Pre-Modern Church Fathers (8th to 18th Centuries)

Asteriktos

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One of the brethren asked Abba Agathon which is the better, bodily asceticism or the guarding of our inner state. The elder replied: 'Man is like a tree: bodily asceticism is the leaves, the guarding of our inner state the fruit. Since, according to the Scriptures, "every tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt. 3:10), it is clear that all our efforts should be devoted to producing the fruit, that is, to keeping watch over our intellect. But we also need the shelter and canopy of the leaves - bodily asceticism.' How astonishing it is that this saint denounced those who fail to learn how to keep watch over the intellect and who boast only of their bodily asceticism: every tree, he said, which does not produce fruit - by which is meant keeping watch over the intellect - but only has leaves, that is, bodily asceticism, is cut down and thrown into the fire. How terrible, father, is your verdict.

-- Nikiphoros the Monk (d. 13th century), On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart
 

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And the Lamb of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and drew down on Himself the apportioned curse, being made a curse for us. And what is that but the price of our souls? And so the oracle says in our person: "By his stripes we were healed," and "The Lord delivered him for our sins," with the result that uniting Himself to us and us to Himself, and appropriating our sufferings, He can say, "I said, Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee".

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), Source
 

Asteriktos

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I also accept every God-inspired book of the Old and New Testaments as well as the biographies and divine writings of all the holy fathers, teachers, and ascetics... In addition, I acknowledge that the monastic life is lofty and exalted, even angelic, pure of every sin on account of its perfect way of life. It is clear that the monastic life must be ordered according to the ascetic rules of the holy Basil the Great and not by half measures so that some in one place choose some rules and let others go.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Testament (Source)
 

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Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of you salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins. Putting them off year after year, month after month, day after day, you will not at all desire with your whole heart to repent, and you will not find one to have compassion on you.

O with what torture you will then begin to repent without success. Having the opportunity today to do some good deed, do not put off until tomorrow, my beloved soul, holy repentance, because you do not know what today will bring forth or what misfortune might happen to you this night. For you do not know what the day or night will bring, whether a long life stands before you or not, or if you will suddenly and unexpectedly receive a miserable and speedy death.

-- St. Paisius Velichkovsky (d. 1794), Source
 

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Anathema to those who spurn the teachings of the holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church, taking as a pretext and making their own the arguments of Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Dioscorus, that unless we were evidently taught by the Old and New Testaments, we should not follow the teachings of the holy Fathers and of the holy Ecumenical Synods, and the tradition of the Catholic Church.

-- 7th Ecumenical Council, Session 1 (Source)
 

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Many doubt whether the things that are said about the blessed Gerald are true, and some think that they are certainly not true but fantastic. Others, as though seeking excuses for their sins, extol him indiscreetly, saying that Gerald was powerful and rich, and lived well, and is certainly a saint. They strive indeed to excuse their luxurious lives by his example. It seemed to me therefore that I ought to reply a little to these according to my ability. For I too, formerly, hearing the fame of his miracles, was nevertheless in doubt, and for this reason chiefly, that stores get about here and there, through I know not what channels, and are then gradually discredited as empty. Now with the others, now alone, I carefully investigated what each one said and whether they agreed, silently pondering if his life was one in which miracles frequently occured. Having learned how religiously he lived and that God had shown this man to be in His grace by many signs, I could no longer doubt of his sanctity. I marvel rather, that in this age of ours, when charity has almost entirely grown cold, and the time of Antichrist is at hand, the miracles of the saints should not cease, but He is mindful of the promise, that He makes by Jeremiah: "I will not turn away from doing good to [my people]" (Jes. 32:40)

-- St. Odo of Cluny (d. 942), The Life of Saint Gerald of Aurillac (Source)
 

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"And should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord's love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal. Rather, let us learn that a thousand years in the sight of the Lord are but a single day, and a single day is as a thousand years (cf. Ps. 90:4). Let us be neither hasty nor tardy, and let us always be ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant."

-- St. Peter of Damaskos (p.233, The Philokalia, Vol.3)
 

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Tell me now, worthy friend, what I ask of thee,
Tell me where thou dost dwell who art snatched away?
With what souls has thy lot been appointed thee?
Hast risen to the regions celestial?
Hast thou attained to the things thou hopedst for?
Hast thou found an abode in the shining light?
O tell me Where the choirs of the living make melody,
As the shout of their triumph goes up to the Lord,
Their Alleluia.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Hymn For the Burial of a Monk (Source)
 

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After Vespers, and late at night, especially on long dark nights, the saint used to leave his cell and go the round of the monk's cells. If he heard anyone saying his prayers, or making genuflections, or busy with his own handiwork, he was gratified and gave thanks to God. If, on the other hand, he heard two or three monks chatting together, or laughing, he was displeased, rapped on the door or window, and passed. on. In the morning he would send for them and, indirectly, quietly and gently, by means of some parable, reprove them. If he was a humble and submissive brother he would quickly admit his fault and, bowing low before St. Sergius, would beg his forgiveness. If, instead, he was not a humble brother, and stood erect thinking he was not the person referred to, then the saint, with patience, would make it clear to him, and order him to do a public penance. In this way they all learned to pray to God assiduously; not to chat with one another after Vespers, and to do their own handiwork with all their might; and to have the Psalms of David all day on their lips.

-- St. Sergius of Radonezh (d. 1392), The Life, Acts and Miracles of our Revered and Holy Father Abbot Sergius (Source)
 

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And also, far and wide, as we said before, more than should be are lost and perjured through the breaking of oaths and through violations of pledges, and through various lies; and non-observances of church feasts and fasts widely occur time and again. And also there are here in the land Gods adversaries, degenerate apostates, and hostile persecutors of the Church and entirely too many grim tyrants, and widespread despisers of divine laws and Christian virtues, and foolish deriders everywhere in the nation, most often of those things that the messengers of God command, and especially those things that always belong to Gods law by right. And therefore things have now come far and wide to that full evil way that men are more ashamed now of good deeds than of misdeeds; because too often good deeds are abused with derision and the Godfearing are blamed entirely too much, and especially are men reproached and all too often greeted with contempt who love right and have fear of God to any extent.

St. Wulfstan II of York (d. 1023), The sermon of the Wolf to the English
 

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Hence she is the treasury and overseer of the riches of the Godhead. For it is an everlasting ordinance in the heavens that the inferior partake of what lies beyond being, by the mediation of the superior, and the Virgin Mother is incomparably superior to all. It is through her that as many as partake of God do partake, and as many as know God understand her to be the enclosure of the Uncontainable One, and as many as hymn God praise her together with Him. She is the cause of what came before her, the champion of what came after her and the agent of things eternal. She is the substance of the prophets, the principle of the apostles, the firm foundation of the martyrs and the premise of the teachers of the Church . She is the glory of those upon earth, the joy of celestial beings, the adornment of all creation. She is the beginning and the source and root of unutterable good things; she is the summit and consummation of everything holy.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
 

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"If someone seeks for success and pleasure, comfort and glory in this world, then he loves the wisdom of this world. But if someone struggles for what is contrary to these things - if he suffers, practices self-control, and endures all kinds of afflictions and disgrace for the kingdom of heaven - then he loves the wisdom of God. The first longs to attain material benefits, secular learning and secular power, and often suffers on this account; but the second shares the sufferings of Christ. Thus the first places all his hopes in the things of this world, desiring to possess them even though they are transitory and hard to come by; while the second is hidden from the 'eyes of the foolish', as Holy Scripture puts it (Wisd.3:2), but is clearly revealed in the world to come, when everything hidden is disclosed."

-- St. Peter of Damaskos (p. 274, The Philokalia, Vol. 3)
 

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“For he created all things that they might be: and he made the nations of the earth for health: and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor kingdom of hell upon the earth.” (Wisdom of Solomon 1:14) This verse shows that God is the author of good things - not of the bad, thus he is a righteous judge, who rightly vindicates foul acts and sins. We do not sin by necessity when we transgress, but through the perverse volition which proceeds from the nature (quality) of free will. We know God to be the righteous and good creator of our human substance and of both internal and external senses, so that all that pertains to nature comes from him, and all that is against nature does not come from him. Sin is against nature and it is from it that death and all things that belong to it arise. With these evils man vested himself when, stripped of his faith and obedience, the devil turned him away from the Law of God through his promises, and he bound to himself all the seeds of his posterity by the condition transmitted to the offspring.

Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda, Commentary on the Book of Wisdom I, 3 (Patrologia Latina 109, col. 676-677) 
 

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We must not despair about anybody, as long as the patience of God leads him to repent, since God desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live (Ez. 33:11). He is a pagan today: how do you know whether he won’t become a Christian tomorrow? He is an infidel Jew today: what if tomorrow he believes in Christ? He is a heretic today: what if tomorrow he follows the catholic truth? He is a schismatic today: what if tomorrow he embraces the catholic peace? What if these whom you see in any sort of error and you condemn as totally hopeless, before they end this life, repent and find true life? Whoever spoke any words, in all his life in this body – whatever its length, be it with his mouth or only in thought, with an impenitent heart, against the remission of sins that is in the Church, spoke against the Holy Spirit.

Thus, if the Father, the Son and the Spirit forgive sins, why is that unforgivable impenitence said to be blasphemous to the Spirit only, as if he who is bound by the sin of this impenitence seemed to oppose the very gift of the Holy Spirit by which remission of sins is possible? Among others, these things are said to stress the inseparable operation of the Trinity. When the Father is said to do something, it must not be understood that he works without the Son and the Holy Spirit; when the Son does something, it is not without the Father and the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit acts, it is not without the Father and the Son. This is well known to those who believe rightly or to those who strive to understand as they can. It was said of the Father that “he does the works”, because the origin of works is from him from whom the existence of the cooperating Persons originates: the Son is born from him, and the Holy Spirit principally proceeds from him, who begat the Son, with whom he has the same Spirit in common.

This is why the Lord Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit; not that he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this by himself and he would have needed the Spirit to come to his aid because he was not strong enough for the deed. But the spirit divided in itself was conveniently expelled by that Spirit, whom the Father and the Son have undivided in himself in common. So also the sins, because they are not forgiven outside the Church, needed to be remitted in that Spirit in whom the Church is gathered as one.

So, if somebody regrets his sins outside the Church, but his heart is impenitent for such a great sin that is alien to the Church of God, what use is his penitence to him, if he says this one word against the Holy Spirit, through which he excludes himself from the Church, who received this gift so that the remission of sins be done in it through the Holy Spirit? Although this remission is the work of the Trinity, it is understood to belong peculiarly to the Holy Spirit.        

For him who opposes this gift, so that he does not ask for penitence through it, but contradicts it impenitently, his sins become irremissible; not any sin in particular, but the despised or opposed remission of sins. Thus is the Holy Spirit spoken against, when one never comes from the dissipation to the congregation, which received the Spirit to forgive sins.  

--Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), Commentary on the Wisdom of Sirach V, 1 (PL 109, col. 903-905)
 

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^If you post another one of those I promise to shine your boots for a month!  ;D
 

Asteriktos

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Those who have broken the bonds of worldly sense-perception are free from all servitude to the senses: they live solely in the Spirit, communing with Him, impelled by Him, and brought through Him in some measure into union with the Father and the Logos who are one in essence with Him; and so they become a single spirit with God, as St. Paul says (cf. 1 Cor. 6:17). Not only are they exempt from the dominion of the demons but they actually fill them with terror, since they share in the divine fire and are in fact called fire.

St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. 11th century), On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts, 20
 

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“Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman.” (Gen. 2:21-22) That woman was made from man’s rib must be believed to have happened thus for the very power [of his desire to be] united with her (propter ipsius coniunctionis vim). That the bone extracted was replaced by flesh while he was sleeping was done for the sake of a higher mystery. This was to signify that sacraments of salvation were to come out from the rib of Christ who fell asleep by dying on the Cross: blood and water, from which the Church would be built as a spouse for him. 

Had it not been for the type of such great a sacrament in the creation of woman, what need was there for Adam to be asleep, so that God could take the rib from which he made the woman, since he could have done the same with Adam being awake and without causing him pain? Why was it necessary that, when the bone taken from man’s rib was built into the woman, the bone be replaced not by bone, but by flesh, if not to signify that Christ became weak for the sake of the Church, whereas the Church would be strengthened through him?   

For the sake of the same mystery, Scripture employed a symbolic word, not saying that God “made” or “fashioned” or “created” as with all his other creatures, but that “the Lord God built (aedificavit) the rib which he took from Adam into a woman”, as if speaking not of a human body, but of a house: which (house) we are, if only we keep the faith and the glory of hope strong until the end. Thus was it fit that the origin of mankind proceed through God’s aid, so as to bear witness through corresponding symbols to the redemption which was to come at the end of the world (in fine saeculi) by the same Creator.

We must know there is no way to attain the summit of contemplation, unless we cease from the oppression of exterior preoccupations. We never behold ourselves, so as to know that there is reason which rules, and another animal/psychic part (aliud animale) which is being ruled, unless, returning to the secret of silence, we fall asleep from all exterior disturbance. This silence of ours Adam signified well by being asleep, from whose rib the woman proceeded instantly – through this everyone is carried off (rapitur) to understand what he bears inside himself, when he shuts the invisible eyes of the mind, and then distinguishes within himself that which must rule manly and that which must be subjected as weaker, so that there be a part that can rule as man and another to be ruled as woman. 
 
--Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), Commentary on Genesis I, 14 (PL 107, col. 484-485)                 

 

Asteriktos

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We believe to be members of the Catholic Church all the Faithful, and only the Faithful; who, forsooth, having received the blameless Faith of the Saviour Christ, from Christ Himself, and the Apostles, and the Holy Œcumenical Synods, adhere to the same without wavering; although some of them may be guilty of all manner of sins. For unless the Faithful, even when living in sin, were members of the Church, they could not be judged by the Church. But now being judged by her, and called to repentance, and guided into the way of her salutary precepts, though they may be still defiled with sins, for this only, that they have not fallen into despair, and that they cleave to the Catholic and Orthodox faith, they are, and are regarded as, members of the Catholic Church.

-- Pat. Dositheus II of Jerusalem (d. 1707), Confession of Dositheus (Source)
 
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