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

Asteriktos

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In his latter years Aymardus became blind an affliction which he bore without a murmur as he did all his other adversities. It was probably on account of his blindness that after sixteen years of rule he retired from active participation in the administration of the monastery His blindness was the occasion for an instance of marvellous humility of which Peter Damian wrote to a friend After Maiolus was appointed coadjutor and successor. Aymardus withdrew to the infirmary to spend his last years in peace. One day he wanted a cheese. When he asked the cellarius to fetch it the latter roughly replied that so many abbots were a nuisance and that he could not attend to all their commands. Cut off by his blindness Aymardus brooded over the insult as the blind are wont to do. Then he asked to be led to the chapter house where, approaching Maiolus, he said: "Brother Maiolus I did not set thee over me that thou shouldest persecute me or order me about as a master orders a slave but that as a son thou mightest have compassion on thy father." After many more words he concluded: "Art thou indeed my monk?" Maiolus replied that he was and never more so than at that moment. "If that be so," Aymardus rejoined, "give up thy seat and take the one thou hadst before." Immediately Maiolus obeyed and Aymardus seating himself on the abbatial chair accused the cellarer, whom prostrate on the ground he rebuked and enjoined to do penance. Then descending from the abbot's throne he ordered Maiolus to ascend which the latter did without either haste or delay.

-- said of: St. Aymard of Cluny (d. 965), Source
 

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With the taste for intellectual pursuits, that for theological speculations and discussions also revived. During the reign of Manuel Comnenus the question was raised whether Christ had offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world to the Father and to the Holy Ghost only, or also to the Logos, i.e., to Himself. At a synod held at Constantinople in 1156 the latter view was declared to be the orthodox. Ten years later a controversy arose as to whether the saying of Christ, "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28), referred to His Divine nature, to His human, or to the union of these two natures. The question was discussed by persons of all classes, and that with an earnestness and ardour which recalls the kindred controversies in the fourth century. At last the view of the Emperor that the expression referred to the God man carried at the Synod of Constantinople in 1166. Those who refused to submit had their property confiscated or were exiled.

-- Source
 

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[Emperor Leo] even summoned the holy patriarch Germanos, thinking he could persuade him to subscribe to opposing the holy icons. But in no way would the noble servant of Christ obey Leo’s abominable, wicked doctrine. He rightly taught the true doctrine, but bade farewell to his position as chief prelate. He gave up his surplice and, after many instructive words, said, “If I am Jonah, cast me into the sea. For, Emperor, I cannot make innovations in the faith without an ecumenical conference.” He went off to the Platanaion and went into seclusion at his ancestral home, having been patriarch for fourteen years, five months, and seven days.

-- said of: St. Germanos of Constantionpel (d. 733), Source
 

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I wonder what kind of "innovations" St. Germanos has in mind here as being possible, whether merely in terminology, or something deeper than that.
 

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Then, you will say, if a living man has the dispositions you mention in his soul, and yet does not partake of the holy mysteries, will he nevertheless receive the sanctification which the sacrament gives? Not in all cases; only when it is physically impossible for him to receive the elements, as it is for the dead. Such was the case of the solitaries who lived in the desert, or in caves and grottoes in the mountain-side, and could not avail themselves of priest or altar. Christ gave them this sanctification in an invisible manner. We know this because they had life, which they could not have had without partaking of the sacrament, for Christ himself said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Another proof is the fact that God sent angels to several of these men with the sacrament.

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. 1392), Commentary on the Divine Liturgy 42
 

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Like other Western hagiographers, Eigil adjusted the solitude to the environmental conditions of a cold and wet north-western Europe and, instead of hte heat of a bare desert, where the devil tested God's servants with demons in the shape of lions, leopards, serpents and scorpions, Sturmi encountered smelly pagans and the darkness of towering trees. Similar images cannot only be found in the Vita Sturmi, but also in both earlier and contemporary hagiography such as the Vita Wynnebaldi written by Wynnebald's sister, Hygeburc of Heidenheim, around 785. In this vita, Hygeburc carefully described the establishment of Heidenheim, the foundation of her brother, in Sualeveld, near Eichstatt, Heidenheim was a place of holiness in th emiddle of the woods in a region that was inhabited by pagans, foreordained by God to become a monastery.

Eigil described the environment of Fulda in full detail not only to demonstrate the remoteness and holiness of the area where the abbey was established according to hagiographic conventions, but also to illustrate the different phases by which Sturmi's journey progressed. One of his examples in this respect had been the Vita Antonii, in which Antony's ascent to the ideal of complete poverty, abstinence and solitude and his search for God is also expressed in terms of landscape and nature. As Antony moved deeper into the desert and further away from civilization, from his hometown via a deserted fort at the Outer Mountain to the foot of the so-called Inner Mountain, so too Sturmi penetrated Buchonia's forests until he discovered the idea place to found a monastery. Like Antony's biographer, Eigil invited his listeners and readers to follow Sturmi on his journey, which had been not only a physical experience but also a spiritual pilgrimage, and to relive it in a mystical sense.

-- about the establishment of monasticism in Fulda (8th century Germany), Source
 

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It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit. Since, therefore, God is spiritual light (1 John 1:5), and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2) and Dayspring , the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises... So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten.

-- St. John of Damascus (d. 749), Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 4.12
 

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When we Greeks find fault with the filioque, they shake Peter's keys at us […] Nevertheless, differences of custom and usage are no sufficient ground for schism. Experience shows that arguing about azyma and Lenten fasts gets nowhere. The Greeks should be accommodating and make concessions to the ignorant western barbarians, hoping that in time they will correct their errors to conform to the apostolic tradition stemming from Jerusalem.

—Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid (d. 1107), The Errors of the Latins in Ecclesiastical Matters
 

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The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification. Now, indeed, we receive the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination of another life. It behooves us, then, with all our strength to steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning to his vomit (2 Pet. 2:22), make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. (James 2:26) For the true faith is attested by works.

-- St. John of Damascus (d. 749), Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 4.9
 

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Whether someone has preserved within himself that which is "according to the image and likeness" from the beginning, or has been recalled to and recovered it, in either case he is thus in possession of the faculty of natural sight. Such a man therefore goes about his life in becoming fashion as in broad daylight. He sees everything for what it is by nature. He does not wonder at the surface glitter of things, but beholds their essence and quality and so remains unmoved, paying attention only to what is stable and enduring. He sees gold and pays no mind to its gleaming, but understands that it is stuff which comes from the earth and is mere stone and dust, incapable of ever being changed into anything else. He sees silver, pearls, all the precious stones, and his perception is not stolen away by their lovely colors, but he sees them all as stones like any other stone, and reckons them all together as clay.

He sees valuable, silken robes and is not amazed by their embroidery, but considers that they are merely the dung of worms, and he pities those who delight in them and seek to acquire them as something precious. He sees someone who is acclaimed, seated on a throne and escorted by many people in solemn procession down the street, or puffed-up with pride, and is disposed to regard it all as a dream. He smiles and is astonished at men's ignorance. He sees the world and lives and walks in the middle of a great city--the Lord is my witness Who works these things in us--as if he were alone in all the world, and he lives with men as if he were in a trackless wilderness, and as if he had nothing to do with anyone or knew no man on earth. Thus is such a man disposed to live.

When therefore this man sees a woman who has a beautiful body, he does not see the blossoming beauty of her face, but sees her instead as rot and mud, as already dying and having become entirely what he is indeed in the process of becoming. His intellect would never admire her outward bloom, but sees instead the material corruption which exists within, of which the whole body is composed. For what is a body other than the juice of masticated food? And, even if he were to wish to consider her outwards beauty, he knows how to wonder at the Maker in proportion to His works and not to worship the creature rather than the Creator. For thus he recognizes the Maker, from the gradeur and beauty of His works, and his mind is led upwards to the contemplation of Him, and his soul is kindled toward the knowledge of Him. At once he is moved to divine longing and tears, and he goes wholly outside visible things and is separated far from all that is created.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Sixth Ethical Discourse
 

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For most monks, life remained a communal, ritual fight against the forces of evil. Nevertheless, in the second half of the tenth century, more evidence begins to appear of interest in monks' individual endeavor. While this gradually resulted in a new individualism in the way humans related to God, culminating in the mysticism of the late middle ages, of interest for this study is each individual's desire to wage active battle for God. In other words, for some monks, prayer within the monastic enclosure was no longer regarded as a sufficient way to serve God in the world. Instead, physical appearance outside of the cloister--teaching, preaching, serving as an example--appears to have attracted some individuals. Such aspirations effectively drew them from the anonymous community of holiness to recognizable personal endeavor.

The first clear signs of this turn toward the world appear in descriptions of German and Italian missionaries to the Slavic lands in the wake of Ottonian conquests, and to Hungary. I chose the case of Wolfgang of Regensburg in the introduction because he spans both extremes of missionary activity: he was the first known missionary to Hungary, and his eleventh-century supporters give the most comprehensive justification of activity outside of the cloister that I have found. As I suggested in the introduction, the strength of the apologia suggests that Wolfgang was not unique, and that at least by the 1030s there were visible, outspoken critics of monks interacting with secular people in this manner. On the missionary front, perhaps more than any other, we can begin to see the tension as monks explored the meaning of "love of neighbor." [fn: There has been a long debate over whether monks were involved in missionary work in the tenth century or not. I believe that the evidence is incontestable that they were indeed present, and in significant numbers. Please refer to the literature cited throughout this chapter.]

Engagement in missionary work inevitably raised the issue of whether or not preaching was an acceptable activity for a monk. In the twelfth century, this question would be addressed in terms of the relationship of monks to cura animae (care of souls). We must be careful, though, not to read this back into the tenth and eleventh centuries. Especially in the German Empire where monks came from the nobility, the very idea of such lowly service hardly came into question. Monks rarely even served in churches owned by their own monasteries. Public preaching, on the other hand, was well within the realm of attractive tasks for a monk who was concerned about spreading the Christian faith. Abbots had long had the right to preach in public, as can be seen from as early as the sixth-century vita of Benedict of Nursia; it was a mark of their rank and prestige rather than of the humble status of a country parson. The spread of missionary interest among the monks of the late tenth century thus moved more from the abbots' preaching function than from the pastoral care of parish clergy.

-- missionary activity among monastics in the 10th-11th century Latin-speaking part of the Church, Source
 

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Not only did Theodore present the martyrs as heroes of the faith, but he also frequently compared the spiritual struggle of the monk to martyrdom, using the latter's different shades of meaning in patristic writings. Anyone who succeeded in the Christian struggle, Theodore explains--whether bishops, priests, monks, or laity--would receive their reward for their 'martyrdom of conscience.' In particular, this type of martyrdom defined the life of the ascetic. Martyrs were not just those who spilled their blood, Theodore explains, but those who lived their lives in holiness and patience. They lived a godly life, witnessing, as did the martyrs of old, that 'Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that in him is life eternal' (cf Jn. 20:31).  This is 'what the Fathers taught,' and so with good reason Theodore could call his monks 'excellent martyrs.'  Approximating even more closely to the martyrs of blood were those who underwent physical suffering in openly confessing the faith. Confessors were also martyrs. Irene the patrician was a 'martyr of Christ' because, as a 'confessor of the Truth' during the time of Leo V, she was 'persecuted, homeless, without a city, detained and forever subjected to danger.' But it was enough to persevere in the burdens and difficulities of the ascetic struggle to become worthy of the martyr's crown. Carrying the cross, being crucified with Christ, dying to oneself, were descriptions of a martyr.

-- said of: St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Source
 

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Some bishops and priests of the Frankish nation who were adulterers and fornicators of the worst kind, whose children born during their episcopate or priesthood bear witness against them, now declare, on returning from the Apostolic See, that the Roman Pontiff has given them permission to carry on their personal episcopal service in the Church. Against this we maintain that we have never heard that the Apostolic See had ever given a decision contrary to canonical decrees.

-- St. Boniface (d. 754), Source
 

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Let us bring forth fruit unto God, lest we are cut out, roots and all, and wretchedly wither away together with every hope of life and salvation, lest we end our life consumed in the unquenchable fire. Let us bring forth righteousness, which joins together and compacts human things most admirably, meting out to our neighbors by the same standard by which we wish to be measured ourselves; since unrighteousness is the worst of all sins, and easily seen by all men, at least those of good sense, to be a mean thing and a work of the Evil one. For a man surely knows that he should not have done to his neighbor what he does not wish to suffer himself. Art thou grieved when another deprives thee of thy farm, or thy field, or thy garment, or thy beast of burden? Neither do thou wrong thy neighbor in any such way.

Thou hast an unwritten law, clearer and more obvious than any written one, namely thy own feeling and disposition over similar plights, when thou art let to suffer the same at the hands of others. Use the same standard for thyself as for they neighbour. Whatever grieves thee, harms thee, and distresses thee, consider that same thing grievous, distressing and damaging to thy neighbour. The precept is simple, the law is common to Greeks, barbarians and, if thou willest, to faithful and unfaithful. Many infidel nations live by this inborn law; many barbarians, while being barbarians in other respects, observe steadfastly this natural law, having made sure, by not wronging others, that they are not themselves wronged by them. What then? Is justice sought after by infidels and barbarians, even without a written law, that they may live and keep society together, while for us faithful, who call on Christ, who possess written laws, to whom inexorable penalties have been appointed, and heavenly rewards promised, is it not a shame to be called faithful unless we observe justice towards one another in purity and steadfastness? And will not Thy name, O God, be on our account and through our actions blasphemed among the gentiles, when infidels excel and surpass in their way of life the conduct of those who call themselves "faithful"?

-- St. Photius the Great (d. 893), Source
 

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It does not lie within our power to decide whether or not the passions are going to harass and attack the soul. But it does lie within power to prevent impassioned thoughts from lingering within us and arousing the passions to action. The first of these conditions is not sinful, inasmuch as it is outside our control; where the second is concerned, if we fight against the passions and overcome them we are rewarded, but we shall be punished if because of laziness and cowardice we let them over-come us.

-- St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic (d. 9th century), A Century of Spiritual Texts 9 (Philokalia, v. 2, p. 16)
 

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We believe that there are in the Church Evangelical Mysteries [i.e., Sacraments of the Gospel Dispensation], and that they are seven. For a less or a greater number of the Mysteries we have not in the Church; since any number of the Mysteries other than seven is the product of heretical madness. And the seven of them were instituted in the Sacred Gospel, and are gathered from the same, like the other dogmas of the Catholic Faith.

-- The Confession of Dositheus (1672), Decree 15
 

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Then love, humility, compassion, prayer, and the rest, must reside in the heart.  And if it abides in the heart, then it will inevitably appear outwardly like a belch from stomach.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven, p. 3
 

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Asteriktos said:
Then love, humility, compassion, prayer, and the rest, must reside in the heart.  And if it abides in the heart, then it will inevitably appear outwardly like a belch from stomach.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven, p. 3
:D
 

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Stop defiling your flesh with shameful deeds and polluting your soul with wicked thoughts; then the peace of God will descend upon you and bring you love. 

-- St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.44

[wrong thread... ]
 

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Something should also be said about the vices or the passions of the soul and the body... The roots or primary causes of all these passions are love of sensual pleasure, love of praise and love of material wealth. Every evil has its origin in these.

-- St. John of Damascus, On the Virtues and the Vices (Philokalia, v. 2, p. 335)
 

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At one time we shall be stung by one passion, at another time by another, and thus we shall not cease from being devoured by them as if by wild beasts. After death, since we shall have lost the kingdom of heaven because of them, we shall in turn be eternally punished by such [passions] as these.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian, Discourse 5, p. 118 (trans. by C.J. DeCatanzaro)
 

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Brethren, there is another sort of evil satiety and drunkenness which does not result from indulging in food and drink, but from anger and hatred towards our neighbor, remembrance of wrongs, and the evils that spring from these... This is the drunkenness of hatred which more than anything else causes God to turn away, and the devil attempts to bring it about in those who pray and fast. He prompts them to remember wrongs, directs their thoughts towards harboring malice, and sharpens their tongues for slander.

-- St. Gregory Palamas, Source
 

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Virginity is the most greatly revered. For Christ did not damage the seal of virginity when he was born of the Virgin, but respected her virginity. Virginity is higher and much more honorable than marriage; as the angels are higher than humans and as Heaven is higher than Earth, so much is he who is not married higher than he who is married.

-- Pat. Luke Chrysoberges of Constantinople
 

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Thus we should all give thanks to Him, as it is said: ‘In everything give thanks’ (1 Thess. 5:18). Closely linked to this phrase is another of St Paul’s injunctions: ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thes. 5:17), that is, be mindful of God at all times, in all places, and in every circumstance. For no matter what you do, you should keep in mind the Creator of all things.

-- St. Peter of Damascus, Philokalia, v. 3, p. 173
 

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I mentioned somewhere on the forum, a few years back, that I had previously read about the idea of being given sacramental grace mystically when life circumstances prevented you from participating directly and "in person." I came back across this passage recently...

“Then, you will say, if a living man has the dispositions you mention in his soul, and yet does not partake of the holy mysteries, will he nevertheless receive the sanctification which the sacrament gives? Not in all cases; only when it is physically impossible for him to receive the elements, as it is for the dead. Such was the case of the solitaries who lived in the desert, or in caves and grottoes in the mountain-side, and could not avail themselves of priest or altar. Christ gave them this sanctification in an invisible manner. We know this because they had life, which they could not have had without partaking of the sacrament, for Christ himself said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Another proof is the fact that God sent angels to several of these men with the sacrament.” - St. Nicholas Cabasilas, Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 42
 

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When Noah awoke and knew what had been done to him by the two sets of his sons, he cursed Canaan the son of Ham and said, 'Thou shalt be a servant to thy brethren;' but he blessed Shem and Japhet. The reason why he cursed Canaan, who was not as yet born nor had sinned, was because Ham had been saved with him in the ark from the waters of the flood, and had with his father received the divine blessing; and also because the arts of sin--I mean music and dancing and all other hateful things--were about to be revived by his posterity, for the art of music proceeded from the seed of Canaan.

-- Solomon of Basra (Church of the East), The Book of the Bee, 20
 

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Like a siege-engine, courage shatters enemies attacking the soul from without, mercy those attacking it from within.

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (Philokalia, v. 4, p. 214)
 
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