Please Note

Whenever you use the links on my blog's to make purchases, such as from Mystic Monk Coffee, CCleaner, and others, I earn a small commission. This commission does not have any effect on your costs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Saint Isidore of Seville

Bishop, Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church

Saint Isidore of Seville (also known as Isidore the Bishop; Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages) was born in 560 A.D., at Cartagena, Spain. He was the son of Severianus and Theodora, people known for their piety. He was the younger brother of Saint Fulgentius, Saint Florentina, and Saint Leander of Seville, who raised him after their father's death.

At first he was a poor student, but he gave the problem over to God and became one of the most learned men of his time. He was ordained a priest, and he helped his brother Leander, archbishop of Seville, in the conversion of the Visigoth Arians. His brother Saint Leander died around 600, and in 601 Isidore succeeded him as Archbishop of Seville.

During his episcopacy he devoted his energies to promoting science, establishing schools and convents, and welding into one single nation the various peoples composing the Hispano-Gothic kingdom. Saint Isidore was a teacher, a founder, and a reformer. He required seminaries in every diocese, and he wrote a rule for religious orders. He was a prolific writer, his works including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths, and a history of the world beginning with creation.

He also introduced the works of Aristotle to Spain. He completed the Mozarabic liturgy which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. He presided at both the Second Council of Seville in 619, and the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633. He is important for his literary work, and his mastery of all branches of knowledge of his day.

Saint Isidore of Seville is generally held to be the last of the Latin Fathers of the Church, and he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1722. He became the leading candidate for patron of computer users and the Internet in 1999.

Saint Isidore of Seville died of natural causes in 636 at Seville, Spain. His relics are in his own church at Leon, Spain.

Below are some quotations from Saint Isidore of Seville:

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading. If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us. All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned. Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God. The conscientious reader will be more concerned to carry out what he has read than merely to acquire knowledge of it. In reading we aim at knowing, but we must put into practice what we have learned in our course of study. The more you devote yourself to study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest. The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded, equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth. Learning unsupported by grace may get into our ears; it never reaches the heart. But when God’s grace touches our innermost minds to bring understanding, his word which has been received by the ear sinks deep into the heart.

* * * * * * *

Heresy is from the Greek word meaning ‘choice’…. But we are not permitted to believe whatever we choose, nor to choose whatever someone else has believed. We have the Apostles of God as authorities, who did not…choose what they would believe but faithfully transmitted the teachings of Christ. So, even if an angel from heaven should preach otherwise, he shall be called anathema.

* * * * * * *

The more we are afflicted in this world, the greater is our assurance in the next; the more sorrow in the present, the greater will our joy be in the future.

* * * * * * *

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.

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