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2012-03-17 05:18:48 (UTC)

On the True Christians Losing Their Temples

Socrates Scholasticus
The Ecclesiastical History, Book IV, chapter 1:

"The churches at Constantinople were under the government of Eudoxius, who openly taught the dogmas of Arianism, but the Homoousians had but one small edifice in the city wherein to hold their assemblies. Those of the Macedonian heresy who had dissented from the Acacians at Seleucia, then retained their churches in every city. Such was the state of ecclesiastical affairs at that time."

St. Ambrose of MIlan
Letter XIII [382 A.D.]

"For in a Council lately, when Maximus the Bishop, having read the letter of Peter a man of holy memory, had shewn that the communion of the Church of Alexandria remained with him, and had proved by the clearest testimony, that he was consecrated by three Bishops ordaining by mandate within his private house, because the Arians were at that time in possession of the Basilicas, we had no cause, most blessed of Princes, to doubt of his episcopacy, when he testified that he resisted and was forcibly constrained by a majority of the laity and clergy."

St. Athanasius the Great
Festal Letters

Here begins a letter of S. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, to his children.

"May God comfort you. I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you. Let us consider whether is the greater, the place or the Faith. Clearly the true Faith. Who then has lost more, or who possesses more? He who holds the place, or he who holds the Faith? Good indeed is the place, when the Apostolic Faith is preached there, holy is it if the Holy One dwell there...No one therefore will ever prevail against your Faith most beloved brethren. For if ever God shall give back the churches (for we think He will) yet without such restoration of the churches the Faith is sufficient for us."

The Dialogue of Palladius
Concerning the Life of St. John Chrysostom

"So these companions of actors and Jews are entrusted by our clever friends with the secrets of the priesthood, as if they were friends of the Saviour, and in consequence the orthodox laity avoid the houses of prayer. For this new and most contemptible form of audacity has actually spread from the Church of Ephesus as far as to us; and it is not to be wondered at, as Ephesus stands upon the sea, and exports its news as easily as its cargoes."

St. Basil the Great
Letter XC

"Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short. If then there be any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any bowels of mercy, be stirred to help us. Be zealous for true religion, and rescue us from this storm."

St. Basil the Great
Letter CLXIV

"Peradventure no part of the world has escaped the conflagration of heresy. You tell me of struggles of athletes, bodies lacerated for the truth's sake, savage, fury despised by men of fearless heart, various tortures of persecutors, and constancy of the wrestlers through them all, the block and the water whereby the martyrs died. And what is our condition? Love is grown cold; the teaching of the Fathers is being laid waste; everywhere is shipwreck of the Faith; the mouths of the Faithful are silent; the people, driven from the houses of prayer, lift up their hands in the open air to their Lord which is in heaven. Our afflictions are heavy, martyrdom is nowhere to be seen, because those who evilly entreat us are called by the same name as ourselves. Wherefore pray to the Lord yourself, and join all Christ's noble athletes wills you in prayer for the Churches, to the end that, if any further time remains for this world, and all things are not being driven to destruction, God may be reconciled to his own Churches and restore them to their ancient peace.

St. Basil the Great
Letter CCXL

"Use, each one of you, the examples of those near and dear to you to make you brave for true religion's sake. No one of us has been torn by lashes; no one of us has suffered confiscation of his house; we have not been driven into exile; we have not suffered imprisonment. What great suffering have we undergone, unless peradventure it is grievous that we have suffered nothing, and have not been reckoned worthy of the sufferings of Christ? But if you are grieved because one whom I need not name occupies the house of prayer, and you worship the Lord of heaven and earth in the open air, remember that the eleven disciples were shut up in the upper chamber, when they that had crucified the Lord were worshipping in the Jews' far-famed temple...

Only do not be deceived by their lies when they claim to be of the right faith. They are not Christians, but traffickers in Christ, always preferring their profit in this life to living in accordance with the truth. When they thought that they should get this empty dignity, they joined the enemies of Christ: now that they have seen the indignation of the people, they are once more for pretending orthodoxy. I do not recognise as bishop--I would not count among Christ's clergy--a man who has been promoted to a chief post by polluted hands, to the destruction of the faith. This is my decision. If you have any part with me, you will doubtless think as I do."

St. Basil the Great

"This is now the thirteenth year since the war of heresy began against us. in this the Churches have suffered more tribulations than all those which are on record since Christ's gospel was first preached. I am unwilling to describe these one by one, lest the feebleness of my narrative should make the evidence of the calamities less convincing. It is moreover the less necessary for me to tell you of them, because you have long known what has happened from the reports which will have reached you. The sum and substance of our troubles is this: the people have left the houses of prayer and are holding congregations in the wildernesses. It is a sad sight. Women, boys, old men, and those who are in other ways infirm, remain in the open air, in heavy rain, in the snow, the gales and the frost of winter as well as in summer under the blazing heat of the sun. All this they are suffering because they refuse to have anything to do with the wicked leaven of Arius."

St. Basil the Great

"Persecution has come upon us, right honourable brethren, and persecution in the severest form. Shepherds are persecuted that their flocks may be scattered. And the worst of all is that those who are being treated ill cannot accept their sufferings in proof of their testimony, nor can the people reverence the athletes as in the army of martyrs, because the name of Christians is applied to the persecutors. The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers. For this the pious are exiled from their homes, and are sent away to dwell in distant regions. No reverence is shown by the judges of iniquity to the hoary head, to practical piety, to the life lived from boyhood to old age according to the Gospel. No malefactor is doomed without proof, but bishops have been convicted on calumny alone, and are consigned to penalties on charges wholly unsupported by evidence. Some have not even known who has accused them, nor been brought before any tribunal, nor even been falsely accused at all. They have been apprehended with violence late at night, have been exiled to distant places, and, through the hardships of these remote wastes, have been given over to death. The rest is notorious, though I make no mention of it--the flight of priests; the flight of deacons the foraying of all the clergy. Either the image must be worshipped, or we are delivered to the wicked flame of whips. The laity groan; tears are filling without ceasing in public and in private; all are mutually lamenting their woes. No one's heart is so hard as to lose a father, and bear the bereavement meekly. There is a sound of them that mourn in the city--a sound in the fields, in the roads, in the deserts. But one voice is heard from all that utter sad and piteous words. Joy and spiritual gladness are taken away. Our feasts are turned into mourning. Our houses of prayer are shut. The altars of the spiritual service are lying idle. Christians no longer assemble together; teachers no longer preside. The doctrines of salvation are no longer taught. We have no more solemn assemblies, no more evening hymns, no more of that blessed joy of souls which arises in the souls of all that believe in the Lord at communions, and the imparting of spiritual boons. We may well say, " Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or reader, or offering, or incense, or place to sacrifice before thee, and to find mercy."

St. John Chrysostom
Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 1

"For as he who but partially pares away the image on a royal coin renders the whole spurious, so he who swerves ever so little from the pure faith, soon proceeds from this to graver errors, and becomes entirely corrupted. Where then are those who charge us with being contentious in separating from heretics, and say that there is no real difference between us except what arises from our ambition? Let them hear Paul's assertion, that those who had but slightly innovated, subverted the Gospel. Not to say that the Son of God is a created Being, is a small matter. Know you not that even under the elder covenant, a man who gathered sticks on the sabbath, and transgressed a single commandment, and that not a great one, was punished with death? and that Uzzah, who supported the Ark when on the point of being overturned, was struck suddenly dead, because he had intruded upon an office which did not pertain to him? Wherefore if to transgress the sabbath, and to touch the falling Ark, drew down the wrath of God so signally as to deprive the offender of even a momentary respite, shall he who corrupts unutterably awful doctrines find excuse and pardon? Assuredly not. A want of zeal in small matters is the cause of all our calamities; and because slight errors escape fitting correction, greater ones creep in. As in the body, a neglect of wounds generates fever, mortification, and death; so in the soul, slight evils overlooked open the door to graver ones. It is accounted a trivial fault that one man should neglect fasting; that another, who is established in the pure faith, dissembling on account of circumstances, should surrender his bold profession of it, neither is this anything great or dreadful; that a third should be irritated, and threaten to depart from the true faith, is excused on the plea of passion and resentment. Thus a thousand similar errors are daily introduced into the Church, and we are become a laughing-stock to Jews and Greeks, seeing that the Church is divided into a thousand parties. But if a proper rebuke had at first been given to those who attempted slight perversions, and a deflection from the divine oracles, such a pestilence would not have been generated, nor such a storm have seized upon the Churches."

St. John Chrysostom
Homily XXXIV on the Epistle to the Hebrews

"'Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.' What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey? Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious."

St. Athanasius the Great
PG 26:1257 C

"As we walk the unerring and life-bringing path, let us pluck out the eye that scandalizes us--not the physical eye, but the noetic one. For example, if a bishop or a presbyter, who are the eyes of the Church, conduct themselves in an evil manner and scandalize the people, they must be plucked out. For it is more profitable to gather in a house of prayer without them, than to be cast together with them, as it were with Annas and Caiaphas, into the gehenna of fire."

St. Meletius the Confessor

"Submit not yourselves to monastics, nor to presbyters, who teach lawless things and evilly propound them. And why do I say only monastics or presbyters? Follow not even after bishops who guilefully exhort you to do and say and believe things that are not profitable. What pious man will keep silence, or who will remain altogether at peace? For silence means consent. Oftentimes war is known to be praiseworthy, and a battle proves to be better than a peace that harms the soul. For it is better to separate ourselves from them who do not believe aright than to follow them in evil concord, and by our union with them separate ourselves from God."

St. Meletius the Confessor
Alphabetalphabetos, Hypothesis 10.

He who possesses knowledge of the truth,
And, in whatever way, deliberately hides it,
Not openly preaching it or speaking it with boldness,
And does not uphold the divine and august Canons,
Or the laws presided over by the Fathers,
Is justly punished no less than the transgressors of these.
He who is silent about the truth hides Christ in a tomb,
As one Father has said, and another, again, says.
He who is silent about the faith is in grave danger
Of eternal punishment and of the pit of perdition.
It is not just, lawful, or right for the faithful to be silent
When the laws of God are being violated,
And the evil seeks to support their deception.
When someone is in danger of being separated from God,
Said one of the great Fathers,
And when evils are attributed to God,
What faithful Christian can be silent? Who can be at peace?
For silence means consent and betrayal,
As was clearly shown by the Lord's Forerunner
And the brave Maccabees together with him
Who, on account of the smallest commandment, were in danger unto death,
And did not even betray the smallest part of the Law.
War is many times known to be praiseworthy,
And battle appears better than soul-destroying peace.
For it is better to stand against those who do not believe correctly,
Than it is to follow them and be of one mind with them,
Thus being united with them and separated from God.
Do not listen to monks or to presbyters,
When they wrongly counsel you and lead you astray.
What - only monks? And only presbyters?
Do not even listen to bishops when they advise you
To do and to say and to believe that which harms the soul.

Patriarch Germanos II, of Constantinople
PG 140:620 A

"I adjure all the people in Cyprus who are true children of the Catholic Church to flee as fast as their feet can carry them from those priests who have fallen and submitted to the Latins; neither assemble in church with them, nor receive any blessing from their hands. For it is better for you to pray to God in your homes alone than to gather together in churches with the Latin-minded."