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Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2014/03/23 at 12:00 AM

From a homily on Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop
Salt of the earth and light of the world

You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you into two cities only or ten or twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savor and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.

Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labor to keep that corruption from returning.

Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.

If others lose their savor, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavor be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.

When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, they may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says; “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”

Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world. Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their struggles.

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Does Doctrine Change or Develop?

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2014/03/02 at 12:00 AM

Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.

  Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.
  The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, of individuals as well as of the whole Church, ought then to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import.
  The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold their component parts with the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of one and the same individual may change, it is one and the same nature, one and the same person.
  The tiny members of unweaned children and the grown members of young men are still the same members. Men have the same number of limbs as children. Whatever develops at a later age was already present in seminal form; there is nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood.
  There is no doubt, then, that the legitimate and correct rule of development, the established and wonderful order of growth, is this: in older people the fullness of years always brings to completion those members and forms that the wisdom of the Creator fashioned beforehand in their earlier years.
  If, however, the human form were to turn into some shape that did not belong to its own nature, or even if something were added to the sum of its members or subtracted from it, the whole body would necessarily perish or become grotesque or at least be enfeebled. In the same way, the doctrine of the Christian religion should properly follow these laws of development, that is, by becoming firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.
  In ancient times our ancestors sowed the good seed in the harvest field of the Church. It would be very wrong and unfitting if we, their descendants, were to reap, not the genuine wheat of truth but the intrusive growth of error.
  On the contrary, what is right and fitting is this: there should be no inconsistency between first and last, but we should reap true doctrine from the growth of true teaching, so that when, in the course of time, those first sowings yield an increase it may flourish and be tended in our day also.
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St. Augustine

In 04 Post-Nicean Fathers on 2013/06/23 at 12:00 AM

• A while back we celebrated the conversion of the infamous Saul to St. Paul while he was on the road to Damascus. That moment of grace that took place nearly 2000 years ago is perhaps the most famous conversion of all time.

• If St. Paul’s is the most famous conversion of all time, perhaps the second most famous conversion in our Church’s history is that of St. Augustine.

• St. Augustine was born in 354 in the north African city of Tagaste, which is located in modern day Algeria. While his father was a pagan, Augustine’s mother was the ever-patient and long-suffering St. Monica.

• As Augustine was a very bright student, his parents made sure he was well educated. Sadly, Augustine wasn’t drawn to the religion of his mother as a youth. Instead, he ascribed to various philosophies and Gnostic religion (Manichaeism) for guidance in how to live his life.

• Ultimately, Augustine’s moral life suffered – particularly in the area of chastity – and in his late teens he fathered a son out of wedlock.

• St. Augustine eventually left Africa, moved to Rome, and then to Milan, where he came under the influence of the brilliant St. Ambrose. It is under the tutelage of St. Ambrose that Augustine was converted to our Catholic faith at the age of 31.

• In his autobiographical Confessions, St. Augustine records that he was walking and praying in a garden one day when he heard the voice of a small child saying: “tolle et lege” – “take and read,” and so Augustine opened the Scriptures and began reading.

• By providence he happened to turn to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 13, and he read: “let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”

• And it was at that moment that Augustine, knowing his sinful past, made up his mind to be converted, and soon after he and his son were baptized into our Catholic faith. God’s grace had finally won out, and Augustine went on to become perhaps the most influential theologian in Church history.

• Augustine had lived a life of youthful depravity, but our Lord never gave up on him. And God never gives up on us, no matter how sinful our lives may be. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done wrong in our lives; God’s grace and mercy are always available.

• This is a point that is made clear by our first reading. 2 Chronicles tells us that even though the Israelites practiced all sorts of abominations, the Lord had compassion on His people.

• While God allowed the Israelites to be overthrown and deported to Babylon by their enemies, He eventually delivered them from their captivity and returned them to their rightful land.

• This is because of all of God’s attributes, what stands out is His mercy. And it is of utmost importance that we remember that He is merciful, most especially in the face of our great sinfulness.

• Even when the Lord allows us to suffer for our sins, as he did with the Israelites, He still desires to take us back to Himself. God desires to save us, and He wants us for Himself.

•We also because God is rich in mercy! We rejoice because God desires to save us from our sins! This is exactly what we hear in the readings today.

• Today’s Gospel reading includes the famous verse John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that all who believe in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

• This verse is so important because it’s a summation of the entire Bible. Truly, this verse encapsulates in a nutshell the basic Truth that is conveyed by Sacred Scripture: that God loves us so much that He’ll go to any lengths to save us from our sins.

• And St. Paul teaches us today about the nature of our salvation. Namely, he tells us that salvation is a free gift from God, for we are saved by grace, and grace alone.

• St. Paul goes on to tell us that our works cannot save us. All the same, we cannot ignore doing good works. In fact, St. Paul tells us that as God’s handiwork, we have been created for good works. Good works are the sign of our faith.

• In fact, our cooperation and participation in the work of salvation through prayer and good works is really a matter of allowing God’s grace to take root and work within us. Prayer and good works are the fruits of our faith in God’s saving grace.

• But there is more to our salvation than simply cooperating with God’s grace through good works. Like St. Paul and St. Augustine, we actually must turn away from our sins and be converted!

• The 10 Commandments, which remind us that certain actions are incompatible with Christian living. Sadly, because of the original sin that we inherited from our first parents, we all struggle with concupiscence to some degree.

• Concupiscence is our desire to indulge our lower appetites. It is the yearning for sin that we all struggle with from time to time, and it is why we must constantly seek to turn away from sin. Moreover, in looking to God’s mercy, we must be wary of the sin of presumption.

• The Old Catholic Encyclopedia defines the sin of presumption as: “the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God’s mercy and power, hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of sins without repenting of them.”

• Presumption is a trick the devil uses to lull us into a false sense of security when it comes to the state of our souls. It is the attitude that entices us to go ahead and sin when faced with a temptation because we know of God’s mercy.

• However, if we are so quick to fall into sin, how truly sorry are we for our sins?

• The point, my friends, is that God is indeed merciful – even more merciful than we can imagine.

• Yet He cannot be fooled. If we are not truly sorry for our sins, we cannot hope to be forgiven of them. God never gives up on us, but we must be contrite if we wish to be forgiven. We have to turn toward God with integrity of heart if we want to be saved by Him!

• So as we make our way through the second half of the Lenten season, let us earnestly seek to be converted, as was St. Augustine. Let us turn toward God and live in the light, leaving behind whatever deeds of darkness we may have committed in the past.

• Let us trust that our Lord, in His great love for us, will bring us to eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Our Hearts Long For God

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2012/07/31 at 9:00 AM

From the Tractates on the first letter of John by Saint Augustine, bishop

We have been promised that we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. By these words, the tongue has done its best; now we must apply the meditation of the heart. Although they are the words of Saint John, what are they in comparison with the divine reality? And how can we, so greatly inferior to John in merit, add anything of our own? Yet we have received, as John has told us, an anointing by the Holy One which teaches us inwardly more than our tongue can speak. Let us turn to this source of knowledge, and because at present you cannot see, make it your business to desire the divine vision.

The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire. You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when he comes you may see and be utterly satisfied.

Suppose you are going to fill some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount. Then you set about stretching your sack or wineskin or whatever it is. Why? Because you know the quantity you will have to put in it and your eyes tell you there is not enough room. By stretching it, therefore, you increase the capacity of the sack, and this is how God deals with us. Simply by making us wait he increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of our soul, making it able to receive what is to be given to us.

So, my brethren, let us continue to desire, for we shall be filled. Take note of Saint Paul stretching as it were his ability to receive what is to come: Not that I have already obtained this, he said, or am made perfect. Brethren, I do not consider that I have already obtained it. We might ask him, “If you have not yet obtained it, what are you doing in this life?” This one thing I do, answers Paul, forgetting what lies behind, and stretching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the prize to which I am called in the life above. Not only did Paul say he stretched forward, but he also declared that he pressed on toward a chosen goal. He realised in fact that he was still short of receiving what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.

Such is our Christian life. By desiring heaven we exercise the powers of our soul. Now this exercise will be effective only to the extent that we free ourselves from desires leading to infatuation with this world. Let me return to the example I have already used, of filling an empty container. God means to fill each of you with what is good; so cast out what is bad! If he wishes to fill you with honey and you are full of sour wine, where is the honey to go? The vessel must be emptied of its contents and then be cleansed. Yes, it must be cleansed even if you have to work hard and scour it. It must be made fit for the new thing, whatever it may be.

We may go on speaking figuratively of honey, gold or wine – but whatever we say we cannot express the reality we are to receive. The name of that reality is God. But who will claim that in that one syllable we utter the full expanse of our heart’s desire? Therefore, whatever we say is necessarily less than the full truth. We must extend ourselves toward the measure of Christ so that when he comes he may fill us with his presence. Then we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

“Late have I loved Thee”

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2012/01/29 at 9:11 AM

CHAPTER XXVI

37. Where, then, did I find thee so as to be able to learn of thee? For thou wast not in my memory before I learned of thee. Where, then, did I find thee so as to be able to learn of thee — save in thyself beyond me. Place there is none. We go “backward” and “forward” and there is no place. Everywhere and at once, O Truth, thou guidest all who consult thee, and simultaneously answerest all even though they consult thee on quite different things. Thou answerest clearly, though all do not hear in clarity. All take counsel of thee on whatever point they wish, though they do not always hear what they wish. He is thy best servant who does not look to hear from thee what he himself wills, but who wills rather to will what he hears from thee.

CHAPTER XXVII

38. Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.

CHAPTER XXVIII

39. When I come to be united to thee with all my being, then there will be no more pain and toil for me, and my life shall be a real life, being wholly filled by thee. But since he whom thou fillest is the one thou liftest up, I am still a burden to myself because I am not yet filled by thee. Joys of sorrow contend with sorrows of joy, and on which side the victory lies I do not know.

Confessions  of St. Augustine, Book X,  chapters 26-29.

Augustine of Hippo 354-430 Part I: Rebel and Convert

In 04 Post-Nicean Fathers on 2012/01/11 at 2:20 PM

Augustine was born at Tagaste in North Africa. His father, Patricius, was a pagan city officer.  Although the family was respectable, it was not wealthy.  Augustine did receive a Christian education, however. His mother, Monica, enrolled him among the catechumens, but Augustine did not want to be baptized.  Monica was an ideal wife for her husband, and she prayed for the grace of baptism and OF a holy death.  She was also the ideal mother; she  faithfully prayed for her son for thirty years.  What an answer to prayer she would finally receive!

Augustineʼs father was very proud of his son’s success in school.  His plans to send him to Carthage for a career in forensics was delayed for a year.  During that year of idleness, the sixteen-year-old Augustine strayed into the half-pagan millieu of Carthage.  He eventually confessed to Monica that he had fathered a son whom he named Adeodatus, gift of God.

This moral crisis was accompanied by a crisis of faith.  Augustine joined the sect of the Manichæans and became an ardent supporter and avid defender.  The material dualism of the Persian Mani fascinated the young genius who found Maniʼs teachings congenial.  This dualistic theory taught that God was not present in or was separated from the material universe.  Therefore, one could do whatever one wanted in this material world without sinning as long as one’s mind remained intellectually detached from it.

At first Monica did not welcome her heretic son into their home, but a saintly bishop told her: “The son of so many tears could not perish.”  Augustine, living with his mistress, would wander aimlessly for years; his mother, sorrowing and widowed, would follow him purposefully in prayer for years.

Eventually, Augustine, Monica, his son Adeodatus and his mistress ended up in Milan.  Augustine was barely twenty nine.  Monica introduced him to Bishop Ambrose, and Augustine was inspired by the greatness of spirit of the saintly Ambrose.  And so was the begining of the resolution of his crisis of soul.  Bishop Ambrose’s kindness overwhelmed and fascinated Augustine; he began to attend the holy Bishop’s sermons regularly.  However, Augustine struggled for three years before embracing the Faith.  He was enlaved by his passions.  Tearfully, he sent the mother of his son, his mistress, back to Africa.  Monica then sought to bethroth him to a suitable bride.  However, since the appropriate one was not yet of age, Augustine took another mistress while praying to God: “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

At age thirty-three while reading the Scriptures in a garden as recouperated from sickness, a light penetrated his mind, his soul. He concluded that for faith to be certain, the divine authority of Christ, as found in Sacred Scripture and guaranteed by the Church, was required.  Now, possessed of that certainty, he acknowledged that Jesus Christ was the only way to Truth and Salvation.   He also realized that the Being of God, who cannot be intrinsically evil, underlies all material existence.  Sin in the material world did, in fact, have consequence on the intellect and on the soul.  The only resistance left was that of his heart. Not long afterwards, he heard Christ calling to him personally.  Augustine was, therefore, baptized Easter 387 along with his son, Adeudatus.  Sadly, Adeodatus would die shortly after his baptism.

The Church had gained one of her greatest champions of all ages. Monica died contentedly that year in the arms of her formerly wayward son.  Augustine in his Confessions expresssed beautifully the sentiments of her saintly death and his own grief.  After Monicaʼs death, Augustine remained several months in Rome, mainly refuting Manichæism.

With the publication of his Confessions in 397, Augustine put his sinful past behind him having fully acknowledged it and exposed it fearlessly for the world to see!  Augustine became a convert par excellence, his whole life transformed and caught up in Christ.  He was very much like St. Paul!

In his Confessions Augustine wrote: “Late have I loved Thee!  Too late have I loved Thee!  O Beauty so ancient and so new.”  He continued: “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee!”

Augustine returned to his native Tagaste in 388 and immediately sold all his goods, giving the proceeds to the poor.  He then withdrew with friends to his estate and led a common life of poverty, prayer and study of the Sacred Scripture.  Augustine was not even considering entering the priesthood.  It was the people of Hippo who asked the bishop to ordain Augustine.

When ordained, Augustine looked upon his ordination as an additional reason to resume religious life at Tagaste.  The bishop approved and enabled him to establish a monastery where for five years his priestly endeavors bore admirable fruit.

In 393 Augustine participated in the Plenary Council of Africa, presided by the Bishop of Carthage. There Augustine delivered his famous discourse on Faith.

Three years later at age forty two he became the Bishop of Hippo and would remained so for thirty four  years.  Hippo was the second largest city after Carthage (Modern Tunisia).  During those years, Augustine gained recognition all over the Roman world as the greatest theologian in the Church.  At the same time, Augustine was extemely active in extensive and demanding pastoral duties.  He understood well how to combine the exercise of his pastoral duties with the austerities of religious life.  His episcopal residence became a monastery where he lived a communal life with his clergy, who committed to observe religious poverty.   He lived to see The Rule of Augustine be put into practice in thirty monasteries in North Africa. Augustinian monks follow it to this day.  Augustine was given the title of Patriarch of the Religious and renovator of the clerical life in Africa.

He was above all the defender of Truth and the shepherd of souls. His doctrinal writings have influenced the world ever since.  Augustine preached frequently, often daily.  His charity-filled sermons won hearts.  He wrote letters with solutions for the problems of the day.  These were circulated throughout the Roman Empire.  He maintained: “We make a ladder of our vices, if we trample them under foot.”

Augustine often attracted heretics back to the Faith with charity and truth.

Augustine’s spirit mightily influenced the various African councils: Carthage in 398, 401, 407, 419 and Mileve in 416 and 418, where he struggled constantly and vigorously against all errors.  It was Augustine’s mediation at these regional councils that definitively set the canon of the New Testament for more than a millennium until Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, discarded those books with which he did not agree.

Augustine of Hippo: Part II World Influence

In 04 Post-Nicean Fathers on 2012/01/11 at 1:09 PM

Augustine’s importance in the Church History is beyond measure. Through the ages, philosophers, thinkers and writers have cited this world-class rhetoricianʼs phrases and thoughts. Augustine was the great analyzer and synthesizer of the Classical and Patristic Eras, bringing together in his preaching and writings the philosophy of Plato, the doctrine of Nicaea, the Biblical research of Alexandria and Antioch, the sublimity of Eastern theology and combining all with the pastoral practicality of the West.

Augustine understood the heart’s deepest needs, and has often been called the Father of Psychology for the introspective probing he revealed in his CONFESSIONS.  He is also considered to be the inventor of autobiographical writing.

Augustineʼs book: THE CITY OF GOD became a major foundational work in political thought. His ON THE TRINITY is a great systematic summary of the Church’s legacy from Nicaea and Constantinople.

In 429, the year before Augustineʼs death, eighty thousand Vandals had crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and within a year had taken over all of Roman North Africa to the east of Augustineʼs Hippo.  Bishops and clergy sought Augustine’s advice on whether to flee or not since everywhere the Vandals were destroying churches and killing the priests.  Augustine responded that everyone should be permitted to flee particularly if they could not defend themselves.  However, bishops should stay  as long as they could be of any service to their flocks. Augustine died in his besieged Hippo in 430.

The late Roman empire was in its death throes; impending doom was everywhere.  Yet, no one could really imagine what would be coming even though some like Augustine, suspected it. By the latter part of the Fourth Century, the Roman Empire which had dominated the West for half a millennium was beyond salvation.  The empire had rotten from within and the dry wood crumbled under the Barbarian invasions.

The writings of virtually all those seeking sanctity during this Patristic age, pulse with the desire to escape the profoundly decadent, festering corrupt society, should they be able to do so without failing in their essential duties.

During these tumultuous years of upheaval and afterwards, many followed the monastic vocation permanently.  However, some like Jerome, Basil, and Chrysostom, would returned to the world. God had other plans for them.

For a while, during the time of Alaricʼs sack of Rome, the life of the Church had continued in the sanctuary of Africa, flourishing because of the presence and influence of the Churchʼs supreme genius and holiest of men, Augustine of Hippo.  But now Augustine was dead.  And, with the Fall of Rome in 476, all looked quite dark. The Church needed cleansing and expiation were needed, and Christians needed a renewal.  Monasteries would play an important role in filling both needs in the coming centuries.

Augustine Part III: Heresies Battled and Defeated

In 04 Post-Nicean Fathers on 2012/01/11 at 12:00 PM

Augustine dealt a death blow to three major heresies: Manicheanism, Donatism and Pelagianism. Augustine’s approach was persuasion; leading to the sincere conversion of mind and heart.

DONATISM: Maintained that sanctity was a requisite for church membership and the administration of sacraments.   Donatism asked: Could the sinner be pardoned?  Do the priestly powers depend upon the moral worthiness of the priest? How can the holiness of the Church be compatible with the unworthiness of its clergy?  This heresy had a criminal history of appalling atrocities: cutting out tongues to prevent preaching by opponents and blinding eyes with a mixture of lime and vinegar.

At Carthage in 411 in presence of two hundred and eight six Catholic bishops and two hundred and seventy nine Donatist bishops,  Augustine established the Catholic principle that the Church, as long as it is upon earth, could, without losing its holiness, tolerate sinners within it for the sake of converting them. Augustine was so victorious in debating this schismatic and viciously violent movement that it gradually withered and died,  disappearing  with the coming of the Vandals.

PELAGIANISM: This heresy was more widespread and challenging.  Augustine was its main router.  Major support was given him by Jerome who although in his eighties was still full of fire.

Pelagius was a brilliant man; Augustine debated him.  Augustine’s series of sermons on Pelagianism gave the world a substantial amount of treatises on the subject.  His famous OF NATURE AND GRACE  gained him the appellation:  the Church’s Doctor of Grace.

In Palestine, the Pelagians burned Jerome’s Bethlehem monastery and its magnificent library.  They depriving the world of the extensive writing of one of the greatest Christian scholars, much to the sorrow of theologians and historians down the years.

When Augustine received news of this outrage, he convened episcopal synods in Africa and these appealed to Pope Innocent to settle the matter as they expressed it: “by the authority of the Apostolic See whose authority comes from the authority of the Holy Scriptures”.  At this time the Pope was considered the most important authority over the whole Church and he gave the ruling: “We judge by the authority of the Apostolic power that Pelagius be deprived of ecclesiastical communion until he returns to the faith out of the snares of the Devil.”

The Council at Carthage in 412 condemned Pelagians for their attacks upon the doctrine of original sin.  Augustineʼs  writings contributed to reiteration of the condemnations at later councils held at Carthage and Mileve, both of which were then confirmed by the Pope.  Heresy is rarely so easily destroyed and it resurged.  In a second wave of Pelagianism, the Pope enlightened by Augustine’s writings, solemnly condemned the heretics, and a later emperor barred all Pelagians from Rome.

Augustine’s defense of free will is a fountainhead of arguments for this argument which endure even today.  Unfortunately, Augustineʼs intricate theological speculations led later to unfortunate misinterpretation in later generation.  Incorrect interpretation of what Augustine wrote misled Calvinists and Jansenists centuries  to think that Augustine, who so loved the Church and served the Pope, supported their new conclusions and was of the same mind as themselves.

Augustine died in 430 but he still  battles heresy through his writings.  not counting the Bible, Augustine is the most cited individual in Councils, Church dogma, even up to the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church .

And, the question that remains today is how can an individual find out what the truth is when there are so many voices calling different tunes?

In one point alone, all the heresies seem universally to have agreed: hatred of the Church. St. Paul tells us that the heretic “ is condemned by himself.” From the Fathers  we know that sects are named for their founders or for their doctrine. The Church’s common name, however, which was understood in the market place and used in the palace, was the “Catholic Church” and as was recognized from the first earliest times by: Clement, Ignatius, Justin, Ireneaus, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril, Basil, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine.

Amid disorders and fears of those times, there was (and still is) one voice for whose decision the people wait and trust in, one Name and one See to which they look as home; that name is Peter and that see is Rome.

The rule was/is simple: The Church is everywhere, but it is one; sects are everywhere, but they are many, independent and discordant.  Catholicity is the attribute of the Church; Independency of Sectarians.

Jerome of Rome and Bethlehem 347 – 419

In 04 Post-Nicean Fathers on 2012/01/05 at 9:15 AM

Poetess Phyllis McGinley provides a thumbnail profile of Jerome calling him  Godʼs Angry Man: “His crotchety scholar,  was Saint Jerome, the great name-caller, who cared not a dime for the laws of libel, and in his spare time  translated the Bible.”

It is true that Jerome was a real hot head. Saints are neither impeccable nor infallible. A man of unique literary and intellectual gifts he had  a variety of  equally unusual personality quirks. He was choleric to comic degree, but yet he became THE classical scholar.

AT a very early age Jerome  great literary skill. At twelve he left his home in Croatia for Rome to begin formal studies in the classics. As a youth he was immoral.  Later,  he tried living  a community with Christians but quarreled with his companions. So he set off traveling. In Rome he learned Hebrew in Rome from a Jewish rabbi. Then he went into the Syrian desert for five years.  He was ordained a priest in Antioch but then went to Constatinople.  He became a friend of Gregory Nazianzus from whom he learned Greek. Jerome listed Nazianzen as one of the most the famous Scripture scholars under whom he studied.

Next,  Jerome became trusted secretary and aid to the Pope and travelled for him throughout the Empire.  Jerome aided the Pope in preparing a list of all books rightly belonging in the canon of Scripture as later proclaimed by Augustine.  When in Rome, Jerome tutored in theology and Scripture groups of aristocratic women  who had gathered into house monasteries.

But when the Pope commissioned him to revise the Latin edition of the Four Gospels Jerome returned to the Syrian desert where he worked in his cell for three years. Returning to Rome he soon alienated its priests with harsh.  pursued by bitter enemies, when the Pope died, Jerome left Rome again, and headed for Bethlehem via Antioch and Alexandria.

In Bethlehem he settled in a monastery near a convent founded by two Roman ladies who came to Palestine to continue learning from him.  From this time on he led a life of  asceticism and study.  However, he was still  troubled by controversies.

In Bethlehem Jerome  would work for more than thirty years on translating the Bible, Scriptural commentaries, histories, and other translations. All these are a monument to Christian scholarship unmatched for a 1000 years.  The Vulgate was the first Christian translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew into Latin.

While Jerome gave all his attention to the translation of the Old Testament according to the Hebrew, he still alternated this work with many others.The literary activity of St. Jerome although very prolific can be summed up under a few principal categories: the Bible, theological controversies, historical works, translations and letters. Jeromeʼs correspondence is one of the best known parts of his literary output: about 120 letters from him and several to him. Many of these letters were written with a view to publication and some of them Jerome even edited them himself. They show evidence of great care and skill in their composition, revealing Jerome to be a master of style.

These letters which met with great success with his contemporaries, would become together with the “Confessions” of St. Augustine, one of the works most appreciated by the humanists of the Renaissance. Aside from their literary interest they have great historical value. Relating to a period covering half a century they touch upon most varied subjects. They are divided into categories: theology, controversy, criticism, conduct, and biography.

These letters reveal Jerome’s personality. He could not tolerate error which touched the Blessed Virgin. When Helvitius, a Roman layman, argued that Mary bore other children after Jesus, Jerome demolished his arguments and Helvidius himself in and enormous letter.

It is in this correspondence one can clearly see his temperament: his hypersensitivity, his cantankerous his love of extremes. He could express himself exquisitely but also sarcastic,  and blunt about others as well himself.

The theological writings of Jerome are mainly controversial works composed for the occasion. He is not considered a theologian because he did not apply himself in and orderly manner to doctrinal questions.  Most of his writings were dealing with controversies where he acted as interpreter of accepted ecclesiastical doctrine.

Jerome lived in the days the barbarians were scouring the Roman Empire. In 377 the Goths had plundered Thrace, defeating the now incompetent Roman armies. The Goths wrecked pagan shrines with pleasure, bringing to an end pagan diabolical mystery rites to an end. They usually spared churches and were open to conversion to Christianity. The Goths were in the Roman empire to stay and thirty two years later, having learned the basics of siege warfare, they took Rome itself. And, then thirty-six years later the daughter of Emperor Theodosius married the King of the Goths.

During this time Goths were evangelized. A Christian captive woman brought up by theGoths translated the Bible into the Gothic language and became the apostle to the Goths.

But from Mongolia, the various Stans, the Urals, across the plains, and crossing the Volga, rode the Huns. They fell like a thunderbolt upon the semicivilized Germanic Goths. In one shattering blow the Huns routed the Visigoths. In 395 the Huns finally struck the empire directly.

Jerome wrote: “They filled the whole earth with slaughter and panic alike as they flitted hither and thither on their swift horses. They were at hand everywhere before they were expected: by their speed they outstripped rumor, and the took pity neither upon religion nor rank nor age nor wailing childhood.”

Jerome called the Huns “a beast-race misbegotten in some lost hellish corner.” But later, even many Huns were evangelized by Frumentius, the Goth, who became the Apostle to the Huns along the Danube, from Hungary to Germany.

Jerome of Rome and Bethlehem

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2012/01/05 at 9:11 AM

Below is a collection of links to primary resources and to various writings of Jerome. Each source has something different to offer.  Many of these sources will lead you to other sources of interest.  So, feel free to be a detective and seek out the information that is most helpful or relevant to you.  Our hope is that the search will lead you to a deeper Faith or simply enrich your knowledge. 

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.toc.html

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.html

http://christianbookshelf.org/jerome/the_principal_works_of_st_jerome/index.html

http;//www.catholic=forum.com/saints/stj06001.htmhttp://books.google.com/books/about/The_homilies_of_Saint_Jerome.html?id=2MBHW1WHAbsC

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2599099/posts

Lives of Illustrious Men (on Ambrose) http://saints.sqpn.com/sta07003.htm

Letters of Jerome http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001.htm   

Perpetual Virginity of Mary http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3007.htm 
Against the Pelagians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3011.htm   
Against the Luciferians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3005.htm