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1.30.2008

Saint Basil the Great



329 - 1 January, 379

Bishop of Caesarea, and one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church. He ranks after Athanasius as a defender of the Oriental Church against the heresies of the fourth century. With his friend Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, he makes up the trio known as "The Three Cappadocians", far outclassing the other two in practical genius and actual achievement.

St. Basil the Elder, father of St. Basil the Great, was the son of a Christian of good birth and his wife, Macrina, both of whom suffered for the faith during the persecution of Maximinus Galerius (305-314), spending several years of hardship in the wild mountains of Pontus. St. Basil the Elder was noted for his virtue and also won considerable reputation as a teacher in Caesarea. He was not a priest. He married Emmelia, the daughter of a martyr and became the father of ten children. Three of these, Macrina, Basil, and Gregory are honoured as saints; and of the sons, Peter, Gregory, and Basil attained the dignity of the episcopate.

Under the care of his father and his grandmother, the elder Macrina, who preserved the traditions of their countryman, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 213-275) Basil was formed in habits of piety and study. He was still young when his father died and the family moved to the estate of the elder Macrina at Annesi in Pontus, on the banks of the Iris. As a boy, he was sent to school at Caesarea, then "a metropolis of letters", and conceived a fervent admiration for the local bishop, Dianius. Later, he went to Constantinople, at that time "distinguished for its teachers of philosophy and rhetoric", and thence to Athens. Here he became the inseparable companion of Gregory of Nazianzus, who, in his famous panegyric on Basil, gives a most interesting description of their academic experiences. According to him, Basil was already distinguished for brilliancy of mind and seriousness of character and associated only with the most earnest students. He was able, grave, industrious, and well advanced in rhetoric, grammar, philosophy, astronomy, geometry, and medicine. We know the names of two of Basil's teachers at Athens — Prohaeresius, possibly a Christian, and Himerius, a pagan. It has been affirmed, though probably incorrectly, that Basil spent some time under Libanius. He tells us himself that he endeavoured without success to attach himself as a pupil to Eustathius. At the end of his sojourn at Athens, Basil being laden, says St. Gregory of Nazianzus "with all the learning attainable by the nature of man", was well equipped to be a teacher. Caesarea took possession of him gladly "as a founder and second patron", and as he tells us, he refused the splendid offers of the citizens of Neo-Caesarea, who wished him to undertake the education of the youth of their city.

To the successful student and distinguished professor, "there now remained", says Gregory, "no other need than that of spiritual perfection". Gregory of Nyssa, in his life of Macrina, gives us to understand that Basil's brilliant success both as a university student and a professor had left traces of worldliness and self-sufficiency on the soul of the young man. Fortunately, Basil came again in contact with Dianius, Bishop of Caesarea, the object of his boyish affection, and Dianius seems to have baptized him, and ordained him Reader soon after his return to Caesarea. It was at the same time also that he fell under the influence of that very remarkable woman, his sister Macrina, who had meanwhile founded a religious community on the family estate at Annesi. Basil himself tells us how, like a man roused from deep sleep, he turned his eyes to the marvellous truth of the Gospel, wept many tears over his miserable life, and prayed for guidance from God: "Then I read the Gospel, and saw there that a great means of reaching perfection was the selling of one's goods, the sharing of them with the poor, the giving up of all care for this life, and the refusal to allow the soul to be turned by any sympathy towards things of earth". To learn the ways of perfection, Basil now visited the monasteries of Egypt, Palestine, Coele-Syria, and Mesopotamia. He returned, filled with admiration for the austerity and piety of the monks, and founded a monastery in his native Pontus, on the banks of the Iris, nearly opposite Annesi. Eustathius of Sebaste had already introduced the eremitical life into Asia Minor; Basil added the cenobitic or community form, and the new feature was imitated by many companies of men and women. Basil became known as the father of Oriental monasticism, the forerunner of St. Benedict. How well he deserved the title, how seriously and in what spirit he undertook the systematizing of the religious life, may be seen by the study of his Rule. He seems to have read Origen's writings very systematically about this time, for in union with Gregory of Nazianzus, he published a selection of them called the "Philocalia".

Basil was drawn from his retreat into the area of theological controversy in 360 when he accompanied two delegates from Seleucia to the emperor at Constantinople, and supported his namesake of Ancyra. There is some dispute as to his courage and his perfect orthodoxy on this occasion. A little later, however, both qualities seem to have been sufficiently in evidence, as Basil forsook Dianius for having signed the heretical creed of Rimini. To this time (c. 361) may be referred the "Moralia"; and a little later came two books against Eunomius (363) and some correspondence with Athanasius. It is possible, also, that Basil wrote his monastic rules in the briefer forms while in Pontus, and enlarged them later at Caesarea. There is an account of an invitation from Julian for Basil to present himself a court and of Basil's refusal, coupled with an admonition that angered the emperor and endangered Basil's safety. Both incident and correspondence however are questioned by some critics.

Basil still retained considerable influence in Caesarea, and it is regarded as fairly probable that he had a hand in the election of the successor of Dianius who died in 362, after having been reconciled to Basil. In any case the new bishop, Eusebius, was practically placed in his office by the elder Gregory of Nazianzus. Eusebius having persuaded the reluctant Basil to be ordained priest, gave him a prominent place in the administration of the diocese (363). In ability for the management of affairs Basil so far eclipsed the bishop that ill-feeling rose between the two. "All the more eminent and wiser portion of the church was roused against the bishop", and to avoid trouble Basil again withdrew into the solitude of Pontus. A little later (365) when the attempt of Valens to impose Arianism on the clergy and the people necessitated the presence of a strong personality, Basil was restored to his former position, being reconciled to the bishop by St. Gregory of Nazianzus. There seems to have been no further disagreement between Eusebius and Basil and the latter soon became the real head of the diocese. "The one", says Gregory of Nazianzus, "led the people the other led their leader". During the five years spent in this most important office, Basil gave evidence of being a man of very unusual powers. He laid down the law to the leading citizens and the imperial governors, settled disputes with wisdom and finality, assisted the spiritually needy, looked after "the support of the poor, the entertainment of strangers, the care of maidens, legislation written and unwritten for the monastic life, arrangements of prayers, (liturgy?), adornment of the sanctuary". In time of famine, he was the saviour of the poor.

In 370 Basil succeeded to the See of Caesarea, being consecrated according to tradition on 14 June. Caesarea was then a powerful and wealthy city. Its bishop was Metropolitan of Cappadocia and Exarch of Pontus which embraced more than half of Asia Minor and comprised eleven provinces. The see of Caesarea ranked with Ephesus immediately after the patriarchal sees in the councils, and the bishop was the superior of fifty chorepiscopi. Basil's actual influence, says Jackson, covered the whole stretch of country "from the Balkans to the Mediterranean and from the Aegean to the Euphrates". The need of a man like Basil in such a see as Caesarea was most pressing, and he must have known this well. Some think that he set about procuring his own election; others say that he made no attempt on his own behalf. In any event, he became Bishop of Caesarea largely by the influence of the elder Gregory of Nazianzus. His election, says the younger Gregory, was followed by disaffection on the part of several suffragan bishops "on whose side were found the greatest scoundrels in the city". During his previous administration of the diocese Basil had so clearly defined his ideas of discipline and orthodoxy, that no one could doubt the direction and the vigour of his policy. St. Athanasius was greatly pleased at Basil's election; but the Arianizing Emperor Valens, displayed considerably annoyance and the defeated minority of bishops became consistently hostile to the new metropolitan. By years of tactful conduct, however, "blending his correction with consideration and his gentleness with firmness", he finally overcame most of his opponents.

Basil's letters tell the story of his tremendous and varied activity; how he worked for the exclusion of unfit candidates from the sacred ministry and the deliverance of the bishops from the temptation of simony; how he required exact discipline and the faithful observance of the canons from both laymen and clerics; how he rebuked the sinful, followed up the offending, and held out hope of pardon to the penitent. If on the one hand he strenuously defended clerical rights and immunities, on the other he trained his clergy so strictly that they grew famous as the type of all that a priest should be. Basil did not confine his activity to diocesan affairs, but threw himself vigorously into the troublesome theological disputes then rending the unity of Christendom. He drew up a summary of the orthodox faith; he attacked by word of mouth the heretics near at hand and wrote tellingly against those afar. His correspondence shows that he paid visits, sent messages, gave interviews, instructed, reproved, rebuked, threatened, reproached, undertook the protection of nations, cities, individuals great and small. There was very little chance of opposing him successfully, for he was a cool, persistent, fearless fighter in defence both of doctrine and of principles. His bold stand against Valens parallels the meeting of Ambrose with Theodosius. The emperor was dumbfounded at the archbishop's calm indifference to his presence and his wishes. The incident, as narrated by Gregory of Nazianzus, not only tells much concerning Basil's character but throws a clear light on the type of Christian bishop with which the emperors had to deal and goes far to explain why Arianism, with little court behind it, could make so little impression on the ultimate history of Catholicism.

While assisting Eusebius in the care of his diocese, Basil had shown a marked interest in the poor and afflicted; that interest now displayed itself in the erection of a magnificent institution, the Ptochoptopheion, or Basileiad, a house for the care of friendless strangers, the medical treatment of the sick poor, and the industrial training of the unskilled. Built in the suburbs, it attained such importance as to become practically the centre of a new city with the name of he kaine polis or "Newtown". It was the motherhouse of like institutions erected in other dioceses and stood as a constant reminder to the rich of their privilege of spending wealth in a truly Christian way. It may be mentioned here that the social obligations of the wealthy were so plainly and forcibly preached by St. Basil that modern sociologists have ventured to claim him as one of their own, though with no more foundation than would exist in the case of any other consistent teacher of the principles of Catholic ethics. The truth is that St. Basil was a practical lover of Christian poverty, and even in his exalted position preserved that simplicity in food and clothing and that austerity of life for which he had been remarked at his first renunciation of the world.

In the midst of his labours, Basil underwent suffering of many kinds. Athanasius died in 373 and the elder Gregory in 374, both of them leaving gaps never to be filled. In 373 began the painful estrangement from Gregory of Nazianzus. Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, became an open enemy, Apollinaris "a cause of sorrow to the churches", Eustathius of Sebaste a traitor to the Faith and a personal foe as well. Eusebius of Samosata was banished, Gregory of Nyssa condemned and deposed. When Emperor Valentinian died and the Arians recovered their influence, all Basil's efforts must have seemed in vain. His health was breaking, the Goths were at the door of the empire, Antioch was in schism, Rome doubted his sincerity, the bishops refused to be brought together as he wished. "The notes of the church were obscured in his part of Christendom, and he had to fare on as best he might,--admiring, courting, yet coldly treated by the Latin world, desiring the friendship of Rome, yet wounded by her reserve,--suspected of heresy by Damasus, and accused by Jerome of pride". Had he lived a little longer and attended the Council of Constantinople (381), he would have seen the death of its first president, his friend Meletius, and the forced resignation of its second, Gregory of Nazianzus.

Basil died 1 January, 379. His death was regarded as a public bereavement; Jews, pagans, and foreigners vied with his own flock in doing him honour. The earlier Latin martyrologies (Hieronymian and Bede) make no mention of a feast of St. Basil. The first mention is by Usuard and Ado who place it on 14 June, the supposed date of Basil's consecration to the episcopate. In the Greek "Menaea" he is commemorated on 1 January, the day of his death. In 1081, John, Patriarch of Constantinople, in consequence of a vision, established a feast in common honour of St. Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom, to be celebrated on 30 January. The Bollandists give an account of the origin of this feast; they also record as worthy of note that no relics of St. Basil are mentioned before the twelfth century, at which time parts of his body, together with some other very extraordinary relics were reputed to have been brought to Bruges by a returning Crusader. Baronius gave to the Naples Oratory a relic of St. Basil sent from Constantinople to the pope. The Bollandists and Baronius print descriptions of Basil's personal appearance and the former reproduce two icons, the older copied from a codex presented to Basil, Emperor of the East (877-886).

By common consent, Basil ranks among the greatest figures in church history and the rather extravagant panegyric by Gregory of Nazianzus has been all but equalled by a host of other eulogists. Physically delicate and occupying his exalted position but a few years, Basil did magnificent and enduring work in an age of more violent world convulsions than Christianity has since experienced. By personal virtue he attained distinction in an age of saints; and his purity, his monastic fervour, his stern simplicity, his friendship for the poor became traditional in the history of Christian asceticism. In fact, the impress of his genius was stamped indelibly on the Oriental conception of religious life. In his hands the great metropolitan see of Caesarea took shape as the sort of model of the Christian diocese; there was hardly any detail of episcopal activity in which he failed to mark out guiding lines and to give splendid example. Not the least of his glories is the fact that toward the officials of the State he maintained that fearless dignity and independence which later history has shown to be an indispensable condition of healthy life in the Catholic episcopate.

A Statue of St. Basil (Prague)

Some difficulty has arisen out of the correspondence of St. Basil with the Roman See. That he was in communion with the Western bishops and that he wrote repeatedly to Rome asking that steps be taken to assist the Eastern Church in her struggle with schismatics and heretics is undoubted; but the disappointing result of his appeals drew from him certain words which require explanation. Evidently he was deeply chagrined that Pope Damasus on the one hand hesitated to condemn Marcellus and the Eustathians, and on the other preferred Paulinus to Meletius in whose right to the See of Antioch St. Basil most firmly believed. At the best it must be admitted that St. Basil criticized the pope freely in a private letter to Eusebius of Samosata and that he was indignant as well as hurt at the failure of his attempt to obtain help from the West. Later on, however, he must have recognized that in some respects he had been hasty; in any event, his strong emphasis of the influence which the Roman See could exercise over the Eastern bishops, and his abstaining from a charge of anything like usurpation are great facts that stand out obviously in the story of the disagreement. With regard to the question of his association with the Semi-Arians, Philostorgius speaks of him as championing the Semi-Arian cause, and Newman says he seems unavoidably to have Arianized the first thirty years of his life. The explanation of this, as well as of the disagreement with the Holy See, must be sought in a careful study of the times, with due reference to the unsettled and changeable condition of theological distinctions, the lack of anything like a final pronouncement by the Church's defining power, the "lingering imperfections of the Saints" (Newman), the substantial orthodoxy of many of the so-called Semi-Arians, and above all the great plan which Basil was steadily pursuing of effecting unity in a disturbed and divided Christendom.

(from Catholic Encyclopedia)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02330b.htm


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1.28.2008

За състоянието на БПЦ

Много факти за отношенията държава-църква са приведени в доклада на помощник- министъра на вътрешните работа ген. Йонко Панов от 25 юни 1949 г. до министъра на вътрешните работи Антон Югов... Данните за "реакционната антиотечественофронтовска дейност на църквата", които органите на МВР са събрали и които помощник-министърът сочи, са следните:

1. Съставът на върховната управа на БПЦ - Светият синод, е "реакционно и опозиционно настроен към всички мероприятия на правителството на ОФ." Подмолната и явна дейност на отделните митрополити и някои от техните свещеници се изразявала в разпространение на най-разнообразни "злостни слухове", агитация за война, всяване страх и несигурност сред населението, "клевети" по адрес на властта, агитация против ТКЗС, бригадите, просветната политика, стопанския план и др., и се стигало до най-острите форми на борба - "бандитизъм и шпионаж".
2. Светият синод е станал "място за концентрация и приют на фашистки елементи." В църковното ведомство били назначени много уволнени офицери, съкратени адвокати и други "злостни врагове" на властта. Отбелязва се, че в канцеларията на Св. синод, митрополиите и духовните семинарии няма назначен на служба "нито един комунист" или хора, "благоприятно настроени спрямо властта" (с малки изключения).
3. Св. синод не провежда решенията на всеправославното Московско съвещание през 1948 за скъсване на връзките с Икуменическия съвет в Женева и Ватикана. Задоволил се само с публикуване на тези решения в църковния печат, но продължавал да поддържа връзки с Икуменическия съвет и да получава разни помощи от него.
...
5. Св. синод не проявява "особено благоразположение" към Руската православна църква и отбягва връзките с нея.
6. Считаният за "американско оръдие" нов Вселенски патриарх в Цариград Атенагор е поздравен от Св. синод без знанието на правителството.
7. На отстранения български епископ Андрей в Америка са изпратени материали и документи от Св. синод с цел "да уязви нашето правителство и предизвика вмешателство на англо-американските империалисти в нашите вътрешни работи".
...
9. Печатният орган на Св. синод - "Църковен вестник", е "строго църковен и реакционен вестник", който отказва да печати "работи с прогресивно съдържание".
...
13. За да отклонява провеждането направителствената политика по религиозния въпрос и поемането на лична отговорност за делата на БПЦ, Св. синод избягва да поставя и въпроса за избор на нов български екзарх.

Общото заключение на ген. Й. Панов е, че "Св. синод и отделните митрополити общо взето стоят на вражески позиции" и "са в услуга на международната реакция."
Причините за това състояние на БПЦ се търсят в олигархическите традиции в нея, служенето на режимите преди 9 септември 1944 г., "престъпният и неморален живот" на владиците, силните позиции на екзарх Стефан, назначаването на "най-големите реакционери" на възлови места в Църквата и реставраторските чувства и настроения сред митрополитите.
За да се неутрализира "вражеското отношение" на БПЦ към властта, ген. Панов прави 11 конкретни предложения за промени в църковната сфера.

Любомир Огнянов. Политическата система в България 1949-1956 (с. 221-224). "Стандарт", 2008


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1.27.2008

"Тези, които говорят, не са ли всички галилейци?"

А когато Той се приближаваше до Иерихон, един слепец седеше край пътя и просеше; и като чу да минава край него народ, попита: какво е това?
Обадиха му, че Иисус Назорей минава.
Тогава той завика и каза: Иисусе, Сине Давидов, помилуй ме!
Тия, които вървяха напред, смъмраха го, за да мълчи; но той още по-високо викаше: Сине Давидов, помилуй ме!
Иисус се спря и заповяда да Му го доведат. И когато оня се приближи до Него, попита го: какво искаш да ти сторя? Той рече: Господи, да прогледам.
Иисус му рече: прогледай! твоята вяра те спаси.
И той веднага прогледа и тръгна след Него, славейки Бога. И целият народ, като видя това, въздаде Богу хвала.

Лука 18:35-43

СВЕЩЕНО ПИСАНИЕ, издание на Светия Синод на Българската църква
Нoвий Завет на Господа Нашего Иисуса Христа

http://www.pravoslavieto.com/bible/nz/luk.htm#18


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1.25.2008

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus


325 - 389

Doctor of the Church, born at Arianzus, in Asia Minor.
He was son -- one of three children -- of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus (329-374), in the south-west of Cappadocia, and of Nonna, a daughter of Christian parents. The saint's father was originally a member of the heretical sect of the Hypsistarii, or Hypsistiani, and was converted to Catholicity by the influence of his pious wife. His two sons, who seem to have been born between the dates of their father's priestly ordination and episcopal consecration, were sent to a famous school at Caesarea, capital of Cappadocia, and educated by Carterius, probably the same one who was afterwards tutor of St. John Chrysostom. Here commenced the friendship between Basil and Gregory which intimately affected both their lives, as well as the development of the theology of their age. From Caesarea in Cappadocia Gregory proceeded to Caesarea in Palestine, where he studied rhetoric under Thespesius; and thence to Alexandria, of which Athanasius was then bishop, through at the time in exile. Setting out by sea from Alexandria to Athens, Gregory was all but lost in a great storm, and some of his biographers infer -- though the fact is not certain -- that when in danger of death he and his companions received the rite of baptism. He had certainly not been baptized in infancy, though dedicated to God by his pious mother; but there is some authority for believing that he received the sacrament, not on his voyage to Athens, but on his return to Nazianzus some years later. At Athens Gregory and Basil, who had parted at Caesarea, met again, renewed their youthful friendship, and studied rhetoric together under the famous teachers Himerius and Proaeresius. Among their fellow students was Julian, afterwards known as the Apostate, whose real character Gregory asserts that he had even then discerned and thoroughly distrusted him. The saint's studies at Athens (which Basil left before his friend) extended over some ten years; and when he departed in 356 for his native province, visiting Constantinople on his way home, he was about thirty years of age.


Arrived at Nazianzus, where his parents were now advanced in age, Gregory, who had by this time firmly resolved to devote his life and talents to God, anxiously considered the plan of his future career. To a young man of his high attainments a distinguished secular career was open, either that of a lawyer or of a professor of rhetoric; but his yearnings were for the monastic or ascetic life, though this did not seem compatible either with the Scripture studies in which he was deeply interested, or with his filial duties at home. As was natural, he consulted his beloved friend Basil in his perplexity as to his future; and he has left us in his own writings an extremely interesting narrative of their intercourse at this time, and of their common resolve (based on somewhat different motives, according to the decided differences in their characters) to quit the world for the service of God alone. Basil retired to Pontus to lead the life of a hermit; but finding that Gregory could not join him there, came and settled first at Tiberina (near Gregory's own home), then at Neocæsarea, in Pontus, where he lived in holy seclusion for some years, and gathered round him a brotherhood of cenobites, among whom his friend Gregory was for a time included. After a sojourn here for two or three years, during which Gregory edited, with Basil some of the exegetical works of Origen, and also helped his friend in the compilation of his famous rules, Gregory returned to Nazianzus, leaving with regret the peaceful hermitage where he and Basil (as he recalled in their subsequent correspondence) had spent such a pleasant time in the labour both of hands and of heads. On his return home Gregory was instrumental in bringing back to orthodoxy his father who, perhaps partly in ignorance, had subscribed the heretical creed of Rimini; and the aged bishop, desiring his son's presence and support, overruled his scrupulous shrinking from the priesthood, and forced him to accept ordination (probably at Christmas, 361). Wounded and grieved at the pressure put upon him, Gregory fled back to his solitude, and to the company of St. Basil; but after some weeks' reflection returned to Nazianzus, where he preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday, and afterward wrote the remarkable apologetic oration, which is really a treatise on the priestly office, the foundation of Chrysostom's "De Sacerdotio", of Gregory the Great's "Cura Pastoris", and of countless subsequent writings on the same subject.


During the next few years Gregory's life at Nazianzus was saddened by the deaths of his brother Caesarius and his sister Gorgonia, at whose funerals he preached two of his most eloquent orations, which are still extant. About this time Basil was made bishop of Caesarea and Metropolitan of Cappadocia, and soon afterwards the Emperor Valens, who was jealous of Basil's influence, divided Cappadocia into two provinces. Basil continued to claim ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as before, over the whole province, but this was disputed by Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, the chief city of New Cappadocia. To strengthen his position Basil founded a new see at Sasima, resolved to have Gregory as its first bishop, and accordingly had him consecrated, though greatly against his will. Gregory, however, was set against Sasima from the first; he thought himself utterly unsuited to the place, and the place to him; and it was not long before he abandoned his diocese and returned to Nazianzus as coadjutor to his father. This episode in Gregory's life was unhappily the cause of an estrangement between Basil and himself which was never altogether removed; and there is no extant record of any correspondence between them subsequent to Gregory's leaving Sasima. Meanwhile he occupied himself sedulously with his duties as coadjutor to his aged father, who died early in 374, his wife Nonna soon following him to the grave. Gregory, who was now left without family ties, devoted to the poor the large fortune which he had inherited, keeping for himself only a small piece of land at Arianzus. He continued to administer the diocese for about two years, refusing, however, to become the bishop, and continually urging the appointment of a successor to his father. At the end of 375 he withdrew to a monastery at Seleuci, living there in solitude for some three years, and preparing (though he knew it not) for what was to be the crowning work of his life. About the end of this period Basil died. Gregory's own state of health prevented his being present either at the deathbed or funeral; but he wrote a letter of condolence to Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and composed twelve beautiful memorial poems or epitaphs to his departed friend.

Three weeks after Basil's death, Theodosius was advanced by the Emperor Gratian to the dignity of Emperor of the East. Constantinople, the seat of his empire, had been for the space of about thirty years (since the death of the saintly and martyred Bishop Paul) practically given over too Arianism, with an Arian prelate, Demophilus, enthroned at St. Sophia's. The remnant of persecuted Catholics, without either church or pastor, applied to Gregory to come and place himself at their head and organize their scattered forces; and many bishops supported the demand. After much hesitation he gave his consent, proceeded to Constantinople early in the year 379, and began his mission in a private house which he describes as "the new Shiloh where the Ark was fixed", and as "an Anastasia, the scene of the resurrection of the faith". Not only the faithful Catholics, but many heretics gathered in the humble chapel of the Anastasia, attracted by Gregory's sanctity, learning and eloquence; and it was in this chapel that he delivered the five wonderful discourses on the faith of Nicaea -- unfolding the doctrine of the Trinity while safeguarding the Unity of the Godhead -- which gained for him, alone of all Christian teachers except the Apostle St. John, the special title of Theologus or the Divine. He also delivered at this time the eloquent panegyrics on St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, and the Machabees, which are among his finest oratorical works. Meanwhile he found himself exposed to persecution of every kind from without, and was actually attacked in his own chapel, whilst baptizing his Easter neophytes, by a hostile mob of Arians from St. Sophia's, among them being Arian monks and infuriated women. He was saddened, too, by dissensions among his own little flock, some of whom openly charged him with holding Tritheistic errors. St. Jerome became about this time his pupil and disciple, and tells us in glowing language how much he owed to his erudite and eloquent teacher. Gregory was consoled by the approval of Peter, Patriarch of Constantinople (Duchesne's opinion, that the patriarch was from the first jealous or suspicious of the Cappadocian bishop's influence in Constantinople, does not seem sufficiently supported by evidence), and Peter appears to have been desirous to see him appointed to the bishopric of the capital of the East. Gregory, however, unfortunately allowed himself to be imposed upon by a plausible adventurer called Hero, or Maximus, who came to Constantinople from Alexandria in the guise (long hair, white robe, and staff) of a Cynic, and professed to be a convert to Christianity, and an ardent admirer of Gregory's sermons. Gregory entertained him hospitably, gave him his complete confidence, and pronounced a public panegyric on him in his presence. Maximus's intrigues to obtain the bishopric for himself found support in various quarters, including Alexandria, which the patriarch Peter, for what reason precisely it is not known, had turned against Gregory; and certain Egyptian bishops deputed by Peter, suddenly, and at night, consecrated and enthroned Maximus as Catholic Bishop of Constantinople, while Gregory was confined to bed by illness. Gregory's friends, however, rallied round him, and Maximus had to fly from Constantinople. The Emperor Theodosius, to whom he had recourse, refused to recognize any bishop other than Gregory, and Maximus retired in disgrace to Alexandria.

Theodosius received Christian baptism early in 380, at Thessalonica, and immediately addressed an edict to his subjects at Constantinople, commanding them to adhere to the faith taught by St. Peter, and professed by the Roman pontiff, which alone deserved to be called Catholic. In November, the emperor entered the city and called on Demophilus, the Arian bishop, to subscribe to the Nicene creed: but he refused to do so, and was banished from Constantinople. Theodosius determined that Gregory should be bishop of the new Catholic see, and himself accompanied him to St. Sophia's, where he was enthroned in presence of an immense crowd, who manifested their feelings by hand-clappings and other signs of joy. Constantinople was now restored to Catholic unity; the emperor, by a new edict, gave back all the churches to Catholic use; Arians and other heretics were forbidden to hold public assemblies; and the name of Catholic was restricted to adherents of the orthodox and Catholic faith.

Gregory had hardly settled down to the work of administration of the Diocese of Constantinople, when Theodosius carried out his long-cherished purpose of summoning thither a general council of the Eastern Church. One hundred and fifty bishops met in council, in May, 381, the object of the assembly being, as Socrates plainly states, to confirm the faith of Nicaea, and to appoint a bishop for Constantinople. Among the bishops present were thirty-six holding semi-Arian or Macedonian opinions; and neither the arguments of the orthodox prelates nor the eloquence of Gregory, who preached at Pentecost, in St. Sophia's, on the subject of the Holy Spirit, availed to persuade them to sign the orthodox creed. As to the appointment of the bishopric, the confirmation of Gregory to the see could only be a matter of form. The orthodox bishops were all in favor, and the objection (urged by the Egyptian and Macedonian prelates who joined the council later) that his translation from one see to another was in opposition to a canon of the Nicene council was obviously unfounded. The fact was well known that Gregory had never, after his forced consecration at the instance of Basil, entered into possession of the See of Sasima, and that he had later exercised his episcopal functions at Nazianzus, not as bishop of that diocese, but merely as coadjutor of his father. Gregory succeeded Meletius as president of the council, which found itself at once called on to deal with the difficult question of appointing a successor to the deceased bishop. There had been an understanding between the two orthodox parties at Antioch, of which Meletius and Paulinus had been respectively bishops that the survivor of either should succeed as sole bishop. Paulinus, however, was a prelate of Western origin and creation, and the Eastern bishops assembled at Constantinople declined to recognize him. In vain did Gregory urge, for the sake of peace, the retention of Paulinus in the see for the remainder of his life, already fare advanced; the Fathers of the council refused to listen to his advice, and resolved that Meletius should be succeeded by an Oriental priest. "It was in the East that Christ was born", was one of the arguments they put forward; and Gregory's retort, "Yes, and it was in the East that he was put to death", did not shake their decision. Flavian, a priest of Antioch, was elected to the vacant see; and Gregory, who relates that the only result of his appeal was "a cry like that of a flock of jackdaws" while the younger members of the council "attacked him like a swarm of wasps", quitted the council, and left also his official residence, close to the church of the Holy Apostles.


Gregory had now come to the conclusion that not only the opposition and disappointment which he had met with in the council, but also his continued state of ill-health, justified, and indeed necessitated, his resignation of the See of Constantinople, which he had held for only a few months. He appeared again before the council, intimated that he was ready to be another Jonas to pacify the troubled waves, and that all he desired was rest from his labours, and leisure to prepare for death. The Fathers made no protest against this announcement, which some among them doubtless heard with secret satisfaction; and Gregory at once sought and obtained from the emperor permission to resign his see. In June, 381, he preached a farewell sermon before the council and in presence of an overflowing congregation. The peroration of this discourse is of singular and touching beauty, and unsurpassed even among his many eloquent orations. Very soon after its delivery he left Constantinople (Nectarius, a native of Cilicia, being chosen to succeed him in the bishopric), and retired to his old home at Nazianzus. His two extant letters addressed to Nectarius at his time are noteworthy as affording evidence, by their spirit and tone, that he was actuated by no other feelings than those of interested goodwill towards the diocese of which he was resigning the care, and towards his successor in the episcopal charge. On his return to Nazianzus, Gregory found the Church there in a miserable condition, being overrun with the erroneous teaching of Apollinaris the Younger, who had seceded from the Catholic communion a few years previously, and died shortly after Gregory himself. Gregory's anxiety was now to find a learned and zealous bishop who would be able to stem the flood of heresy which was threatening to overwhelm the Christian Church in that place. All his efforts were at first unsuccessful, and he consented at length with much reluctance to take over the administration of the diocese himself. He combated for a time, with his usual eloquence and as much energy as remained to him, the false teaching of the adversaries of the Church; but he felt himself too broken in health to continue the active work of the episcopate, and wrote to the Archbishop of Tyana urgently appealing to him to provide for the appointment of another bishop. His request was granted, and his cousin Eulalius, a priest of holy life to whom he was much attached, was duly appointed to the See of Nazianzus. This was toward the end of the year 383, and Gregory, happy in seeing the care of the diocese entrusted to a man after his own heart, immediately withdrew to Arianzus, the scene of his birth and his childhood, where he spent the remaining years of his life in retirement, and in the literary labours, which were so much more congenial to his character than the harassing work of ecclesiastical administration in those stormy and troubled times.

Looking back on Gregory's career, it is difficult not to feel that from the day when he was compelled to accept priestly orders, until that which saw him return from Constantinople to Nazianzus to end his life in retirement and obscurity, he seemed constantly to be placed, through no initiative of his own, in positions apparently unsuited to his disposition and temperament, and not really calculated to call for the exercise of the most remarkable and attractive qualities of his mind and heart. Affectionate and tender by nature, of highly sensitive temperament, simple and humble, lively and cheerful by disposition, yet liable to despondency and irritability, constitutionally timid, and somewhat deficient, as it seemed, both in decision of character and in self-control, he was very human, very lovable, very gifted -- yet not, one might be inclined to think, naturally adapted to play the remarkable part which he did during the period preceding and following the opening of the Council of Constantinople. He entered on his difficult and arduous work in that city within a few months of the death of Basil, the beloved friend of his youth; and Newman, in his appreciation of Gregory's character and career, suggests the striking thought that it was his friend's lofty and heroic spirit which had entered into him, and inspired him to take the active and important part which fell to his lot in the work of re-establishing the orthodox and Catholic faith in the eastern capital of the empire. It did, in truth, seem to be rather with the firmness and intrepidity, the high resolve and unflinching perseverance, characteristic of Basil, than in his own proper character, that of a gentle, fastidious, retiring, timorous, peace-loving saint and scholar, that he sounded the war-trumpet during those anxious and turbulent months, in the very stronghold and headquarters of militant heresy, utterly regardless to the actual and pressing danger to his safety, and even his life which never ceased to menace him. "May we together receive", he said at the conclusion of the wonderful discourse which he pronounced on his departed friend, on his return to Asia from Constantinople, "the reward of the warfare which we have waged, which we have endured." It is impossible to doubt, reading the intimate details which he has himself given us of his long friendship with, and deep admiration of, Basil, that the spirit of his early and well-loved friend had to a great extent moulded and informed his own sensitive and impressionable personality and that it was this, under God, which nerved and inspired him, after a life of what seemed, externally, one almost of failure, to co-operate in the mighty task of overthrowing the monstrous heresy which had so long devastated the greater part of Christendom, and bringing about at length the pacification of the Eastern Church.


During the six years of life which remained to him after his final retirement to his birth-place, Gregory composed, in all probability, the greater part of the copious poetical works which have come down to us. These include a valuable autobiographical poem of nearly 2000 lines, which forms, of course, one of the most important sources of information for the facts of his life; about a hundred other shorter poems relating to his past career; and a large number of epitaphs, epigrams, and epistles to well-known people of the day. Many of his later personal poems refer to the continuous illness and severe sufferings, both physical and spiritual, which assailed him during his last years, and doubtless assisted to perfect him in those saintly qualities which had never been wanting to him, rudely shaken though he had been by the trails and buffetings of his life. In the tiny plot of ground at Arianzus, all (as has already been said) that remained to him of his rich inheritance, he wrote and meditated, as he tells, by a fountain near which there was a shady walk, his favourite resort. Here, too, he received occasional visits from intimate friends, as well as sometimes from strangers attracted to his retreat by his reputation for sanctity and learning; and here he peacefully breathed his last. The exact date of his death is unknown, but from a passage in Jerome (De Script. Eccl.) it may be assigned, with tolerable certainty, to the year 389 or 390.


Some account must now be given of Gregory's voluminous writings, and of his reputation as an orator and a theologian, on which, more than on anything else, rests his fame as one of the greatest lights of the Eastern Church. His works naturally fall under three heads, namely his poems, his epistles, and his orations. Much, though by no means all, of what he wrote has been preserved, and has been frequently published, the editio princeps of the poems being the Aldine (1504), while the first edition of his collected works appeared in Paris in 1609-11. The Bodleian catalogue contains more than thirty folio pages enumerating various editions of Gregory's works, of which the best and most complete are the Benedictine edition (two folio volumes, begun in 1778, finished in 1840), and the edition of Migne (four volumes XXXV - XXXVIII, in P.G., Paris, 1857 - 1862).

(from Catholic Encyclopedia)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07010b.htm


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Basis for democracy

The only positive indications that we have concerning Protagoras' view about nature of human societies are to be found in the myth put into his mouth in the Protagoras 320c onwards, of which I have already made considerable use in earlier chapters...
The first men to be born lived a life that was disorderly and beastlike... Gradually, with need as a teacher, the arts were discovered as well as the things that were useful. This was possible, because man was well endowed by nature, and was further assisted by his hands, his power of speech and his shrewdness of intelligence...
According to the myth of Protagoras, when men did 'come together' the result was continued acts of injustice between them, all because they lacked the techne of living together in a city, the art of politics, which meant that they soon scattered again. So Zeus sent Hermes to give men aidos and dike to be ordering principles of cities and bonds drawing people together in friendship... Earlier in the myth, skills in the various arts and crafts had been distributed among them by the activity of Prometheus in their defence, not the same crafts to all men, but different crafts to different people. The present distribution arranged by Zeus is on a different basis in that aidos and dike are to be given to all men, and all men are to share in them...
First does Protagoras mean, as has often been asserted, that all men possess aidos and dike by nature? It seems clear that the powers of animals are regarded as possessed by nature. It is possible that the skill in crafts is also possessed by human beings. It is given to mankind before they began their life on this earth, and it is to men what the powers are to animals. But aidos and dike are in a different position - they are something acquired after man has been living in the world.
Secondly it is important to realise that it is not the view of Protagoras that all men are to be regarded as sharing equally in aidos and dike... So it is perfectly possible for a man to act unjustly in any particular case. But social expectations differ in the cases of justice and of the special skills. In the case of the latter no one individual is expected necessarily to possess any share of his own, and when he lacks the skill he is expected to admit is. But in the first case he necessarily does possess a share, and so has the capacity of acting justly in the particular case in question, whatever it may be. So when he fails, there is a social expectation that he will endeavour to conceal his failure by claiming that in fact he has been acting justly...
The importance of this doctrine of Protagoras in the history of political thought can hardly be exaggerated. For Protagoras has produced for the first time in human history a theoretical basis for participatory democracy. All men through the educational process of living in families and in societies acquire some degree of political and moral insight. This insight can be improved by various formal programmes in schools and under particular teachers and also by the operation of laws deliberately devised by the polis in order to supplement the earlier education of its citizens...
But in moral and political questions it is not the case that all opinions and all pieces of advice are of equal value... Thus an ideal Protagorean society is not ultimately egalitarian - it is to be guided by those with the most wisdom on each and any occasion. Will such people be somehow separatedly identifiable and so constitute a ruling elite of wise advisers who can provide what is known as 'a led democracy'? This has sometimes been said.

George B. Kerferd. The theory of society. In: G.B. Kerferd. The Sophistic Movement. Cambridge UP, 1981-1999.


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1.24.2008

Unfit for rule

In the most general term, banausoi is the label for people who earn their living by plying a "craft" that involves the use of the hands. Banausos, however, is not merely a descriptive term, since it invariably marks a person as mercantile and servile. Thus Aristotle places the "banausic" arts in the category of "wealthgetting that involves exchange" and identifies them as a form of "labour for hire". In text from the classical period, the word banausia and its cognate is virtually monopolized by Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle; this language is never used in oratory or comedy (whose authors tend to reflect democratic sentiments).
First of all, aristocratic writers use the term to define a group of people as "by nature" inferior and unfit for participation in politics.

Nay, in ancient times, and among some nations the artisan class (banausoi) were slaves or foreigners, and therefore the majority of them are so now. The best form of state will not admit them to citizenship; but if they are admitted, then our definition of the virtue of a citizen will not apply to every citizen nor to every free man as such, but only to those who are freed from necessary services. The necessary people are either slaves who minister to the wants of individuals, or mechanics and laborers who are the servants of the community (Aristotle, Politics, III,5 - Jowett).

Xenophon too, claims that banausoi should not participate in politics, since they lack the leisure required for participating in civic affairs in a responsible and beneficial manner:

A good suggestion, Critobulus, for the base mechanic (banausic) arts, so called, have got a bad name; and what is more, are held in ill repute by civilised communities, and not unreasonably… Hand in hand with physical enervation follows enfeeblement of soul: while the demand which these base mechanic arts makes on the time of those employed in them leaves them no leisure to devote to the claims of friendship and the state. How can such folk be other than sorry friends and ill defenders of the fatherland? So much so that in some states, especially those reputed to be warlike, no citizen is allowed to exercise any mechanical craft at all (Oec. IV,2 - Dakyns).

Clearly then, banausia is a loaded and highly derogatory term. Note in particular Aristotle's claim that many banausoi were nouveaux riches, i.e. wealthy members of non-aristocratic class (Politics, III,5)… A passage in Nicomachean Ethics offers clear evidence of this point:

The man who goes to excess and is vulgar (banausos) exceeds, as has been said, by spending beyond what is right. For on small objects of expenditure he spends much and displays a tasteless showiness; e.g. he gives a club dinner on the scale of a wedding banquet, and when he provides the chorus for a comedy he brings them on to the stage in purple, as they do at Megara. And all such things he will do not for honour's sake but to show off his wealth, and because he thinks he is admired for these things, and where he ought to spend much he spends little and where little, much (NE IV,2 - Ross).

In this period, then, we find a rhetoric and ideology which set the "truly free" individual in opposition to men who were free in a merely legal and civic sense. The free or "liberal" man, in short, is leisured, educated, independent, and "truly" fir for rule, whereas the "banausic" or "illiberal" individual is slavish, servile, wage-earning, uneducated and unfit for rule…
I have discussed this ideological and political program because it provides the context for the fourth-century discussions of the "free" activity of theoria.

Andrea W. Nightingale. The rhetoric of philosophic "freedom". In: Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy. Cambridge UP, 2004-2006.


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1.22.2008

Civil liberty

Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion…

It is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion...

The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government...

The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all of our civil constitutions and laws... All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.

Noah Webster (1758-1843)
History of the United States, 1832

(http://crossandquill.com/journey/?p=269)


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Saint Timothy


d. after 80 AD

"Timothy was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was born in Lystra in Lycaonia of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. The Apostle Paul praised his mother and grandmother because of their sincere faith. " I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that, I am confident, lives also in you" (II Timothy 1: 4-5). Timothy first met with the great apostle in Lystra and was himself a witness when Paul healed the one lame from birth. Later, Timothy was an almost constant traveling companion of Paul, traveling with him to Achaia, Macedonia, Italy and Spain. Sweet in soul, he was a great zealot for the Faith, and a superb preacher. Timothy contributed much to the spreading and establishing of the Christian Faith. Paul calls him "my own son in the faith." "Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus, Who is our hope, to Timothy, my own son in the Faith: grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord" (I Timothy 1: 1-2). After Paul's martyrdom, Timothy had St. John the Evangelist as his teacher. But when the Emperor Domitian banished John from Ephesus to the island of Patmos, Timothy remained in Ephesus to serve as bishop. During the time of an idolatrous feast called Katagogium, the pagans, resentful of the Christians, treacherously and in disguise, attacked Timothy and killed him about the year 93 A.D. Later his honorable relics were translated to Constantinople and interred in the Church of the Twelve Apostles along side of the grave of St. Luke the Evangelist and St. Andrew the First-called."

(According to Bishop Nikolai Velimirovch in The Prologue from Ohrid)
http://www.orthodoxiconsonline.com/proddetail.asp?prod=1TI20


Saint Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος) was a first-century Christian bishop who died about AD 80. Evidence from the New Testament also has him functioning as an apostolic delegate or coadjutor. Saint Timotheos is venerated as a saint and martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church and in addition as an apostle by the Greek Orthodox Church, with his feast day on January 22. In the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, as well as in the Traditional Catholic Calendar by Traditionalist Roman Catholics, St. Timothy is commemorated on January 24. On January 26, Timothy with the Apostle Titus and Silas are commemorated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. For the majority of Roman Catholics, after the changes stemming from the Second Vatican Council, St. Timothy is venerated together with St. Titus on January 26.

Timothy is first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Paul's second visit to Lystra (16:2), where Timothy probably resided and where it seems he was converted during Paul's first visit to that place (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 3:11). Paul, having been impressed by his "own son in the faith", arranged that he should become his companion (Acts 16:3), and personally circumcised him because his mother was of the Jewish faith, so that he might be accepted by the Jews. He was ordained (1 Tim 4:14) and went with Paul in his journey through Phrygia, Galatia and Mysia; also to Troas, Philippi, Berea (Acts 17) and Corinth (Acts 18:5). His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are noted as eminent for their piety and faith, which indicates that they may have also been Christians. Timothy is praised by Paul for his knowledge of the Scriptures, and is said to have been acquainted with the the Scriptures since childhood. The Bible gives little information about Timothy's father; however, does indicate that he was a Greek (Acts 16:1).

According to later tradition, Paul ordained Timothy as Bishop of Ephesus in the year 65, where he served for 15 years. In the year 80 (though some sources place the event during the year 97, with Timothy dying at age 80), Timothy tried to halt a pagan procession of idols, ceremonies and songs. In response to his preaching of the Gospel, the angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets and stoned him to death. In the 4th century, his relics were transferred to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

(Wikipedia)


St. Timothy has been regarded by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus", Apoc., ii, 1-17. According to the ancient Roman martyrology he died Bishop of Ephesus. The Bollandists (24 Jan.) give two lives of St. Timothy, one ascribed to Polycrates (an early Bishop of Ephesus, and a contemporary of St. Irenæus) and the other by Metaphrastes, which is merely an expansion of the former. The first states that during the Neronian persecution St. John arrived at Ephesus, where he lived with St. Timothy until he was exiled to Patmos under Domitian. Timothy, who was unmarried, continued Bishop of Ephesus until, when he was over eighty years of age, he was mortally beaten by the pagans.

Epistles to Timothy and Titus

The Pauline authorship of the Pastorals was never doubted by Catholics in early times. Eusebius, with his complete knowledge of early Christian literature, states that they were among the books universally recognized in the Church ta para pasin homologoumena ("Hist. eccl.", II, xxii, III, iii; "Præp. evang.", II, xiv, 7; xvi, 3). They are found in the early Latin and Syriac Versions. St. Clement of Alexandria speaks of them (Strom., II, III), and Tertullian expresses his astonishment that they were rejected by Marcion (Adv. Marcion, V, xxi), and says they were written by St. Paul to Timothy and Titus; evidently their rejection was a thing hitherto unheard of. They are ascribed to St. Paul in the Muratorian Fragment, and Theophilus of Antioch (about 181) quotes from them and calls them the "Divine word" (theios logos). The Martyrs of Vienne and Lyons (about 180) were acquainted with them; and their bishop, Pothinus, who was born about A. D. 87 and martyred in 177 at the age of ninety, takes us back to a very early date. His successor, St. Irenæus, who was born in Asia Minor and had heard St. Polycarp preach, makes frequent use of the Epistles and quotes them as St. Paul's. He was arguing against heretics, so there could be no doubt on either side. The Epistles were also admitted by Heracleon (about 165), Hegesippus (about 170), St. Justin Martyr, and the writer of the "Second Epistle of Clement" (about 140). In the short letter which St. Polycarp wrote (about 117) he shows that he was thoroughly acquainted with them. Polycarp was born only a few years after the death of Saints Peter and Paul, and as Timothy and Titus, according to the most ancient traditions, lived to be very old, he was their contemporary for many years. He was Bishop of Smyrna. only forty miles from Ephesus, where Timothy resided. St. Ignatius, the second successor of St. Peter at Antioch, was acquainted with Apostles and disciples of the Apostles, and shows his knowledge of the Epistles in the letters which he wrote about A. D. 110. Critics now admit that Ignatius and Polycarp knew the Pastorals; and there is a very strong probability that they were known also to Clement of Rome, when he wrote to the Corinthians about A. D. 96.

In judging of the early evidence it should be borne in mind that all three Epistles claim to be by St. Paul. So when an early writer shows his familiarity with them, quotes them as authoritative and as evidently well known to his readers, it may be taken as a proof not only of the existence and widespread knowledge of the Epistles, but that the writer took them for what they claim to be, genuine Epistles of St. Paul; and if the writer lived in the time of Apostles, of Apostolic men, of disciples of Apostles, and of Timothy and Titus (as did Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement) we may be sure that he was correct in doing so. The evidence of these writers is, however, very unceremoniously brushed aside. The heretic Marcion, about A. D. 150, is held to be of much more weight than all of them put together. Marcion rejected the whole of the Old Testament, all the Gospels except St. Luke's, which he grossly mutilated, and all the rest of the New Testament, except ten Epistles of St. Paul, texts of which he changed to suit his purposes. Philemon escaped on account of its brevity and contents. If he crossed out all that was objectionable to him in the Pastorals there would be little left worth preserving. Again, the testimony of all these early writers is regarded as of no more value than the opinion of Aristotle on the authorship of the Homeric poems. But in the one case we have the chain of evidence going back to the times of the writer, of his disciples, and of the persons addressed; while Aristotle lived several hundred years after the time of Homer. The extreme care and hesitancy, in some quarters, about admitting the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews when contrasted with the universal and undoubting acceptance of the Pastorals tells strongly in favour of the latter.

(from Catholic Encyclopedia)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14727b.htm


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1.20.2008

Saint Anthony



c. 250-356

The chief source of information on St. Anthony is a Greek Life attributed to St. Athanasius, to be found in any edition of his works. A note of the controversy concerning this Life is given at the end of this article; here it will suffice to say that now it is received with practical unanimity by scholars as a substantially historical record, and as a probably authentic work of St. Athanasius.

Anthony was born at Coma, near Heracleopolis Magna in Fayum, about the middle of the third century. He was the son of well-to-do parents, and on their death, in his twentieth year, he inherited their possessions. He had a desire to imitate the life of the Apostles and the early Christians, and one day, on hearing in the church the Gospel words, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all thou hast", he received them as spoken to himself, disposed of all his property and goods, and devoted himself exclusively to religious exercises.

Long before this it had been usual for Christians to practice asceticism, abstain from marriage and exercising themselves in self-denial, fasting, prayer, and works of piety; but this they had done in the midst of their families, and without leaving house or home. Later on, in Egypt, such ascetics lived in huts, in the outskirts of the towns and villages, and this was the common practice about 270, when Anthony withdrew from the world. He began his career by practising the ascetical life in this fashion without leaving his native place. He used to visit the various ascetics, study their lives, and try to learn from each of them the virtue in which he seemed to excel. Then he took up his abode in one of the tombs, near his native village, and there it was that the Life records those strange conflicts with demons in the shape of wild beasts, who inflicted blows upon him, and sometimes left him nearly dead.

After fifteen years of this life, at the age of thirty-five, Anthony determined to withdraw from the habitations of men and retire in absolute solitude. He crossed the Nile, and on a mountain near the east bank, then called Pispir, now Der el Memum, he found an old fort into which he shut himself, and lived there for twenty years without seeing the face of man, food being thrown to him over the wall. He was at times visited by pilgrims, whom he refused to see; but gradually a number of would-be disciples established themselves in caves and in huts around the mountain, Thus a colony of ascetics was formed, who begged Anthony to come forth and be their guide in the spiritual life. At length, about the year 305, he yielded to their importunities an emerged from his retreat, and, to the surprise of all, he appeared to be as when he had gone in, not emaciated, but vigorous in body and mind.

For five or six years he devoted himself to the instruction and organization of the great body of monks that had grown up around him; but then he once again withdrew into the inner desert that lay between the Nile and the Red Sea, near the shore of which he fixed his abode on a mountain where still stands the monastery that bears his name, Der Mar Antonios. Here he spent the last forty-five years of his life, in a seclusion, not so strict as Pispir, for he freely saw those who came to visit him, and he used to cross the desert to Pispir with considerable frequency. The Life says that on two occasions he went to Alexandria, once after he came forth from the fort at Pispir, to strengthen the Christian martyrs in the persecution of 311, and once at the close of his life (c. 350), to preach against the Arians. The Life says he died at the age of a hundred and five, and St. Jerome places his death in 356-357. At his own request his grave was kept secret by the two disciples who buried him, lest his body should become an object of reverence.


Of his writings, the most authentic formulation of his teaching is without doubt that which is contained in the various sayings and discourses put into his mouth in the Life, especially the long ascetic sermons (16-43) spoken on his coming forth from the fort at Pispir. It is an instruction on the duties of the spiritual life, in which the warfare with demons occupies the chief place. Though probably not an actual discourse spoken on any single occasion, it can hardly be a mere invention of the biographer, and doubtless reproduces St. Anthony's actual doctrine, brought together and co-ordinated. It is likely that many of the sayings attributed to him in the "Apophthegmata" really go back to him, and the same may be said of the stories told of him in Cassian and Palladius. There is a homogeneity about these records, and a certain dignity and spiritual elevation that seem to mark them with the stamp of truth, and to justify the belief that the picture they give us of St Anthony's personality, character, and teaching is essentially authentic.

It will be proper to define St. Anthony's place, and to explain his influence in the history of Christian monachism. He probably was not the first Christian hermit; it is more reasonable to believe that, however little historical St. Jerome's "Vita Pauli" may be, some kernel of fact underlies the story, but Paul's existence was wholly unknown unknown till long after Anthony has become the recognized leader of Christian hermits. Nor was St. Anthony a great legislator and organizer of monks, like his younger contemporary Pachomius; for, though Pachomius's first foundations were probably some ten or fifteen years later than Anthony's coming forth from his retreat at Pispir, it cannot be shown that Pachomius was directly influenced by Anthony, indeed his institute ran on quite different lines. And yet it is abundantly evident that from the middle of the fourth century throughout Egypt, as elsewhere, and among the Pachomian monks themselves, St. Anthony was looked upon as the founder and father of Christian monachism.

This great position was no doubt due to his commanding personality and high character, qualities that stand out clearly in all the records of him that have come down. The best study of his character is Newman's in the "Church of the Fathers". The following is his estimate: "His doctrine surely was pure and unimpeachable; and his temper is high and heavenly, without cowardice, without gloom, without formality, without self-complacency. Superstition is abject and crouching, it is full of thoughts of guilt; it distrusts God, and dreads the powers of evil. Anthony at least had nothing of this, being full of confidence, divine peace, cheerfulness, and valorousness, be he (as some men may judge) ever so much an enthusiast". Full of enthusiasm he was, but it did not make him fanatical or morose; his urbanity and gentleness, his moderation and sense stand out in many of the stories related of him. Abbot Moses in Cassian says he had heard Anthony maintaining that of all virtues discretion was the most essential for attaining perfection...


The monasticism established under St. Anthony's direct influence became the norm in Northern Egypt, from Lycopolis (Asyut) to the Mediterranean. In contradistinction to the fully coenobitical system, established by Pachomius in the South, it continued to be of a semi-eremetical character, the monks living commonly in separate cells or huts, and coming together only occasionally for church services; they were left very much to their own devices, and the life they lived was not a community life according to rule, as now understood. This was the form of monastic life in the deserts of Nitria and Scete, as portrayed by Palladius and Cassian. Such groups of semi-independent hermitages were later on called Lauras, and have always existed in the East alongside of the Basilian monasteries; in the West St. Anthony's monachism is in some measure represented by the Carthusians. Such was St. Anthony's life and character, and such his role in Christian history. He is justly recognized as the father not only of monasticism, strictly so called, but of the technical religious life in every shape and form. Few names have exercised on the human race an influence more deep and lasting, more widespread, or on the whole more beneficent.

(from Catholic Encyclopedia)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01553d.htm



The first Christian monastic community was established in 305 A.D. under the leadership of St Anthony the Great. Some of his disciples came and settled with him and began to the history of the monastery. From this monastery, monasticism spread everywhere in Egypt and the whole world (http://stanthony.i8.com/).


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"Тези, които говорят, не са ли всички галилейци?"

И когато влизаше в едно село, срещнаха Го десет души прокажени, които се спряха отдалеч и с висок глас викаха: Иисусе Наставниче, помилуй ни!
Когато ги видя, рече им: идете, покажете се на свещениците. И когато отиваха, очистиха се.
А един от тях, като видя, че е изцерен, върна се, прославяйки Бога с висок глас, и падна ничком пред нозете Му, като Му благодареше: и той беше самарянин.
Тогава Иисус продума и рече: нали десетимата се очистиха? А де са деветте? Как не се намериха и други да се върнат, за да въздадат Богу слава, освен тоя другородец?
И му рече: стани, иди си: твоята вяра те спаси.


Лука 17:12-19

СВЕЩЕНО ПИСАНИЕ, издание на Светия Синод на Българската църква
Нoвий Завет на Господа Нашего Иисуса Христа

http://www.pravoslavieto.com/bible/nz/luk.htm#17


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1.13.2008

"Тези, които говорят, не са ли всички галилейци?"

А като чу Иисус, че Иоан е предаден, отиде в Галилея; и като остави Назарет, дойде и се засели в Капернаум крайморски, в пределите Завулонови и Нефталимови, за да се сбъдне реченото чрез пророк Исаия, който казва: "земята Завулонова и земята Нефталимова, на крайморския път, отвъд Иордан, езическа Галилея, народът, който седеше в мрак, видя голяма светлина, и за ония, които седяха в страна и сянка смъртна, изгря светлина".
Оттогава Иисус начена да проповядва и да казва: покайте се, защото се приближи царството небесно.


Матей 4:12-17

СВЕЩЕНО ПИСАНИЕ, издание на Светия Синод на Българската църква
Нoвий Завет на Господа Нашего Иисуса Христа

(http://www.pravoslavieto.com/bible/nz/mat.htm#4)


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1.10.2008

Saint Gregory of Nyssa



d. after 385

He belongs to the group known as the "Cappadocian Fathers", a title which reveals at once his birthplace in Asia Minor and his intellectual characteristics. Gregory was born of a deeply religious family, not very rich in worldly goods, to which circumstances he probably owed the pious training of his youth. His mother Emmelia was a martyr's daughter; two of his brothers, Basil of Cæsarea and Peter of Sebaste, became bishops like himself; his eldest sister, Macrina, became a model of piety and is honoured as a saint. Another brother, Naucratius, a lawyer, inclined to a life of asceticism, but died too young to realize his desires. A letter of Gregory to his younger brother, Peter, exhibits the feelings of lively gratitude which both cherished for their elder brother Basil, whom Gregory calls "our father and our master". Probably, therefore, the difference in years between them was such as to have enabled Basil to supervise the education of his younger brothers. Basil's training was an antidote to the lessons of the pagan schools, wherein, as we know from a letter of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa spent some time, very probably in his early youth, for it is certain that while still a youth Gregory exercised the ecclesiastical office of rector. His family, it would seem, had endeavoured to turn his thoughts towards the Church, for when the young man chose a secular career and began the study of rhetoric, Basil remonstrated with him long and earnestly; when he had failed he called on Gregory's friends to influence him against that objectionable secular calling. It was all in vain; moreover, it would seem that the young man married. There exists a letter addressed to him by Gregory of Nazianzus condoling with him on the loss of one Theosebeia, who must have been his wife, and with whom he continued to live, as with a sister, even after he became bishop. This is also evident from his treatise "De virginitate".

Some think that Gregory spent a certain time in retreat before his consecration as bishop, but we have no proof of the fact. His extant letters make no mention of such retirement from the world. Nor are we better informed of the circumstances of his election to the See of Nyssa, a little town on the banks of the Halys, along the road between Cæsarea and Ancyra. According to Gregory of Nazianzus it was Basil who performed the episcopal consecration of his brother, before he himself had taken possession of the See of Sozima; which would place the beginning of Gregory of Nyssa's episcopate about 371. Was this brusque change in Gregory's career the result of a sudden vocation? St. Basil tells us that it was necessary to overcome his brother's repugnance, before he accepted the office of bishop. But this does not help us to an answer, as the episcopal charge in that day was beset with many dangers. Moreover in the fourth century, and even later, it was not uncommon to express dislike of the episcopal honour, and to fly from the prospect of election. The fugitives, however, were usually discovered and brought back, and the consecration took place when a show of resistance had saved the candidate's humility. Whether it was so in Gregory's case, or whether he really did feel his own unfitness, we do not know. In any case, St. Basil seems to have regretted at times the constraint thus put on his brother, now removed from his influence; in his letters he complains of Gregory's naive and clumsy interference with his (Basil's) business. To Basil the synod called in 372 by Gregory at Ancyra seemed the ruin of his own labours. In 375 Gregory seemed to him decidedly incapable of ruling a Church. At the same time he had but faint praise for Gregory's zeal for souls.

On arriving in his see Gregory had to face great difficulties. His sudden elevation may have turned against him some who had hoped for the office themselves. It would appear that one of the courtiers of Emperor Valens had solicited the see either for himself or one of his friends. When Demosthenes, Governor of Pontus, convened an assembly of Eastern bishops, a certain Philocares, at one of its sessions, accused Gregory of wasting church property, and of irregularity in his election to the episcopate, whereupon Demosthenes ordered the Bishop of Nyssa to be seized and brought before him. Gregory at first allowed himself to be led away by his captors, then losing heart and discouraged by the cold and brutal treatment he met with, he took an opportunity of escape and reached a place of safety. A Synod of Nyssa (376) deposed him, and he was reduced to wander from town to town, until the death of Valens in 378. The new emperor, Gratian, published an edict of tolerance, and Gregory returned to his see, where he was received with joy. A few months after this (January, 379) his brother Basil died; whereupon an era of activity began for Gregory. In 379 he assisted at the Council of Antioch which had been summoned because of the Meletian schism. Soon after this, it is supposed, he visited Palestine. There is reason for believing that he was sent officially to remedy the disorders of the Church of Arabia. But possibly his journey did not take place till after the Council of Constantinople in 381, convened by Emperor Theodosius for the welfare of religion in that city. It asserted the faith of Nicæa, and tried to put an end to Arianism and Pneumatism in the East. This council was not looked on as an important one at the time; even those present at it seldom refer to it in their writings. Gregory himself, though he assisted at the council, mentions it only casually in his funeral oration over Meletius of Antioch, who died during the course of this assembly.

An edict of Theodosius (30 July, 381; Cod. Theod., LXVI, tit. I., L. 3) having appointed certain episcopal sees as centres of Catholic communion in the East, Helladius of Cæsarea, Gregory of Nyssa and Otreius of Melitene were chosen to fill them. At Constantinople Gregory gave evidence on two occasions of his talent as an orator; he delivered the discourse at the enthronization of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also the aforesaid oration over Meletius of Antioch. It is very probable that Gregory was present at another Council of Constantinople in 383; his "Oratio de deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti" seems to confirm this. In 385 or 386 he preached the funeral sermon over the imperial Princess Pulcheria, and shortly afterwards over Empress Flaccilla. A little later we meet him again at Constantinople, on which occasion his counsel was sought for the repression of ecclesiastical disorders in Arabia; he then disappears from history, and probably did not long survive this journey. From the above it will be seen that his life is little known to us. It is difficult to outline clearly his personality, while his writings contain too many flights of eloquence to permit final judgment on his real character.



Most of his writings treat of the Sacred Scriptures. He was an ardent admirer of Origen, and applied constantly the latter's principles of hermeneutics. Gregory is ever in quest of allegorical interpretations and mystical meanings hidden away beneath the literal sense of texts. As a rule, however, the "great Cappadocians" tried to eliminate this tendency. His "Treatise on the Work of the Six Days" follows St. Basil's Hexæmeron. Another work, "On the Creation of Man", deals with the work of the Sixth Day...

(from Catholic Encyclopedia)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07016a.htm


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1.07.2008

John the Baptist

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:11-17


And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour...
And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

Luke 1:39-63


In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.


Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Matthew 3:1-15

And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Matthew 11:7-11


For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

Matthew 14:3-12

(Paintings - Guercino, van der Weyden, del Sarto, Caravaggio)


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Тези, които говорят, не са ли всички галилейци?"

Тогава Иисус дохожда от Галилея на Иордан при Иоана, за да се кръсти от него.
А Иоан Го възпираше и думаше: аз имам нужда да се кръстя от Тебе, а Ти ли идеш при мене?
Но Иисус му отговори и рече: остави сега; защото тъй нам подобава да изпълним всяка правда. Тогава Иоан Го допуска.
И като се кръсти, Иисус веднага излезе из водата, и ето, отвориха Му се небесата, и видя Духа Божий да слиза като гълъб и да се спуща върху Него.
И ето, глас от небесата, който казваше: Този е Моят възлюбен Син, в Когото е Моето благоволение.

Матей 3:13-17


СВЕЩЕНО ПИСАНИЕ, издание на Светия Синод на Българската църква
Нoвий Завет на Господа Нашего Иисуса Христа

http://www.dveri.bg/bible/newtest.bg/1.htm


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1.03.2008

ЧНГ 2


добави в svejo.net добави в dao.bg добави в ping.bg добави в web-bg.com добави в dobavi.com добави в pipe.bg

1.01.2008

ЧНГ


добави в svejo.net добави в dao.bg добави в ping.bg добави в web-bg.com добави в dobavi.com добави в pipe.bg