Archive for the ‘> Post-Nicean Writings’ Category

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.



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.
i Breviary

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


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.


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.


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.

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. 






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   

John Chrysostom

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2011/12/28 at 8:11 AM

Below is a collection of links to primary resources and to various writings of John Chrysostom. 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. 














Homily on Ignatius of Antioch   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1905.htm
Homilies on Acts of the Aposles http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2101.htm
Homilies on First Corinthians  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2201.htm
Homilies on Second Corinthians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2202.htm
Homilies on the Philippians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2302.htm
Homilies on the Colossians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2303.htm
Homilies on First Thessalonians  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2304.htm
Homilies on Second Thessalonians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2305.htm
Homilies on the Gospel of John http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2401.htm
To Theodore after his fall  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1903.htm
Instructions to Catechumens http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1908.htm
Homily on “Father, if this be possible…”http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1910.htm
“If your enemy hunger, feed him” http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1912.htm
Correspondence with Pope Innocent I http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1918.htm

Ambrose of Milan

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2011/12/13 at 1:40 AM

Below is a collection of links to primary resources and to various writings of Ambrose of Milan. 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. 







On the Holy Spirit:
Exposition of Christian Faith:
Concerning Virginity:
Concerning Widows
Concerning Repentance:
On the Duties of the Clergy:
On the Death of His Brother, Satyrus:
Giving up of the Basilicas  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3411.htm   
About Ambrose by Jerome  Lives of Illustrious Menhttp://saints.sqpn.com/sta07003.htm

Augustine of Hippo

In > Post-Nicean Writings on 2011/08/08 at 1:42 PM

Below is a collection of links to primary resources and to various writings of Augustine of Hippo. 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.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/St. Augustine on St. John the Baptism.htm





 – Confessions   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1101.htm

– Letters   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102.htm

– City of God   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1201.htm

– Christian Doctrine   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm

– On the Holy Trinity  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1301.htm

– Handbook of Faith, Hope and Love  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1302.htm

– On the Catechising of the Uninstructed   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1303.htm

– On Faith and the Creed http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1304.htm

– Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1305.htm

– On the Profit of Believing  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1306.htm

– On the Creed: A Sermon to Catechumens http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1307.htm

– On Continence   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1308.htm

– On the Good of Marriage http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1309.htm

– On Holy Virginity http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1310.htm

– On the Good of Widowhood http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1311.htm

– On Lying http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1312.htm

– To Consentius: Against Lying  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1313.3

– On the Work of Monks http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1314.htm

– On Patience http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1315.htm

– On Care to be Had For the Dead http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1316.htm

– On the Morals of the Catholic Church http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1401.htm

– On the Morals of the Manichaeans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1402.htm

– On Two Souls, Against the Manichaeans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1403.htm

– Acts or Disputation Against Fortunatus the Manichaean http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1404.htm

– Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1405.htm

– Reply to Faustus the Manichaean http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1406.htm

– Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1407.htm

– On Baptism, Against the Donatists http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1408.htm

– Answer to Letters of Petilian, Bishop of Cirta

– Merits and Remission of Sin, and Infant Baptism http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1501.htm

– On the Spirit and the Letter http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1502.htm

– On Nature and Grace http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1503.htm

– On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1504.htm

– On the Proceedings of Pelagius

– On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1506.htm

– On Marriage and Concupiscence http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1507.htm

– On the Soul and its Origin http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1508.htm

– Against Two Letters of the Pelagians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1509.htm

– On Grace and Free Will http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1510.htm

– On Rebuke and Grace http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

– The Predestination of the Saints/Gift of Perseverance http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1512.htm

– Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1601.htm

– The Harmony of the Gospels http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602.htm

– Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1603.htm

– Tractates on the Gospel of John http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701.htm

– Homilies on the First Epistle of John http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1702.htm

– Soliloquies http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1703.htm

–  Expositions, on the Psalms   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1801.htm

Late Have I Loved Thee in Confessions, Book X