Guide Faith of Our Fathers, Volume Four: One Nation Under God: 4

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Readers will find it no less engaging to read his homilies now and experience some of that exhilaration of hearing a true expert highlight every subtlety of the pericope and make plain what once was obscure. Origen preached them in Caesarea, perhaps around or , to a congregation of catechumens and faithful.

Most of the homilies are short; on average, they treat about six verses of the Gospel and would have lasted between eight and twelve minutes. Homilies 1 to 20 also constitute the only existing commentary from the pre-Nicene Church on either Infancy Narrative. Origen, the champion of spiritual interpretation, regulary beings with a painfully literal reading of the text. His first unit of understanding is the word, and often the key that unlocks the meaning of a word in the Bible for him is the use of that same word elsewhere in Scripture.

Origen assumed that each word had a meaning that is both profound and relevant to the reader—for the Holy Spirit is never trite and what the Holy Spirit says must always touch the hearer. This volume contains a number of his practical and disciplinary writings, demonstrating his austere devotions and methods of maintaining self-control. He praised the unmarried state of life, condemned the remarriage of divorcees, insisted against the austentatious display of wealth, but was criticized for being misogynistic and taking asceticism too far in some instances.

These works include:. Tertullian ca.

One Nation Under God

His experience as a lawyer and his extensive training in medicine, law, and culture, provided him the background he needed to defend Christianity and establish a strong foundation for the future of Christian literature and philosophy. Minucius Felix, another early Latin Christian apologist of unknown date, is exclusively known for his Octavius , a dialogue between the pagan Caecilius Natalis and the Christian Octavius Januarius.

Born of an aristocratic pagan family at Neocaesarea in Pontus at the beginning of the third century, St. Gregory received his early training in literature and rhetoric in his birthplace. While visiting Caesarea in Palestine, he chanced to hear the Christian philosopher and theologian Origen and remained there for five years as his pupil.

Deeply influenced by Origen, Gregory returned to Pontus a convinced Christian and became the first bishop of Neocaesarea. Of his life, however, not much is known. No manuscript collection of his writings was made in antiquity. This volume presents the earliest and most important Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, preached by St.

Gregory of Nyssa, and all the works that can be attributed to Gregory Thamumaturgus himself. It includes his Address of Thanksgiving to his teacher Origen; his Christian adaptation and interpretation of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes; his regulations restoring order in the Christian community after an invasion by the Goths; a remarkable treatise on God's ability to suffer and another on the Trinity; and two small texts that may or may not have been written by him. This is the first time that these texts have been brought together in any language.

Because his writings were too valuable to ignore, a number of them were attributed to less controversial authors. The collection opens with the work that most clearly defines him as a theologian of central importance: The Trinity. Novatian, absent from his community, writes to his adherents about current problems in Christian morality and encourages them to remain faithful to the Gospel.

They are an important source for the study of Penance as practiced by the early Church. Novatian insisted that those who had denied Christ during the persecution should be most strictly dealt with. This volume presents several treatises of St. Cyprian in translation. Literary criticism has come to view this treatise as a model for St.

In this treatise on virginity Cyprian warns these women against seeking finery and the pitfalls of worldliness. The Fallen De lapsis , written in , deals with the problems encountered in reconciling with the Church those who had defected during the time of persecution.

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These problems were acute especially after the Decian persecution. The Unity of the Catholic Church De unitate ecclesiae , written very likely in , is directed in the first place against the Novatian schism. Many of its words and phrases remind one of Tertullian whom Cyprian admired greatly.

To Demetrian As Demetrianum is a vigorous defense of Christianity against pagan calumnies. Mortality De mortalitate written perhaps in or later has often been described as being a pastoral letter of a bishop to comfort and console his flock during a time of trial and tribulation. Work and Alms De opere et eleemosynis is a treatise that may have been written in or even later. It is a warm and heartfelt exhortation of a bishop to his flock encouraging them to do good works. The Blessing of Patience De bono patientiae , written sometime during the year , has frequently been described as a sermon delivered during the controversy over the validity of heretical baptism in northern Africa.

Jealousy and Envy De zelo et livore like the preceding treatise greatly resembles a sermon delivered on the topic in the title. It was probably written between and To Fortunatus Ad Fortunatum , a work replete with quotations from Scripture to encourage a Christian in time of persecution, was probably written between and In its original Latin this treatise is an important witness to the text of the Bible before St.

That Idols are not Gods Quod idola dii non sint is a relatively unimportant work when judged on the basis of its content. Modern patristic scholars seriously doubt its authenticity. This volume features his letters, of which 81 have come down to us, written from c. They give a penetrating insight into the affairs of the Church in Africa in the middle of the third century. They reveal problems of doctrine and of discipline which had to be decided in a period of crisis and persecution when the Church, still in its infancy, had not yet emerged from the catacombs.

Most important of all, they make Cyprian vividly alive as an understanding bishop who could be both gentle and firm, enthusiastic and moderate. He was prudent enough to go into exile to direct his flock from afar when his presence was a potential source of danger to the people; he was courageous enough to face martyrdom that he knew would ultimately he his. Of these letters, 59 were written by Cyprian himself and six more, emanating from Carthaginian Councils or Synods, were largely his work also. Unfortunately, he is not well known or as widely read in modern times as he deserves. The modern reader must bear in mind that the period of the Fathers was the time of the laying of the foundation of so much which we accept and see so clearly today.

In any case, both Lactantius Div. Augustine De bapt. Prudentius pays St. Cyprian the following tribute in his Peristephanon Pamphilus of Caesarea d.

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Written from prison with the collaboration of Eusebius later to become the bishop of Caesarea , the Apology attempts to refute accusations made against Origen, defending his views with passages quoted from his own works. Pamphilus was beheaded on February 16, , under the emperor Maximinus Daia.

Rufinus probably did not suspect the incomparable importance of his undertaking, but by translating Origen he saved from impending ruin some of the most precious monuments of Christian antiquity, destined to form Latin minds for many years to come. Rufinus demonstrates that literary frauds and forgeries carried out by heretics were widespread and affected many writers.

Fathers of the Post-Nicene Era

The most important writing of Lactantius, The Divine Institutes was written between and Intended to point out the futility of pagan beliefs juxtaposed next to the reasonableness and truth of Christianity, this major work is one of the earliest systematic apologetic works written. Lactantius lived through one of the greatest turning points in the history of Europe.

It has been aptly described as the moment when the old world of paganism was in travail, when against its will it gave birth to the Christian Empire. The writings of this author are, together with those of Eusebius, the principal sources for the period of the great persecution of Diocletian and for the first years of the peace of the Church after the Edict of Milan.

For the period of the Council of Nicaea, there is somewhat more abundant source material, but for the years — reliance must be made upon Eusebius and Lactantius. Both may be considered to have written with considerable bias. They are too extravagant in praise of Constantine; Lactantius especially manifested an odium theologicum toward Galerius and the persecutors. Their works are still of high value, however, as historical sources.

From the time of the studies of Maurice, moreover, the evidence of numismatics has verified the historical accounts of these contemporary sources. The writings of Lactantius, therefore, were composed in one of the most eventful epochs of ecclesiastical history. The Church, after suffering the most sever of despotic persecutions, was suddenly received under state protection and began to enjoy, not merely tranquility and legal status, but even a considerable portion of political influence.

The fourth century saw the great fusion of the Christian Church with the Roman state and Hellenistic culture, the fusion which was to spell out Western civilization and determine its achievements. Perhaps no other writer is more completely revealing of his own times. As pagan rhetoricians were abandoning the schools and the philosophers, the culture of the world was bring saved in the very Church that was charged with its destruction.


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In this way, he saved much of their culture for the Church and became thereby one of the founders of Christian humanism. Administrator, theologian, and preacher, Caesarius of Arles provides preaching typical of the age on the abandonment of vices and the pursuit of virtues. In 80 sermons, he addresses aspects of the ancient life in issues of morality and dogma, drawing from the Church Fathers before him.

Recognizing the great need for solid content in preaching, he learned the craft of preaching from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, drew up his own sermons, and disseminated them to learning clergy and priests under his tutelage. This volume contains one hundred and ten sermons attributed to St. Caesarius bishop of Arles for forty years — He is reputed to have been an outstanding spiritual leader presiding at some important synods in Gaul and perhaps second only to St.

Augustine a most diligent and effective preacher. This reputation most probably accounts for the large number of sermons attributed to him. In , Dom Germain Morin, after some 50 years of exacting research published the Caesarean corpus of sermons. His studies led him to question in varying degrees the Caesarean authorship of 54 sermons in this volume which are therefore marked with an asterisk. The work of Delage indicates that Caesarius must have had access to a good collection of homilies from which he borrowed freely and frequently without ever mentioning the source.


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  6. At the time of Caesarius this was not an unusual practice. The most frequently used author, as one might suspect, is St. This usage ranges from using a complete sermon to which are added a simple introduction and appropriate conclusion, to quotations chosen from the several Augustinian sermons. The present volume completes the presentation of the homiletic works of Caesarius begun in Following upon the "Admonitions" and the sermons on Scripture contained in the first two volumes, Volume III presents the seasonal sermons, those on feasts of saints, and six addressed to monks.

    There is added the translation of a sermon published in and known only by title to Dom G. Morin, upon whose edition — these volumes are based. An Appendix supplies additional notes relating to the sources of the sermons contained in Volumes I and II, as well as the Indices to all three volumes.

    The sermons preached to the monks show a Caesarius who accommodates to those especially dedicated Christians an appeal for the avoidance of vices and the pursuit of virtue that more commonly he directs to layfolk. His fervid exhortation is not without its message to those men and women of today who will hear it. Gregory the Great was known as an intellectual, administrative, and spiritual giant. While providing for the temporal needs of the Church duing his pontificate — , he wrote the Dialogues to take care of the eternal welfare of his people.

    In four books, the Dialogues honors the memory of the saints of Italy through the first three, and in the fourth, discusses the immortality of the human soul.