The Shepherd, May 2007

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FROM THE FATHERS

THERE IS NOT ONE of us can look directly at the orb of our sun as it mounts up in splendour to the heavens; for our eyes weakened by its rays are beaten down.  But we can see the mountains glistening in the sunrise, and know from them that the sun has risen.  We then, who cannot of ourselves look upon the Sun of Righteousness, let us look up to the mountains that shine in His splendour, the Holy Apostles, who shine so clearly by their virtues, who glitter with miracles, who are flooded with the radiance of the Risen Sun, Which, invisible in Himself, as it were makes Himself visible to us in these sunlit mountains.

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome,  + 604 A.D.

 AFTER the heavenly fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit, had poured down in a heavenly rain upon the Apostles, and warmed with its fire the no less cold as well as dark hearts of mortal men, the Woman, that is the Church, lit her lamp (Luke 15:8-10), that is the power of vision of her soul, the enlightened eyes of your heart (Eph. 1:18).  She therefore lit her lamp and through the subsequent labour of the Apostles turned upside down (see Acts 17:6) that Judaic house that was blind with the darkness of ignorance, until she finds in Christ the silver piece that was lost from the ten; that is, from the Decalogue of the Law.  Christ is the coin of the Divinity in full.  Christ is the drachma of our redemption, and of our purchase.  Christ it is is who was both in the Law of the Decalogue, and concealed by it.  Christ it is Whom the Synagogue both possessed, and yet did not see, because of the darkness that warred against her.  We have called the ten words of the Law ten pieces of silver, of which the Synagogue lost one.  Which one?  The one which John first found in the Church - because he was a burning light, as the Lord says: He was a burning light (John 5:35), as the Evangelist tells us, saying: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  That He was in the Decalogue is already plain to us.  Hear, it says, O Israel, The Lord thy God is one God (Mark 12:9).”

St Peter Chrysologus, Archbishop of Ravenna, + 450 A.D.

 IT   IS BETTER to be led by no one than to be led by one who is evil. For the former indeed are often saved and often in peril, but the latter will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit of destruction.  How then does Paul say: ‘Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves’ (Heb. 13.17)?  Having said above: ‘Whose faith follow, considering the end of their behaviour’ (Heb. 10.7), he then says, ‘Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.’  ‘What then,’ you say, ‘when he is evil, should we obey?’  Evil?  In what sense?  If indeed in regard to faith, flee and avoid him, not only if he is a man, but even if he is an angel come down from heaven. But if in regard to life, do not be over-curious.”

St. John Chrysostom,  Archbishop of Constantinople, +407 A.D.

HE WHO POSSESSES knowledge of the truth, and, in whatever way, deliberately hides it, not openly preaching it or speaking it with boldness, and does not uphold the divine and august canons, or the laws presided over by the Fathers, is justly punished no less than the transgressors of these.  He who is silent about the truth hides Christ in a tomb, as one Father has said, and another, again, says: He who is silent about the faith is in grave danger of eternal punishment and of the pit of perdition.  It is not just, lawful, or right for the faithful to be silent when the laws of God are being violated, and the evil seeks to support their deception.  When someone is in danger of being separated from God,said one of the great Fathers, and when evils are attributed to God, what faithful Christian can be silent?  Who can be at peace?  For silence means consent and betrayal, as was clearly shown by the Lord’s Forerunner and the brave Maccabees together with him who, on account of the smallest commandment, were in danger unto death, and did not even betray a the smallest part of the Law.  War is many times known to be praiseworthy, and battle appears better than soul-destroying peace.  For it is better to stand against those who do not believe correctly, than it is to follow them and be of one mind with them, thus being united with them and separated from God.  Do not listen to monks or to presbyters, when they wrongly counsel you and lead you astray.  What - only monks?  And only presbyters?  Do not even listen to Bishops when they advise you to do and to say and to believe that which harms the soul.”

St. Meletius the Confessor of Mount Galesion, + thirteenth century
Alphabetalphabetos, Hypothesis 10.    

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