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Showing posts with label Greek Father. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek Father. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Saint Athanasius the Great, Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Early Church Father

Saint Athanasius the Great (also known as Athanasius of Egypt; Athanasius of Alexandria; Champion of Christ's Divinity; Champion of Orthodoxy; Father of Orthodoxy; Holy Hierarch; Pillar of the Church) is a Greek Church Father, as well as a Doctor of the Church. 

He was born around 295 A.D. in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied the classics and theology in Alexandria and was deacon and secretary to bishop Alexander of Alexandria and as such attended the Council of Nicea in 325 where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. 

Upon Alexander's death in 328, Athanasius succeeded him as bishop. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different from and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God. 

Athanasius spent seventeen of the forty-six years of his episcopate in exile when the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, and he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.

Refusing to readmit Arius to ecclesiastical communion, he was accused on false charges by Eusebius of Nicomedia, and brought to trial at Tyre, in 335, but, as he could not hope for a fair trial, he withdrew from Tyre, appealing to the Emperor Constantine who banished him to Trier. He returned to his see in 337 with the permission of Constantine II, but again met with opposition by the Eusebian faction, and fled to Rome, where his innocence was proclaimed by Pope Julius. 

After the death of Gregory, Bishop of Alexandria, in 345, Athanasius again returned to his see. He was condemned at a council in Milan around 355, in which his enemies predominated, and he was exiled to Egypt, where he lived among the monks for seven years. After another short occupancy of his see he was banished, in 364, by Emperor Valens. 

He was recalled by his flock after four months, and spent the remainder of his life proclaiming the Divinity of Christ, thus well deserving the title Father of Orthodoxy. His writings include History of the Arians and On the Incarnation.

Saint Athanasius died in Alexandria, Egypt in 373 A.D. of natural causes.

Saint Jerome included Athanasius in his book "Lives of Illustrious Men", and is as follows:

Athanasius the bishop

Athanasius bishop of Alexandria, hard pressed by the wiles of the Arians, fled to Constans emperor of Gaul. Returning thence with letters and, after the death of the emperor, again taking refuge in flight, he kept in hiding until the accession of Jovian, when he returned to the church and died in the reign of Valens. Various works by him are in circulation; two book Against the nations one Against Valens and Ursacius, On virginity, very many On the persecutions of the Arians, also On the titles of the Psalms and Life of Anthony the monk, also Festal epistles and other works too numerous to mention.

Below are some quotations from various works by Saint Athanasius the Great:

For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.

* * * * * * *

Brethren, how fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We feed as on the food of life, we constantly refresh our souls with his precious blood, as from a fountain. Yet we are always thirsting, burning to be satisfied. But he himself is present for those who thirst and in his goodness invites them to the feast day. Our Savior repeats his words: If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

He quenched the thirst not only of those who came to him then. Whenever anyone seeks him he is freely admitted to the presence of the Savior. The grace of the feast is not restricted to one occasion. Its rays of glory never set. It is always at hand to enlighten the mind of those who desire it. Its power is always there for those whose minds have been enlightened and who meditate day and night on the holy Scriptures, like the one who is called blessed in the holy psalm: Blessed is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or stood where sinners stand, or sat in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Moreover, my friends, the God who first established this feast for us allows us to celebrate it each year. He who gave up his Son to death for our salvation, from the same motive gives us this feast, which is commemorated every year. This feast guides us through the trials that meet us in this world. God now gives us the joy of salvation that shines out from this feast, as he brings us together to form one assembly, uniting us all in spirit in every place, allowing us to pray together and to offer common thanksgiving, as is our duty on the feast. Such is the wonder of his love: he gathers to this feast those who are far apart, and brings together in unity of faith those who may be physically separated from each other.

from an Easter letter

* * * * * * *

The Word who became all things for us is close to us, our Lord Jesus Christ who promises to remain with us always. He cries out, saying: See, I am with you all the days of this age. He is himself the shepherd, the high priest, the way and the door, and has become all things at once for us. In the same way, he has come among us as our feast and holy day as well. The blessed Apostle says of him who was awaited: Christ has been sacrificed as our Passover. It was Christ who shed his light on the psalmist as he prayed: You are my joy, deliver me from those surrounding me. True joy, genuine festival, means the casting out of wickedness. To achieve this one must live a life of perfect goodness and, in the serenity of the fear of God, practice contemplation in one's heart.

This was the way of the saints, who in their lifetime and at every stage of life rejoiced as at a feast. Blessed David, for example, not once but seven times rose at night to win God's favor through prayer. The great Moses was full of joy as he sang God' s praises in hymns of victory for the defeat of Pharaoh and the oppressors of the Hebrew people. Others had hearts filled always with gladness as they performed their sacred duty of worship, like the great Samuel and the blessed Elijah. Because of their holy lives they gained freedom, and now keep festival in heaven. They rejoice after their pilgrimage in shadows, and now distinguish the reality from the promise.

When we celebrate the feast in our own day, what path are we to take? As we draw near to this feast, who is to be Our guide? Beloved, it must be none other than the one whom you will address with me as our Lord Jesus Christ. He says: I am the way. As blessed John tells us: it is Christ who takes away the sin of the world. It is he who purifies our souls, as the prophet Jeremiah says: Stand upon the ways; look and see which is the good path, and you will find in it the way of amendment for your souls.

In former times the blood of goats and the ashes of a calf were sprinkled on those who were unclean, but they were able to purify only the body. Now through the grace of God's Word everyone is made abundantly clean. If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy the contemplation of that everlasting feast, like the blessed apostles, who in following the Savior as their leader, showed, and still show, the way to obtain the same gift from God. They said: See, we have left all things and followed you. We too follow the Lord, and we keep his feast by deeds rather than by words.

from an Easter letter

* * * * * * *

You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.

* * * * * * *

The Word of God, incorporeal, incorruptible, and immaterial, entered our world.

Out of his loving-kindness for us he came to us, and we see this in the way he revealed himself openly to us. Taking pity on mankind's weakness, and moved by our corruption, he could not stand aside and see death have the mastery over us. He did not want creation to perish and his Father's work in fashioning man to be in vain. He therefore took to himself a body, no different from our own, for he did not wish simply to be in a body or only to be seen.

By dying for others, he immediately banished death for all mankind. The corruption of death no longer holds any power over mankind, thanks to the Word, who has come to dwell among us through his one body.

from a talk

Copyright © 2012 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus

Bishop, Greek Father of the Church, and Doctor of the Church

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (also known as Gregory of Nazianzen; the Christian Demosthenes; the Theologian) a Greek Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church was born in 330 A.D. at Arianzus, Cappadocia, Asia Minor. He is one of the Three Cappadocian Fathers. 

He was the son of Saint Gregory of Nazianzen the Elder and Saint Nonna, as well as brother of Saint Caesarius of Nazianzus, and Saint Gorgonius. His father, had been a Hypsistarian heretic, but was converted to Catholicity and became Bishop of Nazianzus. 

Gregory spent an itinerant youth in search of learning, and he was educated at Caesarea, where he formed a lasting friendship with Saint Basil the Great, and also at Alexandria and Athens. With Basil he lived for a time as a hermit in a secluded part of Pontus at Basil's desert monastery. Returning to Nazianzus, he was ordained by his father around 361. He was a reluctant priest, feeling himself unworthy, and fearing that the responsibility would test his faith. Even so, he assisted his bishop father to prevent an Arian schism in the diocese. He opposed Arianism, and brought its heretical followers back to the fold.

In 373 Saint Basil, then Bishop of Caesarea and Metropolitan of Cappadocia, consecrated Gregory Bishop of Sasima, but Gregory, finding himself incompatible with that see, abandoned it, thereby becoming estranged from Basil. He became Bishop of Caesarea around 370, which put him in conflict with the Arian emperor Valens. The disputes led his friend Basil the Great, then archbishop, to reassign him to a small, out of the way posting at the edge of the archbishopric. 

He was made Archbishop of Constantinople in 381, after the conversion of Emperor Theodosius the Great. He hated the city, despised the violence and slander involved in these disputes, and feared being drawn into politics and corruption, but he worked to bring the Arians back to the faith; for his trouble he was slandered, insulted, beaten up, and a rival "bishop" tried to take over his diocese. That city being almost entirely taken over by Arianism, Gregory met with constant opposition, and resigned his see after a few months. He returned to Nazianzus and devoted himself to suppressing heresy. 

In 383 upon the appointment of his cousin as bishop, he retired to Arianzus to spend his time in literary labors. Renowned in the past as an orator and theologian, he is also famous as a literary genius, his poems, epistles, and orations being among the finest of his age. 

Saint Gregory died on January 25, 390 at Arianzus. His relics are in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The following was written by Saint Jerome, in his book, Lives of Illustrious Men :

Gregory another bishop

Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen, a most eloquent man, and my instructor in the Scriptures, composed works, amounting in all to thirty thousand lines, among which are On the death of his brother Caesarius, On charity, In praise of the Maccabees, In praise of Cyprian. In praise of Athanasius, In praise of Maximus the philosopher after he had returned from exile. This latter however, some superscribe with the pseudonym of Herona, since there is another work by Gregory, upbraiding this same Maximus, as if one might not praise and upbraid the same person at one thee or another as the occasion may demand. Other works of his are a book in hexameter, containing, A discussion between virginity and marriage, two books Against Eunomius, one book On the Holy Spirit, and one Against the Emperor Julian. He was a follower of Polemon in his style of speaking. Having ordained his successor in the bishopric, during his own life time, he retired to the country where he lived the life of a monk and died, three years or more ago, in the reign of Theodosius.

And finally, below are some quotations from Saint Gregory of Nazianzen:

Let us not esteem worldly prosperity or adversity as things real or of any moment, but let us live elsewhere, and raise all our attention to Heaven; esteeming sin as the only true evil, and nothing truly good, but virtue which unites us to God.  -- Saint Gregory Nazianzen

Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with Him; let us go down with Him to be raised with Him; and let us rise with Him to be glorified with Him.  --Saint Gregory  Nazianzen

Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own  pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians. --Saint Gregory Nazianzen

Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. --Saint Gregory Nazianzen

Saint Basil the Great

Bishop, Greek Father of the Church, and Doctor of the Church

Saint Basil the Great (also known as Father of Eastern Monasticism; Basil of Caesarea) is one of the Three Cappadocian Fathers, a Greek Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church who was born in 329 at Caesarea, Asia Minor (modern Turkey). 

He was of noble birth and his mother, father, and four of his nine siblings were canonized, including Saint Gregory of Nyssa. He was the grandson of Saint Macrina the Elder. 

As a youth he was noted for organizing famine relief, and for working in the kitchens himself, which was quite unusual for a young noble. 

He studied at Caesarea, Constantinople, and Athens, where he became acquainted with Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. Basil ran a school of oratory and law in Caesarea, and he was so successful, so sought after as a speaker, he was tempted by pride. Fearful that it would overtake his piety, he sold all that he had, gave away the money, and he became a priest and monk. 

Influenced by his sister Macrina, he founded a monastery in Pontus near Annesi. He introduced the cenobitic form of religious life into the East, and for this reason is known as the Father of Oriental monasticism. In 364 he was ordained priest, and in 370 he succeeded to the See of Caesarea. 

He is considered as key to the founding of Eastern Monasticism as Benedict of Nursia was to the west. His episcopacy was distinguished by the many reforms he effected among clergy and laity, and for his fearlessness in defending the Church. He conducted Mass and preached to the crowds twice each day and he fought Arianism.

Saint Basil the Great died in Caesarea in 379 of natural causes.

The following was written by Saint Jerome, in his book, Lives of Illustrious Men :

Basil another bishop

Basil, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, the city formerly called Mazaca, composed admirable carefully written books Against Eunomius, a volume On the Holy Spirit, and nine homilies On the six days of creation, also a work On asceticism and short treatises on various subjects. He died in the reign of Gratianus.

Finally, below are some quotations from Saint Basil the Great:

The bread which you use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit. -- Saint Basil the Great

O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all you necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity. --Saint Basil the Great

By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name. --Saint Basil the Great

Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God "Father" and to share in Christ's grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory. --Saint Basil the Great

Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. --Saint Basil the Great

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saint John of Damascus

Saint John of Damascus (also known as Doctor of Christian Art; Jean Damascene; Johannes Damascenus; John Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream"); John Damascene) was born in 676 A.D. at Damascus, Syria. His father, though a Christian, was esteemed by his Saracen countrymen, and was the chief financial officer for the Muslim caliph, Abdul Malek. 

John was educated by  a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian learning of the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields such as geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, and more. After his father's death he was made chief councilor of Damascus.

Saint John defended the use of icons and images in churches through a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, and retired to the monastery of Saint Sabas, near Jerusalem, where he was ordained priest by John V, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saint John was anathematized by name by the Council of Constantinople in 754 over his defense of the use of icons, but he was later defended by the Seventh Council of Nicea in 787. 

Saint John of Damascus wrote “The Fountain of Wisdom”, the first real compilation of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on Saint Paul, poetry, and hymns. He was a philosopher and an orator, and he was such an excellent speaker he was known as Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream"). He adapted choral music for use in the liturgy.

Saint John is considered the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.

Saint John of Damascus died of natural causes in 749 in Jerusalem.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saint John Chrysostom: Early Church Father, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Saint John Chrysostom (also known as Greatest of the Greek Fathers; Golden-Mouth; Giovanni Crisostomo) is a Greek Father of the Church and a Doctor of the Church.

He was born at Antioch, Asia Minor (modern Syria) around 347 A.D. John's father died when he was young, and he was raised by a very pious mother.

He studied under the pagan Libianus, most famous orator of his day. He devoted himself to an ascetic life, and he  was baptized around 369 and he was ordained reader. For two years he lived in a cave near Antioch, but his health being impaired by austerity, he returned to the city.

He was a preacher and priest for a dozen years in Syria. While there he developed a stomach ailment that troubled him the rest of his life. He had been ordained priest in 386, and in the twelve years that followed John was engaged chiefly in preaching and writing. It was for his sermons that John earned the title "Chrysostom" (golden mouthed). They were always to the point, explained the Scriptures with clarity, and sometimes went on for hours.

In 398 he was elevated to the See of Constantinople, a move that involved him in imperial politics and where he experienced popular resentment by his sweeping reforms.

As a result John was deposed and exiled in 403, by Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria. John was recalled by the empress. John criticized the rich for not sharing their wealth, fought to reform the clergy, prevented the sale of ecclesiastical offices, called for fidelity in marriage, and he encouraged practices of justice and charity. John's sermons caused nobles and bishops to work to remove him from his diocese and he was exiled a second time from his diocese in 404.

John was banished to Pythius, but died on the way in 407. His relics are in the choir chapel of Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome.

Saint John Chrysostom is a Greek Father of the Church, and he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 451 A.D.

Below are some quotations from Saint John Chrysostom:

It is clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive; in fact, it persuaded the whole world. 
* * * * *

Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.
* * * * *

You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of  charity, the prayers of the priests. 
* * * * *

You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother,. . . . You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. . . . God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful. 
* * * * *

What prayer could be more true before God the Father than that which the Son, who is Truth, uttered with His own lips? 

* * * * *

It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop...while buying or selling...or even while cooking. 

* * * * *

It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but He who was crucified for us, Christ Himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their Power and Grace are God's. This is my body, He says. This word transforms the things offered. 

* * * * *

What harm did Cain do to Abel? Contrary to his intention he did him the greatest good, for he caused him to pass to a better and a blessed life, and he himself was plunged into an abyss of woe. In what did Esau injure Jacob? Did not his envy prevent him from being enriched in the place in which he lived; and, losing the inheritance and the blessing of his father, did he not die a miserable death? What harm did the brothers of Joseph do to Joseph, whose envy went so far as to wish to shed his blood? Were they not driven to the last extremity, and well-nigh perishing with hunger, whilst their brother reigned all through Egypt?

It is ever thus; the more you envy your brother, the greater good you confer upon him. God, who sees all, takes the cause of the innocent in hand, and, irritated by the injury you inflict, deigns to raise up him whom you wish to lower, and will punish you to the full extent of your crime.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sacred Tradition

Is It Really From the Apostles? ....Yes!

In an earlier comment some months back, a person asked the following question:

Can you explain why the Catholic Church claims that the doctrines of Sacred Tradition were handed down from the apostles when there appears to be no record of it?”

Now, I don’t know why this is a common thought among many people, but, there are records of the Sacred Traditions having been handed down from the apostles, and the evidence for such is found in the writings of the early ecclesiastic writers and the Early Church Fathers.

We must realize and understand, that it was the apostles who first spread the Christian faith throughout the world. Jesus Christ had chosen the Twelve Apostles as we learn from the sixth chapter of The Gospel According To Saint Luke:

12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God. 13 And when day was come, he called unto him his disciples; and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles). 14 Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes, 16 And Jude, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor.

So Jesus chose the Twelve, and later He ordained them as we can see from the ninth chapter of The Gospel According To Saint Luke:

1 Then calling together the twelve apostles, he gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. ...6 And going out, they went about through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

Jesus also instructed the Twelve to spread the good news of His Kingdom as we see in the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles:

6 They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power: 8 But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

So, the Apostles followed the commandment of the Lord, and went throughout the “uttermost part of the earth” and led many people to Christ and established churches throughout the known world. From Asia Minor to Northern Africa to Europe the faith was spread, by the Twelve and then by their disciples and followers whom they ordained as deacons, bishops, and presbyters. The Sacred Tradition was most definitely handed down by the Apostles, and we must remember that what the churches established by them, taught by them, and handed down through their successors, were the oral traditions that they received as well as written traditions.

We know that the Apostles went to various regions of the then known world (from both Holy Scriptures and from the traditions of those areas), such as follows:

Saint Andrew - Asia Minor, Greece, and possibly in areas of modern Russia and Poland.
Saint Bartholomew - Asia Minor, Ethiopia, India and Armenia.
Saint James the Greater - Samaria, Judea, and Spain.
Saint John - Asia Minor, Jerusalem, Samaria, Ephesus
Saint Jude - Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia
Saint Matthias - Judea, Cappadocia, Egypt and Ethiopia.
Saint Matthew - Palestine, Ethiopia
Saint Philip - Greece and Asia Minor.
Saint Simon the Zealot - Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iberia
Saint Simon Peter - Palestine, Syria, and Rome
Saint Thomas - Parthia (western Asia), Persia and India
Saint Paul - Greece, Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, Rome, and Spain

We also know, that in the early Church, there was a disagreement on the date for celebrating Easter. It seems that the eastern Church celebrated Easter according to the Jewish date for celebrating the Passover, which was the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it fell on. Several Early Church Fathers (Saint Polycarp for one) defended their choice of that date, saying that it was the tradition handed down to them by the Apostles.

Following are some of the things written by the Early Church Fathers, other ecclesiastical writers of the early Church, and firstly from some of the Epistles of Saint Paul:

Saint Paul the Apostle:
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you (1 Cor. 11:2)

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15)

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us (2 Thess. 3:6).

Pope Saint Clement I from his Epistle to the Corinthians: 
The Apostles preached to us the Gospel received from Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ was God's Ambassador. Christ, in other words, comes with a message from God, and the Apostles with a message from Christ. Both these orderly arrangements, therefore, originate from the will of God. And so, after receiving their instructions and being fully assured through the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as confirmed in faith by the word of God, they went forth, equipped with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, to preach the good news that the Kingdom of God was close at hand. From land to land, accordingly, and from city to city they preached, and from among their earliest converts appointed men whom they had tested by the Spirit to act as bishops and deacons for the future believers. And this was no innovation, for, a long time before the Scripture had spoken about bishops and deacons; for somewhere it says: I will establish their overseers in observance of the law and their ministers in fidelity.

Our Apostles, too, were given to understand by our Lord Jesus Christ that the office of the bishop would give rise to intrigues. For this reason, equipped as they were with perfect foreknowledge, they appointed the men mentioned before, and afterwards laid down a rule once for all to this effect: when these men die, other approved men shall succeed to their sacred ministry. Consequently, we deem it an injustice to eject from the sacred ministry the persons who were appointed either by them, or later, with the consent of the whole Church, by other men in high repute and have ministered to the flock of Christ faultlessly, humbly, quietly and unselfishly, and have moreover, over a long period of time, earned the esteem of all. Indeed, it will be no small sin for us if we oust men who have irreproachably and piously offered the sacrifices proper to the episcopate. Happy the presbyters who have before now completed life's journey and taken their departure in mature age and laden with fruit! They, surely, do not have to fear that anyone will dislodge them from the place built for them. Yes, we see that you removed some, their good conduct notwithstanding, from the sacred ministry on which their faultless discharge had shed luster.

It is our duty, then, my brethren, to follow examples such as these. For the Scripture says: Follow the saints for such as follow them shall be sanctified. And again, in another passage, it says: With an innocent man Thou wilt be innocent and with an elect Thou wilt be elect, and with one perverted Thou wilt deal perversely. Let us, therefore, associate with the innocent and law-abiding; these are God's elect.

These items below come from Saint Jerome’s “Lives of Illustrious Men” :

Saint Quadratus the bishop of Athens:

Quadratus, disciple of the apostles, after Publius bishop of Athens had been crowned with martyrdom on account of his faith in Christ, was substituted in his place, and by his faith and industry gathered the church scattered by reason of its great fear. And when Hadrian passed the winter at Athens to witness the Eleusinian mysteries and was initiated into almost all the sacred mysteries of Greece, those who hated the Christians took opportunity without instructions from the Emperor to harass the believers. At this time he presented to Hadrian a work composed in behalf of our religion, indispensable, full of sound argument and faith and worthy of the apostolic teaching. In which, illustrating the antiquity of his period, he says that he has seen many who, oppressed by various ills, were healed by the Lord in Judea as well as some who had been raised from the dead.

Pantaenus the philosopher:

Pantaenus, a philosopher of the stoic school, according to some old Alexandrian custom, where, from the time of Mark the evangelist the ecclesiastics were always doctors, was of so great prudence and erudition both in scripture and secular literature that, on the request of the legates of that nation, he was sent to India by Demetrius bishop of Alexandria, where he found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles, had preached the advent of the Lord Jesus according to the gospel of Matthew, and on his return to Alexandria he brought this with him written in Hebrew characters.


Papias [A.D. 120], who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he, moreover, asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly, he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions [concerning Jesus]. . . . [There are] other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition" (fragment in Eusebius, Church History 3:39 [A.D. 312]).

The remainder here come from the writings of just a few more of the Early Church Fathers and Ecclesiastical writers:

Eusebius of Caesarea

At that time [A.D. 150] there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apollinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and, finally, Irenaeus. From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from tradition" (Church History 4:21).

Saint Irenaeus

"As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same." (Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]).

"That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them [heretics], while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. . . . What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?"

"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors to our own times—men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about.

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles.

"With this church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree—that is, all the faithful in the whole world—and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition".

Clement of Alexandria

"Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds. And well I know that they will exult; I do not mean delighted with this tribute, but solely on account of the preservation of the truth, according as they delivered it. For such a sketch as this, will, I think, be agreeable to a soul desirous of preserving from loss the blessed tradition" (Miscellanies 1:1 [A.D. 208]).

"Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles and remains in the churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition" (The Fundamental Doctrines 1:2 [A.D. 225]).

Cyprian of Carthage
"The Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop Fabian by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way" (Letters 75:3 [A.D. 253]).

"Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto him, and being followers of the saints, ‘we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,’ as the psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven" (Festal Letters 2:7 [A.D. 330]).

"But you are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from apostolic tradition, and frequently accursed envy has wished to unsettle it, but has not been able".

Basil the Great
"Of the dogmas and messages preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety, both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the gospel in its vitals; or rather, we would reduce [Christian] message to a mere term" (The Holy Spirit 27:66 [A.D. 375]).

Epiphanius of Salamis
"It is needful also to make use of tradition, for not everything can be gotten from sacred Scripture. The holy apostles handed down some things in the scriptures, other things in tradition" (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 61:6 [A.D. 375]).

"The custom [of not rebaptizing converts] . . . may be supposed to have had its origin in apostolic tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:23[31] [A.D. 400]).

"But the admonition that he [Cyprian] gives us, ‘that we should go back to the fountain, that is, to apostolic tradition, and thence turn the channel of truth to our times,’ is most excellent, and should be followed without hesitation" (ibid., 5:26[37]).

"But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church" (Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]).

John Chrysostom
"[Paul commands,] ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter’ [2 Thess. 2:15]. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there is much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further" (Homilies on Second Thessalonians [A.D. 402]).

Vincent of Lerins
"With great zeal and closest attention, therefore, I frequently inquired of many men, eminent for their holiness and doctrine, how I might, in a concise and, so to speak, general and ordinary way, distinguish the truth of the Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity.

"I received almost always the same answer from all of them—that if I or anyone else wanted to expose the frauds and escape the snares of the heretics who rise up, and to remain intact and in sound faith, it would be necessary, with the help of the Lord, to fortify that faith in a twofold manner: first, of course, by the authority of divine law [Scripture] and then by the tradition of the Catholic Church.

"Here, perhaps, someone may ask: ‘If the canon of the scriptures be perfect and in itself more than suffices for everything, why is it necessary that the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation be joined to it?’ Because, quite plainly, sacred Scripture, by reason of its own depth, is not accepted by everyone as having one and the same meaning. . . .

"Thus, because of so many distortions of such various errors, it is highly necessary that the line of prophetic and apostolic interpretation be directed in accord with the norm of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning" (The Notebooks [A.D. 434]).

Pope Agatho
"The holy Church of God . . . has been established upon the firm rock of this Church of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, which by his grace and guardianship remains free from all error, [and possesses that faith that] the whole number of rulers and priests, of the clergy and of the people, unanimously should confess and preach with us as the true declaration of the apostolic tradition, in order to please God and to save their own souls" (Letter read at fourth session of III Constantinople [A.D. 680]).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Saint Theophilus of Antioch

Bishop, Martyr, and Early Church Father

Saint Theophilus of Antioch, is one of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and one of whom was a great apologist, an apologist in truth, as great as Justin Martyr or Irenaeus of Lyons in his understanding and reasoning. Born a pagan in the second century, he was originally a philosopher in the eastern Roman Empire, and he began studying the Scriptures with the intent of attacking Christianity. However, his study of the Scriptures demonstrated the absurdity of the pagan gods, and convinced him of the truth of Christianity, and so, he converted.

Little is known of the early life of Theophilus, other than that he came from that part of Syria which bordered upon Mesopotamia. Theophilus received a Greek education and seems to have had some knowledge of Hebrew. Eusebius in his History of the Church (Ch.4,20), wrote that Theophilus was the sixth bishop of Antioch from the apostles, the names of his predecessors being Eros, Cornelius, Hero, Ignatius, and Euodius. We also learn from Eusebius, that Theophilus succeeded to the bishopric in the 8th year of the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, which would have been about 168 A.D. There is some disagreement as to when Theophilus died, some sources saying his episcopate lasted 13 years until 181 A.D, others indicating his episcopate lasted 21 years until his death in 189 A.D.

Saint Theophilus was apparently a prolific writer, and Eusebius, Saint Jerome, and others mention his numerous works against the prevailing heresies of the day. The only work which survives, is his three volume “Apology” or “Defense of Christianity” to his friend Autolycus, a pagan. In this three volume work, Theophilus has the distinction of his being the earliest writing to contain the Greek term “triados” (Book 2, Chapter 15) which is the equivalent of the English word Trinity. It would be 1 or 2 decades later before we find in the North African writer Tertullian's writings, the Latin equivalent "Trinitas" for the first time. Eusebius mentions other writings of his, a work against the heresy of Hermogenes, another against Marcion, and a few books for the instruction and edification of the faithful. St. Jerome mentions a Commentary on the Book of Proverbs and Commentaries on the Gospel. Of all these works, there remain but the fragments of the Commentaries cited by St. Jerome.

Some believe that Theophilus' Apology was written in response to a published work against Christianity written by Autolycus, but, Theophilus himself indicates in his work, that what he writes is in response to disparaging remarks Autolycus made to him in conversation. Indeed, at the very beginning of his Apology, Theophilus wrote:

A fluent tongue and an elegant style afford pleasure and such praise as vainglory delights in, to wretched men who have been corrupted in mind; the lover of truth does not give heed to ornamented speeches, but examines the real matter of the speech, what it is, and what kind it is. Since, then, my friend, you have assailed me with empty words, boasting of your gods of wood and stone, hammered and cast, carved and graven, which neither see nor hear, for they are idols, and the works of men's hands; and since, besides, you call me a Christian, as if this were a damning name to bear, I, for my part, avow that I am a Christian, and bear this name beloved of God, hoping to be serviceable to God. For it is not the case, as you suppose, that the name of God is hard to bear; but possibly you entertain this opinion of God, because you are yourself yet unserviceable to Him. (Book 1, Chapter 1)

Theophilus is severe, yet also gentle is his dealings with his antagonistic friend, and his contempt with the pagan heathenism is apparent, and he even repudiates Plato and Socrates, and stressed his maxim, "The world by wisdom knew not God." The entire work is well suited to lead an intelligent pagan to at least a cordial acceptance of Christianity. The three books are not however, as one might suppose, one work, but, were three distinct works which were joined together. This was done because there is a very real connection between the three books, in that all three are addressed to the same person, Autolycus, and all three deal with almost the same topics.

The first book has 14 chapters, and is a response to Autolycus who had asked Theophilus to show him his God, had praised the pagan gods, and had mocked the name Christian. Theophilus explains the nature of God who is invisible to the eyes, but, who's presence is known to us:

You will say, then, to me, "Do you, who see God, explain to me the appearance of God." Hear, O man. The appearance of God is ineffable and indescribable, and cannot be seen by eyes of flesh. For in glory He is incomprehensible, in greatness unfathomable, in height inconceivable, in power incomparable, in wisdom unrivaled, in goodness inimitable, in kindness unutterable. For if I say He is Light, I name but His own work; if I call Him Word, I name but His sovereignty; if I call Him Mind, I speak but of His wisdom; if I say He is Spirit, I speak of His breath; if I call Him Wisdom, I speak of His offspring; if I call Him Strength, I speak of His sway; if I call Him Power, I am mentioning His activity; if Providence, I but mention His goodness; if I call Him Kingdom, I but mention His glory; if I call Him Lord, I mention His being judge; if I call Him Judge, I speak of Him as being just; if I call Him Father, I speak of all things as being from Him; if I call Him Fire, I but mention His anger. You will say, then, to me, "Is God angry?" Yes; He is angry with those who act wickedly, but He is good, and kind, and merciful, to those who love and fear Him; for He is a chastener of the godly, and father of the righteous; but he is a judge and punisher of the impious. (Book 1, Chapter 3)

Theophilus goes on to explain in the first book, that we can only contemplate God when we are clothed in incorruptibility. He then denounces the pagan gods, the worship of the emperors and extols the Christians:

Wherefore I will rather honor the king [than your gods], not, indeed, worshiping him, but praying for him. But God, the living and true God, I worship, knowing that the king is made by Him. You will say, then, to me, "Why do you not worship the king?" Because he is not made to be worshiped, but to be reverenced with lawful honor, for he is not a god, but a man appointed by God, not to be worshiped, but to judge justly. For in a kind of way his government is committed to him by God: as He will not have those called kings whom He has appointed under Himself; for "king" is his title, and it is not lawful for another to use it; so neither is it lawful for any to be worshiped but God only. Wherefore, O man, you are wholly in error. Accordingly, honor the king, be subject to him, and pray for him with loyal mind; for if you do this, you do the will of God. For the law that is of God, says, "My son, fear thou the Lord and the king, and be not disobedient to them; for suddenly they shall take vengeance on their enemies."

And about your laughing at me and calling me "Christian," you know not what you are saying. First, because that which is anointed is sweet and serviceable, and far from contemptible. For what ship can be serviceable and seaworthy, unless it be first caulked [anointed]? Or what castle or house is beautiful and serviceable when it has not been anointed? And what man, when he enters into this life or into the gymnasium, is not anointed with oil? And what work has either ornament or beauty unless it be anointed and burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God. (Book 1, Chapters 11 and 12)

The second book of Theophilus' Apology to Autolycus contains 38 chapters, and more fully develops the thoughts and ideas expressed in the first book. Theophilus exposes the insufficiency and childishness of the pagan teachings, and contrasts those teachings with those of Holy Scripture concerning the origin of the world, the worship due to God, and the moral life man should lead:

When we had formerly some conversation, my very good friend Autolycus, and when you inquired who was my God, and for a little paid attention to my discourse, I made some explanations to you concerning my religion; and then having bid one another adieu, we went with much mutual friendliness each to his own house although at first you had home somewhat hard upon me. For you know and remember that you supposed our doctrine was foolishness. As you then afterwards urged me to do, I am desirous, though not educated to the art of speaking, of more accurately demonstrating, by means of this tractate, the vain labour and empty worship in which you are held; and I wish also, from a few of your own histories which you read, and perhaps do not yet quite understand, to make the truth plain to you. (Book 2, Chapter 1)

The third book in Theophilus' Apology to Autolycus, contains 30 chapters, and is a response to Autolycus' charge that “your religion is new, and your Scriptures are recent writings." The first 15 chapters Theophilus devoted to showing the futility of the accusations brought against Christians concerning immorality and cannibalism, and in the remainder he takes up the chronological discussion and gives a resume of Jewish history, and concludes that Moses must have lived from 900 to 1000 years before the Trojan War. He counts 5695 years from the beginning of the world to the death of Marcus Aurelius. He begins:

Theophilus to Autolycus, greeting: Seeing that writers are fond of composing a multitude of books for vainglory,--some concerning gods, and wars, and chronology, and some, too, concerning useless legends, and other such labour in vain, in which you also have been used to employ yourself until now, and do not grudge to endure that toil; but though you conversed with me, are still of opinion that the word of truth is an idle tale, and suppose that our writings are recent and modern;--on this account I also will not grudge the labour of compendiously setting forth to you, God helping me, the antiquity of our books, reminding you of it in few words, that you may not grudge the labour of reading it, but may recognise the folly of the other authors. (Book 3, Chapter 1)

Theophilus was a most patient man, who took a great deal of time and care in his defense of the true faith. He had an intimate knowledge of Holy Scripture, and was very apt at demonstrating the truth of God and His Church as compared to the absurdities and childishness of the pagan gods and their followers. The Apology to Autolycus can be read in it's entirety online.

From Saint Jerome's “Lives of Illustrious Men”:

Theophilus the bishop

Theophilus, sixth bishop of the church of Antioch, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Antoninus Verus composed a book Against Marcion, which is still extant, also three volumes To Autolycus and one Against the heresy of Hermogenes and other short and elegant treatises, well fitted for the edification of the church. I have read, under his name, commentaries On the Gospel and On the proverbs of Solomon which do not appear to me to correspond in style and language with the elegance and expressiveness of the above works.

Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Saint Melito of Sardis: Early Church Father, Bishop, and Martyr

Saint Melito of Sardis

"Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father."
--From a letter by Saint Melito of Sardis

Saint Melito of Sardis was Bishop of the Church in Sardis, and a prominent ecclesiastical writer in the latter half of the second century. Indications are that he was the second Bishop of Sardis, and was successor to “the angel of the Church of Sardis” (the apostle of that Church) to whom was addressed one of the apocalyptic messages. Very little is known of his life, and the majority of his writings exist only in fragments, and quotations from Eusebius, Polycrates, Tertullian, and others. A letter of Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor about 194 states that "Melito the eunuch (this is interpreted "the virgin" by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius), whose whole walk was in the Holy Spirit", was interred at Sardis, and had been one of the great authorities in the Church of Asia who held the Quartodeciman theory (this was those Churches, primarily in Asia Minor, who celebrated Easter according to the Jewish calendar for Passover).

Saint Melito gave us the earliest indications of the Canon of the Old Testament in his writings, and Saint Jerome, speaking of this canon, quotes Tertullian that Melito was esteemed as a prophet by many of the faithful. Saint Melito, also wrote an apology to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, in which he defended the Christians against accusations made against them, urged the emperor to end the persecutions of the Christians, and even urged Aurelius to proclaim Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire!

Saint Melito was also one of the earliest writers to have written on the dual natures of Christ: "For there is no need, to persons of intelligence, to attempt to prove, from the deeds of Christ subsequent to His baptism, that His soul and His body, His human nature like ours, were real, and no phantom of the imagination. For the deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being at once both God and perfect man likewise, He gave us sure indications of His two natures: of His Deity, by His miracles during the three years that elapsed after His baptism; of His humanity, during the thirty similar periods which preceded His baptism, in which, by reason of His low estate as regards the flesh, He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages."

In the early 20th century, there was great excitement among Christian scholars when a homily by Saint Melito on Easter, “Peri Pascha”, was discovered. This homily shows how the early Christians saw Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection foreshadowed throughout The Old Testament. Indeed, in the writings attributed to Saint Melito by Eusebius, the prolific writer Melito gave a listing of the books of The Old Testament, which Saint Melito referred to as “The Old Books”, which indicates to many scholars that the Church of Melito's time may well have had a New Testament as well. There is also a strong indication from the fragments of Melito's writing that exist in references by Tertullian, Eusebius, Polycrates, and others, that Saint Melito made extensive use of the Gospel of Saint John, and he may have been acquainted with Saint Polycarp, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and other Early Church Fathers of his day. His writings influenced the thinking of Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.

One always gets a great insight to the the beliefs and workings of the early Church by reading the writings of those great men, who lived and died for the truth, which is Christ Jesus, was Christ Jesus, and will be Christ Jesus, now and forever. You may read some of those writings (fragments and a homily) online by clicking the titles to go to the sites. You can read Melito the Philosopher, also Easter Praise of Christ by Melito of Sardis, Lamb That Was Slain by Melito, and On The Passover by Melito. Saint Melito is believed to have been martyred around the time he wrote his apology to Marcus Aurelius circa 180 A.D.

The following was written by Saint Jerome, in his book, Lives of Illustrious Men :

Melito the Bishop

Melito of Asia, bishop of Sardis, addressed a book to the emperor Marcus Antoninus Verus, a disciple of Fronto the orator, in behalf of the Christian doctrine. He wrote other things also, among which are the following: On the passover, two books, one book On the lives of the prophets, one book On the church, one book On the Lord's day, one book On faith, one book On the psalms, one On the senses, one On the soul and body, one On baptism, one On truth, one On the generation of Christ, On His prophecy, one On hospitality and another which is called the Key, one On the devil, one On the Apocalypse of John, one On the corporeality of God, and six books of Eclogues. Of his fine oratorical genius, Tertullian, in the seven books which he wrote against the church on behalf of Montanus, satirically says that he was considered a prophet by many of us.

A prayer written by Saint Melito of Sardis

Prayer in Praise of Christ

Born as a son,
led forth as a lamb,
sacrificed as a sheep,
buried as a man,
he rose from the dead as a God,
for he was by nature God and man.

He is all things:
he judges, and so he is Law;
he teaches, and so he is Wisdom;
he saves, and so he is Grace;
he begets, and so he is Father;
he is begotten, and so he is Son;
he suffers, and so he is Sacrifice;
he is buried, and so he is man;
he rises again, and so he is God.
This is Jesus Christ,
to whom belongs glory for all ages.

Quotes from the writings of Saint Melito of Sardis:

"God has suffered from the right hand of Israel. Head of the Lord--His simple Divinity; because He is the Beginning and Creator of all things". --From “The Oration on Our Lord's Passion”.

"God who is from God; the Son who is from the Father; Jesus Christ the King for evermore...He that bore up the earth was borne up on a tree. The Lord was subjected to ignominy with naked body--God put to death, the King of Israel slain!" --From “The Discourse On The Cross”.

"We have collected together extracts from the Law and the Prophets relating to those things which have Been declared concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may prove to your love that this Being is perfect reason, the Word of God; He who was begotten before the light; He who is Creator together with the Father; He who is the Fashioner of man; He who is all in all; He who among the patriarchs is Patriarch; He who in the law is the Law; among the priests, Chief Priest; among kings, the Ruler; among prophets, the Prophet; among the angels, Archangel; in the voice of the preacher, the Word; among spirits, the Spirit; in the Father, the Son; in God, God; King for ever and ever." --From “The Discourse On Faith”

“The Lord, though he was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of whose who suffer, he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but he rose from the dead, and cried aloud: "Who will contend with me? Let him confront me." I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against me? I, he said, am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ.” --From a letter by Saint Melito.

Copyright © 2005 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved

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