CategoryChurch Fathers

He Was Always With Himself

This installment of my church fathers’ paraphrases comes from the ascetic writer John Cassian. He was born around A.D. 360 and died around A.D. 435. Little is known of his early life, but he was instrumental in introducing Eastern monastic practices to the West. He was raised by an affluent family, but at a relatively early age chose the monastic life. He was a disciple of St. John...

Hijacking the Hijacker

I am still working my way through Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection by Pope Benedict XVI, (half-way through it, I can say I highly recommend it) and was captivated by another thought. In this passage he is considering the idea of the two-natures-in-one-person in Jesus, and specifically the relation of the human will to the divine will in the...

Good Beyond Goodness

There is probably no more enigmatic author in church history than Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. This anonymous author’s works exerted a profound influence on theology and philosophy within the early church, St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Thomas Aquinas notably among those within their purview. From the earliest days of this work its authorship was open to debate; some believed it was...

He Must Learn to Await His Hour

I have been reading Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth- Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, and found a very illuminating passage in regards to the washing of the disciples’ feet. Actually, there is a wealth of insight in this chapter, which will probably spawn some further posts, but for the time I wanted to zero in on Peter’s response to Jesus. It is...

Dancing With Devils

Two weeks ago at our small group we began a study of the Gospel of Mark. As we were reading, we got to the story in Mark 1:21-28 where Jesus is teaching in the synagogue and casts out the unclean spirit in the man who begins making a ruckus. But Mark tells it better than I could: They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were...

Unknowable

This edition of my church fathers paraphrases comes from St. Gregory Nazianzus. Gregory was born around A.D. 325, right as the Council of Nicea was in full swing. His father Gregory had been a pagan but had converted due to the influence of his wife Nonna. The elder Gregory became bishop of Nazianzus in 329 and remained at this see until 374. St. Gregory was close friends with St. Basil, and the...

Rhythm

This installment of my church fathers paraphrases comes from Clement of Rome, who is considered the first of the ‘Apostolic Fathers.’ Clement I was the fourth bishop of Rome (after Linus and Cletus) and lived within the lifetime of the apostles. St. Irenaeus reports that he “saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the...

The Distance Between Us is The Closer We Become

Love, which is the highest level of union, only takes root in the growing independence of the lovers; the union between God and the world reveals, in the very nearness it creates between these two poles of being, the ever greater difference between created being and the essentially incomparable God.[1. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor, p. 64]...

Turn, Turn, Turn

This morning I was reading Psalm 85 in a version derived from the Septuagint text, and was struck by an interesting repetition of theme that was actually captured in the English rendition. *For the End; a psalm for the sons of Korah. O Lord, You were pleased with Your land; You turned back the captivity of Jacob; You forgave the transgressions of Your people; You covered all their sins. (Pause)...

Let It Be Silent

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord...

Individual Substance of a Rational Nature

A month and a half ago I was inspired by my brother’s foray into the burgeoning world of auto-tune theology (which, no doubt, is suffering from an over-population problem) and decided I would make my own attempt. However, as the market for auto-tune theology is surely quite crowded, I went a slightly different, albeit related, route. Listen to the auto-tune track here. The text for this...

Mystery

This installment of my church fathers’ paraphrases comes from St. Hilary of Poitiers. Hilary was born to pagan parents sometime around AD 310, but early in his life his study of the scriptures led to his conversion. He was well beloved and respected and in 353 was elected to the bishopric of Poitiers. Hilary’s life spanned the Arian controversy, and he inserted himself significantly...

The Greatest Torment

We should desire nothing other than the joy of the truth that is Christ, avoid nothing other than his absence. The greatest torment of a rational creature consists in the deprivation or absence of Christ. Indeed, this must be considered the one cause of total and eternal sorrow. Take Christ from me, and I am left with no good thing, nor will anything terrify me so much as his absence. The...

Unity

This edition of my series of church fathers’ paraphrases come from Pope St. Leo the Great. His date of birth is unknown, but he died A.D. 461. In the Catholic Church he is one of the Doctors of the Church, declared so by Benedict XIV in 1754. Leo rose to the papacy in 440, fresh off a diplomatic mission to Gaul as a deacon under his predecessor Sixtus III. It seems that Leo was still in the...

Jason Watson

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