The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

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Father Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2017

Verse 1. At that hourABOUT that time, sub idem tempus; a Hebraism. S. Mark 9:33 says that Christ anticipated the Apostles and asked what they disputed of in the way. They had disputed which of them should be the greatest. S. Luke 9:46 says that Jesus, knowing their thoughts, did not ask them, but took a child, and said: Whosoever shall receive this child in My name receiveth Me, and whosoever receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. For he that is the lesser among you all, he is the greater. Of this kind of contention, S. Augustin, on the passage (De Consens., ii. 61), is silent. S. Chrysostom and Euthymius say that the Apostles disputed, not once, but frequently, on the subject. (1) In the way. (2) In the house, when they saw Peter preferred to them in the payment of the tribute. (3) When Christ asked them what they disputed of in the way.

It has been doubted on what occasion they asked this. S. Jerome, Bede, and Euthymius think that it was when they saw Christ pay the tribute for Himself and Peter. Others differ, because it appears from S. Mark 9:33 that they had had their thoughts on the subject in the way before they came to Capernaum and the tribute had been paid; but we have said from S. Chrysostom and Euthymius that they had frequently and on different occasions discussed the question. The payment of the tribute, therefore, did not put the thought into their minds, but only strengthened that which was in them already. For there had been often occasions before. They had seen Peter, with two others, go up the mountain with Christ, and the keys of the kingdom of heaven given to him (Matt 16:19), as again S. Chrysostom and Euthymius say. Others give another and not unacceptable reason that they had heard Christ often speak of His death as being now very near at hand, and wondered which of them would be, so to speak, His heir that is, His vicar after His death. This is very agreeable to human nature and custom, when men stand around those who are at the point of death, with thoughts of their succession. The Apostles seem to have done this on the eve of Christ s Passion (S. Luke 22:24).

Who thinkest thou. The comparative is put for the superlative, and the present for the future, by a Greek idiom, as if it were written, Which of us is to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

In the kingdom of heaven. Some, as SS. Chrysostom and Epiphanius, take these words to mean the kingdom of heaven itself, and the celestial glory, which from verse 3 seems probable. It is credible that Christ answered the Apostles about the same kingdom of heaven as they spoke of.

But it is more likely that in this instance the Church is termed the kingdom of heaven (1) From the cause of their asking the question when they saw Peter in every respect preferred, and they thought that he would be the head of all the Church; (2) From their having been blamed by Christ when He rebuked their ambition. To wish to be the first in the kingdom of heaven is love, not ambition; but to wish to be first in the Church, and to be placed over others, was to incur blame as being ambitious. This may be proved from verse 3, where the contrary opinion is approved. For Christ would say that he who is least in the present kingdom of heaven that is, the Church should be accounted greatest, and should, therefore, be the greatest in heaven. So speaks S. Luke of the present kingdom of the Church (S. Luke 9:48). Christ therefore plays on the ambiguity of the words, when He says, Except ye be converted, as we have observed that He has often done before.

Verse 2. And Jesus calling to Him a little child. Some think that it was an infant, because S. Mark says that Christ took him up in His arms (S. Mark 9:35; 10:6). But they are in error. For a child larger than an infant may be small enough to be taken up in arms, and this child was able to walk. Christ then called, not an infant, but a child, and an innocent one, and placed him in the midst, that, as has been observed by S. Chrysostom, he might teach humility, not in words, but by actual facts.

Verse 3. Unless you be converted. It has been erroneously inferred from these words that the Apostles were then in a state of mortal sin, because Christ said except, as if they were not able to enter the kingdom of heaven at that time. Christ meant simply that they could not enter it themselves unless they were like children in simplicity and humility. This is not to be understood as if a humility and simplicity equal to that of children were required in all men. For if so, who would ever enter the kingdom of heaven? But the greatest example of humility is put forward, not that we may wholly come up to it, but that we may approach as near to it as we possibly can. So we are commanded to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (S. Matt 5:48). Nor is it intended that the Apostles had not such humility as would enable them to enter the kingdom of heaven; but they have what is required shown to them, that if they have it not, they may gain it, and if they have it, they may keep it. The expression, unless you become, &c., does not mean that they were not such then. It alludes to their age, that as they are fully grown now, they should become as little children, as Christ said to Nicodemus (S. John 3:3).

But Christ blamed the ambition of the Apostles. Granted. It does not follow, however, that it was such as to be a mortal sin, or to hinder them from entering the kingdom of heaven; for it might be venial, and it is right that we should believe it to have been such. The Apostles, therefore, are to be excused by this or some other better reason, as S. Chrysostom excuses them, not blamed. Christ commands us to be like children, not in all things, but in simplicity, in humility, and in innocence, as S. Paul (1 Cor 14:20), as say S. Clement of Alexandria (Pædag., i. 5), S. Ambrose (Serm. x.).

Verse 5. And he that shall receive one such little child. The reason of Christ’s saying this may easily be gathered from what has gone before and from what follows. He would prove that he is the greatest who most resembles the least, because a child is most like Himself and bears His Person. He proves this by the fact that whoever receives a child receives Him. But to receive does not only mean, as some think, to receive Him into our houses, but to follow this up by every kind of well-doing in our power: in a word, to do good, as He will say in the judgment (Matt 25:40). S. Mark and S. Luke relate only this part of Christ’s conversation, omitting what S. Matthew has added. Probably because in this lay the sum of the whole matter.


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July 29: Commentaries for the Memorial of Saint Martha

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 10, 2017


Navarre Bible Commentary on Exodus 24:3-8.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 50.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 50.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 50.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 50.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 11:19-27.

Alternate Gospel Reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 10:38-42.

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Suggestions for Homilies, Bible Studies, and Discussion Groups for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2017

First Reading 2 Ki 4:8–11, 14–16a
Response Ps 89:2a
Psalm Ps 89:2–3, 16–19
Second Reading Ro 6:3–4, 8–11
Gospel Acclamation 1 Pe 2:9
Gospel Mt 10:37–42

Some Basic Suggestions: Note: Scripture passages below contained within red, rounded brackets (…) indicate a reference from today’s readings in whole or in part.

First, Psalm & Gospel Readings: God, because He is good/merciful (Ps 89:2-3) will bless those who exercise goodness/mercy by aiding the prophetic mission of the Church (2 Kings 4;14-16; Mt 10:40-42). Therefore, we ought to provide aid as the woman of Shunem did (2 Kings 4:9-10) and as Christ recommends (Mt 10:40-42). 

Second Reading: Baptism. See CCC 1213-1284. One could especially focus on the following: (A) Baptism establishes communion with our Lord’s Death and Resurrection (Rom 6:3-4); [CCC 1227; cf. 790]. (B) Baptism effects the grace to live in newness of life (Rom 6:4, 8-11); [CCC 1265-1266] Here it should be noted that “live in newness of life” is not primarily a reference to our future resurrection (though this is implied), rather, It is a reference to living in new life now, free from the old life of sin (Rom 6:1-2, 6-19). In the context of Romans it is emphasized that this new life is lived in the Spirit (Rom 8:1-2, 8-11, 13). See also Gal 5:16-24; CCC 736). (C) The baptized have an obligation to support the apostolic mission of the Church (CCC 1270). This last point provides a connection with the first and gospel readings.

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Suggestions for Homilies, Bible Studies, Discussion Groups for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2017

Readings and Catechism Links: 

First Reading Jer 20:10–13 See CCC 2584.
Response Ps 69:14c
Gospel Acclamation John 15:26b, 27a


Some Basic Suggestions: 
Note: Scripture passages below contained within red, rounded brackets (…) indicate a reference from today’s readings.

1. As always, the Psalm (Ps 69:8–10, 14, 17, 33-35) and it’s response (Ps 69:14c) suggest themes for the first and Gospel readings. The first part of the response (“Lord, in your great love”) relates well to the Lord’s care and protection of the faithful (Jer 20:11, 12b, 13b; Mt 10:29-31). The second part of the antiphon (“answer me”) relates to the theme of prayer (Jer 20:12b, 13b). The gospel reading itself doesn’t relate to prayer, but the entire missionary discourse of Mt 10 is introduced with a reference to it, and this can be easily worked into a homily or brought up for discussion in a bible study (see Mt 9:35-39) .

2. God is our Father (Mt 10:29) and as such loves and cares for us (see Ps 103:13; CCC 268, 270), CCC 218-221, 733) even when friends (Jer 20:10) and family may not because of our faith and commitment to God and the Gospel (see Jer 9:3-5; 11:18-19, 21; Mt 10:34-36; Lk 4:16-30). This could help prepare for next Sunday’s Gospel which is on Mt 10:37-42. See also God as Father, Mother, and Husband: CCC 219Isa 49:14-15; 66:13; Ps 131:2-3; Hos 11:1-4; Jer 3:4-19.

3. Terror (Jer 20:10), fear (Mt 10:26) and intimidation and how to cope with it by trusting in God’s love (Ps 69:14, 17, 34).

4. Evil, suffering, and persecution as tests of faith. God’s faithful can be and are tested by God (Jer 20:12; CCC 164) but such trials are of great value (Mt 10:32), especially when accompanied by prayer (Ps 69:14).  See also James 1:2-8; see also Heb 12:1-13.

5. Christ is the reason why believers are persecuted, insulted, ostracized, etc., (Mt 10:17-25; Mt 5:11-12) He is also a model to be imitated when such things occur (see 1 Pet 2:20-25 with 1 Pet 3:8-4:1 and 1 Pet 4:12-16). Jeremiah’s experience in these matters prefigured Christ. Zeal for God’s house (Ps 69:10) nearly consumed Jeremiah (Jer 26:1-19, cf. Jer 7:1-15), and did consume Jesus (Jn 2:13-22; cf. Mt 26:59-62; Mk 14:57-59). Here one could talk about the Church as a temple (2 Cor 6:16 Eph 2:20-22; 1 Tim 3:15 1 Pet 2:5); or the the believer’s bodies as temples (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), and relate how commitment to the Church, the Gospel and righteous living in faith can lead to opposition (see 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Pet 4:4)

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Overview of the Book of Tobit (Tobias) Chapters 1-3

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 28, 2017

NOTE: The content of this post is excerpted from an old work by Bishop Knecht entitled: A PRACTICAL COMMENTARY ON HOLY SCRIPTURE. Tobit is portrayed as being among the exiles forced from the northern kingdom of Israel after the Assyrian conquest of 721 BC. But the book post-dates this event considerably, and its composition is usually dated to about 200 BC, a time when the people of God were being pressured by various means (political, legal, economic, etc) to give up their distinctive religious beliefs and practices. The book is usually characterized as “haggadic midrash”: “a type of writing that consisted in freely elaborating and building upon some historical event or character in such a way as to provide instruction or edification for the reader” (THE MEN AND MESSAGE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, by Peter F. Ellis). Father Leslie J. Hoppe, in his contribution to the Reading Guide (#’s 187-230) found in THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE provides a succinct statement concerning the author’s message: “The author wishes to show how God can manage the circumstances of people’s lives in order to bring God’s plans to fulfillment. Its primary religious message is simple: god rewards those who are faithful.


THE Lord ceased not to send to the Israelites holy prophets 1 who preached penance to them both by word and example. But the Israelites would not be converted, and their wickedness 2 increased to such an extent that the Almighty resolved to punish them in His wrath, and utterly to destroy them. He therefore caused Salmanazar, king of Assyria, to come against them with a mighty army. He laid siege 3 to the strong city of Samaria, and after three years took it and carried off most of its inhabitants captives 4; and thus the kingdom of Israel ceased to exist 5. Thus the prophecy of Amos (9:8) was fulfilled: “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God [are] upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth: but yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.”

The Israelites having been slain or carried off into captivity, their land had become almost a wilderness 6, and the Assyrian king, in order to people it again, sent thither thousands of his pagan subjects who, settling amongst the scattered remains of the ten tribes, were soon so mixed up with them that they became, as it were, a new nation, and scarcely a trace remained of the people of Israel.

The religion of the Samaritans was a mixture of Judaism and Paganism 7; hence they hated the two tribes of Juda and Benjamin, who had remained true to the old religion.

Those who were taken captive to Assyria never returned to their own country. Still God did not fail to give numerous proofs of His watchful care over those unhappy exiles. One of the most remarkable of these instances is found in the history of the good Tobit 8. When he was in his own country and in his earliest years, Tobit never associated with the wicked; never went to adore the golden calf 9, but kept the law of the Lord exactly.

Hence God protected him in the land of captivity, and caused him to find favour in the sight of Salmanazar, who allowed him to go wherever he wished. He went accordingly to all his fellow-captives, consoling and encouraging them. He shared with them all he possessed, fed them when they were hungry, and clothed them when naked. His life was spent in such works of charity.

King Salmanazar being dead, Sennacherib (Fig. 52) 10, his son, who succeeded him on the throne, was not so favourable to Tobit and put many of the Israelites to death. But Tobit, fearing God more than the king, hid the bodies of his brethren in his house, and buried them by night. The king, having heard this, sentenced Tobit to death, and took away all his property.

Tobit fled with his wife and son, and remained concealed in a place of safety, till the death of the wicked king, who forty days later was killed by his own sons. Then Tobit returned, and all his property was restored to him. But the persecution against the Israelites was still raging, so Tobit resumed his former works of charity, relieving the distressed, and burying the dead.

Coming home one day very much fatigued, he lay down near the wall and fell asleep. While he was sleeping the droppings from a swallow’s nest fell on his eyes and made him blind 11. This was a great affliction, but it did not prevent Tobit from fearing and blessing God and thanking Him for all his mercies, even for this new trial. Now Anna, his wife, was his only support. She went out every day to work, and by her hard earnings kept her husband from want. On one occasion, Anna received a young kid for the labour of her hands, and she brought it home. Now Tobit, hearing it bleat, was afraid and said: “Take heed, lest perhaps it be stolen 12; restore it to its owner.” He questioned Anna as to how she got the kid. Now Anna was a good and virtuous woman, but this suspicion of her husband roused her to anger. She replied very sharply and made use of words that were aggravating to her husband. Tobit, however, only sighed and began to pray.


The Patience and Justice of God. God was very patient with His ungrateful people. He continued to send prophets who, in stirring language, pointed out to the people their ingratitude and faithlessness towards God, and graphically described the judgments which would overtake them. For two hundred years and more God visited them with famines and other tribulations in the hope of bringing them back to Him, but all in vain! Ninive did penance, but Israel remained impenitent! At last Almighty God’s patience was exhausted, His judgment fell, and the faithless kingdom of Israel came to an end! “Justice exalteth a nation: but sin maketh nations miserable” (Prov. 14:34).

God’s Mercy and Wisdom. Even in His punishments God showed mercy. As a nation Israel was overthrown, but the punishment served for the conversion of individuals. The Israelites had been driven from the land of their fathers, they were scattered and homeless, living among strangers and earning a livelihood by hard work, being all the while sorely oppressed. In their necessity many turned contritely to God, acknowledged His just judgments and found all their consolation in the hope of the promised Redeemer. In them were fulfilled the words of the prophet Jeremias (2:19): “Know thou and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing for thee to have left the Lord thy God.” For the kingdom of Assyria also the dispersion of Israel was a great blessing. Through the Israelites living in their midst the pagans learnt to know the true and unseen God and the promised Redeemer, for whose coming they were, therefore, prepared. Thus, by God’s Providence, even the sin of Israel and its punishment served for a good end.

The Faithfulness of God. That which God had threatened a hundred years before was brought to pass. The impenitent kingdom of Israel was merged in the great Assyrian empire, and ceased to be an independent state.

The fall of him who resists grace. The history of Israel is the counterpart of the history of every impenitent sinner. What happened to the people of Israel when they broke their covenant with God, is repeated in the case of very many Christians, who do not keep their baptismal vows. By the mouth of His priests, and by the voice of their own consciences, God exhorts sinners to be converted and do penance. He reminds them of the terrors of the judgment and the torments of hell. But, alas, many sinners will not believe, and take these solemn truths of faith for empty threats. Often God visits sinners with sickness or misfortunes, but the amendment of life which these may produce lasts but a short time. Hardly is the trouble removed before the sinner turns away again from God and commits fresh sins. God will bear with him for a long time, seeking to bring him back to Him, but at last His patience is exhausted, the time of grace is past, and God calls the impenitent sinner before His judgment-seat, and gives him over to the power of the enemy. The sinful soul is damned, and thrust for ever out of its heavenly home, to suffer hopelessly, in captivity, the unbearable torments of hell. There, indeed, he at last recognizes his folly and blindness, and bitterly rues his sin and impenitence. But it is too late!


1. His piety. He loved God from his youth up, prayed willingly, and faithfully fulfilled all his religious duties. The foundations of piety are laid in youth.

2. His brotherly love. His love was universal, for he did not show it towards his friends only, but towards all who were in want, especially Israelites. His love was practical, for he sought out the needy, even sacrificing health and fortune in order to help them. He consoled, instructed, and supported all whom he could, and practised works of mercy towards the living and the dead. Finally, it was disinterested. He did everything in secret, and sought his own glory in nothing. He asked for no reward from man, for no thanks, no honours. This proves that his love was sincere and disinterested.

3. His fortitude. He did not shrink from the perils and labour of long journeys, nor did he fear the anger of the king. He exposed himself to every danger to help the needy and bury the dead.

4. His justice. He conscientiously performed his duty towards God and man. This rudimentary virtue of justice proceeded from his uprightness, which made him, though poor, refuse any reward which he had not justly earned. He said to himself: “If the person who gave us this kid, stole it, it is not his property, and he has no right to give it; and as for me, I may neither buy nor receive as a gift any stolen goods.”

5. His patience in suffering. This was the fruit of faith and hope. Tobit was specially distinguished for his great patience and resignation under suffering. He did not murmur against God, or say to himself: “What have I done to deserve these trials? Have I not feared God from my youth up?” No, he accepted his trials humbly, as a punishment for his own sins and those of his people (Tob. 3:2 f); he thanked God for them, and set all his hopes on a future life. “For we are the children of the Saints”, said he, “and look for that life which God will give to those that never change their faith in Him” (Tob. 2:18). The belief in a future reward comforted him and supported him in the midst of his tribulations. Faith makes people patient and contented under suffering; but a man without faith is without comfort in tribulation, and without hope in death. Poor, unfortunate man!


The object of suffering. Why did God permit so many troubles to overtake the holy, faithful Tobit? The angel Raphael explained the reason when he said to him: “Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee” (Tob. 12:13). Suffering, therefore, was intended to serve as a probation of Tobit, and to give him the opportunity of practising patience, and gaining more merit. Holy Scripture offers a further explanation of the reason for this holy man’s tribulations in the following passage: “Now this trial (of blindness) the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as in the case of holy Job” (Tob. 2:12).

The bodies of the dead are worthy of reverence. Why did Tobit expose himself to such great danger in order to bury mere dead bodies? He knew and believed that man is an image of God, so he could not endure the thought that men’s bodies should lie uncared for, to be devoured by wild beasts. The bodies of Christians, furthermore, are the temples of the Holy Ghost, and sanctified by the reception of the holy Sacraments. For this reason they are buried in consecrated ground.

Lawful obedience. Was it not wrong of Tobit to continue to bury the dead after Sennacherib had forbidden it? No, it was rather Sennacherib who did wrong in ordering the dead bodies to be left unburied, for God had commanded, writing it on men’s hearts, that the bodies of the dead should be treated reverently, and buried.


Dear children, none of you would wish to suffer eternally, to be shut out for ever from the presence of God, and banished from heaven. Lay to heart, therefore, the teaching and holy exhortations which you receive, obey God’s grace, avoid sin, and do heartfelt penance for the sins you have heretofore committed.

Do you think any one will ever be able to say of you: “He has from his youth up observed the commandments of God, and avoided the society of the wicked”?

Do you possess any ill-gotten goods? Have you ever taken anything, even a trifle such as a picture, a pen, or an apple, from any one? Give it back at once, or if you no longer possess it, make compensation for it. Do you ever take things from your parents’ stores? What a shame for a child to steal from his own parents!

Even you could practise many works of mercy. Do you look after your sick companions? Do you pray for the holy souls? You could prevent many a sin by gently appealing to the consciences of your comrades, or brothers and sisters, showing them what they ought to do.

Bishop Knecht’s Footnotes:

1. Prophets. Among these prophets were Hosea and Amos, who announced the judgments of God which were to come.

2. Wickedness. The prophet Hosea (4:2 and 11) thus describes the moral condition of the people: “Cursing, and lying, and killing, and theft, and adultery have overflowed. Wine and drunkenness take away the understanding.” Sedition, regicide and civil war became more and more common.

3. Siege. He encamped all round the town so that no necessaries of life could be brought to it.

4. Captives. Imagine to yourselves with what tears and aching hearts they must have left their homes. Now, no doubt, they repented of their sins and deplored their blindness; but it was too late. The Israelites were divided among the towns in Northern Assyria and were much hampered in the free practice of their religion.

5. Ceased. Being merged in the Assyrian Empire in the year 721 B. C.

6. A wilderness. Because its inhabitants were very few, and the land only partially cultivated.

7. The religion. They worshipped false gods at the same time that they worshipped the Almighty. It was only later that they abandoned idolatry and built a temple to the Lord on Mount Garizim, near Sichar.

8. Tobit. He lived in Ninive, the capital of Assyria.

9. Golden calf. Although he lived in Israel, and not in Juda, he did not go to Bethel to worship the golden calf, as did most of his fellow-countrymen. He faithfully observed all the rules laid down for the worship of God and for the offering of sacrifices.

10. Sennacherib. In revenge for a great defeat he had suffered before Jerusalem (as will be told in chapter LXXIII). When Sennacherib learnt that Tobias buried the dead, he gave orders for him to be put to death. Tobias, however, hid himself and continued to bury the dead.

11. Blind. Inflammation set in and blindness ensued. This was a severe trial for Tobias; however, he did not complain, but, like Job, daily thanked God even for the sufferings sent to him.

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Father Callan’s Introduction to the Epistle to the Ephesians

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 15, 2017


1. Captivity Epistles. Four letters of St. Paul—those to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon— are known as the Captivity Epistles, because the Apostle was a prisoner when he wrote them, most probably at Rome (61-63 a.d.), as mentioned in Acts 28:30. This opinion is according to a very ancient tradition which the contents of those Epistles support. First of all, there is a similarity of vocabulary and style in these four
letters, and Philippians seems to point directly to Rome when St. Paul speaks of himself as a prisoner, of the number of local preachers, and of Caesar’s household (Phil. 1:7-17, 4: 22). Moreover, that these four letters emanated from the Eternal City and were written about the same time is further made very likely from the following: (a) Timothy is associated with St. Paul in writing to the Philippians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon; (b) Rome, the capital of the Empire, was the natural resort of the runaway slave from Colossse, Onesimus, whose meeting with St. Paul occasioned the letter to Philemon (Phlm. 10-12, 18); (c) in Ephesians 6:20, the Apostle calls himself an ambassador in chains, that is, a representative of Christ the King in the imperial city, but without honor; (d) he is free to preach and to receive all who come to him (Phlm. 7 ff., 24; Eph. 3:12, 6:19, 20; Phil. 1:12, 20 ff.; Acts 28:30, 31); (e) he expects an early release, and asks Philemon to make ready a lodging for him (Phil. 2:24; Phlm, 22); (f) Tychicus and Onesimus are together in bearing these three letters to Asia (Eph. 6:21 ; Col. 4:7-9; Phlm. 12, 22).

In view of these considerations there is nothing of moment to be said in favor of the opinion that the three letters last named were written during the Caesarean captivity (58-60 a.d.). The arguments just given favoring Rome would not fit Caesarea. Still less can be said in support of the opinion which makes Ephesus the place whence St. Paul wrote the Captivity Epistles (see Pope, Aids to the Study of the Bible, vol. III., p. 160).

As to the order of these four Epistles, it is evident from what has been said above that those to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and Philemon are not to be separated; but whether the Colossian Epistle preceded or followed the composition of that to the Ephesians cannot be determined with any degree of certainty, though it is clear that both were carried from Rome at the same time by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7). Nor can it be decided whether the letter to the Philippians was the first or the last of these four Captivity Epistles.

With regard to their general contents Dr. Voste, O.P., very appropriately remarks that “there is nothing in the whole New Testament which so nearly approaches the doctrinal and mystical sublimity of the Fourth Gospel as do these Epistles. There is the same loftiness of dogmatic and ethical teaching, the same marvelous boldness of expressions, the same divine revelation of the union of the faithful with Christ or of the branches with the vine, and finally the same glorification of the love and person of Christ. John, the beloved disciple, has revealed to us the glory of the Word made flesh; Paul, rapt to the third heaven, has made known to us the glory of Christ exalted on high. And then, also, it was that the Apostle described this sublimity when, like the exile of Patmos, he was an ambassador in chains for Christ; when, like Stephen the First Martyr when being stoned to death, he saw the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Ep. ad Eph., Introd., pp. 6, 7).

The style and manner of treatment in these Captivity Epistles is very different from that in St. Paul’s previous letters—Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians. In those great Epistles the Apostle was at the height of his career; he was founding Churches; he was unfolding his great revelations; he was defending his authority and his teachings; he was in the thick of the battle. In these letters his work is mostly done; he is quietly surveying the fruits of his many labors, and is only anxious that they may be preserved. He is now reflective, meditative, and on the whole at peace in his mind.

His surroundings are also very different here. Formerly he was writing from Greek cities, with their individualistic outlook and cultured environment; but now he is writing from Rome, the centre of the great empire, with its worldwide outlook and its emphasis upon the family, the community, the state, and the race. Hence, Paul’s vision assumes a wider range here—especially in Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians—taking in the whole world and uniting all men of all time under the universal sovereignty of Christ. Christ, the King, and His universal Church are uppermost in the Apostle’s mind in these letters.

2. Ephesus. Situated on the great highway of trade between the East and the West, and under Roman rule the capital of Proconsular Asia, Ephesus was one of the most important cities of ancient times. It was to the province of Asia what Corinth was to Greece, what Antioch was to Syria, and what Alexandria was to Egypt. It was built on the Cayster River only about three miles inland from the Ægean Sea, and was the sea terminal of the great trade route which extended eastward, up the valley of the Maeander to that of the Lycus, and thence to central Asiatic and far eastern points. Miletus was indeed the natural terminus and seaport of the road which, from central Asia Minor and eastern lands, led down the valleys of the Lycus and the Maeander to the West, but the journey was shortened some thirty miles by a pass only six hundred feet high over the mountains from the Maeander to Ephesus. Moreover, during later centuries, and especially under the Romans, the silt carried down by the Maeander seems to have been permitted to spoil the harbor of Miletus, thus giving Ephesus undisputed supremacy as the seaport of Proconsular Asia until, in course of time, a similar fate befell the port of Ephesus through the alluvium which the Cayster deposited at its mouth. Even in St. Paul’s age the channel between Ephesus and the sea had to be cleaned out repeatedly, but later, after the sway of Rome had passed away, it was allowed to fill up and become a mere marsh, and the glory of Ephesus as a port and the great coastal terminal of trade from Central Asia and eastern countries ceased to exist and became a mere matter of the past.

In the days of its prosperity the trade and wealth of Ephesus were augmented also by the coast-line ships from north and south, and by the vast numbers of visitors who were passing from Rome to the East or from the Orient to the West, as well as those who came to the city to worship at the shrine of Diana, to enjoy the Roman festivals, and to assist at the public games and shows. For, as already said, Ephesus was the principal seaport of the Roman province
of Asia and the roads from the interior all converged there, thus making it most easily accessible for land travelers. Just outside the city stood the marvelous Temple of Diana (Artemis), one of the seven wonders of the world, and on the western side of Mt. Coressus was the largest theatre of the Hellenic world, open to the sky, and capable of accommodating 50,000 spectators; while a little to the north was situated the Stadium or Race Course where the public games and fights were exhibited.

The road from Ephesus to the east up the valley of the Cayster was too steep and precipitous for commercial purposes, but, as it was considerably shorter than the lower and more level route down the valleys of the Lycus and the Masander, foot-passengers, like St. Paul, naturally preferred it. Hence, the Apostle going on foot from Pisidian Antioch to Ephesus would follow the higher, though steeper, Cayster route; and this is why he seems never to have
visited Colossse and Laodicea, which were on the main highway of trade down the valleys of the Lycus and the Maeander.

3. The Church of Ephesus. Being so situated, the terminal of trade and travel from Asia and the East westward, and as the Asiatic port for commerce and travelers from the West to the East, Ephesus was naturally sought by St. Paul as a centre from which his preaching and missionary activities should radiate. Already at the outset of his second great journey (51 a.d.) he seems to have had Ephesus in mind as his goal, but being “forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6), he passed through Mysia over to Troas, and from there to Neapolis and Philippi, and then down through Macedonia and Greece (Acts 16:11-18:18). But at the close of that missionary journey, on his way
from Greece to Syria, he paid a brief visit to Ephesus, leaving there, as he proceeded back to the East, Aquila and Priscilla whom he had brought thither, and promising to return later himself (Acts 18:18-21).

Accordingly, on his third missionary journey (55-58 A.D.), St. Paul, after visiting the Churches previously founded in Galatia, came directly to Ephesus by way of the “upper coasts,” that is, following the Cayster valley route (Acts 19:1). The seed planted there on his first brief visit and nourished to some extent by the efforts of Aquila and Priscilla, aided for a time by Apollo, had already produced a little fruit in the establishment of a small group of catechumens
who had received only the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-3). These St. Paul at once instructed and baptised, imposing hands upon them and thus endowing them with the gifts of the Spirit (Acts 19:4-7). Then entering the synagogue where he had preached on his first visit to Ephesus, “he spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and exhorting concerning the Kingdom of God,” until, forced by the opposition of some of his Jewish hearers, he made “the school of one Tyrannus” his place of worship and instruction (Acts 19:8-9). In this new abode he continued his
spiritual labors for two whole years, discoursing every day and proving by miracles the divinity of his doctrine and claims, with the grand result that great numbers embraced the faith in Ephesus, the magical practices in honor of Diana were exposed as frauds, and the Gospel was heard by both Jews and Greeks throughout the whole province of Asia (Acts x19:10-26). It seems that St. Paul himself remained in Ephesus all the time (Acts 20:18), but his influence and efforts were extended by co-workers, like Epaphras and Tychicus of Colossse, and by the multitudes who came to Ephesus for various purposes, and, having heard the glad tidings of the new religion, carried them back to their homes. Although his personal work in Ephesus was nearly finished and he was contemplating an early visit to Macedonia and Corinth (1 Cor 16:5 ff.), the Apostle’s stay was somewhat shortened by the tumult raised by the silversmith Demetrius and his craftsmen; whereas he had intended to prolong his labors in that fruitful field until Pentecost, and then go to Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 19:21 ff.; 1 Cor 16:8-9).

On his way from Corinth back to Syria at the close of his third missionary journey (58 a.d.), St. Paul, unable to spare the time for a visit to Ephesus itself, halted at Miletus on the coast of Caria (Acts 20:15), some thirty miles southwest of Ephesus, and called thither the ancients of the Church of Ephesus, and addressed to them the solemn discourse of which St. Luke has given us the substance in Acts 20:18-35—which discourse is at once an indication of the strong and flourishing condition of the Ephesian Christian community and of St. Paul’s abiding interest in and affection for the Church there.

The next mention of Ephesus in connection with St. Paul is in the Pastoral Epistles, written towards the end of the Apostle’s life. In 1 Tim. 1:3 ff., we read that Paul exhorted Timothy to remain at Ephesus as head of that Church to teach and to correct, while he himself went to Macedonia; and in the Second Epistle to Timothy, written during the Apostle’s last imprisonment in Rome and shortly before his death, ‘he recalls the kindness of the Ephesian Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 2:18), and says he has sent Tychicus to Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:12).

Ephesus is mentioned twice in later Apostolic history, namely, in Rev 1:11; 2:1. There it was, after Timothy had passed, that St. John the Evangelist, as Bishop of that see, spent his declining years and wrote his Gospel and Epistles; there he was heard by Polycarp, Ignatius Martyr, and Papias; and there he died and was buried about the close of the first century of our era.

The Church of Ephesus continued to exercise a great influence for many centuries. It was the scene of the Ecumenical Council of 431 and of the “Robber Synod” of 449, and at the end of the fourth century its Bishop bore the title of Exarch or Grand Metropolitan of Asia. Ultimately, however, the primacy of Asia was taken over by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Christian community of Ephesus gradually declined with the rest of the city
its present desolate state of a small Turkish village.

4. To Whom Ephesians Was Addressed. It is extremely difficult to decide for whom this letter was destined. A great variety of opinions have been advanced, the merits of all of which it is neither possible nor useful to discuss here. Hence we shall confine ourselves to those which seem most likely, and which are or have been most generally held.

According to tradition this Epistle was intended for the faithful of the city of Ephesus, which St. Paul visited at the close of his second missionary journey and where he spent over two years on his third journey. In favor of this opinion we have: (a) the testimony of all extant Manuscripts containing St. Paul’s Epistles, which—with the exception of the Vatican (B), the Sinaitic (S), the cursive 67, and that of Mt. Athos recently found—read ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ
(at Ephesus) in Eph 1:1; (b) the title given this Epistle by every known MS., which has “To the Ephesians”; (c) the most ancient versions, going back to the middle of the second century, which follow the MSS. in reading “at Ephesus” in 1:1, and which therefore seem to indicate that this reading was already old when they were made; (d) the Muratorian Fragment in Rome, St. Irenaeus in Gaul, Tertullian in Africa, and Clement in Alexandria. These Fathers appear to have held the Ephesian destination of this letter on the authority of tradition, and not on the evidence of the MSS. before them. Thus it seems that, at the end of the second century, tradition was wellnigh unanimous in affirming that this letter was written for the faithful of Ephesus. Internal evidence, however, in support of this ancient opinion is, practically speaking, entirely lacking.

Against the Ephesian destination we have: (a) the indirect and negative testimony of the four MSS. referred to above, two of which are the oldest and best in existence, going back to about the middle of the fourth century; (b) Marcion, about the middle of the second century, who said this letter was addressed to the Laodiceans, and who, since he could have had no dogmatic reason for saying so, may have been guided by some ancient codex which read this way;
(c) Tertullian, who, arguing against Marcion for the Ephesian destination, was influenced only by tradition, making no reference to the words “at Ephesus” in 1:1, which must therefore have been absent from the MSS. known to him; (d) Origen, St. Basil, and St. Jerome, from whose writings we see that the phrase “at Ephesus” in 1:1 was lacking in the MSS. they made use of. With regard to the argument from Marcion, just given above, we are not obliged to believe that he had before him a codex which read “to the Laodiceans,” for his opinion may have been based only on the reference in Colossians to a letter at Laodicea (Col. 4:16). However, all this external evidence seems to show, at least, that the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ of verse 1 of this Epistle are not authentic, and consequently do not prove anything for the Ephesian destination of the letter.

Internal evidence is strongly opposed to an Ephesian destination. For example, (a) this Epistle has no personal greetings of any kind, which is nearly impossible to understand if Paul was writing to Ephesus where he had lived and labored so long and so successfully; (b) the tone of the letter is formal and distant, terms of familiarity and endearment (like “beloved” and “brethren”), being entirely absent; (c) there is no allusion to the Apostle’s previous
relations with his readers (as in Thess., Gal., Corinth., etc.), but, on the contrary, he seems to be unknown to the recipients of this Epistle, he has only heard of their faith (Eph 1:15), they have perhaps heard of the ministry committed to him (Eph 3:2 ff.), and he hopes they have been taught aright regarding Christ (Eph 4:20-21). We cannot imagine St. Paul addressing the Ephesians, either exclusively or inclusively, in this manner; and hence it seems to us that not only was this letter not addressed solely to the faithful of Ephesus, but it also could not have been written to any group of Churches which would include Ephesus.

If, therefore, we are to follow the theory commonly accepted nowadays (namely, that this was a Circular Epistle addressed to a number of Christian communities in Asia Minor), we ought to exclude the Church at Ephesus, and perhaps confine ourselves to the faithful of Laodicea and Hierapolis. But here again we encounter difficulties. Since these cities were only a few miles from Colossae, and must therefore have been affected by the same errors as endangered the faithful to whom Colossians was sent, it is hard to see why two letters so different in tone and object should have been directed to readers so near together and so similarly circumstanced. We admit, of course, that this objection has weight only in the supposition that Ephesians was addressed exclusively to the Churches at Laodicea and Hierapolis, and not to a group of Churches of which those two were only a part. If then we hold that we have here a Circular Epistle, and yet exclude the Church at Ephesus for the reasons given at the end of the preceding paragraph, and also the Churches at Laodicea and HierapoHs because of their nearness to Colossae, what group of Churches unknown to St. Paul shall we designate as readers of this letter? In reply it must be observed, first of all, that it seems next to certain that the readers addressed by this Epistle were living in Asia Minor somewhere and not too far from Colossae, since Tychicus was the bearer of this Epistle and of that to the Colossians at one and the same time. Arguing thus, some scholars have concluded that this letter was written for that rather isolated group of Churches in northeastern Asia Minor, near the Black Sea, to which St. Peter addressed his first letter (1 Pet. 1:1). The Ephesian designation given the letter, we are told, was due to the fact that, when the official collection of St. Paul’s Epistles was prepared some time in the second century, the copy which had been made at Ephesus when Tychicus first arrived there with the original from Rome, and which naturally bore the inserted reference to that central Church of Asia, was the one that was chosen for the Canon and that was copied generally in subsequent codices (cf. Ladeuze, Cath, EncycL, vol. V, pp. 487, 488; Revue Bihliquc, 1902, pp. 573-580.) This conjecture is worth some reflection, but one may well ask why St. Paul sent the crown of all his Epistles only to such a comparatively insignificant body of the faithful.

In view of the unsatisfactory character of the conclusions so far arrived at touching the destination of this letter, perhaps it is best after all to hold with the majority of modern scholars that we have in Ephesians a circular letter written to the various Churches of Asia Minor, including Ephesus, Laodicea and Hierapolis, and that the impersonal tone and distant, formal character of the Epistle are to be explained by the very fact that so many of the faithful were addressed, not a few of whom were strange and unknown to the Apostle. Along with this opinion the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ (at Ephesus) which are found in so many MSS., can be explained quite reasonably as in the preceding paragraph.

The opinion of Harnack, however, which Fr. Knabenbauer regarded as not improbable and which Dr. J, M. Voste, O.P., adopts in his learned work on Ephesians, deserves our serious consideration. The opinion goes back to Marcion’s view that our Epistle was addressed to the Laodiceans. We give here a summary of Dr. Voste’s reasoning on this theory.

In the first place, the best text of verse i of this Epistle seems to be defective, as if the name of a city which ought to be in it had dropped out or had been purposely omitted. After the words τοῖς οὖσιν (who are) we should expect a noun, as in Rom. 1:7 τοις ουσιν εν ρωμη (to all in Rome), and in Phil. 1:1 τοις ουσιν εν φιλιπποις (to all in Philippi); (cf. also 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2; Col. 1:2). Therefore, it is concluded that verse 1 of Ephesians ought to read: τοις ουσιν εν λαοδικεια (to those that are at Laodicea, etc.). The phrase εν λαοδικεια (at Laodicea), we are told, was in time suppressed because of the unworthiness which later crept into the Church of Laodicea, and to which St. John refers in Rev 3:14-19; but that it belongs there and that this Epistle was consequently directed to the Laodiceans is further made probable by the following references to the Church at Laodicea in the Epistle to the Colossians:

1. “For I would have you know what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea, and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh” (Col. 2:1). Here we observe that, while speaking to the Colossians, only the Laodiceans are expressly named.

2. St. Paul says of Epaphras: “For I bear him testimony that he hath much labor for you, and for them that are at Laodicea, and them at Hierapolis” (Col. 4:13). These three cities—Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis—were not far apart in the valley of the Lycus River.

3. The Apostle says to the Colossians: “Salute the brethren who are at Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in his house” (Col. 4:15). Here Hierapolis is not included.

4. Finally, the Apostle says: “And when this Epistle shall have been read with you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans: and that you read that which is of the Laodiceans” (Col. 4:16). Here again there is question only of the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea, and both have received a letter from St. Paul.

As Dr. Voste goes on to observe here, it is manifest from the foregoing texts that the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea were intimately connected one with the other and in the heart of the Apostle. And hence it would a priori be very strange if, while the Epistle to the Colossians has been preserved, that to the Laodiceans should have been lost—all the more so, since, having been read at Colossae, most likely a copy of it would have been made by the Colossians That no copy of a letter so important as this one seems to have been should have come down to us, while that to the Church of Colossae and even the little personal letter to Philemon written at the same time have been preserved, borders on the incredible. But, on the other hand, if among the Epistles of St. Paul that we have there is one which, as regards time of composition and contents, is like our Epistle to the Colossians, though its traditional
inscription gives rise to various hypotheses, there results great probability that this is the Epistle to the Laodiceans.

Now, we have an Epistle to the Ephesians, written at the same time as the Epistle to the Colossians and in many ways very much like it, which seems certainly not to have been written to the Ephesians but to some other Church. The suspicion, therefore, naturally arises that this letter which now bears the title “to the Ephesians,” but which in the best MSS. and in ancient tradition appeared without any special inscription, is that lost Epistle of St. Paul’s which was sent to the Laodiceans. With this admission, we shall find no difficulty in the absence of salutations and of particular characteristics, because, as a matter of fact, the Laodiceans had never seen St. Paul, and, moreover, certain things in the Epistle to the Colossians, which was also to be sent to the Laodiceans, would pertain to the latter.

Hence, it seems very probable that our Epistle to the Ephesians in the beginning carried in its salutation the phrase εν λαοδικεια (at Laodicea) and that Marcion in the middle of the second century still read these authentic words in his text. We can account for the early suppression of the Laodicean designation, as said above, by the great corruption which invaded the Church of Laodicea towards the end of the first century (Rev 3:14-19), and which rendered it no longer worthy of so great a privilege and special distinction. This suppression would naturally be soon forgotten at large, and in course of time, when the collection of St. Paul’s Epistles was made, the illustrious name of Ephesus, the capital city of Roman Asia where St. Paul had lived so long, was substituted for the omission, in order to satisfy the grammatical construction ot the first verse of the letter, as well as to give to this glorious Epistle a complete and specific inscription, like those of St. Paul’s other letters. The fact that not all MSS. adopted the Ephesian inscription only proves that the Epistle had for long been known to lack the name of any special city or place.

The foregoing explanation is in substance the theory of Harnack as given by Dr. Voste in his work on Ephesians (Introduction, pp. 18 ff.) . As said above, this opinion was also accepted by Fr. Knabenbauer, S.J., as not improbable, and it has been followed by a number of non-Catholic exegetes. To us it seems very plausible, though not entirely free from difficulties. Perhaps it is open to fewer objections than any of the other explanations.

5. Authorship of Ephesians. This letter was circulated in the Church to some extent by the end of the first century, at the close of the second century it was in common use and widely known and it was always ascribed to St. Paul as its author. In fact, the authenticity of this Epistle was admitted without question by every ancient authority that can now be cited. Thus, the Muratorian Canon includes Ephesus among the Churches to which St. Paul wrote letters. St. Irenseus quotes Eph 5:30 as the words of “the blessed Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians.” Tertullian argues against
Marcion for the Ephesian destination of this letter. Clement of Alexandria, Origen and St. Basil are equally explicit; and Eusebius includes this Epistle among the sacred writings which were admitted by the whole Church without hesitation.

It is even probable that we have an allusion to this Epistle in Col. 4:16, and a number of references to it in the First Epistle of St. Peter. For the latter compare Eph. 1:3-14 with 1 Pet. 1:2; Eph. 1:20 with 1 Pet. 3:22; Eph. 2:18-22 with 1 Pet. 2:4-6; Eph. 3:10 with 1 Pet. 1:12; Eph. 4:9 with 1 Pet. 3:19; Eph. 5:22-6:9 with 1 Pet. 2:18-3:7. There are also quotations from and allusions to this Epistle, or echoes of it, in the writings of St. Ignatius Martyr, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tatian, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and the Epistle of Barnabas.

Moreover, the heretics of the second century not only admitted that St. Paul was the author of this letter, but they even cited it as Sacred Scripture. Marcion, for example, included it in his Canon (cf. St. Epiphanius, Haer., xlii. 9), Valentine made use of it to justify his own doctrine (cf. St. Iren., Adv. Haer., i. 3, 8), Basilides did likewise (Philosoph., vii. 26), and other heretics likewise had recourse to it when they thought it served their purpose.

Among modern Rationalists and non-Catholic writers there are some who have doubted or denied the authenticity of our letter, but there is an equal if not a greater number who admit its genuineness, or incline towards it. In the former group are Schleiermacher, De Wette, Weizacher, Ewald, Baur, Holtzmann, Renan, Schwegler, Davidson, Cone, Moffatt, Dobschutz, Pfleiderer, Clemen, Scott, von Soden, etc.; whereas in the latter group we find such names as Weiss, Zahn, Shaw, Knowling, Lunemann, Lock, Robertson, Bacon, Schenkel, Salmon, Godet, Harnack, McGiffert, Howson, etc. Dr. Hort says he is sure that Ephesians bears “the impress of Paul’s wonderful mind.” Julicher appears to be uncertain.

One of the main reasons for suspecting the authenticity of this Epistle is based upon its similarity to Colossians, from which it is concluded that one or the other or both are the work of some falsifier, living perhaps early in the second century.

We may reply, in the first place, by freely conceding that the resemblances between these two letters are many and striking. For example, (a) the salutations are practically the same; (b) both have the same general structure; (c) in both the principal subjects and leading thoughts are much the same, the relations of Christ to His Church and to the Universe being the dominant thoughts in Ephesians and Colossians respectively; (d) there are many parallel passages, the same words, phrases and similitudes, and, in the practical part, the same counsels and exhortations. But are not these similarities just what we should expect in two letters written by the same author at about the same time to two Churches in practically the same spiritual condition and general environment? They are both Captivity Epistles (Eph. 6: 20; Col. 4:10), and Tychicus is the bearer of them both (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-9), very probably
to neighboring Churches known to him. Is it surprising, then, that both letters should discuss similar themes in a similar style?

In the second place, let it be observed that, while there are notable resemblances between Ephesians and Colossians, there are also marked differences. Thus, (a) Colossians is personal and concrete, Ephesians impersonal and general in application, (b) The former inclines to the controversial and polemical; the latter is poetical and mystical, and more Johannine than any other of the Pauline writings. “In Colossians Paul is the soldier, in Ephesians the builder”
(Farrar). “Colossians is a letter of discussion, Ephesians of reflection. In the former we behold Paul in spiritual conflict, in the latter his soul is at rest” (Findlay). (c) The former is Christological, dealing with Christ’s relation to the universe; the latter is the ecclesiastical Epistle, treating of the relation between Christ and the Church. Under this last heading there are five passages in Ephesians which have no parallel in Colossians, namely, Eph 1:3-14, 4:4-16, 5:8-14, 5:22-33, 6:10-17. (d) There are twelve references to the Holy Ghost in Ephesians, and only one in Colossians; there are nine quotations from the Old Testament in the former Epistle, and none in the latter.

In view of the foregoing, it seems to us that no valid argument against the Pauline authorship of Ephesians can be drawn from the resemblances between that Epistle and Colossians. But our objectors find another difficulty in the style and diction of this letter, where, we are told, there are some forty strange words or expressions (ἅπαξ λεγόμενον = hapax legomenon) that do not occur elsewhere, either in the writings of St. Paul or in the whole New Testament; and some forty more which, while they are found elsewhere in the New Testament, are not to be found in St. Paul. Moreover, it is objected that the style here is dull and sluggish; that it is overtaxed with phrases, clauses, synonyms and qualifying epithets; and that it is lacking in the sharpness, vigor, and overpowering eloquence so characteristic of
St. Paul. Hapax legomenon is a term employed by scholars to refer to words and phrases that appear only once or very rarely in a book or an author’s body of work.

In reply to the first difficulty it need only be said that peculiarities of expression may be found more or less in all the letters of St. Paul, and as frequently in those whose authenticity the Rationalists admit as in the others. Thus, for example, we find ninety-six ἅπαξ λεγόμενον (hapax legomenon) in the Epistle to the Romans; ninety-one in 1 Cor.; ninety-two in 2 Cor.; thirty-three in Gal.; thirty-six in Philippians, etc. On the other hand, it should be noted that this letter contains many words not found in the New Testament except in the writings of St. Paul, which is an additional, positive proof of its authenticity.

As regards peculiarities of style and composition, we can say that these are easily and satisfactorily explained by a consideration of the time, place, and conditions in which Paul wrote this letter, as well as the circumstances of the faithful to whom he addressed it. The Apostle was nearing the end of his eventful life; he was a prisoner in Rome, the central city of a vast empire, and he had leisure for meditation on the great mysteries that had been revealed to him. He was writing to Churches unknown to him, at least for the most part, with which he had no reason for discussion or controversy, but which he wished to remind of the spiritual treasures that were theirs. In language, therefore, which often takes on the qualities and proportions of a hymn of adoration he unfolds to his readers in this letter the wealth of sublime thoughts and reasonings that flooded his soul. It is not wonderful, then, that his language here becomes rich and overflowing, soaring up like a cloud of incense to the very throne of God. Paul was writing from his prison cell in Rome, but his heart and soul were with Christ in heaven; he was enchained to a Roman soldier, but his mind swept over the vast Roman domains and took in the conditions of all the Churches scattered throughout the Christian world; he was still bound to his earthly tabernacle, but his thoughts penetrated to the “heavenly places” and pondered the mystery, the plenitude, the light, the love, the peace and glory of the Godhead as revealed in Christ and made known to the Church.

There are few advocates today of the argument against the authenticity of this letter which Baur, Schwegler and other Rationalists based on the Epistle’s relation to the Gnosticism of the second century. First of all, it is well known now that the Gnosticism which was a developed system in the second century had its beginning and early growth in the time of St. Paul. On this point we need only consult Irenaeus (Adv. Har., i. 23), Clement of Alexandria (Strom.,
vii. 18), and Eusebius (Hist. EccL, ii. 13 ; iv. 7).

In the second place, it is altogether doubtful whether there is any allusion in the Epistle to the Ephesians to Gnosticism, as it appeared in the second century. It is far more likely, on the contrary, that the propagators of this heresy made deliberate use of some of the expressions of St. Paul in this letter to help the spread and acceptance
of their own doctrines.

6. Date and Place of Composition. At the close of Paul’s third missionary journey, while he was fulfilling a vow in the Temple at Jerusalem, he was arrested by the Jewish authorities on a false charge (Acts 21:26 ff.) and carried away as a captive to Csesarea, where he was kept in prison for two years (Acts 23:23-24:27). At the end of this period, when the Roman Governor Festus was about to bring him to trial, the Apostle asserted his Roman citizenship and appealed to the tribunal of Cassar; and Festus, having heard Paul’s story and found him guilty of no crime, decided to send him to Rome (Acts 25:1-27). After making the long and perilous journey Paul with Luke finally arrived in the Eternal City and was there kept in prison two more years (Acts 27:1-28:31).

Now we shall assume that the Csesarean imprisonment occurred 58-60 A.D., that St. Paul set out from Caesarea for Rome in the autumn of 60 a.d., arriving in the latter city in the spring of 61 a.d., and that consequently the Apostle’s ensuing Roman captivity was from 61 to 63 A.D. We accept these years, not because they are certain or the only ones, but because they are just as probable as (if not a little more so than) any others that may be given. With these data premised, we ought not to find it difficult to fix the date and place of composition, not only of Ephesians, but also of the three other Captivity Epistles—Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon— on account of the very close relationship between these four letters.

As in the case of the three last-named Epistles, the Apostle was a prisoner on behalf of the Gentiles when he wrote our letter (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20), and his imprisonment had lasted a considerable time (Eph. 3:1; 6:22). Our letter was carried to its destination by a certain Tychicus (Eph. 6:21), who was at the same time entrusted with a similar letter to be delivered to the faithful at Colossae (Col. 4:6), and who therefore was recommended to both these Churches in almost the same words. On this mission Tychicus was accompanied by Onesimus, a fugitive slave from Colossas, whom the Apostle was sending back with a letter of commendation to his master, Philemon, a well-to-do Christian of that city (Col. 4:7-9). From these clear indications it seems evident that Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were all written from the same place, during the same imprisonment, and therefore about the same time. But whether Rome or Csesarea was the place of Paul’s captivity at this time is still a disputed question, with the great weight of evidence pointing to Rome. For, if we examine the letter to the Philippians, we shall find that that Epistle was written either shortly before or shortly after these other three, while the Apostle was in the same imprisonment (Phil. 1:12 ff.), and that the indications are all Romeward. Thus the reference to the prsetorium in Phil. 1:13, the relations
between Jewish and Gentile Christians as reflected in Phil 1:15-20, the mention of Caesar’s household in Phil. 4:22, the freedom to preach and teach which St. Paul enjoyed (Phil. 1:12; Eph. 6:23; cf. Acts 24:32 ff., 28:31 ff.), are all much more applicable to Rome than to Caesarea. Again, it must have been when St. Paul was in Rome that he was expecting a speedy release ( Phlm. 22), for surely he was not expecting a release from Caesarea that would soon enable him to visit Philemon in Colossae. Finally, the points of contact between these four Epistles and the Pastoral
Epistles in phraseology, in Christology, in the stress laid on an organized Church and family life, etc., all indicate the later date, and so favor Rome, during the Apostle’s first captivity there between 61 and 64 A.D. (cf. Hastings, Dict, of The Bible, vol. I, p. 718).

In conclusion, then, we hold with the traditional opinion that not only Ephesians, but also Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, were written by St. Paul in the Eternal City, during his first Roman captivity (61-63 a.d.).

7. Occasion and Purpose. We have just seen that the Apostle was a prisoner in Rome when he wrote this letter. Epaphras had brought him news of the dogmatic and moral errors that were springing up in the Church at Colossae and the neighboring cities. Perhaps the Apostle had been accused of a lack of interest In those Churches which he had not personally evangelized, and which had not seen his face (Col. 2:1-5). He had heard of the faith and charity of the “Ephesians,” and he was greatly pleased at this (Eph. 1:15-16); they also had heard of him and of his work among the Gentiles (Eph. 3:2 ff.).

While, therefore, dispatching Tychicus with a letter to the Colossians, St. Paul seized the opportunity to send this letter to those other Churches which he addressed in this Epistle, to remind them of their dignity as Christians and of the glorious life in Christ; to assure them that, though not evangelized by him, they were nevertheless members of the one vast Catholic Church which had been predestined before the ages to unite all mankind, Jews and Gentiles, in one common brotherhood living the life of God ; to exhort them, consequently, to a higher activity and a greater unity in accordance with God’s eternal decrees and purposes for His Church; to warn them against the dangers of sin and possible errors which would imperil their divine life here on earth and their sublime prospects in the eternal life hereafter; and to stimulate them to ever greater efforts in the pursuit of virtue and in the fulfillment of their various
duties. That such were the occasion and purpose of the letter to the “Ephesians” an analysis of its contents seems to show, as well as the hints that we can gather from the Epistle to the Colossians.

8. Argument and Division. In general, this Epistle consists of a brief introduction, in which St. Paul greets his readers
in his usual manner (Eph 1:1-2); a dogmatic part, in which he discusses God’s eternal purpose, realized in Christ, of uniting all mankind, Jews and Gentiles, in the one Church of Christ (Eph 1:3-3:21); a moral part, in which are outlined the duties incumbent upon the members of the Church in the Christian life (Eph 4:1-6:20); and a conclusion, containing some personal matters and a benediction (Eph 6:21-24). A more detailed analysis of the dogmatic and moral parts will help to a better understanding of the Epistle.

A. Dogmatic Part (Eph 1:3—3:21).—(a) A solemn act of thanksgiving to God for our union with Christ (Eph 1:3-14). In lyric fashion, the Apostle begins by recalling the divine benefits for which Almighty God from eternity has chosen and predestined us, that, namely, through the grace of Christ we should be His holy and adopted children (Eph 1:3-6). It was Christ, he says, who in time carried out the divine decree, redeeming us from our sins by His blood, and revealing to us the supreme mystery of God, which was to reconcile to Himself all things in Christ (Eph 1:7-10); for in Christ we have become God’s portion, both we Jews, who had the Messianic promises, and you Gentiles, who by faith have also received the Holy Ghost, the pledge of our eternal inheritance (Eph 1:11-14).

(b) A prayer that the Ephesians may understand the glories of being united to Christ in His Church (Eph 1:13-23). In a special manner the Apostle first thanks God for the faith and love which are already characteristic of the “Ephesians” (Eph 1:15-16). He then prays for a still greater outpouring of the Spirit upon them that they may realize their Christian dignity and their future glory, as well as the greatness of the divine power exerted in our behalf (Eph 1:17-19), and pre-eminently manifested in raising Jesus from the dead, and in making Him Lord of the universe and head of the Church, which is His mystical body (Eph 1:20-23).

(c) The Gentiles’ former heathen life and condition are contrasted with their present privileges in the Church of Christ (Eph 2:1-22). Formerly the “Ephesians” were dead in their sins, walking according to the course of this world and obeying the lusts of the flesh; but God out of pure mercy raised them from their miserable state to a participation in the resurrection and glorification of Christ, by whose grace we are saved (Eph 2:1-10). In order that the “Ephesians” may understand the greatness of the grace they have received, St. Paul bids them recall the state in which they were living before their conversion, and to contrast that with the exalted benefits they now enjoy through their union with Christ (Eph 2:11-13), who has broken down the wall that separated Jews and Gentiles and has
reconciled both the one and the other with the Father (Eph 2:14-18). Henceforth the “Ephesians” are admitted to full membership in the household of God and are made parts of His spiritual edifice (Eph 2:19-22).

(d) A renewed prayer that the “Ephesians” may know and appreciate the greatness of their Christian vocation (Eph 3:1-19). At the thought of the call of the Gentiles into the Church of Christ, St. Paul breaks forth in an act of thanksgiving (Eph 3:1); but the very mention of the Gentiles causes him to interrupt his prayer and to digress upon the part his preaching and ministry have had in their admission into the Church (Eph 3:2-13). Resuming his prayer
(Eph 3:14), the Apostle asks God out of the riches of His glory to give the “Ephesians” spiritual strength and the grace necessary to become perfect Christians (Eph 3:14-19).

(e) Doxology, which concludes the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle: Glory to God in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, the head of the Church, throughout all coming generations, to all eternity (Eph 3:20-21).

B. Moral Part (Eph 4:1-6:20).—(a) The general character of the Christian Ufe, as manifested in the diversity of gifts and functions  of the members of the Church within the one Church (Eph 4:1-16). The Apostle, bound a prisoner in the Lord, exhorts his readers to live a life worthy of their vocation in all charity, being careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-6). The diversity of the gifts of the Holy Ghost should not be an obstacle to unity, but rather a means of greater solidarity, because all the faithful are members of the one mystical body of Christ
(Eph 4:7-16).

(b) The contrast between the old life of paganism and the new life of Christianity (Eph 4:17-24). The “Ephesians” must live no longer as they did as pagans, in ignorance and impurity (Eph 4:17-19); but, putting away the old man according to the flesh, they must put on the new man according to God (Eph 4:20-24).

(c) Virtues required of all Christians (Eph 4:25-5:21). Our life and unity in Christ require that we refrain from the vices of lying, anger, etc., and practice the contrary virtues (Eph 4:25-32), that we be followers of God and imitators of Christ in our lives, avoiding the works of darkness and walking as children of light (Eph 5:1-14). Let us be truly wise, using well our time, fulfilling the will of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, etc. (Eph 5:15-21).

(d) Admonitions for special classes in the Church (Eph 5:22-6:9). After a general exhortation to obedience (Eph 5:21), the Apostle now takes up the duties of special classes in the Church, namely, those of wives and husbands (Eph 5:22-33), of children and parents (Eph 6:1-4), and of slaves and masters (Eph 6:5-9)—all of which duties are to be
faithfully discharged for the sake of Christ and in Christ.

(e) The warfare of the Church (Eph 6:10-20). From a consideration of things pertaining to the internal welfare of the Church, St. Paul now turns to external needs and reminds his readers of the battles that must be fought against spiritual forces without. Each member of the Church must be prepared to do his part in this warfare, and his weapons must be those of God Himself.

So much for the Dogmatic and Moral Parts. The Conclusion, like the Introduction, has been noticed at the beginning of this section.

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God: His Knowability~Chapter One, Section One, Article One

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

The Knowability of God
Chapter I

human reason can know God

Human reason is able to know God by a contemplation of His creatures, and to deduce His existence from certain facts of the supernatural order.

Our primary and proper medium of cognition is the created universe, i. e., the material and the spiritual world.

In defining both the created universe and the supernatural order as sources of our knowledge of God, the Church has barred Traditionalism and at the same time eliminated the possibility of Atheism, though the latter no doubt constitutes a splendid refutation of the theory that the idea of God is innate.

Section 1
man can gain a knowledge of god from the physical universe
Article 1

the positive teaching of revelation

In entering upon this division of our treatise, we assume that the reader has a sufficient acquaintance with the philosophic proofs for the existence of God, as furnished by theodicy and apologetics. As against the attempt of atheists and traditionalists to deny the valor and stringency of these proofs, Catholic theology staunchly upholds the ability of unaided human reason to know God. Witness this definition of the Vatican Council: (Sess. III, de Revel., can. 1) “Si quis dixerit, Deum unum et verum, creatorem et Dominum nostrum, per ea quae facta sunt, naturali rationis humanae lumine certo cognosci non posse, anathema sit—If any one shall say that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by the natural light of human reason through created things; let him be anathema.” Let us see how this dogma can be proved from Holy Scripture and Tradition.

1. The Argument from Sacred Scripture.—a) Indirectly the possibility of knowing God by means of His creatures can be shown from Rom. 2:14 sqq.: “Cum enim gentes, quae legem non habent, naturaliter ea quae legis sunt faciunt, eiusmodi legem non habentes ipsi sibi sunt lex: qui ostendunt opus legis, scriptum in cordibus suis, testimonium reddente illis conscientia ipsorum et inter se invicem cogitationibus, accusantibus aut etiam defendentibus, in die cum iudicabit Deus occulta hominum secundum Evangelium meum, per Iesum Christum—For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”

The “law” (lex, νόμος) of which St. Paul here speaks, is identical in content with the moral law of nature (Cfr. Rom. 2:21 sqq) the same which constituted the formal subject-matter of supernatural Revelation in the Decalogue. Hence, considering the mode of Revelation, there is a well-defined distinction, not to say opposition, between the moral law as perceived by unaided human reason, and the revealed Decalogue. Whence it follows, against the teaching of Estius, that “gentes,” in the above-quoted passage of St. Paul, must refer to the heathen, in the strict sense of the word, not to Christian converts from Paganism. For, one who has the material content of the Decalogue “written in his heart,” so that, without having any knowledge of the positive Mosaic legislation, he is “a law unto himself,” being able, consequently, to comply “naturally” with the demands of the Decalogue, and having to look forward on Judgment Day to a trial conducted merely on the basis of his own conscience,—such a one, I say, is outside the sphere of supernatural Revelation.

From this passage of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans we argue as follows: There can be no knowledge of the natural moral law derived from unaided human reason, unless parallel with it, and derived from the same source, there runs a natural knowledge of God as the supreme lawgiver revealing Himself in the conscience of man. Now, St. Paul expressly teaches that the Gentiles were able to observe the natural law “naturaliter”—“by nature”—i. e., without the aid of supernatural revelation. Since no one can observe a law unless he knows it, St. Paul’s supposition obviously is that the existence of God, qua author and avenger of the natural law, can likewise be known “naturaliter,” that is to say, by unaided human reason.

b) A direct and stringent proof for our thesis can be drawn from Wisdom 13:1 sqq., and Rom. 1:18 sqq.

α) After denouncing the folly of those “in whom there is not the knowledge of God,” the Book of Wisdom continues (13:5 sq.): “A magnitudine enim speciei et creaturae cognoscibiliter poterit creator horum videri. … Iterum autem nec his debet ignosci; si enim tantum potuerunt scire, ut possent aestimare saeculum, quomodo huius Dominum non facilius invenerunt?—For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby.… But then again they are not to be pardoned; for if they were able to know so much as to make a judgment of the world, how did they not more easily find out the Lord thereof?” A careful analysis of this passage reveals the following line of thought: The existence of God is an object of the same cognitive faculty that explores the visible world,—i. e., human reason. Hence the medium of our knowledge of God can be none other than that same material world, the magnitude and beauty of which leads us to infer that there must be a Creator who brought it forth. Such a knowledge of God is more easily acquired than a deeper knowledge of the creatural world; in fact, absence of it would argue unpardonable carelessness. As viewed by the Old Testament writer, therefore, nature furnishes sufficient data to enable the mind of man to attain to a knowledge of the existence of God, without any extraneous aid on the part of Revelation or any special illumination by supernatural grace.

β) We have a parallel passage in the New Testament,—Rom. 1:18 sqq., which reaches its climax in verse 20:Invisibilia enim ipsius [scil. Dei] a creatura mundi per ea, quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur sempiterna quoque eius virtus et divinitas, ita ut sint inexcusabiles—For the invisible things of him [God] from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.” In other words:—God, Who is per se invisible, after some fashion becomes visible to human reason (νοούμενα καθορᾶται). But how? Not by positive revelation, nor yet by the interior grace of faith; but solely by means of a natural revelation imbedded in the created world (τοῖς ποιήμασιν). To know God from nature appears to be such an easy and matter-of-fact process (even to man in his fallen state), that the heathen are called “inexcusable” in their ignorance and are in punishment therefor “given up to the desires of their heart unto uncleanness.” (Rom. 1:18, 24 sqq)

c) By way of supplementing this argument from Holy Scripture we will briefly advert to the important distinction which the Bible makes, or at least intimates as existing, between popular and scientific knowledge of God. The former comes spontaneously and without effort, while the latter demands earnest research and conscientious study, and, where there is guilty ignorance, involves the risk of a man’s falling into the errors of polytheism, pantheism, etc. We find this same distinction made by St. Paul in his sermons at Lystra and Athens, and we meet it again in the writings of the Fathers, coupled with the consideration that, to realize the existence of a Supreme Being men have but to advert to the fact that nations, like individuals, are plainly guided and directed by God’s Providence. In his sermon at Lystra, after noting that God had allowed the Gentiles “to walk in their own ways,” that is to say, to become the prey of false religions, the Apostle declares that He nevertheless “left not Himself without testimony, doing good from heaven, giving rains and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”(Acts 14:16) Before the Areopagus at Athens, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, pointing to the altar dedicated “To the Unknown God,” said: “God, who made the world, … and hath made of one [Adam] all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times and the limits of their habitation, that they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and are.”(Acts 17:24-28) In the following verse (Acts 17:29) he calls attention to the unworthy notion that the Divinity is “like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.” Both sermons assume that there is a twofold knowledge of God: the one direct, the other reflex. The direct knowledge of God arises spontaneously in the mind of every thinking man who contemplates the visible universe and ponders the favors continually lavished by Providence. In the reflexive or metaphysical stage of his knowledge of God, on the other hand, man is exposed to the temptation wrongly to transfer the concept of God to objects not divine, and thus to fall into gross polytheism or idolatry.(Cfr. Wisdom 13:6 sqq.) We have, therefore, Scriptural warrant for holding that the idea of God is entirely spontaneous in its origin, but may easily (though, it is true, only by an abuse of reason), be perverted in the course of its scientific development.

2. The Patristic argument may be reduced to three main propositions.

a) In the first place, the Fathers teach that God manifests Himself in His visible creation, and may be perceived there by man without the aid of supernatural revelation.

Athenagoras calls the existing order of the material world, its magnitude and beauty, “pledges of divine worship” and adds: “For the visible is the medium by which we perceive the invisible.” Clement of Alexandria, too, insists that we gain our knowledge of Divine Providence from the contemplation of God’s works in nature, so much so that it is unnecessary to resort to elaborate arguments to prove the existence of God. “All men,” he says, “Greeks and barbarians, discern God, the Father and Creator of all things, unaided and without instruction.” St. Basil calls the visible creation “a school and institution of divine knowledge.” St. Chrysostom, in his third homily on the Epistle to the Romans (n. 2), apostrophizes St. Paul thus: “Did God call the Gentiles with his voice? Certainly not. But He has created something which is apt to draw their attention more forcibly than words. He has put in the midst of them the created world and thereby from the mere aspect of visible things, the learned and the unlearned, the Scythian and the barbarian, can all ascend to God.” Similarly St. Gregory the Great teaches: “Omnis homo eo ipso quod rationalis est conditus, debet ex ratione colligere, eum qui se condidit Deum esse—By the use of his reason every man must come to the conclusion that the very fact that he is a rational creature proves that his Creator is God.”

b) The Fathers further teach: From even a superficial contemplation of finite things there must arise spontaneously, in every thinking man, at least a popular knowledge of God.

To explain how natural it is to rise from a contemplation of the physical universe to the existence of God, some of the Fathers call the idea of God “an innate conviction, planted by nature in the mind of man,” a knowledge which is “not acquired,” but “a dowry of reason,” and which, precisely because it is so easy of acquisition, is quite common among men. Tertullian calls upon “the soul of the Gentiles” to give testimony to God,—not the soul which “has learned in the school of wisdom,” but that which is “simplex, rudis, impolita et idiotica.”—“Magistra natura” he says, “anima discipula—Nature is the teacher, the soul a pupil.” St. Augustine says that the consciousness we have of God blends with the very essence of human reason: “Haec est vis verae divinitatis, ut creaturae rationali ratione iam utenti non omnino ac penitus possit abscondi; exceptis enim paucis [sc. atheis] in quibus natura nimium depravata est, universum genus hominum Deum mundi huius fatetur auctorem—For such is the energy of true Godhead, that it cannot be altogether and utterly hidden from any rational creature. For with the exception of a few in whom nature has become outrageously depraved, the whole race of man acknowledges God as the maker of this world.” Seeking a deeper explanation, several Fathers (e. g., Justin Martyr and St. Basil) have raised the rational soul to the rank of an essential image of the Eternal Logos, calling it a λόγος σπερματικός, which irresistibly seeks out and finds God in the universe.

c) The Fathers finally teach that human reason possesses, both in the visible world of exterior objects, and in its own depths, sufficient means to develop the popular notion of God into a philosophical concept.

The Greek Fathers, who had to combat paganism and the heresy of the Eunomians, generally relied on two arguments as sufficient to enable any man to form a philosophical concept of God; viz., the cosmological and the teleological. Augustine’s profounder mind turned to the purely metaphysical order of the true, the good, and the beautiful, to deduce therefrom the existence of Substantial Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. This trend of mind did not, however, prevent him from acknowledging the validity of the teleological and cosmological argument. “Interroga mundum, ornatum coeli, fulgorem dispositionemque siderum, … interroga omnia et vide, si non sensu suo tamquam tibi respondent: Deus nos fecit. Haec et philosophi nobiles quaesierunt et ex arte artificem cognoverunt.… Quod curiositate invenerunt, superbia perdiderunt. Translation of the passage in full: Ask the world, the beauty of the heaven, the brilliancy and ordering of the stars, the sun, that sufficeth for the day, the moon, the solace of the night; ask the earth fruitful in herbs, and trees, full of animals, adorned with men; ask the sea, with how great and what kind of fishes filled; ask the air, with how great birds stocked; ask all things, and see if they do not as if it were by a language of their own make answer to thee, “God made us.” These things have illustrious philosophers sought out, and by the art have come to know the Artificer. What then? Why is the wrath of God revealed against this ungodliness? “Because they detain the truth in unrighteousness?” Let him come, let him show how. For how they came to know Him, he hath said already. “The invisible things of Him,” that is God, “are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal Power also and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” They are the Apostle’s words, not mine: “And their foolish heart was darkened; for professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” What by curious search they found, by pride they lost. 

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Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: Prayer for Penitents with the Imposition of Hands

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

Almighty, eternal God, Lord of the whole world, the Creator and Governor of all things, who hast exhibited man as the ornament of the world through Christ, and didst give him a law both naturally implanted and written, that he might live according to law, as a rational creature; and when he had sinned, Thou gavest him Thy goodness as a pledge in order to his repentance: Look down upon these persons who have bended the neck of their soul and body to Thee; for Thou desirest not the death of a sinner, but his repentance, that he turn from his wicked way, and live (Ezek 18, 33). Thou who didst accept the repentance of the Ninevites, who willest that all men be saved, and come to the acknowledgment of the truth (Jonah 3; 1 Tim 2:4); who didst accept of that son who had consumed his substance in riotous living (Lk 15), with the bowels of a father, on account of his repentance; do Thou now accept of the repentance of Thy supplicants: for there is no man that will not sin; for “if Thou, O Lord, markest iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? For with Thee there is propitiation” (Ps 130:3-4). And do Thou restore them to Thy holy Church, into their former dignity and honour, through Christ our God and Saviour, by whom glory and adoration be to Thee, in the Holy Ghost, for ever. Amen. Then let the deacon say, Depart, ye penitents; and let him add, Let none of those who ought not to come draw near. All we of the faithful, let us bend our knee: let us all entreat God through His Christ; let us earnestly beseech God through His Christ.

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Rufinus on the Foreshadowing of the Resurrection

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

But that you may not suppose this to be a novel doctrine peculiar to Paul, I will adduce also what the Prophet Ezekiel foretold by the Holy Ghost. “Behold,” saith he, “I will open your graves and bring you forth out of your graves.”166 Let me recall, further, how Job, who abounds in mystical language, plainly predicts the resurrection of the dead. “There is hope for a tree; for if it be cut down it will sprout again, and its shoot shall never fail. But if its root have waxed old in the earth, and the stock thereof be dead in the dust, yet through the scent of water it will flourish again, and put forth shoots as a young plant. But man, if he be dead, is he departed and gone? And mortal man, if he have fallen, shall he be no more?”167 Dost thou not see, that in these words he is appealing to men’s sense of shame, as it were, and saying, “Is mankind so foolish, that when they see the stock of a tree which has been cut down shooting forth again from the ground, and dead wood again restored to life, they imagine their own case to have no likeness to that of wood or trees?” But convince you that Job’s words are to be read as a question, when he says, “But mortal man when he hath fallen shall he not rise again?” take this proof from what follows; for he adds immediately, “But if a man be dead, shall he live?”168 And presently afterwards he says, “I will wait till I be made again;”169 and afterwards he repeats the same: “Who shall raise again upon the earth my skin, which is now draining this cup of suffering?”170

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A Brief Sermon on the Transfiguration by St Augustine

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2017

WE heard when the Holy Gospel was being read of the great vision on the mount, in which Jesus showed Himself to the three disciples, Peter, James, and John. “His face did shine as the sun:” this is a figure of the shining of the Gospel. “His raiment was white as the snow:”1 this is a figure of the purity of the Church, to which it was said by the Prophet, “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.”2 Elias and Moses were talking with Him; because the grace of the Gospel receives witness from the Law and the Prophets. The Law is represented in Moses, the Prophets in Elias; to speak briefly. For there are the mercies of God vouchsafed through a holy Martyr to be rehearsed. Let us give ear Peter desired three tabernacles to be made, one for Moses, one for Elias, and one for Christ. The solitude of the mountain had charms for him; he had been wearied with the tumult of the world’s business. But why sought be three tabernacles, but because he knew not as yet the unity of the Law, and of Prophecy, and of the Gospel? Lastly, he was corrected by the cloud, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.” Lo, the cloud hath made one tabernacle; wherefore didst thou seek for three? “And a voice came out of the cloud, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.”3 Elias speaketh; but “hear Him;” Moses speaketh; but “hear Him.” The Prophets speak, the Law speaketh; but “hear Him,” who is the voice of the Law, and the tongue of the Prophets. He spake in them, and when He vouchsafed so to do, He appeared in His own person. “Hear ye Him:” let us then hear Him. When the Gospel spake, think it was the cloud: from thence hath the voice sounded out to us. Let us hear Him; that is, let us do what He saith, let us hope for what He hath promised.

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