Author Topic: Modern Church Fathers  (Read 117440 times)

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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #405 on: November 06, 2017, 09:01:05 PM »
Church life in the era of Constantine was a period of interaction between Christianity and paganism. This interaction began earlier, already in the second century. Can this really be considered a catastrophe, a collapse, a failure of Christianity? Not in the least! Can we say that this is wonderful and great? Neither can we say this. There is no single answer. Absorbing elements of paganism into itself, Christianity in this way sanctified all that was wonderful in the legacy from India to the New World. We can say that in the course of all millennia not a single soul which strove towards God passed unnoticed by him. Not one spark of the spectacular in the whole history of art passed unnoticed within the beauty of the world.

No matter where pagan concepts originated, they always had elements adaptable to Christianity, not in a spirit of compromise or expediency, but because of their innate worthiness. If some of our hymns contain echos of the hymn of Osiris, that only makes me happy, knowing that we have received that eternal intuition of the resurrection which the ancient Egyptian experienced on the shores of his native river. Within the surrounding lifeless desert, he suddenly saw from this clay, this earth, this silt, the rising of first shoots. He saw the sun pulling them upwards and he sang, "Osiris has conquered death by death." And we repeat those marvelous words , the Church adopts them. In the Church there were poets enough to invent something original. But this early Christian sensitivity was an act of reverence, if you will, of love and affection towards the whole non-biblical world, which we inaccurately call "pagan."

-- Fr. Alexander Men (d. 1990), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #406 on: November 08, 2017, 12:05:48 AM »
[Christ's] sacrifice will bring no salvation if He is to experience only His personal suffering. He has to be tormented by the painful wounds of sin, which afflict mankind. The heart of the God-Man fills with inexpressible grief. All human sins, beginning with Adam's transgression and finishing with those to be committed at the sound of the last trumpet, all the great and small sins of all people appear before His mental eyes. As God, He always had them before Him, "all things are manifest before Him," but now His human nature, too, experiences all their burden and abomination. The holy, sinless soul fills with horror. His suffering surpasses that of the sinners themselves, whose hardened hearts are not aware to what extent sin defiles a man and alienates him from the Creator. His sufferings are more acute because He sees this hardening of hearts. He sees that 'people blinded their eyes so as not to see, and that they do not want to hear with their ears and to turn to Him to be healed' (Isa. 6:9).

-- St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (d. 1966), Christ's Prayer in the Garden (quoted in: Emmanuel Hatzidakis, Jesus: Fallen?, p. 93)

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #407 on: November 08, 2017, 04:11:33 PM »
As we leave the church after the Sunday Eucharist we enter again into time, and time, therefore, is the first "object" of our Christian faith and action. For it is indeed the icon of our fundamental reality, of the optimism as well as of the pessimism of our life, of life as life and of life as death. Through time on the one hand we experience life as a possibility, growth, fulfillment, as a movement toward a future. Through time, on the other hand, all future is dissolved in death and annihilation. Time is the only reality of life, yet it is strangely nonexistent reality: it constantly dissolves life in a past which no longer is, and in a future which always leads to death. By itself time is nothing but a line of telegraph poles strung out into the distance and at some point along the way is our death.

All generations, all philosophers have always been aware of this anxiety of time, of its paradox. All philosophy, all religion is ultimately an attempt to solve the "problem of time." And thousands of books, Christian and non-Christian, have been written about it. It is not our purpose, however, to add another "theology of time" to all those that exist already. It is rather to describe very briefly the experience of time which Christians have had from the very beginning and which is still given to them in the Church. Here again what the Church offers is not a "solution" of a philosophical problem, but a gift. And it becomes a solution only as it is accepted as freely and joyfully as it is given. Or, it may be, the joy of that gift makes both the problem and the solution unnecessary, irrelevant.

-- Fr. Alexander Schmemann (d. 1983), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #408 on: November 09, 2017, 07:39:14 PM »
Nocturnal prayer is traditional in Christian liturgical practice in general, and in particular, in the monastic practice of prayer. when recommending night vigils to monks, teachers of the ascetical life emphasised that night is the most suitable time for prayer, because then the whole world is immersed in sleep and there is nothing to distract the ascetic. 'Let every prayer that you offer in the night,' Isaac says, 'be more precious in your eyes than all your activities of the day.' Keeping night vigil is a 'work filled with delight' during which 'the soul experiences that immoral life, and by means of this experience she puts off the vesture of darkness and receives the gifts of the Spirit.'...

The person who guards himself during the day knows the power of night vigil. By itself, it can replace other virtues: '...If a man's body be enfeebled by illness and he cannot fast, vigil alone can gain for the intellefect steadfastness in prayer and bestow upon his heart noetic insight to understand the nature of spiritual power.' Moreover, if someone has not the strength to make prostrations and recite psalms by reason of spiritual darkening and laxity, then vigil alone, even while sitting, will be adequate for him: 'If these works [prostrations and psalmody] depart from you and you cannot perform them, at least remain wakeful in a sitting position, pray with your heart, and make every effort to pass the night without sleeping, sitting and pondering good thoughts. And if you do not harden your heart and darken it with sleep, then by the grace that first fervour, lightness and strength will return to you and you will leap with joy, giving thanks unto God.'

-- Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) (b. 1966), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #409 on: November 10, 2017, 07:37:58 PM »
Divine truth is simple and absolute, while man's truth is multi-faceted and relative. the more someone approaches divine truth, the more he approaches divine simplicity. This simplicity is neither poverty nor naivety; it is richness and wisdom, self-sufficiency and completeness. Simplicity again, is the absence of any deficiency, of any passion, of any lack; it is the absence of any need for supplementation.

-- Georgios Mantzaridis (b. 1935), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #410 on: November 11, 2017, 10:38:36 PM »
The most abominable enemy endeavours to destroy love by love itself: love for God and our neighbor--by love for the world, for its fleeting blessings and its corrupt, impious habits, by carnal love, by the love of riches, of honours, of pleasure, of various amusements. Therefore let us extinguish every love for this world in ourselves, and let us kindle in ourselves by self-denial, love for God and our neighbour. Every beauty in this world (personal beauty) is only a faint, insignificant shadow of the uncreated beauty, of the unspeakable goodness of God's face; every earthly enjoyment is nothing in comparison to future delights. I pray, Lord, that the faith of Christ may penetrate into the depths of my heart, that Christ's Gospel may penetrate all my thoughts, feelings, and deeds, into my bones and my brains, and not me only, but all men, as the universal truth, the highest wisdom, and the life eternal. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3)

-- St. John of Kronstadt (d. 1908), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #411 on: November 12, 2017, 07:22:20 PM »
As St. Paul writes, “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). God wants us to provide for our families as much as He wants us to support His work through the church. The point I wish to make is that 95% of all the religious giving done by Americans today is out of our surplus. After our money is all spent (or at least contracted for) for all that new jewelry and cosmetics and three times as much for clothing as any human being requires, and pretty plush vacations, after all this, then we scream that we cannot be expected to give more sacrificially. The widow teaches us one thing: if our giving is not sacrificial, it isn’t Christian.

-- Fr. Anthony Coniaris (b. 1926), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #412 on: November 13, 2017, 11:43:04 PM »
There are six kinds of saints, or six types of holiness, listed here in relative importance for the Church:

Apostles: their teaching is the foundation of the Church

Martyrs and confessors: they are an example to us of supreme sacrifice

Prophets: they foretold the coming of Christ

Hierarchs and teaching saints: they preserve unity among the faithful; this includes saints such as St. John of Damascus and St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

Monastics: they have died in peace praying for the world

Righteous: they have attained holiness in the world by keeping the commandments, participating in the liturgical life of the Church, etc.; this includes saints such as Abraham and Sarah, Joachim and Anna, St. Joseph, etc.

-- Fr. Ambrose (Alexey Young) (b. 1943), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #413 on: November 15, 2017, 03:22:35 AM »
As his compensation for directing the School he was able to live in a mansion and have a diet rich and varied with servants and maids. But no, Athanasios was an ascetic. He lived in a meager cell belonging to the Holy Trinity Monastery, as a very poor monk. The things belonging to him he distributed to the poor. He considered it an inexcusable sin to enter the new year with even a penny from the previous year. He could have dressed in expensive and princely clothes. yet when he passed away on June 24, 1813 he left a shredded rason, some books, an inkwell and a lamp. Then he was living in an even poorer monastery and more meager cell at the Hermitage of St. George in Reston on Chios.

-- St. Athanasios Parios (d. 1813), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #414 on: November 16, 2017, 01:45:29 AM »
In the cultural and ideal tendencies of our epoch dehumanization moves in two directions, toward naturalism and toward technicism. Man is subject either to cosmic forces or to technical civilization. It is not enough to say that he subjects himself: he is dissolved and disappears either in cosmic life or else in almighty technics; he takes upon himself the image, either of nature or of the machine. But in either case he loses his own image and is dissolved into him component elements. Man as a whole being, as a creature centred within himself, disappears; he ceases to be a being with a spiritual centre, retaining his inner continuity and his unity. To the fractional and partial elements of man there is offered not only the right to autonomy, but to supremacy in life. The self-assertion of these disunited elements in man, as, for instance, the non-sublimated elements of the subconscious, sexual desire, or the will to dominance and power, bear witness to the fact that the unified, whole image of man is disappearing and giving place to non-human and natural elements. Man has disappeared; there remains only certain of his functions.

-- Nicholas Berdyaev (d. 1948), The Fate of Man in the Modern World

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #415 on: November 16, 2017, 10:30:00 PM »
Consequently man's apostasy estranges the whole creation from God, devastates it, and, as it were, deprives it of God. The Fall of man shatters the cosmic harmony. Sin is disorder, discord, lawlessness. Strictly speaking it is only man that dies. Death indeed is a law of nature, a law of organic life. But man's death means just his fall or entanglement into this cyclical motion of nature, just what ought not to have happened at all. As St. Gregory says, "from the nature of dumb animals mortality is transferred to a nature created for immortality." Only for man is death contrary to nature and mortality is evil.

Only man is wounded and mutilated by death. In the generic life of dumb animals, death is rather a natural moment in the development of the species; it is the expression rather of the generating power of life than of infirmity. However, with the fall of man, mortality, even in nature, assumes an evil and tragic significance. Nature itself, as it were, is poisoned by the fatal venom of human decomposition. With dumb animals, death is but the discontinuation of individual existence. In the human world, death strikes at personality, and personality is much greater than mere individuality.

-- Fr. Georges Florovsky (d. 1979), Creation and Redemption: Volume Three in the Collected Works, p. 106

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #416 on: November 19, 2017, 02:46:47 AM »
The Alexandrine Fathers, and especially St Cyril, developed this mysticism of the adoption that deifies. Only the Word is the Son by nature, but in his body, in his Spirit, we become 'sons by participation'. This is an energy-based, spirit-filled Christology in which the humanity is shot through with the brightness of the divinity like iron red-hot in the fire.

"Participation in the Hοly Spirit gives human beings the grace to be shaped as a complete cοpy of the divine nature." - Cyril of Alexandria, Treasure, 13 (PG 75,228)

"Anyone who receives the image of the Son, that is the Spirit, possesses thereby in all fullness the Son, and the Father who is in him." - Cyril of Alexandria, Treasure, 33 (PG 75,572)

Tο be deified is therefore to become someone living with a life stronger than death, since the Word is life itself and the Spirit is the one who brings life. All human possibilities are brought into play. The structures of thought, feeling, friendship, creativity, while remaining οnly human structures, receive an infinite capacity for light and joy and love.

-- Olivier Clement (d. 2009), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #417 on: November 19, 2017, 08:22:32 PM »
Jesus teaches that there are those to whom the gift of virginity is given 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 19:12) The Apostle Paul later expounds on this teaching in 1 Cor. 7, indicating that marriage is good, but virginity is better--but that virginity is only for those who are gifted for it. Neither Jesus nor Paul implies anything negative about marriage, about the material body, or about sexual union... Both Jesus and Paul describe virginity "for the kingdom of heaven's sake" as being a special gift, a charisma. This gift of virginity is an exceptional vocation, while marriage is the ordinary vocation, the normal course of events in the world.

-- Kristofer Carlson (b. 20th century), Why Mary Matters

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #418 on: November 23, 2017, 07:57:01 AM »
My argument hinges on the way in which St Maximos's understanding manifests a general intuition that is implicit throughout the Eastern Christian tradition: that it is quite wrong to speak--as Western theology so often has--of divine grace as something added as a supernatural gift to "pure nature." Rather, as Vladimir Lossky has rightly noted, this Eastern tradition knows nothing of "pure nature" since it sees grace as being "implied in the act of creation itself." Because of this, as he goes on to note, the cosmos is seen as inherently "dynamic, tending always to its final end."

The belief that things have a natural "place" or telos toward which they naturally tend to move is known as teleology, and what Lossky hints at here is the way in which, for important strands of Byzantine theology, at least some aspects of the divine providence arise from within the creation through the intrinsically teleological factors that have been, so to speak, built into its components. This is particularly clear in the work of St Maximos himself since he sees the logos that constitutes the inner reality of each created thing, not only as a manifestation of the divine Logos of which the fourth gospel speaks, but also as what Metropolitan Kallistos has described as "God's intention for that thing, its inner essence, that which makes it distinctively itself and at the same time draws it towards the divine realm."

For St Maximos--and for the strange of the Greek patristic tradition that culminates in his work--the way in which each created thing has its origin and intended final end in God is intimately linked to the constitutive presence in it of a characteristic logos which is a manifestation, in some sense, of the divine Logos itself. This presence not only gives, to each created thing, the being it has in the temporal world, but also draws it--from within, not by some external, special action--toward its ultimate fulfillment in Christ.

-- Fr. Christopher Knight, Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #419 on: November 24, 2017, 07:18:40 AM »
Even though the body, inasmuch as it is a body, is naturally inclined to the pleasure derived from physical things, it is nevertheless led, governed, and controlled by the mind (soul) when reason is whole and complete. For according to St. John Damascene, the difference between a rational and an irrational soul is this: The irrational soul is led and ruled by the body and the senses, while the rational soul leads and rules the body and the senses. It has been thus determined by God for the rational to rule over the irrational, and the better to rule over the worse, and to subdue the latter's instinctive moves. This is why when the body has a desire, it does not directly rush into action to satisfy the desire, but is obstructed by the hegemonious mind.

-- St. Nicodumus of the Holy Mountain (d. 1809), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #420 on: November 26, 2017, 03:55:53 PM »
Get into the habit, train yourselves, to do whatever you are doing conscientiously, with elegance, with distinction, don't blur your work, don't do anything in bad taste, all anyhow. Remember that you can waste a whole lifetime on all anyhow, whereas in measured, rhythmic activity even things or tasks of secondary importance may help you discover much that may later serve you, perhaps, as a most profound source of new creative insights... Thought is God's gift and requires cultivation. To be clear and precise in thought is the guarantee of spiritual freedom and delight in thinking.

-- Fr. Pavel Florensky (d. 1937), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #421 on: November 28, 2017, 01:47:59 PM »
The population of the Empire at any one period of its existence is not known, and, given the nature of the sources; it is not likely ever to be known. For about the year 1000, Ε. Stein has estimated a population of approximately 20,000,000; another scholar has put it at 15,000,000. For reasons which have been explained elsewhere, the latter figure is probably too low, but we may use it as a conservative representation of reality. Applying to this figure the ratio of monks to the general population of Constantinople on the eve of its fall, we may say that in the year 1000 there were in the Byzantine Empire slightly more than 150,000 monks and over 7,000 monastic establishments. This estimate may be too low. Nicephorus II Phocas, in his famous novel prohibiting new monastic establishments, speaks of myriads of monasteries already in existence, and Basil II, in his, conveys the idea that in many of the villages located in every theme of the Empire there existed establishments which could be called monasteries. And, for purposes of comparison, the situation which obtained in Crete in 1632 may be cited. In that year there were 376 monasteries and 4,000 monks in Crete, whose total population then was 200,000. These figures yield an average of slightly less than eleven monks per monastery and α ratio of two monks per one hundred inhabitants...

The remark of Zosimus that the monk "appropriates the greater part of the earth," was, of course, a rhetorical exaggeration. Nevertheless, a competent modern authority on the internal history of the Byzantine Empire has estimated that at the end of the seventh century, about one-third of the usable land of the Empire was in the possession of the church and the monasteries.

-- Peter Charanis (d. 1985), The Monk as an Element of Byzantine Society

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #422 on: November 30, 2017, 05:37:11 PM »
The future Bishop Gorazd (Pavlik) was born on 26 May 1879 in the Moravian town of Hrubavrbka in the Czech Rupublic and was baptised Matthias. After schooling he finished the Roman Catholic theological faculty in Olomouc and was ordained priest. During his studies he had become interested in Orthodox Christianity and the mission of Sts Cyril and Methodius and visited Kiev. With the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and freedom from Austro-Hungarian Catholic tyranny, hundreds of thousands of people left the Catholic Church, among them Matthias Pavlik. Some of these people turned for help to the Serbian Orthodox Church (parts of which had also suffered from the same tyranny). As a result the Serbian Church consented to consecrate Fr Matthias bishop with the monastic name of Gorazd...

Together with those who had remained faithful to Orthodoxy, the Bishop [Gorazd] set to work. Churches were built and parishes organised in various parts of Bohemia. In all eleven churches and two chapels were built under him. Services were in Czech. Essential church books were published, for example the Book of Needs, catechisms and so on. Using his knowledge, experience and contacts, Bishop Gorazd also helped those who had returned to their ancestral Orthodox Faith in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Russia, which was then part of Czechoslovakia...

In 1942 the Czech Resistance assassinated the Nazi governor Heydrich in Prague. The resistance fighters were allowed to hide in the crypt of Sts Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Cathedral. When Bishop Gorazd learned of this a few days later, he was greatly troubled, realising that if the occupying Germans found out, then the whole Czech Orthodox Church would suffer repression. Before leaving for Berlin to take part with the Metropolitan in consecrating Fr. Philip (Gardner) 9 to the episcopate, he asked that the resistance fighters be moved elsewhere as soon as possible. However the Nazis found the Czech hiding-place and on 18 June 1942, seven of them were shot there. The two Cathedral priests and other Orthodox were arrested. Bishop Gorazd did not try to save himself, but wishing to avert repression of the Czech Church, took all responsibility on himself. He wrote three letters to the Germans with the words: 'I am giving myself up to the authorities and am prepared to face any punishment, including death'.

On the 27 June 1942 Bishop Gorazd was arrested and tortured. He was executed by firing squad on 4 September 1942. He was aged 63. The two Cathedral priests were also shot. The Orthodox Church in Bohemia and Moravia was forbidden to operate and its churches and chapels closed. Orthodox priests were exiled to forced labour camps in Germany. For his part Metropolitan Seraphim courageously refused to issue any statement condemning Bishop Gorazd.

-- St. Gorazd Pavlik (d. 1942), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #423 on: December 01, 2017, 09:01:11 PM »
When a pilgrim stops on his way in a house for pilgrims, he does not pay any attention to the state of the house. Why would he, when he is staying there only for a short time? He is content with only the basic necessities; he tries not to waste the money that he needs to continue his journey and to find housing in that great city to which he travels. He bears privation and lack of comfort with patience, knowing that they are only accidents to which every traveler is subject, and that undisturbed calm awaits him in the place to which he travels. He does not become attached to any object in his hostel, no matter how attractive such an object may be. He does not lose time doing unnecessary things—he needs all the time he can muster to complete the difficult journey. He is constantly deep in thought about the glorious capital city, the aim of his travels; the significant difficulties he will have to overcome and various things that could make his travels easier; about ambushes by robbers along the highways and the misery of those who were unable to complete the journey; and about the blissfulness of those who were able to complete it successfully. Having stayed in the hostel for as long as necessary, the pilgrim thanks the owner, and having left, forgets about the hostel or only remembers it in passing, because his heart was cold toward it. Let us develop the same indifference to the world.

-- St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (d. 1867), The Field: Cultivating Salvation
« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 09:01:36 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #424 on: December 07, 2017, 10:28:58 PM »
For our faith, brethren, is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified. Let us hold fast to the confession which we have received unadulterated from such men, turning away from every novelty as a suggestion of the devil. He that accepts a novelty reproaches with deficiency the preached Orthodox Faith. But that Faith has long ago been sealed in completeness, not to admit of diminution or increase, or any change whatever; and he who dares to do, or advise, or think of such a thing has already denied the faith of Christ, has already of his own accord been struck with an eternal anathema, for blaspheming the Holy Ghost as not having spoken fully in the Scriptures and through the Ecumenical Councils.

-- Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs (1848)

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #425 on: December 12, 2017, 09:31:56 PM »
For our faith, brethren, is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified. Let us hold fast to the confession which we have received unadulterated from such men, turning away from every novelty as a suggestion of the devil. He that accepts a novelty reproaches with deficiency the preached Orthodox Faith. But that Faith has long ago been sealed in completeness, not to admit of diminution or increase, or any change whatever; and he who dares to do, or advise, or think of such a thing has already denied the faith of Christ, has already of his own accord been struck with an eternal anathema, for blaspheming the Holy Ghost as not having spoken fully in the Scriptures and through the Ecumenical Councils.

-- Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs (1848)

I wonder when "long ago" was for them, when the faith was "sealed." At the end of the Apostolic age? After the final book of the NT was written? After the Ecumenical Councils? Another interesting thing about it is that throughout the document they speak loftily of the "seven ecumenical councils," and yet we also find this:

"Some of the Bishops of that City, styled Popes, for example Leo III and John VIII, did indeed, as has been said, denounce the innovation, and published the denunciation to the world, the former by those silver plates, the latter by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical Council"
« Last Edit: December 12, 2017, 09:32:45 PM by Asteriktos »

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #426 on: December 12, 2017, 09:53:40 PM »
The former is definitely interesting. The latter I think is not too contradictory. I think Orthodoxy will forever speak of "the Seven Ecumenical Councils," even if she accepts more as being on the same footing. I personally feel that the eighth and ninth are indisputably Ecumenical, but I still speak of "the Seven," for instance.
Somewhere on Athos, Antonis groans, and the skulls of the holy brethren with him!

"This is the one from the beginning, who seemed to be new, yet was found to be ancient and always young, being born in the hearts of the saints."
Letter to Diognetus 11.4