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Author Topic: Early Church Fathers  (Read 40687 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cyrillic
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« Reply #225 on: October 12, 2012, 01:44:59 PM »

I know that we shall appear to most people to be higglers, in being so particular about the contracts. But I beg you to pardon me; for that Mammon about whom I have so often said such hard things, has at last departed from me as far as he can possibly go, being disgusted, I suppose, at the nonsense that is constantly talked against him, and has fortified himself against me by an impassable gulf— to wit, poverty— so that neither can he come to me, nor can I pass to him.

-- St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. 395), Letter 16 (source)
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"But slay her he did not, for between dream and deed laws and practicalities remain"
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« Reply #226 on: October 12, 2012, 01:53:21 PM »

The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance.

-- St. Basil of Caesarea (d. 379), letter 188:2 (source)
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« Reply #227 on: October 12, 2012, 02:05:12 PM »

And then, too, you do not in that case deal with us in the ordinary way of judicial proceedings against offenders; for, in the case of others denying, you apply the torture to make them confess— Christians alone you torture, to make them deny.

-- Tertullian, Apologeticus 2 (source)
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« Reply #228 on: October 12, 2012, 02:08:44 PM »

If the Tiber rises against the walls of the city, or the Nile does not overflow its banks, if there is drought, or earthquake, or famine, or pestilence, the cry at once is, "Take the Christians to the lion!"-- What! so many to one beast?

-- Tertullian, Apologeticus 40 (source)
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« Reply #229 on: October 12, 2012, 02:17:22 PM »

But what a spectacle is that fast-approaching advent of our Lord, now owned by all, now highly exalted, now a triumphant One! What that exultation of the angelic hosts! What the glory of the rising saints! What the kingdom of the just thereafter! What the city New Jerusalem! Yes, and there are other sights: that last day of judgment.

[...]

What my derision? Which sight gives me joy? Which rouses me to exultation?— as I see so many illustrious monarchs, whose reception into the heavens was publicly announced, groaning now in the lowest darkness with great Jove himself, and those, too, who bore witness of their exultation; governors of provinces, too, who persecuted the Christian name, in fires more fierce than those with which in the days of their pride they raged against the followers of Christ. What world's wise men besides, the very philosophers, in fact, who taught their followers that God had no concern in ought that is sublunary, and were wont to assure them that either they had no souls, or that they would never return to the bodies which at death they had left, now covered with shame before the poor deluded ones, as one fire consumes them! Poets also, trembling not before the judgment-seat of Rhadamanthus or Minos, but of the unexpected Christ! I shall have a better opportunity then of hearing the tragedians, louder-voiced in their own calamity; of viewing the play-actors, much more "dissolute" in the dissolving flame; of looking upon the charioteer, all glowing in his chariot of fire; of beholding the wrestlers, not in their gymnasia, but tossing in the fiery billows; unless even then I shall not care to attend to such ministers of sin, in my eager wish rather to fix a gaze insatiable on those whose fury vented itself against the Lord.

-- Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30 (source)
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« Reply #230 on: November 29, 2012, 04:03:35 PM »

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners.

As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.  They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life.  They are poor, yet make many rich;  they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless;  they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

-- Mathethes, Epistle to Diognetus, chapter 5 (source)
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« Reply #231 on: November 29, 2012, 04:16:34 PM »

Good to see this thread back !  Grin
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« Reply #232 on: December 02, 2012, 04:12:09 PM »

Neither pride of ancestry, nor bodily strength, nor beauty, nor greatness, nor the esteem of all men, nor kingly authority, nor, indeed, whatever of human affairs may be called great, do we consider worthy of desire, or the possessors of them as objects of envy; but we place our hopes upon the things which are beyond, and in preparation for the life eternal do all things that we do.

--- St. Basil of Caesarea (d. 379), Adress to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature (source)
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« Reply #233 on: December 28, 2012, 12:18:33 AM »

The one who imitates God by giving alms knows no difference between evil and good or just and unjust in regard ot the needs of the body, but distributes to all without distinction according to their need even if he prefers the virtuous person over the wicked because of his good intention.

-- St. Maximos the Confessor (d. 662), The Four Hundred Chapters on Love, 1.24
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« Reply #234 on: December 28, 2012, 09:39:51 PM »

Peter was clean, but he must wash his feet, for he had sin by succession from the first man, when the serpent overthrew him and persuaded him to sin. His feet were therefore washed, that hereditary sins might be done away, for our own sins are remitted through baptism. Observe at the same time that the mystery consists in the very office of humility, for Christ says: “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; how much more ought you to wash one another's feet.” For, since the Author of Salvation Himself redeemed us through His obedience, how much more ought we His servants to offer the service of our humility and obedience.

-- St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 397), On the Mysteries, 6
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« Reply #235 on: December 29, 2012, 02:37:34 PM »

How then does Paul say, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves”? Having said above, “whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. 13:7), he then said, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” (Heb. 13:17)

What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey?

Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious. And this instance I do not allege from my own mind, but from the Divine Scripture. For hear Christ saying, “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat.” (Matt. 23:2) Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, He then says, “They sit on Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they tell you observe, do; but do not ye after their works.” (Matt. 23:2-3) They have (He means) the dignity of office, but are of unclean life. Do thou however attend, not to their life, but to their words. For as regards their characters, no one would be harmed [thereby]. How is this? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because though he were ten thousand times as wicked, he will never teach what is wicked. But as respects Faith, [the evil] is not manifest to all, and the wicked [ruler] will not shrink from teaching it.

-- St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), Homily 34 on Hebrews
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« Reply #236 on: December 30, 2012, 06:15:11 PM »

Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity; and to train up their children in the knowledge and fear of God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altar of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart.

-- St. Polycarp of Smyrna (d. 155), Epistle to the Philippians, 4
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« Reply #237 on: January 01, 2013, 05:59:50 AM »

Faith is compounded of many things, and by many kinds is it brought to perfection. For it is like a building that is built up of many pieces of workmanship and so its edifice rises to the top. And know, my beloved, that in the foundations of the building stones are laid, and so resting upon stones the whole edifice rises until it is perfected. Thus also the true Stone, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the foundation of all our faith. And on Him, on [this] Stone faith is based. And resting on faith all the structure rises until it is completed.

-- Aphraates (d. 367), Demonstration 1: On Faith, 2
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« Reply #238 on: January 02, 2013, 04:41:42 PM »

And, therefore, because none of us, dearly beloved, is so perfect and holy as not to be able to be more perfect and more holy, let us all together, without difference of rank, without distinction of desert, with pious eagerness pursue our race from what we have attained to what we yet aspire to, and make some needful additions to our regular devotions. For he that is not more attentive than usual to religion in these days, is shown at other times to be not attentive enough.

-- Pope St. Leo the Great (d. 461), Sermon 40.1
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« Reply #239 on: January 03, 2013, 02:18:03 PM »

Each text then which refers to the creature is written with reference to Jesus in a bodily sense. For the Lord's Humanity was created as 'a beginning of ways,' and He manifested it to us for our salvation. For by it we have our access to the Father. For He is the way (John 14:6) which leads us back to the Father. And a way is a corporeal visible thing, such as is the Lord's humanity.

-- St. Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373), Statement of Faith
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« Reply #240 on: January 05, 2013, 04:34:35 AM »

Vigils, prayer and patient acceptance of what comes constitute a breaking that does not harm but benefits the heart, provided we do not destroy the balance between them through excess. He who perseveres in them will be helped in other ways as well; but he who is slack and negligent will suffer intolerably on leaving this life.

-- St. Mark the Monk (d. c. 5th century), On the Spiritual Law: Two Hundred Texts, 19
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« Reply #241 on: January 06, 2013, 03:48:06 PM »

I approve the beginning of your letter; but what is there of yours that I do not approve? And you are convicted of having written just like me; for I, too, was forced into the rank of the Priesthood, for indeed I never was eager for it. We are to one another, if ever any men were, trustworthy witnesses of our love for a humble and lowly philosophy. But perhaps it would have been better that this had not happened, or I know not what to say, as long as I am in ignorance of the purpose of the Holy Ghost. But since it has come about, we must bear it, at least so it seems clear to me; and especially when we take the times into consideration, which are bringing in upon us so many heretical tongues, and must not put to shame either the hopes of those who have trusted us thus, or our own lives.

-- St. Gregory the Theologian (d. c. 391), Epistle 8: To St. Basil the Great
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« Reply #242 on: January 09, 2013, 03:37:55 AM »

As to virtue leading us to a happy life, I hold virtue to be nothing else than perfect love of God. For the fourfold division of virtue I regard as taken from four forms of love. For these four virtues (would that all felt their influence in their minds as they have their names in their mouths!), I should have no hesitation in defining them: that temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it. The object of this love is not anything, but only God, the chief good, the highest wisdom, the perfect harmony. So we may express the definition thus: that temperance is love keeping itself entire and incorrupt for God; fortitude is love bearing everything readily for the sake of God; justice is love serving God only, and therefore ruling well all else, as subject to man; prudence is love making a right distinction between what helps it towards God and what might hinder it.

-- St. Augustine (d. 430), Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, 15
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« Reply #243 on: January 10, 2013, 08:22:56 AM »

Today, a person wears the monastic habit without washing away the stains on his soul, or erasing the marks which past sins have stamped upon his mind; indeed, he may still take lustful pleasure in the fantasies these sins suggest. He has not yet trained his character so as to fit his vocation, nor does he grasp the purpose of the divine philosophy. Already he has developed a Pharisaic superciliousness, being filled with conceit by his robes. He goes about carrying various tools the use of which he does not understand. By virtue of his outward dress he lays claim to a knowledge -which in reality he has not tasted even with the tip of his tongue. He is a reef, not a harbor; a whited sepulcher, not a temple; a wolf, not a sheep; the ruin of those decoyed by his appearance.

-- St. Neilos The Ascetic (d. c. 430), Ascetic Discourse
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« Reply #244 on: January 11, 2013, 03:44:24 PM »

We have, it must be admitted, a use for anger excellently implanted in us for which alone it is useful and profitable for us to admit it, viz., when we are indignant and rage against the lustful emotions of our heart, and are vexed that the things which we are ashamed to do or say before men have risen up in the lurking places of our heart, as we tremble at the presence of the angels, and of God Himself, who pervades all things everywhere, and fear with the utmost dread the eye of Him from whom the secrets of our hearts cannot possibly be hid.

-- St. John Cassian (d. 435), Institutes, 8.7
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« Reply #245 on: January 13, 2013, 02:06:52 PM »

If any presbyter despises his own bishop, and assembles separately, and fixes another altar, when he has nothing to condemn in his bishop either as to piety or righteousness, let him be deprived as an ambitious person; for he is a tyrant, and the rest of the clergy, whoever join themselves to him. And let the laity be suspended. But let these things be done after one, and a second, or even a third admonition from the bishop.

-- Apostolic Canons, Canon 32
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« Reply #246 on: January 14, 2013, 12:43:55 PM »

Wretch that I am! I have not remembered that God observes the mind, and hears the voice of the soul. I turned consciously to sin, saying to myself, God is merciful, and will bear with me; and when I was not instantly smitten, I ceased not, but rather despised His forbearance, and exhausted the long-suffering of God.

-- St. Peter of Alexandria (d. 311), Source
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« Reply #247 on: January 15, 2013, 10:44:27 PM »

Many of us are talkers, few are doers. But no one should distort the word of God through his own negligence. He must confess his weakness and not hide God’s truth. Otherwise he will be guilty not only of breaking the commandments but also of falsifying the word of God.

-- St. Maximos the Confessor (d. 662), The Four Hundred Chapters on Love, 4.85
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« Reply #248 on: January 17, 2013, 10:26:51 PM »

Question (no. 730). Since the Lord said: "Blessed are they that mourn" (Mt. 5:4) and the Apostle says: "Be joyful and cheerful" (Rom. 12:8), what should one do in order to appear to be both mournful and cheerful? In addition, how can both of these, mournfulness and cheerfulness, exist in one and the same person?

Response. Mourning is sorrow according to God, which gives rise to repentance. The characteristics of repentance are fasting, psalmody, prayer, and meditation on the words of God. Cheerfulness is gladness according to God, which is revealed through modesty in word and conduct when people encounter one another. Therefore, let your heart have mourning, while your conduct and words should have modest gladness; then, both virtues may coexist.

-- St. Barsanuphius (d. c. 540) and John, Source
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« Reply #249 on: January 21, 2013, 07:35:11 PM »

And how gloriously strong in this most excellent manner of doctrine the blessed martyr Laurentius is, by whose sufferings today is marked, even his persecutors were able to feel, when they found that his wondrous courage, born principally of love for Christ, not only did not yield itself, but also strengthened others by the example of his endurance. For when the fury of the gentile potentates was raging against Christ's most chosen members, and attacked those especially who were of priestly rank, the wicked persecutor's wrath was vented on Laurentius the deacon, who was pre-eminent not only in the performance of the sacred rites, but also in the management of the church's property , promising himself double spoil from one man's capture: for if he forced him to surrender the sacred treasures, he would also drive him out of the pale of true religion. And so this man, so greedy of money and such a foe to the truth, arms himself with double weapon: with avarice to plunder the gold; with impiety to carry off Christ. He demands of the guileless guardian of the sanctuary that the church wealth on which his greedy mind was set should be brought to him. But the holy deacon showed him where he had them stored, by pointing to the many troops of poor saints, in the feeding and clothing of whom he had a store of riches which he could not lose, and which were the more entirely safe that the money had been spent on so holy a cause.

-- St. Leo the Great (d. 461), Sermon 85.2
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« Reply #250 on: January 22, 2013, 09:32:47 PM »

The feeling of reverence which I have for him compels me to say something about St. Salvius. He often used to tell how, during his years as a layman, while he was occupying himself with worldly affairs he never permitted himself to be ensnared by the carnal desires which so frequently fill the minds of young people. When the Holy Spirit finally found a place in his heart, he gave up the struggle of worldly existence and entered a monastery. As one now consecrated to Almighty God, he understood that it was better to serve the Lord in poverty and to humble oneself before Him, rather than to strive after the wealth of this transient world. He spent many years in his monastery and observed the rule instituted by the Fathers.

-- St. Gregory of Tours (d. 594), Life of the Fathers (Source)
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« Reply #251 on: January 23, 2013, 10:54:51 AM »

And without music there can be no perfect knowledge, for there is nothing without it. For even the universe itself is said to have been put together with a certain harmony of sounds, and the very heavens revolve under the guidance of harmony.

-- St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636), Source
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« Reply #252 on: January 24, 2013, 07:02:55 PM »

If the relics of the martyrs are not worthy of honour, how comes it that we read Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, (Ps. 116:15)? If dead men's bones defile those that touch them, how came it that the dead Elisha raised another man also dead, and that life came to this latter from the body of the prophet which according to Vigilantius must have been unclean? In that case every encampment of the host of Israel and the people of God was unclean; for they carried the bodies of Joseph and of the patriarchs with them in the wilderness, and carried their unclean ashes even into the holy land. In that case Joseph, who was a type of our Lord and Saviour, was a wicked man; for he carried up Jacob's bones with great pomp to Hebron merely to put his unclean father beside his unclean grandfather and great-grandfather, that is, one dead body along with others.

-- St. Jerome (d. 420), Epistle 109: To Vigilantius
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« Reply #253 on: January 26, 2013, 06:12:23 PM »

"I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture."

After His usual manner, He moulds the form of His speech to a spiritual application as though it arose naturally from the course of His story, and seems to treat things which are simple to look at and contain nothing difficult of comprehension, as images of things more obscure. For the thieves, He saith, and robbers, violently breaking into the enclosures of the sheep, do not enter by the door, but leap in by some other way, and by getting over the wall of the fold put themselves in danger. For perhaps, or rather very probably, one who is robbing in this way and rashly practising villainy may be detected and caught; but they who enter by the door itself, effect an entrance without risk, being manifestly not mean in conduct, nor yet unknown to the lord of the sheep. For he who standeth at the doors openeth to them and they run in: moreover, saith He, such as these shall be together with the sheep in great security, having effected an entrance very lawfully as it were and without guile, and without incurring any suspicion of being robbers.

-- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John (Source)
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« Reply #254 on: January 27, 2013, 04:22:51 PM »

Reasonably, the evangelists used different beginnings although the one and the same purpose of evangelization is represented. Matthew, as writing to Hebrews, composed the order of the genealogy of Christ, so that he would show that Christ had descended from this progeny, from which all the prophets had foretold him to be born. But John, based in Ephesus, made the beginning of the gospel from the reason of our redemption, of us who from the gentiles as it were did not know the law, which reason is evident from him that God wished his son to be incarnated for our salvation. Luke, however, began from Zacharias the priest so that he would declare the divinity of Christ to the gentiles by the miracle of the birth of his son and by the office of so many preachers. From which Mark too declares the ancient qualifications of the prophetic mystery of the coming of Christ so that his preaching had been proven not to be new but uttered from ancient times or account of that. The evangelists were concerned with using introductions, which each decided to set forth that for the listeners. Thus nothing is found to the contrary where even for different writings the same basis is arrived at.

-- Pseudo-Polycarp, Fragments from Victor of Capua (Source)
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« Reply #255 on: January 28, 2013, 06:11:21 PM »

Abstinence from fleshly foods without love is profitless. Better therefore are those who fast without great display, and do not beyond measure abstain from what God has created, but anxiously preserve a clean heart within (from which they know is the issue of life), than those who refuse to eat flesh or delight themselves in worldly foods, who ride not in vehicles and on horseback, and because of these things regard themselves as superior to others. To these men death enters by the windows of pride.

-- St. Gildas the Wise (d. c. 570), Fragments From Lost Letters (Source)
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« Reply #256 on: January 30, 2013, 06:10:40 PM »

 And being raised from the dead and exalted at the Father's right hand, He awaits the time appointed by the Father for the judgment, when all enemies shall be put under Him. Now the enemies are all those who were found in apostasy, angels and archangels and powers and thrones, who despised the truth. And the prophet David himself says thus: The Lord said unto my Lord, 'Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.' (Ps. 110:1) And that He ascended thither, whence He had come down, David says: From the end of heaven is his going forth, and his cessation even at the end of heaven. Then he signifies his judgment: 'And there is none that shall be hid from his heat.' (Ps. 19:6)

-- St. Irenaeus (d. 202), Proof of the Apostolic Preaching (Source)
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« Reply #257 on: January 31, 2013, 03:33:46 PM »

As we are dealing with numbers, and every number has among real existences a certain significance, of which the Creator of the universe made full use as well in the general scheme as in the arrangement of the details, we must give good heed, and with the help of the Scriptures trace their meaning, and the meaning of each of them. Nor must we fail to observe that not without reason the canonical books are twenty-two, according to the Hebrew tradition, the same in number as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. For as the twenty-two letters may be regarded as an introduction to the wisdom and the Divine doctrines given to men in those Characters, so the twenty-two inspired books are an alphabet of the wisdom of God and an introduction to the knowledge of realities.

-- Origen, Philocalia, 3.1 (Source)
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« Reply #258 on: February 01, 2013, 06:40:32 PM »

The demons cunningly withdraw for a time in the hope that we will cease to guard our heart, thinking we have now attained peace; then they suddenly attack our unhappy soul and seize it like a sparrow. Gaining possession of it, they drag it down mercilessly into all kinds of sin, worse than those which we have already committed and for which we have asked forgiveness. Let us stand, therefore, with fear of God and keep guard over our heart, practicing the virtues which check the wickedness of our enemies.

-- St. Isaiah the Solitary (d. c. 491), On Guarding the Intellect: Twenty-Seven Texts, 11
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« Reply #259 on: February 03, 2013, 01:41:55 AM »

There are some, indeed, who believe that those who do not abandon the name of Christ, and who are baptized in his laver in the Church, who are not cut off from it by schism or heresy, who may then live in sins however great, not washing them away by repentance, nor redeeming them by alms--and who obstinately persevere in them to life's last day--even these will still be saved, "though as by fire." They believe that such people will be punished by fire, prolonged in proportion to their sins, but still not eternal. But those who believe thus, and still are Catholics, are deceived, as it seems to me, by a kind of merely human benevolence. For the divine Scripture, when consulted, answers differently. Moreover, I have written a book about this question, entitled Faith and Works, in which, with God's help, I have shown as best I could that, according to Holy Scripture, the faith that saves is the faith that the apostle Paul adequately describes when he says, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but the faith which works through love." But if faith works evil and not good, then without doubt, according to the apostle James "it is dead in itself." He then goes on to say, "If a man says he has faith, yet has not works, can his faith be enough to save him?"

-- St. Augustine (d. 430), Enchiridion, 18
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« Reply #260 on: February 06, 2013, 12:22:23 PM »

The books of Origen have been read before a council of bishops and unanimously condemned. The following are his chief errors, mainly found in the περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν .

1. The Son compared with us is truth, but compared with the Father he is falsehood.

2. Christ's kingdom will one day come to an end.

3. We ought to pray to the Father alone, not to the Son.

4. Our bodies after the resurrection will be corruptible and mortal.

5. There is nothing perfect even in heaven; the angels themselves are faulty, and some of them feed on the Jewish sacrifices.

6. The stars are conscious of their own movements, and the demons know the future by their courses.

7. Magic, if real, is not evil.

8. Christ suffered once for men; he will suffer again for the demons.

-- St. Theophilus (d. 412), Source
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« Reply #261 on: February 08, 2013, 07:50:56 PM »

For that our soul doth live after the death of the body, reason doth teach us, assisted and holpen with faith: for almighty God created three kinds of spirits having life. One altogether spiritual without body: another with a body, but yet which dieth not with the body: the third that which is both joined with the body, and also together with the body doth die. The spirits that have no bodies be the Angels: they that have bodies but die not with them, be the souls of men: those |180 that have bodies and die together with them, be the souls of cattle and brute beasts. Man, therefore, as he is created in the middle state,2 inferior to Angels and superior to beasts, so doth he participate of both: having immortality of soul with the Angels, and mortality of body with beasts, until the day of doom: for then the glory of the resurrection shall take away and consume the mortality of the body: for being then reunited to the soul, it shall be preserved for ever: as the soul joined to the body is preserved for God. Neither shall the bodies of the damned, lying in torments, ever perfectly perish: for though they always decay, yet for ever shall they continue: and as they sinned both with soul and body, so living always in body and soul, they shall always die without end.

-- St. Gregory the Dialogist (d. 604), Dialogues, 4.3
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« Reply #262 on: February 09, 2013, 06:06:41 AM »

Even to our own children, when they are crying their heart out, as the saying goes, we are not in the habit of telling fabulous stories to soothe them; for we shrink from fostering in the children the atheism proclaimed by these men [the Greek philosophers], who, though wise in their own conceit, have no more knowledge of the truth than infants.

[...]

I long for the Lord of the winds, the Lord of fire, the Creator of the world, He who gives light to the sun. I seek for God Himself, not for the works of God. Whom am I to take from you as fellow worker in the search? For we do not altogether despair of you.

"Plato," if you like. How, then, Plato, must we trace out God? "It is a hard task to find the Father and Maker of this universe, and when you have found Him, it is impossible to declare Him to all. (Timaeus 28c)" Why, pray, in God's name, why? "Because He can in no way be described. (Epistles VII, 341C)" Well done, Plato, you have hit the truth.

-- Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks VI
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« Reply #263 on: February 10, 2013, 07:28:06 PM »

As there is a harsh and evil zeal which separateth from God and leadeth to hell, so there is a virtuous zeal which separateth from vice and leadeth to God and life everlasting. Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; namely, that in honor they forerun one another (cf Rom 12:10). Let them bear their infirmities, whether of body or mind, with the utmost patience; let them vie with one another in obedience. Let no one follow what he thinketh useful to himself, but rather to another. Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love. Let them fear God and love their Abbot with sincere and humble affection; let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and my He lead us all together to life everlasting.

-- St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 547), Holy Rule, 72 (Source)
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« Reply #264 on: February 12, 2013, 03:02:08 PM »

The entire worth of heavenly mysteries is not known indiscriminately and randomly, nor is the sacred set before dogs nor pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6), because, in truth, like the silver-plated dove whose posterior parts shine with the radiance of gold (Ps. 67:14), so the divine scriptures first shine like silver but glow like gold in their hidden parts. Rightly it is so managed, because the purity of eloquence is hidden altogether from the promiscuous eyes of the crowd, as if it were covered by a garment of modesty. And so, the divine is taken care of by the best stewardship; the scriptures themselves protect the heavenly mysteries by cloaking them, just as divinity itself works in its own mysterious way. Therefore, when in sacred books, one finds the eyes of the Lord, the neck of the Lord, the feet, and even the long-reaching arms of the Lord, written of--that God, God who is invisible, incomprehensible, eternally the same, should be limited in body is far from the universal faith of the church--is sought, just as He is disclosed, through the Holy Spirit, in the exposition of the image.

-- St. Eucherius of Lyons (d. c. 449), Letter to Veranus (Source)
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« Reply #265 on: February 14, 2013, 06:48:17 AM »

I may be permitted at the end of this little treatise to ask those who do not know the extent of their possessions, who adorn their homes with marble, who string house to house and field to field, what did this old man in his nakedness ever lack? Your drinking vessels are of precious stones; he satisfied his thirst with the hollow of his hand. Your tunics are of wrought gold; he had not the raiment of the meanest of your slaves. But on the other hand, poor though he was, Paradise is open to him; you with all your gold will be received into Gehenna. He though naked yet kept the robe of Christ; you, clad in your silks, have lost the vesture of Christ. Paul lies covered with worthless dust, but will rise again to glory; over you are raised costly tombs, but both you and your wealth are doomed to the burning. Have a care, I pray you, at least have a care for the riches you love. Why are even the grave-clothes of your dead made of gold? Why does not your vaunting cease even amid mourning and tears? Cannot the carcases of rich men decay except in silk?

-- St. Jerome (d. 420), The life of Paul the First Hermit (Source)
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« Reply #266 on: February 16, 2013, 01:08:36 PM »

And now you are offering me Fabiola, praised by Christians, regarded as miraculous even by the heathen, mourned by the poor, and lamented by the monks she used to cherish. Where should I begin? Anything I might say is overshadowed by what I might say next. Shall I praise her fasting? Her almsgiving was greater. Should I extol her humility? It was exceeded by the ardour of her faith. I could mention her search for lowliness, and her rejection of silken robes in favour of the kind of dress worn by the lower classes; but it is a much bigger thing to change your attitude to life than it is to change your clothing. It is much more difficult to renounce an inner feeling of superiority than to go without gold and jewels, for once we have renounced these things we are often so fearful of this kind of lowliness, however glorious it might be, that we then try to flaunt our poverty in order to make a public impression. A hidden virtue, however, cherished secretly in our own conscience, seeks no judge except God.

-- The Life of St. Fabiola, Virgin and Martyr (d. c. 399), Source
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« Reply #267 on: February 17, 2013, 10:28:32 AM »

A brother came to see Abba Poemen and said to him, "Abba, I have many thoughts and they put me in danger."  The old man led him outside and said to him, "Expand your chest and do not breathe in."  He said, "I cannot do that." Then the old man said to him, "If you cannot do that, no more can you prevent thoughts from arising, but you can resist them."

-- Abba Poemen (d. c. 450), Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Source)
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« Reply #268 on: February 17, 2013, 10:42:46 AM »

A certain king was grieved and exceeding sad at heart, because that he had no male issue, deeming this no small misfortune. While he was in this condition, there was born to him a son, and the king's soul was filled with joy thereat. Then they that were learned amongst his physicians told him that, if for the first twelve years the boy saw the sun or fire, he should entirely lose his sight, for this was proved by the condition of his eyes. Hearing this, the king, they say, caused a little house, full of dark chambers, to be hewn out of the rock, and therein enclosed his child together with the men that nursed him, and, until the twelve years were past, never suffered him to see the least ray of light.

 After the fulfilment of the twelve years, the king brought forth from his little house his son that had never seen a single object, and ordered his waiting men to show the boy everything after his kind; men in one place, women in another; elsewhere gold and silver; in another place, pearls and precious stones, fine and ornamental vestments, splendid chariots with horses from the royal stables, with golden bridles and purple caparisons, mounted by armed soldiers; also droves of oxen and flocks of sheep.

In brief, row after row, they showed the boy everything. Now, as he asked what each ox these was called, the king's esquires and guards made known unto him each by name: but, when he desired to learn what women were called, the king's spearman, they say, wittily replied that they were called, "Devils that deceive men." But the boy's heart was smitten with the love of these above all the rest. So, when they had gone round everywhere and brought him again unto the king, the king asked, which of all these sights had pleased him most. "What," answered the boy, "but the Devils that deceive men?

-- St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Joasaph, XXX (source)
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« Reply #269 on: February 18, 2013, 10:06:19 PM »

O marvellous! A sun is made, and no counsel precedes; a heaven likewise; and to these no single thing in creation is equal. So great a wonder is formed by a word alone, and the saying indicates neither when, nor how, nor any such detail. So too in all particular cases, the æther, the stars, the intermediate air, the sea, the earth, the animals, the plants—all are brought into being with a word, while only to the making of man does the Maker of all draw near with circumspection, so as to prepare beforehand for him material for his formation, and to liken his form to an archetypal beauty, and, setting before him a mark for which he is to come into being, to make for him a nature appropriate and allied to the operations, and suitable for the object in hand.

-- St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. c. 395), On the Making of Man, 3

(In the proper thread this time!)
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