Monday, December 31, 2012

Chrysostom: One's Own Prayers Better than Peter's or James'

Chrysostom (349-407): There is in fact no need either of doorkeepers to introduce you, or of managers, guardians or friends; rather, when you make your approach in person, then most of all he will hear you, at that time when you ask the help of no one. So we do not prevail upon him in making our requests through others to the degree that we do through ourselves. You see, since he longs for our friendship, he also does everything to have us trust in him; when he sees us doing so on our own account, then he accedes to us most of all. This is what he did too in the case of the Canaanite woman: when Peter and James came forward on her behalf, he did not accede; but when she persisted, he promptly granted her petition. I mean, even if he seemed to put her off for a while, he did it not to put the poor creature aside but to reward her more abundantly and render her entreaty more favorable.

Robert Charles Hill, St. John Chrysostom Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 1, Psalm 4 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998), pp. 48-49.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chrysostom: Intercession of Other Humans an Unnecessary Hassle

Chrysostom (349-407): My beloved, since we know these things, let us always run to God for refuge, to Him who is willing and able to rescue us from misfortunes. When we entreat human beings for assistance, then we must meet with porters beforehand, entreat parasites and flatterers, and embark on a long journey. However, where God is concerned, nothing of this sort is required; rather, you can beg him without the interventions of an intercessor and money, and He approves your supplication without expense. It suffices for you simply to shout with the heart and offer tears, and He will immediately enter into  your soul and assist you.
FC, Vol. 96, Gus George Christo, St. John Chrysostom on Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 4.4 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998), pp. 51-52.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Chrysostom: Our Own Prayers More Effective than those of Others for Us

Chrysostom (349-407): You see, provided we are prepared to be vigilant and alert, even by our own appeals we will obtain the greatest benefit. After all, since our Lord is loving, he does not accede to requests on our behalf by others as readily as he does to our own. See the extraordinary degree of his goodness: if he sees us giving offence, suffering dishonor, having no confidence, and then gradually rising from our depression and wishing to have recourse to the riches of his loving kindness, he immediately accedes to our requests, extends his hand to us in our abjection and raises us where we have fallen, crying aloud, “Surely the fallen will not fail to rise?”

FC, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis, trans. Robert C. Hill, Homily 44.11 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 460.

Chrysostom: Requests Should not be Mediated by Mary

Chrysostom (349-407) on John 2:4ff: It was then from this motive that He said in this place, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” and also for another reason not less pressing. What was that? It was, that His miracles might not be suspected. The request ought to have come from those who needed, not from His mother. And why so? Because what is done at the request of one’s friends, great though it be, often causes offense to the spectators; but when they make the request who have the need, the miracle is free from suspicion, the praise unmixed, the benefit great. So if some excellent physician should enter a house where there were many sick, and be spoken to by none of the patients or their relations, but be directed only by his own mother, he would be suspected and disliked by the sufferers, nor would any of the patients or their attendants deem him able to exhibit anything great or remarkable. And so this was a reason why He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much more for the salvation of her soul, and for the doing good to the many, for which He took upon Him the flesh.
These then were the words, not of one speaking rudely to his mother, but belonging to a wise dispensation, which brought her into a right frame of mind, and provided that the miracles should be attended with that honor which was meet. And setting other things aside, this very appearance which these words have of having been spoken chidingly, is amply enough to show that He held her in high honor, for by His displeasure He showed that He reverenced her greatly; in what manner, we will say in the next discourse. Think of this then, and when you hear a certain woman saying, “Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked,” and Him answering, “rather blessed are they that do the will of my Father” (Luke 10:27), suppose that those other words also were said with the same intention. For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been very good and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtue. NPNF1: Volume XIV, Homilies on the Gospel according to St. John, Homily XXI, §3.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Epiphanius: Don't Honor Mary as the Queen of Heaven

Epiphanius (310/320-403): Let no one eat of the error which has arisen on St. Mary’s account. Even though ‘The tree is lovely’ it is not for food; and even though Mary is all fair, and is holy and held in honor, she is not to be worshiped.

But again, these women are “renewing the potion for Fortune and preparing the table for the demon and not for God,” as the Scripture says, “And the women grind flour, and their sons gather wood to make cakes for the host of heaven.” Such women should be silenced by Jeremiah, and not frighten the world. They must not say, ‘We honor the queen of heaven.’

Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide) 79. Against Collyridians, 7,7-8,2 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 627.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Epiphanius of Salamis: No One Knows the End of Mary

Epiphanius of Salamis (310/320-403): And there have been many such things to mislead the deluded, though the saints are not responsible for anyone’s stumbling; the human mind finds no rest, but is perverted to evils. The holy virgin may have died and been buried—her falling asleep was with honor, her death in purity, her crown in virginity. Or she may have been put to death—as the Scripture says, “And a sword shall pierce her soul”— her fame is among the martyrs and her holy body, by which light rose on the world, [rests] amid blessings. Or she may have remained alive, for God is not incapable of doing whatever he wills. No one knows her end.
But we must not honor the saints to excess; we must honor their Master.

Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide) 78. Against Antidicomarians, 78. 23 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 619.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bede the Venerable: Jerome on the Fire of Present Temptations

Each one, in fact, is tempted, drawn on and lured by his own concupiscence, and so on, drawn on from the right way and lured into evil. About this verse Jerome writes against Jovinian (Against Jovinian 2.3):
Just as in good works, (he says) the perfecter is God, for it depends not on the will or striving but on God's having mercy (Romans 9:16), and helping us to be able to reach the goal, so in evils and sins the seeds are our own prompting, perfection the devil's. When he sees that on the foundation of Christ we have built hay, wood, straw, he adds fire; let us build gold, silver, precious stones, (1 Corinthians 3:12) and he will not dare to tempt. Although even in this let there not be definite and secure possession. In truth a lion sits in ambush in hiding that he may kill the innocent. (Psalm 10:8 (9:29)) And, The furnace tests the vessels of the potter, the temptation of tribulations, however, the righteous men. (Sirach 27:6)
Bede the Venerable, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, at James 1:14 (Cisterian Studies Series, #82, p. 14), translated by Dom David Hurst, O.S.B.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Theophylact: Faith Leads to Forgiveness and Imputed Righteousness by Baptism

5. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. We, the faithful, hope to be justified not by the law, but by the Holy Spirit. How? By faith. Faith must come first; then, by the visitation of the Holy Spirit, we receive forgiveness of sins and are counted righteous by baptism. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 5:5), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 68

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Theophylact: The Law Pushes us to Christ - Through Faith we are Counted Righteous

22. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. The law, the Apostle affirms, is unable to free men from sin; indeed, it had the opposite effect of enclosing them in sin. This means that the law shows us that we are sinners, and impels us to desire remission from sins and run to the only one who is able to provide it -- Christ. The Jews neither perceived their sins, nor desired remission of their sins. God gave the law to "enclose" them, that is, to confine and restrain them with rebukes, reveal to them their sin and compel them to seek the way to forgiveness. This way is faith in Christ, through which we are blessed and counted righteous. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 3:22), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 54

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Theophylact: Christ's Atonement is Like the Substitution of an Innocent Man for the Guilty

13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. One might argue: "It is true that he who does not fulfill the law is accursed, and that faith justifies. But how do we know that the curse has been lifted? We fear that having once been under the yoke of the law, we still remain under the curse." Anticipating such an objection, Paul demonstrates that the curse has been removed through Christ. He paid the price by Himself becoming the curse and thereby redeeming us from the condemnation of the law. Christ (in His human nature) escaped that curse by fulfilling the law, but we, unable to fulfill it, were guilty under the law. This is like an innocent man who chooses to die in place of a guilty man condemned to death. Therefore, Christ accepted the curse of being hung from a tree and thereby loosed the curse to which we are liable for not fulfilling the law. This was a curse that lay upon us, but not upon Him, because He fulfilled the law perfectly, committing no sin. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 3:13), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 50

Friday, December 21, 2012

Theophylact: Faith Alone Justifies

11-12. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith; and the law is not of faith; but, the man that doeth them shall live in them. Having established that the law renders men accursed, but faith brings blessings, now the Apostle shows that it is faith alone which makes men righteous, not the law. He cites Habakkuk, who says, The just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4), and not by the law. For the law demands works as well as faith. Aptly does Paul add the phrase, in the sight of God, because, in the sight of men, those who appear to keep the law -- such as the Pharisees, who justify themselves before men -- appear equally righteous. Therefore, since the law did not make us righteous, instead brought us under a curse because it was so difficult to fulfill, grace came to reveal faith as a gentler path by which we may be justified and blessed. Behold, now it has been revealed that not only before the law did faith bless and make men righteous, but even more so after the law. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 3:11-12), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, pp. 49-50

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Theophylact: Abraham was Counted Righteous by Faith

6a. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Paul is saying, "Surely you ought to know the power of faith from the miracles which you yourselves have performed. Furthermore, consider your forefather, whom you greatly esteem, and you will find that he too was counted righteous by faith. If he who lived before grace is justified by faith, so much the more should they who are deemed worthy of grace cling to faith. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 3:6), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 49

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Theophylact: Justification is Imputation Based on Christ's Death - Not Our Works

21a. I do not frustrate the grace of God. Having stated his argument, Paul makes this affirmation: "I will not reject Christ's gift to me by again embracing the law. By His death the Lord has justified me -- counted me as righteous -- quite apart from any works of mine." Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 2:21a), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 46

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Theophylact: Paul Went to Jerusalem to Correct Others - Not to Check if He was Right

2b. And communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. By gospel he means his teaching, which did not include circumcision. Why does Paul wait fourteen years before meeting the apostles in Jerusalem to confirm that his preaching of the Gospel was correct? If this were his reason for returning to Jerusalem now, it would indeed be absurd. But Paul perceived that many were scandalized that Peter accepted circumcision while he himself did not, and that they suspected Paul of transgressing the law. And so he went up to Jerusalem by revelation, the Spirit suggesting to him how those who had been offended could be persuaded that there was no discord in the preaching of the two apostle. Those who made allowance for circumcision did so by economy, because they were preaching to the circumcised. Therefore, there was nothing absurd about his going up to Jerusalem. The Spirit moved Paul to go so that others might be corrected, and he obeyed, quite rightly. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 2:2b), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 37

Monday, December 17, 2012

Theophylact: Paul Visited Peter Out of Respect - Not to Learn

18a. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter. When one as accomplished as Paul visits Peter, not to obtain help, but to honor Peter as greater than himself, it betokens great humility. Therefore he did not say "to see Peter," but to visit him. Visit (ἰστσρήσαι) is the word used by those who seek knowledge of the great and magnificent cities, and as we go to see holy men. But whereas we go for help, Paul went only out of respect. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 1:18a), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 35

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Theophylact: Incarnation Permits Imputation

3c. And from our Lord Jesus Christ. Not the law, but Jesus Christ, is our Lord. His very names indicate that He is our Benefactor. He is called Jesus, because He has saved His people from their sins; He is called Christ, from the anointing of the Spirit which He received for our sake. By taking on our nature, He sanctified it, allowing us to be called holy. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 1:3c), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 29

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Theophylact: Bulgaria's Highest Ecclesiastical Authority is its own Archbishop

.. for what relations are there between the Church of Bulgaria and the Patriarch of Constantinople? None at all. Constantinople possess neither right of ordination, nor any other rights, in Bulgaria. Bulgaria recognizes only its own archbishop as its head. Theophylact, The Life of Blessed Theophylact (from the Russian edition, Blagovestnik, Vol. 1, pp. 3-13) in The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians, Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), quoting from an unspecified writing of Theophylact, section trans. Johnson and Shawki, p. xviii