Tradition Thursday- #30

We resume the series on St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures. Last time we featured the beginning of his 1th lecture, which was covering the Nicene Creed. This post will cover the end of that lecture.

13. Be not ashamed to confess your ignorance, since you share ignorance with Angels. Only He who begot knows Him who was begotten, and He who is begotten of Him knows Him who begot. He who begot knows what He begot: and the Scriptures also testify that He who was begotten is God. For as the Father has life in Himself, so also has He given to the Son to have life in Himself John 5:26; and, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father ; and, as the Father quickens whom He will, even so the Son quickens whom He will. Neither He who begot suffered any loss, nor is anything lacking to Him who was begotten (I know that I have said these things many times, but it is for your safety that they are said so often): neither has He who begot, a Father, nor He who was begotten, a brother. Neither was He who begot changed into the Son , nor did He who was begotten become the Father. Of One Only Father there is One Only-begotten Son: neither two Unbegotten , nor two Only-begotten; but One Father, Unbegotten (for He is Unbegotten who has no father); and One Son, eternally begotten of the Father; begotten not in time, but before all ages; not increased by advancement, but begotten that which He now is.

14. We believe then In the Only-Begotten Son of God, Who Was Begotten of the Father Very God. For the True God begets not a false god, as we have said, nor did He deliberate and afterwards beget ; but He begot eternally, and much more swiftly than our words or thoughts: for we speaking in time, consume time; but in the case of the Divine Power, the generation is timeless. And as I have often said, He did not bring forth the Son from non-existence into being, nor take the non-existent into sonship : but the Father, being Eternal, eternally and ineffably begot One Only Son, who has no brother. Nor are there two first principles; but the Father is the head of the Son 1 Corinthians 11:3; the beginning is One. For the Father begot the Son Very God, called Emmanuel; and Emmanuel being interpreted is, God with us Matthew 1:23 .

15. And would you know that He who was begotten of the Father, and afterwards became man, is God? Hear the Prophet saying, This is our God, none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him. He has found out every way of knowledge, and given it to Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterwards He was seen on earth, and conversed among men. Do you see herein God become man, after the giving of the law by Moses? Hear also a second testimony to Christ’s Deity, that which has just now been read, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. Hebrews 1:8 For lest, because of His presence here in the flesh, He should be thought to have been advanced after this to the Godhead, the Scripture says plainly, Therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. Do you see Christ as God anointed by God the Father?

16. Would you receive yet a third testimony to Christ’s Godhead? Hear Esaias saying, Egypt has laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia: and soon after, In You shall they make supplication, because God is in You, and there is no God save You. For You are God, and we knew it not, the God of Israel, the Saviour. You see that the Son is God, having in Himself God the Father: saying almost the very same which He has said in the Gospels: The Father is in Me, and I am in the Father. John 14:11 He says not, I am the Father, but the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father. And again He said not, I and the Father am one, but, I and the Father am one, that we should neither separate them, nor make a confusion of Son-Father. One they are because of the dignity pertaining to the Godhead, since God begot God. One in respect of their kingdom; for the Father reigns not over these, and the Son over those, lifting Himself up against His Father like Absalom: but the kingdom of the Father is likewise the kingdom of the Son. One they are, because there is no discord nor division between them: for what things the Father wills, the Son wills the same. One, because the creative works of Christ are no other than the Father’s; for the creation of all things is one, the Father having made them through the Son: For He spoke, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created, says the Psalmist. For He who speaks, speaks to one who hears: and He who commands, gives His commandment to one who is present with Him.

17. The Son then is Very God, having the Father in Himself, not changed into the Father; for the Father was not made man, but the Son. For let the truth be freely spoken. The Father suffered not for us, but the Father sent Him who suffered. Neither let us say, There was a time when the Son was not; nor let us admit a Son who is the Father : but let us walk in the king’s highway; let us turn aside neither on the left hand nor on the right. Neither from thinking to honour the Son, let us call Him the Father; nor from thinking to honour the Father, imagine the Son to be some one of the creatures. But let One Father be worshipped through One Son, and let not their worship be separated. Let One Son be proclaimed, sitting at the right hand of the Father before all ages: sharing His throne not by advancement in time after His Passion, but by eternal possession.

18. He who has seen the Son, has seen the Father John 14:9: for in all things the Son is like to Him who begot Him ; begotten Life of Life and Light of Light, Power of Power, God of God; and the characteristics of the Godhead are unchangeable in the Son; and he who is counted worthy to behold Godhead in the Son, attains to the fruition of the Father. This is not my word, but that of the Only-begotten: Have I been so long time with you, and have you not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me, has seen the Father. John 14:9 And to be brief, let us neither separate them, nor make a confusion : neither say thou ever that the Son is foreign to the Father, nor admit those who say that the Father is at one time Father, and at another Son: for these are strange and impious statements, and not the doctrines of the Church. But the Father having begotten the Son, remained the Father and is not changed. He begot Wisdom, yet lost not wisdom Himself; and begot Power, yet became not weak: He begot God, but lost not His own Godhead: and neither did He lose anything Himself by diminution or change; nor has He who was begotten any thing wanting. Perfect is He who begot, Perfect that which was begotten: God was He who begot, God He who was begotten; God of all Himself, yet entitling the Father His own God. For He is not ashamed to say, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God John 20:17 .

19. But lest you should think that He is in a like sense Father of the Son and of the creatures, Christ drew a distinction in what follows. For He said not, I ascend to our Father, lest the creatures should be made fellows of the Only-begotten; but He said, My Father and your Father; in one way Mine, by nature; in another yours, by adoption. And again, to my God and your God, in one way Mine, as His true and Only-begotten Son, and in another way yours, as His workmanship. The Son of God then is Very God, ineffably begotten before all ages (for I say the same things often to you, that it may be graven upon your mind). This also believe, that God has a Son: but about the manner be not curious, for by searching you will not find. Exalt not yourself, lest you fall: think upon those things only which have been commanded you. Sirach 3:22 Tell me first what He is who begot, and then learn that which He begot; but if you can not conceive the nature of Him who has begotten, search not curiously into the manner of that which is begotten.

20. For godliness it suffices you to know, as we have said, that God has One Only Son, One naturally begotten; who began not His being when He was born in Bethlehem, but Before All Ages. For hear the Prophet Micah saying, And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephrata, art little to be among the thousands of Judah. Out of you shall come forth unto Me a Ruler, who shall feed My people Israel: and His goings forth are from the beginning, from days of eternity. Think not then of Him who is now come forth out of Bethlehem , but worship Him who was eternally begotten of the Father. Suffer none to speak of a beginning of the Son in time, but as a timeless Beginning acknowledge the Father. For the Father is the Beginning of the Son, timeless, incomprehensible, without beginning. The fountain of the river of righteousness, even of the Only-begotten, is the Father, who begot Him as Himself only knows. And would you know that our Lord Jesus Christ is King Eternal? Hear Him again saying, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad. John 8:56 And then, when the Jews received this hardly, He says what to them was still harder, Before Abraham was, I am. And again He says to the Father, And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Your own self, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. He says plainly, before the world was, I had the glory which is with You. And again when He says, For You loved Me before the foundation of the world John 17:24, He plainly declares, The glory which I have with you is from eternity.

21. We believe then In One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father Very God Before All Worlds, by Whom All Things Were Made. For whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were made through Him Colossians 1:16, and of things created none is exempted from His authority. Silenced be every heresy which brings in different creators and makers of the world; silenced the tongue which blasphemes the Christ the Son of God; let them be silenced who say that the sun is the Christ, for He is the sun’s Creator, not the sun which we see. Silenced be they who say that the world is the workmanship of Angels , who wish to steal away the dignity of the Only-begotten. For whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or anything that is named, all things were made by Christ. He reigns over the things which have been made by Him, not having seized another’s spoils, but reigning over His own workmanship, even as the Evangelist John has said, All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. John 1:3 All things were made by Him, the Father working by the Son.

22. I wish to give also a certain illustration of what I am saying, but I know that it is feeble; for of things visible what can be an exact illustration of the Divine Power? But nevertheless as feeble be it spoken by the feeble to the feeble. For just as any king, whose son was a king, if he wished to form a city, might suggest to his son, his partner in the kingdom, the form of the city, and he having received the pattern, brings the design to completion; so, when the Father wished to form all things, the Son created all things at the Father’s bidding, that the act of bidding might secure to the Father His absolute authority , and yet the Son in turn might have authority over His own workmanship, and neither the Father be separated from the lordship over His own works, nor the Son rule over things created by others, but by Himself. For, as I have said, Angels did not create the world, but the Only-begotten Son, begotten, as I have said, before all ages, By Whom All Things Were Made, nothing having been excepted from His creation. And let this suffice to have been spoken by us so far, by the grace of Christ.

23. But let us now recur to our profession of the Faith, and so for the present finish our discourse. Christ made all things, whether thou speak of Angels, or Archangels, of Dominions, or Thrones. Not that the Father wanted strength to create the works Himself, but because He willed that the Son should reign over His own workmanship, God Himself giving Him the design of the things to be made. For honouring His own Father the Only-begotten says, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for what things soever He does, these also does the Son likewise. John 5:19 And again, My Father works hitherto, and I work , there being no opposition in those who work. For all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, says the Lord in the Gospels. And this we may certainly know from the Old and New Testaments. For He who said, Let us make man in our image and after our likeness Genesis 1:26, was certainly speaking to some one present. But clearest of all are the Psalmist’s words, He spoke and they were made; He commanded, and they were created , as if the Father commanded and spoke, and the Son made all things at the Father’s bidding. And this Job said mystically, Which alone spread out the heaven, and walks upon the sea as on firm ground Job 9:8; signifying to those who understand that He who when present here walked upon the sea is also He who aforetime made the heavens. And again the Lord says, Or did Thou take earth, and fashion clay into a living being ? Then afterwards, Are the gates of death opened to You through fear, and did the door-keepers of hell shudder at sight of You ? Thus signifying that He who through loving-kindness descended into hell, also in the beginning made man out of clay.

24. Christ then is the Only-begotten Son of God, and Maker of the world. For He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; and He came unto His own, as the Gospel teaches us. John 1:10-11 And not only of the things which are seen, but also of the things which are not seen, is Christ the Maker at the Father’s bidding. For in Him, according to the Apostle, were all things created that are in the heavens, and that are upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created by Him and for Him; and He is before all, and in Him all things consist. Colossians 1:16-17 Even if you speak of the worlds, of these also Jesus Christ is the Maker by the Father’s bidding. For in these last days God spoke unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds Hebrews 1:2. To whom be the glory, honour, might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

(Source)

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1 Comment

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One response to “Tradition Thursday- #30

  1. mdavid

    Cyril, Be not ashamed to confess your ignorance, since you share ignorance with Angels.

    What a beautiful line. Reminds me of St. Paul: all knowledge will pass away, but love will never fail.

    The intellectually gifted like Cyril or Paul are always quick to acknowledge the severe limits of their understanding, which then leads them to an obsession with charity, which has no limits. St. Cyril, pray for us.

    To paraphrase Hayek: The curious task of theology is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

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