The Shepherd, February 2005

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FROM THE FATHERS

“THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another’s, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view, - if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it; if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it; if any already ratified and defined, to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that which was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practised negligently should thence forward be practised with double solicitude?This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of the heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils, - this, and nothing else, she has thence forward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name.”

Venerable Vincent of Lérins, + c 450 A.D.

“AS SOON AS we begin to believe the demons in dreams, then they make sport of us when we are awake too. He who believes in dreams is completely inexperienced. But he who distrusts all dreams is a wise man.”

Venerable John of the Ladder, of Sinai, +603 A.D.

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