Lorenzetti.
Fresco, 1320; Assisi, Lower Basilica, San Francesco, southern transept.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Last Judgment

“BELIEVE…that He is to return, glorious and illustrious, to exercise judgment on the living and the dead, not indeed in His former fleshly form, nor yet without a body, but with a body more august and more divine such as He alone knew.” ~St. Gregory Nazianzen: ‘Oratio,’ 45.

“OH, what and how great will that day be as its coming, beloved brethren, when the Lord shall begin to count up His people, and to recognize the merits of each one by the inspection of His divine knowledge, to send the guilty to Gehenna, and to set on fire persecutors with the perpetual burning of a penal fire, but to pay to us a reward for our faith and devotion.” ~St. Cyprian: ‘Letters,’ 55, 10.

The Last Judgment, by Peter Cornelius.
Fresco, 1836-39; Ludwigskirche, Munich.

Share This