Elder Sophrony on Orthodoxy and Ecumenism

szElder Sophrony of Essex

Forgive me; perhaps all this is superfluous. At this point, though, I would like to say a little about the fact that at the present time a significant part of the Christian world tends to accept one of the most dangerous heresies. What is consists of is people saying that in our days there is not one Church which has kept fully the true teaching of Christ; or which possesses complete knowledge of the mystery of the holy, grace-filled Christian life on the ethical and ascetic level. Supposedly, many of the Churches which are nominally Christian have equal grace, and because of that we should proceed towards the union of the Churches on the basis of some common program. One of the most frequent questions which one comes across is the question of who will be saved and who will not be saved. These people usually think that it is not only the Orthodox who will be saved (according to Orthodox teaching), not only the Catholics (according to Catholic teaching), but all virtuous people in general who believe in Christ. This viewpoint has passed from the Protestants to the faithful of other Churches. There are many among the Orthodox who hold this opinion.

Some people think that no single one of the existing Churches can receive the fulness of knowledge and grace, because each one of them in one or another degree has deviated from the truth. They think that only now ‘at the end of the ages’ they (these sages) have fully grasped the spirit of the teaching of Christ, and that the entire Christian world has been led astray for many centuries until now. That now the time has come when we must unite all the separated parts into one universal and apostle Church, which will have the fulness of truth in all its aspects, even though this union will only embrace what is common to all the Churches. What is even worse, some of them are pondering in their hearts a certain high, supra-ecclesial, mystical, understanding of Christian religion, which… I won’t say more about this.

I digressed into discussing this for one reason only: to tell you that I very much want you (and I pray to God for this) not to be deceived by all that, but to be convinced firmly in your heart and mind that on this earth there is one unique and true Church which Christ founded; that this Church maintains unspoiled the teaching of Christ, that she in her totality (and not in her individual members) possesses the fulness of knowledge and grace and infallibility. [I want you to be convinced] that what for several people seems to be incompleteness in her teaching is none other than the potential for some scholarly elaboration of her inexhaustible and infinite riches — this, however, does not contradict in any measure what I said above about her possessing the fulness of knowledge.

The definitive form of expression of the Church’s teaching at the Ecumenical Councils cannot be subjected to any change. All future academic work must obligatorily concur with what was given in divine revelation and in the teaching of the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. The same is true in connection with grace: only the one and unique Church can have the fulness of grace. All the other Churches, however, do have grace because of their faith in Christ, but not in its fulness. We can, furthermore, believe that in our days there are still people who, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are equal to the great Saints of the Church of ancient times. (I am saying this in connection with what I heard about several people in Russia.) [This is] because Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8). All this is the truth. Whoever departs from this faith will not stand. (Striving for Knowledge of God pp. 144-146. Letter 11)

logismon_2015-apr-29

From the Second Vatican Council (1965) to the Pan Orthodox Council (2016)

Holy and Great Council Logo

                 Holy and Great Council Logo

Signposts on the Way to Crete [1]

by Protopresbyter Peter Heers

It is an overused but necessary cliché to state that the Orthodox Church is the Church of the Oecumenical Councils. It is more essential to state that the Orthodox Church not only held and lived through those Councils, it also lives daily by the words spoken by the Holy Apostles in that first of all Church Councils in Jerusalem: it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us (Acts 15:28); first to the Holy Spirit and then to the Apostles, and all the successors of the Apostles. This theanthropic way of being, which began in earnest in council on the day of Pentecost, is integral to, irremovable from, the life of the Orthodox Church and of Orthodox Christians.

It is the implication of this reality, or rather the absence of evidence thereof among those at the highest levels of the Church, which makes my presentation to you tonight all the more difficult, even painful.

The Orthodox Church stands just weeks away from the long awaited “Great and Holy Council,” which will convene in Crete on the Feast of Pentecost. This Council is unique in the history of the Church for the length of time it has been under preparation, but also for another first: the degree to which its preparatory meetings, organization and certain of its texts have, under the influence of a council of the heterodox, the Second Vatican Council, diverted from the Orthodox way.

This is the reason that, immediately upon the publication of the pre-synodical texts, a wave of objections arose on a pan-Orthodox level. Certain among the more fanatical enthusiasts of ecumenism have attempted to downplay the serious and studied critiques which have been levelled against the pre-synodical texts and the Council itself asserting the criticism is coming from “extremists” and “fanatics” who are “against the council,” have no respect for the conciliar system or an ecclesiastical ethos. These critics neglect the fact that objections to the ecclesiologically abysmal texts have been expressed on a pan-Orthodox level by:

  1. Professors of Theology from Orthodox Theological Schools.
  2. Monastic Brotherhoods, including the Holy Community of Mt. Athos, monasteries in Moldavia, which have also ceased commemoration of their chief hierarch because he accepted, under pressure from the Patriarch of Moscow, the pre-synodical texts, and monasteries in Greece, Georgia and Bulgaria have expressed sharp disagreement.
  3. Dozens of bishops from throughout the Orthodox world have expressed their categorical opposition to the texts as they presently stand. Among these are more than twenty hierarchs from the Church of Greece which have issued forceful statements opposing aspects not only of the pre-synodical texts but also the Council itself, some of which have, for reasons of conscience, declined to participate. In the much-embattled Orthodox Church of the Ukraine, the exceptionally beloved and highly honoured Bishop Longin ceased commemoration of the Patriarch of Russia after he pushed through the Holy Synod acceptance of the pre-synodical texts.
  4. Finally, but most importantly, the Holy Synods of Local Churches, such as the Church of Cyprus, have expressed sharp criticism of aspects of the pre-synodical texts. The hierarchy of the Church of Greece will meet next week to consider the objections of many hierarchs and publish either their rejection of the texts or recommendations for substantial changes. The Holy Synods of the Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia, in spite of intense external pressure exerted against them, have issued unanimous decisions which reject aspects of the pre-synodical texts. And the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has issued an extensive and well-documented critique of the pre-synodical texts along the same lines as the Local Churches mentioned above.

Hence, in our examination of the Council we do not stand alone but join a large and growing segment of the Orthodox hierarchy and clergy who are calling attention to serious problems with the Council and the texts hierarchs are being asked to endorse.

Let us now turn our attention to the matter at hand. In our analysis we will revisit a number of historical and theological “signposts” the Church has passed on its way to Crete, after which we believe the following will be clear: the way of the Pan Orthodox Council does not resemble the theanthropic way of the Apostles; and the ecclesiology the Council is being asked to embrace has never been recognized as “good to the Holy Spirit” or to the preceding successors of the Apostles, the Holy Fathers.

Signposts on The Way of the Pan Orthodox Council

1. The Beginning

The Second Vatican Council was announced by Pope John XXIII on January 25, 1959, and held 178 meetings in the autumn of four successive years. The first gathering was on October 11, 1962, and the last on December 8, 1965.

The first Pan Orthodox Conference, which was called in order to begin preparations for Pan-Orthodox Council, took place in 1961, just three years after the announcement of the Second Vatican Council by the Pope and one year before its commencement.

While today, “it is, in the final analysis, impossible to ascertain for certain which side influenced the other,” [2] that the two councils began in earnest together and the Orthodox side regularly compares its work to Vatican II is undoubtedly a signpost of significance.

2. Methodological Similarities

Although it may be contested that the Patriarchate, in calling the First Pan Orthodox Conference in Rhodes, was reacting to the calling of the Second Vatican Council, what is quite clear is that the methodology adopted in Rhodes and henceforth, was wholly taken from Vatican II. Indeed, it is undisputed in ecumenical circles that the organizers of the Pan Orthodox Council had as their model for the pre-synodical committees and the functioning of the Council itself the modus operandi of the Second Vatican Council.

This is the second signpost on the way to Crete which alerts us to a foreign source of inspiration for the Council.

As researcher Maria Brun, a Roman Catholic specialist on the Pan-Orthodox Council at the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Center in Chambessy, has written: “it is well known that the way in which the Second Vatican Council was carried served as the prototype for the work of the preparatory commission of the Pan Orthodox Council” and that “the Orthodox Church . . . had recourse to the Second Vatican Council for its inspiration.” [3]

Roman Catholic researchers of the Second Vatican Council and the Pan Orthodox Council are not alone in reaching this conclusion. The great Professor of Dogmatics and Saint of the Church, Justin Popovich likewise came to this conclusion. Far from praising matters, St Justin Popovich, in his 1976 memorandum to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, saw in this approach to convening and organizing the Council a sure sign of its alienation from Orthodox Tradition and pledge of its falsity.

He wrote:

“In reality, all of this manifests and underscores not only the usual lack of consistency, but also an obvious incapacity and failure to understand the nature of Orthodoxy on the part of those who at the present time, in the current situation, and in such a manner would impose their “Council” on the Orthodox Churches – an ignorance and inability to feel or to comprehend what a true ecumenical council has meant and always means for the Orthodox Church and for the pleroma of its faithful who bear the name of Christ. For if they sensed and realized this, they would first of all know that never in the history and life of the Orthodox Church has a single council, not to mention such an exceptional, grace-filled event (like Pentecost itself) as an ecumenical council, sought and invented topics in this artificial way for its work and sessions; – never have there been summoned such conferences, congresses, pro-synods, and other artificial gatherings, unknown to the Orthodox conciliar tradition, and in reality borrowed from Western organizations alien to the Church of Christ.” [4]

3. Common Aims with the Second Vatican Council

A third signpost which alerts us that the Pan Orthodox Council is not following the Holy Fathers is the stated purpose of the Council. Imitating totally the Second Vatican Council, it shares with it the raison d’être for its calling: renovation or “renewal” of the internal life and organization of the Church. Like Vatican II, the Pan-Orthodox Council is being called not to confront dogmatic error, as has every previous universal council, but to renovate and re-organize the Church.

In an article dating back from when Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was still a Metropolitan, in the journal The National Catholic Reporter, the Patriarch said the following, revealing his intentions for the Pan Orthodox Council:

“Our aims are the same an John’s (Pope John XXIII): to update the Church and promote Christian unity… The Council will also signify the opening of the Orthodox Church to non-Christian religions, to humanity as a whole. This means a new attitude toward Islam, toward Buddhism, toward contemporary culture, toward aspirations for brotherhood free from racial discrimination…in other words, it will mark the end of twelve centuries of isolation of the Orthodox Church.” [5]

4. “Free From Dogmatism”

Moreover, as has been stressed, this is – like Vatican II – a “non-dogmatic” council at which dogmas are not to be removed from the “storehouse,” as Patriarch Athenagoras is famously quoted as saying. [6] With this similarity with Vatican II we have arrived at the forth signpost on our way to Crete.

The First Pan Orthodox Pre-Concilar Conference in 1976 (to which St. Justin wrote in response) decided, perhaps inspired by the example of Vatican II (which the Pope wanted “free from dogmatism”), to not directly address the dogmas and the canons of the Church, but nonetheless to make decisions of a theological and ecclesiological (i.e. essentially dogmatic) nature based upon them. [7]

Thus, we have a double-minded, mixed-message coming from the organizers: one the one hand it is a “non-dogmatic” council (unheard of) and yet, on the other hand, decisions made will be of a theological and ecclesiological nature.

In effect, this sends a message to the faithful, not only to the laymen but also to clergy, even bishops, which mollifies them and neutralizes vigilance. It is as if to say: “nothing to see here, keep calm and move along,” when in actuality there is a new ecclesiology, a new dogmatic teaching as to what constitutes the Church, being expressed and sanctioned.

Contrast this with the approach of the Holy Fathers, both to the need to “dogmatize” in order to confront schism and heresy (there is no shortage of either in our day!) and to the purpose of the Oecumenical Council.

St. Justin explains:

“Historical reality is perfectly clear: the holy Councils of the Holy Fathers, summoned by God, always, always had before them one, or at the most, two or three questions set before them by the extreme gravity of great heresies and schisms that distorted the Orthodox Faith, tore asunder the Church and seriously placed in danger the salvation of human souls, the salvation of the Orthodox people of God, and of the entire creation of God. Therefore, the ecumenical councils always had a Christological, soteriological, ecclesiological character, which means that their sole and central topic – their Good News – was always the God-Man Jesus Christ and our salvation in Him, our deification in Him.”

The irony and tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that we are faced with “the extreme gravity of a great heresy” which has distorted the Orthodox Faith and is tearing asunder the Church and even depriving many of salvation. This heresy is, of course, the pan-heresy of the new ecumenist ecclesiology which denies the Oneness, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity of the Church. Instead of following Vatican II in embracing this new anti-ecclesiology a council should be called in order to decisively denounce it and clearly proclaim anew the diachronic patristic vision of the Body of Christ.

5. Support of the Ecumenical Movement

In direct opposition to such an appropriate and Orthodox response to syncretistic ecumenism, the Pan Orthodox Council is once again in harmony and in step with Vatican II in not only a positive assessment of ecumenism but continued and deepening participation in the movement. This alignment is the fifth signpost on our way to a proper understanding of the coming Council.

In spite of the fact that Orthodox participation in ecumenism has always been, and is today, a cause of division among Orthodox Christians, that two Local Orthodox Churches have long removed themselves from the World Council of Churches and that many bishops and clergy have consistently called for an end to continued compromise and humiliation of the Orthodox in that body, the organizers of the Council and drafters of its texts are unperturbed and unwavering in their support and promotion of it.

6. The Dominant Role Played by Academic Theologians

The sixth signpost which one can observe on the way Crete is the predominant role of academic theologians in the formation of the texts under consideration.

Following the example of Vatican II, the texts of the Pan-Orthodox Council have been prepared by a committee of academically trained theologians and hierarchs, sent as representatives of the Local Churches.

With regard to the Vatican’s council, it is widely recognized that the academic theologians “were the engineers of the massive reforms that were initiated at Vatican II.” [8] Their contribution “was remarkable. . . . The bishops of Vatican II were aware of the importance of the theologians.” [9] The Council extended official acceptance to their decades of work for the renovation of theology, and in particular, of ecclesiology.[10]

With regard to the Pan Orthodox Council, something very similar is at work. The entire pleroma of the Church – laity, monastics, clergy and even hierarchs and even the hierarchy of the Local Churches – have largely been left out of the process. A small group of academic theologians have been the guiding hand which has shaped the texts to be submitted for ratification in Crete.

Indicative of the limited participation of hierarchs, not to mention monastics or clergy, is the fact that the final texts, although approved in committee in October of last year, were not made known to the hierarchs and faithful until late January of 2016. This, however, did not preclude select academic theologians in Thessaloniki and Athens from gaining access to the final texts and presenting papers on them in December.

While the domination of academic theologians in the West, at the Second Vatican Council cannot be considered either a break with past practice or particularly problematic (indeed it is hailed as a great and positive contribution), for the Orthodox, for whom a theologian is one who prays, to have academic theologians guiding the bishops is an apostasy from Orthodox epistemology and a sign that Barlaamism has once again raised its deluded head. We must not forget that at every turn in the history of the Councils at which orthodoxy was proclaimed “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit” and to ascetic bishops – not to philosophizing scholastics who had no relation to neptic (νηπτική) theology and practice.

Ecclesiological Convergence: Following Vatican II, not the Holy Fathers

Let us now turn our attention to the essence of Pan Orthodox Council and in particular to the convergence one can observe with respect to the two councils’ approach to ecclesiological-dogmatic matters.

To begin with, one is struck with the convergence, or rather, total identification with regard to the stance taken on the various heresies. The texts of the Second Vatican Council, and those of the Pan Orthodox Council, make no reference at all to heresies or delusions, as if the spirit of delusion is no longer at work in our day. [11] The Fathers in every age and at every Local and Ecumenical Council had this one basic task: the awakening of the ecclesiastical conscience. They took care to direct the attention of the fullness of the Church to the adulteration and corruption of the Revelation of the Gospel from “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29), from those “speaking perverse things” (Acts 20:30), from “false prophets” (2 Pet. 2:1), and from “damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1). Both the Second Vatican Council and the Pan Orthodox Council stand opposite this established apostolic, patristic and synodical practice of the Church: they name no delusion, no heresy, no falsification of ecclesiastical teaching and life! On the contrary, in the proposed texts of the Pan Orthodox Council, and in particular, in the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church to the Rest of the Christian World,” heretical diversions from the teaching of the Fathers and Ecumenical Councils are characterized as simply “traditional theological differences” and “possible new disagreements” (§ 11), which the Orthodox Church and the heterodox are called upon to “overcome”! The influence here of the Second Vatican Council and its Decree on Ecumenism is obvious![12]

Secondly, the Pan Orthodox Council, following the Second Vatican Council and moving within “new circumstances” (§ 4) in which supposedly heresies do not exist, took the unprecedented initiative to officially invite to be present as “observers” at the Council, heterodox “representatives of Christian Churches or Confessions, with which the Orthodox Church conducts Bi-Lateral Dialogues, as well as from other Christian organizations.” [13] Never, in the two-thousand year history of the Church, have heterodox “observers” representing heresies which have been condemned by Ecumenical Councils and the ecclesiastical conscience been present at a local or Ecumenical Council. This novel idea of having “observers” was only introduced 50 years ago at the papal council, the Second Vatican Council. A Pan Orthodox Council, however, should not have as its model papal practices, methods and measures.

Another characteristic similarity between the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the Pan Orthodox Council is the use of ambiguous and questionable terminology which allows for varied or even opposing interpretations.

The most famous of such contested phrases from the Second Vatican Council is found in the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium where a decisive change was made to the definition of the Church.

In order to be consistent with a new view of the separated churches, Lumen Gentium dropped an absolute and exclusive identity between the Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church, as had been traditionally asserted. [14] The preparatory commission to the council in its opening session of 1962 had made the following statements in the schema De Ecclesia: “The Roman Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ . . . and only the one that is Roman Catholic has the right to be called Church.” [15]

This simple identification of the Church of Christ with the Roman Catholic Church, which had also been repeatedly stated in papal encyclicals [16] . . . was replaced with the statement that “the Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church.” [17]

Not long ago, fifty years after the council, the head of ecumenical relations at the Vatican, Cardinal Kasper, was forced to admit that “the interpretation of [subsists in] amounts to ‘Desideratum’ [something still desired] and includes amphoteric elements which accept twofold interpretations; it is at once inclusive and exclusive.” [18]

Hence, it is not without reason, then, that many speak of a double standard and a duplicitous stance on the part of the authors of the Council’s texts. It cannot be an accident that the Second Vatican Council, especially in the texts of Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio, is claimed as the source for both those who advance an “exclusive” ecclesiology and those who advance an “inclusive” ecclesiology. For, as a leading ecumenist professor in Thessaloniki has written, “they use the same sources, but come to entirely different conclusions.” [19]

Allow me to provide another example from the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Although Lumen Gentium established new criteria for participation in the Church, even a new view of the Church itself, it did not discard the traditional view of the unity of the Church either; it simply no longer applies it to non–Roman Catholics. In Lumen Gentium, the two views follow one after another.

Hence, full participation in the unity of the Church, for Roman Catholics, is described in article 14 of Lumen Gentium. Immediately following this, in article 15, we read of the unity in Christ and the Holy Spirit, and the mysteries of the Church— the “multiple internal links” that establish the separated brethren in an incomplete communion.

In accord with this twofold unity, Rome continues to view itself as the only “concrete manifestation” of the Church—the Church willed by Christ—while non–Roman Catholic churches are churches only in a diminished way (see UR 3d and e).

However, strangely, no matter how “weakened” or “wounded” (See Dominus Iesus) they are supposed to be, these churches are said to have fully legitimate mysteries. [20] Fully united with Christ, their unity with and in the Church is, nonetheless, imperfect. Such a state, hitherto unheard of, is stated but left unexplained. Whatever may be lacking, they are a part of the Church. Schismatics and heretics can be united to Christ and become members of the Body of Christ without, however, being members of the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox are all a part of the One Church, even if at varying degrees of fullness.

As Fr. Francis Sullivan writes, summing up the image of the universal Church of Christ created by the new ecclesiology:

One can think of the universal Church as a communion, at various levels of fullness, of bodies that are more or less fully churches. . . . It is a real communion, realized at various degrees of density or fullness, of bodies, all of which, though some more fully than others, have a truly ecclesial character. [21]

It is crucial to keep this idea of the Church in mind when I will read from the pre-synodical draft text “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World.” In the warped ecumenical ecclesiological double-speak of post-Vatican II ecumenism, the mere identification of the Orthodox Church with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church does not preclude the simultaneous recognition of other Churches as possessing an “ecclesial nature” or even as being “more or less fully churches.” Such an unorthodox reading is, of course, quite likely when the text makes particular references to heterodox confessions as “churches.”

Before we examine the relevant portions of the Pan Orthodox Council texts and the ecclesiological convergence observed therein, allow me to pause and share with you a personal anecdote to throw our subject into relief.

Lest we think that the texts of the Council are rather insignificant and any possible ambiguity in them will play a minor role in the future life of the Church, listen to the following plea I received from a thoughtful Roman Catholic observer.

He wrote:

“To my friends in the Orthodox Christian Church, take extreme care for this Great and Holy Synod…otherwise it will be to Orthodoxy what Vatican II was to the [Roman] Catholic Church of the 1960’s. That is, because of the ambiguity of language of the documents of the Council it was the catalyst for the Apostasy we now face in the West… Most especially it is responsible for the false witness of our hierarchy up to and including this current Pope. Be vigilant, strong, and Faithful to Christ and His Church. Don’t let what happened … as a result of Vatican II, despite the best efforts of some clergy and laity, happen to the [Orthodox] Church. The few who remain Faithful within [our] Church have derisively been labelled “traditional” Catholics …their pre-Vatican II faith and practice is now openly mocked by the main body of the Novus Ordo, (or New Order of the Conciliar Church) and we have been and are increasingly marginalized in our services and fellowship with other [Roman] Catholics. I pray that you remain always faithful to the Orthodox, traditions, doctrines and Dogmas.

Note the order of things according to this observer:

The ambiguity of the texts are seen as the catalyst:

1. for apostasy
2. enabling of a false witness from some hierarchs
3. and a marginalization of the faithful

Let us now turn to the relevant portions of the most problematic text submitted to the Council, “Relations of the Orthodox Church to the rest of the Christian World” to see the same ambiguity at work as in the texts of the Second Vatican Council.

As has already been pointed out by venerable hierarchs and theologians, including Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktou and Professor Demetrios Tselingides, this pre-synodical text displays recurrent theological ambiguity, inconsistency and contradiction.

In the first article it proclaims the ecclesiastical self-identity of the Orthodox Church, considering Her to be the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” In article six, however, a contradictory statement is made, that the “the Orthodox Church recognizes the historic existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions not in communion with Her.”

The question arises: If the Church is “One”, as we confess in the Symbol of Faith, as is commemorated in article 1 this text, then what is meant by referring to other Christian “Churches” in a text purported to express Orthodox ecclesiology?

As Professor Tselingides has written, “Considering things from a dogmatic perspective it is not possible to speak about a plurality of “Churches” with different dogmas, and this, indeed, with regard to many different theological issues. Consequently, as long as these “Churches” remain firm in the erroneous beliefs of their faith, there is no theological justification to grant them ecclesial recognition —and this officially —outside of the “‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.’”

In a dogmatic text of this nature it should be obvious that the term “Church” must be used strictly in accordance with the Orthodox meaning of the word, so as to exclude any possible misinterpretation. Given the unorthodox ecclesiological paradigm of post-Vatican II ecumenism, which we alluded to earlier, there is sufficient basis for the hierarchs of the Local Churches to reject this draft text on relations with the Heterodox.

In this same article (#6), we find another instance of serious theological ambiguity and contradiction. At the outset we read that “According to the ontological nature of the Church, it is impossible for [Her] unity to be shattered.” At the end, however, it is written that, by Her participation in the Ecumenical Movement, the Orthodox Church has as its “objective aim the paving of the way which leads toward unity.”

This particular instance of ambiguity and contradiction reminds one of articles 14 and 15 in Lumen Gentium, mentioned earlier, where two opposing visions of the Church are presented successively.

In this instance, the unity of the Church is initially acknowledged as a given, only to be followed by the idea that unity is what is still being sought. Again, to quote Professor Tselingides: “What type of unity of Churches is being sought in the context of the Ecumenical Movement? Does it perhaps mean the return of Western Christians to the ONE and only Church? Such a meaning, though, does not emerge either in the letter or the spirit of the entire text. On the contrary, indeed, the impression is given that there exists a long-established division in the Church and that the prospects of the [Ecumenical] dialogues focus on the disrupted unity of the Church.”

Our final example is the theological confusion caused by the ambiguity in article 20, which reads:

“The prospects of the theological dialogues of the Orthodox Church with the other Christian Churches and Confessions shall always be determined on the basis of Her canonical criteria of the already established ecclesiastical tradition (canon seven of the Second Ecumenical Council and canon 95 of the Quinisext Council).”

Why were these canons cited? These canons address the reception of specific heretics that had demonstrated their desire to join the Orthodox Church. However, as Professor Tselingides has pointed out, “it is apparent from the letter and spirit of the text, as judged from a theological perspective, that there is no discussion whatsoever of the return of the heterodox to the Orthodox Church, the only Church.”

So, why are these canons cited as basis for our theological dialogues with the Heterodox? The answer supplied by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktou and Professor Tselingides is that the aim of this article (#20) is to subtly insert so-called “baptismal theology” through the “back door” into the Council’s texts. Given the great ambiguity of the text, one may think that our answer is based solely upon our deductions. Rather, we were led to this conclusion based upon on the initial explanations given by leading ecumenist theologians Professor Tsompanides of the Theological School of Thessaloniki and Metropolitan Chrysostom of Messenia.

The recent reply of Metropolitan Chrysostom to our original criticisms presents us with another opportunity to show that the academic theologians in service of the Pan Orthodox Council are, like their predecessors at Vatican II, adept in the art of double speak.

Metropolitan Chrysostom, in his memorandum to the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church of Greece [22] regarding the text in question refers to article 20 and angrily insists that in no way is it related to “baptismal theology.”

Metropolitan Chrysostom, having sharply dismissed his critics as “theologically inept” for suggesting any adoption of “baptismal theology” on his part, then writes the following: “The ‘kat’oikonomian’ reception of the heterodox by the Orthodox Church, either by confession of faith or by Chrismation, implies the ‘kat’oikonomian’ acceptance of their baptism as valid and real, not, however, of all of the other mysteries or the particular Confession…”

This is, in fact, a fairly accurate description of “baptismal theology” which the Metropolitan insists he rejects. The Metropolitan could easily be mistaken as describing the common baptism theory of Vatican II, which views non-Roman Catholic baptism not only as preserving the form but as also communicating the reality of the mystery. His words also remind one of the uniquely Augustinian principle that heretics had the sacramentum (sign) but not the res sacramenti (the reality it conveys), with the decisive difference that the Metropolitan rather holds that they had both the sacramentum, or τύπος, and the res sacramentum, or reality of the τύπος.

In any case, what is clear is that Metropolitan Chrysostom and all who may hold that a valid and real baptism exists outside the Church – including the drafters of the pre-synodical text – cannot be mistaken for presenting the Orthodox teaching which refuses to divide Christ, refuses, that is, to separate the Mysteries, since Christ is all in all and every Mystery is an expression of the One Mystery, Who is Christ. Simply put, there can be no acceptance, even ‘kat’oikonomian’, of partial initiation or participation in the One Christ. For the Orthodox, an authentic Mystery takes place within the bounds of the One Church with full, not partial, fidelity to the faith and practice of the Church.

All of the foregoing (and much more which could be cited) supports the statement made by the Abbot and brothers of Karakalou Monastery on Mt. Athos concerning the texts of the Great and Holy Council, namely, that the pre-synodical texts are “ambiguous and allow for interpretations which divert from Orthodox dogma.”

In conclusion allow me to bring to your attention the following judgements made forty years ago by two ecclesiastical men of exceptional insight and discernment of the spirits of this age.

The first, Fr. Seraphim Rose, was at the time but a monk writing from the wilderness of northern California, far from the pre-synodical commissions and committees. Yet, his judgement has withstood the test of time and comes to confirm for us that little has changed from the first to the last with regard to the Council:

He writes in 1976:

“Measured by the sober standard of unchanging, Patristic Orthodoxy, the preparations for an “eighth Ecumenical Council” (now termed Pan-Orthodox Council) are exposed as un-Orthodox, lacking in seriousness, and profoundly unpastoral and irresponsible. Such a Council is a project rooted not in Orthodox wisdom and in heartfelt concern for the salvation of souls, but rather in the “spirit of the times”; it is intended to please, not God, but the world, and in particular the heterodox world. Judging from the experience of the Vatican Council and its effect on Roman Catholicism, such a Council, if it is held, will produce profound disorders and anarchy in the Orthodox world…the proposed “Ecumenical Council,” on the basis of the preparations that have hitherto been made for it, cannot be anything but another “robber council,’ a betrayal of Christ and His Church.”[23]

Writing about the same time (1976) and in total agreement, the great dogmatician and Confessor of the Faith, Saint Justin Popovich pleaded with his hierarchy to abstain not only from the preparations but from the Council itself, foreseeing the most bitter fruits from its convening:

“My conscience once more obliges me to turn with insistence and beseeching to the Holy Council of Bishops of the martyred Serbian Church: let our Serbian Church abstain from participating in the preparations for the “ecumenical council,” indeed from participating in the council itself. For should this council, God forbid, actually come to pass, only one kind of result can be expected from it: schisms, heresies and the loss of many souls. Considering the question from the point of view of the apostolic and patristic and historical experience of the Church, such a council, instead of healing, will but open up new wounds in the body of the Church and inflict upon her new problems and new misfortunes.” [24]

Reverend Fathers, beloved in Christ,

This powerful prophetic voice of the great Confessor of our Faith, Saint Justin, remains today, after forty years, exceptionally relevant and authentic. The events of the last four decades have only confirmed the right judgement of the Saint. Moreover, all that has been presented to you tonight, namely,

· the beginning and the methodology of the Council,

· the insistent avoidance of discussion of the dogmatic challenges facing the Church (including ecumenism),

· the absence of experiential (true) theologians,

· the characterization of heresy as “Churches”, the invitation of the leaders of the heresies to be present as “observers”,

· the recognition of the baptism (and by extension other mysteries) of heretical confessions, as well as their “ecclesial nature”,

confirms the apprehensions of many that the Pan Orthodox Council does not fulfil the presuppositions to be received in the ecclesiastical consciousness as “following the Holy Fathers.”

On the contrary, as we have shown above, the Council has been decisively influenced by the ecclesiological positions and practices of the Vatican and, on this account, tends toward being received by the Faithful as merely “following the Second Vatican Council.”

[1] This lecture was delivered to the Diakideio Institute for the Education of the People in Patra, Greece, May 18, 2016.

[2] «Το ποιός, σε τελική ανάλυση, επηρέασε ποιόν, σήμερα δεν είναι πλέον δυνατόν να διαπιστωθεί.» (Maria Brun, «O αντίκτυπος της Β′ Βατικάνειας Συνόδου στην Όρθόδοξη Εκκλησία», στο περιοδικό Θεολογία, Τόμος 86, Τεύχος 2, Απρίλιος – Ιούνιος 2015).
[3] Brun, «O αντίκτυπος της Β′ Βατικάνειας Συνόδου στην Όρθόδοξη Εκκλησία».

[4] See: http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/stjustin_council.aspx.

[5] Council Coming for Orthodox”, interview by Desmond O’Grady, The National Catholic Reporter, in the January 21, 1977 edition. See also: http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/towards.aspx.

[6] This also reminds one of the famous expression of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, himself responsible for calling the first Pan-Orthodox preparatory meetings: “The age of dogma has passed” (a statement by Patriarch Athenagoras; see Akropolis [29 June 1963]) and “Dogmas are the power of the Church, her wealth, and for this reason we keep our wealth in a vault. But this in no way impedes us from minting a new coinage with the other Churches: ‘the coinage of love….’” (Declared after the meeting between Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI (Jerusalem, January 6, 1964).)

[7] «H Α ΠΠΔ αποφάσισε το 1976 να αφήσει αμετάβλητα τα δόγματα και τους κανόνες…και να λάβει, επί τη βάσει αυτών, θεολογικής και εκκλησιολογικής φύσεως αποφάσει» (Maria Brun).

[8] Swidler, Leonard, ‘The Context: Breaking Reform by Breaking Theologians and Religious,’ in The Church in Anguish: Has the Vatican Betrayed Vatican II?, ed. by Hans Kung and Swidler, ἔκδ. Harper and Row, San Francisco 1987, σσ. 189-192 (σ. 189), ὅπως ἀναφέρεται στὸν Gabriel, Yves Congar’s Vision, σ. 57

[9] Congar, Yves, Le Theologien dans l’Eglise aujourd’hui, σ. 12, as quoted in Gabriel, Yves Congar’s Vision, σ. 57

[10] Βλ: Mettepenningen, Nouvelle Théologie. «[Ἡ ἐπιρροή τους, ὅπως μποροῦμε νὰ δοῦμε ἀπὸ τὶς acta τῆς Συνόδου καὶ τὰ ποικίλα Συνοδικὰ ἡμερολόγια, ἀποδείχθηκε ἐξόχως σημαντικὴ» (σ. 6). Βλ. ἐπίσης: Guarino, Thomas G., Foundations of Systematic Theology. ἔκδ. T&T Clark, New York 2005), σ. 288

[11] The Third Pan Orthodox Conference (Chambessy 1986) did not dare to adopt the phrase “heterodox Christians.” According to the minutes of the meeting, Metropolitan George of Mt. Lebanon stated: “I was ready to suggest the term “heterodox Christians”, but perhaps we are able to find an even more moderate expression.” The president of the meeting, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Myron, responded: “Let us avoid using the term “heterodox.”! (Συνοδικά ΙΧ, σ. 251).

[12] See Unitatis Redintegratio § 3,4 and Protopresbyter Peter Heers, The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II (Uncut Mountain Press, 2015), 271-76.

[13] According to the decision of the Primates (Jan. 21-28, 2016) the following will be invited to be present as representatives: 1) two from the Roman Catholic Church, 2) one from the Coptic Church, 3) one from the Ethiopian Church, 4) one from the Armenian Church, 5) one from the Catholicos of Cilicia, 6) one from the Syro-Jacobite Church, 7) one from the Anglican Church, 8) the Archbishop of the Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht, 9) one from the worldwide Lutheran Federation, 10) the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches and the Head of the Faith and Order Commission, 11) the President of the European Council of Churches, 12) the General Secretary of the Middle Eastern Council of Churches, and 13) the President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany.

[14] The official explanation given to the bishops by the Theological Commission to explain this change shows that it was made to agree with the new consideration of the non–Roman Catholic mysteries and communions as such. The Commission said the change was made “so that the expression might better agree with the affirmation about the ecclesial elements which are found elsewhere.” Sullivan, Francis A., S.J. “The Significance of the Vatican II Declaration that the Church of Christ ‘Subsists in’ the Roman Catholic Church.” In René Latourelle, editor, Vatican II: Assessment and Perspectives, Twenty-five Years After (1962– 1987). Volume 2. New York: Paulist Press, 1989, 274.

[15] Sullivan, Significance, 273.

[16] For example, Pope Pius XII, in both Mystici Corporis (1943) and Humani generis (1950), made it very clear that the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church of Christ, and the Roman Catholic Church were one and the same thing.

[17] Lumen Gentium 8.

[18] Τσομπανίδης, Στυλιανός Χ. [Tsombanidis, Stylianos X.]. Η Διακήρυξη “Dominus Iesus” και η Οικουμενική Σημασία της [The declaration “Dominus Iesus” and its ecumenical meaning]. Πουρναρά: Θεσσαλονίκη, 2003, 122– 23.

[19] Τσομπανίδης, Ἡ Διακήρυξη Dominus Iesus, 82.

[20] This is apparent, for example, in UR 15a: “through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in each of these [Orthodox] Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature.”

[21] Sullivan, “The Significance of the Vatican II Declaration that the Church of Christ ‘Subsists in’ the Roman Catholic Church,” 283 (emphasis added). Likewise, according to I. Spiteri, “[ from a reading of the encyclical UUS] a new image of the Church emerges, a Church which is constituted by a communion of Churches, in which, in some way, all Christian Churches belong.” Ἰ. Σπιτέρης, “Ἡ Καθολική Ἐκκλησία καὶ οἱ ἄλλες χριστιανικές Ἐκκλησίες” [The Catholic Church and the other Christian Churches], Θ. Κοντίδης (ἐπιμ.), (Ὁ Καθολικισμος, Ἀθήνα 2000), 246.

[22] See: http://www.amen.gr/article/ypomnima-tou-mitropoliti-messinias-gia-to-panorthodokso-keimeno-sxeseis-tis-orthodoksou-ekklisias-pros-ton-loipon-xristianikon-kosmon.

[23] The Orthodox Word, Nov.-Dec. 1976 (71), 184-195 (http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/towards.aspx).

[24] Ορθόδοξος Τύπος, 304/10.2.1978, σ. 4. In English: http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/stjustin_council.aspx.

On ‘Partial’ Ecclesiological Communion

IMG_4180Protopresbyter Peter Heers

The idea of full and partial communion, so central to the new ecclesiology, is inconsistent with this understanding of the organic unity of the Church. Once again, in this regard as well, Vatican II was not a return to the patristic vision of the Church, but rather a further step away from it. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has written: “The Bible, the Fathers or the Canons know of only two possibilities: communion and non-communion. It is all or nothing. They do not envisage any third alternative such as ‘partial intercommunion.’” [1] Father Georges Florovsky likewise points out that in the patristic view of the Church “there was simply the question of ‘full communion,’ that is, of membership in the Church. And there were identical terms of this membership for all.” [2]

The identification of “full membership” with “membership in the Church”— a membership based on identical terms for all— could not come into more direct opposition to the heart of the new ecclesiology, which is based upon the possibility of there being degrees of membership in the Body of Christ. This idea stems from the acceptance of a division of the Mysteries from each other and from the Mystery of the Church as a whole. They suppose that Baptism can exist outside the unity of the Church and the other mysteries, mechanically, as it were, imparting membership to those who receive it in separation.

However, just as the Eucharist “is indissolubly bound to the whole content of faith, and likewise to the visible structure of the Church,” [3] so too is Baptism. And, just as “those who advocate intercommunion on the basis of ‘Eucharistic ecclesiology’” treat the Eucharist “too much in isolation (ibid.),” those who advocate a partial communion on the basis of a “common Baptism” likewise consider Baptism too much in isolation. While putting forth Baptism as a point of unity, they fail to realize that, apart from unity in faith and unity in the bishop, unity in a “common Baptism” is impossible. Just as communing together in the Holy Eucharist cannot compensate for, let alone create, unity in faith (ibid.), so too sharing the typos of Baptism (if it is actually shared) cannot create ecclesiastical unity or even a so-called “partial” unity.

Moreover, just as the Eucharist is celebrated and received locally and visibly, such that the separation of the heterodox from participation in the Eucharist is likewise visible and local, so too is Baptism performed in the local Eucharistic Synaxis, from which the heterodox are necessarily excluded. The One Church does not exist as an abstract idea, but is manifested visibly in time and space as the local Church. “One cannot be baptized into the Catholic Church without belonging at the same time to a local Church,” [4] for the local Church, “as an ‘organism,’ a sacramental body, is not a ‘part’ or a ‘member’ of a wider universal organism. It is the very Church itself.” [5] Likewise, one cannot be baptized into the “Catholic Church” of Christ without being in communion with all of the members of the Body, for Christ, the Head of the Church, is inseparable from all of His members. “Why,” asks St. John Chrysostom, “letting go the Head, dost thou cling to the members? If thou art fallen off from it, thou art lost.” [6] Whether one falls from the Head or from the Body, the result is the same: he has lost both the one and the other.

There is, therefore, no basis to suppose, as proponents of Unitatis Redintegratio and the new ecclesiology do, that “despite divisions and mutual condemnations all communities of the baptized . . . are in communion,” [7] even if only partially. Communion is one both vertical and horizontal, both with God and among men, both between the Head and His Body, and it is full and only full: “being complete here and complete there also.” [8] The Lord shows no partiality, but distributes the gifts to all alike within the Body. Once united, all become a single house, all are related and brothers in Christ. Just as there can be no partial Christ, there can be no partial communion in Christ, for the Body of communion, “which is his body, [is] the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1: 23). From the moment one is a member, the communion he enjoys in Christ is full, for Christ only gives Himself fully. Whether or not he fully actualizes this self-offering of Christ is not an institutional but an individual issue, and that within the Body.

Whether we speak of one Mystery or another, of Baptism or the Eucharist, one and the same Christ is offering Himself to man, uniting man to Himself. This unity with God is accomplished in the mysteries, all of which have certain presuppositions, first of all, and common to all, unity in faith. That is why what Fr. Dimitru Staniloae insists upon, and warns against, with regard to the Eucharist and “intercommunion” is equally true of Baptism and “partial communion”:

“Ecclesiastical unity, unity in faith, and unity in the Holy Eucharist are all three inseparable and interdependent for the total communion and life in Christ. Consequently, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “intercommunion,” which separates communion in the Holy Eucharist from unity in faith and ecclesiastical unity. More correctly, “intercommunion” is a danger which threatens to destroy the Church, break up the unity of faith and [communion in] the Holy Eucharist [among the Orthodox].” [9] 

So, too, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “partial” or “incomplete” communion in a “common Baptism,” for there can be no division between the Mysteries and the Mystery and between Christ in the Mysteries and Christ in whom we believe and trust, whom we confess, and in whom we have our being, our unity. Therefore, the acceptance of an “incomplete communion” between the Church and the heterodox is, like intercommunion in the Eucharist, a grave danger to the unity of the body of Christ. The body of the Church is joined together with the Lord such that, as St. John Chrysostom has written, even the slightest division, the slightest “imperfection” or “incompleteness,” would eventually bring the dissolution of the entire body. (Heers, Fr. Peter [2015-11-16]. The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II: An Orthodox Examination of Rome’s Ecumenical Theology Regarding Baptism and the Church (Kindle Locations 2478-2482). Uncut Mountain Press. Kindle Edition)

[1] Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Communion and Intercommunion: A Study of Communion and Intercommunion Based on the Theology and Practice of the Eastern Church (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1980), 16.

[2] Fr. Georges Florovsky, “Terms of Communion in the Undivided Church,” in Intercommunion. The Report of the Theological Commission Appointed by the Continuation Committee of the World Conference on Faith and Order together with a Selection from the Material Presented to the Commission, ed. D. Baillie and John Marsh (London, 1952), 50, as quoted in Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 16– 17. Professor George Galitis is also quoted by Ware in the same vein, that in the ancient Church “there is only communion and non-communion” (G. Galitis, The Problem of Intercommunion with the Heterodox from an Orthodox Point of View: A Biblical and Ecclesiological Study [in Greek] [Athens, 1966], 24– 25.) It is important to note that Fr. Georges Florovsky, whose views are often cited in support of versions of theories of baptismal theology-ecclesiology, quite early on explicitly qualified his scholarly musings on the views of St. Augustine and stated that the Saint’s views were “no more than a ‘theologoumenon,’ a doctrine set forth by a single Father.” Likewise, he urged the Orthodox to take it into account, not for its own sake or on its own terms, and certainly not as it has been played out within Latin theology, but simply as one view that can aid in the formation of a “true ecumenical synthesis.” Indeed, Fr. Florovsky lamented that the Orthodox have too often expounded upon the doctrine of the sacraments using the Roman model, without any creative or transforming adoption of St. Augustine’s conception. On the contrary, Fr. Florovsky formally and firmly rejected the theory of primordial unity in a common Baptism as is stressed by Roman Catholicism, explaining that it, like the Protestant branch theory, glosses over and minimizes the scandal of “dis-union,” which for him was to be faced forthrightly and explained in terms of “the true [Orthodox] Church and secessions.” Florovsky stressed the unity of the mysteries, especially the first three, and hence thought less in terms of regeneration linked to Baptism than of incorporation into the common Body of Christ in the Eucharist. See Andrew Blane, Georges Florovksy, Russian Intellectual and Orthodox Churchman (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), 311– 17.

[3] Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 20.

[4] Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 23.

[5] Schmemann, “Unity, Division, Reunion.”

[6] PG 62.344.36: Τί τοίνυν τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀφεὶς, ἔχει τῶν μελῶν; ἐὰν ἐκεῖθεν ἐκπέσῃς, ἀπόλωτας.

[7] Jorge A. Scampini, “We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” address given at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission in Kuala, Malaysia, July 28– August 6, 2004. It is significant to note that Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (par. 42), linked this idea of deep communion in spite of division to “baptismal character,” thus following faithfully the precedent established by Congar, Bea, and Vatican II: “The very expression separated brethren tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion— linked to the Baptismal character— which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of “other Christians,” “others who have received Baptism,” and “Christians of other Communities.” . . . This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ.”

[8] PG 63.131.39, Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 17.6.

[9] Dimitru Staniloae, Γιὰ ἕναν Ὀρθόδοξο Οἰκουμενισμὸ [Toward an Orthodox Ecumenism] (Athens, 1976), 29.

renovation-of-second-vatican-council--en

 

On the Recognition of Heterodox Baptism as the Basis for a New Ecclesiology

IMG_0986

Theological – Academic Conference – The Great and Holy Council: Great Preparation Without Expectations – Conference Hall of the “Peace and Friendship” Stadium – Piraeus, Greece – Wednesday, March 23, 2016

 

The Recognition of the Baptism of the Heterodox as the Basis for a New Ecclesiology by Protopresbyter Peter Heers [FINAL] (Piraeus March 23, 2016)

The Recognition of the Baptism of the Heterodox as the Basis for a New Ecclesiology (In Step with Vatican II) by Protopresbyter Peter Heers

With the push for a pan-Orthodox acceptance of the Pre-Synodical text, “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World,” a century long process of distortion of Orthodox ecclesiology is coming to fruition. Insomuch as the Pan-Orthodox Council accepts the erroneous teaching that heretical ministrations are mysteries of the One Church, so much so will it acquiesce to the adoption of a new ecclesiology.

In this lecture my intention is to succinctly present the origins of this erroneous teaching, two of the pillars of the new Vatican II ecclesiology which largely rest on this teaching, the adoption of this error by Orthodox ecumenists and the attempt to secure pan-Orthodox reception of it via the pre-Synodical text on the heterodox.

On Partaking of the Mysteries During Lent

The Golden-MouthSt. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

I observe many partaking of Christ’s Body lightly and just as it happens, and rather from custom and form, than consideration and understanding. When, says a man, the holy season of Lent sets in, whatever a man may be, he partakes of the Mysteries, or, when the day of the Lord’s Epiphany comes. And yet it is not the Epiphany, nor is it Lent, that makes a fit time for approaching, but it is sincerity and purity of soul. With this, approach at all times; without it, never. For as often, 1 Cor. 11:26 says he, as you do this, you proclaim the Lord’s death, i.e., you make a remembrance of the salvation that has been wrought for you, and of the benefits which I have bestowed. Consider those who partook of the sacrifices under the old Covenant, how great abstinence did they practice? How did they not conduct themselves? What did they not perform? They were always purifying themselves. And do you, when you draw near to a sacrifice, at which the very Angels tremble, do you measure the matter by the revolutions of seasons? And how shall you present yourself before the judgment-seat of Christ, thou who presumest upon His body with polluted hands and lips? You would not presume to kiss a king with an unclean mouth, and the King of Heaven do you kiss with an unclean soul? It is an outrage. Tell me, would you choose to come to the Sacrifice with unwashen hands? No, I suppose, not. But you would rather choose not to come at all than come with soiled hands. And then, thus scrupulous as you are in this little matter, do you come with soiled soul and thus dare to touch it? And yet the hands hold it but for a time, whereas into the soul it is dissolved entirely. What, do you not see the holy vessels so thoroughly cleansed all over, so resplendent? Our souls ought to be purer than they, more holy, more brilliant. And why so? Because those vessels are made so for our sakes. They partake not of Him that is in them, they perceive Him not. But we do—yes, verily. Now then, you would not choose to make use of a soiled vessel and do you approach with a soiled soul? Observe the vast inconsistency of the thing. At the other times you come not, no, not though often you are clean; but at Easter, however flagrant an act you may have committed, you come. Oh! The force of custom and of prejudice! (Homily 3 on Ephesians)

On the Dead in Christ in Comparison to the Living

whatwouldjesusdoSt. Nicholas Cabasilas ca. 1323-1391

As far as sanctification is concerned, those souls which are free of the body have an advantage over those still living in the flesh. It is true that they receive, through the prayers of the priest and the intercession of the holy offerings, purification and remission of their sin, and do not add new wrongdoing to the old, as most of the living do; they are either entirely absolved from all blame, or at least freed forever from the possibility of further sin. Because of this, they are better disposed for communion with the Savior, not only than the majority of the living, but also than they themselves would have been if they were still in the flesh. The very fact of being free from the bonds of the flesh makes them far more worthy to receive the holy Mysteries than they could possible have been if they were still housed in their bodies.

We know that in the next world there are many mansions, so that every degree of goodness may be glorified, and none may go unrewarded by the most just and loving Judge. Thus, those worthy of the greatest rewards, who are perfect, and who inherit perfect blessedness, such as St. Paul, enjoy this happiness more purely after death than they did while still in this life. So also those who are called to a lower position in this place of rest naturally gain more fruit from the Mysteries than they did while they were alive.

We have shown that all peace of soul and the entire reward of virtue, be it great or small, consists only in this Bread and this Chalice, which is partaken of by both the living and the dead. That is why our Lord Himself describes the future happiness of the Saints as a banquet; it is in order to show that in the next life there will be nothing save the Holy Table. Thus, the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist is for the dead as well as the living, and just as the latter, as we have said, receive a two-fold sanctification, so do the former. The dead are in no way inferior to the living; rather, they possess certain advantages over them. (A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 45: A Theological Parenthesis)

 

On How Grace Operates in the Mysteries

http://damascenegallery.com/shop/icon/classic-icons/st-nicholas-cabasilas/

http://damascenegallery.com/shop/icon/classic-icons/st-nicholas-cabasilas/

St. Nicholas Cabasilas 1323-1391

The Holy Spirit grants to those who partake of the sacred offerings the remission of sins of their sins. “Let not this grace be removed from these offerings because of my sins.” There are two ways in which grace operates in the precious offerings; first, by grace they are sanctified, and secondly, by grace we are sanctified through them.

The working of grace upon the offerings — the first of which we spoke — cannot be invalidated by any human evil. Since the consecration of the offerings is not the work of human virtue, it cannot be hindered in any way by the wickedness of men.

But the second, the working of grace within us, demands our co-operation, and as a result, our negligence can impede it. In other words, grace will sanctify us through the sacred offerings if it finds us ready and fit for sanctification; if it should, on the other hand, find us unprepared, not only do we reap no benefit, but we suffer grave harm and loss. (A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 34)

On the Objective of Dialogues

imageRussian Orthodox Church Bishops Council 2008 

“A witness to the truth of the Holy Orthodoxy is an objective of inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogues, and the Russian Orthodox Church doesn’t accept any attempts to mix confessions, [and] to hold joint prayer services that artificially combine confessional or religious traditions.” (Source)

On Uniting the Churches

stbasil8St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

I think then that the one great end of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the Churches now at sundry times and in various manners divided from one another. In attempting myself to effect this, I cannot fairly be blamed as a busybody, for nothing is so characteristically Christian as the being a peacemaker, and for this reason our Lord has promised us peacemakers a very high reward. (Letter 114)

Fr. Theodore Zisis on the Great Council

bishops-at-phanar-600x399Special thanks to Matushka Constantina and the outstanding Lesson From a Monastery blog for these videos of Fr. Theodore Zisis and for all their wonderful labors.

Part 1

Part 2

 

On Akribeia and Oikonomia

Ss. Cyprian and Augustine

                   Ss. Cyprian and Augustine

Protopresbyter George Dion Dragas

[An] obvious question relates to the rejection…of the distinction between akribeia and oikonomia as a ‘Greek innovation’ that was introduced by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite!

Another question, which is really derived from the previous rejection, is the characterization of the varied nature of Orthodox praxis οn the issue of the reception of Roman Catholic converts as inconsistent, especially when compared to the Roman Catholic praxis, which is viewed as consistent! Is it not true that consistency, or lack of consistency, are established on the regular praxis of the Church in receiving non-Christians into the Una Sancta and not on exceptional cases, such as those of the reception of schismatic and heretical Christians into the Church? Have the Roman Catholics kept the praxis of the ancient undivided Church, i.e. the akribeia of the ancient canons cοncerning the administration of Holy Baptism? Is it not the case that Roman Catholics have been inconsistent, if not innovatory and even contradictory, in the celebration of Baptism at different times and places? Or is it unjust to view as inconsistent the Roman Catholic indiscriminate ‘openness’ towards Orthodox and other Christians concerning their Baptism (and now their Eucharist) from the point of view of the received apostolic faith and practice?

Finally, if the Orthodox doctrine of Baptism is indeed the same with the Roman Catholic one as the Agreed Statement [“Baptism αnd Sacramental Economy” of the North American Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Cοnsultation] claims, and if it is true that sacramentology goes hand in hand with ecclesiology, as the Geron Metropolitan Chrysostom of Ephesus has reminded us in his recent book, could it be claimed pari passu that Orthodox ecclesiology is the same with the Roman Catholic one? Has then the ecclesiological issue that divides Orthodox and Roman Catholics been resolved? Is it not fair to maintain that as long as there is division between these two (and indeed any other) Churches, the Cyprianic-Augustinian dilemma, which is somewhat parallel to the Orthodox akribeia-oikonomia dilemma, is bound to exist?

It seems to me that such questions are unavoidable, but hopefully the recent suggestions/issues of the Agreed Statement of the American Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation will be finally determined by the Great and Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church which is επί θύρας. Better still, one may hope to find the answers to these problems by an ecclesial rapprochement of Orthodox and Roman Catholics (and indeed of all other Christians) on the basis of the venerable Holy Tradition which was once delivered to the Saints from the Apostles and the Fathers in the course of the new millennium which lies ahead of us. (The Manner of Reception of Roman Catholic Converts into the Orthodox Church)

On Our Present Circumstances

Fallen ChurchSt. Sophronius of Jerusalem ca. 560-638

[T]he present circumstances are forcing me to think differently about our way of life, for why are [so many] wars being fought among us? Why do barbarian raids abound? Why are the troops of the Saracens attacking us? Why has there been so much destruction and plunder? Why are there incessant outpourings of human blood? Why are the birds of the sky devouring human bodies?

…Why have churches been pulled down? Why is the cross mocked? Why is Christ, who is the dispenser of all good things and the provider of this joyousness of ours, blasphemed by pagan mouths (ethnikois tois stomasi) so that he justly cries out to us: “Because of you my name is

Why have churches been pulled down? Why is the cross mocked? Why is Christ, Who is the dispenser of all good things and the provider of this joyousness of ours, blasphemed by pagan mouths (ethnikois tois stomasi) so that He justly cries out to us: “Because of you My name is blasphemed among the pagans,” and this is the worst of all the terrible things that are happening to us…

egypt_bloody_jesus_AFPThat is why the vengeful and God-hating Saracens, the Abomination of Desolation clearly foretold to us by the Prophets, overrun the places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, overturn the sacred monasteries, oppose the Byzantine armies arrayed against them, and in fighting raise up the trophies [of war] and add victory to victory. Moreover, they are raised up more and more against us and increase their blasphemy of Christ and the Church, and utter wicked blasphemies against God. Those God-fighters boast of prevailing over all, assiduously and unrestrainably imitating their leader, who is the devil, and emulating his vanity because of which he has been expelled from heaven and been assigned to the gloomy shades. Yet these vile ones would not have accomplished this nor seized such a degree of power as to do and utter lawlessly all these things, unless we had first insulted the gift [of baptism] and first defiled the purification, and in this way grieved Christ, the giver of gifts, and prompted Him to be angry with us, good though He is and though He takes no pleasure in evil, being the fount of kindness and not wishing to behold the ruin and destruction of men. We are ourselves, in truth, responsible for all these things and no word will be found for our defence. What word or place will be given us for our defence when we have taken all these gifts from Him, befouled them and defiled everything with our with our vile actions? (excerpted from Spencer, Robert. 2014-04-08. Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins. Kindle Locations 500-524. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Kindle Edition)

On Living Orthodoxy and Spreading the Faith

1SR14__56007.1429296344.900.900Hieromonk Seraphim Rose 1934-1982

[O]ur attitude must be not self-centered but reaching out to those who are seeking for God and for a godly life. Nowadays, wherever there is a good-sized Orthodox community, the temptation is to make it into a society for self-congratulation and for taking delight in our Orthodox virtues and achievements: the beauty of our church buildings and furnishings, the splendor of our services, even the purity of our doctrine. But the true Christian life, even since the time of the Apostles, has always been inseparable from communicating it to others. An Orthodoxy that is alive by this very fact shines forth to others—and there is no need to open a “department of missions” to do this; the fire of true Christianity communicates itself without this. If our Orthodoxy is only something we keep for ourselves, and boast about it, then we are the dead burying the dead—which is precisely the state of many of our Orthodox parishes today, even those that have a large number of young people, if they are not going deeply into their Faith. It is not enough to say that the young people are going to church. We need to ask what they are getting in church, what they are taking away from church, and, if they are not making Orthodoxy a part of their whole life, then it really is not sufficient to say that they are going to church. (Living the Orthodox Worldview)

On Initiation into the Church via Baptism and the Eucharist

Every Orthodox should read this outstanding book! Go and get it!

Every Orthodox and Roman Catholic should read this outstanding book! Go and get it!

Protopresbyter Peter Heers D. Th.

“This is a fundamental identity: the Church in the Eucharist and the Eucharist in the Church. Where the God-man is not, the Church is not, and where the Church is not, there is no Eucharist. Everything outside this is heresy, non-church, anti-church, and psuedo-church.” St. Justin Popovich

The identification of the Body applies to the Body as a whole and to each of its aspects simultaneously. Each manifestation of the Body contains within it the fullness of the Body. “Each mystery constitutes a particular aspect or manifestation of a united reality,” [518] of the one mystery of Christ (Eph. 3: 4), “which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1: 26). We recognize a mystery, such as holy Baptism, only when it is a reflection of the One Church. “No mystery can be conceived of per se, but only in relation to the Mystery, which recapitulates the entire ‘mystery of Christ,’ that is, the Divine Eucharist.” [519]

The Baptism of the Church is not simply form, matter, and intention. It is first of all initiation. That Baptism that we recognize as the one Baptism brings one into the life of the Church, the heart of which is the Eucharist. As Fr. George Florovsky has written: “The entire meaning and strength of the sacrament of Holy Baptism is that the baptized enters into the one Church, ‘the one Church of angels and men,’ [520] taking root and growing into the one Body of Christ, and becomes a ‘fellow citizen of the saints and friend of God’ [Eph. 2: 19], for ‘we are all one Spirit baptized into one body’ [1 Cor. 12: 13]. Holy Baptism is a mysterious initiation into the Church, as into the kingdom of grace.” [521]

Hence, if one is not initiated into the Church, if one does not enter into the one Church, into a particular local church through his parish community, [522] and become a member of the Body by partaking of the Eucharist, it would be impossible for the Orthodox to recognize that he has been truly baptized. Such a Baptism is not the Baptism of and into the Church. Such a Baptism, “a Baptism disconnected from the Holy Eucharist,” “is a death without resurrection.” [523] How does Baptism integrate us into the Church? Precisely by opening us up to the gift of the the Holy Spirit, which then gives us access to the Eucharist. The one presupposes the other, for they all belong together, with the Eucharist being the “self-evident fulfillment” of the others. [524] There is a “sacramental interdependence” such that it is impossible to speak of one without the other two, impossible to speak of someone being baptized without approaching Christ’s table in His Kingdom. In the words of Father Alexander Schmemann, for the Fathers the Eucharist is “the ‘focus,’ the source and the fulfillment of the entire— and not merely the liturgical— life of the Church, the sacrament of the Church’s self-manifestation and edification.” [525]

Baptism as integration, as entry, presupposes communion in the common cup of the Eucharist. For, “if the Church’s ultimate being and essence are revealed in and through the Eucharist, if Eucharist is truly the sacrament of the Church and not only one of the Church’s sacraments, then of necessity to enter the Church is to enter into the Eucharist, then Eucharist is indeed the fulfillment of Baptism.” [526] No mystery is an end in itself— except for the Eucharist. All other mysteries must be placed in the context of the Eucharist. Therefore, the faithful are baptized “so that having died with Christ they might partake of His Risen Life, and it is this Risen Life that the Eucharist manifests and communicates in the Church, making her members into witnesses of the things to come.” [527]

Having this in mind, when we turn to the text of Unitatis Redintegratio 3a, which recognizes those among the “separated brethren” who are not in “full communion” with the Roman Catholic Church as being “truly baptized” and “incorporated into Christ,” members of Christ’s Church, one is at a loss to know what this could mean. What kind of Baptism is this that incorporates into Christ without leading to the fulfillment of Baptism in the Eucharist? Or, what kind of “incorporation” is this that is effected without the Eucharist, since becoming one with the Body of Christ takes place in the Eucharist? [528] For what else could “incomplete communion” mean here except that they have not reached the “summit” of communion, according to Cardinal Kasper’s description of the Eucharist? Certainly, as it pertains to most Protestants who do not have a “valid” Eucharist, this must be what is meant. Thus, it is evident that what the mysteries, Baptism and the Eucharist, are understood to mean by the Orthodox does not coincide with the meaning found in Unitatis Redintegratio and Lumen Gentium.

The implications for ecclesiology are immense, for the members of the Church are constituted as the Church first and foremost through these mysteries. The separation and independence of Baptism from the Eucharist, on both a theoretical as well as a practical level, is not only unchallenged in Unitatis Redintegratio, it is an important pillar of the new ecclesiology developed therein. [529] This independence of Baptism from the Eucharist signifies much more than simply a liturgical diversion from traditional practice. It touches upon the faith itself and signals “a deep perversion of the identity of the Church with wide-ranging and serious consequences.” [530]

One cannot be incorporated into Christ and become His member in Baptism alone. [531] The Church is not created in the waters of Baptism alone, but, rather, was born from the side of Christ when “forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19: 34); neither blood alone, nor water alone, but both together. [532] Those born have to be nourished; those baptized partake straightaway of divine food. That is why, for the Orthodox, “every Eucharistic assembly is an assembly of the entire Church,” [533] τὸ πλήρωμα, “the flesh of the Church” [534] which Christ assumed. Those not incorporated into this assembly [535] are not of the fullness, which means they have not been made members of Christ’s Body. For, we know of no such Baptism that is not fulfilled in the Eucharist. (The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II: An Orthodox Examination of Rome’s Ecumenical Theology Regarding Baptism and the Church. 2015-11-16. [Kindle Locations 2597-2649]. Uncut Mountain Press. Kindle Edition)

[518]. John Zizioulas (Metropolitan of Pergamon), “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” in Holy Baptism: Our Incorporation into the Church of Christ [in Greek: “Ἅγιον Βάπτισμα καὶ Θεία Λειτουργία” στό Τό Ἅγιο Βάπτισμα: Ἠ ἔνταξή μας στήν Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia, 2002), 11].

[519]. Zizioulas, ibid., 12.

[520]. Paraklitiki (Divine service book), Tone 1, Wednesday morning, aposticha.

[521]. Florovsky, “House of the Father,” 79.

[522]. “The fact that the newly illumined one must immediately gather epi to auto, and not simply commune of the Mysteries, means that with Baptism and Chrismation he is inscribed into a particular local church through his parish community, and is under a particular bishop, who presides at the Eucharist. Just as there are no absolute ordinations, neither can there exist absolute Baptisms.” (Zizioulas, “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 24).

[523]. Ibid., 20.

[524]. The patristic witness to this unity of the Mysteries of Baptism and the Eucharist is ancient. See, for example: Saint Justin the Philosopher, First Apology, LXV; Psuedo-Clement, 100, 141; Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition, 21; Canons of Hippolytus, 21, § 142– 143; Saint Ambrose of Milan, On the Mysteries, 8; Saint John Chrysostom, Catechetical Homily II. 2 and IV. 6; Saint Basil the Great, Concerning Baptism, 1.3. See the brief treatment of these sources and their witness in John (Zizioulas), Metropolitan of Pergamon (“ Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 13– 15. For a more extensive treatment of these sources see I. Yazigi (Hani), Hierodeacon, Ἠ τελετή τοῦ ἁγίου βαπτίσματος, (Ἱστορική, θεολογική καί τελετουργική θεώρησις) [The service of holy Baptism: Historic, theological and liturgical consideration], doctoral thesis, Thessaloniki, 1982).

[525]. Schmemann, Of Water and the Spirit, 117.

[526]. Ibid., 117– 18.

[527]. Ibid., p. 119 (emphasis added).

[528]. Stressing that the Divine Eucharist is the perfection of all the mysteries and the image of the Kingdom of God, Met. John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon asks rhetorically: “What benefit is Baptism, when the baptized does not immediately join the Eucharistic synaxis epi to auto? Can he become a son of the Kingdom without this?” (“ Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 23).

[529]. See UR 3 and 22. 530. Zizioulas, “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 27.

[531]. One cannot stress this point enough. For Orthodox Christians it is an heretical idea to believe, as Fr. John Romanides has written, that “all baptized Christians are members of the body of Christ even though they hardly go to Church to commune and have not the slightest desire to struggle for selfless love and fight against the devil epi to auto as they solemnly swore at Baptism” (“ The Ecclesiology of St. Ignatius of Antioch,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 7: 1 and 2 [1961– 62]). “[ G]race is never given absolutely, but always in the synaxis and in the Church” (Zizioulas, “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 26).

[532]. See St. Cyril of Alexandria, On John, 12, PG 74.677B, and St. John Chrysostom, On John, 85.3, PG 59.463. “Let it not be forgotten that not only does the Eucharist give meaning to Baptism, but that Baptism constitutes an inexorable presupposition for the Eucharist” (Zizioulas, “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 26).

[533]. Hieromonk Gregorios, The Divine Liturgy: A Commentary in the Light of the Fathers (Mount Athos: Cell of St. John the Theologian, 2009), 26. “[ A]ccording to St. Dionysius the Aeropagite and the entire Patristic Tradition, at least up until St. Nicholas Cabasilas, the Eucharist alone gives meaning to every ecclesiastical and liturgical action precisely because it is a synaxis of the entire Church . . .” (Zizioulas, “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 23).

[534]. St. John Chrysostom, Homily before his Exile, 2, PG 52.429.

[535]. “Without the synaxis [of the Eucharist] no liturgical action of any kind can have any meaning whatsoever, nor even the entire Christian life, I would say, including asceticism, the virtues, etc.” (Zizioulas, “Holy Baptism and Divine Liturgy,” 23).

On Celebrating in Various Languages

Pazardjik Ss. Cyril Methodius Monument

Pazardjik Ss. Cyril Methodius Monument

Patriarch of Antioch Theodore Balsamon ca. 12th cent.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, states, “Or is God the God of Jews only and not also of Gentiles? Yes, of Gentiles also.” (Rom. 3:29) At any rate, those who are Orthodox in all things, even if they might be wholly bereft of Greek speech, shall celebrate in their own language with precise copies of the customary holy prayers translated from liturgical books with well-copied Greek letters. (The Sixty-Six Canonical Questions, Response to Question 6)

St. Mark of Ephesus on Eucharistic Consecration

sf-marcu-evghenicul-la-sinodul-de-la-ferrara-florenta4St. Mark of Ephesus 1392-1444

We [Orthodox] have inherited the customary exposition of the sacramental liturgy from the Holy Apostles and their successors, the Doctors of the Church. With respect to none of these loci shall we discover that the gift of the Eucharist is hallowed and fructified/perfected (Gr. τελειοῦσθαι) by the very dominical lines and those words alone and, further, that [the gift] is altered to the dominical body and blood. Yet, concerning the [dominical] words among ourselves, on the one hand, the aforesaid are dogmatically and harmoniously referring to the memory (Gr. μνήμη) and power (Gr. δύναμις) of what was done at that time, as if they are fusing into the gifts offered unto a transmutation (Gr. μεταβολή), the change of which, on the other hand, additionally comes about after the following; namely, that of the prayer and the blessing of the priest actually altering the gifts to that very famous prototype (Gr. προτότυπος); viz., the dominical body and blood. Yet, these items and the [liturgical] commentaries themselves bear witness that we are to be found harmonious among ourselves. (The Libellus of Mark of Ephesus on the Eucharistic Consecration. excerpted from Fr.Christiaan Kappes “Annotated and Complete Epiclesis Sermons of John Torquemada and the Response of Mark of Ephesus at Florence 1439 [Appendices to upcoming monograph])

St. Basil the Great on [re]Baptism

St Basil the GreatSt. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

Encratitæ, Saccophors and Apotactitæ all come under the same rule as the Novatians. For a canon was promulgated concerning the latter, although it varies from place to place; whereas nothing specific has been said regarding the former. Be that as it may, we simply rebaptize such persons. If among yourselves the measure of rebaptizing is banned, as it more surely is among the Romans for the sake of some economia, nevertheless let what we say prevail. For their heresy is something of an offshoot of the Marcionites who abominate marriage, and disdain wine, and say that God’s creation is defiled. Therefore we do not receive them into the Church unless they be baptized in our Baptism. And let them not say, ‘We have been baptized in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,’ when they suppose— as they do in a manner rivaling Marcion and the rest of the heresies— that God is the maker of things evil. Hence if this please you, then more bishops must come together and thus set forth the canon, so as to afford security to him who performs [rebaptism], and so that he who defends this practice might be considered trustworthy when responding on such matters.” (Letter 199 to St. Amphilochios, The Second Canonical Epistle: Canon 47. Πηδάλιον, τοῦ Ἱερομονάχου Ἀγαπίου καὶ Μοναχοῦ Νικοδήμου [Ἀθήνα: Κωνσταντίνου Γκαρπολᾶ, 1841], 369; English translation by the editors of George Metallinos, I Confess One Baptism: Interpretation and Application of Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council by the Kollyvades and Constantine Oikonomos [Mt. Athos, Greece: St. Paul’s Monastery, 1994], 131. excerpted from Heers, Fr. Peter [2015-11-16]. The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II: An Orthodox Examination of Rome’s Ecumenical Theology Regarding Baptism and the Church [Kindle Locations 3898-3909]. Uncut Mountain Press. Kindle Edition)

On the Baptism of Tears

St. John Climacus ca. 7th cent.

The tears that come after Baptism are greater than Baptism itself, though it may be rash to says so. Baptism washes off those evils that were previously within us, whereas the sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. The Baptism received by us as children we have all defiled, but we cleanse it anew with our tears. (Step 7, On Mourning)

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

We have been baptized as babies, unaware; as incomplete we also incompletely received the grace, receiving the remission from the first trangression. (On the Mystical Life, The Ethical Discourses. Vol. 3: Life, Times, and Theology, p. 118)

The first Baptism has the water which foreshadows the tears, [and] it has the myron of the anointing which signifies beforehand the intelligible myron of the Spirit. The second [Baptism], however, is no longer a type of the truth, but is the truth itself. (On the Mystical Life, The Ethical Discourses. Vol. 3: Life, Times, and Theology, p. 117)

On the Full Knowledge of God II

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

Brothers, if full knowledge of the true wisdom and knowledge of God were going to be given us through letters and formal study, what need would there be then for faith, or for divine Baptism, or even communion in the Mysteries? Obviously, none whatever. (On the Mystical Life, The Ethical Discourses. Vol. 3: Life, Times, and Theology, p. 117)

On the Death of Infants

Holy Innocents from Uncut Mountain Supply

Lenten Triodion

When baptized infants die, they enjoy the paradise of delight, whereas those not illumined by baptism and those born to pagans go neither to paradise nor to Gehenna. (Saturday before Meatfare; Matins. Synaxarion at the Sixth Ode of the Canon)

On the Augustinian View of the Sacraments

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

The Augustinian understanding of the “efficacy” of the sacraments was never fully accepted in the Orthodox Church. Such an understanding of the sacraments is unacceptable for Orthodox tradition, for it is an understanding in which the grace inherent within them is considered autonomous, independent of the Church. The sacraments can be performed only within the Church, and it is the Church that bestows efficacy, reality, and salvation on them. (Orthodox Christianity Vol. II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church, p. 405)

On Church, Orthodoxy and the Eucharist

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and St. Vlasios

Of course, no one would want to deny the great value of the Divine Eucharist, at which we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ and to which all the sacraments and the life of the Church are directed, but it is not possible for the Divine Eucharist to be made independent of the Church and the whole of ecclesiastical life.

…[T]here is a close connection between Church, Orthodoxy and Eucharist, as we see in Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. There is no Church without Orthodoxy and the Eucharist; nor is there Orthodoxy without the Church and the Eucharist; just as there is no Eucharist outside the Church and Orthodoxy. Then, the Divine Eucharist cannot be considered Orthodox outside the canonical structure of the Church and the necessary requirements for participation in it. The Fathers of the Church and the Canons of the Local and Ecumenical Synods record the requirements for people wishing to participate in the Divine Eucharist and Holy Communion, which are the ascetic life and the hesychast mode of life. The Divine Eucharist cannot replace purification, enlightenment and deification nor, of course, can the opposite obtain. Here, too, there is balanced reciprocity.

Besides, apart from the Divine Eucharist, basic centers for the life of the Church are Scripture, dogma and prayer, which the Divine Eucharist presupposes. There is a very profound association between the lex credendi and the lex orandi. The Bishop is the President of the Eucharistic Synaxis but at the same time [should be] a prophet who proclaims prophetic words to the congregation who desire to progress from the image to the likeness. Of course, within the Church and at the Divine Eucharist there are different spiritual ages, and the Holy Spirit ministers appropriately to each. And then, the grace of God in the Sacraments acts independently of the condition of the canonical clergy and laity, but not all those who partake of the holy Sacraments benefit, unless they take part in the purifying, enlightening and glorifying energy of God.

… All of this made Fr. John Romanides say that it is not the Eucharist that makes the Church the real Church, but the Church which makes the Eucharist the real Eucharist. In other words, the horse (dogma/canons) comes before the cart, not vice versa. In any case, as we know, outside the Orthodox Church, with its dogmas and sacred canons, there is no Eucharist in the Orthodox meaning of the word. So we can talk about ecclesiastical Eucharist, but not about Eucharistic ecclesiology. (Post-Patristic Theology from a Church Perspective)

On the Ancient Method of Infant Baptism in the English Church

The Second Council of Calcuith, England AD 816

Let Presbyters also know that when they administer Baptism they ought not to pour the consecrated water upon the infants’ heads, but let them always be immersed in the font; as the Son of God Himself afforded an example unto all believers when He was three times immersed in the river Jordan. (Canon 11)

The Belief of the Ancient Irish Church in the Bloodless Sacrifice and Real Presence

by Hieromonk Enoch

Introduction

There is a class of works from the 19th century and before that reveals much interesting work on the ancient Irish (and other Celtic) Churches in Britain. However, one of the problems is that they are generally written by Roman Catholics or Protestants. Now, this is natural, as there were few, if any, Orthodox Christians living in areas most concerned with the question as to the doctrines of the ancient Celtic Churches. However, by far, the most unbelievable are the works composed by Protestants, particularly Irish Episcopalians [which from the Reformation on up to the 20th century represented the Anglican Church that was established in Ireland and supported by few converts and immigrants], Scottish Presbyterians who immigrated to Ireland at the instigation of the English Protestant monarchs, and, worst of all, Baptists, who claim St. Patrick was a Baptist, or some form of Protestant (I heard this myself in person from two Baptist ministers when I was a teenager and was so shocked I could hardly respond).

In general, heterodox Papist writers seem to be more reasonable in these debates, because they simply quote lives of saints, Irish fathers, councils, liturgical books, etc. However, again, they do have many blind spots when it comes to questions of the papacy and the Irish Church; suffice it to say that Ireland and other Celtic Churches were no different than most of the other Churches in Orthodoxy at that period, i.e., they had a profound reverence for the Apostolic See of Rome, but, also for the Apostolic Sees of Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch. Indeed, the Holy Abbot St. Cummian, when writing to convince the Irish Church to accept the correct Paschal Cycle, appealed not simply to the Apostolic See of Rome, but, to other Apostolic Sees. He says:

“I find it was ordered that all those were to be excommunicated who dared to act against the statutes of the FOUR APOSTOLIC SEES of Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria.”

Further he said:

“Can anything be more absurd than to say our mother the Church—Rome errs, Jerusalem errs, Antioch errs, and the whole world errs, the Irish and the Britons alone are in the right?”

In his case, St. Cummian’s efforts were successful with Southern Ireland.  St. Cummian, the great student of the ancient monastic school of Clonfert, with his piety and learning carried the day at the 630 AD Synod of Magh Lene. The Britons [i.e. original inhabitants of Great Britain prior to the 5th and 6th century Germanic invasions] in Wales acceded to the correct date, finally, around the year 770 by the influence of St. Elfod (though extracts from Hughe’s ‘Horae Britannicae’ indicate that some were still not satisfied, with Welsh envoys being sent to Constantinople, only to be informed by Patriarch St. Methodios for them to keep Pascha on the correct cycle instead of their obsolete 5th century tables).

For the Irish (and others), because Rome was where the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul were martyred and because it was the only Patriarchate in the West, a great deal of deference and respect was shown, based upon customary and traditional privileges. However, this was certainly not something on the level of the insanity of Hildebrand’s “Dictatus Papae” of 1072 (which can be considered a founding document of the heretical post-Schism Papacy).

As regards the belief of the Irish Church on holy icons, relics, intercession of the Saints, we can turn either to the Litanies of the Saints in their own ancient texts, the Irish Lives of the Saints, the liturgical books, or, if we wish, to the great exposition of St. Dungal (the great defender of Icons, Relics, and Intercession of the Saints in the 830’s against the more ‘moderated’ Iconoclasm then taking root in Turin and among Frankish bishops).

The Papist writers can successfully show that the Irish saints and fathers believed in prayer for the dead, the Bloodless Sacrifice, Apostolic and Hierarchical Priesthood, monasticism, and the other Sacraments. Much was expended by many of these writers on prayer for the dead; however, they cannot show that the 12th and 13th Papal doctrine of Purgatory was held by them. They simply make the leap from prayer for the departed faithful and its aid for those who die without works of repentance (though having repented) all the way to Purgatorial Fire that is needed to fulfill temporal punishment to Divine Satisfaction and provide purification. Such a later doctrine was foreign to them and to the Fathers and the vast majority of writers until Purgatory’s invention in the 12th century. Prior to this invention of Purgatory (with its temporal punishment and satisfaction) the teachings of the ancient Irish and was the same the more modern Orthodox. For example, we need only look to see what we find in the Russian Orthodox theological works of the 19th century (such as Met. Macarius), as well as in Decree 18 of the Synod of Jerusalem in the 17th century, the corrected Confession of Peter Moghila (corrected of errors by the Synod of Jassy, and which later became the basis of the Longer Catechism of the Russian Church), the teaching of St. Mark of Ephesus in his homilies against Purgatory, the decree of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other Patriarchates and Synods in the 1720s, and many others. In reality, the Irish belief was essentially that which we find enunciated by Orthodox writers today and in the past (as the Irish at this period were part of the Orthodox Church). Of course, the reason for this deficiency in different areas by Protestant and RC historians is because they don’t realize that the ancient Irish Church was in fact an Orthodox Church.

At the end I will append a translation of the oldest “Irish Tract on the Mass” with a brief introduction.

Testimony of Ancient and Medieval Irish Orthodox On the Bloodless Sacrifice

Let us ask the question, “What did the ancient Irish Church believe about the Eucharist?”

First, we have the worthy testimony of the Irish monk and writer, Probus, who composed the 10th century Life of St. Patrick from previous manuscripts. Probus reposed around the year 950 AD. In it, St. Patrick is asked by some nobles to show them the True God. As John Lannigan relates the event in his “An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland” written in 1829, drawing from Probus:

“When advanced into the plain of Connaught he stopped with his clerical companions at a fountain near the royal residence Cruachan and at break of day began to chant the praises of the Lord. The ladies [Irish princesses], having come very early in the morning to the fountain for the purpose of washing themselves, were struck with the singular appearance of persons clothed in white garments, and holding books in their hands. On inquiring who they were and to what species of beings they belong, whether celestial, aerial, or terrestrial, St. Patrick seized the opportunity of announcing to them the true God, Author of all; and answering certain questions of theirs, such as, where his God dwelt, in heaven or on the earth, on mountains, in vallies, in the sea, or in rivers; was he rich, how to be revered, was he young or old, had he sons and daughters, were they handsome, etc, and he thus explained the Truths of the Christian Religion. Delighted with his discourse they expressed a wish to know how they could become acceptable in the sight of the Almighty, and declared themselves ready to go through whatever the saint would command them to do. Accordingly he instructed them; and, on their having professed their belief in the doctrines proposed by him, he also baptized them. In answer to their desire of seeing Christ face to face, he told them that Eucharistic Communion was one of the necessary requisites with regard to that object, upon which they said, ‘Give us the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, that we may be freed from the corruption of the flesh, and see our spouse, Who is in Heaven.” And, St. Patrick, then celebrating Mass, they received the Holy Eucharist.” (Eccl. Hist. of Ireland, pg. 242, John Lanigan)

 

In the Martyrology of the Blessed and Holy Irish Bishop, St. Óengus mac Óengobann, better known as Saint Óengus of Tallaght or Óengus the Culdee, composed in the early 9th century (St. Oengus commemorated on March 11), it speaks on April 13th of the Holy Bishop Tassach, companion of St. Patrick, and says thus:

“The kingly Bishop Tassach, who administered on his arrival, the Body of Christ, the Truly Powerful King, and the Communion to St. Patrick.”

When the holy Bishop and disciple of St. Patrick, St. Benignus of Armagh (467 AD) reposed, we have the following related in his ancient “Vita”:

“When the man of God (Benignus) saw that the time of his dissolution was near at hand, he sent for St. Jarlath…and received most devoutly from his hand the earnest and pledge of eternal happiness–namely, the Body of Christ; and thus prepared himself for death and for his entrance into his country.”

 

We have also the ancient Life of St. Brigid, who was only 12 at the repose of St. Patrick. Her life was written by the Irish monk Cogitosus in the 7th century. He says in the Vita about the celebration of Mass in the monastic church of St. Brigid’s and how the Bishop and clergy came to visit to celebrate the Unbloody Sacrifice:

“And through the one door, placed on the right side (of the church of Kildare), the chief prelate entered the Sanctuary, accompanied by his regular school, and those who are deputed to the Sacred Ministry of Offering Sacred and Dominical Sacrifices. Through the other door…none enter but the abbes, with her virgins and widows, among the faithful, when going to participate in the Banquet of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.”

 

We need not go into detail about the Chancel Screen with holy images that adorned the monastic church and the holy curtains, and how this was reserved for clergy alone during Holy Services [though, there was a section wherein the nuns could go into to receive Holy Communion]. Certainly not a ‘Proto-Protestant’ Irish church!

Of course, the Vita states that at her death, St. Brigid, “previously received the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

In the ancient life of St. Brendan of Clonfert, we learn that Holy Brendan was told by the sacristan that St. Gildas asked him to Offer Mass. The Sacristan says:

Our holy abbot commands thee to Offer the Body of Christ. Here is the Altar, and the Missal written in Greek characters–chant in it as our abbot does.

 

And another miracle was worked, St. Brendan, who could only read Latin in Roman letters, read Latin in Greek letters; it should be noted that Greek learning still flourished in Irish monasteries, and some even wrote missals in Latin in Greek letters, and, as we know from St. Dionysius Monastery in Gaul, some celebrated their own liturgy in the Greek language; according to the rubrics of the old English liturgical books the “Gloria in Excelsis” was chanted in Greek and Latin on Pentecost .

In the Life of the Irish St. Columba, written by St. Adamnan of Iona, we find the following concerning St. Columba in regards to St. Cronan, Bishop of Munster:

“Upon Sunday he was ordered by St. Columba to MAKE THE BODY OF CHRIST according to the usual practice.”

 

Let us not forget the Irish Bangor Antiphonary (7th century)  which has the following hymn for Communion:

Come, ye people to the Holy and Immortal Mystery, the Offering we must make. With fear and faith, let us draw near, with hearts made clean by repentance let us communicate the Gifts! For the Lamb of God is SET FORTH to the Father a SACRIFICE FOR US. Let us worship only Him, let us give Glory to Him, crying with the Angel: alleluia.

 

The ancient hymn ascribed to St. Secundinus (Sechnall), the disciple and nephew of St. Patrick is explicit. This places the hymn as early as the 450s. Even at the latest dating, the communion hymn is place in the 600s.  The whole hymn breathes of the Biblical-Patristic teaching on the Real Presence and Bloodless Sacrifice. The whole hymn stands to be quoted in full:

Draw night, and take the Body of the Lord,

 

And drink the Holy Blood for you outpoured.

Saved by That Body, Hallowed by That Blood,

Whereby refreshed, we render thanks to God.

[By the Sacrament of the Body and the Blood,

All are delivered from the infernal chasm.]

Salvation’s Giver, Christ the Only Son,

By that His Cross and Blood the Victory Won.

Offered was He for greatest and for least,

Himself the Victim, and Himself the Priest.

Victims were offered by the law of old,

That, in a type, Celestial Mysteries told.

He, Ransomer from death, and Light from shade,

Giveth His Holy Grace His Saints to aid.

Approach ye, then, with faithful hearts sincere,

And take the safeguard of salvation here.

He that in this world rules His saints, and shields,

To all believers Life Eternal yeids.

With Heavenly Bread makes them hunger whole,

Gives Living Waters to the thirsty soul.

Alpha and Omega, to Whom shall bow,

All nations at the Doom, is with us now.

The text in brackets was not rendered by the existing translation this author had access to, and was rendered by this author into English. Thus, it does not follow any specific metrical or rhyming scheme as found in many Patristic Latin hymn text.

The ancient “Irish Tracts on the Mass” which were commentaries in Latin and Gaelic on the Old Irish liturgical ritual (which was in Latin) contains exposition of the ancient Irish belief.  Dr. Matthew Kelley dates the following one to be the earliest composition, possibly dating from around the year 500 AD.  James Gaffney, in his work “The Ancient Irish Church” quotes the translation of Professor O’Curry upon one section, translated as follows:

Another division of that pledge, which which has been left to the Church to comfort her, is the Body of Christ and His Blood, which are Offered upon the Altars of the Christians. The BODY, EVEN WHICH WAS BORN OF MARY, IMMACULATE VIRGIN, without destruction of her Virginity, without opening the the Womb, without presence of man; and which was Crucified by the unbelieving Jews, out of spite and envy, and which arose after three days from death, and sits upon the Right Hand of God the Father in Heaven, in Glory and in Dignity before the Angels of Heaven;–it is that Body, the same as it is in this Great Glory, which the righteous consume off God’s Table, that is, the Holy Altar. For this Body is the Rich Viaticum of the faithful, who journey through the paths of pilgrimage and penitence of this world to the heavenly fatherland. This is the Seed of the Resurrection in the Life Eternal to the righteous. It is, however, the origin and cause of falling to the impenitent, who believe not, and to the sensual, who distinguish it not, though they believe. Woe then to the Christian who distinguishes not This Holy Body of the Lord by pure morals, charity, and by mercy. For it is in this Body that will be found the example of the charity which excels all charity, viz., to Sacrifice Himself, without guilt, in satisfaction for the guilt of the whole race of Adam. This, then, is the perfection of the Catholic Faith, as it is taught in the Holy Scriptures.

 

The above extract is derived, as Dr. Kelly states, from the most ancient Old Gaehlic commentary section.  Dr. Kelly observes, based upon observations on the manuscript and the style that “Gaehlic part of the tract is of the purest and most ancient Christian character”.  Thus, we have a text that represents ideas that date back to the earliest period of the Old Irish Church.

             

A Translation of the Oldest Irish Tract on the Mass

From “An Ancient Irish Tract on the Mass” dated by Professor Matthew O’Kelly to circa 500 AD; thus, describing the Mass of St. Patrick, being a spiritual and allegorical, though sometimes literal, description. Being a devotional Tract of extreme antiquity in the Irish Church, it seems, in some places to be very extraordinary in its allegorical interpretation of actions of the Mass, but, as long as we take and press these not too far, we will be safe, but, such is the same with all allegorical interpretation. Important also is the testimony that this Tract, the earliest of many, gives to ritual actions of the Liturgy of the Irish Church at such an early date. It contains mundane actions combined with profound veneration for the Holy and Worship of God with meditations upon the the very nature of Charity, found fully for the Christian in the Holy Sacrifice, wherein God Himself gives Himself to men, and for which the righteous take reward and the wicked harm.

The following was extracted from the Irish Ecclesiastical Record Volume 2, and is from O’Curry and O’Looney’s composite translation. As noted, the learned Dr. Matthew Kelly (19th century), the great Irish antiquarian and historian, said that he “believed it to be the Mass brought into Erinn by St. Patrick, differing as it does in some places, as to the order of the ceremonies, from any other Mass that he had ever seen.”

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Concerning the Shapes and Spiritual Sentiments of the Order of the Oblation of the Sacrifice

The figure of the Incarnation of Christ from His Conception to His Passion, and to His Ascension, is what is taught in the Order of the Mass.

The Church which shelters the congregation, and the Altar, is the figure of that human divine shelter, of which is said, “Protect me under the shadow of Thy Wings.” (Ps. 16:8)

The Altar in the Church is a figure of the persecution of the Christians, under which they suffered long tribulations, in Communion with the Body of Christ. Just as the Holy Ghost saith of saints, “I have trodden the winepress alone,” that is, He with His Members.

The Chalice of the Mass is a figure of the Church, which was planted and founded upon the persecutions of the prophets, and on the wisdom of God also. As Christ said, “Upon this Rock will I build My Church”; that is, upon the strength of the Faith of the First Martyrs who suffered for the foundations of the edifice, and of the Martyrs of the Latter Times even unto Elias and Enoch.

When water is being served in the beginning into the Chalice by the server, it is what is then meet: and he saith, “I ask Thee, O Father,” a drop then; “I beseech Thee, O Son,” a drop with that, “I beg Thee, O Holy Ghost”, the third drop with that; this is the figure of the congregation having advanced to the knowledge of the New Law, through the consent of the Will of the [Blessed] Trinity, and through the operation of the Holy Ghost, and that it was said, “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh and they shall prophecy” and the rest, and that was said: “They shall come from the east and from the west and from the north, and recline with Abraham, and Isaach, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God,” that is, in the eternal Church the first are last in the heavenly Kingdom.

After this wine is put into the chalice upon the water, that is [a figure] of the Divinity of Christ coming upon humanity among men at the time of His Incarnation and when the people were begotten, as it is said, “The Angel uttered the word; the Virgin conceived Christ, that is, it was then that the Godhead came into conjunction with the Manhood. Of the people, however, He said, “Have I conceived all this people?” Again: “In sorrow and pain shalt thou receive thy children.” It was the Church that said that: “As the Apostle says: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.”

This is what is said at putting wine into the chalice of the Mass: “May the Father forgive;” then a drop: ” May the Son pardon;” then another drop: “May the Holy Ghost have mercy;” then the third drop.

A hymn is chanted at the Mass after that, both the Introit and prayers and additions, until he reaches the lections [Epistle] of the Apostles and the Psalm of the digraid [the Gradual]. This is a figure of the dispensation of the Patriarchs by which the nature of Christ was made known through mysteries, and deeds, and consummations of nature, that it was said: “Abraham saw My Day and was glad”; because it was through the law of nature that Abraham saw the teachings of the Gospel. And the two psalm of the Gradual are said from that to the twice uncovering of the Chalice of the Mass: this is the figure of the written delivered Law in which Christ is figured [i.e., Law of Moses], and it was not comprehended, but that He was figured in it, and the even had not come, and nothing was perfected through it, for Law [of Moses] leads no one to perfection.

The two and and an half strippings of the Chalice of the Offertory and of the Oblation, and all that is sung at them, both of the Gospel and Alleluia, is the figure of the written law [the prophecies], in which Christ was manifestly foretold, but that He was not seen until He was Born.

At the elevation of the Chalice of the Mass and the Paten after having completely stripped them, then this verse is sung, i.e., Sacrifice to God the Sacrifice of Praise [i.e. Offertory rite–Fr Enoch]: [This is] the figure of the birth of Christ, and of His elevation through wonders and miracles. This is the beginning of the New Testament.

At the time when they sing, “Jesus took bread standing in the midst of His Disciples all the way unto the end”, the priests bow three times in repentance of the sins which they may have committed, and they Sacrifice to God, and thy sing this Psalm in full, “Have mercy on me, O God…” [Ps. 50]. And a voice is not sent into the sound by them [i.e., a voice is not audible from among the congregation], that the priest should not be interrupted, because it is then meet that his mind should not be diverted from God, even in one word [by one word], for it [disturbance] is antagonistic to the spiritual order, and the prayer is not acceptable by God if it is not thus it is made; and hence the name of this prayer is “The Most Dangerous Prayer”.

The three steps which the man of orders makes backward, and advances again forward, these are the three steps by which man fall, viz., in thought, in word, and in deed; and they [the three returning steps] are the three steps by which man is renewed again to God.

The attack which the priests directs at the Chalice of the Mass, and at the Paten, and at the Oblation, and the attack which he makes on the Oblation to break It, are the figures of the abuse, and the buffeting, and the arresting, which Christ suffered, and that is its comprehensible resolution.

And the Oblation upon the Paten is the Body of Christ upon the Cross. The Fraction of its on the Paten is the mangling of the Body of Christ on the Tree of the Cross.

The contact by which the two parts are brought into contact after that breaking, is the figure of the perfectness of the Body of Christ after His Resurrection. The breaking by both parts are broke afterwards; that is the figure of the cutting of the Blood which the Jews shed from the Body of Christ; the part which is brought under the half which the priests hold in his left hand, is a figure of the deadly wound inflicted by the spear, from the hand of Longinus, in the armpit of the right side of Jesus. Because it was westward the Face of Christ was upon His Cross, that is towards the city of Jerusalem; and it was eastward the face of Longinus was and what was left to him was right to Christ, for it was towards us the Face of Christ was turned when coming unto us–as it was said: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise in that day,” and “the Lord shall come from the East.” His back was therefore towards us when departing from us, and He was calling upon all the people to come unto Him after Him, saying, “Come ye all unto Me, after Me.”

The hold [adjusting or arranging] by which the priest’s hand holds [arranges or adjusts] the Paten and the Chalice of the Mass is the figure of the congregating of the people of heaven, and the people of earth into one fold; that is, the people of heaven through the Table, the people of earth through the Chalice.

And this is the foundation of the Faith which every Christian is bound to hold; and it is upon this foundation that every virtue which he practices, and ever good work which he performs, is erected.

For it is through this perfection of the Faith with tranquil charity, and with steadfast hope, that all faithful are saved. For it is this Faith, that is the Catholic Faith, that conducts the righteous to the sight; that is, to see God in the Glory and in the Dignity in which He Abides. It is this sight which is offered as a golden reward to the righteous after the Resurrection. The pledge for this sign, which has been left to the Church here for the present, is the Holy Ghost, which resides in, which comforts, and which strengthens her with all virtues.

It is this Spirit which distributes His Own peculiar Gifts to every faithful member in the Church, as He pleases, and as they require to receive it from Him. For it is by the Holy Ghost these noble Gifts following are bestowed upon the Church among men, viz.: Baptism, and Penitence, and the expectation of persecutions and afflictions.

One of the Noble Gifts of the Holy Ghost is the Holy Scriptures, by which all ignorance is enlightened and all worldly afflictions comforted; by which all spiritual light is kindled; ;by which all debility is mad strong. For it is through the Holy Scripture that heresy and schism are banished form the Church, and all contentions and divisions reconciled. It is in it well-tried counsel and appropriate instruction will be found for every degree in the Church. It is through it the snares of demons, and vices, are banished from every faithful member in the Church. For the Divine Scripture is the mother and the benign nurse of all the faithful who meditate and contemplate it, and who are nurtured by it, until they are chosen children of God by its advice. For the wisdom, that is the Church, bountifully distributes to her children the variety of her sweetest drink, and the choicest of her spiritual food, by which they are perpetually intoxicated and cheered.

Another division of that pledge, which has been left with the Church to comfort her, is the Body of Christ, and His Blood, which are Offered upon the Altars of the Christians.

The Body which was Born of Mary the Virgin, without any stain, without destruction of her Virginity, without opening of the womb, without presence of man, and which was Crucified by the unbelieving Jews out of spit and envy, and Which Arose after three days from death, and Sits upon the Right Hand of God the Father in Heaven, in Glory and in Dignity before the Angels in Heaven.

It is the Body the Same as It is in this Great Glory, which the righteous consume off God’s Table, that is, off the Holy Altar. For this Body is the Rich Viaticum of the faithful, who journey through the paths of pilgrimage and repentance of this world to the Heavenly Fatherland. This is the Seed of the Resurrection in the Life Eternal to the righteous. It is, however, the origin and cause of falling to the impenitent, who believe not, and to the sensual, who distinguish It not, though they believe. Woe then to the Christian who distinguishes not This Holy Body of the Lord, by pure morals, by charity, and by mercy. For it is in This Body that will be found the example of the charity which excels all charity, that is: To Sacrifice Himself without guilt in satisfaction for the guilt of the whole race of Adam.

This, then, is the perfection and fullness of the Catholic Faith, as it is taught in the Holy Scriptures, etc.

On Communion Participation

Elder Philotheos Zervakos 1884-1980

Some people don’t partake of Holy Communion at all due to impiety and an absence of faith. Others, out of ignorance, weakness of faith, carelessness, and an absence of true and pure love for God, partake one or two times a year as a habit, without fear, faith, and love. It is sad and worthy of great lamentation for the priest to stand at the Beautiful Gate and invite Christians to commune, and for not one person to come forward. (Middleton, Dr. Herman A. 2013-08-05. Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives and Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece (Kindle Locations 1856-1859). Protecting Veil. Kindle Edition)

On Baptism and the Holy Spirit

St. Athanasius the Great ca. 297-373

For as the faith in the Triad, which has been delivered to us, joins us to God; and as he who takes anything away from the Triad, and is baptized in the name of the Father alone, or in the name of the Son alone, or in the Father and the Son without the Holy Spirit, receives nothing, but remains ineffective and uninitiated, both himself and he who is supposed to initiate him (for the rite of initiation is in the Triad); so he who divides the Son from the Father, or who reduces the Spirit to the level of the creatures, has neither the Son nor the Father, but is without God, worse than an unbeliever, and anything rather than a Christian. And justly so. For as baptism, which is given in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is one; and as there is one faith in the Triad (as the Apostle said); so the holy Triad, being identical with Itself and united within Itself, has in It nothing which belongs to things originate. This is the indivisible unity of the Triad; and faith therein is one. But if, from the new discovery you Tropici have made, it is not so; if you have dreamed dreams of calling the Holy Spirit a creature — then you no longer have one faith and one baptism, but two, one in the Father and the Son, another in an angel who is a creature. There is no security or truth left you. For what communion can there be between that which is originate and that which creates ? What unity between the lower creatures and the Word who created them? Knowing this, the blessed Paul does not divide the Triad as you do; but, teaching Its unity, when he wrote to the Corinthians concerning things spiritual, he finds the source of all things in one God, the Father, saying: ‘There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God who worketh all things in all.’ The gifts which the Spirit divides to each are bestowed from the Father through the Word. (Letters to Serration, Epistle 1.30)

On Common Mistakes Within Orthodoxy

Righteous Seraphim of Platina icon from Uncut Mountain Supply

Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina 1934-1982

One big mistake we can make about our Orthodoxy is being too loose, too “liberal” about it. This comes from ignorance. Some Orthodox people think that the Orthodox Church is nothing more than the Russian or Greek equivalent of the Episcopalian Church; with such an idea of course, one is not going to try very hard to bring anyone to the Orthodox Faith. This is the error of the ecumenical movement, which arranges meetings and conferences with non-Orthodox Churches, not with the aim of bringing them to the true Faith of Orthodoxy, but on a basis of worldly friendship, in order to speak of the secondary things which we have common with them, and to gloss over the differences which separate us and an awareness of which make them eager to accept the Orthodox Faith. This is not to say that all meetings between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, even on an official level, are wrong — but only that as ordinarily practiced these meetings are not an Orthodox witness to the non-Orthodox, as they should be.

With all respect to the views of the non-Orthodox, we are not living our Orthodox Faith rightly if we do not make others somehow aware of of the differentness of Orthodoxy. This does not need to mean arguments and polemics about aspects of the Faith, although these might arise after others have become interested in Orthodoxy. The very way one leads one’s Orthodox life, if one is serious about fulfilling the commitment of being an Orthodox Christian, is already a witness to others…

Yet another mistake made by contemporary Orthodox is what one might call the “fortress mentality”: we have the truth of Orthodoxy, and the times are so bad that our chief activity now is to defend it against the enemies on every side. Often this mentality goes overboard in finding “betrayers” and “heretics”  in the midst of Orthodox Christians themselves, and very often it is so concerned with its own “correctness” and the “incorrectness” of others that is has very little strength left to preach the Gospel of salvation even to the Orthodox, let alone to those outside the Church.

Now, Orthodoxy is indeed the correct teaching and the correct worship of God, and this is why this temptation is so easy to fall into. But we must remember that Christ Himself was constantly accused of being “incorrect” by the chief priests and pharisees of His time, and we have to remember that correctness in itself is nothing, and can even cause us to lose our soul, if we do not have first of all something much more fundamental and deep — the “one thing needful” for or salvation. This “one thing” might be called “living faith,” and it is inseparable from something which is all too lacking in the Church today — evangelical fervor. If we have found the true Faith after our own often arduous search, we cannot help but want others to share it. (The Orthodox Word 2002 no. 226 p. 247-248, 250-251)

On False Ecumenism and Authentic Orthodox Mission

Fr. Peter Alban Heers

The one and only way out of the dead end of this ecumenistic ecclesiology and mission – which has done more to split the Orthodox Church than unite Her – is the path of Orthodox mission.

If Protestant mission led us into ecumenism, Orthodox mission will lead us out: tried and tested apostolic and patristic mission, true, uncompromising, ascetic, otherworldly, and sacrificial, which aims at heavenly, not temporal, ends. Mission in the spirit and tradition of Apostles Peter and Paul, Ss. Cyril and Methodios, St. Stephen of Perm, St. Kosmas Aitolos, St. Innocent of Alaska, and, in our own times, Blessed Father Cosmas of Grigoriou and Zaire and the ever‐memorable Bishop Nectarios of Madagascar.

To such Orthodox witness there can be no objection on the part of anyone. Such an Orthodox witness can unite all Orthodox in the realization of an authentic catholic vision of mission, where we all, according to the words of the Apostle Peter, will be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

With such a spiritual and authentically ecclesiastical Mission we will be able to call all – heterodox and all religious believers – into the unique Ark of salvation, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is in truth the very Body of the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. (The Missionary Origins of Modern Ecumenism: Milestones leading up to 1920)

Fr. Florovsky on Intercommunion

Andrew Blane

The issue on which Bulgakov and Florovsky diverged most widely at the Fellowship [of St. Alban and St. Sergius] meetings was introduced by Father Bulgakov in 1933. Noting with regret that the members of the Fellowship had for six years shared in each other’s liturgy and eucharistic celebrations, but had refrained from partaking of communion together because of the differing views and practices of their Churches, he made the rather daring proposal “that the Fellowship should take what he called ‘molecular action,’ and proceed with a plan of intercommunion for its own members, without waiting for the two Churches as a whole to act officially.” Bulgakov then offered such a plan. In order to safeguard the principle of Church order his plan called for “a special sacramental blessing to be bestowed upon the Anglicans by an Orthodox hierarch, and the Anglicans should submit to it and accept it as an ‘act of sacrifice’.” This dramatic proposal was discussed for some two years, with discord at times so acute that it threatened to destroy the new Fellowship. It was not simply a matter of Anglicans versus Orthodox, but rather that each side experienced deep fissures. The rift among the Russian participants has been concisely described by Roger Lloyd, the Anglican historian:

“Bulgakov knew from the beginning that he would find opposition from his own side, but he had not realized how strong this opposition would be. Florovsky, for example, spoke for many Russians when he said that the sacramental blessing could not absolve schismatics from the duty and obligation of submitting to the sacrament of penance before admission to the Church, for this essential rite for the reception of schismatics “in their existing orders”. It seemed to him that under the proposals inter-communion was to be had too cheaply by the Anglicans…’ (Georges Florovsky: Russian Intellectual, Orthodox Churchman, ed. by A. Blane, p. 65)

On the Fountain of Immortality

The Fountain of Immortality

Other beautiful recordings and videos from Dn. Alexander Koranda here

On “Valid” Sacraments Outside the Church

Pope Paul VI and Pat. Athenagoras

Protopresbyter John Romanides 1927-2001

The Balamand agreement is…based on an interpretation of our Lord’s Prayer in John 17 which is not part of the Patristic tradition… This agreement takes advantage of those naive Orthodox who have been insisting that they are a “sister” Church of a Vatican “sister” Church, as though glorification (theosis) can have a sister otherwise than herself. The Orthodox at Balamand fell into this their own trap since this presupposes the validity of Latin sacraments. This is a strange phenomenon indeed since the Latins never believed that glorification in this life is the foundation of apostolic succession and the Mysteries (Sacraments) of and within the Body of Christ. Even today the Latins and the Protestants translate 1 Cor. 12:26 as “honored” instead of “glorified.”

But Vatican II had also set its trap of unilaterally recognizing Orthodox Mysteries (Sacraments) into which the Balamand Orthodox fell according to plan.

More important than the validity of Mysteries is the question of who participates in them…It would seem that the Orthodox may legitimately and dutifully wish and hope out of love that Latin and Protestant mysteries are indeed valid and efficacious, but leave the matter in the hands of God. But to pronounce them valid, 1) when the Latins do not accept glorification (theosis) in this life as the central core of Apostolic Tradition and succession and 2) when they believe instead that happiness is one’s final end, is indeed strange. One does not need valid Mysteries in order to become eternally happy. Franco-Latin official teachings on the Mysteries have been historically not only un-Orthodox, but anti-Orthodox.

…At the time of Vatican II the New York Times had announced on its title page that the schism between the Orthodox and the Vatican had supposedly ended. This was due to the fact that the Latins understood the lifting of the Anathemas of 1054 as a lifting of the excommunication. Constantinople lifted, as it seems, only anathemas. For the Latins this was in keeping with Vatican II on the validity of Orthodox Mysteries. This made it possible for Latins to take communion at Orthodox Churches and, according to the Latins, vice versa. The Orthodox had difficulties refusing communion to Latins and the Vatican temporarily suspended the practice.

This Balamand agreement has been accepted by the representatives of nine out of 14 Orthodox Churches but not yet by their Synods nor by a Pan-Orthodox Council. In the meantime the Vatican may once again encourage Latins and Uniates to take communion at Orthodox Churches while encouraging the Orthodox to do likewise. The very fact that the Orthodox at Balamand have extended full recognition to Latin Mysteries means that the impression could be easily created that only bigotry could be the reason for refusing inter-communion and con-celebration.

…Since at least 1975 the WCC has been carefully and very successfully cultivating the image of the Orthodox as lacking Christian love for refusing communion to others. A likely refusal of the Orthodox to accept Uniates under one of their Archbishops or Patriarchs may become part of a similar practice of picturing the Orthodox as indeed bigots, especially since in this case they would be refusing communion to and con-celebration with clergy whose mysteries they fully recognize.

Now that the Balamand agreement has become a candidate to become a sequel to Vatican II and in which case Uniatism will no longer have any reason for existing, the Orthodox will be faced with the consequences of their continued refusal of communion with the Latins and Uniates.

What is most interesting is the fact that according to the Balamand agreement Mysteries are valid whether one accepts seven or 22 Ecumenical Councils and their teachings and practices. The impression will be certainly created that only lack of love could be the reason why the Orthodox may continue to refuse inter-communion and con-celebration with the Vatican.

It seems that the Orthodox at Balamand are attempting to introduce an innovation in regards to biblical Mysteries. Up to now the Orthodox Churches usually accepted into their membership individuals or Churches by means of either exactitude (akribeia) or economy (oikonomia).

(a) By Exactitude one is accepted by baptism, chrismation and profession of the Orthodox Faith accompanied by rejection of former errors.

(b) By Economy one is accepted by chrismation and profession of the Orthodox faith and the rejection of former errors.

Neither of these two means of entry into the Church is in itself a judgment on the validity or non-validity of the sacraments of the Church of origin, since there are no Mysteries outside of the Body of Christ. One is either a member of the Body of Christ by his baptism of the Spirit, i.e. illumination and/or glorification in Christ or one is still in the state of purification by his baptism by water unto forgiveness of sins and in the process of becoming a member of the Body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. One may be a believer in Christ without belonging to either of these categories. This holds true for nominal Orthodox also. It is up to each Synod of Orthodox bishops to decide the status of each group of those who are seeking communion within the Body of Christ.

… [S]ince Peter the Great…professors of Orthodox faculties became no longer aware, and many are still not aware, of this biblical/patristic tradition of cure and are therefore prone to copy from non-patristic or non-Orthodox works to write their teaching manuals. The result has been the appearance of large groups of clergy who no longer see any important difference between the Latin and Orthodox understandings of the Mysteries within the Body of Christ.

The basic question before us is clear: Is dogma 1) a protection from speculating quack doctors and 2) a guide to the cure of the purification and the illumination of the heart and glorification (theosis), or not? (Orthodox and Vatican Agreement)

On the Mystery of Baptism and the Unity of the Church

The Mystery of Baptism and the Unity of the Church by Protopresbyter Peter Heers

An address prepared for the academic conference Ecumenism: Origin, Expectations and Disenchantment 

 

 

https://www.academia.edu/11397436/The_Mystery_of_Baptism_and_the_Unity_of_the_Church

Fr. Peter’s academia.edu page:

https://aristoteleio.academia.edu/FrPeterHeers

and his webpage which is under development:

http://orthodoxethos.com

 

 

 

On the Sakkos and the Mitre

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

The Sakkos

The sakkos, from the Hebrew sakk meaning “sackcloth” was part of the emperor’s wardrobe in Byzantium. This garment had no sleeves and was donned over the head and buttoned on the sides. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, emperors began to give sakkos as a gift to patriarchs in Constantinople. Patriarchs often wore the sakkos only on Christmas, Pascha, and Pentecost. Several bishops began to wear the sakkos in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but the phelonion continued to be the traditional hierarchical vestment. [1] By this time the sakkos had a acquired short sleeves. Saint Gregory Palamas, the archbishop of Thessalonica, is depicted on icons wearing the omophorion and sakkos with short sleeves. Many Greek bishops began to wear the sakkos in the sixteenth century. By that time the sleeves of the sakkos had become longer, yet shorter than the sleeves of the sticharion.

It is difficult to determine exactly when bells first appeared on the sakkos. It is evident, however that they serve as a reminder of the bells worn by Aaron on his robe, that their sound “will be heard when Aaron is serving as a priest, entering and leaving the holy place before the Lord” (Ex. 28:30). Bells produce a ringing sound whenever the bishop moves around the church.

The sakkos first appeared in Russia no later than the fourteenth century as a liturgical vestment of Moscow’s metropolitans. The sakkos of Metropolitan Peter (1308-1326) is preserved to this day. It was sewn in 1322 from light-blue satin material on which crosses in circles are woven with gold. Both “large” and “small” sakkos survives from Metropolitan Photius (1409-1431). They are distinguished by their unusual richness of surface embroidery. After the establishment of the patriarchate in 1589, the sakkos became the vestment of Moscow’s patriarchs. The sakkos was worn in the seventeenth century by metropolitans and some archbishops. In 1705 it was established that all hierarchs of the Russian Church must wear the sakkos.

The Mitre

St. Cyril in ancient Alexandrian mitre

The mitre was not an attribute of the hierarch’s vestments during the earliest days. The scholar Aleksei Dmitrievsky believes “this adornment for the bishop’s head was made an article of their rank fairly recently”. He wrote that “nothing but a complete silence is maintained regarding the mitre in all ancient and later services for consecrating not only a bishop, but also a metropolitan and even a patriarch, which includes Greek, south-Slavic, and also our Slavonic-Russian service books, hand-written as well as printed and even those used in the practice of serving in the East and in Russia”. [2]

Although it is a relatively new phenomenon that the mitre is attributed to every bishop, the use of the mitre by individual hierarchs reaches back to deep antiquity. The origin of the mitre is found in the turban, the liturgical headdress of the Old Testament high priests. Saint John Chrysostom refers to the mitre is this very context. [3] There are numerous testimonies of the mitre as an attribute of the Alexandrian patriarchs. Saints Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria are often depicted in ancient frescoes wearing white hats having black crosses. It was the custom of the Alexandrian patriarchs to wear such mitres. During the time of Saint Simeon of Thessalonica (fifteenth century), many other bishops in the East wore mitres, but traditionally it was still considered an attribute primarily of the Alexandrian patriarch. To the question, “Why do bishops and priests, with the exception of the Alexandrian patriarch, serve with uncovered heads and why is it better to serve with an uncovered head,” Saint Simeon of Thessalonica answered:

All eastern hierarchs and priests, with the exception of the Alexandrian (patriarch), conduct the sacred serving with uncovered heads… But, perhaps, somebody will ask whether it is not irreverent that the Alexandrian patriarch covers his head with the sacred covering (Gr. hieron epikalymma) as do countless others in accordance with ancient tradition? I do not ask this, for those who act in this way (and it serves as a justification) act according to the most ancient, or more accurately – “most lawful” [4] – tradition. Actually, the “lawful” [5] high priest wore on his head a turban (Gr. kidarin), which is called a mitre (Gr. mitran), as bishops who wear it like to call it. Perhaps they have it as the likeness of the image of the crown of thorns of the Master and King – which was on his head. [6]

In the sixteenth century, when the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem celebrated the divine services together, only the Alexandrian patriarch wore a mitre. A Russian envoy present at the service in Constantinople in 1585 bore witness to this fact. [7] Performing the service alone, the patriarch of Constantinople donned a mitre shaped like a king’s crown. The mitre may have been a gift from one of the Byzantine emperors to the Constantinopolitan patriarch. Another possibility is that the patriarch of Constantinople began to wear the mitre after the fall of Byzantine Empire. “For Greek national self-love it was completely natural, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, to place the crown of the emperors, who no longer existed, on the head its ecumenical patriarch, the chief and single guardian of the interests of Orthodoxy and the nationality itself in the entire Muslim east.” [8] Gradually the patriarch of Constantinople passed the crown-shaped mitre down to other Greek bishops.

In the middle of the seventeenth century, only the patriarch wore a mitre during a cathedral service in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Russian traveler Arseny Sukhanov was present at the service on Holy Friday and was a witness to this fact:

Every metropolitan wore a sakkos, and all were without caps. [9] Furthermore, nobody wore a cap anywhere, except for the patriarch. They have no caps and never had any. The metropolitan of Nazareth, having a worn-out hat, humbly asked the sovereign if he might deign to order a new one made, and the bishop of Nazareth, when he had arrived, gave this sovereign’s cap to the patriarch as well as a sakkos. And from the beginning there were no caps in Nazareth and at the present time they will not wear them. And it is said that the patriarch, receiving it, pawned it. And while he was with us the metropolitan of Nazareth did not wear a cap when serving both with and without the patriarch. [10]

In 1642 the sovereign Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich presented a mitre to the monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai which is preserved to this day in the monastery’s skevofilakia (room where the holy vessles are kept). It measures 20.5 cm (8.1 inches) in height, has a cross on top, and is adorned with eight icons, pearls, and precious stones. Another mitre, prepared in 1636 and presented to the monastery by Christians from the town of Yannin, has a height of 25.5 cm (10 inches). It is a magnificent work made of bronze and finished with precious stones, pearls, numerous icons, and depictions of cherubim. A third mitre, given to the monastery by “Protosyngellos” Nicephorus of Crete in 1678, has a height of 20.5 cm (8.1 inches) and besides precious stones and pearls, it is adorned with polychrome enamel.

Russian Old Rite Hierarchal Mitre

Originally the liturgical headdress of Russian hierarchs was the kukol (a rounded klobuk). Beginning in the fifteenth century, the mitre emerged in the service of Russian hierarchs, when it had the appearance of a prince’s hat. They were decorated with embroidery and precious stones and were sometimes lined with fur on the bottom. The Russian mitre-cap differed in shape from the crown-shaped Byzantine mitres. For this reason, the latter caused bewilderment for connoisseurs of church rituals. One such connoisseur who was present during the service of the patriarch of Jerusalem Theophan in Moscow in 1619 observed, “The cap he was wearing was without a border on black velvet… like a gilded crown with stones planted and with no depictions of saints, but on the top is placed a cross and on the sides four cherubim and seraphim.” [11] In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Greek hierarchs were pleased to receive Russian mitre-caps from Russian tsars, metropolitans, and patriarchs, but they did not use them but rather pawned them or refashioned them. Russian mitre-caps with sable linings did not conform to the eastern climate. [12]

The crown-shaped mitre appeared in Russia in the seventeenth century when it was adopted from Greek hierarchs by Patriarch Nikon in 1653. [13] All hierarchs in Russia began wearing mitres of that style. Mitres were also given to some archimandrites. This was made permissible by the decree of Peter the Great in 1705. In 1786 Catherine the Great awarded a mitre to her spiritual father, Archpriest John Pamphilov, and beginning in 1797, by the decree of Tsar Pavel I, the mitre came to be awarded to deserving archpriests as a mark of special distinction.

In contrast to the Greek Church in which all mitres are topped with a cross, two types are used in the Russian Church – with and without a cross. Originally the mitre with a cross appertained to the patriarchs of Moscow. In 1686 the right to wear a mitre with a cross was extended to the metropolitan of Kiev. Later, all metropolitans received this right while all archbishops, bishops, and archpriests as well as archimandrites and mitred archpriests wore the mitre without a cross. At the end of the of the 1980s, during the patriarchate of Patriarch Pimen, the Holy Synod established, in accordance with the Greek custom, that all hierarchs of the Russian Church are to wear mitres with a cross. The mitre without a cross now is worn by archimandrites and mitred archpriests. [14] (Orthodox Christianity Vol. III, The Architecture, Icons, and Music of the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. pp. 98-102)

[1] [St] Nicholas Cabasilas mentions the phelonion and omophorian as the basic elements of the hierarch’s vestments in the fourteenth century and does not mention the sakkos at all. See, ‘Concerning Sacred Vestments’, 3, SC 4-bis, 366.

[2] Aleksei Dmitrievsky, “Mitre, Historical-Archeological Essay,” Handbook for Rural Pastors, No. 11 (Kiev, 1903) (Reprinted in Moscow Diocesan News, No. 4-5, 2003); References for the following editions: Relations of Russia with the East, 88, 101; Proskynitarion of Arsenius Sukhanov, 82.

[3] St. John Chrysostom Concerning the Holy Priesthood 3, 4.

[4] That is to say, “of the Old Testament.”

[5] Again, this means “of the Old Testament.”

[6] Simeon of Thessalonica Concerning the Holy Temple 45. PG 155, 716D-717A.

[7] A. N. Muraviev, Relations of Russia with the East, Part 2 (St Petersburg, 1860), 149.

[8] Dmitrievsky, Mitre

[9] In the Slavic Bishop’s Service Book (Chinovnik) the mitre is called a “cap” (shapka).

[10] “Proskynitarion of Arsenius Sukhanov,” Orthodox Palestinian Collection, Edition No. 21 (vol. 7, ed. 3) (St Petersburg, 1889), 82.

[11] Readings in the Society of History and Russian Antiquities, Book 2, Part 2, 166.

[12] Dmitrievsky, Mitre. With a reference to the next publication: Relations of Russia with the East. Ch. 1, S. 88, 101. Proskynitarion of Arsenius Sukhanov, 82.

[13] Antiquities of the Russian State, Part 1, 124-132

[14] In the West the mitre acquired the shape of a pointed crown, widening from the base and becoming narrow on the top. Such pointed mitres can be seen in paintings from the Middle Ages. The mitre was worn by western bishops including Roman popes. Beginning in the fourteenth century, popes wore the tiara – an egg-shaped hat from three crowns, symbolizing the secular and spiritual power of the pope on earth and also his power over the next life. The tiara in the Roman Church was eliminated by Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) and subsequent popes have worn mitres identical to those worn by other Latin bishops.

On Self-Deification

Christopher Veniamin

Father Sophrony also makes another very interesting and important observation concerning the example given by Christ and our own theosis or deification. He points to the fact that even though the deification of Christ’s human nature was, as Saint John Damascene says, effected from the very moment in which He assumed our nature, nevertheless Christ as Man shied away from anything which might give the impression of auto-theosis, that is to say, self-deification or self-divinization. That is why we see the action of the Holy Spirit underlined at His Holy Birth: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee… therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35); also, the Holy Spirit descends upon Christ at His Baptism in the Jordan (Matt. 3:15); and concerning the Resurrection, the Scriptures speak thus: “God, that raised Him up form the dead, and gave Him glory” (1 Pet. 1:21); and finally, Christ Himself, teaching us the way of humility and how always to ascribe glory to Our Heavenly Father, says: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is Another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which He witnesseth of me is true” (John 5:31-32).

The same movement may be observed in the Divine Liturgy. The Words of Institution — “Take eat, this is My Body”, “Drink of this all of You, this is My Blood” — by themselves are not regarded as sufficient to effect the consecration of the Holy Gifts; they must be accompanied by the Epiklesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit, precisely in order to avoid any notion of self-deification, to avoid, that is, giving the impression that simply by speaking the words which Christ spoke, we are able to transform the Holy Gifts into the precious Body and Blood of Christ. (Veniamin, ‘The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation: “Theosis” in Scripture and Tradition’ pp. 20-21. The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation: “Theosis” in Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Essex)

St. Philaret of Moscow on the Reception of Converts

St. Philaret of Moscow 1821-1867

Question 1

If a layman, baptized and confirmed in the established Church of England, were to apply to you to be admitted into full communion with the Greek Church, would you be obliged to receive him, even if it might seem to you that it would be better for him to remain in the English Church?

Reply

To reply to this question, one first has to understand it. But the question posed here is not readily comprehensible and therefore it is necessary to pose the following the question in return: Under what circumstances could a priest of the Orthodox Church, believing in its Apostolic dignity and purity, suppose it would be better for a member of the English Church to remain in it rather than unite himself to the Orthodox Church? Until this second question is resolved, an Orthodox priest of the Catholic Eastern Church can assume that the question originally posed does not exist; and that consequently it does not require an answer.

Question 2

If a layman were to be received, would it be necessary to give him baptism and confirmation, conditionally or unconditionally?

Reply

A member of the Anglican Church, who has definitely received a baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, even though it be by effusion (pouring), can, in accordance with the rule accepted in the Church of Russia (which the Church of Constantinople considers to be a form of condescension), be received into the Orthodox Church without a new baptism, but the sacrament of chrismation must be administered to him, because confirmation, in the teaching of the Anglican Church, is not a sacrament. (Guidance from Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow Regarding English Converts to Orthodoxy. Embassy, Emigrants, and Englishmen p. 607)

 

St. Justinian on Heterodoxy

St. Justinian the Emperor ca. 483-565

But inasmuch as heretics, who respect neither God nor the penalties threatened by my severe laws, eagerly execute the work of the devil, and, by seducing the simple away from the true Church, furtively hold misgatherings and misbaptisms. (Novella 132)

On the Mystery of Monasticism

From the Gerontikon

There was once a great clairvoyant elder who maintained that the power of Grace which he saw, during a Baptism, near at hand to the person being baptized, he also saw at the time that a monk was receiving the Angelic Schema. (Hypothesis XXXI, The Evergetinos Vol. III of First Book)

On Catechumens and Those Accepted by Oikonomia

St. Cyprian of Carthage ca. 200-258

On which place some, as if by human reasoning they were able to make void the truth of the Gospel declaration, object to us the case of catechumens; asking if any one of these, before he is baptized in the Church, should be apprehended and slain on confession of the name, whether he would lose the hope of salvation and the reward of confession, because he had not previously been born again of water? Let men of this kind, who are aiders and favorers of heretics, know therefore, first, that those catechumens hold the sound faith and truth of the Church, and advance from the divine camp to do battle with the devil, with a full and sincere acknowledgment of God the Father, and of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost; then, that they certainly are not deprived of the sacrament of baptism who are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord also said that He had another baptism to be baptized with. But the same Lord declares in the Gospel, that those who are baptized in their own blood, and sanctified by suffering, are perfected, and obtain the grace of the divine promise, when He speaks to the thief believing and confessing in His very passion, and promises that he should be with Himself in paradise. Wherefore we who are set over the faith and truth ought not to deceive and mislead those who come to the faith and truth, and repent, and beg that their sins should be remitted to them; but to instruct them when corrected by us, and reformed for the kingdom of heaven by celestial discipline.

But some one says, What, then, shall become of those who in past times, coming from heresy to the Church, were received without baptism? The Lord is able by His mercy to give indulgence, and not to separate from the gifts of His Church those who by simplicity were admitted into the Church, and in the Church have fallen asleep. Nevertheless it does not follow that, because there was error at one time, there must always be error; since it is more fitting for wise and God-fearing men, gladly and without delay to obey the truth when laid open and perceived, than pertinaciously and obstinately to struggle against brethren and fellow priests on behalf of heretics. (Letter 72.22-23)

St. Dionysius on the Reception of Heretics

St. Dionysius the Great died ca. 265

…[I]ndeed, (Pope Stephen of Rome) had written letters about Helanus and Firmilianus, and about all who were established throughout Cilicia and Cappadocia, and all the neighboring provinces, giving them to understand that for that same reason he would depart from their communion, because they rebaptized heretics. And consider the seriousness of the matter. For, indeed, in the most considerable councils of the bishops, as I hear, it has been decreed that they who come from heresy should first be trained in Catholic doctrine, and then should be cleansed by baptism from the filth of the old and impure leaven.Asking and  calling him to witness on all these matters, I sent letters. (Fragments: Epistle 6)

On Apostolic Responsibility

Metropolitan Amphilochius (Radovich)

His [St. Nikolai Velimirovich] sense of apostolic responsibility for all people and all nations can be explained. It is a fact that he was nearly the first [Orthodox] Christian bishop who preached Christ, in English, in the 20s of the twentieth century, to African Americans in Manhattan, New York.* (The Theanthropic Ethos of Holy Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich. [kindle version])

* St. Philip’s Church in Harlem, New York

On Multiple Loaves for the Divine Liturgy

In our Russian Church, we use five Prosphora loaves for the Proskomide [the Service of Preparation, or Prothesis, also called Proskomedia, and despite the clear derivation from the Greek, (“proskomizo”) or “to offer,” Prokimidi and Proskimidia]. In other traditions, they use one with five seals on it. Also, some use two layers for the loaf, others one. Can you explain this?

The use of more than one Prosphoron (plural, ta Prosphora) (loaf) for the celebration of the Eucharist is not the very ancient practice of the Church and departs from the Scriptural symbolism of the “one bread” in St. Paul’s commentary on the Divine Eucharist (1 Cor. 10:16-17). Nonetheless, early on in the liturgical texts we find references to a number of Prosphora, as in the fourteenth-century Diataxis of Patriarch Philotheos. St. Symeon of Thessaloniki (+1430), the noted liturgical expert, also describes the Proskomide service in some detail, noting that “one” of the loaves on the Table of Preparation is used for the initial blessing service (St. Symeon, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Ta Apanta, Thessaloniki, 1983, p. 110) — though there is no indication that more than one loaf was actually used for the Eucharist. Nonetheless, the use of a number of loaves is part of what some scholars call a clear development from about the tenth century on. (See, for example, Father Lawrence Barriger, “The Legacy of Constantinople in the Russian Liturgical Tradition” [Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vol. 33 (4), pp. 387-416], whose curious view of such things as the “Litany of the Catechumens” may, however, impugn his general expertise in Orthodox liturgical matters.) Others see this trend as the result of a possible confusion among less-educated clergy of the Proskomide with the blessing of the Five Loaves, or Artoklasia. On Mt. Athos, the Eucharist is usually celebrated with two Prosphora, the triangle honoring the Theotokos and the particles for the Saints and other commemorations coming from the second loaf.

As an interesting aside, we might note that, before the Fall of Constantinople, the Prosphoron, which is now round in form, was in the shape of a square. The seal in the middle of the square loaf was, however, round, marked with a Cross and the familiar symbol, “IC XC NIKA” (“Jesus Christ conquers”). This custom — i.e., the use of a square loaf (Artos, as he calls it) is also noted by St. Symeon of Thessaloniki (ibid., pp. 111-112).

The preparation of a single Prosphoron from two layers of leavened bread placed together is also an ancient custom. The two layers in one loaf represent the two natures of Christ. (Orthodox Insights vol. I, pp. 15-16)

On the Reception of Heretics

Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril V

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

When in 1750 Patriarch Cyril V insisted that Latin converts should undergo a fresh baptism on entering the Orthodox Church, he was attacked not only by the Roman Catholic residents in Constantinople, but also – more surprisingly – by many of his own Orthodox flock, who denounced his actions as an innovation, contrary to the Canons and the tradition of the Church. Yet in fact the matter was by no means as straightforward as most of Cyril’s opponents imagined. The Patriarch, so far from flouting the tradition of the past, could quote weighty precedents on his side, both from the ancient Fathers and from more recent history. It was not the first time since the great schism between east and west that Orthodox had demanded the rebaptism of converts.

From the fourth century onwards heretics and schismatics who are reconciled to the Church have been divided into three classes:

(1) Some are received into communion without further formality, once they have made an abjuration of their errors and a profession of faith.

(2) Others are required not only to make an act of abjuration and a profession of faith, but to be anointed with Holy Chrism.

(3) Others again are not only chrismated but baptized, their previous Baptism at the hands of heretics being rejected as invalid.

With an inconsistency more apparent than real, the Orthodox Church has sometimes placed Latin converts in the first class, and sometimes in the second or third. As an added complication, the practice of Russians at any given moment usually differed from that of the Greeks: when the Russian Church rebaptized the Latins, the ancient Patriarchates of the East did not, and vice versa.

Until the Fall of Constantinople the Byzantine Church made no specific enactments concerning the reception of Latin converts. Cases of rebaptism were not entirely unknown. As early as 1054 we find Cardinal Humbert protesting that the Greeks ‘rebaptizant in nomine sanctae Trinitatis baptizatos, et maxime Latinos’; and in 1215 the Lateran Council accused the Greeks of rebaptizing western Christians. But it seems that, at any rate until the fourteenth century, as a general rule neither Baptism nor Chrismation was considered necessary. Writing around 1190, the Byzantine canonist Theodore Balsamon says that a Latin may be admitted to communion “provided he first declares that he will abstain from Latin doctrines and customs, and, provided that he has been instructed according to the Canons, and is willing to be treated in all things Orthodox.” There is no suggestion that he must also be chrismated or baptized: evidently Balsamon placed western Christians in the first of the three classes mentioned above, not in the second or third. But by the 15th century many Greeks had become more rigorous, and Saint Mark of Ephesus states in his day Latins were received by Chrismation. This was not, however, the invariable practice, for even in the 15th century instances occur in which Latins were received by simple profession of faith.

The matter was first regularized by a Council held at Constantinople in 1484. The practice described by Mark of Ephesus was formally ratified and a special order drawn up in which Chrismation was required as well as an abjuration and a profession of faith. These regulations remained officially in force for the next three hundred years throughout the four Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

It seems, however, that in the 17th century some Greeks, not content with the regulations of 1484, were not only chrismating Latins but baptizing them. Caucus, Latin Archbishop of Corfu, begins his long list of the ‘Errors of the Modern Greeks’ (there are thirty-one items in all) by stating, ‘They re-baptize all Latins that embrace their Communion.’ Leo Allatius, anxious as ever not to exaggerate the divergences between east and west, argues that Caucus had confused Chrism with Baptism: the Greeks chrismate Latin converts but do not baptize them. Father Richard Simon, however, writing later in the same century, maintains that there is more in Caucus’ charge than Allatius was prepared to allow:

‘As to the re-baptizing of the Latins, it is certain that they have done it in other places, besides Corfu; and that because of the enmity they bear towards them, looking upon all their ceremonies as abominable.’

Simon’s testimony is confirmed by another French priest, Father Francois Richard, writing in 1657:

‘A number of Greeks do not regard our baptism as good and valid; and although this heresy does not prevail so much on the islands of the Archipelago as in the towns of the mainland, none the less some are to be found who rebaptize those of us Franks who wish to pass over to their rite. But others are content to have them rechrismated (this, however, is another heresy)’.

It should be mentioned in passing that the Greeks were not the only ones to practice rebaptism. In the middle of the 14th century, for example, when the Byzantine Emperor John V Cantacuzene went to Hungary to negotiate an alliance, King Louis of Hungary demanded as a prelimary condition that the Emperor and his suite should undergo Baptism at the hands of Roman clergy. And when Louis conquered large tracts of Bulgaria, Latin missionaries proceeded systematically to rebaptize the Orthodox there: it is said that eight Franciscan friars administered Baptism to no less than 200,000 persons in the course of fifty days. Similar instances, on a less spectacular scale, seem to have occurred in the eastern Mediterranean during the 17th century; Nektarios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, describes a strange case in which (so he alleges) an Orthodox priest was rebaptized by the Franciscans in the Holy City.

From 1484, then, the Greeks normally chrismated Latin converts, although instances of rebaptism occasionally occurred. Affairs in Russia had meanwhile taken a different course. Up to the middle of the 15th century there was the same variation there as in the Byzantine Church: sometimes rebaptism, more usually reception by Chrismation or simple profession of faith. But after the Council of Florence (1438-9) rebaptism became more and more frequent, until in 1620 a Council at Moscow formally decreed that all converts must be baptized on embracing Orthodoxy, whatever the previous Baptism which they had received. This decision was reversed by a further Council held at the same city in 1667, which laid down that Russia should henceforth follow the Greek ruling of 1484.

But in the south of Russia, the Church of Kiev, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch, had always followed the 1484 regulations, so that while the Orthodox of Great Russia were rebaptizing converts, the Orthodox of Little Russia merely chrismated them. In the middle of the 17th century Kiev went even further than Constantinople: the Metropolitan Peter of Moghila, in the Ritual or Trebnik which he issued in 1646, laid down that Roman Catholic converts should be received without chrismation. The Trebnik divides converts into three classes with which we are already familiar:

(1) Socinians and Anabaptists (for these, both rebaptism and Chrismation are required;

(2) Lutherans and Calvinists (chrismated, but not baptized);

(3) apostate Orthodox, Roman Catholics, whether of the eastern or the western rite, and Armenians (received without Chrismation, after an abjuration of their previous heresy).

As we should expect, the sacramental theology which Moghila’s Trebnik presupposes is Latin rather than Greek.

Lutheran and Calvinist converts were for a time treated more rigorously than Roman Catholics. In 1644 Parthenios II, Patriarch of Constantinople, laid down that they must be baptized as well as chrismated. But in 1672 the Council of Jerusalem stated in general terms that heretics who join the Orthodox Church are not baptized; and since no distinction is drawn between Roman Catholics and Protestants, the Council presumably intended this ruling to apply to the latter as well as the former. In Russia the Council of 1667 merely decreed that Latins were to be accepted without rebaptism, but said nothing about Protestants, who continued to be received by Baptism as before. But in 1718 Peter the Great wrote to Jeremias III of Constantinople inquiring about Protestant Baptism, and the Patriarch replied that Lutherans and Calvinists who are received into the Orthodox Church, ‘ought to be perfected merely by unction with the Holy Chrism, and not rebaptized.’ This ruling was followed henceforward in Russia.

The Greek and Russian Churches, therefore, after two hundred years of divergent practice were once more in substantial agreement at the start of the 18th century. Neither Roman Catholics nor Protestants (apart from members of certain extremist sects) were received by Baptism, but they were merely chrismated. The Church of Kiev alone deviated slightly from this general pattern, since here from 1646 onwards, Roman Catholics – but not, of course, Protestants — were received without Chrismation.

So matters continued until the accession of Cyril V to the throne of Constantinople in 1748. (Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church Under Turkish Rule, pp. 65-70)

On Evangelization and Iconography

Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735

(597 a.d. British Isles) Augustine [of Canterbury] thus strengthened by the confirmation of the blessed Father Gregory, returned to the work of the word of God, with the servants of Christ, and arrived in Britain… It is reported that, as they drew near to the city, after their manner, with the holy Cross, and the Image of our sovereign Lord and King, Jesus Christ, they, in concert, sung this litany: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, in all Thy mercy, that thy anger and wrath be turned away from this city, and from the holy house, because we have sinned. Hallelujah.” (Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Bk. 1 Chap. XXV)

Chinese imperial Proclamation Tang Dynasty

(638 a.d. China) Bishop Alopen of the Kingdom of Ta-chin (Syria), bringing with him the Sutras and the Images, has come from afar and presented them at our Capital. Having carefully examined the scope of his teaching, we find it to be mysteriously spiritual, and of silent operation. Having observed its principal and most essential points, we reached the conclusion that they cover all that is most important in life…This Teaching is helpful to all creatures and beneficial to all men. So let it have free course throughout the Empire. (The Nestorian Stele Commemorating the Propagation of the Ta-ch’in [Syrian]Luminous Religion in China)

St. Nestor the Chronicler 1056-1114

(987 a.d. Kiev) As [the Greek Orthodox scholar] spoke thus, he exhibited to [Great Prince] Vladimir a canvas on which was depicted the Judgment Day of the Lord, and showed him, on the right, the righteous going to their bliss in Paradise, and on the left, the sinners on their way to torment. Then Vladimir sighed and said, “Happy are they upon the right, but woe to those on the left!” The scholar replied, “If you desire to take your place upon the right with the just, then accept baptism!” Vladimir took this counsel to heart, saying, “I shall wait yet a little longer,” for he wished to inquire about all the faiths. Vladimir then gave the scholar many gifts, and dismissed him with great honor. (The Russian Primary Chronicle) 

On How the Rus Became Orthodox

St. Nestor the Chronicler ca. 1056-1114

Vladimir was visited by Bulgars of Mohammedan faith, who said, “Though you are a wise and prudent prince, you have no religion. Adopt our faith, and revere Mahomet.” Vladimir inquired what was the nature of their religion. They replied that they believed in God, and that Mahomet instructed them to practice circumcision, to eat no pork, to drink no wine, and, after death promised them complete fulfillment of their carnal desires. “Mahomet,” they asserted, “will give each man seventy fair women. He may choose one fair one, and upon that woman will Mahomet confer the charms of them all, and she shall be his wife. Mahomet promises that one may then satisfy every desire, but whoever is poor in this world will be no different in the next.” They also spoke other false things which out of modesty may not be written down. Vladimir listened to them, for he was fond of women and indulgence, regarding which he heard with pleasure. But circumcision and abstinence from pork and wine were disagreeable to him. “Drinking,” said he, “is the joy of the Russes. We cannot exist without that pleasure.”

Then came the Germans, asserting that they came as emissaries of the Pope.  “Thus says the Pope: ‘Your country is like our country, but your faith is not ours. For our faith is the light. We worship God, who has made heaven and earth, the stars, the moon, and every creature, while your gods are only wood.’ ” Vladimir inquired what their teaching was. They replied, “Fasting according to one’s strength. But whatever one eats or drinks is all to the glory of God, as our teacher Paul has said.” Then Vladimir answered, “Depart hence; our fathers accepted no such principle.”

The Jewish Khazars heard of these missions, and came themselves saying, “We have learned that Bulgars and Christians came hither to instruct you in their faiths. The Christians believe in him whom we crucified, but we believe in the one God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Then Vladimir inquired what their religion was. They replied that its tenets included circumcision, not eating pork or hare, and observing the Sabbath. The Prince then asked where their native land was, and they replied that it was in Jerusalem. When Vladimir inquired where that was, they made answer, “God was angry at our forefathers, and scattered us among the Gentiles on account of our sins. Our land was then given to the Christians.” The Prince then demanded, “How can you hope to teach others while you yourselves are cast out and scattered abroad by the hand of God? If God loved you and your faith, you would not be thus dispersed in foreign lands. Do you expect us to accept that fate also?”

Then the Greeks sent Vladimir a scholar, who spoke thus: “We have heard that Bulgarians came and urged you to adopt their faith, which pollutes heaven and earth. They are accursed above all men, like Sodom and Gomorrah, upon which the Lord let fall burning stones, and which he buried and submerged. The day of destruction likewise awaits these men, on which the Lord will come to judge the earth, and destroy all those who do evil and abomination… The women also perform this same abomination and worse ones.” Vladimir, upon hearing these statements, spat upon the earth, saying, “This is a vile thing.”

Then the scholar said, “We have likewise heard how men came from Rome to convert you to their faith. It differs but little from ours, for they commune with wafers, called oplatki, which God did not give them, for he ordained that we should commune with bread. For when he had taken bread, the Lord gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘This is my body broken for you.’ Likewise, he took the cup, and said, ‘This is my blood of the New Testament.’ They do not so act, for they have modified the faith.” Then Vladimir remarked that the Jews had come into his presence and stated that the Germans and the Greeks believed in him whom they crucified. To this the scholar replied, “Of a truth we believe in him. For some of the prophets foretold that God should be incarnate, and others that he should be crucified and buried, but arise on the third day and ascend into heaven. For the the Jews killed the prophets, and still others they persecuted. When their prophecy was fulfilled, our Lord came down to earth, was crucified, arose again, and ascended into heaven. He awaited their repentance for forty-six years, but they did not repent, so that the Lord let loose the Romans upon them. Their cities were destroyed, and they were scattered among the gentiles, under whom they are now in servitude.”

Vladimir then inquired why God should have descended to earth and should have endured such pain. The scholar then answered and said, “If you are desirous of hearing the story, I shall tell you from the beginning why God descended to earth.” Vladimir replied, “Gladly I would hear it.” Whereupon the scholar began his narrative… (The Russian Primary Chronicle)

+++

The rest is history…

On Holy Communion and Death

St. Anthony of Optina 1795-1865

It is very salutary to nourish your soul with the Eternal and Holy Bread. If a person should die on the very day when he has communed of the Holy Mysteries, the Holy Angels will receive his soul into their hands, for the sake of the communion, and he will pass safely through the heavenly toll-gates. (Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina, p. 134)

On Communing Frequently or Infrequently

St. Nikon of Optina 1888-1931

It is difficult to say whether it is better to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ occasionally, or more often. Zaccheus received his dear Guest, the Lord, into his home with joy, and he did well. While the Centurion, in humility recognizing his unworthiness, decided not receive Him, and he also did well. Their actions, although completely opposite, according to their motives are the same, and before the Lord they appeared equally virtuous. The essence of the matter is that one must worthily prepare himself for this great Mystery. (Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsel of the Holy Elders of Optina, p. 135)

On Denying Christ

A certain monk, simple according to intellect, was a disciple of the holy Paisios (St. Paisios the Great ca. 320-417), obeying well all his commandments. One time he went into Egypt to sell handiwork. On the road he met a certain Hebrew, and he went together with him. When he recognized the simplicity of the monk, he poured forth with his foul tongue the poison of the soul-destroying serpent which he had in his heart, and said to him: “O monk, why do you believe in the Crucified One with such simplicity and so haphazardly, when He is not the expected Messiah? Because another will be he, and not the one in which you Christians believe.”

The monk out of guilessness and simplicity of heart, fell into error and said: “Perhaps it is thus, just as you say.”

And at once, alas, the calamity that the misfortunate one suffered! He feel from the Grace of Holy Baptism, as will be made manifest from the following. When he returned to the desert and the divine Paisios saw him, Paisios completely rejected him and did not even want to see him or talk with him, but turned away from him.

The disciple saw that the elder was avoiding him. He grieved bitterly and wished to know the cause. Wherefore, he fell at his feet and said to him: “Father, why is it that you turn away from me, the wretched one, and do not wish to see me, but loathe me as an abomination, a thing formerly you did not do to me?”

The elder said: “And who are you, O man, for I do not know you?”

The disciple said to him: “And what unusual thing do you see, O father, in me, that you do not recognize me? Is it not I, your disciple?”

And Paisios said: “That disciple of mine was a Christian and possessed baptism, while you are not he. If you are that disciple of mine, recognize this, that the baptism and the symbol of Christians has abandoned you. Tell me, what happened to you and what did you go through on the road?”

Lamenting and wailing, he told him: “Nothing at all happened, Father.”

And the elder said to him: “Go away from me, child, because I cannot bear to hear the speech of a man who has denied Christ, for if you were a disciple of mine, I would recognize you just as before.”

Then the miserable monk sighed and groaned, shedding tears that moved the elder to compassion. He insisted that he was his same disciple and not another, and that he did not know at all what crime it was that he had committed, nor that he did any evil.

Then the great Paisios said to him: “With whom did you speak on the road as you were going?” the disciple answered him: “With a Hebrew I was conversing, and with no one else.”

Paisios continued: “What did the Hebrew say to you and what did you reply?” “He said but one thing to me, that the One Whom we Christians worship is not Christ, but another one is he which shall come. And I told him: ‘Perhaps it is thus, as you say.'”

The the elder said to him: “O miserable one, what is worse or more shameful than that which you said? O wretched one, with that you denied Christ and were divested of holy baptism, Well then, go weep for yourself as you wish. You have nothing to do with me anymore, because your name is written together with those who denied Christ and with them you will receive damnation.”

The disciple heard these things and groaned from the depths of his soul. With lamentation and wailing he said: “Father, have mercy on me, the unfortunate one. I know not what to do, for due to my carelessness and inattention I have rejected divine baptism and have become the prey of demons. However, it is to you that I turn to after God for refuge, do not, therefore, neglect me, the miserable one.”

In like manner, the disciple besought him with tears more than with words, and the elder was moved to compassion. He said to him: “Have patience, child, I will supplicate the compassion and mercies of the man-befriending God on your behalf.”

These things he said and entreated God fervently, seeking forgiveness for his disciple. And God did not tarry, but immediately H forgave the sin of the disciple, and again made him worthy of the Grace of holy Baptism. For Paisios saw the Holy Spirit entering the mouth of the disciple as a dove, and the spirit of blasphemy came out and vanished like smoke, dispersing into the air; thus was the blessed one informed concerning his prayer, and he turned to the disciple saying:

“Glorify God, child, and thank Him together with me, because the unclean spirit of blasphemy has come out of you, and instead you have received the Holy Spirit and the Grace of Baptism has been returned to you. So then, be watchful that you not fall again into the trap of impiety out of carelessness and negligence, nor betray your soul, and that you not burn in the fire of hell for some similar sin.”

And, in this manner, he corrected the disciple. (Saint Paisios the Great, pp. 29-31)

 

St. Ambrose of Milan on the Unbaptized

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397

Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Jn. 3:5). No one is excepted: not the infant, not the one prevented by some necessity. They may however, have an undisclosed exemption from punishments; but I do not know whether they have the honor of the Kingdom. (On Abraham, 2.11.84)

But I hear you lamenting because he had not received the sacrament of Baptism. Tell me, what else could we have, except the will to it, the asking for it? He too had just now this desire; and after he came into Italy it was begun, and a short time ago he signified that he wished to be baptized by me. Did he, then, not have the grace which he desired? Did he not have what he eagerly sought? Certainly, because he already sought it, he received it. What else does it mean: Whatever just man shall be overtaken by death, his soul shall be at rest (Wisdom of Solomon 4:7). (Sympathy at the Death of Valentinian, 51)

St. John Cassian on Frequent Communion

St. John Cassian ca. 360-435
Yet we ought not to suspend ourselves from the Lord’s Communion because we confess ourselves sinners, but should more and more eagerly hasten to it for the healing of our soul, and purifying of our spirit, and seek the rather a remedy for our wounds with humility of mind and faith, as considering ourselves unworthy to receive so great grace. Otherwise we cannot worthily receive the Communion even once a year, as some do, who live in monasteries and so regard the dignity and holiness and value of the heavenly sacraments, as to think that none but saints and spotless persons should venture to receive them, and not rather that they would make us saints and pure by taking them. And these thereby fall into greater presumption and arrogance than what they seem to themselves to avoid, because at the time when they do receive them, they consider that they are worthy to receive them. But it is much better to receive them every Sunday for the healing of our infirmities, with that humility of heart, whereby we believe and confess that we can never touch those holy mysteries worthily, than to be puffed up by a foolish persuasion of heart, and believe that at the year’s end we are worthy to receive them. Wherefore that we may be able to grasp this and hold it fruitfully, let us the more earnestly implore the Lord’s mercy to help us to perform this, which is learnt not like other human arts, by some previous verbal explanation, but rather by experience and action leading the way; and which also unless it is often considered and hammered out in the Conferences of spiritual persons, and anxiously sifted by daily experience and trial of it, will either become obsolete through carelessness or perish by idle forgetfulness. (Conferences, 23.21:Third Conference of Abbot Theonas on Sinlessness)

On the Words of Institution and the Epiklesis

St. Nicholas Cabasilas ca. 1323-1391

Certain Latins attack us thus: They came that after the words of the Lord: “Take and eat” and what follows there is no need of any further prayer to consecrate the offerings, since they are already consecrated by the Lord’s word. They maintain that to pronounce these words of Christ and then to speak of bread and wine and to pray for their consecration as if they had not already been consecrated, is not only impious but futile and unnecessary. Moreover they say that the blessed Chrysostom is witness that these words consecrate the offerings when he said in the same way that the words of the Creator, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:22), spoken on a single occasion by God, continue to take effect, so the words once spoken by the Savior are also operative forever. Those who rely more on their own prayer than on God’s word are in the first place implying that His words lack effectiveness. They show that they put more trust in themselves, and in the third place they make the holy sacrament dependent on something uncertain, namely, human prayer, and in so doing they represent so great a mystery in which the most steadfast faith must be shown as something full of uncertainty. For it does not follow that he who prays will necessarily be heard, even if he has the virtue of Paul.

It is not difficult to refute all these arguments. Take first the works of the divine John [Chrysostom] on which they rely and consider whether the words of Christ can be compared to the words of the Creator. God said: “Be fruitful and multiply”. What then? After these words do we need nothing more to achieve this and is nothing else necessary for the increase of the human race? Is not marriage and conjugal union essential, and all the other cares which go with marriage, and without which it would be impossible for mankind to exist and develop? We consider marriage, therefore, necessary for the procreation of children, and after marriage we still pray towards this end, and without seeming to despise the Creator’s command, being well aware that it is the primary cause of procreation, but through the medium of marriage, provision for nourishment and so on. And in the same way, here in the liturgy we believe that the Lord’s words do indeed accomplish the mystery, but through the medium of the priest, his invocation, and his prayer. These words do not take effect simply in themselves or under any circumstances, but there are many essential conditions, and without these they do not achieve their end. Who does not know that it is the death of Christ alone which has brought remission of sins to the world? But we also know that even after His death faith, penitence, confession and the prayer of the priest are necessary, and a man cannot receive remission of sins unless he has first been through these processes. What then? Are we to dishonor His death and to claim that it is no effect, by believing that its results are inadequate unless we ourselves add our contribution? By no means.

It is unreasonable to address reproaches like these to those who pray for the consecration of the offerings. Their confidence in their prayer is not confidence in self, but in God Who has promised to grant what they are seeking. It is indeed the very contrary which is fundamental to the conception of prayer. For suppliants perform the act of prayer because they fail to trust themselves in the matters about which they pray and they believe and that they can obtain their requests from God alone. In throwing himself upon God, the man who prays admits that he recognizes his own helplessness and that he is dependent upon God for everything. This is not my affair, he says, nor within my own powers, but it has need of you, Lord, and I trust it all to you. These principles have an even more wonderful application when we are forced to ask things which are above nature and beyond all understanding, as the sacraments are. Then it is absolutely essential that those who make prayer should rely on God alone. For man could not even have imagined these things if God had not taught him of them; he could not have conceived the desire for them if God had not exhorted him; he could not have expected to receive it if he had not received the hope of it from Him Who is the Truth. He would not have even dared to pray for those things if God had not clearly shown him that it was according to His will that they should be sought for, and that He is ready to grant them to those who ask. As a result, the prayer is neither uncertain nor the result unsure, as the Lord of the gift has in every way made known His desire to grant it. This is why we believe that the sanctification of the mysteries is in the prayer of the priest, certainly not relying on any human power, but on the power of God. We are assured of the result, not by reason of man who prays, but by reason of God Who hears; not because mantas made a supplication, but because the Truth has promised to grant it.

There is no need to speak of the way in which Christ has shown His desire to ever grant this grace. This is why He came into the world, why He was made a sacrifice, why He died. This is why altars and priests and every purification and all the commandments, the teaching and the exhortations exist: all to the end that this holy table may be placed before us. This is why the Savior declared that He desired to keep the Passover (Lk. 22:15), for it was then that He was going to give the true Passover to His disciples. This is why He commanded them: “Do this in remembrance of Me”, for He wished this mystery to be performed among us always.

How then could those who pray have any doubt about the object of their prayer, if He intended that those things which they seek to have be received by them, and He Himself wishes to grant them Who alone has the power to give? Therefore those who believe that the offerings are consecrated by prayer are neither scorning the words of the Savior, nor trusting in themselves, nor yet causing dependence on something uncertain, such as human prayer, as the Latins vainly reproach us.

A further proof is that the all-holy Chrism, stated by the blessed Dionysius [the Areopagite] to be in the same category as Holy Communion, is also consecrated and sanctified by prayer. And the faithful have no doubt that this prayer is efficacious and consecrates. In the same way the ordination of priests, and that of bishops as well, is effected by prayer. He who is ordaining lays on his hands and then says to the clergy: “Let us pray for him that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come upon him.” Similarly in the Latin Church the bishop ordaining priests anoints the head (*) of the candidate with oil and prays that he may be richly endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit. And it is through prayer that the priest gives absolution from sin to penitents. In the last sacrament of Unction it is equally the prayer of the priests which confers it; this sacrament has the power to give healing from bodily illness and the remission of sins to those on whom it is performed, as is confirmed by Apostolic Tradition: Is there any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed any sins they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:14-15)

How can those who condemn the prayer in the sacraments answer all these arguments?

If, as they say, the result of prayer is uncertain it would be equally uncertain whether the priest is truly of that holy office whose name he bears, or whether the Chrism has the power to consecrate, and therefore it would be impossible for the sacrament of Holy Communion to exist, since there would be neither priest nor altar. For our critics would hardly maintain that the words of the Lord would be effective if they were spoken by just anyone, and perhaps even without an altar. And indeed the altar upon which the bread must be placed is in fact itself consecrated with the Chrism which in turn is consecrated by prayer. And further, who can give us remission of sins if there is doubt about the priests and their supplications?

To follow the innovations of these men would indeed inevitably mean the total destruction of all Christianity. It is therefore clear that for those who hold such doctrines the very foundations of their virtue are in question, and there is indeed great danger for those who fabricate innovations of this kind, alien to the tradition of the Fathers and undermining the security which this tradition guarantees. For God Himself has said that He answers prayer and grants the Holy Spirit to those who ask, and nothing is impossible to those who pray in faith, and his assurance cannot be untrue. It is nowhere stated that this will happen to those who simply speak this or that word. It is the tradition of the Fathers who received this teaching from the Apostles and from their successors, that the sacraments are rendered effective through prayer; all the sacraments, as I have said, and in particularly the Holy Eucharist. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, the great teachers of the Church, affirmed this, as so many others had already done. Those who deny such authorities deserve no consideration from those who believe in right doctrine. The words of the Lord about the Holy Mysteries were spoken in a narrative manner. None of the Apostles or teachers of the Church has ever appeared to say that they are sufficient to consecrate the offerings of sacraments. The blessed John [Chrysostom] himself said that, spoken once by Christ, and having actually been said by Him, they are always effective, just as the word of the Creator is. But it is nowhere taught that now, spoken by the priest, and by reason of being said by him, they have that efficacy. In the same way the Creator’s word is not effective because it is spoken by a man, applied to each particular case, but only because it was spoken by the Lord.

That which silences our adversaries decisively is the fact that the Latin Church herself, to whom they refer themselves, does not cease to pray for the offerings after the words of consecration have been pronounced. This point has escaped them, no doubt, because the Latins do not recite this prayer immediately after pronouncing Christ’s words, and because they do not ask explicitly for consecration and the transformation of the elements into the Body of the Lord, but use other terms, which, however, have exactly the same meaning.

This is their prayer: “Command that these offerings be carried in the hands of Thy holy angels to Thine altar on high.” (**) What do they mean when they say: “That these offerings may be carried up”? Either they are asking for a local translation of the offerings, i.e. from the earth and lower regions to heaven, or they are asking that they be raised in dignity from a humble state to the highest of all.

If the first of these is the case, we must ask of what benefit it is to us to pray that the holy mysteries may be taken away from us, since our prayers and our faith assure us and demand that they should not only be with us but remain with us, since it is in this that Christ’s remaining with us even to the end of the world consists. (Mat. 28:20) And if they know it is Christ’s Body, how can they not believe that He is truly and mysteriously both with us and in heaven, sitting at the Father’s right hand, in a manner known only to Himself? How, on one hand, shall that which is not yet the Body of Christ, which is truly heavenly, become heavenly? Or how, on the other, could that which excels all authority, power, dominion, and supremacy be carried up by the hand of angel?

Supposing, on the other hand, that the prayer of the Latins is asking that the offerings be raised in dignity and transformed into a higher reality, then they are guilty of a monstrous blasphemy if, considering that the Body of the Lord is already present, they nevertheless believe it can become something higher or holier.

Thus it is clear that the Latins know perfectly well that the bread and the wine are not yet consecrated; that is why they pray for the offerings as elements still in need of prayer. They pray that these which are still here below may be carried on high, that, as offerings which have not yet been sacrificed, they may be carried to the altar where they are to be immolated. For this, they have need of the hand of angel. In the sense in which the great Dionysius speaks when he says that the first hierarchy, that of the angles, comes to the aid of the second and human hierarchy.

This prayer can have only one significance – it transforms the offerings into the Body and Blood of the Lord. It is not to be imagined that the altar which it names lies in some place above the heavens set apart by God; to do this would be to associate ourselves with those who believe that the proper place of worship is in Jerusalem or on the mountain of Samaria. (Jn. 4:20-21) But since, as St. Paul says, there is one God and one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, in the Savior alone is all that can confer upon us sanctification or have power of intercession. And what are those things which have power of intercession and can confer sanctification? The priest, the victim, the altar. For, as the Lord says, “The altar that sanctifieth (Mat. 23:19) – the altar consecrates the gift.

Now, since Christ alone sanctifies, He alone must be priest, victim and altar. We know from His own words that He is both priest and victim: “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.” (Jn. 17:19) The most holy Dionysius, in his chapter On Chrism, tells us that Christ is the altar. “If our divine altar is Jesus, He Who is the divine consecration of heavenly minds, in Whom we ourselves, consecrated and mystically sacrificed, have our oblation, let us look upon this divine altar with the eyes of the Spirit.”

The priest then prays that the offerings may be carried up to the heavenly altar – in other words, that they may be consecrated and transformed into the heavenly Body of the Lord. There is no question of a change of place, a passage from earth to heaven, since we see that the offerings remain among us, and that even after the prayer their appearances remain.

Since the altar consecrates the gifts placed upon it, to pray that the gifts may be carried to the altar is to ask that they be consecrated.

What is the consecration conferred by the altar? That of the offerings placed upon it. Through that consecration the Divine Priest Himself is sanctified by being offered to God and sacrificed. (Jn. 17:19) Since Christ is at one and the same time priest, altar, victim, the consecration of the offerings by this priest, their transformation into the victim, and their carrying up to the heavenly altar are all one and the same thing. Therefore, if you pray that any one of these things come to pass, you pray for all; you possess that for which you pray and you have accomplished the sacrifice.

Your [Latin] priests, regarding Christ as the victim, pray that the offerings may be placed in Him; thus, though in different words, they are asking just what we sk. That is why our priests, after they have prayed that the elements may be changed into the Divine Body and Blood, and having made mention of the heavenly altar, do not go on to ask that the offerings be carried up to it, since they have already been taken there and accepted, but they ask that in return the grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit may be sent to us. “Let us pray for the consecrated offerings.” That they may be consecrated? Certainly not, since they are so already; but that they might sanctify us, that God Who sanctified them may sanctify us through them.

It is evident therefore that is not the whole Latin Church which condemns the prayer for the offerings after the words of consecration, but only a few innovators who are causing her harm in other ways; they are men who pass their time in nothing else but “to tell, or to hear some new thing”. (Acts 17:21) (A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 29-31)

(*) This should be “hands”. In the Roman Catholic rite the head of a bishop is anointed at his consecration.

(**) The prayer referred to is as follows: We humbly beseech Thee Almighty God, command that these things be carried by the hands of Thy angel  to Thy altar on high before the sight of Thy divine majesty: that so many of us as shall by this partaking at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be fulfilled with all grace and heavenly benediction. Through the same Christ our Lord. 

From the Catholic Encyclopedia – Epiklesis 

It is certain that all the old liturgies contained such a prayer. For instance, the Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions, immediately after the recital of the words of Institution, goes on to the Anamnesis — “Remembering therefore His Passion…” — in which occur the words: “thou, the God who lackest nothing, being pleased with them (the Offerings) for the honor of Thy Christ, and sending down Thy Holy Spirit on this sacrifice, the witness of the Passion of the Lord Jesus, to manifest (opos apophene) this bread as the Body of Thy Christ and this chalice as the Blood of Thy Christ…” (Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, I, 21). So the Greek and Syrian Liturgies of St. James (ibid., 54, 88-89), the Alexandrine Liturgies (ibid., 134, 179), the Abyssinian Rite (ibid., 233), those of the Nestorians (ibid., 287) and Armenians (ibid., 439). The Epiklesis in the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is said thus: “We offer to Thee this reasonable and unbloody sacrifice; and we beg Thee, we ask Thee, we pray Thee that Thou, sending down Thy Holy Spirit on us and on these present gifts” (the Deacon says: “Bless, Sir the holy bread”) “make this bread into the Precious Body of Thy Christ” (Deacon: “Amen. Bless, Sir, the holy chalice”): “and that which is in this chalice, the Precious Blood of Thy Christ” (Deacon: “Amen. Bless, Sir, both”), “changing [metabalon] them by Thy Holy Spirit” (Deacon: “Amen, Amen, Amen.”). (Brightman, op. cit., I 386-387).

Nor is there any doubt that the Western rites at one time contained similar invocations. The Gallican Liturgy had variable forms according to the feast. That for the Circumcision was: “Hæc nos, Domine, instituta et præcepta retinentes suppliciter oramus uti hoc sacrificium suscipere et benedicere et sanctificare digneris: ut fiat nobis eucharistia legitima in tuo Filiique tui nomine et Spiritus sancti, in transformationem corporis ac sanguinis domini Dei nostri Jesu Christi unigeniti tui, per quem omnia creas…” (Duchesne, “Origines du culte chrétien”, 2nd ed., Paris, 1898, p. 208, taken from St. Germanus of Paris, d. 576). There are many allusions to the Gallican Invocation, for instance St. Isidore of Seville (De eccl. officiis, I, 15, etc.). The Roman Rite too at one time had an Epiklesis after the words of Institution. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) refers to it plainly: “Quomodo ad divini mysterii consecrationem coelestis Spiritus adveniet, si sacerdos…criminosis plenus actionibus reprobetur?” (“Epp. Fragm.”, vii, in Thiel, “Epp. Rom. Pont.”, I, 486). Watterich (Der Konsekrationsmoment im h. Abendmahl, 1896, pp. 133 sq.) brings other evidences of the old Roman Invocation. he (p. 166) and Drews (Entstehungsgesch. des Kanons, 1902, p. 28) think that several secrets in the Leonine Sacramentary were originally Invocations (see article CANON OF THE MASS). Of the essential clause left out — our prayer: “Supplices te rogamus” (Duchesne, op. cit., 173-5). It seems that an early insistence on the words of Institution as the form of Consecration (see, for instance, Pseudo-Ambrose, “De Mysteriis”, IX, 52, and “De Sacramentis”, IV, 4, 14-15, 23; St. Augustine, Sermon 227) led in the West to the neglect and mutilation of the Epiklesis.

That in the Liturgy the Invocation should occur after the words of Institution is only one more case of many which show that people were not much concerned about the exact instant at which all the essence of the sacrament was complete. They looked upon the whole Consecration-prayer as one simple thing. In it the words of Institution always occur (with the doubtful exception of the Nestorian Rite); they believed that Christ would, according to His promise, do the rest. But they did not ask at which exact moment the change takes place. Besides the words of Institution there are many other blessings, prayers, and signs of the cross, some of which came before and some after the words, and all, including the words themselves, combine to make up the one Canon of which the effect is Transubstantiation. So also in our baptism and ordination services, part of the forms and prayers whose effect is the sacramental grace comes, in order of time, after the essential words. It was not till Scholastic times that theologians began to discuss the minimum of form required for the essence of each sacrament.

On Cyprianic and Augustinian Theories and Heterodox Sacraments

Met. Kallistos Ware

[S]omething must be said about the term ‘rebaptism’… Strictly speaking such a word begs the whole question at issue. Orthodox  believe, just as firmly as Roman Catholics, that Baptism is conferred once for all, and cannot be repeated without grave sacrilege and blasphemy. Thus when Greeks and Russians intended on baptizing converts, they did not think of this as a second Baptism, but argued that the converts in question had never been truly baptized in the first place. They would have said that they were not ‘rebaptizing’ but ‘baptizing’ them.

But on what grounds did [Ecumenical Patriarch] Cyril V and his party reject all western baptisms as null and void? Their basic position is clearly stated in the Definition of 1755… “We know only One, our own, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and acknowledge only her sacraments, and consequently only her divine Baptism.’ The line of thought is evident: there is only one Church — the Orthodox Catholic Church; the sacraments are God’s gift to the Church, and therefore cannot be conferred by any who are outside her; heretics and schismatics are outside the Church, and so cannot possess the sacrament of baptism or any other. Since, then, their previous Baptism is invalid, converts from the west on embracing Orthodoxy must undergo the true Baptism of the Church.

This view of sacramental validity is usually termed the Cyprianic, for it finds its classic expression in the works of Saint Cyprian of Carthage.  Some fifty years before Cyprian, the same view had already been expounded by another African writer, Tertullian, in the De Baptismo (a work belonging to his Catholic period, probably composed around 198-200): For us there is one, and only one Baptism, since there is only one God and one Church in the heavens… But the heretics have no participation in our teaching: the very fact that they are excluded from communion proves them to be outsiders… We and they do not have the same God, nor the one — that is to say the same — Christ; and so we cannot both have the one Baptism, for it is not the same. (De Baptismo, 15)

So Tertullian draws his conclusion: since heretics do not possess the one Baptism, they lack the power to confer Baptism on each other.

Tertullian is closely followed by Saint Cyprian: Baptism cannot be common to us and the heretics, for we do not have God the Father in common, nor Christ the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the faith, nor the Church itself. Therefore those who come from heresy to the Church ought to be baptized, so that they may be made ready for the Kingdom of God by divine regeneration in the lawful, true, and unique Baptism of the Holy Church. (Epistle 73.21)

‘The Church is one,’ Cyprian argues, ‘and only those who are in the Church can be baptized (Epistle 69.2); ‘we say that no heretic or schismatic whatsoever has any power or right (nihil habere potentates ac iuris). (Epistle 69.1). ‘No heretic or schismatic whatever possesses the Holy Spirit… and he who does not possess the Holy Spirit cannot in any sense baptize… All without exception who come over to the Church of Christ from the adversaries and the antichrists are to be baptized with the Baptism of the Church’. (Epistle 69. 10-11)

Such was the sacramental theology which lay behind Cyril’s Definition of 1755. The Cyprianic view can be summarized in a syllogism:

True sacraments cannot exist outside the Church; Heretics and schismatics are outside the Church; Therefore, heretics and schismatics do not possess true sacraments.

But the west since the time of Augustine has normally adopted a somewhat different position. Augustine accepted Cyprian’s minor premise but denied his major. Unlike Saint Cyprian, he distinguished between validity and regularity: a sacrament performed by heretics or schismatics, while irregular and illegitimate, is nonetheless technically valid provided that certain specified conditions are fulfilled. Whereas Cyprian denied heretics both ius and potestas to perform sacraments, Augustine denied them the first, but not necessarily the second. A number of Orthodox theologians, particularly in Russia during the past three centuries, have inclined towards the Augustinian view; but in general the position of the Orthodox Church has been Cyprianic and non-Augustinian. The Cyprianic view was taken for granted by most Greek writers of the 18th century… and the Cyprianic view is still followed by the standard Greek manuals of theology in use today.

Two qualifications must be added here. First, although the Augustinian theory predominates in the west, it is not accepted universally: in some Roman Catholic writings an approximation can be found to the Cyprianic position. (see F. Clark, Anglican Orders and Defect of Intention, London, 1956, p. 10, note 1.) Secondly, while most Orthodox continue in the main to hold the Cyprianic theory, many of them today would slightly modify the austerity of Cyprian’s conclusion. Augustine accepted Cyprian’s minor premise but denied his major; it is equally possible to accept the major and deny the minor, and it this that many Orthodox at the present moment have chosen to do. They continue to claim that the Orthodox Church is the one, true Church; they still uphold the basic Cyprianic principle that outside the Church there can be no sacraments; they make no use of the Augustinian distinction between validity and regularity. But they would yet add that many non-Orthodox Christians are still in some sense members of the Church, so that it is possible that in certain cases these non-Orthodox possess true sacraments. But Greek Orthodox in the eighteenth century… were less lenient in their reasoning: like Cyprian — and for that matter, like most of the Fathers — they would simply have said that heretics and schismatics are outside the Church, and left the matter at that. (Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church Under the Turkish Rule by Kallistos Ware, pp. 80-82)

also see: http://classicalchristianity.com/2013/12/20/on-the-reception-of-the-heterodox/

http://classicalchristianity.com/2014/07/09/on-those-outside-the-orthodox-church/

Patriarch Dositheus on the Reception of Converts

Patriarch Dositheus II of Jerusalem 1641-1707

For heretics who renounce their heresy and join the Catholic Church are received by the Church; although they received their valid Baptism with weakness of faith. Wherefore, when they afterwards become possessed of the perfect faith, they are not again baptized. (The Confession of Dositheus, Decree XV)

St. Justin Popovich on Orthodox Ecumenism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

You have raised many questions and asked my opinion on various issues; whole books can be written on each of them; therefore, I have to be very brief, as brief as possible.

The attitude towards the non-orthodox Christian world, first and foremost, one must establish oneself in Orthodoxy with one’s mind and heart and life: in it’s Holy Mysteries and holy virtues; thereby catholicizing oneself, one’s mind and heart and life; living constantly with “all the saints” for this is only way to know divine-human depths and heights and breadth of everything belonging to Christ: to live “with all the saints” = to think “with all the saints” = to feel “with all the saints” = to pray “with all the saints” = to love “with all the saints”. Only in this way the holy and infallible criterion of Truth is provided = of the Church of Christ which invariably is the Hypostatic Truth of Christ the God-man, neither anyone or anything other than Him: “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

…”Ecumenisms” are in fashion. But, it seems to me, the most important thing therein is being overlooked: Ecumenism of the Theanthropic Truth is heart of Theanthropic Orthodox ecumenism, which invariably is the Hypostasis of the God-man Christ, in its cosmic, pan-cosmic, above-cosmic and all-embracing omneity as well as in its historical concreteness. On no account can man, or anything human, be a criterion, a symbol, or a concretum of ecumenism. Man, whoever he may be, can never be a criterion, for this but only and always the God-man. The entire tragedy of the West resides in its rejection of Christ’s God-manhood, both as modus vivendi and modus cognoscendi, through various kinds of hominisms and humanisms. (Letter Dec. 25, 1964)

On Spreading the Orthodox Faith

St. Tikhon of Moscow 1865-1925

Orthodox people must care for the dissemination of the Orthodox faith among the heterodox. Christ the Savior said that men lighting a lamp do not put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house (Mat. 5:15). The light of Orthodoxy also is not lit for a small circle of people. No, the Orthodox faith is catholic; it remembers the commandment of its Founder: ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. Make disciples of all nations’ (Mk. 16:15, Mat. 28:19). It is our obligation to share our spiritual treasures, our truth, our light and our joy with those who do not have these gifts. And this duty lies not only on pastors and missionaries, but also on lay people, for the Church of Christ, in wise comparison of St. Paul, is a body, and in the life of the body every member takes part.

For each of us the dissemination of the Christian faith must be a favorite task, close to our hearts and precious to us; in this task each member of the Church must take an active part — some by personal missionary effort, some by monetary support and service to the ‘needs of the saints’, and some by prayer to the Lord that He might ‘establish and increase His Church’ and that He might ‘teach the word of truth’ to those who do not know Christ, might ‘reveal to them the Gospel of righteousness, unite them to His Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. (Sunday March 17, 1907 Farewell Sermon)

On Baptism and Prayer

St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

“And Jesus, when He was baptized went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him” (Mat. 3:16). Luke, however, says that while Christ was praying, heaven opened. “It came to pass”, he says, “that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened” (Lk. 3:21). He was praying while being baptized, while going down into the water and coming up, teaching through His actions that it is not only necessary for the priest performing the sacrament to pray, but the person being initiated must do the same at every sacred rite. If it happens that the priest is more perfect in virtue and sends up more ardent prayers, grace passes through him to the one receiving the sacrament,  but if the latter is more worthy and prays with greater zeal, God Who wants to have mercy — O how inexpressible is His kindness! — does not refuse to give grace through him to the person performing the rite; which is obviously what happened now in the case of John, as he afterwards testified, saying, “Of His fullness have all we received” (Jn. 1:16). (Homily 60.11, On the Holy Feast of Theophany)

St. Porphyrios on Orthodox Missions

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia 1906-1991

Fanaticism has nothing to do with Christ. Be a true Christian. Then you won’t leap to conclusions about anybody, but your love will ‘cover all things’ (1 Cor. 13:7). Even to a person of another religion you will always act as a Christian. That is to say, you will show respect for him in a gracious manner irrespective of his religion. You will care for a Muslim when he is in need, speak to him and keep company with him. There must be respect for the freedom of the other person. Just as Christ stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20) and does not force an entry, but waits for the soul to accept Him freely on its own, so we should stand in the same way in relation to every soul.

In our missionary endeavor we need to employ a very delicate manner so that people accept what we are offering, whether it be words, books, whatever, without reacting negatively. And something else: use few words. Words often provoke irritation. Prayer and living example find resonance. Living faith moves people, regenerates them and changes them, whereas words alone remain fruitless. The best form of mission is through our good example, our love and meekness. (Wounded by Love, pg. 187)

On Voluntary Excommunication

Fr. John Romanides 1928-2001

When a Christian does not commune at all with the Body and Blood of Christ in every Eucharist, he is spiritually dead… The approval that our clergy today gives our sacramental practice is even more unacceptable! If the Christian was excommunicated for having denied Christ after hours of physical torture, those who week after week excommunicate themselves are all the more condemnable. (“The Life in Christ”, first published in French in Synaxe, 21, pp. 26-28 and 22, pp. 23-26, and then in English by Romanity Press, Norman, OK, 2008)

On Those Who Should Not Commune

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

We should know that there are five classes of people for whom, according to the holy fathers, it is forbidden to approach Holy Communion. The first are the catechumens, as they are not yet baptized. The second are those baptized, but who fell in love with shameful and unrighteous ways, such as apostates from the holy life for which they were baptized: fornicators, murderers, usurers, extortioners, slanderers, proud persons, jealous persons, those who harbor grudges, all those who being in such a state do not feel that they are enemies of God and are in a tragic situation, because they do not repent… The third are those possessed by demons, if they blaspheme and mock this Divine Mystery. The fourth are those who have come to their senses and have repented, but are fulfilling the penance (epitimia) laid on them to stand outside the church for a certain period of time. The fifth are those who have not yet the ripened fruit of repentance, i.e. those who have not yet come to the final decision to consecrate their entire life to God and to live the rest of their life in Christ in purity and without reproach. These five classes are clearly unworthy of Holy Communion. He is worthy to commune the precious Mysteries who is pure and has no part with sin, of whom we have spoken above. But when anyone of these worthy persons is corrupted by any corruption, as a man, then, of course, he also communes unworthily, if he does not wash away by repentance that which corrupted him. And so he eats and drinks unworthily who, although he is worthy, unworthily approaches the Holy Mysteries. May we, then, be worthy and commune worthily the most pure Mysteries in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory for endless ages of ages. Amen. (“Concerning Communicants and those who Partake of the Holy Mysteries Unworthily”, Orthodox Life, July-August, 1975, p. 11.)

On Those Who Come to the Church Under False Pretexts

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

Tell me, do you behold this venerable constitution of the Church? Do you view her order and discipline, the reading of Scriptures, the presence of the ordained, the course of instruction? Be abashed at the place, and be taught by what you see. Go out opportunely now, and enter most opportunely tomorrow…Possibly, too you have come on another pretext. It is possible that a man is wishing to pay court to a woman, and came hither on that account. The remark applies in like manner to women also in their turn. A slave also perhaps wishes to please his master, and a friend his friend. I accept this bait for the hook, and welcome you, though you came with an evil purpose, yet as one to be saved by a good hope. Perhaps you knew not whither you were coming, nor in what kind of net you are taken. You have come within the Church’s nets : be taken alive, flee not: for Jesus is angling for you, not in order to kill, but by killing to make alive: for you must die and rise again. For you have heard the Apostle say, Dead indeed unto sin, but living unto righteousness . Die to your sins, and live to righteousness, live from this very day. (Procatechesis, 3-5)

On Closed Communion in the Early Church

St. Justin the Philosopher ca. 103-165

And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. (First Apology 66)

icon source

On the Mysteries as Sources for Orthodox Doctrine

St. Irenaeus of Lyons died ca. 202

[O]ur opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. (Against Heresies 4.18.5)

St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

We believe as we were baptized, and we worship as we have believed. (De Ascetica Disciplina 1, PG 31, 649C)

St. Proper of Aquitaine ca. 390-455

Let us consider the sacraments of priestly prayers, which having been handed down by the Apostles are celebrated uniformly throughout the whole world and in every Catholic Church so that the law of praying might establish the law of believing. (Patrologia Latina 51:209-210)

On the Bread of the New Covenant

St. Ephrem the Syrian ca. 306-373

The Church gave us the living Bread, in place of the unleavened bread that Egypt had given. Mary gave us the refreshing Bread, in place of the fatiguing bread that Eve procured for us. (Hymns for the Unleavened Bread 6, 6-7)

On the Baptism of the Martyrs

St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

And ere now there have been some who in their championship of true religion have undergone the death for Christ’s sake, not in mere similitude, but in actual fact, and so have needed none of the outward signs of water for their salvation, because they were baptized in their own blood. Thus I write not to disparage the baptism by water, but to overthrow the arguments of those who exalt themselves against the Spirit; who confound things that are distinct from one another, and compare those which admit of no comparison. (On the Holy Spirit 15.36)

On Communing With the Heterodox

St. John the Almsgiver ca. 7th cent.

[T]he blessed man taught and insisted upon with all was never on any occasion whatsoever to associate with heretics and, above all, never to take the Holy Communion with them, ‘even if’, the blessed man said, ‘you remain without communicating all your life, if through stress of circumstances you cannot find a community of the Catholic Church. For if, having legally married a wife in this world of the flesh, we are forbidden by God and by the laws to desert her and be united to another woman, even though we have to spend a long time separated from her in a distant country, and shall incur punishment if we violate our vows, how then shall we, who have been joined to God through the Orthodox faith and the Catholic Church-as the apostle says: “I espoused you to one husband that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ” [2 Cor 11:2]-how shall we escape from sharing in that punishment which in the world to come awaits heretics, if we defile the Orthodox and holy faith by adulterous communion with heretics?’

For ‘communion’ he said, ‘has been so called because he who has “communion” has things in common and agrees with those with whom he has “communion”. Therefore I implore you earnestly, children, never to go near the oratories of the heretics in order to communicate there.’ (Leontius of Neapolis, Life of St. John the Almsgiver, 42)

On a Baptism of Blood

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

If any man receive not Baptism, he has not salvation; except only Martyrs, who even without the water receive the kingdom. For when the Saviour, in redeeming the world by His Cross, was pierced in the side, He shed forth blood and water; that men, living in times of peace, might be baptized in water, and, in times of persecution, in their own blood. For martyrdom also the Saviour is wont to call a baptism, saying, Can you drink the cup which I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? (Mk. 10:38) And the Martyrs confess, by being made a spectacle unto the world, and to Angels, and to men (1 Cor. 4:9); and you will soon confess:— but it is not yet the time for you to hear of this. (Catechetical Lectures 3.10)

St. Mark of Ephesus on the Reception of Roman Catholics

St. Mark of Ephesus ca. 1392-1444

Latins must not be re-baptized but only after the renunciation of their heresies and confession of sins, be anointed with Chrism and admit them to the Holy Mysteries and in this way bring them into communion with the holy, catholic Eastern Church, in accordance with the sacred canons. (Acts of the Moscow Councils 1666-1667, Moscow, 1893, pp. 174-175)

Source

St. Basil Concerning Communion

St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life (Jn. 6:54). And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life. I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord’s Day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offense, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver. And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time. (Letter 93)

On Striving for Christian Unification

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky 1863-1936

Striving for unification [in faith] is the obligation of all those who have a zeal for the Word of God. Such unification should be expressed first of all in freeing our souls not only from all feelings of ill-will toward those not of a like mind, but also from efforts in our own minds to prove them wrong. On the contrary, he among us will be more pleasing to God who put forward an effort to clarify everything that unites us and that will strive not to reduce the number of such truths, but possibly to increase them, and especially in relation to those Christian bodies and confessions that come to meet our Church in friendship. (Zhizneopisanie Blazheneishego Antoniia (…) 7 (New York, 1961), 85.)

Source

St. Gregory the Dialogist on Single Immersion Baptisms

St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

But with respect to trine immersion in baptism, no truer answer can be given than what you have yourself felt to be right; namely that, where there is one faith, a diversity of usage does no harm to holy Church. Now we, in immersing thrice, signify the sacraments of the three days’ sepulcher; so that, when the infant is a third time lifted out of the water, the resurrection after a space of three days may be expressed. Or, if any one should perhaps think that this is done out of veneration for the supreme Trinity, neither so is there any objection to immersing the person to be baptized in the water once, since, there being one substance in three subsistence, it cannot be in any way reprehensible to immerse the infant in baptism either thrice or once, seeing that by three immersions the Trinity of persons, and in one the singleness of the Divinity may be denoted. But, inasmuch as up to this time it has been the custom of heretics to immerse infants in baptism thrice, I am of opinion that this ought not to be done among you; lest, while they number the immersions, they should divide the Divinity, and while they continue to do as they have been used to do, they should boast of having got the better of our custom. (Letters, 1.43)

see alsohere and here

 

On Aspersion for the Sick

St. Cyprian of Carthage died ca. 258

You have asked also, dearest son, what I thought of those who obtain God’s grace in sickness and weakness, whether they are to be accounted legitimate Christians, for that they are not to be washed, but sprinkled, with the saving water. In this point, my diffidence and modesty prejudges none, so as to prevent any from feeling what he thinks right, and from doing what he feels to be right. As far as my poor understanding conceives it, I think that the divine benefits can in no respect be mutilated and weakened; nor can anything less occur in that case, where, with full and entire faith both of the giver and receiver, is accepted what is drawn from the divine gifts. For in the sacrament of salvation the contagion of sins is not in such wise washed away, as the filth of the skin and of the body is washed away in the carnal and ordinary washing, as that there should be need of saltpetre and other appliances also, and a bath and a basin wherewith this vile body must be washed and purified. Otherwise is the breast of the believer washed; otherwise is the mind of man purified by the merit of faith. In the sacraments of salvation, when necessity compels, and God bestows His mercy, the divine methods confer the whole benefit on believers; nor ought it to trouble any one that sick people seem to be sprinkled or affused, when they obtain the Lord’s grace, when Holy Scripture speaks by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, and says, Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you. Eze. 36:25-26 Also in Numbers: And the man that shall be unclean until the evening shall be purified on the third day, and on the seventh day shall be clean: but if he shall not be purified on the third day, on the seventh day he shall not be clean. And that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of sprinkling has not been sprinkled upon him. And again: And the Lord spoke unto Moses saying, Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shall you do unto them, to cleanse them: you shall sprinkle them with the water of purification. Num. 8:5-7 And again: The water of sprinkling is a purification. Num. 19:9 Whence it appears that the sprinkling also of water prevails equally with the washing of salvation; and that when this is done in the Church, where the faith both of receiver and giver is sound, all things hold and may be consummated and perfected by the majesty of the Lord and by the truth of faith. (Letter 75.12)

The Papal Ruling on Church Slavonic

The Slavs rejoiced to hear the greatness of God extolled in their native tongue. The apostles [Cyril and Methodius] afterward translated the Psalter, the Oktoechos, and other books.

…[S]ome zealots began to condemn the Slavic books, contending that it was not right for any other nation to have its own alphabet apart from the Hebrews, the Greeks and the Latins, according to Pilate’s superscription, which he composed for the Lord’s Cross. When the Pope at Rome heard of this situation, he rebuked those who murmured against Slavic books, saying:

“Let the word of Scripture be fulfilled that ‘all nations shall praise God’ (Ps. 71:17), and likewise that ‘all nations shall declare the majesty of God according as the Holy Spirit shall grant them to speak’ (Acts 2:4). Whosoever condemns the Slavic writing shall be excluded from the Church until he mend his ways. For such men are not sheep but wolves; by their fruits ye shall know them and guard aginst them. Children of God, hearken unto His teachings, and depart not from the ecclesiastical rule which Methodius your teacher has appointed to you.” (The Russian Primary Chronicle, 25)

St. Athanasius on Heterodox Baptisms

St. John Moschos ca. 550-619

Saint Athanasios, the Pope of Alexandria, was once asked whether a person could be baptized whose beliefs were not in accordance with the faith and preaching of the Christians, and what would be the fate of — or, how would God receive — somebody who had been baptized under false pretenses and had simulated belief. Athanasios replied: ‘You have heard from those of old how the blessed martyr, Peter, was faced with a situation in which there was a deadly plague and many were running to be baptized for no other reason than that they feared death. A figure appeared to him which had the appearance of angel and which said to him: “How much longer are you going to send from here those purses which are duly sealed, but are altogether empty and have nothing inside them?” So far as one can tell from the saying of the angel, those who have the seal of baptism are indeed baptized since they thought they were doing a good work in receiving baptism.’ (The Spiritual Meadow, 198)

On the Effects of Frequent Communion

Patriarch Kallistos Xanthopolous of Constantinople fl. ca. 1320

The cleansing of the soul and the illumination of the mind, aimed at union and contact between man and God, are aided and effected by frequent partaking and communion of the holy, immaculate, immortal and life-giving mysteries. (Manna from Athos pg. 90)

On the Reception of Converts in Orthodox Gaul

Council of Arles ca. 314

Concerning the Africans who use their own special law in that they practice rebaptism, it is resolved that if any come to the church from heresy, they question him on the creed (used at his baptism), and if they consider him to have been baptized into the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, let him only receive the laying on of hands so that he receive the Holy Spirit; but if when questioned he does not solemnly confess this Trinity, let him be baptized. (Canon 8)

On the Unbaptized

St. Gregory the Theologian ca. 329-389

And so also in those who fail to receive the Gift, some are altogether animal or bestial, according as they are either foolish or wicked; and this, I think, has to be added to their other sins, that they have no reverence at all for this Gift, but look upon it as a mere gift— to be acquiesced in if given them, and if not given them, then to be neglected. Others know and honour the Gift, but put it off; some through laziness, some through greediness. Others are not in a position to receive it, perhaps on account of infancy, or some perfectly involuntary circumstance through which they are prevented from receiving it, even if they wish. As then in the former case we found much difference, so too in this. They who altogether despise it are worse than they who neglect it through greed or carelessness. These are worse than they who have lost the Gift through ignorance or tyranny, for tyranny is nothing but an involuntary error. And I think that the first will have to suffer punishment, as for all their sins, so for their contempt of baptism; and that the second will also have to suffer, but less, because it was not so much through wickedness as through folly that they wrought their failure; and that the third will be neither glorified nor punished by the righteous Judge, as unsealed and yet not wicked, but persons who have suffered rather than done wrong. For not every one who is not bad enough to be punished is good enough to be honoured; just as not every one who is not good enough to be honoured is bad enough to be punished. (Oration 40.23)

On the Word and the Cup

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397

Cleanse thoroughly, then, our ears, not with water of well, river, or rippling and purling brook, but with words cleansing like water, clearer than any water, and purer than any snow— even the words You have spoken— Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow. (Isa. 1:18)

Moreover, there is a Cup, which You use to purify the hidden chambers of the soul, a Cup not of the old order,nor filled from a common Vine,— a new Cup, brought down from heaven to earth, filled with wine pressed from the wondrous cluster, which hung in fleshly form upon the tree of the Cross, even as the grape hangs upon the Vine. From this Cluster, then, is the Wine that makes glad the heart of man, (Jdgs. 9:13) uplifts the sorrowful, is fragrant with, pours into us, the ecstasy of faith, true devotion, and purity. (De Fide Bk. 1:134-135)

On Communion Frequency

Ecumenical Patriarchal Synod 1819

With regard to Divine and Holy Communion, be assured and know that the faithful are obligated, at every Divine Liturgy, to come forward and partake of the life-giving Body [and Blood of Christ], for which reason they are invited to do so by the Priest when he says: “With fear of God, with faith and love, draw near.” However, on account of man’s propensity to sin and his incapacity for daily reception of Communion, the Church has reviewed this matter and has enjoined that each and every Christian should come forward to commune whenever, after confessing to his spiritual father, he finds himself worthy of Divine Communion and receives permission for this from his spiritual father. But if anyone has sinned openly and has been placed under penance, let him first carry out the penance imposed on him in repentance and tears, and then let him approah his spiritual father to receive permission, and in this way let him be vouchsafed Divine and Holy Communion. There is no predetermined number of days for receiving Communion, nor is it necessary for forty days to elapse after one has communed. Since there is no hindrance or impediment in this matter, he who wishes and obtains permission from his spiritual father, as being free of reproach, may commune every week; there are no Apostolic decrees and Canons on this subject. (The Oecumenical Synods of the Orthodox Church: A Concise History by Father James Thornton pg. 147)

On How to Approach the Eucharist

St. Macarius of Jerusalem died ca. 335
 
And how shall we draw near to the holy table and the life-giving Sacrament?
Let no one dare to come near to this cup of immortality in double-mindedness, or with lack of faith, or with improprieties, lest the will of God be moved unto wrath on all the earth. And he shall hear the saying: “Why do you keep recounting My righteousness when you have despised My discipline?” (Ps 50:16-17; LXX 49:16-17). But, approaching with right steps and true faith, let him be illumined and work out himself salvation for others also.
    
And how is it proper to administer the Sacrament?
It is necessary to administer the saving Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord with fear and care, and to make right confession of faith, distinct from the ensnaring sacraments of the heretics; lest, through the proximity of Arians, “the name and truth of God be blasphemed” (Rom 2:24), according to the Apostle.
    
And by what guideline shall the offering of the Sacrament be carried out?
The holy bread is to be brought to the table, hot—according to the tradition of the Apostles; and [the cup] incorruptible—without any admixture: “For we are redeemed not with corruptible things, but with the incorruptible Body [and Blood] of the spotless and unblemished Lamb” (I Pet 1:18-19). And this shall the deacons prepare, as far as to the table, but that which is performed upon it the priests shall perform.
    
And how shall the table of the Sacrament be positioned, and (what about) the partitions also?
The table of expiation is behind the veil, where the Holy Spirit descends; and the font is next to it in the same compartment, and out of honor set up on the right hand. And the clergy in their several ranks shall worship (there), and the congregation outside the veil, and the catechumens at the door, listening. Lest there partitions be effaced by encroachments, let each remain in his own station irreproachable. (Macarius of Jerusalem: Letter to the Armenians, AD 335) 
 

On Transubstantiation

St. Philaret of Moscow 1821-1867

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord. In like manner John Damascene, treating of the Holy and Immaculate Mysteries of the Lord, writes thus: It is truly that Body, united with Godhead, which had its origin from the Holy Virgin; not as though that Body which ascended came down from heaven, but because the bread and wine themselves are changed into the Body and Blood of God. But if thou seekest after the manner how this is, let it suffice thee to be told that it is by the Holy Ghost; in like manner as, by the same Holy Ghost, the Lord formed flesh to himself, and in himself, from the Mother of God; nor know I aught more than this, that the Word of God is true, powerful, and almighty, but its manner of operation unsearchable. (J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. cap. 13, § 7.) (The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Catholic Church, 340)

Source

On the Various Receptions of Western Converts

Patriarchal αnd Synodical Letter May 26, 1875

Having considered in synod the matter under discussion, namely, the baptism of the Latins, that is, whether it can be regarded as valid or not, we saw clearly in the historical facts and the ecclesiastical enactments of various times, that this matter bears many pros and cons and has had many advocates and opponents, which certainly has not escaped Your Excellency. For even before the Schism, Patriarch Kerularios used to baptize the Latins who converted tο Orthodoxy, as it is stated in the Pittakion which Humbert, the Exarch of Leo ΙΧ left οn the Table of St. Sophia against Patriarch Michael, αnd from an epistle of this Patriarch tο Patriarch Peter of Alexandria and from the fact that this act of Kerularios appears to have fοund many imitators as time went οn. Indeed the Lateran Synod of 1215 criticized the Orthodox for re-baptizing the Latins, i.e. the converts from the Latin Church. After the Schism, however, we have, αmong the many others, Mark Eugenikos, who pronounces that we should only anoint the Latins with Myrhon, and besides, there are synodical decisions, such as that summoned in 1207, and that summoned in 1484 under Patriarch Symeon in which the other three Patriarchs were present, οn which occasion the well known Acolouthy was composed, and also another one in 1600 summoned in the Royal city and another one summoned in Moscow by Patriarch Ioasaph of Moscow in 1667 on which occasion two other Patriarchs from the East were present, Paisios of Alexandria and Makarios of Antioch. All these declared that only with Myrhon (Chrism) should we perfect the converts from the Western Church. Οn the other hand we have the Decision taken in Moscow in 1622 by Philaret Patriarch of Russia and the Horos which was issued under Cyril V, Patriarch of Constantinople in 1755 αnd which became accepted by all the then Patriarchs, which indicates that they [the Latin converts] should be baptized. Thus, the baptisιn of the Westerners, was sometimes regarded as valid, because it wαs done in the name of the Holy Trinity and was referred to the proper baptism, and sometimes as invalid, because of the many irregularities of form with which it was clothed with the passage of time by the constantly increasing vain study of the Western Church. Hence, the Most Holy Russian Church, taking its lead from obvious reasons makes use of the Decisions of the newer Synod of Moscow under Patriarch Ioasaph of Moscow, discerning that they are contributive tο the benefιt of the Church in that place, whereas the Churches in the East consider it necessary for the benefit of Orthodoxy to follow the Horos which had been issued under Cyril V. Since these things happen to be such, it is left to the spiritual discernment of Your Excellency αnd of the rest of the Synodical members to accept or reject the use of economy which another Church has upheld for more than two centuries without wavering, if, as she writes, this economy implies many benefits to the Church there and secures her from encroaching dangers. Whenever, then, the local orthodox Churches might be able tο gather together, then, with God’s help, the desired agreement οn this subject will take place, as with others as well. (Memorandum of Metropolitan Agathangelos of Chalcedon to His Αll-Divine Αll-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Photius, published in Ορθοδοξία, 6:66 (1931 ) pp. 418-9. Translated by Fr. George D. Dragas)

Source: http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/Dragas_RomanCatholic.html

On the Importance of Communion

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite 1749-1809

Although Confession and satisfaction [the fulfillment of a rule (kanonas) given by a spiritual Father or Confessor — trans.] can forgive sins, nonetheless Holy Communion is necessary for the remission of sins. Just as one first extracts the maggots from a malodorous wound, then cuts off the rotten parts, and subsequently applies ointment to heal it, since, if he leaves it, it reverts to its former state, so the same thing happens with sin: Confession extracts the maggots, satisfaction cuts off the rotten parts, and subsequently Divine Communion acts as an ointment and heals the wound of sin. For, if he does not receive Divine Communion, the wretched sinner reverts to his original state, and ‘the last state of that man is worse than the first.’

If someone deprives us for just one day of eating bodily foods, we become upset and impatient and it strikes us as being a great evil; but if we deprive ourselves of the spiritual and heavenly fare of the Divine Mysteries once, or twice, or for whole months, we do not consider it a bad thing. O the great lack of discrimination which today’s Christians make between bodily and spiritual things! For they embrace the former wholeheartedly, but for the latter they have no desire whatsoever. (Concerning Frequent Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ, translated in Hieromonk Patapios and Archbishop Chrysostomos, Manna from Athos: The Issue of Frequent Communion on the Holy Mountain in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries [Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006], pp. 125-126, 131)

On Children Participating in the Holy Mysteries

St. Dionysius the Areopagite ca. 1st cent.

Now the fact that even children, not yet able to understand the things Divine, become recipients of the holy Birth in God, and of the most holy symbols of the supremely Divine Communion, seems, as you say, to the profane, a fit subject for reasonable laughter, if the Hierarchs teach things Divine to those not able to hear, and vainly transmit the sacred traditions to those who do not understand. And this is still more laughable — that others, on their behalf, repeat the abjurations and the sacred compacts. But thy Hierarchical judgment must not be too hard upon those who are led astray, but, persuasively, and for the purpose of leading them to the light, reply affectionately to the objections alleged by them, bringing forward this fact, in accordance with sacred rule, that not all things Divine are comprehended in our knowledge, but many of the things, unknown by us, have causes beseeming God, unknown to us indeed, but well known to the Ranks above us. Many things also escape even the most exalted Beings, and are known distinctly by the All-Wise and Wise-making Godhead alone. Further, also, concerning this, we affirm the same things which our Godlike initiators conveyed to us, after initiations from the early tradition. For they say, what is also a fact, that infants, being brought up according to a Divine institution, will attain a religious disposition, exempt from every error, and inexperienced in an unholy life. When our Divine leaders came to this conclusion, it was determined to admit infants upon the following conditions, viz.: that the natural parents of the child presented, should transfer the child to some one of the initiated, — a good teacher of children in Divine things, — and that the child should lead the rest of his life under him, as under a godfather and sponsor, for his religious safe-keeping. The Hierarch then requires him, when he has promised to bring up the child according to the religious life, to pronounce the renunciations and the religious professions, not, as they would jokingly say, by instructing one instead of another in Divine things; for he does not say this, “that on behalf of this child I make, myself, the renunciations and the sacred professions,” but, that the child is set apart and enlisted; i.e. I promise to persuade the child, when he has come to a religious mind, through my godly instructions, to bid adieu wholly to things contrary, and to profess and perform the Divine professions. There is here, then, nothing absurd, in my judgment, provided the child is brought up as beseems a godlike training, in having a guide and religious surety, who implants in him a disposition for Divine things, and keeps him inexperienced in things contrary. (The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy Chap. 7.11)

On the Church Temple

Archbishop Averky Taushev 1906-1976

Sincere prayer unites man and God. But nowhere can prayer be as fervent and effective as in God’s temple, for there the Awesome Bloodless Sacrifice is constantly offered “for all people and all things,” there ceaseless prayer is made on behalf of all the faithful, there “the very air is holy,” in the words of one our devoutly wise bishops. It was not in vain that our God-bearing Fathers from of old called the Temple a “school of virtue.” (Stand Fast in the Truth from the writings of Archbishop Averky of Blessed Memory pg. 21)

On the Sacrifice of Bread and Wine

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe ca. 465-533

Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the Only-Begotten God the Word Himself become flesh offered Himself in an odor of sweetness as a Sacrifice and Victim to God on our behalf; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the time of the Old Testament animals were sacrificed by the patriarchs and prophets and priests; and to whom now, I mean in the time of the New Testament, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, with whom He has one Godhead, the Holy Catholic Church does not cease in faith and love to offer throughout all the lands of the world a sacrifice of Bread and Wine… In those former sacrifices what would be given us in the future was signified figuratively; but in this sacrifice which has now been given us, it is shown plainly. In those former sacrifices it was fore-announced that the Son of God would be killed for the impious; but in this present sacrifice it is announced that He has been killed for the impious. (The Rule of Faith 62)

Saint Chrysostom and Infant Baptism


St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

You see how many are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ, and that they may be his [Christ’s] members. (Baptismal Catecheses)

St. Pacian on Baptism

St. Pacian of Barcelona ca. 310-391

Freed therefore from our bonds,  when through the Sacrament of Baptism we come unto the Sign of the Lord, we renounce the Devil and all his angels, whom before we served, that we should now serve them no longer, being delivered by the Blood and Name of Christ. But if after this any one forgetful of himself and ignorant of his redemption, return again to the serving of Angels, and to the weak and beggarly elements of the world; he shall be bound again by his old fetters and chains, that is, by the bonds of sin, and his last state shall be worse than his first. For the Devil shall bind him more strongly, as if overtaken in flight, and Christ shall not now be able to suffer for him; for, Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. Therefore, dearly beloved, we are washed once, once are set free, are once admitted into the kingdom of heaven; once is that, blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Hold mightily what ye have received; keep it. blessedly, sin no more. Preserve yourselves pure and unspotted from that time even to the Day of the Lord. Great and boundless are the rewards granted unto the faithful, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man. These rewards that ye may receive, obtain by the labours of righteousness and spiritual vows! Amen. (Discourse on Baptism 7)

Pope St. Gregory on the Eucharist

St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

This Victim alone saves the soul from eternal ruin, the sacrificing of which presents to us in a mystical way the death of the Only-begotten, who,—though He is now risen from the dead and dies no more, and death will no longer have dominion over Him, for He lives immortally and incorruptibly in Himself,—is immolated for us again in this mystery of the sacred oblation. For His body is eaten there, His flesh is distributed among the people unto salvation, His blood is poured out, no longer in the hands of the faithless but in the mouth of the faithful. Let us take thought, therefore, of what this sacrifice means for us, which is in constant representation of the suffering of the Only-begotten Son, for the sake of our forgiveness. (Dialogues Bk. 4.60)

On Internal Missions and Asceticism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

The Ascetics are Orthodoxy’s only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism…this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people. The parish, the parish community, must be regenerated and in Christ-like and brotherly love must minister humbly to Him and to all people, meek and lowly and in a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. And such service must be imbued and nourished by prayer and liturgical life. This much is ground-work and indispensible. But to this end there exists one prerequisite: that our bishops, priests, and our monks become ascetics themselves. That this might be, then: let us beseech the Lord. (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ: The Inward Mission of Our Church pp. 30-31)

St. Athanasius on the Trinity and Baptism

St. Athanasius the Great ca. 297-373

The faith in the Trinity transmitted to us is the only one, and it unites us with God, and whoever takes something away from the Trinity and baptizes in the name of the Father, or in the Son alone, or into the Father and the Son without the Spirit, receives nothing, but those being baptized and he imagines himself to be giving baptism remain in vanity and unconsecrated, because the Mystery is accomplished in the name of the Trinity: so that whoever seperates the Son from the Father or reduces the Spirit to a creature has neither the Son nor the Father but is an atheist, worse than an unbeliever, and anything but a Christian. (Epistle to Serapion 1.30)

St. Justin Popovich on Intercommunion

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

Intercommunion, that is to say participating with heretics in the Holy Sacraments, and especially in the Holy Eucharist, is the most shameless betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ, Judas’ betrayal. It is especially the betrayal of the whole of the one and unique Church of Christ, of the Holy Tradition of the Church. One would have to rid oneself of one’s Christlike way of thinking and one’s conscience before the various sacraments, before their holy meanings, and the holy commandments in order to do this.

First of all we would have to ask ourselves on what Ecclesiology and on what Theology of the Church is “intercommunion” based? This is because all of Orthodox Theology is not founded on or based on “inter-communion,” but upon the theanthropic reality of communion, that is to say upon theanthropic Communion itself. (cf. 1 Cor. 1: 9; 10: 16-17; 2 Cor. 13: 13; Heb. 2: 14; 3: 14; Jn. 1: 3) The idea of inter-communion is contradictory in itself and totally inconceivable for the Orthodox Catholic conscience.

The second fact, indeed a sacred fact of Orthodox faith, is the following: In Orthodox teaching about the Church and the Sacraments, the single most unique mystery is the Church itself, the Body of the God-man Christ, so that she is the only source and the content of all divine Sacraments. Outside of this theanthropic and inclusive Mystery of the Church, the Pan-Mystery itself, there are no and cannot be any “mysteries”; therefore, there can be no inter-communion of Mysteries. Consequently we can only speak about Mysteries within the Context of this unique Pan-Mystery which is the Church. This is because the Orthodox Church, as the Body Christ, is the source and the foundation of the Sacraments and not the other way around. The Mysteries, Sacraments, cannot be elevated above the church, or examined outside the Body of the Church.

Because of this, in accordance with the mind of the Catholic Church of Christ, and in accordance with the whole of Orthodox Tradition, the Orthodox Church does not recognize the existence of other mysteries or sacraments outside of itself, neither does it recognize them as being mysteries, and one cannot receive the sacraments until one comes away from the heretical “Churches,” that is to say the pseudo-Churches, through repentance to the Orthodox Church of Christ. (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, pp. 172-174)

On Spreading the Orthodox Gospel

St. John Maximovitch 1896-1966

The Gospel of Christ must be preached throughout the world in an Orthodox context. Only then will the end come. (Blessed John Wonder-worker of San Francisco, Again Magazine December 1993 Page 27-31 Source)

On the Recipient of the Eucharistic Sacrifice

Council of Constantinople 1156

The Life-giving sacrifice has never been offered only to the Father of the Only Begotten Who is the Source of all things, neither when it was first offered by Christ the Saviour, nor at any subsequent time even to the present day. It has always been offered also to the Word, Who became incarnate; and the Holy Spirit is not left out of so divine an honour. The oblation of the Mysteries which is consecrated on each occasion by the power of the Trinity, has been made (and is still made) to the Godhead over all, in the Trinity of Hypostases, which is known to us as united and as one in the same nature, and as co-eternal. (PG 115.140-8.)

St. Gregory the Theologian on Infant Baptism

St. Gregory the Theologian ca. 329-389

Have you an infant child? Do not let sin get any opportunity, but let him be sanctified from his childhood; from his very tenderest age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Fearest thou the Seal on account of the weakness of nature? O what a small-souled mother, and of how little faith! Why, Anna even before Samuel was born 1 Sam. 1:10 promised him to God, and after his birth consecrated him at once, and brought him up in the priestly habit, not fearing anything in human nature, but trusting in God. You have no need of amulets or incantations, with which the Devil also comes in, stealing worship from God for himself in the minds of vainer men. Give your child the Trinity, that great and noble Guard.

Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealedand uninitiated.

A proof of this is found in the Circumcision on the eighth day, which was a sort of typical seal, and was conferred on children before they had the use of reason. And so is the anointing of the doorposts, Ex. 12:22 which preserved the firstborn, though applied to things which had no consciousness. But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration. For this is how the matter stands; at that time they begin to be responsible for their lives, when reason is matured, and they learn the mystery of life (for of sins of ignorance owing to their tender years they have no account to give), and it is far more profitable on all accounts to be fortified by the Font, because of the sudden assaults of danger that befall us, stronger than our helpers.

But, one says, Christ was thirty years old when He was baptized, Lk. 3:23 and that although He was God; and do you bid us hurry our Baptism?— You have solved the difficulty when you say He was God. For He was absolute cleansing; He had no need of cleansing; but it was for you that He was purified, just as it was for you that, though He had not flesh, yet He is clothed with flesh. Nor was there any danger to Him from putting off Baptism, for He had the ordering of His own Passion as of His own Birth. But in your case the danger is to no small interests, if you were to depart after a birth to corruption alone, and without being clothed with incorruption. And there is this further point for me to consider, that that particular time of baptism was a necessity for Him, but your case is not the same. He manifested Himself in the thirtieth year after His birth and not before; first, in order that He might not appear ostentatious, which is a condition belonging to vulgar minds; and next, because that age tests virtue thoroughly, and is the right time to teach. And since it was needful for Him to undergo the passion which saves the world, it was needful also that all things which belong to the passion should fit into the passion; the Manifestation, the Baptism, the Witness from Heaven, the Proclamation, the concourse of the multitude, the Miracles; and that they should be as it were one body, not torn asunder, nor broken apart by intervals. (Oration 40.17, 28-29)

On the Eucharist as Weapon

Fr. John Romanides 1928-2001

The greatest power of the devil is death, which is destroyed only within the body of Christ, where the faithful are continuously engaged in the struggle against Satan by striving for selfless love. This combat against the devil and striving for selfless love is centered in the corporate Eucharistic life of the local community–“For when you assemble frequently epi to auto (in the same place) the powers of Satan are destroyed and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Ephesians Chap. 13), therefore, who does not hear the Spirit within him calling him to the Eucharistic assembly for the corporate life of selfless love is obviously under the sway of the devil. “He, therefore, who does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride and condemned himself…” (ibid. Chap. 5)(Original Sin According to St. Paul)

On the Reality of the Sacraments

Blessed Augustine of Hippo ca. 354-430

You know that in ordinary parlance we often say, when Easter is approaching, “Tomorrow or the day after is the Lord’s Passion”, although He suffered so many years ago, and His passion was endured once for all time. In like manner, on Easter Sunday, we say, This day the Lord rose from the dead, although so many years have passed since His resurrection. But no one is so foolish as to accuse us of falsehood when we use these phrases, for this reason, that we give such names to these days on the ground of a likeness between them and the days on which the events referred to actually transpired, the day being called the day of that event, although it is not the very day on which the event took place, but one corresponding to it by the revolution of the same time of the year, and the event itself being said to take place on that day, because, although it really took place long before, it is on that day sacramentally celebrated. Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ’s body is Christ’s body, and the sacrament of Christ’s blood is Christ’s blood, in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith. (Letter 98.9)

On Perfect Baptism

St. Gregory the Theologian ca. 329-389

Remember your confession. Into what were you baptised? The Father? Good but Jewish still. The Son?…good…but not yet perfect. The Holy Ghost?…Very good…this is perfect. (Oration 33.17)

On Trinitarian Baptism

St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379

Let no one be misled by the fact of the Apostle’s frequently omitting the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit when making mention of baptism, or on this account imagine that the invocation of the names is not observed (cf. Acts 8:16, 10:48, 19:5). As many of you, he says, as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ; and again, As many of you as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death. For the naming of Christ is the confession of the whole, showing forth as it does the God who gave, the Son who received, and the Spirit who is, the unction. So we have learned from Peter, in the Acts, of Jesus of Nazareth whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost; Acts 10:38 and in Isaiah, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; Isa. 60:1 and the Psalmist, Therefore God, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. Scripture, however, in the case of baptism, sometimes plainly mentions the Spirit alone.

For into one Spirit, it says, we were all baptized in one body. And in harmony with this are the passages: You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, Acts 1:5 and He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Lk. 3:16 But no one on this account would be justified in calling that baptism a perfect baptism wherein only the name of the Spirit was invoked. For the tradition that has been given us by the quickening grace must remain for ever inviolate. He who redeemed our life from destruction gave us power of renewal, whereof the cause is ineffable and hidden in mystery, but bringing great salvation to our souls, so that to add or to take away anything involves manifestly a falling away from the life everlasting. If then in baptism the separation of the Spirit from the Father and the Son is perilous to the baptizer, and of no advantage to the baptized, how can the rending asunder of the Spirit from Father and from Son be safe for us? Faith and baptism are two kindred and inseparable ways of salvation: faith is perfected through baptism, baptism is established through faith, and both are completed by the same names. For as we believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, so are we also baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; first comes the confession, introducing us to salvation, and baptism follows, setting the seal upon our assent. (On the Holy Spirit 12.28)

On Communion with the Heterodox

St. Athanasius of Alexandria ca. 297-373

I have been compelled, at the instance of certain most sincere brethren, to write at once in order that keeping faithfully and without guile the pious faith which God’s grace works in you, you may not give occasion of scandal to the brethren. For when any sees you, the faithful in Christ, associate and communicate with such people, [or worshipping along with them], certainly they will think it a matter of indifference and will fall into the mire of irreligion. Lest, then, this should happen, be pleased, beloved, to shun those who hold the impiety [of Arius], and moreover to avoid those who, while they pretend not to hold with Arius, yet worship with the impious. And we are specially bound to fly from the communion of men whose opinions we hold in execration. [If then any come to you, and, as blessed John 2 Jn. 10 says, brings with him right doctrine, say to him, All hail, and receive such an one as a brother.] But if any pretend that he confesses the right faith, but appear to communicate with those others, exhort him to abstain from such communion, and if he promise to do so, treat him as a brother, but if he persist in a contentious spirit, him avoid. (Letter 53)

On Justification by Faith and Baptism

It was as a gift they were justified, not from the works of the Law but rather by faith and holy baptism — hence, to be sure, his saying, Wash, make yourselves clean. (Isa. 1:16)

While the Law achieved bodily cleansing through the water of purification, then, Christ removes every stain of our souls through holy baptism. We were baptized through the Holy Spirit and water, remember, and every form of wickedness in us, as it were, disappeared and was consumed like some useless rubbish, which is what fire does, after all. Blessed Paul also makes this clear in the words, “By faith Noah was warned and built an ark for the safety of his household,” (Heb. 11:7) which consisted of a few. In other words, “Eight people were saved through water, and baptism which prefigures now saves us, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience. (1 Pet. 3:21) (Commentary on Isaiah, Chap. 1)

On Baptism and Free-will

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

Baptism does not take away our free will or freedom of choice, but gives us the freedom no longer to be tyrannized by the devil unless we choose to be. After baptism it is in our power either to persist willingly in the practice of the commandments of Christ, into whom we were baptized, and to advance in the path of His ordinances, or to deviate from this straight way and to fall again into the hands of our enemy, the devil.

Whoever after baptism deliberately submits to the will of the devil and carries out his wishes, estranges himself – to adapt David’s words – from the holy womb of baptism (cf. Ps. 58:3). None of us can be estranged or alienated from the nature with which we are created. We are created good by God – for God creates nothing evil – and we remain unchanging in our nature and essence as created. But we do what we choose and want, whether good or bad, of our own free will. Just as a knife does not change its nature, but remains iron whether used for good or for evil, so we, as has been said, act and do what we want without departing from our own nature. (One Hundred and Fifty Three Practical and Theological Texts 109-110)

Pope St. Gregory on the Reception of Converts

St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

Gregory to Quiricus, Bishop, and the other Catholic bishops in Hiberia .

Since to charity nothing is afar off, let those who are divided in place be joined by letter. The bearer of these presents, coming to the Church of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, asserted that he had received letters for us from your Fraternity, and had lost them, with other things also, in the city of Jerusalem. In them, as he says, you were desirous of enquiring with regard to priests and people who have been bewildered in the error of Nestorian heresy, when they return to the Catholic Church which is the mother of all the elect, whether they should be baptized, or joined to the bowels of the same mother Church by confession only of the one true faith.

And indeed we have learned from the ancient institution of the Fathers that whosoever among heretics are baptized in the name of the Trinity, when they return to holy Church, may be recalled to the bosom of mother Church either by unction of chrism, or by imposition of hands, or by profession of the faith only. Hence the West reconciles Arians to the holy Catholic Church by imposition of hands, but the East by the unction of holy chrism. But Monophysites and others are received by a true confession only, because holy baptism, which they have received among heretics, then acquires in them the power of cleansing, when either the former receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands, or the latter are united to the bowels of the holy and universal Church by reason of their confession of the true faith. Those heretics, however, who are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, such as the Bonosiaci and the Cataphrygæ, because the former do not believe in Christ the Lord, and the latter with a perverse understanding believe a certain bad man, Montanus, to be the Holy Spirit, like whom are many others—these, when they come to holy Church, are baptized, because what they received while in their error, not being in the name of the Holy Trinity, was not baptism. Nor can this be called an iteration of baptism, which, as has been said, had not been given in the name of the Trinity. But the Nestorians, since they are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity— though darkened by the error of their heresy in that, after the manner of Jewish unbelief, they believe not the Incarnation of the Only-begotten— when they come to the Holy Catholic Church, are to be taught, by firm holding and profession of the true faith, to believe in one and the same Son of God and man, our Lord God Jesus Christ, the same existing in Divinity before the ages, and the same made man in the end of the ages, because The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us Jn. 1:14. (Epistles, Bk. 11: Epistle 67)

 

On the Necessity of Proclaiming the Gospel

St. Maximus the Confessor ca. 580-662

Our salvation does not depend merely on faith of the heart. The Lord teaches, Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Which is in heaven. Furthermore, the divine Apostle tells us, With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. If God and the Prophets and Apostles command that the mystery of faith which is the salvation of the whole world be confessed openly, then our salvation is hindered when its proclamation is forbidden. (St. Dimitri Rostov: Life of St. Maximus)

The Incredible Story of a Baptism with Sand

St. John Moschos ca. 550-619

Abba Palladios told us he had heard one of the fathers whose name was Andrew (whom we also met) say:

When we were in Alexandria, Abba Andrew at the eighteenth mile post told us saying:

As a young man I was very undisciplined. A war broke out and confusion reigned so, together with nine others, I fled to Palestine. One of the nine was a fellow with iniative (Grk. philoponos, strictly, one who likes hard work, an industrious fellow) and another was a Hebrew. When we came into the wilderness, the Hebrew became mortally sick, so we were in great distress, for we did not know what to do for him. But we did not abandon him. Each of us carried him as far as he was able. We wanted to get him to a city or to a market town so that he should not die in the wilderness. But when the young man was completely worn out and was brought to the point of death by hunger and a burning fever, by utter exhaustion and a raging thirst from the heat (in fact he was about to expire), he could no longer bear to be carried. With many tears, we decided to abandon him in the wilderness and go our way. We could see death from thirst lying in store for us. We were in tears when we set him down in the sand. When he saw that we were going to leave him, he began to adjure us, saying: ‘By the God who is going to judge both the quick and the dead, leave me not to die as a Jew, but as a Christian. Have mercy on me and baptise me so that I too may depart this life as a Christian and go to the Lord.’ We said to him: ‘Truly brother, it is impossible for us to do anything of the sort. We are laymen and baptizing is bishops’ work and priests.’ Besides, there is no water here.’ But he continued to adjure us in the same terms and with tears, saying: ‘Oh, Christians, please do not deprive me of this benefit.’ While we were most unsure of what to do next, the fellow with initiative among us, inspired by God, said to us: ‘Stand him up and take off his clothes.’ We got him to his feet and with great difficulty and stripped him. The one with initiative filled both his hands with sand and poured it three times over the sick man’s head saying: ‘Theodore is baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’, and we all answered amen to each one of the names of the holy, consubstantial and worshipful Trinity. The Lord is my witness, brethren, that Christ, the Son of the living God, thus cured and reinvigorated him so that not a trace of illness remained in him. In health and vigour he ran before us for the rest of our journey through the wilderness. When we observed so great and so sudden a transformation, we all praised and glorified the ineffable majesty and lovingkindness of Christ our God. When we arrived at Ascalon, we took this matter to the blessed and saintly Dionysios, who was bishop there, and told him what had happened to the brother on the journey. When the truly holy Dionysios heard of these things, he was stupefied by so extraordinary a miracle. He assembled all the clergy and put to them the question of whether he should recognize the effusion of sand as a baptism or not. Some said that, in view of the extraordinary miracle, he should allow it as a valid baptism; others said he should not. Gregory the Theologian enumerates all the kinds of baptism. He speaks of the Mosaic baptism, baptism in water, that is, but before that of baptism in a cloud and in the sea. ‘The baptism of John was no longer Judaic baptism, for it was not only a baptism in water, but also unto repentance. Jesus also baptised, but in the Spirit, and this is perfection. I know also a fourth baptism: that of martyrdom and of blood. And I know a fifth: the baptism of tears.’ ‘Which of these baptisms did he undergo?’, asked some, ‘so that we might pronounce on its validity? For indeed the Lord said to Nicodemus: Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven (Jn. 3:5).’ To this, others replied: ‘But indeed they were baptised, as Clement, the author of the Stromates, testifies in the fifth book of Hypotyposes. In commenting on the saying of the Apostle Paul, he opines: I thank God that I baptised none of you (1 Cor. 1:14) that Jesus is said to have baptised none but Peter; Peter to have baptised Andrew; Andrew, James and John, and they the others.’ When they had said all this and much more beside, it seemed good to the blessed Bishop Dionysios to send the brother to the Holy Jordan and for him to be baptised there. The fellow with iniative he ordained a deacon. (The Spiritual Meadow 176)

On Baptisms Outside the Church

Apostolic Canons ca. 1st cent.

Let a bishop or presbyter who shall baptize again one who has rightly received baptism, or who shall not baptize one who has been polluted by the ungodly, be deposed, as despising the cross and death of the Lord, and not making a distinction between the true priests and the false. (Canon 47)

Clement of Alexandria ca. 150-215

Now he who has fallen into heresy passes through an arid wilderness, abandoning the only true God, destitute of God, seeking waterless water, reaching an uninhabited and thirsty land, collecting sterility with his hands. And those destitute of prudence, that is, those involved in heresies, I enjoin, remarks Wisdom, saying, Touch sweetly stolen bread and the sweet water of theft; (Prov. 9:17) the Scripture manifestly applying the terms bread and water to nothing else but to those heresies, which employ bread and water in the oblation, not according to the canon of the Church. For there are those who celebrate the Eucharist with mere water. But begone, stay not in her place: place is the synagogue, not the Church. He calls it by the equivocal name, place. Then He subjoins: For so shall you pass through the water of another; reckoning heretical baptism not proper and true water. And you shall pass over another’s river, that rushes along and sweeps down to the sea; into which he is cast who, having diverged from the stability which is according to truth, rushes back into the heathenish and tumultous waves of life. (Stromata 1.19)

St. Cyprian of Carthage died ca. 258

For if the Church is not with heretics, therefore, because it is one, and cannot be divided; and if thus the Holy Spirit is not there, because He is one, and cannot be among profane persons, and those who are without; certainly also baptism, which consists in the same unity, cannot be among heretics, because it can neither be separated from the Church nor from the Holy Spirit. (Epistle 73.4)

St. Firmilian of Caesarea died ca. 269

Moreover, all other heretics, if they have separated themselves from the Church of God, can have nothing of power or of grace, since all power and grace are established in the Church where the elders preside, who possess the power both of baptizing, and of imposition of hands, and of ordaining. For as a heretic may not lawfully ordain nor lay on hands, so neither may he baptize, nor do any thing holily or spiritually, since he is an alien from spiritual and deifying sanctity.

not all who call on the name of Christ are heard, and that their invocation cannot obtain any grace, the Lord Himself manifests, saying, Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceieve many Mk. 13:6 Because there is no difference between a false prophet and a heretic. For as the former deceives in the name of God or Christ, so the latter deceives in the sacrament of baptism. Both strive by falsehood to deceive men’s wills. (Epistles of Cyprian 74.7-9)

St. Dionysius of Alexandria died ca. 265

Previously, indeed, (Stephen) had written letters about Helanus and Firmilianus, and about all who were established throughout Cilicia and Cappadocia, and all the neighbouring provinces, giving them to understand that for that same reason he would depart from their communion, because they rebaptized heretics. And consider the seriousness of the matter. For, indeed, in the most considerable councils of the bishops, as I hear, it has been decreed that they who come from heresy should first be trained in Catholic doctrine, and then should be cleansed by baptism from the filth of the old and impure leaven. Asking and calling him to witness on all these matters, I sent letters. (Epistle 6 to Sixtus, Bishop)

For truly, brother, I have need of advice, and I crave your judgment, lest perchance I should be mistaken upon the matters which in such wise happen to me. One of the brethren who come together to the church, who for some time has been esteemed as a believer, and who before my ordination, and, if I am not deceived, before even the episcopate of Heraclas himself, had been a partaker of the assembly of the faithful, when he had been concerned in the baptism of those who were lately baptized, and had heard the interrogatories and their answers, came to me in tears, and bewailing his lot. And throwing himself at my feet, he began to confess and to protest that this baptism by which he had been initiated among heretics was not of this kind, nor had it anything whatever in common with this of ours, because that it was full of blasphemy and impiety. And he said that his soul was pierced with a very bitter sense of sorrow, and that he did not dare even to lift up his eyes to God, because he had been initiated by those wicked words and things. Wherefore he besought that, by this purest laver, he might be endowed with adoption and grace. And I, indeed, have not dared to do this; but I have said that the long course of communion had been sufficient for this. For I should not dare to renew afresh, after all, one who had heard the giving of thanks, and who had answered with others Amen; who had stood at the holy table, and had stretched forth his hands to receive the blessed food, and had received it, and for a very long time had been a partaker of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Henceforth I bade him be of good courage, and approach to the sacred elements with a firm faith and a good conscience, and become a partaker of them. But he makes no end of his wailing, and shrinks from approaching to the table; and scarcely, when entreated, can he bear to be present at the prayers. (Epistle 9 to Sixtus)

St. Athanasius the Great ca. 297-373

For not he who simply says, ‘O Lord,’ gives Baptism; but he who with the Name has also the right faith. On this account therefore our Saviour also did not simply command to baptize, but first says, ‘Teach;’ then thus: ‘Baptize into the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost;’ that the right faith might follow upon learning, and together with faith might come the consecration of Baptism.

There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith, and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is rather polluted by irreligion than redeemed. (Four Discourses Against the Arians Bk. 2.18.42-43)

St. Optatus of Milevis ca. 4th cent.

Now there is another question: For what purpose have you mentioned those who have not the Sacraments which you and we alike possess? Sound health does not clamor for medicine; strength which is secure in itself does not need outside help; truth has no lack of arguments; it is the mark of a sick man to seek remedies; it is the sign of a sluggard and a weakling to run in search of auxiliaries; it belongs to a liar to rake up arguments. To return to your book, you have said that the Endowments of the Church cannot be with heretics, and in this you have said rightly, for we know that the churches of each of the heretics have no lawful Sacraments, since they are adulteresses, without the rights of honest wedlock, and are rejected by Christ, who is the Bridegroom of One Church, as strangers.  This He Himself makes clear in the Canticle of Canticles. When He praises One, He condemns the others because, besides the One which is the true Catholic Church, the others amongst the heretics are thought to be churches, but are not such. Thus He declares in the Canticle of Canticles (as we have already pointed out) that His Dove is One, and that she is also the chosen Spouse, and again a garden enclosed, and a fountain sealed up.

Therefore none of the heretics possess either the Keys, which Peter alone received, or the Ring,  with which we read that the Fountain has been sealed; nor is any heretic one of those to whom that Garden belongs in which God plants His young trees. (Against the Donatists Bk. 1.10)

You see, then, my brother Parmenian, that none but heretics only—-who are cut off from the home of truth—-possess ‘various kinds of false Baptisms with which he, who is stained, cannot wash, nor the unclean cleanse, nor the destroyer raise, nor he, who is lost, free, nor the guilty man give pardon, nor the condemned man absolve.’ (ibid. Bk. 1.12)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

We may not receive Baptism twice or thrice; else it might be said, Though I have failed once, I shall set it right a second time: whereas if you fail once, the thing cannot be set right; for there is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism : for only the heretics are re-baptized , because the former was no baptism. (Procatechesis 7)

St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379

The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith. Thus they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen.  As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly. To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church.

…For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all.

…[I]t seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatæ;, by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church’s true baptism. (Epistle 188: 1st Canonical Epistle, Canon 1)

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397

…now all are made whole; or more exactly, the Christian people alone, for in some even the water is deceitful. Jer. 15:18 The baptism of unbelievers heals not but pollutes. (On the Mysteries 4.23)

Blessed Jerome ca. 347-420

Cyprian of blessed memory tried to avoid broken cisterns and not to drink of strange waters: and therefore, rejecting heretical baptism, he summoned his African synod in opposition to Stephen, who was the blessed Peter’s twenty-second successor in the see of Rome. They met to discuss this matter; but the attempt failed. At last those very bishops who had together with him determined that heretics must be re-baptized, reverted to the old custom and published a fresh decree. Do you ask what course we must pursue? What we do our forefathers handed down to us as their forefathers to them. But why speak of later times? When the blood of Christ was but lately shed and the apostles were still in Judæa, the Lord’s body was asserted to be a phantom; the Galatians had been led away to the observance of the law, and the Apostle was a second time in travail with them; the Corinthians did not believe the resurrection of the flesh, and he endeavoured by many arguments to bring them back to the right path. Then came Simon Magus and his disciple Menander. They asserted themselves to be powers of God. Then Basilides invented the most high god Abraxas and the three hundred and sixty-five manifestations of him. Then Nicolas, one of the seven Deacons, and one whose lechery knew no rest by night or day, indulged in his filthy dreams. I say nothing of the Jewish heretics who before the coming of Christ destroyed the law delivered to them: of Dositheus, the leader of the Samaritans who rejected the prophets: of the Sadducees who sprang from his root and denied even the resurrection of the flesh: of the Pharisees who separated themselves from the Jews on account of certain superfluous observances, and took their name from the fact of their dissent: of the Herodians who accepted Herod as the Christ. I come to those heretics who have mangled the Gospels, Saturninus, and the Ophites, the Cainites and Sethites, and Carpocrates, and Cerinthus, and his successor Ebion, and the other pests, the most of which broke out while the apostle John was still alive, and yet we do not read that any of these men were re-baptized.

As we have made mention of that distinguished saint, let us show also from his Apocalypse that repentance unaccompanied by baptism ought to be allowed valid in the case of heretics. It is imputed Rev. 2:4 to the angel of Ephesus that he has forsaken his first love. In the angel of the Church of Pergamum the eating of idol-sacrifices is censured Rev. 2:14, and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans Rev. 2:15. Likewise the angel of Thyatira is rebuked Rev. 2:20 on account of Jezebel the prophetess, and the idol meats, and fornication. And yet the Lord encourages all these to repent, and adds a threat, moreover, of future punishment if they do not turn. Now he would not urge them to repent unless he intended to grant pardon to the penitents. Is there any indication of his having said, Let them be re-baptized who have been baptized in the faith of the Nicolaitans? Or let hands be laid upon those of the people of Pergamum who at that time believed, having held the doctrine of Balaam? Nay, rather, Repent therefore, Rev. 2:16 he says, or else I come to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.

If, however, those men who were ordained by Hilary, and who have lately become sheep without a shepherd, are disposed to allege Scripture in support of what the blessed Cyprian left in his letters advocating the re-baptization of heretics, I beg them to remember that he did not anathematize those who refused to follow him. At all events, he remained in communion with such as opposed his views. He was content with exhorting them, on account of Novatus and the numerous other heretics then springing up, to receive no one who did not condemn his previous error. In fact, he thus concludes the discussion of the subject with Stephen, the Roman Pontiff: These things, dearest brother, I have brought to your knowledge on account of our mutual respect and love unfeigned, believing, as I do, that from the sincerity of your piety and your faith you will approve such things as are alike consonant with piety and true in themselves. But I know that some persons are unwilling to abandon views which they have once entertained, and are averse to a change of purpose; they would rather, without breaking the bond of peace and concord between colleagues, adhere to their own plans, when once they have been adopted. This is a matter in which we do not force anyone, or lay down a law for anyone; let each follow his own free choice in the administration of the Church: let each be ruler in his own sphere since he must give account of his action to the Lord. In the letter also to Jubaianus on the re-baptization of heretics, towards the end, he says this: I have written these few remarks, my dearest brother, to the best of my poor ability, without dictating to anyone, or prejudicing the case of anyone: I would not hinder a single bishop from doing what he thinks right with the full exercise of his own judgment. So far as is possible, we avoid disputes with colleagues and fellow bishops about the heretics, and maintain with them a divine harmony and the Lord’s peace, particularly since the Apostle says: 1 Cor. 11:16 ‘But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.’ With patience and gentleness we preserve charity at heart, the honour of our order, the bond of faith, the harmony of the episcopate.

There is another argument which I shall adduce, and against that not even Hilary, the modern Deucalion, will venture to mutter a syllable. If heretics are not baptized and must be re-baptized because they were not in the Church, Hilary himself also is not a Christian. For he was baptized in that Church which always allowed heretical baptism. Before the Synod of Ariminum was held, before Lucifer went into exile, Hilary when a deacon of the Roman Church welcomed those who came over from the heretics on account of the baptism which they had previously received. It can hardly be that Arians are the only heretics, and that we are to accept all but those whom they have baptized. You were a deacon, Hilary (the Church may say), and received those whom the Manichæans had baptized. You were a deacon, and acknowledged Ebion’s baptism. All at once after Arius arose you began to be quite out of conceit with yourself. You and your household separated from us, and opened a new laver of your own. If some angel or apostle has re-baptized you, I will not disparage your procedure. But since you who raise your sword against me are the son of my womb, and nourished on the milk of my breasts, return to me what I gave you, and be, if you can, a Christian in some other way. Suppose I am a harlot, still I am your mother. You say, I do not keep the marriage bed undefiled: still what I am now I was when you were conceived. If I commit adultery with Arius, I did the same before with Praxias, with Ebion, with Cerinthus, and Novatus. You think much of them and welcome them, adulterers as they are, to your mother’s home. I don’t know why one adulterer more than others should offend you.

But if anyone thinks it open to question whether heretics were always welcomed by our ancestors, let him read the letters of the blessed Cyprian in which he applies the lash to Stephen, bishop of Rome, and his errors which had grown inveterate by usage. Let him also read the pamphlets of Hilary on the re-baptization of heretics which he published against us, and he will there find Hilary himself confessing that Julius, Marcus, Sylvester, and the other bishops of old alike welcomed all heretics to repentance; and, further, to show that he could not justly claim possession of the true custom; the Council of Nicæa also, to which we referred not long ago, welcomed all heretics with the exception of the disciples of Paul of Samosata. And, what is more, it allows a Novatian bishop on conversion to have the rank of presbyter, a decision which condemns both Lucifer and Hilary, since the same person who is ordained is also baptized. (Dialogue Against the Luciferians 23-27) 

Blessed Augustine of Hippo ca. 354-430

…so let them understand that men may be baptized in communions severed from the Church, in which Christ’s baptism is given and received in the said celebration of the sacrament, but that it will only then be of avail for the remission of sins, when the recipient, being reconciled to the unity of the Church, is purged from the sacrilege of deceit, by which his sins were retained, and their remission prevented. For, as in the case of him who had approached the sacrament in deceit there is no second baptism, but he is purged by faithful discipline and truthful confession, which he could not be without baptism, so that what was given before becomes then powerful to work his salvation, when the former deceit is done away by the truthful confession; so also in the case of the man who, while an enemy to the peace and love of Christ, received in any heresy or schism the baptism of Christ, which the schismatics in question had not lost from among them, though by his sacrilege his sins were not remitted, yet, when he corrects his error, and comes over to the communion and unity of the Church, he ought not to be again baptized: because by his very reconciliation to the peace of the Church he receives this benefit, that the sacrament now begins in unity to be of avail for the remission of his sins, which could not so avail him as received in schism.

But if they should say that in the man who has approached the sacrament in deceit, his sins are indeed removed by the holy power of so great a sacrament at the moment when he received it, but return immediately in consequence of his deceit: so that the Holy Spirit has both been present with him at his baptism for the removal of his sins, and has also fled before his perseverance in deceit so that they should return: so that both declarations prove true—both, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ;” and also, “The holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit;”— that is to say, that both the holiness of baptism clothes him with Christ, and the sinfulness of deceit strips him of Christ; like the case of a man who passes from darkness through light into darkness again, his eyes being always directed towards darkness, though the light cannot but penetrate them as he passes—if they should say this, let them understand that this is also the case with those who are baptized without the pale of the Church, but yet with the baptism of the Church, which is holy in itself, wherever it may be; and which therefore belongs not to those who separate themselves, but to the body from which they are separated; while yet it avails even among them so far, that they pass through its light back to their own darkness, their sins, which in that moment had been dispelled by the holiness of baptism, returning immediately upon them, as though it were the darkness returning which the light had dispelled while they were passing through it. (On Baptism Bk. 1 Chap. 12.18-19)

It is to no purpose, then, that they say to us, “If you acknowledge our baptism, what do we lack that should make you suppose that we ought to think seriously of joining your communion?” For we reply, We do not acknowledge any baptism of yours; for it is not the baptism of schismatics or heretics, but of God and of the Church, wheresoever it may be found, and wherever it may be transferred. But it is in no sense yours, except because you entertain false opinions, and do sacrilegious acts, and have impiously separated yourselves from the Church. For if everything else in your practice and opinions were true, and still you were to persist in this same separation, contrary to the bond of brotherly peace, contrary to the union of all the brethren, who have been manifest, according to the promise, in all the world; the particulars of whose history, and the secrets of whose hearts, you never could have known or considered in every case, so as to have a right to condemn them; who, moreover, cannot be liable to condemnation for submitting themselves to the judges of the Church rather than to one of the parties to the dispute—in this one thing, at least, in such a case, you are deficient, in which he is deficient who lacks charity. Why should we go over our argument again? Look and see yourselves in the apostle, how much there is that you lack. For what does it matter to him who lacks charity, whether he be carried away outside the Church at once by some blast of temptation, or remain within the Lord’s harvest, so as to be separated only at the final winnowing? And yet even such, if they have once been born in baptism, need not be born again. (On Baptism Bk. 1 Chap. 14.22)

St. Vincent of Lerins died ca. 445

Once on a time then, Agripinnus, bishop of Carthage, of venerable memory, held the doctrine— and he was the first who held it— that Baptism ought to be repeated, contrary to the divine canon, contrary to the rule of the universal Church, contrary to the customs and institutions of our ancestors. This innovation drew after it such an amount of evil, that it not only gave an example of sacrilege to heretics of all sorts, but proved an occasion of error to certain Catholics even.

When then all men protested against the novelty, and the priesthood everywhere, each as his zeal prompted him, opposed it, Pope Stephen of blessed memory, Prelate of the Apostolic See, in conjunction indeed with his colleagues but yet himself the foremost, withstood it, thinking it right, I doubt not, that as he exceeded all others in the authority of his place, so he should also in the devotion of his faith. In fine, in an epistle sent at the time to Africa, he laid down this rule: Let there be no innovation— nothing but what has been handed down. For that holy and prudent man well knew that true piety admits no other rule than that whatsoever things have been faithfully received from our fathers the same are to be faithfully consigned to our children; and that it is our duty, not to lead religion whither we would, but rather to follow religion whither it leads; and that it is the part of Christian modesty and gravity not to hand down our own beliefs or observances to those who come after us, but to preserve and keep what we have received from those who went before us. What then was the issue of the whole matter? What but the usual and customary one? Antiquity was retained, novelty was rejected.

But it may be, the cause of innovation at that time lacked patronage. On the contrary, it had in its favor such powerful talent, such copious eloquence, such a number of partisans, so much resemblance to truth, such weighty support in Scripture (only interpreted in a novel and perverse sense), that it seems to me that that whole conspiracy could not possibly have been defeated, unless the sole cause of this extraordinary stir, the very novelty of what was so undertaken, so defended, so belauded, had proved wanting to it. In the end, what result, under God, had that same African Council or decree? None whatever. The whole affair, as though a dream, a fable, a thing of no possible account, was annulled, cancelled, and trodden underfoot.

And O marvellous revolution! The authors of this same doctrine are judged Catholics, the followers heretics; the teachers are absolved, the disciples condemned; the writers of the books will be children of the Kingdom, the defenders of them will have their portion in Hell. For who is so demented as to doubt that that blessed light among all holy bishops and martyrs, Cyprian, together with the rest of his colleagues, will reign with Christ; or, who on the other hand so sacrilegious as to deny that the Donatists and those other pests, who boast the authority of that council for their iteration of baptism, will be consigned to eternal fire with the devil? (The Commonitory 6.16-18)

Pope St. Leo the Great ca. 400-461

For they who have received baptism from heretics, not having been previously baptized, are to be confirmed by imposition of hands with only the invocation of the Holy Ghost, because they have received the bare form of baptism without the power of sanctification. And this regulation, as you know, we require to be kept in all the churches, that the font once entered may not be defiled by repetition, as the Lord says, One Lord, one faith, one baptism. And that washing may not be polluted by repetition, but, as we have said, only the sanctification of the Holy Ghost invoked, that what no one can receive from heretics may be obtained from Catholic priests. (Letter 159.8)

Concerning those who have come from Africa or Mauretania and know not in what sect they were baptized, what ought to be done in their case ?

Reply. These persons are not doubtful of their baptism, but profess ignorance as to the faith of those who baptized them: and hence since they have received the form of baptism in some way or other, they are not to be baptized but are to be united to the Catholics by imposition of hands, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit’s power, which they could not receive from heretics. (Letter 167: Question 18)

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe 467-533

Anyone who receives the sacrament of baptism, whether in the Catholic Church or in a heretical or schismatic one, receives the whole sacrament; but salvation, which is the strength of the sacrament, he will not have, if he has had the sacrament outside the Catholic Church [and remains in deliberate schism]. He must therefore return to the Church, not so that he might receive again the sacrament of baptism, which no one dare repeat in any baptized person, but so that he may receive eternal life in Catholic society, for the obtaining of which no one is suited who, even with the sacrament of baptism, remains estranged from the Catholic Church. (The Rule of Faith 43)

St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

And indeed we have learned from the ancient institution of the Fathers that whosoever among heretics are baptized in the name of the Trinity, when they return to holy Church, may be recalled to the bosom of mother Church either by unction of chrism, or by imposition of hands, or by profession of the faith only. Hence the West reconciles Arians to the holy Catholic Church by imposition of hands, but the Eastby the unction of holy chrism. But Monophysites and others are received by a true confession only, because holy baptism, which they have received among heretics, then acquires in them the power of cleansing, when either the former receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands, or the latter are united to the bowels of the holy and universal Church byreason of their confession of the true faith. Those heretics, however, who are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, such as the Bonosiaci and theCataphrygæ, because the former do not believe inChrist the Lord, and the latter with a perverse understanding believe a certain bad man, Montanus, to be the Holy Spirit, like whom are many others—these, when they come to holy Church, are baptized, because what they received while in their error, not being in the name of the Holy Trinity, was not baptism. Nor can this be called an iteration of baptism, which, as has been said, had not been given in the name of the Trinity. But the Nestorians, since they are baptized in the name of the HolyTrinity— though darkened by the error of their heresy in that, after the manner of Jewish unbelief, they believe not the Incarnation of the Only-begotten— when they come to the Holy Catholic Church, are to be taught, by firm holding and profession of the true faith, to believe in one and the same Son of God and man, our Lord God Jesus Christ, the same existing in Divinity before the ages, and the same made man in the end of the ages, because The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us Jn. 1:14(Epistles, Bk. 11: Epistle 67)

Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735

For where is a good conscience except where there is a sincere faith? For the Apostle Paul teaches that the purpose of the commandment is charity from a pure heart and a good conscience and unfeigned faith. (1 Tim. 1:5) The fact, therefore, that the water of the flood did not save thouse outside the ark but slew them without doubt prefigured every heretic who, although having the sacrament of baptism, is to be plunged into the lower world not by other waters but by those very waters by which the ark is raised up to the heavens. (Commentary on 1st Peter)

St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

We confess one baptism for the remission of sins and for life eternal. For baptism declares the Lord’s death. We are indeed buried with the Lord through baptism Col. 2:12, as says the divine Apostle. So then, as our Lord died once for all, we also must be baptized once for all, and baptized according to the Word of the Lord, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit Mat. 28:19, being taught the confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those , then, who, after having been baptized into Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and having been taught that there is one divine nature in three subsistences, are rebaptized, these, as the divine Apostle says, crucify the Christ afresh. For it is impossible, he says, for those who were once enlightened, etc., to renew them again unto repentance: seeing they crucify to themselves the Christ afresh, and put Him to an open shame. Heb. 6:4 But those who were not baptized into the Holy Trinity, these must be baptized again. For although the divine Apostle says: Into Christ and into His death were we baptized Rom. 6:3, he does not mean that the invocation of baptism must be in these words, but that baptism is an image of the death of Christ. For by the three immersions , baptism signifies the three days of our Lord’s entombment. The baptism then into Christ means that believers are baptized into Him. We could not believe in Christ if we were not taught confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For Christ is the Son of the Living God Mat. 16:16, Whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit Acts 10:38: in the words of the divine David, Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. And Isaiah also speaking in the person of the Lord says,  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me. Isa. 61:1 Christ, however, taught His own disciples the invocation and said, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Mat. 28:19 (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Bk. 4.9)

Chrysostom on Creation and Baptism

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

The first creation then, that of Adam, was from earth; the next, that of the woman, from his rib; the next, that of Abel, from seed; yet we cannot arrive at the comprehension of any one of these, nor prove the circumstances by argument, though they are of a most earthly nature; how then shall we be able to give account of the unseen generation by Baptism, which is far more exalted than these, or to require arguments for that strange and marvelous Birth? Since even Angels stand by while that Generation takes place, but they could not tell the manner of that marvelous working, they stand by only, not performing anything, but beholding what takes place. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, works all. Let us then believe the declaration of God; that is more trustworthy than actual seeing. The sight often is in error, it is impossible that God’s Word should fail; let us then believe it; that which called the things that were not into existence may well be trusted when it speaks of their nature. What then says it? That what is effected is a Generation. If any ask, How, stop his mouth with the declaration of God, which is the strongest and a plain proof. If any enquire, Why is water included? let us also in return ask, Wherefore was earth employed at the beginning in the creation of man? for that it was possible for God to make man without earth, is quite plain to every one. Be not then over-curious. (Homily 25 on the Gospel of John)

A Eucharistic Prophecy

St. Nikolai Velimirovich 1880-1956

The Eucharist does not mean a memory only but also a prophecy. The prophecy of it is, that the whole earth will become Christ’s body, Christ’s flesh and blood, so that whatever we eat or drink we eat and drink Him. (The Works of Rev. Nicholai Velimirovic: Introductory Thoughts)

St. Hippolytus on Baptism and Theosis

St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-235

But give me now your best attention, I pray you, for I wish to go back to the fountain of life, and to view the fountain that gushes with healing. The Father of immortality sent the immortal Son and Word into the world, who came to man in order to wash him with water and the Spirit; and He, begetting us again to incorruption of soul and body, breathed into us the breath (spirit) of life, and endued us with an incorruptible panoply. If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be god. And if he is made god by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the laver he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Wherefore I preach to this effect: Come, all you kindreds of the nations, to the immortality of the baptism. I bring good tidings of life to you who tarry in the darkness of ignorance. Come into liberty from slavery, into a kingdom from tyranny, into incorruption from corruption. And how, says one, shall we come? How? By water and the Holy Ghost. This is the water in conjunction with the Spirit, by which paradise is watered, by which the earth is enriched, by which plants grow, by which animals multiply, and (to sum up the whole in a single word) by which man is begotten again and endued with life, in which also Christ was baptized, and in which the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. (Discourse on the Holy Theophany 8)

Let the Eucharist Change You

St. John Climacus ca. 7th cent.

A body changes in its activity as a result of contact with another body. How therefore could there be no change in someone who with innocent hands has touched the Body of God? (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 28: On Prayer)

St. Leo on the Eucharist

Pope St. Leo the Great ca. 400-461

In what density of ignorance, in what utter sloth must they hitherto have lain, not to have learned from hearing, nor understood from reading, that which in God’s Church is so constantly in men’s mouths, that even the tongues of infants do not keep silence upon the truth of Christ’s Body and Blood at the rite of Holy Communion ? For in that mystic distribution of spiritual nourishment, that which is given and taken is of such a kind that receiving the virtue of the celestial food we pass into the flesh of Him, Who became our flesh. (Letter 59)

On Triple Immersion Baptism

Apostolic Canons ca. 1st cent.

If any bishop or presbyter does not perform the one initiation with three immersions, but with giving one immersion only, into the death of the Lord, let him be deposed. For the Lord said not, Baptize into my death, but, “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.(Canon 50)

The Didache ca. 70-120

And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. (Chapter 7)

Tertullian ca. 160-220

After His resurrection He promises in a pledge to His disciples that He will send them the promise of His Father; Lk. 24:49 and lastly, He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names. (Against Praxeas 26)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

…[Y]ou were led to the holy pool of Divine Baptism, as Christ was carried from the Cross to the Sepulchre which is before our eyes. And each of you was asked, whether he believed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and you made that saving confession, and descended three times into the water, and ascended again; here also hinting by a symbol at the three days burial of Christ. For as our Saviour passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, so you also in your first ascent out of the water, represented the first day of Christ in the earth, and by your descent, the night; for as he who is in the night, no longer sees, but he who is in the day, remains in the light, so in the descent, as in the night, you saw nothing, but in ascending again you were as in the day. And at the self-same moment you were both dying and being born; and that Water of salvation was at once your grave and your mother. (Catechetical Lecture 20: On the Mysteries 2.4)

St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379

This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the being made dead being effected in the water, while our life is wrought in us through the Spirit. In three immersions, then, and with three invocations, the great mystery of baptism is performed, to the end that the type of death may be fully figured, and that by the tradition of the divine knowledge the baptized may have their souls enlightened. It follows that if there is any grace in the water, it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit. For baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. (1 Pet. 3:21) (On the Holy Spirit 15.35)

Blessed Jerome ca. 347-420

For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law, as for instance the practice of dipping the head three times in the laver, and then, after leaving the water, of tasting mingled milk and honey in representation of infancy; and, again, the practices of standing up in worship on the Lord’s day, and ceasing from fasting every Pentecost; and there are many other unwritten practices which have won their place through reason and custom. (The Dialogue Against the Luciferians 8)

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God; burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever; then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead. As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfills all this. (Homily 25 on the Gospel of John)

Constantinople I Second Ecumenical Council 381

But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies— for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians:— all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them. (Canon 5)

Blessed Theodoret of Cyr ca. 393-457

He (Eunomius) subverted the law of Holy Baptism, which had been handed down from the beginning from the Lord and the Apostles, and made a contrary law, asserting that it is not necessary to immerse the candidate for baptism thrice, nor to mention the name of the Trinity, but to immerse once only into the death of Christ. (Haeret. Fabul. Bk. 4.3)

Sozomen ca. 400-450

Eunomius, who had held the church in Cyzicus in place of Eleusius, and who presided over the Arian heresy, devised another heresy besides this, which some have called by his name, but which is sometimes denominated the Anomian heresy. Some assert that Eunomius was the first who ventured to maintain that divine baptism ought to be performed by one immersion, and to corrupt, in this manner, the tradition which has been carefully handed down to the present day. He invented, it is said, a mode of discipline contrary to that of the Church, and disguised the innovation under gravity and greater severity. (Ecclesiastical History Bk. 6.26)

Pope St. Leo the Great ca. 400-461

For the Apostle Paul says, ‘Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should also walk in newness of life. For is we were planted together in the likeness of Hid death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.’ And the teacher of the Gentiles stated this idea in other and fuller language, when he wished to recommend the sacrament of baptism. So that it appears from the spirit of his doctrine, that that day and that time has been chosen for baptizing the sons of men, and for making them the sons of God, in which, by a likeness and by the mode of administering the sacrament, those things which are performed upon the members may correspond to those which have been performed upon the Head; for while, in accordance with the rule of baptism, death intervenes by the dying unto sin, and while the trine immersion is an imitation of the three days’ burial, the rising again out the water is an image of Christ rising from the grave. (Letter 16.4)

Pope Gelasius I died ca. 496

Then let the priest baptize by trine immersion alone, invoking but once the Holy Trinity, and saying thus: And I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and let him immerse once, and of the Son, and let him immerse a second time, and of the Holy Ghost, and let him immerse a third time. (Gelasian Sacramentary or “Book of Sacraments of the Church of Rome”)

St. Dionysius the Areopagite ca. 5th cent.

When the Deacons have entirely unclothed him, the Priests bring the holy oil of the anointing. Then he begins the anointing, through the threefold sealing, and for the rest assigns the man to the Priests, for the anointing of his whole body, while himself advances to the mother of filial adoption, and when he has purified the water within it by the holy invocations, and perfected it by three cruciform effusions of the altogether most pure Myron, and by the same number of injections of the all holy Muron, and has invoked the sacred melody of the inspiration of the God-rapt Prophets, he orders the man to be brought forward; and when one of the Priests, from the register, has announced him and his surety, he is conducted by the Priests near the water to the hand of the Hierarch, being led by the hand to him. Then the Hierarch, standing above, when the Priests have again called aloud near the Hierarch within the water the name of the initiated, the Hierarch dips him three times, invoking the threefold Subsistence of the Divine Blessedness, at the three immersions and emersions of the initiated. The Priests then take him, and entrust him to the Sponsor and guide of his introduction; and when they, in conjunction with him, have cast over the initiated appropriate clothing, they lead him again to the Hierarch, who, when he has sealed the man with the most Divinely operating Myron, pronounces him to be henceforward partaker of the most Divinely initiating Eucharist. (Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 2.2.7)

Pope Pelagius of Rome died ca. 561

There are many who say that they baptize in the name of Christ alone, and by a single immersion. But the Gospel command, which was given by God Himself, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, reminds us that we should administer holy baptism to every one, in the name of the Trinity and by trine immersion, for our Lord said to His disciples, ‘Go, baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Epist. ad. Gaudent.)

St. Martin of Braga ca. 6th cent.

Now you say: “The triple invocation of the name and the triple immersion is certainly Arian.” Here is my answer: to be immersed thrice in the single name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is an ancient and apostolic tradition, which the priests of this province possess in written form on the authority of the Bishop of Rome. This same custom was observed at Pascha by the Bishop of Constantinople in the presence of delegates appointed from this kingdom to the imperial court. We have also read the letter of blessed Paul the Apostle, in which it is written: “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism:” and the exposition of blessed Jerome, in which he confirms that they are to be immersed thrice with the invocation of the single name. If yuou wish to see it, you will find the book itself, written on papyrus and very old, in the possession of our venerable and holy brothe the priest, Ausentius. Likewise, in the “Acts of Saint Silvester” warning was given to Constantine in a vision and he was commanded to be immersed three times. Many, hearing the words of the Apostle: “one baptism,” have tried to understand this as referring to a single immersion rather than to the unity of the Catholic Faith in this, that baptism everywhere should be celebrated in a single manner. Then, in attempting to avoid approaching the custom of the Arians, who also immerse three times but in a single name, as we do, they cahnged the formula of the ancient tradition so that there should be a single immersion under a single name, not realizing that the unity of the substance is revealed in the single Name, but the distinction of the Three Persons in the triple immersion, so that–just as we believe in all truth–we demonstrate the Single Substance but the Three Persons of the Godhead. for if there is a single immersion under a single name, then only the Unity of the Deity in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost is demonstrated, but no difference of Persons is shown.

The result is that while they try to avoid approaching the Arians, they unknowingly come near to the Sabellian heresy, which, in retaining single immersion under a single name, claims that the Father is the same as the Son and the Holy Ghost and that the Holy Ghost is the same as the Father. While not revealing in the sacrament of baptism any distinction of the Three Persons, it supposes, contrary to true faith, that there is a single person in the three words. Consequently some of the Spaniards, understanding, as it is written: “neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion,” in trying to avoid approaching the Arians, as we have said, fell unawares into another heresy. The Arians make use of the Psalms, the Apostle, the Gospels, and many other things, just as the Catholics (Orthodox) do–do we, for that reason, reject all these things in order not to approach their error? Far from it; rather it is they who have departed from us, as it is writtn, for they retain everything that we observe exept for lessening the Divinity of the Son of God and of the Holy Ghost. (Epistle Bishop Boniface)

St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

For although the divine Apostle says: Into Christ and into His death were we baptized Rom. 6:3, he does not mean that the invocation of baptism must be in these words, but that baptism is an image of the death of Christ. For by the three immersions , baptism signifies the three days of our Lord’s entombment. The baptism then into Christ means that believers are baptized into Him. We could not believe in Christ if we were not taught confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Bk. 4.9)

On Angels and Angles

Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735

Nor is the account of St. Gregory, which has been handed down to us by the tradition of our ancestors, to be passed by in silence, in relation to his motives for taking such interest in the salvation of our nation. It is reported, that some merchants, having just arrived at Rome on a certain day, exposed many things for sale in the marketplace, and abundance of people resorted thither to buy: Gregory himself went with the rest, and, among other things, some boys were set to sale, their bodies white, their countenances beautiful, and their hair very fine. Having viewed them, he asked, as is said, from what country or nation they were brought? and was told, from the island of Britain, whose inhabitants were of such personal appearance. He again inquired whether those islanders were Christians, or still involved in the errors of paganism? and was informed that they were pagans. Then fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of his heart, “Alas! what pity,” said he, “that the author of darkness is possessed of men of such fair countenances; and that being remarkable for such graceful aspects, their minds should be void of inward grace.” He therefore again asked, what was the name of that nation? and was answered, that they were called Angles. “Right,” said he, for they have an Angelic face, and it becomes such to be co-heirs with the Angels in heaven. What is the name,” proceeded he, “of the province from which they are brought?” It was replied, that the natives of that province were called Deiri. “Truly are they De ira,” said he, “withdrawn from wrath, and called to the mercy of Christ. How is the king of that province called?” They told him his name was Ælla: and he, alluding to the name said, “Hallelujah, the praise of God the Creator must be sung in those parts.”

Then repairing to the bishop of the Roman apostolical see (for he was not himself then made pope), he entreated him to send some ministers of the word into Britain to the nation of the English, by whom it might be converted to Christ; declaring himself ready to undertake that work, by the assistance of God, if the apostolic pope should think fit to have it so done. Which not being then able to perform, because, though the pope was willing to grant his request, yet the citizens of Rome could not be brought to consent that so noble, so renowned, and so learned a man should depart the city; as soon as he was himself made pope, he perfected the long-desired work, sending other preachers, but himself by his prayers and exhortations assisting the preaching, that it might be successful. This account, as we have received it from the ancients, we have thought fit to insert in our Ecclesiastical History. (Ecclesiastical History Bk. 2.1)

On the Manifold Benefits of Baptism

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

Let no one then suppose that Baptism is merely the grace of remission of sins, or further, that of adoption; as John’s was a baptism conferring only remission of sins: whereas we know full well, that as it purges our sins, and ministers to us the gift of the Holy Ghost, so also it is the counterpart of the sufferings of Christ. For this cause Paul just now cried aloud and said, Or are you ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into His death. These words he spoke to some who were disposed to think that Baptism ministers to us the remission of sins, and adoption, but has not further the fellowship also, by representation, of Christ’s true sufferings. (Catechetical Lectures 20.6)

St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379

For prisoners, baptism is ransom, forgiveness of debts, the death of sin, regeneration of the soul, a resplendent garment, an unbreakable seal, a chariot to heaven, a royal protector, a gift of adoption. (Sermons on Moral and Practical Subjects 13:5)

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

You see how many are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ, and that they may be his [Christ’s] members. (Baptismal Catecheses in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21)

A Question and Answer on the Eucharist

Ss. Barsanuphius and John ca. 6th cent.

Q: A certain Christ-loving man asked the same Elder: Should one be curious about the Mysteries? And is a sinner who approaches them condemned as unworthy?

A: When coming into the holy temple to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and when receiving Them, pay heed to yourself that you unfailingly believe the truth of this [Sacrament]. But as to how this happens, do not be curious, as it has been said: “Take, eat, this My Body and Blood.” The Lord gave them to us for the remission of sins (cf. Matt. 26:26-28 and Mk. 14:22-24). We have hope that he who believes thus will not be condemned, but he who does not believe is already condemned. And thus, do not forbid yourself to approach, condemning yourself a sinner, but recognize that a sinner who approaches the Savior is vouchsafed the remission of sins. (Guidance Toward Spiritual Life 460)

On the Super-substantial Bread and Wine

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 339-397

Perhaps you will say, I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ? And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent. Exo. 4:3-4 Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod. You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. The streams of Egypt were running with a pure flow of water; of a sudden from the veins of the sources blood began to burst forth, and none could drink of the river. Again, at the prophet’s prayer the blood ceased, and the nature of water returned. The people of the Hebrews were shut in on every side, hemmed in on the one hand by the Egyptians, on the other by the sea; Moses lifted up his rod, the water divided and hardened like walls, and a way for the feet appeared between the waves. Jordan being turned back, returned, contrary to nature, to the source of its stream. Jos. 3:16 Is it not clear that the nature of the waves of the sea and of the river stream was changed? The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock, and water flowed out of the rock. Exo. 17:6 Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain? Marah was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water, and the water lost its bitterness, which grace of a sudden tempered. Exo. 15:25 In the time of Elisha the prophet one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.

We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet’s blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created. Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

But why make use of arguments? Let us use the examples He gives, and by the example of the Incarnation prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? If we look to the usual course, a woman ordinarily conceives after connection with a man. And this body which we make is that which was born of the Virgin. Why do you seek the order of nature in the Body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a Virgin, not according to nature? It is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body.

The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: This is My Body. Mat. 26:26 Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks.

Christ, then, feeds His Church with these sacraments, by means of which the substance of the soul is strengthened, and seeing the continual progress of her grace, He rightly says to her: How comely are your breasts, my sister, my spouse, how comely they are made by wine, and the smell of your garments is above all spices. A dropping honeycomb are your lips, my spouse, honey and milk are under your tongue, and the smell of your garments is as the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed. By which He signifies that the mystery ought to remain sealed up with you, that it be not violated by the deeds of an evil life, and pollution of chastity, that it be not made known to thou, for whom it is not fitting, nor by garrulous talkativeness it be spread abroad among unbelievers. Your guardianship of the faith ought therefore to be good, that integrity of life and silence may endure unblemished. (On the Mysteries 9.50-55)

On Union With Christ by Holy Communion

St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444

The Savior Himself declares, “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him.” By this statement it is to be seen that Christ does not say He will be in us only after the fashion of some relation that is solely intellectual, but also through a participation truly according to nature. Just as if someone were to entwine two pieces of wax together and melt them with a fire, so that both are made one, so too through participation in the Body of Christ and in His Precious Blood, He is united in us and we too in Him. In no other way can that corruptible nature be vivified except by being united bodily to the Body of Him who is, by His very nature, life: that is, the Only-begotten. (Commentary on John, on 15:1) 

 

 

On Fasting Before the Eucharist

Blessed Augustine of Hippo ca. 354-430

As to the question whether upon that day it is right to partake of food before either offering or partaking of the Eucharist, these words in the Gospel might go far to decide our minds, “As they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it;” taken in connection with the words in the preceding context, “When the even was come, He sat down with the twelve: and as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.” For it was after that that He instituted the sacrament; and it is clear that when the disciples first received the body and blood of the Lord, they had not been fasting.

Must we therefore censure the universal Church because the sacrament is everywhere partaken of by persons fasting? Nay, verily, for from that time it pleased the Holy Spirit to appoint, for the honour of so great a sacrament, that the body of the Lord should take the precedence of all other food entering the mouth of a Christian; and it is for this reason that the custom referred to is universally observed. For the fact that the Lord instituted the sacrament after other food had been partaken of, does not prove that brethren should come together to partake of that sacrament after having dined or supped, or imitate those whom the apostle reproved and corrected for not distinguishing between the Lord’s Supper and an ordinary meal. The Saviour, indeed, in order to commend the depth of that mystery more affectingly to His disciples, was pleased to impress it on their hearts and memories by making its institution His last act before going from them to His Passion. And therefore He did not prescribe the order in which it was to be observed, reserving this to be done by the apostles, through whom He intended to arrange all things pertaining to the Churches. Had He appointed that the sacrament should be always partaken of after other food, I believe that no one would have departed from that practice. But when the apostle, speaking of this sacrament, says, “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another: and if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation,” he immediately adds, “and the rest will I set in order when I come.” Whence we are given to understand that, since it was too much for him to prescribe completely in an epistle the method observed by the universal Church throughout the world, it was one of the things set in order by him in person, for we find its observance uniform amid all the variety of other customs. (Letter to Januarius)

On the Salvation of Water

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

He washed in the river Jordan, and having imparted of the fragrance of His Godhead to the waters, He came up from them; and the Holy Ghost in the fullness of His being lighted on Him, like resting upon like. And to you in like manner, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, there was given an Unction, the anti-type of that wherewith Christ was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost… (Catechetical Lectures 21.1)

Jacob of Serugh ca. 451-521

Christ came to baptism; He went down and placed in the baptismal water the robe of glory, to be there for Adam who had lost it. (Jacob of Serugh, [ed] P. Bedjan, III, p. 593)

On the Body and Blood of Christ

1 Cor. 11:23 I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, how that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, etc.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, you have become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood. Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?

He once in Cana of Galilee, turned the water into wine, akin to blood , and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? When called to a bodily marriage, He miraculously wrought that wonderful work; and on the children of the bride-chamber Matt. 9:15, shall He not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and Blood ?

Wherefore with full assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to you His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that you by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, may be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature 2 Pet. 1:4 .

Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, Except you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life in you. Jn. 6:53 They not having heard His saying in a spiritual sense were offended, and went back, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh.

In the Old Testament also there was show-bread; but this, as it belonged to the Old Testament, has come to an end; but in the New Testament there is Bread of heaven, and a Cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread corresponds to our body, so is the Word appropriate to our soul.

Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you.

Also the blessed David shall advise you the meaning of this, saying, You have prepared a table before me in the presence of them that afflict me. What he says, is to this effect: Before Your coming, the evil spirits prepared a table for men , polluted and defiled and full of devilish influence ; but since Your coming. O Lord, You have prepared a table before me. When the man says to God, You have prepared before me a table, what other does he indicate but that mystical and spiritual Table, which God has prepared for us over against, that is, contrary and in opposition to the evil spirits? And very truly; for that had communion with devils, but this, with God. You have anointed my head with oil. With oil He anointed your head upon your forehead, for the seal which you have of God; that you may be made the engraving of the signet, Holiness unto God. And your cup intoxicates me, as very strong. You see that cup here spoken of, which Jesus took in His hands, and gave thanks, and said, This is My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins Matt. 26:28 .

Therefore Solomon also, hinting at this grace, says in Ecclesiastes, Come hither, eat your bread with joy (that is, the spiritual bread; Come hither, he calls with the call to salvation and blessing), and drink your wine with a merry heart (that is, the spiritual wine); and let oil be poured out upon your head you see he alludes even to the mystic Chrism); and let your garments be always white, for the Lord is well pleased with your works Eccl.9:7-8; for before you came to Baptism, your works were vanity of vanities. But now, having put off your old garments, and put on those which are spiritually white, you must be continually robed in white: of course we mean not this, that you are always to wear white raiment; but you must be clad in the garments that are truly white and shining and spiritual, that you may say with the blessed Esaias, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with a garment of salvation, and put a robe of gladness around me Isa. 61:10 .

Having learned these things, and been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ ; and that of this David sung of old, saying, And bread strengthens man’s heart, to make his face to shine with oil , strengthen your heart, by partaking thereof as spiritual, and make the face of your soul to shine. And so having it unveiled with a pure conscience, may you reflect as a mirror the glory of the Lord 2 Cor. 3:18, and proceed from glory to glory, in Christ Jesus our Lord:— To whom be honour, and might, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen. (Catchetical Lectures 22: On the Mysteries IV)

The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ

Abba Daniel ca. 3rd-4th cent.
 
This is what Abba Daniel the Pharanite said, ‘Our father Abba Arsenius told us of an inhabitant of Scetis, of notable life and simple faith; through his naivete he was deceived and said, ‘The bread which we receive is not really the body of Christ, but a symbol.” Two old men having learnt that he uttered this saying, knowing that he was outstanding in his way of life, knew that he had not spoken through malice, but through simplicity. So they came to find him and said ‘Father, we have heard a proposition contrary to the faith on the part of someone who says that the bread which we receive is not really the body of Christ, but a symbol.’ The old man said, ‘It is I who have said that.’ Then the old men exhorted him saying, ‘Do not hold this position, Father, but hold one in conformity with that which the Catholic Church has given us. We believe, for our part, that the bread itself is the body of Christ and that the cup itself is His blood and this in all truth and not a symbol. But as in the beginning, God formd man is His image, taking dust from the earth, without anyone being able to say that it is not the image of God, even though it is not seen to be so; thus it is with the bread of which He said that it is His body; and so we believe that it is really the body of Christ.’ The old man said to them, ‘As long as I have not been persuaded by the thing itself, I shall not be fully convinced.’ So they said, ‘Let us pray God about this mystery throughout the whole of this week and we believe that God will reveal it to us.’ The old man received this saying with joy and he prayed these words, ‘Lord, you know that it is not through malice that I do not believe and so that I may not err through ignorance, reveal this mystery to me, Lord Jesus Christ.’ The old men returned to their cells and they also prayed to God, saying, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, reveal this mystery to the old man, that he may believe and not lose his reward.’ God heard both the prayers. At the end of the week they came to church on Sunday and sat all three on the same mat, the old man in the middle. Then their eyes were opened and when the bread was placed on the holy table, there appeared as it were a little child to these three alone. And when the priest put out his hand to break the bread, behold an angel descended from heaven with a sword and poured the child’s blood into a chalice. When the priest cut the bread into small pieces, the angel cut the child in pieces. When they drew near to receive the sacred elements the old man alone received a morsel of bloody flesh. Seeing this he was afraid and cried out, ‘Lord, I believe that this bread is your flesh and this chalice your blood.’ Immediately the flesh which he held in his hand became bread, according to the mystery and he took it, giving thanks to God. Then the old men said to him, ‘God knows human nature and that man cannot eat raw flesh and that is why he has changed his body into bread and his blood into wine, for those who receive it in faith.’ Then they gave thanks to God for the old man, because he had allowed him not to lose the reward of his labor. So all three returned with joy to their own cells. (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection trans. by Benedicta Ward. Daniel 7)

On Eating Fire and Spirit

St. Ephrem the Syrian ca. 306-373

Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He broke it and in His gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one. He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with Himself and the Spirit.

And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: “Take, all of you eat of this, which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread, and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit. But if any doubter eat of it, for him it will be only bread. And whoever eats in belief the Bread made holy in My name, if he be pure, he will be preserved in his purity; and if he be a sinner, he will be forgiven.” But if anyone despise it or reject it or treat it with ignominy, it may be taken as a certainty that he treats with ignominy the Son, who called it and actually made it to be His Body. (Songs of Praise 4.4)

Incarnation Proven by the Eucharist and Almsgiving

Pope St. Leo the Great ca. 400-461

Dearly-beloved, utter this confession with all your heart and reject the wicked lies of heretics, that your fasting and almsgiving may not be polluted by any contagion with error: for then is our offering of the sacrifice clean and our gifts of mercy holy, when those who perform them understand that which they do. For when the Lord says, unless you have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man, and drunk His blood, you will not have life in you Jn. 6:53, you ought so to be partakers at the Holy Table, as to have no doubt whatever concerning the reality of Christ’s Body and Blood. For that is taken in the mouth which is believed in Faith, and it is vain for them to respond “Amen” who dispute that which is taken. But when the Prophet says, Blessed is he, who considers the poor and needy, he is the praiseworthy distributor of clothes and food among the poor, who knows he is clothing and feeding Christ in the poor: for He Himself says, as long as you have done it to one of My brethren, you have done it to Me Mat. 25:40. And so Christ is One, True God and True Man, rich in what is His own, poor in what is ours, receiving gifts and distributing gifts, Partner with mortals, and the Quickener of the dead, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father Philippians 2:10-11, living and reigning with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. (Sermon 91.3)

On the Origin of Single Immersion Baptism

Constantinople I 381, 2nd Ecumenical Council 
 
Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost. But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies— for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians:— all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them. (Canon 5)
 
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE): Trine (Triune) Immersion 

Eunomius (circa 360) introduced single immersion “into the death of Christ.” This innovation was condemned. Apostolical Constitutions, 50, says, “If any presbyter or bishop does not perform the one initiation with three immersions, but with giving one immersion only into the death of the Lord, let him be deposed.” Single immersion was allowed by Gregory the Great (circa 691) to the church in Spain in opposition to the Arians who used a trine (not triune) immersion (Epis., i. 43). This was exceptional.  

 

 

St. Cyril On Water

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

But if any one wishes to know why the grace is given by water and not by a different element, let him take up the Divine Scriptures and he shall learn. For water is a grand thing, and the noblest of the four visible elements of the world. Heaven is the dwelling-place of Angels, but the heavens are from the waters : the earth is the place of men, but the earth is from the waters: and before the whole six days’ formation of the things that were made, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water. Gen. 1:2 The water was the beginning of the world, and Jordan the beginning of the Gospel tidings: for Israel deliverance from Pharaoh was through the sea, and for the world deliverance from sins by the washing of water with the word Eph. 5:26 of God. Where a covenant is made with any, there is water also. After the flood, a covenant was made with Noah: a covenant for Israel from Mount Sinai, but with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop. Heb. 9:19 Elias is taken up, but not apart from water: for first he crosses the Jordan, then in a chariot mounts the heaven. The high-priest is first washed, then offers incense; for Aaron first washed, then was made high-priest: for how could one who had not yet been purified by water pray for the rest? Also as a symbol of Baptism there was a laver set apart within the Tabernacle. (Catechetical Lectures, 3.5) 

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On Infant Baptism

Council of Carthage ca. 419

Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.

For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, By one man sin has come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men in that all have sinned, than the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith (regulam fidei) even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration. (Canon 110)

The Mystery of Mysteries

St. Nectarios of Aegina 1846-1920

The Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist that has been handed down by the Lord is the hightest of all the Mysteria; it is the most wondrous of all the miracles which the power of God has performed; it is the highest which the wisdom of God has conceived; it is the most precious of all the gifts which the love of God has bestowed upon men. For all the other miracles result through a transcendence of certain laws of Nature, but the Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist transcends all these laws. Hence it may justly be called, and be viewed as, the miracle of miracles and the Mysterion of Mysteria.  (“Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina”, by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos)

Source: http://www.serfes.org/writtings/stnectarios.htm

On Christ Being Sacrificed Once and For All

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

What then? Do not we offer every day? We offer indeed, but making a remembrance of His death, and this [remembrance] is one and not many. How is it one, and not many? Inasmuch as that [Sacrifice] was once for all offered, [and] carried into the Holy of Holies. This is a figure of that [sacrifice] and this remembrance of that. For we always offer the same, not one sheep now and tomorrow another, but always the same thing: so that the sacrifice is one. And yet by this reasoning, since the offering is made in many places, are there many Christs? But Christ is one everywhere, being complete here and complete there also, one Body.  As then while offered in many places, He is one body and not many bodies; so also [He is] one sacrifice. He is our High Priest, who offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. That we offer now also, which was then offered, which cannot be exhausted. (Homily 17 On Hebrews, 6)

St. Nicholas on The Mysteries and Works

St. Nicholas Cabasilas ca. 1323-1391

Now that the Sun has risen and diffused His light everywhere by means of the Mysteries there must be no delay of human works and efforts. We must feed on our Bread “in the sweat of our face” (Gen. 3:19) since it is “broken for us” (1 Cor. 11:24), for it is appointed only for those who are endowed with reason. Since it is the Lord who says, “Labor for the food which endures” (Jn. 6:27), He commands us not to be idle and inactive, but to come to His banquet as those who have been working. If, then, Paul’s injunction bans the lazy even from the transitory table of this life, saying, “if anyone is idle, let him not even eat” (2 Thess. 3:10), what works are needed on the part of those who are called to this table! (The Life in Christ, Fourth Book: 11)

St. Hilary on the Eucharist

St. Hilary of Poitiers ca. 300-368

The words in which we speak of the things of God must be used in no mere human and worldly sense, nor must the perverseness of an alien and impious interpretation be extorted from the soundness of heavenly words by any violent and headstrong preaching. Let us read what is written, let us understand what we read, and then fulfil the demands of a perfect faith. For as to what we say concerning the reality of Christ’s nature within us, unless we have been taught by Him, our words are foolish and impious. For He says Himself, My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (Jn. 6:55-56) As to the verity of the flesh and blood there is no room left for doubt. For now both from the declaration of the Lord Himself and our own faith, it is verily flesh and verily blood. And these when eaten and drunk, bring it to pass that both we are in Christ and Christ in us. Is not this true? Yet they who affirm that Christ Jesus is not truly God are welcome to find it false. He therefore Himself is in us through the flesh and we in Him, while together with Him our own selves are in God. (On the Trinity Bk. 8.14)

St. Aphrahat on the Eucharist

St. Aphrahat the Persian ca. 270-345

But the Lord was not yet arrested. After having spoken thus, the Lord rose up from the place where He had made the Passover and had given His Body as food and His Blood as drink, and He went with His disciples to the place where He was to be arrested. But He ate His own Body and drank of His own Blood, while He was pondering on the dead. With His own hands the Lord presented His own Body to be eaten, and before He was crucified He gave His Blood as drink; and He was taken at night on the fourteenth, and was judged until the sixth hour; and at the sixth hour they condemned Him and raised Him on the Cross. (Treatises, 12, 6; JR, v. 1, 689. Excerpted from R. Sungenis “Not By Bread Alone” by pg. 205)

St. Epiphanius on the Eucharist

St. Epiphanius of Salamis ca. 315-403

We see that the Saviour took [something] in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: ‘This is really Me.’ And He gave to His disciples and said: ‘This is really Me.’ And we see that it is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For it is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to its power, He means to say even of its grace, ‘This is really Me.’; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of a Saviour. (The Man Well-Anchored, 57)

On the Types of Baptisms

St. Gregory the Theologian ca. 329-389
 
Now, since our Festival is of Baptism, and we must endure a little hardness with Him Who for our sake took form, and was baptized, and was crucified; let us speak about the different kinds of Baptism, that we may come out thence purified. Moses baptized Lev. 11 but it was in water, and before that in the cloud and in the sea. 1 Cor. 10:2 This was typical as Paul says; the Sea of the water, and the Cloud of the Spirit; the Manna, of the Bread of Life; the Drink, of the Divine Drink. John also baptized; but this was not like the baptism of the Jews, for it was not only in water, but also unto repentance. Still it was not wholly spiritual, for he does not add And in the Spirit. Jesus also baptized, but in the Spirit. This is the perfect Baptism. And how is He not God, if I may digress a little, by whom you too are made God? I know also a Fourth Baptism— that by Martyrdom and blood, which also Christ himself underwent:— and this one is far more august than all the others, inasmuch as it cannot be defiled by after-stains. Yes, and I know of a Fifth also, which is that of tears, and is much more laborious, received by him who washes his bed every night and his couch with tears; whose bruises stink through his wickedness; and who goes mourning and of a sad countenance; who imitates the repentance of Manasseh 2 Chronicles 38:12 and the humiliation of the Ninevites Jonah 3:7-10 upon which God had mercy; who utters the words of the Publican in the Temple, and is justified rather than the stiff-necked Pharisee; Lk. 18:13 who like the Canaanite woman bends down and asks for mercy and crumbs, the food of a dog that is very hungry. Mat. 15:27 (Oration 39, 17)
 
St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

The first baptism was that of the flood for the eradication of sin.

The second Gen. 7:17 was through the sea and the cloud: for the cloud is the symbol of the Spirit and the sea of the water. 1 Cor. 10:1
 
The third baptism was that of the Law: for every impure person washed himself with water, and even washed his garments, and so entered into the camp. Lev. 14:8
 
The fourth was that of John , being preliminary and leading those who were baptized to repentance, that they might believe in Christ: I, indeed, he said, baptize you with water; but He that comes after me, He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Matt. 3:11 Thus John’s purification with water was preliminary to receiving the Spirit.
 
The fifth was the baptism of our Lord, whereby He Himself was baptized. Now He is baptized not as Himself requiring purification but as making my purification His own, that He may break the heads of the dragons on the water, that He may wash away sin and bury all the old Adam in water, that He may sanctify the Baptist, that He may fulfill the Law, that He may reveal the mystery of the Trinity, that He may become the type and ensample to us of baptism. But we, too, are baptized in the perfect baptism of our Lord, the baptism by water and the Spirit. Moreover, Christ is said to baptize with fire: because in the form of flaming tongues He poured forth on His holy disciples the grace of the Spirit: as the Lord Himself says, John truly baptized with water: but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, not many days hence: Acts 1:5 or else it is because of the baptism of future fire wherewith we are to be chastised.
 
The sixth is that by repentance and tears, which baptism is truly grievous.
 
The seventh is baptism by blood and martyrdom, which baptism Christ Himself underwent in our behalf, Lk. 12:50 He Who was too august and blessed to be defiled with any later stains.
 
The eighth is the last, which is not saving, but which destroys evil: for evil and sin no longer have sway: yet it punishes without end. (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. IV.9)

On Eucharistic Deification

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

Wherefore it is necessary to understand the marvel of the Mysteries, what it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action. We become one Body, and members of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:30 Let the initiated follow what I say. In order then that we may become this not by love only, but in very deed, let us be blended into that flesh. This is effected by the food which He has freely given us, desiring to show the love which He has for us. On this account He has mixed up Himself with us; He has kneaded up His body with ours, that we might be a certain One Thing, like a body joined to a head. For this belongs to them who love strongly; this, for instance, Job implied, speaking of his servants, by whom he was beloved so exceedingly, that they desired to cleave unto his flesh. For they said, to show the strong love which they felt, Who would give us to be satisfied with his flesh? Job 31:31 Wherefore this also Christ has done, to lead us to a closer friendship, and to show His love for us; He has given to those who desire Him not only to see Him, but even to touch, and eat Him, and fix their teeth in His flesh, and to embrace Him, and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil; thinking on our Head, and on the love which He has shown for us. (Homily 46 On the Gospel of John, 3)

Beloved, see how we are honored! Yet some are so unreasonable and so ungrateful as to say, Why are we endowed with free will? But how in all the particulars which we have mentioned could we have imitated God, if there had been no free will? I rule Angels, He says, and so do you, through Him who is the First-fruits. 1 Cor. 15:23 I sit on a royal throne, and you are seated with Me in Him who is the First-fruits. As it is said, He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:6 Through Him who is the First-fruits, Cherubim and Seraphim adore you, with all the heavenly host, principalities and powers, thrones and dominions. Disparage not your body, to which such high honors appertain, that the unbodied Powers tremble at it.

But what shall I say? It is not in this way only that I have shown My love to you, but by what I have suffered. For you I was spit upon, I was scourged. I emptied myself of glory, I left My Father and came to you, who dost hate Me, and turn from Me, and art loath to hear My Name. I pursued you, I ran after you, that I might overtake you. I united and joined you to myself, eat Me, drink Me, I said. Above I hold you, and below I embrace you. Is it not enough for you that I have your First-fruits above? Does not this satisfy your affection? I descended below: I not only am mingled with you, I am entwined in you. I am masticated, broken into minute particles, that the interspersion, and commixture, and union may be more complete. Things united remain yet in their own limits, but I am interwoven with you. I would have no more any division between us. I will that we both be one. (Homily 15 On 1st Timothy)

On the Holy Sacrifice

Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

And here also we have diligently to consider, that it is far more secure and safe that every man should do that for himself while he is yet alive, which he desireth that others should do for him after his death. For far more blessed it is, to depart free out of this world, than being in prison to seek for release: and therefore reason teacheth us, that we should with our whole soul contemn this present world, at least because we see that it is now gone and past: and to offer unto God the daily sacrifice of tears, and the daily sacrifice of His body and blood. For this sacrifice doth especially save our souls from everlasting damnation, which in mystery doth renew unto us the death of the Son of God: who although being risen from death, doth not now die any more, nor death shall not any further prevail against Him: yet living in Himself immortally, and without all corruption, He is again sacrificed for us in this mystery of the holy oblation: for there His body is received, there His flesh is distributed for the salvation of the people: there His blood is not now shed betwixt the hands of infidels, but poured into the mouths of the faithful. Wherefore let us hereby meditate what manner of sacrifice this is, ordained for us, which for our absolution doth always represent the passion of the only Son of God: for what right believing Christian can doubt, that in the very hour of the sacrifice, at the words of the Priest, the heavens be opened, and the choirs of Angels are present in that mystery of Jesus Christ; that high things are accompanied with low, and earthly joined to heavenly, and that one thing is made of visible and invisible? (The Dialogues Bk. 4 Chap. 58)

Early Fathers on the Eucharist

The Didache ca. 80


Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice (Matt. 5:23–24). For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ (Mal. 1:11, 14).(Didache 14)
Liturgy of St. James arranged 1st-4th cent. a.d.

Priest: O Sovereign Lord our God, contemn me not, defiled with a multitude of sins: for, behold, I have come to this Your divine and heavenly mystery, not as being worthy; but looking only to Your goodness, I direct my voice to You: God be merciful to me, a sinner; I have sinned against Heaven, and before You, and am unworthy to come into the presence of this Your holy and spiritual table, upon which Your only-begotten Son, and our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically set forth as a sacrifice for me, a sinner, and stained with every spot. Wherefore I present to You this supplication and thanksgiving, that Your Spirit the Comforter may be sent down upon me, strengthening and fitting me for this service; and count me worthy to make known without condemnation the word, delivered from You by me to the people, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom You are blessed, together with Your all-holy, and good, and quickening, and consubstantial Spirit, now and ever, and to all eternity. Amen. (Prayer of the Standing Beside the Altar)

Liturgy of St. Mark arranged 1st-4th cent. a.d.

Priest: We offer this reasonable and bloodless sacrifice, which all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun, from the north and the south, present to You, O Lord; for great is Your name among all peoples, and in all places are incense, sacrifice, and oblation offered to Your holy name. (The Anaphoral Prayer)

Pope St. Clement of Rome fl. 96

These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined sacrifices and liturgies (Grk. prosphora kai leitourgia) to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. (Letter to the Corinthians 40)

Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release. (ibid., 44)

St. Ignatius of Antioch ca. 45-107

Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice (Grk. en thysiasterion) —even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God. (Letter to the Philadelphians 4)

The term ‘sacrifice’ is first linked to the Eucharist in Did. 14.1 but the exact meaning is not clear. The same applies to the use of thysiasterion in Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 5.2-3, Trall. 7.2, Magn. 7.2; Phild. 4. The Encyclopedia of Christianity Vol. 4 By Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley pg. 812

St. Justin the Philosopher ca. 103-165

And the offering of fine flour, sirs, which was prescribed to be presented on behalf of those purified from leprosy, was a type of the bread of the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in remembrance of the suffering which He endured on behalf of those who are purified in soul from all iniquity, in order that we may at the same time thank God for having created the world, with all things therein, for the sake of man, and for delivering us from the evil in which we were, and for utterly overthrowing principalities and powers by Him who suffered according to His will. Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, My name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure offering: for My name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord: but you profane it.’ Malachi 1:10-12 [So] He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]. (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41)

Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him. But He utterly rejects those presented by you and by those priests of yours, saying, ‘And I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles (He says); but you profane it’ Malachi 1:10-12. (ibid., 117)

Athenagoras of Athens ca. 133-190

And what have I to do with holocausts, which God does not stand in need of?—though indeed it does behoove us to offer a bloodless sacrifice and “the service of our reason” (Rom. 12:1). (A Plea for Christians, Chap. XIII: Why Christians do not Offer Sacrifices)

St. Irenaeus of Lyons ca. 2nd cent-202 a.d.

Again, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of His own, created things— not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful— He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, This is My body. (Matt. 26:26) And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand: I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Omnipotent; (Mal. 1:10-11) — indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles. (Against Heresies Bk. IV, 17:5)

Tertullian ca. 160-220

She who is bound (to another) has not departed (from him). But (will she say), In peace? In that case, she must necessarily persevere in that (peace) with him whom she will no longer have the power to divorce; not that she would, even if she had been able to divorce him, have been marriageable. Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her sacrifice) on the anniversaries of his falling asleep. (On Monogamy 10)

St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-235

The Word prepared His Precious and immaculate Body and His Blood, that daily are set forth as a sacrifice (Grk. epitelountai thyomena) on the mystic and Divine table as a memorial of that ever memorable first table of the mysterious supper of the Lord. (Fragm. in Prov., ix, i, P. G., LXXX, 593)

St. Cyprian of Carthage died ca. 258

For if Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, is Himself the chief priest of God the Father, and has first offered Himself a sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded this to be done in commemoration of Himself, certainly that priest truly discharges the office of Christ, who imitates that which Christ did; and he then offers a true and full sacrifice in the Church to God the Father, when he proceeds to offer it according to what he sees Christ Himself to have offered. (Epistle 62,14)

St. Athanasius of Alexandria ca. 293-373

By these things Israel of old, having first, as in a figure, striven for the victory, came to the feast, for these things were then foreshadowed and typified. But we, my beloved, the shadow having received its fulfilment, and the types being accomplished, should no longer consider the feast typical, neither should we go up to Jerusalem which is here below, to sacrifice the Passover, according to the unseasonable observance of the Jews, lest, while the season passes away, we should be regarded as acting unseasonably ; but, in accordance with the injunction of the Apostles, let us go beyond the types, and sing the new song of praise. For perceiving this, and being assembled together with the Truth , they drew near, and said unto our Saviour, ‘Where will You that we should make ready for You the Passover Matthew 26:17?’ For no longer were these things to be done which belonged to Jerusalem which is beneath; neither there alone was the feast to be celebrated, but wherever God willed it to be. Now He willed it to be in every place, so that ‘in every place incense and a sacrifice might be offered to Him Malachi 1:11.’ For although, as in the historical account, in no other place might the feast of the Passover be kept save only in Jerusalem, yet when the things pertaining to that time were fulfilled, and those which belonged to shadows had passed away, and the preaching of the Gospel was about to extend everywhere; when indeed the disciples were spreading the feast in all places, they asked the Saviour, ‘Where will You that we shall make ready?’ The Saviour also, since He was changing the typical for the spiritual, promised them that they should no longer eat the flesh of a lamb, but His own, saying, ‘Take, eat and drink; this is My body, and My blood. ‘ When we are thus nourished by these things, we also, my beloved, shall truly keep the feast of the Passover. (Letter 4,4)

Fr. Dion Dragas: Particularly interesting to note here is Athanasius’ understanding of the ‘sacrifice’ mentioned in Malachi’s prophecy in Eucharistic terms, which is, of course, in line with the whole patristic tradition. The real import of this is that the celebration of the Eucharist, involving the partaking of or communion in the humanity of Christ – which is called ‘spiritual’ [i.e., true or inner] in contrast to ‘typical’ [i.e., figurative or outer] – is now the only way to celebrate the Passover properly, which is now completely renewed, inasmuch as it is no longer related to the deliverance of the ancient Israelites from a human bondage and an entry into an earthly land, but to the salvation of all humanity from death and the devil, and entry into heaven. As a consequence, Jewish sacrifice and celebration of the Passover is now impossible.
It should be noted here that the fulfullment of the Jewish Passover by the Eucharist does not imply that the eucharistic meal which Jesus ate with his disciples was, for Athanasius, a Passover meal. If that was the case, then the shadow would determine the reality of the truth. For Athanasius, however, as for the unanimous tradition of the Fathers, the Eucharistic meal acquired its meaning from the new and unique event of the sacrifice of Christ which was effected through His acceptance of the Cross. This view is derived from the crucial Pauline statement “Our passover, Christ, is sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7), which is central to Athanasius’ teaching concerning the Christian sacrifice in his Festal Letters. (Saint Athanasius: Original Research and New Perpsectives. Chap. 4: Saint Athanasius on Christ’s Sacrifice pp. 108-109)

Council of Nicea 325 (1st Ecumenical)

It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great Synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters, whereas neither the canon nor custom have handed down to us, that those, who have not the power to offer sacrifice (prospherein) may give Christ’s body to those who offer (prospherousi). And this also has been made known, that certain deacons now touch the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be utterly done away, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them. Furthermore, let not the deacons sit among the presbyters, for that is contrary to canon and order. And if, after this decree, any one shall refuse to obey, let him be deposed from the diaconate.

Strong’s definition προσφορά prosphora

presentation; concretely an oblation (bloodless) or sacrifice: – offering (up).

Thayer’s definition

1) the act of offering, a bringing to
2) that which is offered, a gift, a present. In the NT a sacrifice, whether bloody or not: offering for sin, expiatory offering.

St. Serapion of Thmuis ca. 339 a.d.

Heaven is full, the earth is also full of thy sublime glory, O Lord of hosts. Extend thy power upon this sacrifice, and grant thy aid to its fulfillment; for it is to thee that we have offered this living victim, the unbloody sacrifice. 12. To thee have we offered this bread, the likeness of the body of thine only Son. This bread is the image of His holy body; for ‘the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said: Take and eat, this is my body, which shall be broken for you,’ for the remission of sins. 13. Therefore have we, by repeating the figure of His death, offered the bread and pray: By this sacrifice reconcile thyself with us all and have mercy upon us, O God of truth. And as this bread was scattered upon the hills and brought together into one, so do thou unite thy holy Church from every people and every land and every city and every village and house, and build up one living Catholic Church. 14. We have also offered the chalice, the symbol of the blood; for the Lord Jesus, ‘after He had supped, took the cup and said to His disciples: Take, drink, this is the new covenant, which is my blood, which shall be shed for the remission of sins.’ Therefore have we also offered the chalice, because we have consummated the symbol of the blood.

Let thy holy Word (Logos), O God of truth, come down upon this bread, so that the bread may become the body of the Word, and on this chalice, so that the chalice may become the blood of Truth. And grant that all who partake of them, may receive the medicine of life, as a cure for all sickness and as an increase and progress in virtue, not, however, as judgment, O God of truth, nor as punishment and disgrace. (The Anaphora of Serapion)
St. Ephrem of Syria ca. 306-373

From the moment when He broke His Body for His disciples, and gave it to them, one begins to count the three days during which He was among the dead. Adam practically, after eating of the fruit of the tree, lived a long time, even though he was counted among the dead for having disobeyed the commandment of God. God had spoken to him thus ‘The day when you eat of it, you will die.’ Thus it was for Our Lord. It was because He had given them His Body to eat in view of the mystery of His death that He entered into their bodies as He entered later on into the earth. (Commentary on the Diatessaron 19, 4[translated from the Armenian version])

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386 a.d.

Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world;
for kings; for soldiers and allies; for the sick; for the afflicted; and, in a word, for all who stand in need of succour we all pray and offer this sacrifice. (Catechetical Lecture XXIII, 7-8)

Gregory Nazianzen 329-390 a.d.

Cease not to pray and plead for me when you draw down the Word by your word, when in an unbloody cutting you cut the Body and Blood of the Lord, using your voice for a sword. (Letter to Amphilochius 171)

Liturgy of St. Basil ca. 4th. cent. a.d.

Priest: Lord, our God, You created us and brought us into this life. You have shown us the way to salvation and have bestowed upon us the revelation of heavenly mysteries. You have appointed us to this service by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Grant, therefore, O Lord that we may be accepted as servants of Your new Covenant and ministers of Your holy mysteries. Accept us as we draw near to Your holy altar, according to the multitude of Your mercy, that we may be worthy to offer You this spiritual sacrifice without the shedding of blood, for our sins and for the transgressions of Your people. Grant that, having accepted this sacrifice upon Your holy, heavenly, and spiritual altar as an offering of spiritual fragrance, You may in return send down upon us the grace of Your Holy Spirit. Look upon us, O God, and consider our worship; and accept it as You accepted the gifts of Abel, the sacrifices of Noah, the burnt offerings of Abraham, the priestly offices of Moses and Aaron, and the peace offerings of Samuel. As You accepted this true worship from Your holy apostles, accept also in Your goodness, O Lord, these gifts from the hands of us sinners, that being deemed worthy to serve at Your holy altar without blame., we may obtain the reward of the faithful stewards on the fearful day of Your just judgment. (The Petitions)

St. Gregory of Nyssa ca. 335-394

He offered Himself for us, Victim and Sacrifice, and Priest as well, and “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” When did He do this? When He made His own Body food and His own Blood drink for His diciples; for this much is clear enough to anyone, that a sheep cannot be eaten by a man unles its being eaten be preceded by its being slaughtered. This giving of His own Body to His disciples for eating clearly indicates that the sacrifice of the Lamb has now been completed. (Sermon One on the Resurrection of Christ)

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397 a.d.

We saw the Prince of Priests coming to us, we saw and heard Him offering His blood for us. We follow, inasmuch as we are able, being priests; and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. And even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. For even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offer the sacrifice, nevertheless it is He Himself that is offered in sacrifice here on earth when the Body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer Himelf He is made visible in us, He whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered. (On Twelve Psalms 38,25)

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407 a.d.

When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven? (The Priesthood 3:4:177)
What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice. (Homilies on Hebrews 17:3 [6])

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom ca. 4th cent.

Priest: Lord, God Almighty, You alone are holy. You accept a sacrifice of praise from those who call upon You with their whole heart. Receive also the prayer of us sinners and let it reach Your holy altar. Enable us to bring before You gifts and spiritual sacrifices for our sins and for the transgressions of the people. Make us worthy to find grace in Your presence so that our sacrifice may be pleasing to You and that Your good and gracious Spirit may abide with us, with the gifts here presented, and with all Your people. (Prayer of the Proskomide)

St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444 a.d.

He states demonstratively: “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood“(Mt. 26:26-28) “lest you might suppose the things that are seen as a figure. Rather, by some secret of the all-powerful God the things seen are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, truly offered in a sacrifice in which we, as participants, receive the life-giving and sanctifying power of Christ. (
Commentary on Matthew [Mt. 26:27]; Jurgens, III, 220)

St. Augustine of Hippo ca. 354-430 a.d.

You know that in ordinary parlance we often say, when Easter is approaching, Tomorrow or the day after is the Lord’s Passion, although He suffered so many years ago, and His passion was endured once for all time. In like manner, on Easter Sunday, we say, This day the Lord rose from the dead, although so many years have passed since His resurrection. But no one is so foolish as to accuse us of falsehood when we use these phrases, for this reason, that we give such names to these days on the ground of a likeness between them and the days on which the events referred to actually transpired, the day being called the day of that event, although it is not the very day on which the event took place, but one corresponding to it by the revolution of the same time of the year, and the event itself being said to take place on that day, because, although it really took place long before, it is on that day sacramentally celebrated. Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ’s body is Christ’s body, and the sacrament of Christ’s blood is Christ’s blood, in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith. Now believing is nothing else than having faith; and accordingly, when, on behalf of an infant as yet incapable of exercising faith, the answer is given that he believes, this answer means that he has faith because of the sacrament of faith, and in like manner the answer is made that he turns himself to God because of the sacrament of conversion, since the answer itself belongs to the celebration of the sacrament. Thus the apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of Baptism: We are buried with Christ by baptism into death. Romans 6:4 He does not say, We have signified our being buried with Him, but We have been buried with Him. He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.
(Letter 98,9)

Apostolic Constitutions ca. 400

He has in several ways changed baptism, sacrifice, the priesthood, and the divine service, which was confined to one place: for instead of daily baptisms, He has given only one, which is that into His death. Instead of one tribe, He has appointed that out of every nation the best should be ordained for the priesthood; and that not their bodies should be examined for blemishes, but their religion and their lives. Instead of a bloody sacrifice, He has appointed that reasonable and unbloody mystical one of His body and blood, which is performed to represent the death of the Lord by symbols. Instead of the divine service confined to one place, He has commanded and appointed that He should be glorified from sunrising to sunsetting in every place of His dominion. (Bk. VI, XXIII)

St. Columba of Ireland ca. 521-597

At another time, as the saint was staying in that part of Scotia (Ireland), named a little before, he came by chance on the Lord’s day to a neighbouring little monastery, called in the Scotic language Trioit (Trevet, in Meath). The same day a priest celebrated the holy mysteries of the Eucharist, who was selected by the brethren who lived there to perform the solemn offices of the Mass, because they thought him very pious. The saint, on hearing him, suddenly opened his mouth and uttered this fearful sentence: “The clean and unclean are now equally mingled together; that is, the clean mysteries of the holy sacrifice are offered by an unclean person, who just now conceals within his own conscience a grievous crime.” The bystanders, hearing these words, were struck with terror; but he of whom they were said was forced to confess his sin before them all. And the fellow-soldiers of Christ, who stood round the saint in the church, and had heard him making manifest the secrets of the heart, greatly wondered, and glorified the heavenly knowledge that was seen in him. (St. Adamnan, The Life of St. Columba Chap. XXXII)
St. Gregory the Great ca. 540-604 a.d.

And here also we have diligently to consider, that it is far more secure and safe that every man should do that for himself whiles he is yet alive, which he desireth that others should do for him after his death. For far more blessed it is, to depart free out of this world, than being in prison to seek for release: and therefore reason teacheth us, that we should with our whole soul contemn this present world, at least because we see that it is now gone and past: and to offer unto God the daily sacrifice of tears, and the daily sacrifice of his body and blood. For this sacrifice doth especially save our souls from everlasting damnation, which in mystery doth renew unto us the death of the Son of God: who although being risen from death, doth not now die any more, nor death shall not any further prevail against him: yet living in himself immortally, and without all corruption, he is again sacrificed for us in this mystery of the holy oblation: for there his body is received, there his flesh is distributed for the salvation of the people: there his blood is not now shed betwixt the hands of infidels, but poured into the mouths of the faithful. Wherefore let us hereby meditate what manner of sacrifice this is, ordained for us, which for our absolution doth always represent the passion of the only Son of God: for what right believing Christian can doubt, that in the very hour of the sacrifice, at the words of the Priest, the heavens be opened, and the quires of Angels are present in that mystery of Jesus Christ; that high things are accompanied with low, and earthly joined to heavenly, and that one thing is made of visible and invisible? (Dialogues Bk. 4, 58)

St. Isaac the Syrian died ca. 700

For lo, we observe that when we are offering the visible sacrifice everyone has made ready and has taken their stand in prayer, seeking mercy from the Deity, making supplication and and concentrating their intellect upon God, then the Holy Spirit come upon the bread and wine which are set upon the altar table. (The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 23)

Celtic Liturgy: Stowe Missal ca. 650

In the Mass for Living Penitents
O Lord, pardon us Thy penitents, Thy pretentious servants, that with
untroubled mind we may be able to offer this Sacrifice for, that by the
dictates of Faith, they may obtain forgiveness and health, through Thee O
Holy Father. May Thy followers be able to make the offering and attain to
the Salvation of eternal grace by Thine aid. Through our Lord Jesus
Christ Who reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit throughout all ages of
ages.

Celebrant:
O Lord we beg Thee to graciously attend these sacrificial offerings
here present that our devotions may be profitable to salvation through our Lord
Jesus Christ Who reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit throughout all ages of
ages.

Bede the Venerable 673-735

So devout and zealous was he (St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne ca. 634-687) in his desire after heavenly things, that, whilst officiating in the solemnity of the Mass, he never could come to the conclusion thereof without a plentiful shedding of tears. But whilst he duly discharged the Mysteries of our Lord’s Passion, he would, in himself, illustrate that in which he was officiating; in contrition of heart he would sacrifice himself to the Lord; and whilst he exhorted the standers-by to lift up their hearts and to give thanks unto the Lord, his own heart was lifted up rather than his voice, and it was the spirit which groaned within him rather than the note of singing. (Life of St. Cuthbert Chap. XVI)

St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

With bread and wine Melchisedek, the priest of the most high God, received Abraham on his return from the slaughter of the Gentiles. (Gen. 14:18) That table pre-imaged this mystical table, just as that priest was a type and image of Christ, the true high-priest. (Lev. 14:19-20) For you are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. Of this bread the show-bread was an image. This surely is that pure and bloodless sacrifice which the Lord through the prophet said is offered to Him from the rising to the setting of the sun (Mal. 1:11). (The Fount of Knowledge 3.4)

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

Therefore, it is with the deire to satisfy your charity about this matter that I should wih to poe this question, as if I were addressing those who speak in this way: “Tell me, most excellent brethren, why is this impossible?” They say, “It is because some are readily and easily brought to compunction, while others are hard-hearted and have hearts of stone so that even when they are beaten they are without compunction. How are those who are o disposed able to mourn and weep, and how can they always communicate with tears? Even the very priests who celebrate the divine and bloodless liturgy, how are they able to weep?” (The Discourses, Chap. IV On Tears of Penitence)

Synod of Blachernae in Constantinople 1157

Convened regarding Basilakes and Soterichus. Condemned those who say Christ offered His sacrifice to the Father alone, and not to himself and to the Holy Spirit; those who say the sacrifice of the Divine Liturgy is only figuratively the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood; those who deny that the sacrifice in the Liturgy is one and the same as that of Christ on the cross; those who say men were reconciled to the Son through the incarnation and to the Father through the passion; those who think the deification of Christ’s humanity destroyed his human nature; those who deny that his deified human nature is worthy of worship; those who say that, since the human nature of Christ was swallowed up into Divinity, his passion was an illusion; those who say that characteristics of Christ’s human nature (creaturehood, circumscription, mortality, and blameless passions) exist only hypothetically, when one considers Christ’s human nature in abstraction, and not really and truly.

St. Cyril on the Purpose of the Eucharist

St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444

Let them then, who of their folly have not yet admitted the faith in Christ, hear, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. For wholly destitute of all share and taste of that life which is in sanctification and bliss, do they abide who do not through the mystical Blessing receive Jesus. For He is Life by Nature, inasmuch as He was begotten of a Living Father: no less quickening is His Holy Body also, being in a manner gathered and ineffably united with the all-quickening Word. Wherefore It is accounted His, and is conceived of as One with Him. For, since the Incarnation, it is inseparable; except as regards the knowledge that the Word Which came from God the Father, and the temple from the Virgin, are not indeed the same in nature (for the Body is not consubstantial with the Word from God), yet are they One by that coming-together and ineffable concurrence. And since the Flesh of the Saviour hath become life-giving (as being united to That which is by Nature Life, the Word from God), when we taste It, then have we life in ourselves, we too united to It, as It to the indwelling Word. For this cause also, when He raised the dead, the Saviour is found to have operated, not by word only, or God-befitting commands, but He laid a stress on employing His Holy Flesh as a sort of co-operator unto this, that He might shew that It had the power to give life, and was already made one with Him. For it was in truth His Own Body, and not another’s. And verily when He was raising the little daughter of the chief of the Synagogue saying, Maid, arise, He laid hold of her hand, as it is written, giving life, as God, by His All-Powerful command, and again, giving life through the touch of His Holy Flesh, He shews that there was one kindred operation through both. Yea and when He went into the city called Nain, and one was being carried out dead, the only son of his mother, again He touched the bier, saying, Young man, to thee I say, Arise. And not only to His Word gives He power to give life to the dead, but that He might shew that His Own Body was life-giving (as I have said already), He touches the dead, thereby also infusing life into those already decayed. And if by the touch alone of His Holy Flesh, He giveth life to that which is decayed, how shall we not profit yet more richly by the life-giving Blessing when we also taste It? For It will surely transform into Its own good, i. e., immortality, those who partake of It. (Commentary on John Bk. 4 Chap. II)

For we are made one with each other after the manner already indicated, and we are also made one with God. And in what sense we are made one with Him, the Lord very clearly explained, and to make the benefit of His teaching plain, added the words: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfected into one. For the Son dwells in us in a corporeal sense as Man, commingled and united with us by the mystery of the Eucharist; and also in a spiritual sense as God, by the effectual working and grace of His own Spirit, building up our spirit into newness of life, and making us partakers of His Divine Nature. Christ, then, is seen to be the bond of union between us and God the Father; as Man making us, as it were, His branches, and as God by Nature inherent in His own Father. For no otherwise could that nature which is subject to corruption be uplifted into incorruption, but by the coming down to it of That Nature Which is high above all corruption and variableness, lightening the burthen of ever sinking humanity, so that it can attain its own good; and by drawing it into fellowship and intercourse with Itself, well-nigh extricating it from the limitations which suit the creature, and fashioning into conformity with Itself that which is of itself contrary to It. We have, therefore, been made perfect in unity with God the Father, through the mediation of Christ. For by receiving in ourselves, both in a corporeal and spiritual sense, as I said just now, Him that is the Son by Nature, and Who has essential union with the Father, we have been glorified and become partakers in the Nature of the Most High. (ibid., Bk. 10 Chap. XII)

St. John Damascene on the Holy Eucharist

St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

The bread and the wine are not merely figures of the body and blood of Christ (God forbid!) but the deified body of the Lord itself: for the Lord has said, “This is My body,” not, this is a figure of My body: and “My blood,” not, a figure of My blood. And on a previous occasion He had said to the Jews, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. For My flesh is meat indeed and My blood is drink indeed. And again, He that eats Me, shall live John 6:51-55.

Wherefore with all fear and a pure conscience and certain faith let us draw near and it will assuredly be to us as we believe, doubting nothing. Let us pay homage to it in all purity both of soul and body: for it is twofold. Let us draw near to it with an ardent desire, and with our hands held in the form of the cross let us receive the body of the Crucified One: and let us apply our eyes and lips and brows and partake of the divine coal, in order that the fire of the longing, that is in us, with the additional heat derived from the coal may utterly consume our sins and illumine our hearts, and that we may be inflamed and deified by the participation in the divine fire. Isaiah saw the coal. Isaiah 6:6 But coal is not plain wood but wood united with fire: in like manner also the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread united with divinity. But a body which is united with divinity is not one nature, but has one nature belonging to the body and another belonging to the divinity that is united to it, so that the compound is not one nature but two.

With bread and wine Melchisedek, the priest of the most high God, received Abraham on his return from the slaughter of the Gentiles. Genesis 14:18 That table pre-imaged this mystical table, just as that priest was a type and image of Christ, the true high-priest. Leviticus xiv For you are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. Of this bread the show-bread was an image. This surely is that pure and bloodless sacrifice which the Lord through the prophet said is offered to Him from the rising to the setting of the sun Malachi 1:11 .

The body and blood of Christ are making for the support of our soul and body, without being consumed or suffering corruption, not making for the draught (God forbid!) but for our being and preservation, a protection against all kinds of injury, a purging from all uncleanness: should one receive base gold, they purify it by the critical burning lest in the future we be condemned with this world. They purify from diseases and all kinds of calamities; according to the words of the divineApostle 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. This too is what he says, So that he that partakes of the body and blood of Christ unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself. Being purified by this, we are united to the body of Christ and to His Spirit and become the body of Christ.

This bread is the first-fruits of the future bread which is ἐπιούσιος, i.e. necessary for existence. For the word ἐπιούσιον signifies either the future, that is Him Who is for a future age, or else Him of Whom we partake for the preservation of our essence. Whether then it is in this sense or that, it is fitting to speak so of the Lord’s body. For the Lord’s flesh is life-giving spirit because it was conceived of the life-giving Spirit. For what is born of the Spirit is spirit. But I do not say this to take away the nature of the body, but I wish to make clear its life-giving and divine power John 6:63 .

But if some persons called the bread and the wine antitypes of the body and blood of the Lord, as did the divinely inspired Basil, they said so not after the consecration but before the consecration, so calling the offering itself.

Participation is spoken of; for through it we partake of the divinity of Jesus. Communion, too, is spoken of, and it is an actual communion, because through it we have communion with Christ and share in His flesh and His divinity: yea, we have communion and are united with one another through it. For since we partake of one bread, we all become one body of Christ and one blood, and members one of another, being of one body with Christ.

With all our strength, therefore, let us beware lest we receive communion from or grant it to heretics; Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, says the Lord, neither cast ye your pearls before swine Matthew 7:6, lest we become partakers in their dishonour and condemnation. For if union is in truth with Christ and with one another, we are assuredly voluntarily united also with all those who partake with us. For this union is effected voluntarily and not against our inclination. For we are all one body because we partake of the one bread, as the divine Apostle says 1 Corinthians 10:17 . (The Fount of Knowledge 3.4)

On Baptismal “Regeneration”

Barnabas ca. 70-130

Let us further inquire whether the Lord took any care to foreshadow the water [of baptism] and the cross…Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water; for, says He, they shall receive their reward in due time: then He declares, I will recompense them. But now He says, Their leaves shall not fade. This means, that every word which proceeds out of your mouth in faith and love shall tend to bring conversion and hope to many. Again, another prophet says, And the land of Jacob shall be extolled above every land. Zep. 3:19 This means the vessel of His Spirit, which He shall glorify. Further, what says He? And there was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees; and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever. Eze. 47:12 This means, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit. (Epistle of Barnabas Chap. 11)

Hermas ca. 100-150

And I said to him, I should like to continue my questions. Speak on, said he. And I said, I heard, sir, some teachers maintain that there is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received remission of our former sins. He said to me, That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case. (Shepher of Hermas Bk. 2, Comm. 4, Chap. 3)

[B]efore a man bears the name of the Son of God he is dead; but when he receives the seal he lays aside his deadness, and obtains life. The seal, then, is the water: they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive. (Similitudes 9 Chap. 16)

St. Justin the Philosopher ca. 103-165

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. (First Apology Chap. 61)

Theophilus of Antioch died ca. 185

On the fifth day the living creatures which proceed from the waters were produced, through which also is revealed the manifold wisdom of God in these things; for who could count their multitude and very various kinds? Moreover, the things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also might be a sign of men’s being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and laver of regeneration—as many as come to the truth, and are born again, and receive blessing from God.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons  ca. 2nd cent.-202

And when we come to refute them [i.e. those heretics], we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith.(Against Heresies Book I.21)

And dipped himself, says [the Scripture], seven times in Jordan. 2 Kgs. 5:14 It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: Unless a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jn. 3:5 (Fragments from the Lost Writings 34)

Now, this is what faith does for us, as the elders, the disciples of the apostles, have handed down to us. First of all, it admonishes us to remember that we have received baptism for the remission of sins in the name of God the Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became incarnate and died and raised, and in the Holy Spirit of God; and that this baptism is the seal of eternal life and is rebirth unto God, that we be no more children of mortal men…(The Proof of Apostolic Preaching)

Clement of Alexandria ca. 150-215

Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal. I, says He, have said that you are gods, and all sons of the Highest. This work is variously called grace, and illumination, and perfection, and washing: washing, by which we cleanse away our sins; grace, by which the penalties accruing to transgressions are remitted; and illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly. (The Instuctor Bk. 1 Chap. 6)

Tertullian of Carthage ca. 160-120

Now such remarks have I wished to advance in defence of the flesh, from a general view of the condition of our human nature. Let us now consider its special relation to Christianity, and see how vast a privilege before God has been conferred on this poor and worthless substance. It would suffice to say, indeed, that there is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe while it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed, in order that the soul may be cleansed; the flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed (with the cross), that the soul too may be fortified; the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands, that the soul also maybe illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may fatten on its God. (On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chap. 8)

St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-276

When the elder takes hold of each of them who are to receive baptism, he shall tell each of them to renounce, saying, “I renounce you Satan, all your service, and all your works.” After he has said this, he shall anoint each with the Oil of Exorcism, saying, “Let every evil spirit depart from you.” Then, after these things, the bishop passes each of them on nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, likewise, will go down with them into the water. When each of them to be baptized has gone down into the water, the one baptizing shall lay hands on each of them, asking, “Do you believe in God the Father Almighty?” And the one being baptized shall answer, “I believe.” He shall then baptize each of them once, laying his hand upon each of their heads. Then he shall ask, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose on the third day living from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father, the one coming to judge the living and the dead?” When each has answered, “I believe,” he shall baptize a second time. Then he shall ask, “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Church and the resurrection of the flesh?” Then each being baptized shall answer, “I believe.” And thus let him baptize the third time. Afterward, when they have come up out of the water, they shall be anointed by the elder with the Oil of Thanksgiving, saying, “I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ.” Then, drying themselves, they shall dress and afterwards gather in the church. The bishop will then lay his hand upon them, invoking, saying,”Lord God, you who have made these worthy of the removal of sins through the bath of regeneration, make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit, grant to them your grace, that they might serve you according to your will, for to you is the glory, Father and Son with the Holy Spirit, in the Holy Church, now and throughout the ages of the ages. Amen. (Apostolic Tradition, 21)

Origen ca. 185-254

We next remark in passing that the baptism of John was inferior to the baptism of Jesus which was given through His disciples. Those persons in the Acts (Acts 19:2) who were baptized to John’s baptism and who had not heard if there was any Holy Ghost are baptized over again by the Apostle. Regeneration did not take place with John, but with Jesus through His disciples it does so, and what is called the laver of regeneration takes place with renewal of the Spirit. (Commentary on John, Bk VI.17)

St. Cyprian of Carthage died ca. 258

[W]hen they come to us and to the Church which is one, they ought to be baptized, for the reason that it is a small matter to lay hands on them that they may receive the Holy Ghost, unless they receive also the baptism of the Church. For then finally can they be fully sanctified, and be the sons of God, if they be born of each sacrament; since it is written, Unless a man be born again of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (Epistle 71:1)

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus ca. 213-270

[S]ee John the Baptist as he baptizes One who needs no baptism, and yet submits to the rite in order that He may bestow freely upon us the grace of baptism. Come, let us view the image of our regeneration, as it is emblematically presented in these waters. (On Christ’s Baptism)

St Aphrahat the Persian ca. 270-345

For from Baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ. At that same moment in which the priests invoke the Spirit, heaven opens, and He descends and rests upon the waters; and those who are baptized are clothed in Him. For the Spirit is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of re-birth; and then they receive the Holy Spirit….in the second birth, that through Baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit. (Demonstrations 6:14)

St. Athanasius of Alexandria ca. 293-373

For no longer according to our former origin in Adam do we die; but henceforward our origin and all infirmity of flesh being transferred to the Word, we rise from the earth, the curse from sin being removed, because of Him who is in us , and who has become a curse for us. And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened; the flesh being no longer earthly, but being henceforth made Word , by reason of God’s Word who for our sake ‘became flesh.’ (Four Discourses Against the Arians 3:26:33)

St. Hilary of Poitiers ca. 300-368

We are circumcised not with a fleshly circumcision but with the circumcision of Christ, that is, we are born again into a new man; for, being buried with Him in His baptism, we must die to the old man, because the regeneration of baptism has the force of resurrection. (On the Trinity, Bk IX)

St. Ephrem the Syrian ca. 306-373

Therefore, because the Spirit was with the Son, He came to John to receive from him baptism, that He might mingle with the visible waters the invisible Spirit; that they whose bodies should feel the moistening of the water, their souls should feel the gift of the Spirit; that even as the bodies outwardly feel the pouring of the water upon them, so the souls inwardly may feel the pouring of the Spirit upon them. (Homily on our Lord)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

Great is the Baptism that lies before you: a ransom to captives; a remission of offences; a death of sin; a new-birth of the soul; a garment of light; a holy indissoluble seal; a chariot to heaven; the delight of Paradise, a welcome into the kingdom; the gift of adoption! (Catechetical Lectures Prologue 16)

For since man is of twofold nature, soul and body, the purification also is twofold, the one incorporeal for the incorporeal part, and the other bodily for the body: the water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul; that we may draw near unto God, having our heart sprinkled by the Spirit, and our body washed with pure water. Heb. 10:22 When going down, therefore, into the water, think not of the bare element, but look for salvation by the power of the Holy Ghost: for without both you can not possibly be made perfect. It is not I that say this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter: for He says, Unless a man be born anew (and He adds the words) of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Jn. 3:3 Neither does he that is baptized with water, but not found worthy of the Spirit, receive the grace in perfection; nor if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but receive not the seal by water, shall he enter into the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine, for it is Jesus who has declared it: and here is the proof of the statement from Holy Scripture. Cornelius was a just man, who was honoured with a vision of Angels, and had set up his prayers and almsdeeds as a good memorial before God in heaven. Peter came, and the Spirit was poured out upon them that believed, and they spoke with other tongues, and prophesied: and after the grace of the Spirit the Scripture says that Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ Acts 10:48; in order that, the soul having been born again by faith, the body also might by the water partake of the grace. (Catechetical Lectures 3:4)

Council of Nicea I (1st Ecumenical Council) 325

Forasmuch as, either from necessity, or through the urgency of individuals, many things have been done contrary to the Ecclesiastical canon, so that men just converted from heathenism to the faith, and who have been instructed but a little while, are straightway brought to the spiritual laver, and as soon as they have been baptized, are advanced to the episcopate or the presbyterate, it has seemed right to us that for the time to come no such thing shall be done. (Canon 2)

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 337-397

Therefore read that the three witnesses in baptism, the water, the blood, and the Spirit, 1 Jn. 5:7 are one, for if you take away one of these, the Sacrament of Baptism does not exist. For what is water without the cross of Christ? A common element, without any sacramental effect. Nor, again, is there the Sacrament of Regeneration without water: For except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Jn. 3:5 Now, even the catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord Jesus, wherewith he too is signed; but unless he be baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot receive remission of sins nor gain the gift of spiritual grace. (On the Mysteries Chap. 4:20)

St. Gregory Nazianzus ca. 329-389

Such is the grace and power of baptism; not an overwhelming of the world as of old, but a purification of the sins of each individual, and a complete cleansing from all the bruises and stains of sin.
And since we are double-made, I mean of body and soul, and the one part is visible, the other invisible, so the cleansing also is twofold, by water and the spirit; the one received visibly in the body, the other concurring with it invisibly and apart from the body; the one typical, the other real and cleansing the depths. And this which comes to the aid of our first birth, makes us new instead of old, and like God instead of what we now are; recasting us without fire, and creating us anew without breaking us up. For, to say it all in one word, the virtue of Baptism is to be understood as a covenant with God for a second life and a purer conversation. And indeed all need to fear this very much, and to watch our own souls, each one of us, with all care, that we do not become liars in respect of this profession. (Oration 40 On Holy Baptism 7-8)

St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379

This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the being made dead being effected in the water, while our life is wrought in us through the Spirit. In three immersions, then, and with three invocations, the great mystery of baptism is performed, to the end that the type of death may be fully figured, and that by the tradition of the divine knowledge the baptized may have their souls enlightened. It follows that if there is any grace in the water, it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit. For baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. 1 Pet. 3:21 (On The Holy Spirit 15:35)

For prisoners, baptism is ransom, forgiveness of debts, the death of sin, regeneration of the soul, a resplendent garment, an unbreakable seal, a chariot to heaven, a royal protector, a gift of adoption. (Eulogies on the Martyrs and Sermons on Moral and Practical Subjects 13:5)

St. Gregory of Nyssa ca. 335-394

Assuredly this is plain, that because we are by birth flesh and blood, as the Scripture says, He Who for our sakes was born among us and was partaker of flesh and blood , purposing to change us from corruption to incorruption by the birth from above, the birth by water and the Spirit, Himself led the way in this birth, drawing down upon the water, by His own baptism, the Holy Spirit; so that in all things He became the first-born of those who are spiritually born again, and gave the name of brethren to those who partook in a birth like to His own by water and the Spirit. (Against Eunomius 2:8)

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

[I]f no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? These verily are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed Head. (The Priesthood 3:5-6)

Blessed Jerome ca. 347-420

“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst for ever. But the water that I will give him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. (Jn. 4:13-14)”; and again: “He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” For just as one who drinks of His teaching shall have within himself a living fountain, so too, one who believes in Him shall have, according to what is contained in the words of the Scriptures, rivers of living water flowing from his belly. Many refer the living waters to those who thirst, that is, at Easter and Pentecsost, when what is written is fulfilled: “Wash, be clean” (Is. 1:16).

St. John Cassian ca. 360-435

Whereas now, as you were born in a Catholic city, instructed in the Catholic faith, and regenerated with Catholic Baptism, how can I deal with you as with an Arian or Sabellian? … Acknowledge the sacraments of your salvation, by which you were initiated and regenerated. They are of no less use to you now than they were then; for they can now regenerate you by penance, as they then gave you birth through the Font. (On the Incarnation Bk VI, chapter 5, 18)

Council of Constantinople I (2nd Ecumenical Council) 381

[W]e acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins… (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed)

Blessed Augustine ca. 354-430

The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than salvation, and the sacrament of the body of Christ nothing else than life. Whence, however, was this derived, but from that primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without baptism and partaking of the supper of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? So much also does Scripture testify, according to the words which we already quoted. For wherein does their opinion, who designate baptism by the term salvation, differ from what is written: He saved us by the washing of regeneration? Tit. 3:5 or from Peter’s statement: The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us? 1 Pet. 3:21 (The Merits and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants Bk. 1 Chap. 34)

[T]he sacrament of baptism is undoubtedly the sacrament of regeneration. (ibid., Bk. 2 Chap. 43)

St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444

Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. (Jn. 3:5) For since man is compound, and not simple in his nature, being combined of two, to wit, the sensible body and intellectual soul, he will require two-fold healing for his new birth akin to both the fore-named. For by the Spirit is the spirit of man sanctified, by the sanctified water again, his body. For as the water poured into the kettle, being associated with the vigour of fire, receives in itself the impress of its efficacy, so through the inworking of the Spirit the sensible water is trans-elemented to a Divine and ineffable efficacy, and sanctifieth those on whom it comes. (Commentary on John, Bk. 2 Chap. I)

Pope St. Leo the Great ca. 400-461

Faith cuts off from union with its body, persistently and truthfully proclaiming that men’s souls did not exist until they were breathed into their bodies, and that they were not there implanted by any other than God, who is the creator both of the souls and of the bodies. And because through the transgression of the first man the whole stock of the human race was tainted, no one can be set free from the state of the old Adam save through Christ’s sacrament of baptism, in which there are no distinctions between the re-born, as says the Apostle: For as many of you as were baptized in Christ did put on Christ: there is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:27-28 (Letters 15:10)

St. Dionysius the Aeropagite ca. 5th cent.

And the objective, the prime purpose of each sacrament is to impart the mysteries of the Deity to the one being initiated. Thus hierarchical lore has quite truly forged a name to signify the essential feature of what is being achieved. It is the same with regard to that sacrament of the divine birth. It first introduces the light and is the source of all divine illumination. And because this is so we praise it, giving it the designation of what it acheives, that is, illumination. It is true of course that all the hierarchic operations have this in common, to pass the light of God on to the initiates, but nevertheless it was this one which first gave me the gift of sight. (The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy Chap. 3.1)

Pope Gregory the Great ca. 540-604

Whosoever says, then, that sins are not entirely put away in baptism, let him say that the Egyptians did not really die in the Red Sea. But, if he acknowledges that the Egyptians really died, he must needs acknowledge that sins die entirely in baptism, since surely the truth avails more in our absolution than the shadow of the truth. (Book 11, Epistle 45)

St. John Climacus ca. 7th cent.

The tears that come after baptism are greater than baptism itself, though it may be rash to says so. Baptism washes off those evils that were previously within us, whereas the sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. The baptism received by us as children we have all defiled, but we cleanse it anew with our tears. (Step 7, On Mourning)

St. Isaac the Syrian ca. 7th cent.

Of everything good wrought within you noetically and in secret, be certain that baptism and faith have been the mediators whereby you received it; through these you were called by our Lord Jesus Christ to His good labours, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, honour, thanksgiving and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen. (The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 1.43)

Repentance is given us as grace after grace, for repentance is a second regeneration by God. That of which we have received an earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of repentance. Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it. By this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy. (ibid., Homily 46)

Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735

The fact, therefore, that the water of the flood did not save those outside the ark but slew them without doubt prefigured every heretic who, although having the sacrament of baptism, is to be plunged into the lower world not by other waters but by those very waters by which the ark is raised up to the heavens. The number eight itself of the souls which were saved through water signifies that the holy Church receives the washing of baptism through the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection, that just as he rose from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also, cleansed from sins through the water of rebirth, may walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4)…For just as He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, o also He signified that through baptism the way to salvation and the entrance to the heavenly kingdom was open to us. (Commentary on 1 Peter)

1Jn 2:9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

The Lord admonishes us to love our enemies. Therefore, he who says that he is a Christian and hates his brother is still in sin. And he did well to add, still, because surely all human beings are born in the darkness of vices, they all remain in darkness until they are enlightened by Christ in the grace of baptism. (Commentary on 1 Jn.)

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

When our Master descended from on high He by His own death destroyed the death taht awaited us. The condemnation that was the consequence of our forefather’s trangression he completely annihilated. By His Holy Baptism He regenerates and refashions us, completely set us free from the condemnation, and places us in this world wholly free instead of being oppressed by the tyranny of the enemy. (The Discourses Chap. V, 9)

St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

And if the power of the intelligible animal is situated at the centre of the belly, since there the law of sin exercises its rule and gives it sustenance, why should we not place there “the law of the mind which combats” (cf. Rom. 6:23) this power, duly armed with prayer, so that the evil spirit who has been driven away thanks to the “bath of regeneration” (Tit. 3:5) may not return to install himself there with seven other spirits even more evil, so that “the latter state becomes worse than the first” (Lk. 11:26)? (The Triads C.8)

St. Athanasius on the Eucharist

St. Athanasius the Great ca. 293-373

You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘And again:’ Let us approach the celebration of the mysteries. This bread and this wine, so long as the prayers and supplications have not taken place, remain simply what they are. But after the great prayers and holy supplications have been sent forth, the Word comes down into the bread and wine – and thus His Body is confected. (Sermon to the Newly Baptized)