Category Archives: Tradition

You Reap What You Don’t Sow

[Alternate title: Shaking Yourself Apart]

So I caught this in the news recently: One of the Shakers’ last three members died Monday. The storied sect is verging on extinction. An excerpt:

One of the last three remaining members of the dwindling Shaker sect died Monday.

Sister Frances Carr died at the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine, “after a brief battle with cancer,” according to a statement on the community’s website.

It continued, “The end came swiftly and with dignity surrounded by the community and her nieces.” Carr was 89.

Carr was a member of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearance, a Christian group formed in 1747 in Manchester, England. They earned the name the Shakers when critics began calling them “Shaking Quakers” because of “their ecstatic and violent bodily agitation in worship,” according to Sabbathday Lake’s website. The Shakers eventually abandoned this particular dancing-style worship, but the congregation adopted the term, according to the Associated Press.

I remember reading about this particular sect years ago. I am not at all surprised the group is nearly extinct. Here are some of their core beliefs:

The Shakers practice celibacy, in addition to pacifism, equality of the sexes and communal ownership of property.

Their extinction is sort of a given considering their beliefs. Of course, the surviving members think otherwise, but hey, why wouldn’t they? Another point from the article:

Although it may sound like an old-fashioned religious sect by today’s standards, at one time the Shakers were considered progressive. As PBS noted, “Seventy-five years before the emancipation of the slaves and 150 years before women began voting in America, the Shakers were practicing social, sexual, economic, and spiritual equality for all members.”

We can see in the Shakers the end result of “Progressive Christianity” – extinction. This group just happened to (almost) get there a lot faster given their embrace of total celibacy. Other sects will come to the same fate as well, as sooner or later their deviancy will catch up with them.

 

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Setting Up A Collection

Long time blog-friend Deep Strength has been exploring the idea of some kind of Treatise on Marriage/Patriarchy:

I don’t see a need to “defend” Patriarchy as it is an inherently good system as it was created and affirmed by God throughout the Scriptures. Hence, the term treatise. However, it seems that a “defense” is needed because most Christians are entrenched unknowingly in the Necropolis (e.g. formerly churchianity) and are convinced by secular culture that Patriarchy is an evil system.

He then explores the different collections that need to be made for this project:

  • Compilation of the Scriptures on God’s structure of authority marriage.

  • Writings and commentary on the structure of marriage with sound logical defense.

  • Examples of Christian organizational structures going off the mark on marriage. CBMW is obviously one of them.

I would like to help him out with this project, at least as to part 2. I know a number of the Church Fathers and Saints have written on this subject, in some cases extensively. So what I hope to do is create a list of various early writings on marriage/patriarchy, and more specifically the structure of marriage. I would like to collect them here on this post.

So I am asking my readers for help. If any of you know of such writings/commentaries, please mention them in the comments and provide a link as well. I will probably collate them by author, and perhaps by date as well (if possible).

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Tradition Thursday #58

In today’s post, I am going to feature the writings of Ephraim the Syrian, Doctor of the Church. Here I will cover his homily on Admonition and Repentence. Given its length, I will break it into three parts. Here is part 1:

1. Not of compulsion is the doctrine; of free-will is the word of life. Whoso is willing to hear the doctrine, let him cleanse the field of his will that the good seed fall not among the thorns of vain enquirings. If you would heed the word of life, cut yourself off from evil things; the hearing of the word profits nothing to the man that is busied with sins. If you will to be good, love not dissolute customs. First of all, trust in God, and then hearken to His law.

2. You can not hear His words, while you do not know yourself; and if you keep His judgments while your understanding is aloof from Him, who will give you your reward? Who will keep for you your recompense? You were baptised in His Name; confess His Name! In the Persons and in the naming, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, three Names and Persons, these three shall be a wall to you, against divisions and wranglings. Doubt not of the truth, lest you perish through the truth. You were baptised from the water; you have put on Christ in His naming; the seat of the Lord is on your person and His stamp on your forehead. See that you become not another’s, for other Lord have you none. One is He Who formed us in His mercy; one is He Who redeemed us on His cross. He it is Who guides our life; He it is Who has power over our feebleness; He it is Who brings to pass our Resurrection. He rewards us according to our works. Blessed is he that confesses Him, and hears and keeps His commandments! You, O man, are a son of God Who is high over all. See that you vex not by your works the Father Who is good and gracious.

3. If you are angry against your neighbour, you are angry against God; and if you bear anger in your heart, against your Lord is your boldness uplifted. If in envy you rebuke, wicked is all your reproof. But if charity dwell in you, you have on earth no enemy. And if you are a true son of peace, you will stir up wrath in no man. If you are just and upright, you will not do wrong to your fellow. And if you love to be angry, be angry with the wicked and it will become you; if to wage war you seek, lo! Satan is your adversary; if you desire to revile, against the demons display your curses. If you should insult the King’s image, you shall pay the penalty of murder; and if you revile a man, you revile the image of God. Do honour to your neighbour, and lo! You have honoured God. But if you would dishonour Him, in wrath assail your neighbour!

4. This is the first Commandment,— You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and your soul, and with your might according as you are able. The sign that you love God, is this, that you love your fellow; and if you hate your fellow, your hatred is towards God. For it is blasphemy if you pray before God while you are angry. For your heart also convicts you, that in vain you multiply words: your conscience rightly judges that in your prayers you profit nought. Christ as He hung on the height of the tree, interceded for His murderers; and you (who art) dust, son of the clay, rage fills you at its will. You keep anger against your brother; and do you yet dare to pray? Even he that stands on your side, though he be not neighbour to your sins, the taint of iniquity reaches unto him, and his petition is not heard. Leave off rage and then pray; and unless you would further provoke, restrain anger and so shall you supplicate. And if he (the other) is not to encounter you in fury, banish rage from that body, because it is holden with lusts.

5. You have a spiritual nature; the soul is the image of the Creator; honour the image of God, by being in agreement with all men. Remember death, and be not angry, that your peace be not of constraint. As long as your life remains to you, cleanse your soul from wrath; for if it should go to Sheol with you, your road will be straight to Gehenna. Keep not anger in your heart; hold not fury in your soul; you have not power over your soul, save to do that which is good. You are bought with the blood of God; you are redeemed by the passion of Christ; for your sake He suffered death, that you might die to your sins. His face endured spitting, that you might not shrink from scorn. Vinegar and gall did He drink, that you might be set apart from wrath. He received stripes on His body, that you might not fear suffering. If you are in truth His servant, fear your holy Lord; if you are His true disciple, walk in your Master’s footsteps. Endure scorn from your brother, that you may be the companion of Christ. Display not anger against man, that you be not set apart from your Redeemer.

6. You are a man, the dust of the earth, clay, kinsman of the clod; you are the son of the race of beasts. If you know not your honour; separate your soul from animals, by works and not by words. If you love derision, you are altogether as Satan; and if you mock at your fellow, you are the mouth of the Devil; if against defects and flaws, in (injurious) names you delight, Satan is not in creation but his place you have seized by force. Get you far, O man, from this; for it is altogether hurtful; and if you desire to live well, sit not with the scorner, lest you become the partner of his sin and of his punishment. Hate mockery which is altogether (the cause of weeping), and mirth which is (the cause of) cleansing. And if you should hear a mocker by chance, when you are not desiring it, sign yourself with the cross of light, and hasten from thence like an antelope. Where Satan lodges, Christ will in nowise dwell; a spacious dwelling for Satan is the man that mocks at his neighbour; a palace of the Enemy is the heart of the mocker. Satan does not desire to add any other evil to it. Mockery is sufficient for him to supply the place of all. Neither his belly nor yet his purse can (the sinner) fill with that sin of his. By his laughter is the wretch despoiled, and he knows not nor does he perceive it. For his wound, there is no cure; for his sickness, there is no healing; his pain, admits no remedy; and his sore, endures no medicine. I desire not with such a one to put forth my tongue to reprove him: enough for him is his own shame; sufficient for him is his boldness. Blessed is he that has not heard him; and blessed is he that has not known him. Be it far from you, O Church, that he should enter you, that evil leaven of Satan!

7. Narrow is the way of life, and broad the way of torment; prayer is able to bring a man to the house of the kingdom. This is the perfect work; prayer that is pure from iniquity. The righteousness of man is as nothing accounted. The work of men, what is it? His labour is altogether vanity. Of You, O Lord, of Your grace it is that in our nature we should become good. Of You is righteousness, that we from men should become righteous. Of You is the mercy and favour, that we from the dust should become Your image. Give power to our will, that we be not sunk in sin! Pour into our heart memory, that at every hour we may know Your honour! Plant truth in our minds, that we perish not among doubts! Occupy our understanding with Your law, that it wander not in vain thoughts! Order the motions of our members, that they bring no hurt upon us! Draw near to God, that Satan may flee from you. Cast out passions from your heart, and lo! You have put to flight the enemy. Hate sins and wickedness, and Satan at once will have fled. Whatsoever sins you serve, you are worshipping secret idols. Whatsoever transgressions you love, you are serving demons in your soul. Whenever you strive with your brother, Satan abides in peace. Whenever you envy your fellow, you give rest to Devils. Whenever you tell the shortcoming of others who are not present, your tongue has made a harp for the music of the devil. Whenever hatred is in your soul, great is the peace of the Deceiver. Whenever you love incantations, your labour is altogether of the left hand. If you love unseemly discourse, you prepare a feast for demons. For this is the worship of idols, the working of the lusts (of the flesh).

(Source)

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Tradition Thursday- #57

Today’s post will feature a saint I don’t believe I have yet covered in this series, St. Augustine of Hippo. Here is the beginning part of his first book on our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount:

1. If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life: and this we do not rashly venture to promise, but gather it from the very words of the Lord Himself. For the sermon itself is brought to a close in such a way, that it is clear there are in it all the precepts which go to mould the life. For thus He speaks: Therefore, whosoever hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hears these words of mine, and does them not, I will liken unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Since, therefore, He has not simply said, Whosoever hears my words, but has made an addition, saying, Whosoever hears these words of mine, He has sufficiently indicated, as I think, that these sayings which He uttered on the mount so perfectly guide the life of those who may be willing to live according to them, that they may justly be compared to one building upon a rock. I have said this merely that it may be clear that the sermon before us is perfect in all the precepts by which the Christian life is moulded; for as regards this particular section a more careful treatment will be given in its own place.

2. The beginning, then, of this sermon is introduced as follows: And when He saw the great multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying. If it is asked what the mountain means, it may well be understood as meaning the greater precepts of righteousness; for there were lesser ones which were given to the Jews. Yet it is one God who, through His holy prophets and servants, according to a thoroughly arranged distribution of times, gave the lesser precepts to a people who as yet required to be bound by fear; and who, through His Son, gave the greater ones to a people whom it had now become suitable to set free by love. Moreover, when the lesser are given to the lesser, and the greater to the greater, they are given by Him who alone knows how to present to the human race the medicine suited to the occasion. Nor is it surprising that the greater precepts are given for the kingdom of heaven, and the lesser for an earthly kingdom, by that one and the same God, who made heaven and earth. With respect, therefore, to that righteousness which is the greater, it is said through the prophet, Your righteousness is like the mountains of God: and this may well mean that the one Master alone fit to teach matters of so great importance teaches on a mountain. Then He teaches sitting, as behooves the dignity of the instructor’s office; and His disciples come to Him, in order that they might be nearer in body for hearing His words, as they also approached in spirit to fulfil His precepts. And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying. The circumlocution before us, which runs, And He opened His mouth, perhaps gracefully intimates by the mere pause that the sermon will be somewhat longer than usual, unless, perchance, it should not be without meaning, that now He is said to have opened His own mouth, whereas under the old law He was accustomed to open the mouths of the prophets.

3. What, then, does He say? Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We read in Scripture concerning the striving after temporal things, All is vanity and presumption of spirit; but presumption of spirit means audacity and pride: usually also the proud are said to have great spirits; and rightly, inasmuch as the wind also is called spirit. And hence it is written, Fire, hail, snow, ice, spirit of tempest. But, indeed, who does not know that the proud are spoken of as puffed up, as if swelled out with wind? And hence also that expression of the apostle, Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies. And the poor in spirit are rightly understood here, as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i.e. those who have not the spirit which puffs up. Nor ought blessedness to begin at any other point whatever, if indeed it is to attain unto the highest wisdom; but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; for, on the other hand also, pride is entitled the beginning of all sin. Let the proud, therefore, seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth; but blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Chapter 2

4. Blessed are the meek, for they shall by inheritance possess the earth: that earth, I suppose, of which it is said in the Psalm, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. For it signifies a certain firmness and stability of the perpetual inheritance, where the soul, by means of a good disposition, rests, as it were, in its own place, just as the body rests on the earth, and is nourished from it with its own food, as the body from the earth. This is the very rest and life of the saints. Then, the meek are those who yield to acts of wickedness, and do not resist evil, but overcome evil with good. Let those, then, who are not meek quarrel and fight for earthly and temporal things; but blessed are the meek, for they shall by inheritance possess the earth, from which they cannot be driven out.

5. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Mourning is sorrow arising from the loss of things held dear; but those who are converted to God lose those things which they were accustomed to embrace as dear in this world: for they do not rejoice in those things in which they formerly rejoiced; and until the love of eternal things be in them, they are wounded by some measure of grief. Therefore they will be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who on this account chiefly is called the Paraclete, i.e. the Comforter, in order that, while losing the temporal joy, they may enjoy to the full that which is eternal.

6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Now He calls those parties, lovers of a true and indestructible good. They will therefore be filled with that food of which the Lord Himself says, My meat is to do the will of my Father, which is righteousness; and with that water, of which whosoever drinks, as he also says, it shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.

7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. He says that they are blessed who relieve the miserable, for it is paid back to them in such a way that they are freed from misery.

8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. How foolish, therefore, are those who seek God with these outward eyes, since He is seen with the heart! As it is written elsewhere, And in singleness of heart seek Him. For that is a pure heart which is a single heart: and just as this light cannot be seen, except with pure eyes; so neither is God seen, unless that is pure by which He can be seen.

9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. It is the perfection of peace, where nothing offers opposition; and the children of God are peacemakers, because nothing resists God, and surely children ought to have the likeness of their father. Now, they are peacemakers in themselves who, by bringing in order all the motions of their soul, and subjecting them to reason— i.e. to the mind and spirit— and by having their carnal lusts thoroughly subdued, become a kingdom of God: in which all things are so arranged, that that which is chief and pre-eminent in man rules without resistance over the other elements, which are common to us with the beasts; and that very element which is pre-eminent in man, i.e. mind and reason, is brought under subjection to something better still, which is the truth itself, the only-begotten Son of God. For a man is not able to rule over things which are inferior, unless he subjects himself to what is superior. And this is the peace which is given on earth to men of goodwill; this the life of the fully developed and perfect wise man. From a kingdom of this sort brought to a condition of thorough peace and order, the prince of this world is cast out, who rules where there is perversity and disorder. When this peace has been inwardly established and confirmed, whatever persecutions he who has been cast out shall stir up from without, he only increases the glory which is according to God; being unable to shake anything in that edifice, but by the failure of his machinations making it to be known with how great strength it has been built from within outwardly. Hence there follows: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Chapter 3

10. There are in all, then, these eight sentences. For now in what remains He speaks in the way of direct address to those who were present, saying: Blessed shall you be when men shall revile you and persecute you. But the former sentences He addressed in a general way: for He did not say, Blessed are you poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of heaven; but He says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: nor, Blessed are you meek, for you shall inherit the earth; but, Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. And so the others up to the eighth sentence, where He says: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. After that He now begins to speak in the way of direct address to those present, although what has been said before referred also to His present audience; and that which follows, and which seems to be spoken specially to those present, refers also to those who were absent, or who would afterwards come into existence.

For this reason the number of sentences before us is to be carefully considered. For the beatitudes begin with humility: Blessed are the poor in spirit, i.e. those not puffed up, while the soul submits itself to divine authority, fearing lest after this life it go away to punishment, although perhaps in this life it might seem to itself to be happy. Then it (the soul) comes to the knowledge of the divine Scriptures, where it must show itself meek in its piety, lest it should venture to condemn that which seems absurd to the unlearned, and should itself be rendered unteachable by obstinate disputations. After that, it now begins to know in what entanglements of this world it is held by reason of carnal custom and sins: and so in this third stage, in which there is knowledge, the loss of the highest good is mourned over, because it sticks fast in what is lowest. Then, in the fourth stage there is labour, where vehement exertion is put forth, in order that the mind may wrench itself away from those things in which, by reason of their pestilential sweetness, it is entangled: here therefore righteousness is hungered and thirsted after, and fortitude is very necessary; because what is retained with delight is not abandoned without pain. Then, at the fifth stage, to those persevering in labour, counsel for getting rid of it is given; for unless each one is assisted by a superior, in no way is he fit in his own case to extricate himself from so great entanglements of miseries. But it is a just counsel, that he who wishes to be assisted by a stronger should assist him who is weaker in that in which he himself is stronger: therefore blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. At the sixth stage there is purity of heart, able from a good conscience of good works to contemplate that highest good, which can be discerned by the pure and tranquil intellect alone. Lastly is the seventh, wisdom itself— i.e. the contemplation of the truth, tranquillizing the whole man, and assuming the likeness of God, which is thus summed up: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. The eighth, as it were, returns to the starting-point, because it shows and commends what is complete and perfect: therefore in the first and in the eighth the kingdom of heaven is named, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; and, Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: as it is now said, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Seven in number, therefore, are the things which bring perfection: for the eighth brings into light and shows what is perfect, so that starting, as it were, from the beginning again, the others also are perfected by means of these stages.

Chapter 4

11. Hence also the sevenfold operation of the Holy Ghost, of which Isaiah speaks, seems to me to correspond to these stages and sentences. But there is a difference of order: for there the enumeration begins with the more excellent, but here with the inferior. For there it begins with wisdom, and closes with the fear of God: but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And therefore, if we reckon as it were in a gradually ascending series, there the fear of God is first, piety second, knowledge third, fortitude fourth, counsel fifth, understanding sixth, wisdom seventh. The fear of God corresponds to the humble, of whom it is here said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, i.e. those not puffed up, not proud: to whom the apostle says, Be not high-minded, but fear; i.e. be not lifted up. Piety corresponds to the meek: for he who inquires piously honours Holy Scripture, and does not censure what he does not yet understand, and on this account does not offer resistance; and this is to be meek: whence it is here said, Blessed are the meek. Knowledge corresponds to those that mourn who already have found out in the Scriptures by what evils they are held chained which they ignorantly have coveted as though they were good and useful. Fortitude corresponds to those hungering and thirsting: for they labour in earnestly desiring joy from things that are truly good, and in eagerly seeking to turn away their love from earthly and corporeal things: and of them it is here said, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Counsel corresponds to the merciful: for this is the one remedy for escaping from so great evils, that we forgive, as we wish to be ourselves forgiven; and that we assist others so far as we are able, as we ourselves desire to be assisted where we are not able: and of them it is here said, Blessed are the merciful. Understanding corresponds to the pure in heart, the eye being as it were purged, by which that may be beheld which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and what has not entered into the heart of man: and of them it is here said, Blessed are the pure in heart. Wisdom corresponds to the peacemakers, in whom all things are now brought into order, and no passion is in a state of rebellion against reason, but all things together obey the spirit of man, while he himself also obeys God: and of them it is here said, Blessed are the peacemakers.

12. Moreover, the one reward, which is the kingdom of heaven, is variously named according to these stages. In the first, just as ought to be the case, is placed the kingdom of heaven, which is the perfect and highest wisdom of the rational soul. Thus, therefore, it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: as if it were said, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To the meek an inheritance is given, as it were the testament of a father to those dutifully seeking it: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. To the mourners comfort, as to those who know what they have lost, and in what evils they are sunk: Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. To those hungering and thirsting, a full supply, as it were a refreshment to those labouring and bravely contending for salvation: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. To the merciful mercy, as to those following a true and excellent counsel, so that this same treatment is extended toward them by one who is stronger, which they extend toward the weaker: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. To the pure in heart is given the power of seeing God, as to those bearing about with them a pure eye for discerning eternal things: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. To the peacemakers the likeness of God is given, as being perfectly wise, and formed after the image of God by means of the regeneration of the renewed man: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. And those promises can indeed be fulfilled in this life, as we believe them to have been fulfilled in the case of the apostles. For that all-embracing change into the angelic form, which is promised after this life, cannot be explained in any words. Blessed, therefore, are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This eighth sentence, which goes back to the starting-point, and makes manifest the perfect man, is perhaps set forth in its meaning both by the circumcision on the eighth day in the Old Testament, and by the resurrection of the Lord after the Sabbath, the day which is certainly the eighth, and at the same time the first day; and by the celebration of the eight festival days which we celebrate in the case of the regeneration of the new man; and by the very number of Pentecost. For to the number seven, seven times multiplied, by which we make forty-nine, as it were an eighth is added, so that fifty may be made up, and we, as it were, return to the starting-point: on which day the Holy Spirit was sent, by whom we are led into the kingdom of heaven, and receive the inheritance, and are comforted; and are fed, and obtain mercy, and are purified, and are made peacemakers; and being thus perfect, we bear all troubles brought upon us from without for the sake of truth and righteousness.

Chapter 5

13. Blessed are you, says He, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. Let any one who is seeking after the delights of this world and the riches of temporal things under the Christian name, consider that our blessedness is within; as it is said of the soul of the Church by the mouth of the prophet, All the beauty of the king’s daughter is within; for outwardly revilings, and persecutions, and disparagements are promised; and yet, from these things there is a great reward in heaven, which is felt in the heart of those who endure, those who can now say, We glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For it is not simply the enduring of such things that is advantageous, but the bearing of such things for the name of Christ not only with tranquil mind, but even with exultation. For many heretics, deceiving souls under the Christian name, endure many such things; but they are excluded from that reward on this account, that it is not said merely, Blessed are they which endure persecution; but it is added, for righteousness’ sake. Now, where there is no sound faith, there can be no righteousness, for the just [righteous] man lives by faith. Neither let schismatics promise themselves anything of that reward; for similarly, where there is no love, there cannot be righteousness, for love works no ill to his neighbour; and if they had it, they would not tear in pieces Christ’s body, which is the Church.

14. But it may be asked, What is the difference when He says, when men shall revile you, and when they shall say all manner of evil against you, since to revile is just this, to say evil against? But it is one thing when the reviling word is hurled with contumely in presence of him who is reviled, as it was said to our Lord, Say we not the truth that you are a Samaritan, and hast a devil? and another thing, when our reputation is injured in our absence, as it is also written of Him, Some said, He is a prophet; others said, Nay, but He deceives the people. Then, further, to persecute is to inflict violence, or to assail with snares, as was done by him who betrayed Him, and by them who crucified Him. Certainly, as for the fact that this also is not put in a bare form, so that it should be said, and shall say all manner of evil against you, but there is added the word falsely, and also the expression for my sake; I think that the addition is made for the sake of those who wish to glory in persecutions, and in the baseness of their reputation; and to say that Christ belongs to them for this reason, that many bad things are said about them; while, on the one hand, the things said are true, when they are said respecting their error; and, on the other hand, if sometimes also some false charges are thrown out, which frequently happens from the rashness of men, yet they do not suffer such things for Christ’s sake. For he is not a follower of Christ who is not called a Christian according to the true faith and the catholic discipline.

15. Rejoice, says He, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. I do not think that it is the higher parts of this visible world that are here called heaven. For our reward, which ought to be immoveable and eternal, is not to be placed in things fleeting and temporal. But I think the expression in heaven means in the spiritual firmament, where dwells everlasting righteousness: in comparison with which a wicked soul is called earth, to which it is said when it sins, Earth you are, and unto earth you shall return. Of this heaven the apostle says, For our conversation is in heaven. Hence they who rejoice in spiritual good are conscious of that reward now; but then it will be perfected in every part, when this mortal also shall have put on immortality. For, says He, so persecuted they the prophets also which were before you. In the present case He has used persecution in a general sense, as applying alike to abusive words and to the tearing in pieces of one’s reputation; and has well encouraged them by an example, because they who speak true things are wont to suffer persecution: nevertheless did not the ancient prophets on this account, through fear of persecution, give over the preaching of the truth.

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Tradition Thursday- #56

Today I would like to quote from St. John Chrysostom’s fifth homily on first Thessalonians. I believe I have quoted from it before, albeit not in this series. Here is some of the latter part of his homily, after he decries fornication among men:

What then do I advise, so as to extirpate the roots? So many of you as have young sons, and are bringing them up to a worldly life, quickly draw them under the yoke of marriage. For since while he is yet young desires trouble him, for the time before marriage, by admonitions, threats, fears, promises, and numberless other methods restrain them. But at the season of marriage, let no one defer it. Behold, I speak the words of a match-maker, that you should let your sons marry. But I am not ashamed to speak thus, since not even Paul was ashamed to say, Defraud ye not one the other 1 Corinthians 7:5, which seems more shameful than what I have said; yet he was not ashamed. For he did not pay heed to words, but to the acts that were set right by words. When your son is grown up, before he enters upon warfare, or any other course of life, consider of his marriage. And if he sees that you will soon take a bride for him, and that the time intervening will be short, he will be able to endure the flame patiently. But if he perceives that you are remiss and slow, and waitest until he shall acquire a large income, and then you will contract a marriage for him, despairing at the length of the time, he will readily fall into fornication. But alas! The root of evils here also is the love of money. For since no one cares how far his son shall be sober and modest, but all are mad for gold, for this reason no one makes this a matter of concern. Wherefore I exhort you first to regulate well their souls. If he find his bride chaste, and know that body alone, then will both his desire be vehement, and his fear of God the greater, and the marriage truly honorable, receiving bodies pure and undefiled; and the offspring will be full-charged with blessing, and the bride and bridegroom will comply with one another, for both being inexperienced in the manners of others, they will submit to one another. But one that begins when younger to wax wanton, and to have experience of the ways of harlots, for the first and second evening will praise his own wife; but after that he will soon fall back into that wantonness, seeking that dissolute and disorderly laughter, the words that are full of base import, the dissolute deportment, and all the other indecency, which it is not tolerable that we should mention. But a woman of free estate would not endure to make such exhibitions, nor to tarnish herself. For she was espoused to her husband to be his partner in life, and for the procreation of children, not for the purposes of indecency and laughter; that she might keep the house, and instruct him also to be grave, not that she might supply to him the fuel of fornication.

I said indeed to your fathers, that they ought early to lead you to marriage: but nevertheless neither are you without liability to punishment. For if there were not other young men also, more numerous than you, living in chastity, both formerly, and now, there would perhaps be some excuse for you. But if there are, how can you say, that we were not able to restrain the flame of lust? For they, who have been able, are your accusers, in that they are partakers of the same nature. Hear Paul saying, Follow after peace…and the sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 Is not this threat sufficient to terrify you? Do you see others continuing altogether in chastity, and in gravity passing their lives; and cannot you command yourself even so long as the period of youth? Do you see others ten thousand times overcoming pleasure, and cannot you once refrain? With your leave, I will tell you the cause. For youth is not the cause, since then all young men would be dissolute. But we thrust ourselves into the fire. For when you go up to the theater, and sit feasting your eyes with the naked limbs of women, for the time indeed you are delighted, but afterwards, you have nourished thence a mighty fever. When you see women exhibited as it were in the form of their bodies and spectacles and songs containing nothing else but irregular loves: such a woman, it is said, loved such a man, and not obtaining him, hanged herself; and unlawful loves having mothers for their object; when you receive these things by hearing also, and through women, and through figures, yea, and even through old men, (for many there put masks upon their faces, and play the parts of women,) tell me, how will you be able to continue chaste afterwards, these narratives, these spectacles, these songs occupying your soul, and dreams of this sort henceforth succeeding. For it is the nature of the soul for the most part to raise visions of such things, as it wishes for and desires in the daytime. Therefore when you there both see base actions, and hear baser words, and receive indeed the wounds but do not apply the remedies, how will not the sore naturally be increased? How will not the disease become more intense; and in a much greater degree than in our bodies? For if we were willing, our will admits of correction more easily than our bodies. For there indeed drugs, and physicians, and time are required, but here it is sufficient having but the will, to become both good and bad. So that you have rather admitted the disorder. When therefore we gather to us indeed the things that injure, but pay no regard to the things that benefit, how can there ever be any health?

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[Sorry for the length of paragraphs. Should I break them up for ease of reading?]

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In The Dark

My Orthodox readers might find the following article interesting:

The Orthodox Church Stays In The Dark Ages

Of course, other readers could (and dare I say, should) find it interesting too. Now, the arcana of Orthodox policies and politics isn’t my primary interest in that article. Instead, it was the focus on The Dark Ages.

You see, there is definitely some darkness going on in that piece. Only, the lack of light is found in the writer’s head. His Western education clearly shows (at least to me), as he is clearly unaware of the actual nature of the Dark Ages. If he was historically literate, or at least had the brains to read Wikipedia, he would have known that the Dark Ages was a period in Western European history. It was the Western Church which went through the “Dark Age” period.

The Eastern Church, on the other hand, had a rather different experience. Why so? Simple- the Eastern Roman Empire lasted for a thousand years longer than in the West. The Light of the East didn’t dim like that of the West when Rome fell. Instead the Eastern Church flourished and prospered. At least, it did until Islam showed up and conquered vast areas of formerly Christian lands.

The writer is letting his contempt for Tradition, and the haughtiness of a liberal mindset,  show here. He has a point to make, and he won’t let facts or history get in the way of it. Arguing the merits of why the Orthodox Churches are standing up for what they believe in is pointless with one such as him. The irony is that so called “Progressives” like him (although he may deny that is what he is) are the new barbarians- they are the ones trying to tear down the pillars of civilization all around them. Sadly, for the most part they succeeded. I hope for the world’s sake that they continue to fail where the Eastern Church is concerned.

 

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Tradition Thursday- #55

I haven’t had a post in this series for quite some time. Now is as good a time as any to fix that. The subjects of teaching and scripture have been on my mind as of late, and so this homily by St. John Chrysostom seems appropriate:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God. And whatsoever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Having exhorted them to be thankful, he shows also the way, that, of which I have lately discoursed to you. And what does he say? Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; or rather not this way alone, but another also. For I indeed said that we ought to reckon up those who have suffered things more terrible, and those who have undergone sufferings more grievous than ours, and to give thanks that such have not fallen to our lot; but what does he say? Let the word of Christ dwell in you; that is, the teaching, the doctrines, the exhortation, wherein He says, that the present life is nothing, nor yet its good things. If we know this, we shall yield to no hardships whatever. Matthew 6:25, etc./span> Let it dwell in you, he says, richly, not simply dwell, but with great abundance. Hearken ye, as many as are worldly, and have the charge of wife and children; how to you too he commits especially the reading of the Scriptures and that not to be done lightly, nor in any sort of way, but with much earnestness. For as the rich in money can bear fine and damages, so he that is rich in the doctrines of philosophy will bear not poverty only, but all calamities also easily, yea, more easily than that one. For as for him, by discharging the fine, the man who is rich must needs be impoverished, and found wanting, and if he should often suffer in that way, will no longer be able to bear it, but in this case it is not so; for we do not even expend our wholesome thoughts when it is necessary for us to bear anything we would not choose, but they abide with us continually. And mark the wisdom of this blessed man. He said not, Let the word of Christ be in you, simply, but what? dwell in you, and richly.

In all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another. In all, says he. Virtue he calls wisdom, and lowliness of mind is wisdom, and almsgiving, and other such like things, are wisdom; just as the contraries are folly, for cruelty too comes of folly. Whence in many places it calls the whole of sin folly. The fool, says one, has said in his heart, There is no God Psalm 14:1; and again, My wounds stink and are corrupt from the face of my foolishness. Psalm 38:5, Septuagint For what is more foolish, tell me, than one who indeed wraps himself about in his own garments, but regards not his brethren that are naked; who feeds dogs, and cares not that the image of God is famishing; who is merely persuaded that human things are nought, and yet clings to them as if immortal. As then nothing is more foolish than such an one, so is nothing wiser than one that achieves virtue. For mark; how wise he is, says one. He imparts of his substance, he is pitiful, he is loving to men, he has well considered that he bears a common nature with them; he has well considered the use of wealth, that it is worthy of no estimation; that one ought to be sparing of bodies that are of kin to one, rather than of wealth. He that is a despiser of glory is wholly wise, for he knows human affairs; the knowledge of things divine and human, is philosophy. So then he knows what things are divine, and what are human, and from the one he keeps himself, on the other he bestows his pains. And he knows how to give thanks also to God in all things, he considers the present life as nothing; therefore he is neither delighted with prosperity, nor grieved with the opposite condition.

Tarry not, I entreat, for another to teach you; you have the oracles of God. No man teaches you as they; for he indeed oft grudges much for vainglory’s sake and envy. Hearken, I entreat you, all you that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul. If you will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If grief befall you, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take thence comfort of your trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather dive not into them merely, but take them wholly to you; keep them in your mind.

This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe? Well contented should we be if we can be safe with them, let alone without them. Throw not the whole upon us! Sheep you are, still not without reason, but rational; Paul commits much to you also. They that are under instruction, are not for ever learning; for then they are not taught. If you are for ever learning, you will never learn. Do not so come as meaning to be always learning; (for so you will never know;) but so as to finish learning, and to teach others. In the arts do not all persons continue for set times, in the sciences, and in a word, in all the arts? Thus we all fix definitely a certain known time; but if you are ever learning, it is a certain proof that you have learned nothing.

This reproach God spoke against the Jews. Borne from the belly, and instructed even to old age. Isaiah 46:3-4, Septuagint If you had not always been expecting this, all things would not have gone backward in this way. Had it been so, that some had finished learning, and others were about to have finished, our work would have been forward; you would both have given place to others, and would have helped us as well. Tell me, were some to go to a grammarian and continue always learning their letters, would they not give their teacher much trouble? How long shall I have to discourse to you concerning life? In the Apostles’ times it was not thus, but they continually leaped from place to place, appointing those who first learned to be the teachers of any others that were under instruction. Thus they were enabled to circle the world, through not being bound to one place. How much instruction, do you think, do your brethren in the country stand in need of, [they] and their teachers? But you hold me riveted fast here. For, before the head is set right, it is superfluous to proceed to the rest of the body. You throw everything upon us. You alone ought to learn from us, and your wives from you, your children from you; but you leave all to us. Therefore our toil is excessive.

Teaching, he says, and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Mark also the considerateness of Paul. Seeing that reading is toilsome, and its irksomeness great, he led them not to histories, but to psalms, that you might at once delight your soul with singing, and gently beguile your labors. Hymns, he says, and spiritual songs. But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians; no one knows any psalm, but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, and a mockery, and a joke. There is the treasury house of all these evils. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar. So the matter of instruction is a sort of fountain. Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of the love of wisdom; as at once concerning chastity, or rather, before all, of not companying with the wicked, immediately with the very beginning of the book; (for therefore also it was that the prophet began on this wise, Blessed is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly; Psalm 1:1, and again, I have not sat in the council of vanity; Psalm 26:4, Septuagint, and again, in his sight a wicked doer is contemned, but he honors those that fear the Lord, Psalm 15:4, Septuagint of companying with the good, (and these subjects you will find there in abundance,) of restraining the belly, of restraining the hand, of refraining from excess, of not overreaching; that money is nothing, nor glory, and other things such like.

When in these you have led him on from childhood, little by little you will lead him forward even to the higher things. The Psalms contain all things, but the Hymns again have nothing human. When he has been instructed out of the Psalms, he will then know hymns also, as a diviner thing. For the Powers above chant hymns, not psalms. For a hymn, says one, is not comely in the mouth of a sinner Sirach 15:9; and again, My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they sit together with me Psalm 101:6-7, Septuagint; and again, he that works haughtiness has not dwelt in the midst of my house; and again, He that walks in a blameless way, he ministered unto me. Psalm 101:6, Septuagint

So that you should safely guard them from intermixing themselves, not only with friends, but even with servants. For the harm done to the free is incalculable, when we place over them corrupt slaves. For if when enjoying all the benefit of a father’s affection and wisdom, they can with difficulty be preserved safe throughout; when we hand them over to the unscrupulousness of servants, they use them like enemies, thinking that they will prove milder masters to them, when they have made them perfect fools, and weak, and worthy of no respect.

More then than all other things together, let us attend seriously to this. I have loved, says he, those that love your law. Psalm 119:165, not exact This man then let us too emulate, and such let us love. And that the young may further be taught chastity, let them hear the Prophet, saying, My loins are filled with illusions Psalm 38:7, Septuagint; and again let them hear him saying, You will utterly destroy every one that goes a whoring from You. Psalm 73:27, Septuagint And, that one ought to restrain the belly, let them hear again, And slew, he says, the more part of them while the meat was yet in their mouths. Psalm 78:30, Septuagint And that they ought to be above bribes, If riches become abundant, set [not] your heart upon them Psalm 62:10; and that they ought to keep glory in subjection, Nor shall his glory descend together after him. Psalm 49:17 And not to envy the wicked, Be not envious against them that work unrighteousness. Psalm 37:1 And to count power as nothing, I saw the ungodly in exceeding high place, and lifting himself up as the cedars of Libanus, and I passed by, and lo! He was not. Psalm 37:35 And to count these present things as nothing, They counted the people happy, that are in such a case; happy are the people, whose helper is the Lord their God. Psalm 144:15, Septuagint That we do not sin without notice, but that there is a retribution, for, he says, You shall render to every man according to his works. Psalm 62:12, Septuagint But why does he not so requite them day by day? God is a judge, he says, righteous, and strong, and longsuffering. Psalm 7:11 That lowliness of mind is good, Lord, he says, my heart is not lifted up Psalm 131:1: that pride is evil, Therefore, he said, pride took hold on them wholly Psalm 73:6, Septuagint; and again, The Lord resists the proud; and again, Their injustice shall come out as of fatness. That almsgiving is good, He has dispersed, he has given to the needy, his righteousness endures for ever. Proverbs 3:34 And that to pity is praiseworthy, He is a good man that pities, and lends. Psalm 73:7, Septuagint And you will find there many more doctrines than these, full of true philosophy; such as, that one ought not to speak evil, Him that privily slanders his neighbor, him did I chase from me. Psalm 112:9

What is the hymn of those above? The Faithful know. What say the cherubim above? What say the Angels? Glory to God in the highest. Psalm 112:5 Therefore after the psalmody come the hymns, as a thing of more perfection. With psalms, he says, with hymns, with spiritual songs, with grace singing in your hearts to God. Psalm 101:5, Septuagint He means either this, that God because of grace has given us these things; or, with the songs in grace; or, admonishing and teaching one another in grace; or, that they had these gifts in grace; or, it is an epexegesis and he means, from the grace of the Spirit. Singing in your hearts to God. Not simply with the mouth, he means, but with heedfulness. For this is to sing to God, but that to the air, for the voice is scattered without result. Not for display, he means. And even if you be in the market-place, you can collect yourself, and sing unto God, no one hearing you. For Moses also in this way prayed, and was heard, for He says, Why do you cry unto Me? Exodus 14:15 albeit he said nothing, but cried in thought— wherefore also God alone heard him— with a contrite heart. For it is not forbidden one even when walking to pray in his heart, and to dwell above.

Ver. 17. And whatsoever you do, he says, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

For if we thus do, there will be nothing polluted, nothing unclean, wherever Christ is called on. If you eat, if you drink, if you marry, if you travel, do all in the Name of God, that is, calling Him to aid you: in everything first praying to Him, so take hold of your business. Would you speak somewhat? Set this in front. For this cause we also place in front of our epistles the Name of the Lord. Wheresoever the Name of God is, all is auspicious. For if the names of Consuls make writings sure, much more does the Name of Christ. Or he means this; after God say ye and do everything, do not introduce the Angels besides. Do you eat? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Do you sleep? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Launchest thou into the forum? Do the same— nothing worldly, nothing of this life. Do all in the Name of the Lord, and all shall be prospered to you. Whereonsoever the Name is placed, there all things are auspicious. If it casts out devils, if it drives away diseases, much more does it render business easy.

And what is to do in word or in deed? Either requesting or performing anything whatever. Hear how in the Name of God Abraham sent his servant; David in the Name of God slew Goliath. Marvelous is His Name and great. Again, Jacob sending his sons says, My God give you favor in the sight of the man. Genesis 43:14 For he that does this has for his ally, God, without whom he dared do nothing. As honored then by being called upon, He will in turn honor by making their business easy. Invoke the Son, give thanks to the Father. For when the Son is invoked, the Father is invoked, and when He is thanked, the Son has been thanked.

These things let us learn, not as far as words only, but to fulfill them also by works. Nothing is equal to this Name, marvelous is it everywhere. Your Name, he says, is ointment poured forth. Canticles 1:3 He that has uttered it is straightway filled with fragrance. No man, it is said, can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 12:3 So great things does this Name Work. If you have said, In the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, with faith, you have accomplished everything. See, how great things you have done! You have created a man, and wrought all the rest (that comes) of Baptism! So, when used in commanding diseases, terrible is The Name. Therefore the devil introduced those of the Angels, envying us the honor. Such incantations are for the demons. Even if it be Angel, even if it be Archangel, even if it be Cherubim, allow it not; for neither will these Powers accept such addresses, but will even toss them away from them, when they have beheld their Master dishonored. I have honored you, He says, and have said, Call upon Me; and do you dishonor Him? If you chant this incantation with faith, you will drive away both diseases and demons, and even if you have failed to drive away the disease, this is not from lack of power, but because it is expedient it should be so. According to Your greatness, he says, so also is Your praise. Psalm 48:10 By this Name has the world been converted, the tyranny dissolved, the devil trampled on, the heavens opened. We have been regenerated by this Name. This if we have, we beam forth; This makes both martyrs and confessors; This let us hold fast as a great gift, that we may live in glory, and be well-pleasing to God, and be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness, etc.

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