Ascetical Works (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 9)

Ascetical Works (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 9)

Copyright Date: 1950
Pages: 537
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    Ascetical Works (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 9)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1109-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-2)

    Whatever may have been the factors responsible for the marked ebullience of the ascetical movement in the Church during the fourth century, the impulse to withdraw from society and enter a life of rigorous austerity in deserts or mountain fastnesses was widely experienced and it constitutes a dominant spiritual phenomenon of the age. An incident casually introduced by St. Augustine in the eighth book of his Confessions illustrates the far-reaching and impetuous force of this ascetical urge. During a conversation in Milan with Augustine and Alypius, Ponticianus, a fellow African and an imperial court official, recalls the marvels of the...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 3-8)
    (pp. 9-14)

    Noble are the ordinances decreed by a king for his ordinary subjects, but nobler and more regal are the commands he addresses to his soldiers. As if military orders are being proclaimed, therefore, let that man give ear who desires what is of great and celestial worth, who wishes to be ever Christ’s comrade in battle, who heeds that mighty word: ‘If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be.’¹ Where is Christ, the King? In heaven, to be sure. Thither it behooves you, soldier [of Christ], to direct...

    (pp. 15-32)

    Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you,’¹ says the Divine Voice, signifying either earthly or heavenly refreshment. In either case, He calls us to Himself, inviting us, on the one hand, to cast off the burden of riches by distributing to the poor, and, on the other, to make haste to embrace the cross-bearing life of the monks by ridding ourselves through confession and good works of the load of sins contracted by our use of worldly goods. How truly admirable and happy, then, is he who has chosen to heed Christ...

  6. A DISCOURSE ON ASCETICAL DISCIPLINE How the monk should be equipped
    (pp. 33-36)

    First and foremost, the monk should own nothing in this world, but he should have as his possessions solitude of the body, modesty of bearing, a modulated tone of voice, and a well-ordered manner of speech. He should be without anxiety as to his food and drink, and should eat in silence. In the presence of his superiors, he should hold his tongue; before those wiser than he, he should hearken to their words. He should have love for his equals, give charitable counsel to his inferiors, and keep aloof from the wicked, the carnal, and the officious. He ought...

    (pp. 37-56)

    Liberated from the error of pagan tradition through the benevolence and loving kindness of the good God, with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, I was reared from the very beginning by Christian parents. From them I learned even in babyhood the Holy Scriptures which led me to a knowledge of the truth. When I grew to manhood, I traveled about frequently and, in the natural course of things, I engaged in a great many worldly affairs. Here I observed that the most harmonious relations existed among those trained in the...

    (pp. 57-70)

    When, by the grace of God, I learned of your piety’s command, worthy as it is of the love you bear God in Christ, whereby you sought from us a written profession of our holy faith, I hesitated at first as to my answer, sensible as I am of my own lowliness and weakness. But when I recalled the words of the Apostle, ‘supporting one another in charity,’¹ and, again, ‘For with the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,’² I considered it a very hazardous act to deny your request and not...

    (pp. 71-206)

    That they who believe in the Lord must first do penance according to the preaching of John and of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself; for they who do not penance now will receive a harsher sentence than those who were condemned before the time of the Gospel.

    Matthew [4.17]: ‘From that time Jesus began to preach and to say: Do penance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ [11.20-22]: ‘Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein were done the most of his miracles, for that they had not done penance. Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida;...

    (pp. 207-216)

    Man was made after the image and likeness of God; but sin marred the beauty of the image by dragging the soul down to passionate desires. Now, God, who made man, is the true life. Therefore, when man lost his likeness to God, he lost his participation in the true life; separated and estranged from God as he is, it is impossible for him to enjoy the blessedness of the divine life. Let us return, then, to the grace [which was ours] in the beginning and from which we have alienated ourselves by sin, and let us again adorn ourselves...

    (pp. 217-222)

    The ascetical life has one aim—the soul’s salvation and all that can contribute to this end must be observed with as much fear as a divine command. The commandments of God themselves, indeed, have no other end in view than the salvation of him who obeys them. It therefore behooves those undertaking the ascetical life to enter upon the way of philosophy, stripped of all worldly and material things in the same manner as they who enter the bath take off all their clothing. The most important thing, consequently, and the chief concern for the Christian ought to be...

    (pp. 223-338)

    Since by God’s grace, we have gathered together in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ—we who have set before ourselves one and the same goal, the devout life—and since you have plainly manifested your eagerness to hear something of the matters pertaining to salvation, I, for my part, am under obligation to proclaim the justifications of God, mindful as I am night and day of the Apostle’s words, ‘for three years I ceased not with tears to admonish every one of you night and day.’¹ Since, moreover, the present is the most opportune time and this place...

    (pp. 339-430)

    After his resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of the living God, received the fulfillment of the promise made to Him by God, His Father, who said by David the Prophet: ‘Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the Gentiles for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.’¹ And when He took unto Himself the disciples, He revealed to them first this power given to Him by the Father, saying: ‘All power is given to me in heaven and...

    (pp. 431-446)

    God who created us has granted us the faculty of speech that we might disclose the counsels of our hearts to one another and that, since we possess our human nature in common, each of us might share his thoughts with his neighbor, bringing them forth from the secret recesses of the heart as from a treasury. If we were passing through this life with our minds bared for all to see, we should, in thinking, make direct and immediate contact with one another. But, inasmuch as the mind carries on its processes of thought beneath a covering of flesh,...

  15. HOMILY 10: Against Those Who Are Prone to Anger
    (pp. 447-462)

    In the case of medical precepts, the benefit to be derived from them, provided that these maxims are apposite and in accordance with the laws of the medical art, is most effectually demonstrated by the test of experience. The same is true of spiritual counsels. They manifest their wisdom and their value for the amendment of our life and the attainment of perfection by those who obey them when they receive the strong confirmation of results produced. In Proverbs we read the explicit declaration: ‘Wrath destroyeth even the prudent,’¹ and the Apostle admonishes us as follows: ‘Let all anger and...

  16. HOMILY 11: Concerning Envy
    (pp. 463-474)

    God is good and He is the Giver of blessings to the deserving. The Devil is wicked and the deviser of every form of iniquity. And as freedom from envy is consistent with the good, so envy relates to the Devil. Therefore, brethren, let us shun the vice of envy. Let us not be sharers in the works of our Adversary and so be found condemned together with him by the same sentence of doom. If the proud man is subject to the judgment pronounced upon the Devil, how will the envious man escape the punishment that was prepared for...

  17. HOMILY 20: Of Humility
    (pp. 475-486)

    Would that man had abided in the glory which he possessed with God—he would have genuine instead of fictitious dignity. For he would be ennobled by the power of God, illumined with divine wisdom, and made joyful in the possession of eternal life and its blessings. But, because he ceased to desire divine glory in expectation of a better prize, and strove for the unattainable, he lost the good which it was in his power to possess. The surest salvation for him, the remedy of his ills, and the means of restoration to his original state is in practicing...

  18. HOMILY 21: On Detachment from Worldly Goods and Concerning the Conflagration Which Occurred in the Environs of the Church
    (pp. 487-506)

    I thought, well-beloved, that, inasmuch as I had so vigorously plied you with the goad of my words on every and all occasions, you regarded me as a troublesome fellow, overbold for a stranger and for a man who is himself guilty on similar charges. Yet, by my rebukes you were moved to kindliness and the blows of my tongue you transformed into incentives to greater zeal. This, of course, is not a matter for surprise, since you are wise in the things of the spirit. Solomon says somewhere in his writings: ‘Rebuke a wise man and he will love...

    (pp. 507-512)

    Bless me, Father: Because the world is forgetting God, my brethren, injustice to neighbor and inhumanity to the weak prevail, confirming the words of the holy Apostle: ‘As they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient. Being filled with all iniquity, malice, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, without affection, without mercy.’¹ These sinners God is calling back to His service and He is...

  20. INDEX
    (pp. 515-525)