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Quote Archive: The Catholic Church and Faith

The “Becoming Catholic” series presents the biblical, philosophical, and historical evidence for why Eternal Christendom Founder, Joshua Charles, became and remains Catholic. The series table of contents is here.

This Quote Archive on the Catholic Church and Faith is part of the Becoming Catholic series. Each archive of quotes is intended to serve as a reference source on the various topics addressed in the articles. They are periodically updated as more research is completed.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 107) (EAST)

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans (§8) (c. 107)

Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

St. Polycarp (69-155) (EAST)

Martyrdom of Polycarp (§19) (c. 156)

This, then, is the account of the blessed Polycarp, who, being the twelfth that was martyred in Smyrna (reckoning those also of Philadelphia), yet occupies a place of his own in the memory of all men, insomuch that he is everywhere spoken of by the heathen themselves. He was not merely an illustrious teacher, but also a pre-eminent martyr, whose martyrdom all desire to imitate, as having been altogether consistent with the Gospel of Christ. For, having through patience overcome the unjust governor, and thus acquired the crown of immortality, he now, with the apostles and all the righteous [in heaven], rejoicingly glorifies God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world.

St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) (EAST)

St. Justin Martyr, On the Sole Government of God (Ch. 1)

For the men of former generations, who instituted private and public rites in honor of such as were more powerful, caused forgetfulness of the Catholic faith to take possession of their posterity…

St. Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 130-c. 202) (EAST/WEST)

St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies (Book 1, Ch. 10, §3; Book 2, Ch. 9, §1) (c. 180)

(Book 1, Ch. 10, §3)

(§3) …But [the superior skill spoken of] is not found in this, that any one should, beyond the Creator and Framer [of the world], conceive of the Enthymesis of an erring Æon, their mother and his, and should thus proceed to such a pitch of blasphemy; nor does it consist in this, that he should again falsely imagine, as being above this [fancied being], a Pleroma at one time supposed to contain thirty, and at another time an innumerable tribe of Æons, as these teachers who are destitute of truly divine wisdom maintain; while the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said.

(Book 2, Ch. 9, §1)

(§1) …For even creation reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him who made it, and the world manifests Him who ordered it. The Universal Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this tradition from the apostles.

St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c. 215) (EAST)

Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata (Book 7, Ch. 17)

(Ch. 17) …For that the human assemblies which they held were posterior to the Catholic Church requires not many words to show…

From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God’s purpose are just, are enrolled. For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honorable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects.

Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith—which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord—those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous.

But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or equal to itself.

Tertullian (c. 155-c. 220) (WEST)

Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics (Ch. 26, 30) (c. 200)

(Ch. 26) …Although, even supposing that among intimate friends [domesticos], so to speak, they did hold certain discussions, yet it is incredible that these could have been such as to bring in some other rule of faith, differing from and contrary to that which they were proclaiming through the Catholic churches—as if they spoke of one God in the Church, (and) another at home, and described one substance of Christ, publicly, (and) another secretly, and announced one hope of the resurrection before all men, (and) another before the few; although they themselves, in their epistles, besought men that they would all speak one and the same thing, and that there should be no divisions and dissensions in the church, [1 Cor. 1:10] seeing that they, whether Paul or others, preached the same things…

(Ch. 30) Where was Marcion [the heretic] then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part—and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever-restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled…

Tertullian, Against Marcion (Book 3, Ch. 21, 22; Book 4, Ch. 4, 9; Book 5, Ch. 19)

(Book 3, Ch. 21, 22)

(Ch. 21) …In these very words Isaiah says: And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord, that is, God’s eminence, and the house of God, that is, Christ, the Catholic temple of God, in which God is worshipped, shall be established upon the mountains, over all the eminences of virtues and powers; and all nations shall come unto it; and many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His way, and we will walk in it: for out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. [Isa. 2:2-3]…

(Ch. 22) …Premising, therefore, and likewise subjoining the fact that Christ suffered, He foretold that His just ones should suffer equally with Him—both the apostles and all the faithful in succession; and He signed them with that very seal of which Ezekiel spoke: “The Lord said to me, Go through the gate, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set the mark Tau upon the foreheads of the men.” Now the Greek letter Tau and our own letter “T” is the very form of the cross, which He predicted would be the sign on our foreheads in the true Catholic Jerusalem, in which, according to the twenty-first Psalm, the brethren of Christ or children of God would ascribe glory to God the Father…

(Book 4, Ch. 4, 9)

(Ch. 4) …[I]n fine, that that should be thought to be the truer position which is the later one—a century later than the publication of all the many and great facts and records of the Christian religion, which certainly could not have been published without, that is to say, before, the truth of the gospel. With regard, then, to the pending question, of Luke’s Gospel (so far as its being the common property of ourselves and Marcion enables it to be decisive of the truth) that portion of it which we alone receive is so much older than Marcion, that Marcion himself once believed it, when in the first warmth of faith he contributed money to the Catholic church, which along with himself was afterwards rejected, when he fell away from our truth into his own heresy.

(Ch. 9) …These types signified that a man, once a sinner, but afterwards purified from the stains thereof by the word of God, was bound to offer unto God in the temple a gift, even prayer and thanksgiving in the church through Christ Jesus, who is the Catholic Priest of the Father

(Book 5, Ch. 19)

But how remote is our (Catholic) verity from the artifices of this heretic, when it dreads to arouse the anger of God, and firmly believes that He produced all things out of nothing, and promises to us a restoration from the grave of the same flesh (that died) and holds without a blush that Christ was born of the virgin’s womb!

Tertullian, On Monogamy (Ch. 2)

(Ch. 2) And so they upbraid the discipline of monogamy with being a heresy; nor is there any other cause whence they find themselves compelled to deny the Paraclete more than the fact that they esteem Him to be the institutor of a novel discipline, and a discipline which they find most harsh: so that this is already the first ground on which we must join issue in a general handling (of the subject), whether there is room for maintaining that the Paraclete has taught any such thing as can either be charged with novelty, in opposition to catholic tradition, or with burdensomeness, in opposition to the light burden of the Lord…

Tertullian, On Fasting (Ch. 13)

(Ch. 13) …But it is enough for me that it is a customary practice for the bishops withal to issue mandates for fasts to the universal commonalty of the Church…Besides, throughout the provinces of Greece there are held in definite localities those councils gathered out of the universal Churches, by whose means not only all the deeper questions are handled for the common benefit, but the actual representation of the whole Christian name is celebrated with great veneration…

St. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-235) (WEST)

St. Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies (Book 9, Ch. 7)

(Ch. 7) …Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. During the episcopate of this one, second baptism was for the first time presumptuously attempted by them. These, then, (are the practices and opinions which) that most astonishing Callistus established, whose school continues, preserving its customs and tradition, not discerning with whom they ought to communicate, but indiscriminately offering communion to all. And from him they have derived the denomination of their cognomen; so that, on account of Callistus being a foremost champion of such practices, they should be called Callistians.

Origen (c. 184-c. 253) (EAST)

Origen, De Principiis (Book 3)

(Preface, by Rufinus) …You will immediately see all things thrown into confusion, seditions stirred up, clamors raised throughout the whole city, and that individual summoned to receive sentence of condemnation who endeavored to dispel the diabolical darkness of ignorance by means of the light of the Gospel lamp. Let such things, however, be lightly esteemed by him who is desirous of being trained in divine learning, while retaining in its integrity the rule of the Catholic faith

Caius the Presbyter (200s) (WEST)

Caius, Fragments (§3)

(§3) …And John too, indeed, in the Apocalypse, although he writes only to seven churches, yet addresses all. He wrote, besides these, one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy, in simple personal affection and love indeed; but yet these are hallowed in the esteem of the Catholic Church, and in the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline. There are also in circulation one to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, and addressed against the heresy of Marcion; and there are also several others which cannot be received into the Catholic Church, for it is not suitable for gall to be mingled with honey.

Asterius Urbanus (200s) (WEST/EAST?)

Asterius Urbanus, Extant Writings (Ch. 2) (c. 232)

(Ch. 2) …But the same arrogant spirit taught them to revile the Church universal under heaven, because that false spirit of prophecy found neither honor from it nor entrance into it. For when the faithful throughout Asia met together often and in many places of Asia for deliberation on this subject, and subjected those novel doctrines to examination, and declared them to be spurious, and rejected them as heretical, they were in consequence of that expelled from the Church and debarred from communion.

St. Pope Cornelius (died 253) (WEST)

St. Pope Cornelius, Letter 45: To St. Cyprian (§2)

(§2) …There was one voice from all, giving thanks to God; all were expressing the joy of their heart by tears, embracing them as if they had this day been set free from the penalty of the dungeon. And to quote their very own words —“We,” they say, “know that Cornelius is bishop of the most holy Catholic Church elected by Almighty God, and by Christ our Lord. We confess our error; we have suffered imposture; we were deceived by captious perfidy and loquacity. For although we seemed, as it were, to have held a kind of communion with a man who was a schismatic and a heretic, yet our mind was always sincere in the Church. For we are not ignorant that there is one God; that there is one Christ the Lord whom we have confessed, and one Holy Spirit; and that in the Catholic Church there ought to be one bishop.”

Novatian (c. 200-c. 258) (WEST)

Novatian, On the Trinity (Ch. 30)

And now, indeed, concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, let it be sufficient to have briefly said thus much, and to have laid down these points concisely, without carrying them out in a lengthened argument. For they could be presented more diffusely and continued in a more expanded disputation, since the whole of the Old and New Testaments might be adduced in testimony that thus the true faith stands. But because heretics, ever struggling against the truth, are accustomed to prolong the controversy of pure tradition and Catholic faith, being offended against Christ; because He is, moreover, asserted to be God by the Scriptures also, and this is believed to be so by us; we must rightly—that every heretical calumny may be removed from our faith—contend, concerning the fact that Christ is God also, in such a way as that it may not militate against the truth of Scripture; nor yet against our faith, how there is declared to be one God by the Scriptures, and how it is held and believed by us.

Firmilian of Cappadocia (c. 200-268) (EAST)

Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea of Cappadocia, Letter 74: To St. Cyprian (§§6, 14, 16, 22)

(§6) …And yet on this account there is no departure at all from the peace and unity of the Catholic Church, such as [Pope] Stephen has now dared to make; breaking the peace against you, which his predecessors have always kept with you in mutual love and honor, even herein defaming Peter and Paul the blessed apostles, as if the very men delivered this who in their epistles execrated heretics, and warned us to avoid them. Whence it appears that this tradition is of men which maintains heretics, and asserts that they have baptism, which belongs to the Church alone.

(§14) But if the baptism of heretics can have the regeneration of the second birth, those who are baptized among them must be counted not heretics, but children of God. For the second birth, which occurs in baptism, begets sons of God. But if the spouse of Christ is one, which is the Catholic Church, it is she herself who alone bears sons of God. For there are not many spouses of Christ…

(§16) …Therefore the power of remitting sins was given to the apostles, and to the churches which they, sent by Christ, established, and to the bishops who succeeded to them by vicarious ordination. But the enemies of the one Catholic Church in which we are, and the adversaries of us who have succeeded the apostles, asserting for themselves, in opposition to us, unlawful priesthoods, and setting up profane altars, what else are they than Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, profane with a like wickedness, and about to suffer the same punishments which they did, as well as those who agree with them, just as their partners and abettors perished with a like death to theirs?

(§22) We have judged, that those also whom they, who had formerly been bishops in the Catholic Church, and afterwards had assumed to themselves the power of clerical ordination, had baptized, are to be regarded as not baptized. And this is observed among us, that whosoever dipped by them come to us are baptized among us as strangers and having obtained nothing, with the only and true baptism of the Catholic Church, and obtain the regeneration of the laver of life…

St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 210-258) (WEST)

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 1: On the Unity of the Church (§12)

(§12) But how can he agree with anyone who does not agree with the booty of the Church itself, and with the universal brotherhood? How can two or three be assembled together in Christ’s name, who, it is evident, are separated from Christ and from His Gospel? For we have not withdrawn from them, but they from us; and since heresies and schisms have risen subsequently, from their establishment for themselves of diverse places of worship, they have forsaken the Head and Source of the truth. But the Lord speaks concerning His Church, and to those also who are in the Church He speaks, that if they are in agreement, if according to what He commanded and admonished, although only two or three gathered together with unanimity should pray—though they be only two or three—they may obtain from the majesty of God what they ask.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 19: To Caldonius

…I have sent a book to you, with letters to the number of five, that I wrote to the clergy and to the people, and to the martyrs also and confessors, which letters have already been sent to many of our colleagues, and have satisfied them; and they replied that they also agree with me in the same opinion according to the Catholic faith

St. Cyprian, Letter 40: To St. Pope Cornelius (§§1-2)

(§1) …But, as we discovered, as well from the letters which they brought with them, as from their discourse and declaration, that Novatian had been made bishop; disturbed by the wickedness of an unlawful ordination made in opposition to the Catholic Church, we considered at once that they must be restrained from communion with us…

(§2) And lest their raging boldness should ever cease, they are striving here also to distract the members of Christ into schismatical parties, and to cut and tear the one body of the Catholic Church, so that, running about from door to door, through the houses of many, or from city to city, through certain districts, they seek for companions in their obstinacy and error to join to themselves in their schism. To whom we have once given this reply, nor shall we cease to command them to lay aside their pernicious dissensions and disputes, and to be aware that it is an impiety to forsake their Mother…Thus, if they consult their own interest peaceably and faithfully, if they confess themselves to be maintainers of the Gospel of Christ, they must return to the Church.

St. Cyprian, Letter 41: To St. Pope Cornelius (§1)

(§1) …As was fitting for God’s servants, and especially for upright and peaceable priests, dearest brother, we recently sent our colleagues Caldonius and Fortunatus, that they might, not only by the persuasion of our letters, but by their presence and the advice of all of you, strive and labor with all their power to bring the members of the divided body into the unity of the Catholic Church, and associate them into the bond of Christian charity. But since the obstinate and inflexible pertinacity of the adverse party has not only rejected the bosom and the embrace of its root and Mother, but even, with a discord spreading and reviving itself worse and worse, has appointed a bishop for itself, and, contrary to the sacrament once delivered of the divine appointment and of Catholic Unity, has made an adulterous and opposed head outside the Church…

St. Cyprian, Letter 42: To St. Pope Cornelius

…I have though it both obligatory on me, and necessary for you, dearest brother, to write a short letter to the confessors who are there with you, and, seduced by the obstinacy and depravity of Novatian and Novatus, have departed from the Church; in which letter I might induce them, for the sake of our mutual affection, to return to their Mother, that is, to the Catholic Church

St. Cyprian, Letter 43: To Maximus and Nicostratus

…For it weighs me down and saddens me, and the intolerable grief of a smitten, almost prostrate, spirit seizes me, when I find that you there, contrary to ecclesiastical order, contrary to evangelical law, contrary to the unity of the Catholic institution, had consented that another bishop should be made. That is what is neither right nor allowable to be done; that another church should be set up; that Christ’s members should be torn asunder; that the one mind and body of the Lord’s flock should be lacerated by a divided emulation…

St. Cyprian, Letter 44: To St. Pope Cornelius (§§3-4)

(§3) Some persons, however, sometimes disturb men’s minds and spirits by their words, in that they relate things otherwise than is the truth. For we, who furnish every person who sails hence with a plan that they may sail without any offence, know that we have exhorted them to acknowledge and hold the root and matrix of the Catholic Church…so the whole of our colleagues might decidedly approve of and maintain both you and your communion, that is as well to the unity of the Catholic Church as to its charity…

(§4) …That we, with the rest of our colleagues, may steadily and firmly administer this office, and keep it in the concordant unanimity of the Catholic Church, the divine condescension will accomplish; so that the Lord who condescends to elect and appoint for Himself priests in His Church, may protect them also when elected and appointed by His good-will and help, inspiring them to govern, and supplying both vigor for restraining the contumacy of the wicked, and gentleness for cherishing the penitence of the lapsed…

St. Cyprian, Letter 46: To St. Pope Cornelius (§§1-2)

(§1) …For we have read your letter, and have exultingly received the greatest joy from the fulfilment of our common desire; to wit, that Maximus the presbyter, and Urbanus, the confessors, with Sidonius and Macarius, have re-entered into the Catholic Church, that is, that they have laid aside their error, and given up their schismatical, nay, their heretical madness, and have sought again in the soundness of faith the home of unity and truth; that whence they had gone forth to glory, there they might gloriously return; and that they who had confessed Christ should not afterwards desert the camp of Christ, and that they might not tempt the faith of their charity and unity, who had not been overcome in strength and courage. Behold the safe and unspotted integrity of their praise; behold the uncorrupted and substantial dignity of these confessors, that they have departed from the deserters and fugitives, that they have left the betrayers of the faith, and the impugners of the Catholic Church

(§2) …For this error had led away certain of our brethren, so that they thought they were following the communion of confessors. When this error was removed, light was infused into the breasts of all, and the Catholic Church has been shown to be one, and to be able neither to be cut nor divided. Nor can anyone now be easily deceived by the talkative words of a raging schismatic, since it has been proved that good and glorious soldiers of Christ could not long be detained without the Church by the deceitfulness and perfidy of others…

St. Cyprian, Letter 50: To the Confessors Returning from Schism (§4)

(§4) …Moreover, my feeble ability has expressed as well as it could the unity of the Catholic Church. Which treatise I now more and more trust will be pleasing to you, since you now read it in such a way as both to approve and love it; inasmuch as what we have written in words you fulfil in deeds, when you return to the Church in the unity of charity and peace…

St. Cyprian, Letter 51: To Antonianus (§§1, 7, 21, 24)

(§1) …I received your first letters, dearest brother, firmly maintaining the concord of the priestly college, and adhering to the Catholic Church, in which you intimated that you did not hold communion with Novatian, but followed my advice, and held one common agreement with Cornelius our co-bishop. You wrote, moreover, for me to transmit a copy of those same letters to Cornelius our colleague, so that he might lay aside all anxiety, and know at once that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church.

(§7) …I do not now recede from these things which have once been determined in our council by common agreement, although many things are ventilated by the voices of many, and lies against God’s priests uttered from the devil’s mouth, and tossed about everywhere, to the rupture of the concord of Catholic unity

(§21) And, indeed, among our predecessors, some of the bishops here in our province thought that peace was not to be granted to adulterers, and wholly closed the gate of repentance against adultery. Still they did not withdraw from the assembly of their co-bishops, nor break the unity of the Catholic Church by the persistency of their severity or censure; so that, because by some peace was granted to adulterers, he who did not grant it should be separated from the Church. While the bond of concord remains, and the undivided sacrament of the Catholic Church endures, every bishop disposes and directs his own acts, and will have to give an account of his purposes to the Lord.

(§24) …Unless he seems to you to be a bishop, who—when a bishop has been made in the Church by sixteen co-bishops—strives by bribery to be made an adulterous and extraneous bishop by the hands of deserters; and although there is one Church, divided by Christ throughout the whole world into many members, and also one episcopate diffused through a harmonious multitude of many bishops; in spite of God’s tradition, in spite of the combined and everywhere compacted unity of the Catholic Church, is endeavoring to make a human church, and is sending his new apostles through very many cities, that he may establish some new foundations of his own appointment…

St. Cyprian, Letter 54: To St. Pope Cornelius (§§5, 9, 18)

(§5) When, then, such and so great examples, and many others, are precedents whereby the priestly authority and power by the divine condescension is established, what kind of people, think you, are they who, being enemies of the priests, and rebels against the Catholic Church, are frightened neither by the threatening of a forewarning Lord, nor by the vengeance of coming judgment? For neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than from this, that God’s priest is not obeyed; nor do they consider that there is one person for the time priest in the Church, and for the time judge in the stead of Christ; whom, if, according to divine teaching, the whole fraternity should obey, no one would stir up anything against the college of priests; no one, after the divine judgment, after the suffrage of the people, after the consent of the co-bishops, would make himself a judge, not now of the bishop, but of God. No one would rend the Church by a division of the unity of Christ…

(§9) …For indeed it ought not to pertain to the majesty or the dignity of the Catholic Church, to concern itself with what the audacity of heretics and schismatics may attempt among themselves. For Novatian’s party is also said to have now made Maximus the presbyter—who was lately sent to us as an ambassador for Novatian, and rejected from communion with us—their false bishop in that place; and yet I had not written to you about this, since all these things are slighted by us; and I had sent to you lately the names of the bishops appointed there, who with wholesome and sound discipline govern the brethren in the Catholic Church

(§18) Is the dignity of the Catholic Church, dearest brother, to be laid aside, is the faithful and uncorrupted majesty of the people placed within it, and the priestly authority and power also, all to be laid aside for this, that those who are set without the Church may say that they wish to judge concerning a prelate in the Church? heretics concerning a Christian? Wounded men about a whole man? Maimed concerning a sound man? Lapsed concerning one who stands fast? Guilty concerning their judge? sacrilegious men concerning a priest?…

St. Cyprian, Letter 63: To Epictetus and the Congregation of Assurae (§5)

(§5) Let the lapsed, however, who acknowledge the greatness of their sin, not depart from entreating the Lord, nor forsake the Catholic Church, which has been appointed one and alone by the Lord; but, continuing in their atonements and entreating the Lord’s mercy, let them knock at the door of the Church, that they may be received there where once they were, and may return to Christ from whom they have departed, and not listen to those who deceive them with a fallacious and deadly seduction; since it is written, “Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience; be not therefore partakers with them.” [Eph. 5:6-7] Therefore let no one associate himself with the contumacious, and those who do not fear God, and those who entirely with draw from the Church. But if anyone should be impatient of entreating the Lord who is offended, and should be unwilling to obey us, but should follow desperate and abandoned men, he must take the blame to himself when the day of judgment shall come. For how shall he be able in that day to entreat the Lord, who has both before this denied Christ, and now also the Church of Christ, and not obeying bishops sound and wholesome and living, has made himself an associate and a partaker with the dying?

St. Cyprian, Letter 66: To Fr. Stephanus (§§1-2)

(§1) …Faustinus our colleague, abiding at Lyons, has once and again written to me, dearest brother, informing me of those things which also I certainly know to have been told to you, as well by him as by others our fellow bishops established in the same province, that Marcianus, who abides at Aries, has associated himself with Novatian, and has departed from the unity of the Catholic Church, and from the agreement of our body and priesthood, holding that most extreme depravity of heretical presumption, that the comforts and aids of divine love and paternal tenderness are closed to the servants of God who repent, and mourn, and knock at the gate of the Church with tears, and groans, and grief; and that those who are wounded are not admitted for the soothing of their wounds, but that, forsaken without hope of peace and communion, they must be thrown to become the prey of wolves and the booty of the devil…

(§2) …[W]hen he [Novatian] sent ambassadors to us into Africa, asking to be received into our communion, he received back word from a council of several priests who were here present, that he himself had excluded himself, and could not by any of us be received into communion, as he had attempted to erect a profane altar, and to set up an adulterous throne, and to offer sacrilegious sacrifices opposed to the true priest; while the Bishop [Pope] Cornelius was ordained in the Catholic Church by the judgment of God, and by the suffrages of the clergy and people. Therefore, if he were willing to return to a right mind, and to come to himself, he should repent and return to the Church as a suppliant…

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 68 (§8) (254)

(§8) …[T]hey alone have remained without, who even, if they had been within, would have had to be cast out. Nor does the Lord, the protector of His people, and their guardian, suffer the wheat to be snatched from His floor; but the chaff alone can be separated from the Church, since also the apostle says, “For what if some of them have departed from the faith? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid; for God is true, but every man a liar.” [Rom. 3:3-4] And the Lord also in the Gospel, when disciples forsook Him as He spoke, turning to the twelve, said, “‘Will you also go away?’ then Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the word of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure, that You are the Son of the living God.’” [John 6:67-69] Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear and obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if anyone be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another.

St. Cyprian, Letter 69: To Januarius and Other Numidian Bishops (§1)

(§1) …When we were together in council, dearest brethren, we read your letter which you wrote to us concerning those who seem to be baptized by heretics and schismatics, (asking) whether, when the), come to the Catholic Church, which is one, they ought to be baptized. On which matter, although you yourselves hold thereupon the truth and certainty of the Catholic rule

St. Cyprian, Letter 70: To Quintus (§§1-2, 4)

(§1) …But again some of our colleagues would rather give honor to heretics than agree with us; and while by the assertion of one baptism they are unwilling to baptize those that come, they thus either themselves make two baptisms in saying that there is a baptism among heretics; or certainly, which is a matter of more importance, they strive to set before and prefer the sordid and profane washing of heretics to the true and only and legitimate baptism of the Catholic Church, not considering that it is written, “He who is baptized by one dead, what avails his washing?” [Sir. 34:25] Now it is manifest that they who are not in the Church of Christ are reckoned among the dead; and another cannot be made alive by him who himself is not alive, since there is one Church which, having attained the grace of eternal life, both lives forever and quickens the people of God.

(§2) …And therefore, because there can be nothing common to falsehood and truth, to darkness and light, to death and immortality, to Antichrist and Christ, we ought by all means to maintain the unity of the Catholic Church, and not to give way to the enemies of faith and truth in any respect.

(§4) Which thing, indeed, Agrippinus also, a man of worthy memory, with his other fellow bishops, who at that time governed the Lord’s Church in the province of Africa and Numidia, decreed, and by the well-weighed examination of the common council established: whose opinion, as being both religious and lawful and salutary, and in harmony with the Catholic faith and Church, we also have followed…

St. Cyprian, Letter 71: To St. Pope Stephen (§§1-2)

(§1) …But the subject in regard to which we had chiefly to write to you, and to confer with your gravity and wisdom, is one that more especially pertains both to the priestly authority and to the unity, as well as the dignity, of the Catholic Church, arising as these do from the ordination of the divine appointment…

(§2) We add, however, and connect with what we have said, dearest brother, with common consent and authority, that if, again, any presbyters or deacons, who either have been before ordained in the Catholic Church, and have subsequently stood forth as traitors and rebels against the Church, or who have been promoted among the heretics by a profane ordination by the hands of false bishops and antichrists contrary to the appointment of Christ, and have attempted to offer; in opposition to the one and divine altar, false and sacrilegious sacrifices without, that these also be received when they return, on this condition, that they communicate as laymen, and hold it to be enough that they should be received to peace, after having stood forth as enemies of peace; and that they ought not, on returning, to retain those arms of ordination and honor with which they rebelled against us…

St. Cyprian, Letter 72: To Jubaianus (§§1-2, 20)

(§1) …And now also, when we had met together, bishops as well of the province of Africa as of Numidia, to the number of seventy-one, we established this same matter once more by our judgment, deciding that there is one baptism which is appointed in the Catholic Church; and that by this those are not re-baptized, but baptized by us, who at any time come from the adulterous and unhallowed water to be washed and sanctified by the truth of the saving water.

(§2) Nor does what you have described in your letters disturb us, dearest brother, that the Novatians re-baptize those whom they entice from us, since it does not in any wise matter to us what the enemies of the Church do, so long as we ourselves hold a regard for our power, and the steadfastness of reason and truth. For Novatian, after the manner of apes—which, although they are not men, yet imitate human doings—wishes to claim to himself the authority and truth of the Catholic Church, while he himself is not in the Church; nay, moreover, has stood forth hitherto as a rebel and enemy against the Church…

(§20) Besides, how vain and perverse a thing it is, that when the heretics themselves, having repudiated and forsaken either the error or the wickedness in which they had previously been, acknowledge the truth of the Church, we should mutilate the rights and sacrament of that same truth, and say to those who come to us and repent, that they had obtained remission of sins when they confess that they have sinned, and are for that reason come to seek the pardon of the Church! Wherefore, dearest brother, we ought both firmly to maintain the faith and truth of the Catholic Church, and to teach, and by all the evangelical and apostolic precepts to set forth, the plan of the divine dispensation and unity.

St. Cyprian, Letter 75: To Magnus (§§1, 7)

(§1) …With your usual religious diligence, you have consulted my poor intelligence, dearest son, as to whether, among other heretics, they also who come from Novatian ought, after his profane washing, to be baptized, and sanctified in the Catholic Church, with the lawful, and true, and only baptism of the Church. Respecting which matter, as much as the capacity of my faith and the sanctity and truth of the divine Scriptures suggest, I answer, that no heretics and schismatics at all have any power or right…Moreover, the blessed Apostle John himself distinguished no heresy or schism, neither did he set down any as specially separated; but he called all who had gone out from the Church, and who acted in opposition to the Church, antichrists, saying, “You have heard that Antichrist comes, and even now have come many antichrists; wherefore we know that this is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” [1 John 2:18-19] Whence it appears, that all are adversaries of the Lord and antichrists, who are known to have departed from charity and from the unity of the Catholic Church

(§7) But if any one objects, by way of saying that Novatian holds the same law which the Catholic Church holds, baptizes with the same symbol with which we baptize, knows the same God and Father, the same Christ the Son, the same Holy Spirit, and that for this reason he may claim the power of baptizing, namely, that he seems not to differ from us in the baptismal interrogatory; let any one that thinks that this may be objected, know first of all, that them is not one law of the Creed, nor the same interrogatory common to us and to schismatics. For when they say, Do you believe the remission of sins and life eternal through the holy Church? they lie in their interrogatory, since they have not the Church. Then, besides, with their own voice they themselves confess that remission of sins cannot be given except by the holy Church; and not having this, they show that sins cannot be remitted among them.

St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria (died 264) (EAST)

St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria, Letter 6: To Sixtus, Bishop

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.

St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria, Letter 11: To Hermammon

For he did not discern that providence which regulates all things; nor did he think of the judgment of Him who is before all, and through all, and over all. Wherefore he also became an enemy to His Catholic Church; and besides that, he alienated and estranged himself from the mercy of God, and fled to the utmost possible distance from His salvation. And in this indeed he demonstrated the reality of the peculiar significance of his name.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 213-270) (EAST)

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, A Fragment from On the Trinity

But if anyone, moreover, believes that any increment has been given to the Trinity by reason of the assumption of humanity by the Word, he is an alien from us, and from the ministry of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is the perfect, holy, Apostolic faith of the holy God. Praise to the Holy Trinity forever through the ages of the ages. Amen.

Malchion of Antioch (200s) (EAST)

Malchion, The Letter Written by Malchion in the Name of the Synod of Antioch Against Paul of Samosata (§§4-5) (272)

To Dionysius and Maximum, and to all our fellows in the ministry throughout the world, both bishops and presbyters and deacons, and to the whole Catholic Church under heaven…

(§4) And on account of these things all are groaning and lamenting with themselves; yet they have such a dread of his tyranny and power that they cannot venture on accusing him. And of these things, as we have said already, one might take account in the case of a man who held Catholic sentiments and belonged to our number; but as to one who has betrayed the mystery (of the faith), and who swaggers with the abominable heresy of Artemas—for why should we hesitate to disclose his father?—we consider it unnecessary to exact of him an account of these things.

(§5) [Then at the close of the epistle they add the following words] We have been compelled, therefore, to excommunicate this man, who thus opposeth God Himself, and refuses submission, and to appoint in his place another bishop for the Church Catholic, and that, as we trust, by the providence of God…

Malchion, Fragments Apparently from the Same Letter (272)

This, however, the catholic and ecclesiastical canons [laws] disallow…

St. Anatolius of Laodicea (died 283) (EAST)

St. Anatolius of Laodicea, The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria (Ch. 15) (270)

And as this has been sanctioned by the charge of the Lord, and is in all things accordant with the Catholic faith, it cannot be doubtful to any wise man that to anticipate it must be a thing unlawful and perilous. And, accordingly, this only is it sufficient for all the saints and Catholics to observe, namely, that giving no heed to the diverse opinions of very many, they should keep the solemn festival of the Lord’s resurrection [Easter] within the limits which we have set forth.

St. Victorinus of Pettau (died 303/304) (WEST)

St. Victorinus of Pettau, Commentary on the Apocalypse (Ch. 1, §16; Ch. 4, §8; Ch. 12, §6)

(Ch. 1, §16)

(§16) …In the whole world Paul taught that all the churches are arranged by sevens, that they are called seven, and that the Catholic Church is one…Therefore in these seven churches, of one Catholic Church are believers, because it is one in seven by the quality of faith and election…

(Ch. 4, §8)

(§8) …For unless what the prophets foretold had been consummated in Christ, their preaching was vain. For the Catholic Church holds those things which were both before predicted and afterwards accomplished…

(Ch. 12, §6)

(§6) But the woman fled into the wilderness, and there were given to her two great eagle’s wings. The aid of the great eagle’s wings—to wit, the gift of prophets—was given to that Catholic Church, whence in the last times a hundred and forty-four thousands of men should believe in the preaching of Elias; but, moreover, he here says that the rest of the people should be found alive on the coming of the Lord…

St. Peter of Alexandria (died 311) (EAST)

St. Peter of Alexandria, The Acts of Peter of Alexandria

Meletius lastly—in mind and name most black—was made the schismatical bishop of the city of Lycopolis, doing many things against the rule of the canons, and surpassing even the bloody soldiery in cruelty who, at the time of the Lord’s Passion, feared to rend His coat; he was so hurried on by giving the rein to his madness, that, rending asunder the Catholic Church not only in the cities of Egypt, but even in its villages, he ordained bishops of his own party, nor cared he anything for Peter, nor for Christ, who was in the person of Peter. To him Arius, who was yet a laic, and not marked with the clerical tonsure, adhered, and was to him and his family most dear; and not without reason: every animal, as says the Scripture, loves its like…

These things having thus ended, it was everywhere published far and wide that Arius had not been cut off from the Catholic unity without a divine interposition. But that contriver of deceit, and disseminator of all wickedness, ceased not to keep hidden his viper’s poison in the labyrinth of his bosom, hoping that he should be reconciled by Achillas and Alexander. This is that Arius the heresiarch, the divider of the consubstantial and indivisible Trinity. This is he who with rash and wicked mouth, was not afraid to blaspheme the Lord and Savior, beyond all other heretics; the Lord, I say, and Savior, who out of pity for our human wanderings, and being sorely grieved that the world should perish in deadly destruction and condemnation, deigned for us all to suffer in the flesh. For it is not to be believed that the Godhead which is impassible was subject to the passion. But because the theologians and fathers have taken care in better style to remove from Catholic ears the blasphemies of this nature, and another task is ours, let us return to our subject.

St. Methodius of Olympus (died c. 311) (EAST)

St. Methodius of Olympus, Oration on Simeon and Anna (§13)

(§13) …Hail to you, you Catholic Church, which has been planted in all the earth, and rejoice with us. Fear not, little flock, the storms of the enemy for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, and that you should tread upon the necks of your enemies. Hail, and rejoice, you that wast once barren, and without seed unto godliness, but who hast now many children of faith, Hail, you people of the Lord, you chosen generation, you royal priesthood, you holy nation, you peculiar people—show forth His praises who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; and for His mercies glorify Him.

Lactantius (c. 250-c. 325) (WEST)

Lactantius, Divine Institutes (Book 4, Ch. 30)

But since many heresies have existed, and the people of God have been rent into divisions at the instigation of demons…There were some of our religion whose faith was less established, or who were less learned or less cautious, who rent the unity and divided the Church…

…But all of these, ensnared by frauds of demons, which they ought to have foreseen and guarded against, by their carelessness lost the name and worship of God. For when they are called Phrygians, or Novatians, or Valentinians, or Marcionites, or Anthropians, or Arians, or by any other name, they have ceased to be Christians, who have lost the name of Christ, and assumed human and external names. Therefore it is the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship.

This is the fountain of truth, this is the abode of the faith, this is the temple of God; into which if anyone shall not enter, or from which if any shall go out, he is estranged from the hope of life and eternal salvation. No one ought to flatter himself with persevering strife. For the contest is respecting life and salvation, which, unless it is carefully and diligently kept in view, will be lost and extinguished. But, however, because all the separate assemblies of heretics call themselves Christians in preference to others, and think that theirs is the Catholic Church, it must be known that the true Catholic Church is that in which there is confession and repentance, which treats in a wholesome manner the sins and wounds to which the weakness of the flesh is liable. I have related these things in the meanwhile for the sake of admonition, that no one who desires to avoid error may be entangled in a greater error, while he is ignorant of the secret of the truth…

St. Alexander of Alexandria (died 326/328) (EAST)

St. Alexander of Alexandria, Letter to Alexander, Bishop of the City of Constantinople (§12) (321)

(§12) And besides, also, one only Catholic and Apostolic Church, which can never be destroyed, though all the world should seek to make war with it; but it is victorious over every most impious revolt of the heretics who rise up against it. For her Goodman has confirmed our minds by saying, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]…

St. Alexander of Alexandria, Catholic Epistle (§§1, 6)

(§1) Since the body of the Catholic Church is one, and it is commanded in Holy Scripture that we should keep the bond of unanimity and peace, it follows that we should write and signify to one another the things which are done by each of us; that whether one member suffer or rejoice we may all either suffer or rejoice with one another. In our diocese, then, not so long ago, there have gone forth lawless men, and adversaries of Christ, teaching men to apostatize; which thing, with good right, one might suspect and call the precursor of Antichrist…

(§6) Since, therefore, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has thus Himself exhorted us, and by His apostle has signified such things to us; we, who have heard their impiety with our own ears, have consistently anathematized such men, as I have already said, and have declared them to be aliens from the Catholic Church and faith, and we have made known the thing, beloved and most honored fellow-ministers, to your piety, that you should not receive any of them, should they venture rashly to come unto you, and that you should not trust Eusebius or anyone else who writes concerning them. For it becomes us as Christians to turn with aversion from all who speak or think against Christ, as the adversaries of God and the destroyers of souls, and “not even to wish them Godspeed, lest at any time we become partakers of their evil deeds,” [2 John 1:11] as the blessed John enjoins…

St. Alexander of Alexandria, Letter to the Priests and Deacons of Alexandria and Mareotis

Although you have been forward to subscribe the letters that I sent to those about Arius, urging them to abjure their impiety, and to obey the wholesome and Catholic faith; and in this manner have shown your orthodox purpose, and your agreement in the doctrines of the Catholic Church

St. Hilary of Poitiers (c. 310-c. 367) (WEST)

St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Councils (§§6-8, 11, 34, 38-39, 45, 56, 69, 78, 80, 84)

(§6) …Perchance all this assertion of my faith will result in those who conceal their heresy being unable to practice the deception they wish, and in true Catholics attaining the object which they desire.

(§7) …In any case I have sent you a faithful account of these transactions: it is for you to determine by the decision your faith inspires whether their spirit is Catholic or heretical.

(§8) …But when I had learned that synods were to meet in Ancyra and Ariminum, and that one or two bishops from each province in Gaul would assemble there, I thought it especially needful that I, who am confined in the East, should explain and make known to you the grounds of those mutual suspicious which exist between us and the Eastern bishops, though some of you know those grounds; in order that whereas you had condemned and they had anathematized this heresy that spreads from Sirmium, you might nevertheless know with what confession of faith the Eastern bishops had come to the same result that you had come to, and that I might prevent you, whom I hope to see as shining lights in future Councils, differing, through a mistake about words, even a hair’s-breadth from pure Catholic belief, when your interpretation of the apostolic faith is identically the same and you are Catholics at heart.

(§11) …And no one is ignorant that it is Catholic doctrine that there are two Persons of Father and Son; and that the Father is greater, and that the Son is subordinated to the Father, together with all things which the Father has subordinated to Him, and that the Father has no beginning and is invisible, immortal and impassible, but that the Son has been begotten of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, and that the generation of this Son, as is aforesaid, no one knows but His Father…

(§34) …We believe also in the Holy Ghost, that is, the Paraclete, whom according to His promise He sent to His apostles after His return into the heavens to teach them and to bring all things to their remembrance, through whom also the souls of them that believe sincerely in Him are sanctified.

“But those who say that the Son of God is sprung from things non-existent or from another substance and not from God, and that there was a time or age when He was not, the holy Catholic Church holds them as aliens. Likewise also those who say that there are three Gods, or that Christ is not God and that before the ages He was neither Christ nor Son of God, or that He Himself is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, or that the Son is incapable of birth; or that the Father begot the Son without purpose or will: the holy Catholic Church anathematizes.”

(§38) …But those who say that the Son is sprung from things non-existent, or from another substance and not from God, and that there was a time or age when He was not, the holy Catholic Church regards as aliens…

(§39) The necessity of the moment urged the Council to set forth a wider and broader exposition of the creed including many intricate questions, because the heresy which Photinus was reviving was sapping our Catholic home by many secret mines. Their purpose was to oppose every form of stealthy subtle heresy by a corresponding form of pure and unsullied faith, and to have as many complete explanations of the faith as there were instances of peculiar faithlessness. Immediately after the universal and unquestioned statement of the Christian mysteries, the explanation of the faith against the heretics begins as follows.

I. But those who say that the Son is sprung from things non-existent, or from another substance and not from God, and that there was a time or age when He was not, the holy Catholic Church regards as aliens.

(§45) …Therefore the Catholic Faith condemns all denial of the immutability of the Father and of the birth of the Son…

(§56) Since it is contrary to religion to say that there are two Gods, because we remember and declare that nowhere has it been affirmed that there is more than one God: how much more worthy of condemnation is it to name three Gods in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Nevertheless, since heretics say this, Catholics rightly condemn it…

(§69) Therefore amid the numerous dangers which threaten the faith, brevity of words must be employed sparingly, lest what is piously meant be thought to be impiously expressed, and a word be judged guilty of occasioning heresy when it has been used in conscientious and unsuspecting innocence. A Catholic about to state that the substance of the Father and the Son is one, must not begin at that point: nor hold this word all important as though true faith did not exist where the word was not used…

(§78) …Whereas in former times it has tried by secret mines to creep into the Catholic Church, it has now put forth every power of this world in the fawning manners of a false religion…

(§80) …Perhaps I am not presumptuous in gathering from this that I too may understand something that another does not know. Not that I have dared to hint that you are ignorant of anything according to the measure of knowledge: but for the unity of the Catholic faith suffer me to be as anxious as yourselves.

(§84) …“But those who say, There was when He was not, And before He was born He was not, And that He was made of things that existed not, or of another substance and essence, saying that God was able to change and alter, to these the Catholic Church says anathema.”…

St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity (Book 2, §22; Book 12, §44)

(Book 2, §22)

(§22) This faith, and every part of it, is impressed upon us by the evidence of the Gospels, by the teaching of the Apostles, by the futility of the treacherous attacks which heretics make on every side. The foundation stands firm and unshaken in face of winds and rains and torrents; storms cannot overthrow it, nor dripping waters hollow it, nor floods sweep it away. Its excellence is proved by the failure of countless assaults to impair it. Certain remedies are so compounded as to be of value not merely against some single disease but against all; they are of universal efficacy. So it is with the Catholic faith. It is not a medicine for some special malady, but for every ill; virulence cannot master, nor numbers defeat, nor complexity baffle it. One and unchanging it faces and conquers all its foes. Marvelous it is that one form of words should contain a remedy for every disease, a statement of truth to confront every contrivance of falsehood. Let heresy muster its forces and every sect come forth to battle. Let our answer to their challenge be that there is One Unbegotten God the Father, and One Only-begotten Son of God, perfect Offspring of perfect Parent; that the Sun was begotten by no lessening of the Father or subtraction from His Substance, but that He Who possesses all things begot an all-possessing Son; a Son not emanating nor proceeding from the Father, but compact of, and inherent in, the whole Divinity, of Him Who wherever He is present is present eternally; One free from time, unlimited in duration, since by Him all things were made, and, indeed, He could not be confined within a limit created by Himself. Such is the Catholic and Apostolic Faith which the Gospel has taught us and we avow.

(Book 12, §44)

(§44) Learn at last, heretic, from the revelation of Catholic teaching, what is the meaning of the saying that Christ was created for the beginning of the ways of God and for His works; and be taught by the words of Wisdom itself the folly of your impious dullness…

St. Serapion of Thmuis (died c. 360) (EAST)

St. Serapion of Egypt, Prayerbook (c. 350-56)

(Oblation and Recital of the Institution, pgs. 62-63) …Wherefore we also making the likeness of the death have offered the bread, and beseech thee through this sacrifice, be reconciled to all of us and be merciful, O God of truth; and as this bread had been scattered on the top of the mountains and gathered together came to be one, so also gather thy holy Church out of every nation and every country and every city and village and house and make one living catholic church

(Ordination Prayers, pg. 72) Father of the only-begotten who didst send thy Son and didst ordain the things on the earth, and hast given rules to the Church and orders for the profit and salvation of the flocks, who didst choose out Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons for the Ministry of they catholic Church, who didst choose through thine only-begotten the seven Deacons, and didst freely give to them holy Spirit, make also this man a Deacon of thy catholic Church

(Prayer for fruitfulness, pg. 84) …Remember those who invoke thee; honor thy holy and only catholic Church and hear our supplications and prayers…

(Prayer concerning the Church, pg. 85) O Lord, God of the Ages, O God of reasonable spirits, O God of clean souls and of all who invoke thee in simplicity and cleanness, thou who in heaven art manifested and brought to the knowledge of clean spirits, who on earth art hymned and dwellest in the catholic Church

(Prayer on behalf of the people, pgs. 89-90) Receive this people, grant that it may be entirely thine own. Grant it entirely to walk unblameably and cleanly…(We pray) for the rest of the Catholic Church

St. Athanasius the Great (c. 296/98-373) (EAST)

St. Athanasius, The Deposition of Arius (§§1, 6)

[Deposition conducted by St. Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, the predecessor of St. Athanasius]

Although you have already subscribed to the letter I addressed to Arius and his fellows, exhorting them to renounce his impiety, and to submit themselves to the sound Catholic Faith, and have shown your right-mindedness and agreement in the doctrines of the Catholic Church

To his dearly beloved and most honored fellow-ministers of the Catholic Church in every place, Alexander sends health in the Lord.

(§1) As there is one body of the Catholic Church, and a command is given us in the sacred Scriptures to preserve the bond of unity and peace, it is agreeable thereto that we should write and signify to one another whatever is done by each of us individually; so that whether one member suffer or rejoice, we may either suffer or rejoice with one another. Now there are gone forth in this diocese, at this time, certain lawless men, enemies of Christ, teaching an apostasy, which one may justly suspect and designate as a forerunner of Antichrist…

(§6) Since then our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has instructed us by His own mouth, and also has signified to us by the Apostle concerning such men, we accordingly being personal witnesses of their impiety, have anathematized, as we said, all such, and declared them to be alien from the Catholic Faith and Church. And we have made this known to your piety, dearly beloved and most honored fellow-ministers, in order that should any of them have the boldness to come unto you, you may not receive them, nor comply with the desire of Eusebius, or any other person writing in their behalf. For it becomes us who are Christians to turn away from all who speak or think anything against Christ, as being enemies of God, and destroyers of souls; and not even to bid such God speed [2 John 10], lest we become partakers of their sins, as the blessed John has charged us. Salute the brethren that are with you. They that are with me salute you.

St. Athanasius, Encyclical Letter (§§5, 6)

(§5) … With these acts of violence has the Governor seized upon the churches, and has given them up to Gregory and the Arian madmen. Thus, those persons who were excommunicated by us for their impiety, now glory in the plunder of our churches; while the people of God, and the Clergy of the Catholic Church are compelled either to have communion with the impiety of the Arian heretics, or else to forbear entering into them…

(§6) Gregory then is an Arian, and has been sent to the Arian party; for none demanded him, but they only; and accordingly as a hireling and a stranger, he makes use of the Governor to inflict these dreadful and cruel deeds upon the people of the Catholic Churches, as not being his own. For since Pistus, whom Eusebius and his fellows formerly appointed over the Arians, was justly anathematized and excommunicated for his impiety by you the Bishops of the Catholic Church, as you all know, on our writing to you concerning him, they have now, therefore, in like manner sent this Gregory to them; and lest they should a second time be put to shame, by our again writing against them, they have employed extraneous force against me, in order that, having obtained possession of the Churches, they may seem to have escaped all suspicion of being Arians.

St. Athanasius, Apology Against the Arians (Part 1, §§2, 6, 11, 19, 24, 28, 32, 33, 37-40, 43, 54)

(§2) …The holy Council assembled at Alexandria out of Egypt, the Thebais, Libya, and Pentapolis, to the Bishops of the Catholic Church everywhere, brethren beloved and greatly longed for in the Lord, greeting…

(§6) …Now that the whole multitude and all the people of the Catholic Church assembled together as with one mind and body, and cried, shouted, that Athanasius should be Bishop of their Church, made this the subject of their public prayers to Christ, and conjured us to grant it for many days and nights, neither departing themselves from the Church, nor suffering us to do so; of all this we are witnesses, and so is the whole city, and the province too…

(§11) …This is the only description that can be given of this kind of cup; there is none other; this you legally give to the people to drink; this you have received according to the canon of the Church; this belongs only to those who preside over the Catholic Church, for to you only it appertains to administer the Blood of Christ, and to none besides…

(§19) …The exposure of Eusebius and his fellows is also easy and ready at hand. For behold, after their former letters concerning the Arians, of which also we have sent you copies, they now openly stir up the Arian madmen against the Church, though the whole Catholic Church has anathematized them…

(§24) …For it is impossible that the ordination of the Arian Secundus should be considered valid in the Catholic Church. This would indeed be dishonor to the Council, and to the Bishops who composed it, if the decrees they framed, as in the presence of God, with such extreme earnestness and care, should be set aside as worthless…

(§28) …Moreover, when the Presbyters of the Mareotis arrived , they positively affirmed that Ischyras was not a Presbyter of the Catholic Church and that Macarius had not committed any such offense as the other had laid to his charge…

These representations, as I said, were made by the Bishop Athanasius, and he showed from the reports, what was also positively affirmed by those who were with him, that Ischyras has never been a presbyter at all in the Catholic Church, nor has ever appeared as a presbyter in the assemblies of the Church…

(§32) He made a confession of the same godly doctrines concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the Catholic Church confesses; and he affirmed that he had held these opinions for a very long time, and had not recently adopted them: as indeed our Presbyters , who were at a former date present at the Council of Nicaea, testified to his orthodoxy…

(§33) …[S]ince the departure of Athanasius even up to this time, Bishops who are confessors have been beaten with stripes, that others have been cast into prison, and that but lately aged men, who have been an exceedingly long period in the Episcopate, have been given up to be employed in the public works, and nearly all the Clergy of the Catholic Church with the people are the objects of plots and persecutions…

[Letter of the Council of Sardica to the Church of Alexandria]

(§37) …For this has ever been the object of their unprincipled craft; this is the deadly design in which they have been continually engaged; viz. how they may best expel from their places and persecute all who are to be found anywhere of orthodox sentiments, and maintaining the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which was delivered to them from the Fathers…

(§38) Wherefore, beloved brethren, we admonish and exhort you, above all things to maintain the right faith of the Catholic Church. You have undergone many severe and grievous trials; many are the insults and injuries which the Catholic Church has suffered, but “he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” [Matt. 10:22]…

(§39) Accordingly we have written to beseech our most religious and godly Emperors, that their kindness would give orders for the release of those who are still suffering from affliction and oppression, and would command that none of the magistrates, whose duty it is to attend only to civil causes, give judgment upon Clergy , nor henceforward in any way, on pretense of providing for the Churches, attempt anything against the brethren; but that every one may live, as he prays and desires to do, free from persecution, from violence and fraud, and in quietness and peace may follow the Catholic and Apostolic Faith…Wherefore receive gladly your Bishop Athanasius, for to this end we have dismissed him in peace. And we exhort all those who either through fear, or through the intrigues of certain persons, have held communion with Gregory, that now being admonished, exhorted, and persuaded by us, they withdraw from that his detestable communion, and straightway unite themselves to the Catholic Church.

(§40) …What decrees have been passed by the holy Council against those who are at the head of the Arian heresy, and have offended against you, and the rest of the Churches, you will learn from the subjoined documents. We have sent them to you, that you may understand from them that the Catholic Church will not overlook those who offend against her.

[Letter of the Council of Sardica to the Bishops of Egypt and Libya—virtually identical to the previous letter, with the same references to the Catholic Church and Faith]

[Encyclical Letter of the Council of Sardica]

(§43) …The holy Council , by the grace of God, assembled at Sardica, to their dearly beloved brethren, the Bishops and fellow-Ministers of the Catholic Church everywhere, sends health in the Lord.

[Letter from the Emperor to St. Athanasius’ bishops, presbyters, and people]

(§54) Constantius, Victor, Maximus, Augustus, to the Bishops and Presbyters of the Catholic Church.

[The Emperor’s Second Letter]

(§54) …Constantius, Victor, Maximus, Augustus, to the people of the Catholic Church at Alexandria.

St. Athanasius, Apology Against the Arians (Part 2, §§60, 69, 73, 76-79, 87)

(§60) When upon this I wrote and endeavored to convince the Emperor, that that anti-Christian heresy had no communion with the Catholic Church

[Part of a Letter from the Emperor Constantine]

(§60) …Constantine, Maximus, Augustus, to the people of the Catholic Church at Alexandria.

[Letter of Bishop Arsenius, of Hypselites, to St. Athanasius]

(§69) …Being earnestly desirous of peace and union with the Catholic Church, over which by the grace of God you preside, and wishing to submit ourselves to the Canon of the Church, according to the ancient rule , we write unto you, dearly beloved Pope, and declare in the name of the Lord, that we will not for the future hold communion with those who continue in schism, and are not yet at peace with the Catholic Church, whether Bishops, Presbyters, or Deacons. Neither will we take part with them if they wish to establish anything in a Council; neither will we send letters of peace unto them nor receive such from them; neither yet without the consent of you, the bishop of the metropolis, will we publish any determination concerning Bishops, or on any other general ecclesiastical question… Wherefore we beseech your goodness to write to us speedily in answer, and likewise to our fellow-ministers concerning us, informing them that we will henceforth abide by the fore-mentioned resolution and will be at peace with the Catholic Church, and at unity with our fellow-ministers in the [various] districts…

[Letter of the Clergy of Alexandria to Theognius, Maris, etc.]

(§73) …To Theognius, Maris, Macedonius, Theodorus, Ursacius, and Valens, the Bishops who have come from Tyre, these from the Presbyters and Deacons of the Catholic Church of Alexandria under the most reverend Bishop Athanasius…

[Letter of the Clergy of Alexandria to the Prefect of Egypt, Philagrius]

(§76) …To Flavius Philagrius, and to Flavius Palladius, Ducenary , Officer of the Palace, and Controller, and to Flavius Antoninus, Commissary of Provisions, and Centenary of my lords the most illustrious Prefects of the sacred Prætorium, these from the Presbyters and Deacons of the Mareotis, a nome of the Catholic Church which is under the most Reverend Bishop Athanasius…[F]or this reason we have offered this testimony, adjuring you by Almighty God, and by our Lords Constantine Augustus, and the most illustrious Caesars his sons, to bring these things to the knowledge of their piety. For neither is he a Presbyter of the Catholic Church nor does he possess a church, nor has a cup ever been broken, but the whole story is false and an invention…

[Letter of Clergy and Athanasius to Bishops Assembled in Tyre]

(§77) …To the Bishops assembled at Tyre, most honored Lords, those of the Catholic Church who have come from Egypt with Athanasius send greeting in the Lord…

…They knew that the Arian madmen, and Colluthians and Meletians, were enemies of the Catholic Church and therefore they were anxious to send them, that in the presence of our enemies they might devise against us whatever schemes they pleased…For you know that Eusebius and his fellows contrived that a letter should be presented, as coming from the Collutians, the Meletians, and Arians, and directed against us: but it is evident that these enemies of the Catholic Church speak nothing that is true concerning us, but say everything against us. And the law of God forbids an enemy to be either a witness or a judge…

[Letter from Egyptian Bishops to Count Flavius Dionysius]

(§78) To the most illustrious Count Flavius Dionysius, from the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Egypt who have come to Tyre.

[Another letter from the same, to the same]

(§79) The Bishops of the Catholic Church who have come from Egypt to Tyre, to the most illustrious Count Flavius Dionysius.

Perceiving that many conspiracies and plots are being formed against us through the machinations of Eusebius, Narcissus, Flacillus, Theognius, Maris, Theodorus, Patrophilus, and their fellows (against whom we wished at first to enter an objection, but were not permitted), we are constrained to have recourse to the present appeal. We observe also that great zeal is exerted in behalf of the Meletians, and that a plot is laid against the Catholic Church in Egypt in our persons…

[Letter of the Emperor to the Catholics of Alexandria]

(§87) …Constantine Cæsar, to the people of the Catholic Church of the city of Alexandria.

St. Athanasius, De Decretis (Ch. 5, §20; Ch. 6, §27)

(Ch. 5, §20)

(§20) …[T]herefore the Council, as understanding this, suitably wrote “one in essence,” that they might both defeat the perverseness of the heretics, and show that the Word was other than originated things. For, after thus writing, they at once added, “But they who say that the Son of God is from nothing, or created, or alterable, or a work, or from other essence, these the Holy Catholic Church anathematizes.” And by saying this, they showed clearly that “of the essence,” and “one in essence,” are destructive of those catchwords of irreligion, such as “created,” and “work,” and “originated,” and “alterable,” and “He was not before His generation.” And he who holds these, contradicts the Council; but he who does not hold with Arius, must needs hold and intend the decisions of the Council, suitably regarding them to signify the relation of the radiance to the light, and from thence gaining the illustration of the truth.

(Ch. 6, §27)

(§27) …See, we are proving that this view has been transmitted from father to father; but you, O modern Jews and disciples of Caiaphas, how many fathers can you assign to your phrases? Not one of the understanding and wise; for all abhor you, but the devil alone; none but he is your father in this apostasy, who both in the beginning sowed you with the seed of this irreligion, and now persuades you to slander the Ecumenical Council, for committing to writing, not your doctrines, but that which from the beginning those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word have handed down to us. For the faith which the Council has confessed in writing, that is the faith of the Catholic Church; to assert this, the blessed Fathers so expressed themselves while condemning the Arian heresy; and this is a chief reason why these apply themselves to calumniate the Council. For it is not the terms which trouble them , but that those terms prove them to be heretics, and presumptuous beyond other heresies.

St. Athanasius, On the Opinion of Dionysius (§§6, 12)

(§6) Well then, what is there in common between the heresy of Arius and the opinion of Dionysius: or why is Dionysius to be called like Arius, when they differ widely? For the one is a teacher of the Catholic Church, while the other has been the inventor of a new heresy.

(§12) …But since, not having understood the faith of the Catholic Church, they have fallen into impiety, and consequently, maimed in their intelligence, think that even straight things are crooked and call light darkness, while they think that darkness is light, it is necessary to quote also from the other letters of Dionysius, and state why they were written, to the greater condemnation of the heretic…

St. Athanasius, Apologia ad Constantium (§33)

(§33) The Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, having become man for our sakes, and having destroyed death, and delivered our race from the bondage of corruption , in addition to all His other benefits bestowed this also upon us, that we should possess upon earth, in the state of virginity, a picture of the holiness of Angels. Accordingly such as have attained this virtue, the Catholic Church has been accustomed to call the brides of Christ. And the heathen who see them express their admiration of them as the temples of the Word. For indeed this holy and heavenly profession is nowhere established, but only among us Christians, and it is a very strong argument that with us is to be found the genuine and true religion.

St. Athanasius, History of the Arians (Part 3, §23; Part 8, §§70, 81)

(Part 3, §23)

(§23) Constantius Augustus, the Great, the Conqueror, to the Bishops and Clergy of the Catholic Church

(Part 8, §§70, 81)

(§70) …For behold, he has now again thrown into disorder all the Churches of Alexandria and of Egypt and Libya, and has publicly given orders, that the Bishops of the Catholic Church and faith be cast out of their churches, and that they be all given up to the professors of the Arian doctrines…

(§81) The people of the Catholic Church in Alexandria, which is under the government of the most Reverend Bishop Athanasius, make this public protest by those whose names are under-written…

St. Athanasius, Discourse 1 Against the Arian (§4)

(§4) How then can they be Christians, who for Christians are Ario-maniacs? Or how are they of the Catholic Church, who have shaken off the Apostolical faith, and become authors of fresh evils?…

St. Athanasius, De Synodis (§§3, 5, 8-11, 25-29)

(§3) What defect of teaching was there for religious truth in the Catholic Church , that they should enquire concerning faith now, and should prefix this year’s Consulate to their profession of faith?…But our modern sages, not in historical narration, nor in prediction of the future, but, after writing, “The Catholic Faith was published,” immediately add the Consulate and the month and the day, that, as the saints specified the dates of their histories, and of their own ministries, so these may mark the date of their own faith. And would that they had written, touching “their own” (for it does date from today); and had not made their essay as touching “the Catholic,” for they did not write, “Thus we believe,” but “the Catholic Faith was published.”

(§5) As to the Nicene Council, it was not a common meeting, but convened upon a pressing necessity, and for a reasonable object. The Syrians, Cilicians, and Mesopotamians, were out of order in celebrating the Feast, and kept Easter with the Jews; on the other hand, the Arian heresy had risen up against the Catholic Church, and found supporters in Eusebius and his fellows, who were both zealous for the heresy, and conducted the attack upon religious people…Without pre-fixing Consulate, month, and day, they wrote concerning Easter, “It seemed good as follows,” for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, “It seemed good,” but, “Thus believes the Catholic Church”; and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to show that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolical; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles.

(§8) …The Catholic Faith was published in the presence of our Master the most religious and gloriously victorious Emperor, Constantius, Augustus, the eternal and august, in the Consulate of the most illustrious Flavii, Eusebius and Hypatius, in Sirmium on the 11th of the Calends of June…

(§9) “…Thus pleas for Councils will no longer circulate about, the Bishops at Nicaea having anticipated them once for all, and done all that was needful for the Catholic Church.” However, even then, in spite of this general agreement of the Bishops, still the above-mentioned refused. So at length the whole Council, condemning them as ignorant and deceitful men, or rather as heretics, gave their suffrages in behalf of the Nicene Council, and gave judgment all of them that it was enough…

[Copy of an Epistle from the Council to Constantius Augustus]

(§10) We believe that what was formerly decreed was brought about both by God’s command and by order of your piety. For we the bishops, from all the Western cities, assembled together at Ariminum, both that the Faith of the Catholic Church might be made known, and that gainsayers might be detected. For, as we have found after long deliberation, it appeared desirable to adhere to and maintain to the end, that faith which, enduring from antiquity, we have received as preached by the prophets, the Gospels, and the Apostles through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Keeper of your Kingdom and Patron of your power…

[Decree of the Council]

(§11) …The Bishops answered with one accord, It seems good that the aforenamed heretics should be condemned, that the Catholic faith may remain in peace…

(§25) …But those who say, that the Son was from nothing, or from other subsistence and not from God, and, there was time when He was not, the Catholic Church regards as aliens.

(§26) …But those who say, (1) that the Son was from nothing, or from other subsistence and not from God; (2) and that there was a time or age when He was not, the Catholic and Holy Church regards as aliens. Likewise those who say, (3) that there are three Gods: (4) or that Christ is not God; (5) or that before the ages He was neither Christ nor Son of God; (6) or that Father and Son, or Holy Ghost, are the same; (7) or that the Son is Ingenerate; or that the Father begot the Son, not by choice or will; the Holy and Catholic Church anathematizes…

(§27) …But those who say that the Son was from nothing or from other subsistence and not from God, and that there was time or age when He was not, the Holy and Catholic Church regards as aliens…

(§28) …And no one is ignorant, that it is Catholic doctrine, that there are two Persons of Father and Son, and that the Father is greater, and the Son subordinated to the Father together with all things which the Father has subordinated to Him, and that the Father has no beginning, and is invisible, and immortal, and impassible; but that the Son has been generated from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, and that His origin, as aforesaid, no one knows, but the Father only…

(§29) …But those who preach anything beside this faith the Catholic Church regards as aliens…

St. Athanasius, Tomus ad Antiochenos (§3)

(§3) …For those who, while pretending to cite the faith confessed at Nicaea, venture to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, do nothing more than in words deny the Arian heresy while they retain it in thought. But let the impiety of Sabellius and of Paul of Samosata also be anathematized by all, and the madness of Valentinian and Basilides, and the folly of the Manicheans. For if this be done, all evil suspicion will be removed on all hands, and the faith of the Catholic Church alone be exhibited in purity.

St. Athanasius, Ad Afros Epistola Synodica (§§9-11)

(§9) …For this is why the Fathers, having said that the Son was coessential, straightway added, “but those who say that He is a creature, or made, or of nothing, or that there was once a time when He was not,” the Catholic Church anathematizes: namely in order that by this means they might make it known that these things are meant by the word “coessential.”…

(§10) Now it would be proper to write this at greater length. But since we write to you who know, we have dictated it concisely, praying that among all the bond of peace might be preserved, and that all in the Catholic Church should say and hold the same thing…[W]e thanked [Pope Damasus] for his piety and that of those who assembled at the Great Rome, in that by expelling Ursacius and Valens, and those who hold with them, they preserved the harmony of the Catholic Church.

(§11) For this Synod of Nicaea is in truth a proscription of every heresy. It also upsets those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and call Him a Creature. For the Fathers, after speaking of the faith in the Son, straightway added, “And we believe in the Holy Ghost,” in order that by confessing perfectly and fully the faith in the Holy Trinity they might make known the exact form of the Faith of Christ, and the teaching of the Catholic Church…

St. Athanasius, Letter 5 (§4)

(§4) …For the heathen think the accomplishment of the feast is in the abundance of food; the Jews, erring in the type and shadow, think it still such; the schismatics keep it in separate places, and with vain imaginations. But let us, my brethren, be superior to the heathen, in keeping the feast with sincerity of soul, and purity of body; to the Jews, in no longer receiving the type and the shadow, but as having been gloriously illumined with the light of truth, and as looking upon the Sun of Righteousness [Mal. 4:2]; to the schismatics, in not rending the coat of Christ, but in one house, even in the Catholic Church, let us eat the Passover of the Lord, Who, by ordaining His holy laws, guided us towards virtue, and counselled the abstinence of this feast. For the Passover is indeed abstinence from evil for exercise of virtue, and a departure from death unto life. This may be learned even from the type of old time. For then they toiled earnestly to pass from Egypt to Jerusalem, but now we depart from death to life; they then passed from Pharaoh to Moses, but now we rise from the devil to the Savior. And as, at that time, the type of deliverance bore witness every year, so now we commemorate our salvation. We fast meditating on death, that we may be able to live; and we watch, not as mourners, but as they that wait for the Lord, when He shall have returned from the wedding, so that we may vie with each other in the triumph, hastening to announce the sign of victory over death.

St. Athanasius, Letter 11 (§11)

(§11) …So when in like manner from all in every place, praise and prayer shall ascend to the gracious and good Father, when the whole Catholic Church which is in every place, with gladness and rejoicing, celebrates together the same worship to God, when all men in common send up a song of praise and say, Amen; how blessed will it not be, my brethren! Who will not, at that time, be engaged, praying rightly? For the walls of every adverse power, yea even of Jericho especially, falling down, and the gift of the Holy Spirit being then richly poured upon all men, every man perceiving the coming of the Spirit shall say, “We are all filled in the morning with Your favor, and we rejoice and are made glad in our days.”

St. Athanasius, Letter 46

Athanasius to the presbyters and deacons and the people of the Catholic Church in the Mareotis, brethren beloved and longed for, greeting in the Lord.

St. Athanasius, Letter 47

Athanasius to all the presbyters and deacons of the holy Catholic Church at Alexandria and the Parembola, brethren most beloved, greeting.

St. Athanasius, Letter 50

Being well in body by God’s favor, we have now sent our most beloved deacon Eutyches, that your most pious holiness, as is much desired by us, may be pleased to inform us of the safety of yourself and those with you. For we believe it is by the life of you Confessors and servants of God that the state of the Catholic Church is renewed; and that what heretics have assayed to rend in pieces, our Lord Jesus Christ by your means restores whole.

St. Athanasius, Letter 51

Forcibly and admirably, like light from darkness, you have separated the truth from the subtlety and dishonesty of heretics, defended the Catholic Church, proved that the arguments of the Arians are nothing but a kind of hallucination, and taught that the diabolical gnashings of the teeth are to be despised…Since then you are such a man, we ask the Lord in prayer that you may pray for us, that in His mercy He may now deign to look down upon the Catholic Church, and deliver all His servants from the hands of persecutors; in order that all they too who have fallen on account of temporal fear may at length be enabled to raise themselves and return to the way of righteousness, led away from which they are wandering, poor people, not knowing in what a pit they are.

St. Athanasius, Letter 54 (§2)

(§2) I was not at Constantinople when he died, but Macarius the Presbyter was, and I heard the account of it from him. Arius had been invited by the Emperor Constantine, through the interest of Eusebius and his fellows; and when he entered the presence the Emperor enquired of him, whether he held the Faith of the Catholic Church? And he declared upon oath that he held the right Faith, and gave in an account of his Faith in writing, suppressing the points for which he had been cast out of the Church by the Bishop Alexander, and speciously alleging expressions out of the Scriptures…

St. Athanasius, Letter 56 (§1)

(§1) A desire to learn and a yearning for heavenly things is suitable to a religious Emperor; for thus you will truly have “your heart” also “in the hand of God.” Since then your Piety desired to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church, giving thanks for these things to the Lord, we counselled above all things to remind your Piety of the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicaea. For this certain set at naught, while plotting against us in many ways, because we would not comply with the Arian heresy, and they have become authors of heresy and schisms in the Catholic Church. For the true and pious faith in the Lord has become manifest to all, being both “known and read” from the Divine Scriptures. For in it both the saints were made perfect and suffered martyrdom, and now are departed in the Lord; and the faith would have abode inviolate always had not the wickedness of certain heretics presumed to tamper with it. For a certain Arius and those with him attempted to corrupt it, and to introduce impiety in its place, affirming that the Son of God was from naught, and a creature, and a thing made and changeable. But with these words they deceived many, so that even “they that seemed to be somewhat were carried away,” with their blasphemy. And yet our holy Fathers, as we said before, came promptly together at the Synod at Nice, and anathematized them, and confessed in writing the faith of the Catholic Church, so that, this being everywhere preached, the heresy kindled by the heretics might be quenched. This faith then was everywhere in every Church sincerely known and preached.

St. Athanasius, Letter 59 (§§1, 3)

(§1) …And they wrote everywhere, that, whereas the above-said were devising the names of synods to cite on their side, no synod should be cited in the Catholic Church save only that which was held at Nicaea, which was a monument of victory over all heresy, but especially the Arian, which was the main reason of the synod assembling when it did…

(§3) …For what is so manifestly shown to be evil, it is not necessary to waste time in exposing further, lest contentious persons think the matter doubtful. It is enough merely to answer such things as follows: we are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this.

St. Athanasius, Letter 60 (§8)

(§8) …Accordingly let them not lie against the divine Scriptures nor give offense to simple brethren; but if they are willing let them change their mind in their turn, and no longer worship the creature instead of God, Who made all things. But if they wish to abide by their impieties, let them alone take their fill of them, and let them gnash their teeth like their father the devil, because the Faith of the Catholic Church knows that the Word of God is creator and maker of all things…

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386) (EAST)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture No. 13 (§1) (c. 350)

(§1) Every deed of Christ is a cause of glorying to the Catholic Church, but her greatest of all glorying is in the Cross; and knowing this, Paul says, But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Christ. [Gal. 6:14]

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture No. 17 (§3) (c. 350)

(§3) But lest any from lack of learning, should suppose from the different titles of the Holy Ghost that these are various spirits, and not one and the self-same, which alone there is, therefore the Catholic Church guarding you beforehand has delivered to you in the profession of the faith, that you “believe in one Holy Ghost the Comforter, who spoke by the Prophets”; that you might know, that though His names be many, the Holy Spirit is but one—of which names, we will now rehearse to you a few out of many.

(§29) This Holy Spirit, who in unison with Father and Son has established the New Covenant in the Church Catholic, has set us free from the burdens of the law grievous to be borne—those I mean, concerning things common and unclean, and meats, and sabbaths, and new moons, and circumcision, and sprinklings, and sacrifices; which were given for a season, and had a shadow of the good things to come [Heb. 10:1], but which, when the truth had come, were rightly withdrawn…

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture No. 18 (§§23, 26) (c. 350)

(§1) …Faith therefore in the Resurrection of the dead, is a great commandment and doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church; great and most necessary, though gainsaid by many, yet surely warranted by the truth. Greeks contradict it, Samaritans disbelieve it, heretics mutilate it; the contradiction is manifold, but the truth is uniform.

(§22) The Faith which we rehearse contains in order the following, “And in one Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and in one Holy Catholic Church; and in the resurrection of the flesh; and in eternal life.” Now of Baptism and repentance I have spoken in the earliest Lectures; and my present remarks concerning the resurrection of the dead have been made with reference to the Article “In the resurrection of the flesh.” Now then let me finish what still remains to be said for the Article, “In one Holy Catholic Church,” on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly.

(§23) It [the Church] is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men’s knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.

(§25) Of old the Psalmist sang, “Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, (ye that are) from the fountains of Israel.” But after the Jews for the plots which they made against the Savior were cast away from His grace, the Savior built out of the Gentiles a second Holy Church, the Church of us Christians, concerning which he said to Peter, “And upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Matt. 16:18] And David prophesying of both these, said plainly of the first which was rejected, “I have hated the Congregation of evil doers”; but of the second which is built up he says in the same Psalm, “Lord, I have loved the beauty of Your house”; and immediately afterwards, “In the Congregations will I bless you, O Lord.” For now that the one Church in Judea is cast off, the Churches of Christ are increased over all the world; and of them it is said in the Psalms, “Sing unto the Lord a new song, His praise in the Congregation of Saints.” Agreeably to which the prophet also said to the Jews, “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Almighty” [Mal. 1:10]; and immediately afterwards, “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name is glorified among the Gentiles.” [Mal. 1:11] Concerning this Holy Catholic Church Paul writes to Timothy, “That you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” [1 Tim. 3:15]

(§26) But since the word Ecclesia is applied to different things (as also it is written of the multitude in the theatre of the Ephesians, “And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the Assembly” [Acts 19:14], and since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to you now the Article, And in one Holy Catholic Church; that you may avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which you were regenerated. And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord’s House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (for it is written, “As Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it” [Eph. 5:25], and all the rest,) and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all [Gal. 4:26]; which before was barren, but now has many children.

(§27) For when the first Church was cast off, in the second, which is the Catholic Church, God “has set,” as Paul says, “first Apostles, secondly Prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, various kinds of tongues,” [1 Cor. 12:28] and every sort of virtue, I mean wisdom and understanding, temperance and justice, mercy and loving-kindness, and patience unconquerable in persecutions. She, “by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor,” [2 Cor. 6:7-8] in former days amid persecutions and tribulations crowned the holy martyrs with the varied and blooming chaplets of patience, and now in times of peace by God’s grace receives her due honors from “kings and those who are in high place,” [1 Tim. 2:2] and from every sort and kindred of men. And while the kings of particular nations have bounds set to their authority, the Holy Church Catholic alone extends her power without limit over the whole world; for God, as it is written, has made her border peace. But I should need many more hours for my discourse, if I wished to speak of all things which concern her.

(§28) In this Holy Catholic Church receiving instruction and behaving ourselves virtuously, we shall attain the kingdom of heaven, and inherit eternal life; for which also we endure all toils, that we may be made partakers thereof from the Lord. For ours is no trifling aim, but our endeavor is for eternal life. Wherefore in the profession of the Faith, after the words, “And in the resurrection of the flesh,” that is, of the dead (of which we have discoursed), we are taught to believe also “in the life eternal,” for which as Christians we are striving.

St. Nicetas of Remesiana (c. 335-414) (WEST)

St. Nicetas of Remesiana, Explanation of the Creed (§10)1

(§10) After the confession of the Blessed Trinity, you profess faith in the Holy Catholic Church. The Church is simply the community of all the saints. All who from the beginning of the world were or are or will be justified—whether Patriarchs, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or Prophets, whether Apostles or martyrs, or any others—make up one Church, because they are made holy by one faith and way of life, stamped with one Spirit, made into one body whose head, as we are told, is Christ. I go further. The angels and virtues and powers in heaven are co-members in this one Church, for, as the Apostle teaches us, in Christ “all things whether on earth or in heaven, have been reconciled” (Col. 1:18, 20). You must believe, therefore, that in this one Church you are gathered into the Communion of Saints. You must know that this is the one Catholic Church established throughout the world, and with it you must remain in unshaken communion. There are, indeed, other so-called “churches” with which you can have no communion: for example, those of the Manichaeans, the Cataphrygians, the Marcionites, and other heretics and schismatics. These “churches” ceased to be holy, because they were deceived by the doctrines of the Devil to believe and behave differently from what Christ commanded and from the tradition of the Apostles.

St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-397) (WEST)

St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Christian Faith (Book 1, Ch. 18, §§119-20; Book 2, Ch. 16, §139)

(Book 1, Ch. 18, §§119-20)

(§119) So, indeed, following the guidance of the Scriptures, our fathers declared, holding, moreover, that impious doctrines should be included in the record of their decrees, in order that the unbelief of Arius should discover itself, and not, as it were, mask itself with dye or face-paint. For they give a false color to their thoughts who dare not unfold them openly. After the manner of the censor’s rolls, then, the Arian heresy is not discovered by name, but marked out by the condemnation pronounced, in order that he who is curious and eager to hear it should be preserved from falling by knowing that it is condemned already, before he hears, it set forth to the end that he should believe.

(§120) Those, runs the decree, who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, and that before He was born He was not, and who say that he was made out of nothing, or is of another substance or οὐσια, or that He is capable of changing, or that with Him is any shadow of turning—them the Catholic and Apostolic Church declares accursed.

(Book 2, Ch. 16, §139)

(§139) Nor, furthermore, may we doubt, your sacred Majesty, that we, who have undertaken the contest with alien unbelief, shall enjoy the aid of the Catholic Faith that is strong in you. Plainly indeed the reason of God’s wrath has been already made manifest, so that belief in the Roman Empire was first overthrown, where faith in God gave way.

St. Ambrose, The Holy Spirit (Book 3, Ch. 13, §91; Ch. 17, §§117, 129)

(Book 3, Ch. 13, §91)

(§91) …To those who object that Catholics, when they ascribe Godhead to the Holy Spirit, introduce three Gods, it is answered, that by the same argument they themselves bring in two Gods, unless they deny Godhead to the Son; after which the orthodox doctrine is set forth.

(Book 3, Ch. 17, §§117, 129)

(§117) …He explains the price paid for each mystically; and having in the same manner expounded the murmuring of the traitor concerning Magdalene’s ointment, he adds that Christ is bought in one way by heretics in another way by Catholics, and that those in vain take to themselves the name of Christians who sever the Spirit from the Father.

(§129) So, then, all do not buy Christ at the same price; Photinus, who buys Him for death, buys Him at one price; the Arian, who buys Him to wrong Him, at another price; the Catholic, who buys Him to glorify Him, at another. But he buys Him without money according to that which is written: “He that has no money let him buy without price.” [Isa. 55:1-2]

St. Ambrose, On the Death of Satyrus (Book 1, §47)

(§47)  But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he enquired whether he agreed with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church? And possibly at that place the Church of the district was in schism. For at that time Lucifer had withdrawn from our communion, and although he had been an exile for the faith, and had left inheritors of his own faith, yet my brother did not think that there could be true faith in schism. For though schismatics kept the faith towards God, yet they kept it not towards the Church of God, certain of whose limbs they suffered as it were to be divided, and her members to be torn. For since Christ suffered for the Church, and the Church is the body of Christ, it does not seem that faith in Christ is shown by those by whom His Passion is made of none effect, and His body divided.

St. Ambrose, On the Giving Up of the Basilicas (§16)

(§16) Many stated that assassins had been dispatched, that the penalty of death had been decreed against me. I do not fear all that, nor am I going to desert my position here. Whither shall I go, when there is no spirit that is not filled with groans and tears; when throughout the Churches Catholic bishops are being expelled, or if they resist, are put to the sword, and every senator who does not obey the decree is proscribed. And these things were written by the hand and spoken by the mouth of a bishop who, that he might show himself to be most learned, omitted not an ancient warning. For we read in the prophet that he saw a flying sickle. [Zech. 5:1] Auxentius, to imitate this, sent a flying sword through all cities. But Satan, too, transforms himself into an angel of light [2 Cor. 11:14], and imitates his power for evil.

St. Ambrose, Letter 20 (§11)

(§11) Before day when I left the house the basilica was surrounded by soldiers. It is said that the soldiers had intimated to the Emperor that if he wished to go forth he could do so; that they would be in attendance, if they saw him go to join the Catholics; if not that they would go to the assembly which Ambrose had convened.

St. Augustine (354-430) (WEST)

St. Augustine, The Confessions (Book 5, Ch. 10, §20; Ch. 14, §§24, 25)

(Ch. 10, §20)

…For when my mind tried to revert to the Catholic faith, I was cast back, since what I had held to be the Catholic faith was not so. And it appeared to me more devout to look upon You, my God—to whom I make confession of Your mercies—as infinite, at least, on other sides, although on that side where the mass of evil was in opposition to You I was compelled to confess You finite, that if on every side I should conceive You to be confined by the form of a human body.

(Ch. 14, §24)

For first, these things also had begun to appear to me to be defensible; and the Catholic faith, for which I had fancied nothing could be said against the attacks of the Manicheans, I now conceived might be maintained without presumption; especially after I had heard one or two parts of the Old …Testament explained, and often allegorically—which when I accepted literally, I was killed spiritually. Many places, then, of those books having been expounded to me, I now blamed my despair in having believed that no reply could be made to those who hated and derided the Law and the Prophets. Yet I did not then see that for that reason the Catholic way was to be held because it had its learned advocates, who could at length, and not irrationally, answer objections; nor that what I held ought therefore to be condemned because both sides were equally defensible. For that way did not appear to me to be vanquished; nor yet did it seem to me to be victorious.

(Ch. 14, §25)

…So, then, after the manner of the Academics (as they are supposed), doubting of everything and fluctuating between all, I decided that the Manicheans were to be abandoned; judging that, even while in that period of doubt, I could not remain in a sect to which I preferred some of the philosophers; to which philosophers, however, because they were without the saving name of Christ, I utterly refused to commit the cure of my fainting soul. I resolved, therefore, to be a catechumen in the Catholic Church, which my parents had commended to me, until something settled should manifest itself to me whither I might steer my course.

St. Augustine, The Confessions (Book 6, Ch. 1, §1; Ch. 3, §4; Ch. 4, §5; Ch. 5, §7; Ch. 11, §18)

(Ch. 1, §1)

(§1) …She [his mother, St. Monica] found me in grievous danger, through despair of ever finding truth. But when I had disclosed to her that I was now no longer a Manichean, though not yet a Catholic Christian, she did not leap for joy as at what was unexpected; although she was now reassured as to that part of my misery for which she had mourned me as one dead…Her heart, then, was not agitated with any violent exultation, when she had heard that to be already in so great a part accomplished which she daily, with tears, entreated of You might be done—that though I had not yet grasped the truth, I was rescued from falsehood. Yea, rather, for that she was fully confident that Thou, who had promised the whole, would give the rest, most calmly, and with a breast full of confidence, she replied to me, “She believed in Christ, that before she departed this life, she would see me a Catholic believer.” And thus much said she to me; but to You, O Fountain of mercies, poured she out more frequent prayers and tears, that You would hasten Your aid, and enlighten my darkness; and she hurried all the more assiduously to the church, and hung upon the words of Ambrose, praying for the fountain of water that springs up into everlasting life. [John 4:14]

(Ch. 3, §4)

(§4) …But so soon as I understood, withal, that man made after the image of Him that created him was not so understood by Your spiritual sons (whom of the Catholic mother You had begotten again through grace), as though they believed and imagined You to be bounded by human form—although what was the nature of a spiritual substance I had not the faintest or dimmest suspicion—yet rejoicing, I blushed that for so many years I had barked, not against the Catholic faith, but against the fables of carnal imaginations. For I had been both impious and rash in this, that what I ought inquiring to have learned, I had pronounced on condemning…

(Ch. 4, §5)

(§5) …Anxiety, therefore, as to what to retain as certain, did all the more sharply gnaw into my soul, the more shame I felt that, having been so long deluded and deceived by the promise of certainties, I had, with puerile error and petulance, prated of so many uncertainties as if they were certainties. For that they were falsehoods became apparent to me afterwards. However, I was certain that they were uncertain, and that I had formerly held them as certain when with a blind contentiousness I accused Your Catholic Church, which though I had not yet discovered to teach truly, yet not to teach that of which I had so vehemently accused her. In this manner was I confounded and converted, and I rejoiced, O my God, that the one Church, the body of Your only Son (wherein the name of Christ had been set upon me when an infant), did not appreciate these infantile trifles, nor maintained, in her sound doctrine, any tenet that would confine You, the Creator of all, in space—though ever so great and wide, yet bounded on all sides by the restraints of a human form.

(Ch. 5, §7)

(§7) From this, however, being led to prefer the Catholic doctrine, I felt that it was with more moderation and honesty that it commanded things to be believed that were not demonstrated (whether it was that they could be demonstrated, but not to any one, or could not be demonstrated at all), than was the method of the Manicheans, where our credulity was mocked by audacious promise of knowledge, and then so many most fabulous and absurd things were forced upon belief because they were not capable of demonstration…

(Ch. 11, §18)

(§18) [Thinking to himself] …Let set times be appointed, and certain hours be set apart for the health of the soul. Great hope has risen upon us, the Catholic faith does not teach what we conceived, and vainly accused it of…

St. Augustine, The Confessions (Book 7; Ch. 1, §1; Ch. 5, §7; Ch. 7, §11; Ch. 19, §25; Book 8, Ch. 6, §14; Book 9, Ch. 3, §6; Ch. 10, §26; Ch. 13, §37)

(Book 7, Ch. 1, §1)

(§1) …I thought not of You, O God, under the form of a human body. Since the time I began to hear something of wisdom, I always avoided this; and I rejoiced to have found the same in the faith of our spiritual mother, Your Catholic Church

(Book 7, Ch. 5, §7)

(§7) …Such like things did I revolve in my miserable breast, overwhelmed with most gnawing cares lest I should die ere I discovered the truth; yet was the faith of Your Christ, our Lord and Savior, as held in the Catholic Church, fixed firmly in my heart, unformed, indeed, as yet upon many points, and diverging from doctrinal rules, but yet my mind did not utterly leave it, but every day rather drank in more and more of it.

(Book 7, Ch. 7, §11)

(§11) And now, O my Helper, had Thou freed me from those fetters; and I inquired, “Whence is evil?” and found no result. But You suffered me not to be carried away from the faith by any fluctuations of thought, whereby I believed You both to exist, and Your substance to be unchangeable, and that You had a care of and would judge men; and that in Christ, Your Son, our Lord, and the Holy Scriptures, which the authority of Your Catholic Church pressed upon me, You had planned the way of man’s salvation to that life which is to come after this death…

(Book 7, Ch. 19, §25)

(§25) But Alypius imagined the Catholics to believe that God was so clothed with flesh, that, besides God and flesh, there was no soul in Christ, and did not think that a human mind was ascribed to Him. And, because He was thoroughly persuaded that the actions which were recorded of Him could not be performed except by a vital and rational creature, he moved the more slowly towards the Christian faith. But, learning afterwards that this was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he rejoiced in the Catholic faith, and was conformed to it. But somewhat later it was, I confess, that I learned how in the sentence, The Word was made flesh, the Catholic truth can be distinguished from the falsehood of Photinus. For the disapproval of heretics makes the tenets of Your Church and sound doctrine to stand out boldly. For there must be also heresies, that the approved may be made manifest among the weak. [1 Cor. 11:19]

(Book 8, Ch. 6, §14)

(§14) …When, then, I had told him that I bestowed much pains upon these writings, a conversation ensued on his speaking of Antony, the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high repute among Your servants, though up to that time not familiar to us. When he came to know this, he lingered on that topic, imparting to us a knowledge of this man so eminent, and marveling at our ignorance. But we were amazed, hearing Your wonderful works most fully manifested in times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered—we, that they were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.

(Book 9, Ch. 3, §6)

(§6) He then was at that time full of grief; but Nebridius was joyous. Although he also, not being yet a Christian, had fallen into the pit of that most pernicious error of believing Your Son to be a phantasm, yet, coming out thence, he held the same belief that we did; not as yet initiated in any of the sacraments of Your Church, but a most earnest inquirer after truth. Whom, not long after our conversion and regeneration by Your baptism, he being also a faithful member of the Catholic Church, and serving You in perfect chastity and continency among his own people in Africa, when his whole household had been brought to Christianity through him, You released from the flesh; and now he lives in Abraham’s bosom…

(Book 9, Ch. 10, §26)

(§26) Then said my mother, “Son, for myself, I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. What I want here further, and why I am here, I know not, now that my hopes in this world are satisfied. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God has exceeded this abundantly, so that I see you despising all earthly felicity, made His servant—what do I here?”

(Book 9, Ch. 13, §37)

(§37) …May they with pious affection be mindful of my parents in this transitory light, of my brethren that are under You our Father in our Catholic mother, and of my fellow citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, which the wandering of Your people sighs for from their departure until their return. That so my mother’s last entreaty to me may, through my confessions more than through my prayers, be more abundantly fulfilled to her through the prayers of many.

St. Augustine, Of True Religion (§§8-12, 15, 17, 20, 51) (c. 390)2

(§8) …Innumerable heresies that turn aside from the rule of Christianity testify that men are not admitted to sacramental communion who think and endeavor to persuade others to think otherwise of God the Father, of his wisdom and of the divine gift [the Holy Spirit] than as the truth demands. So it is taught and belied as a chief point in man’s salvation that philosophy, i.e., the pursuit of wisdom, cannot be quite divorced from religion, for those whose doctrine we do not approve do not share in our sacramental rites.

(§9) There is little to be surprised at in this in the case of men who have chosen to have different religious rites from ours such as the Ophites whoever they may be, or the Manicheans and others. It is more noticeable in the case of those who celebrate similar religious rites but differ from us in doctrine and are more vigorous in defending their errors than careful to have them corrected. These are excluded from Catholic communion and from participation in our rites in spite of their similarity. They have deserved to have names of their own and separate meetings, being different not only in matters of words, but also because of their superstition; like the Photinians, the Arians and many others. It is another matter with those who have caused schisms. The Lord’s threshing-floor might have kept them as chaff until the time of the last winnowing, had they not in their levity been carried off by the wind of pride, and separated from us of their own accord…This being so, religion is to be sought neither in the confusion of the pagans, nor in the offscourings of the heretics, nor in the insipidity of schismatics, nor in the blindness of the Jews, but only among those who are called Catholic or orthodox Christians, that is, guardians of truth and followers of right.

(§10) This Catholic Church, strongly and widely spread throughout the world, makes use of all who err, to correct them if they are willing to be aroused, and to assist its own progress. It makes use of the nations as material for its operations, of heretics to try its own doctrine, of schismatics to prove its stability, of the Jews as a foil to its own beauty. Some it invites, others it excludes, some it leaves behind, others it leads. To all it gives power to participate in the grace of God, whether they are as yet to be formed or reformed, admitted for the first time or gathered in anew. Its own carnal members, i.e. those whose lives or opinions are carnal, it tolerates as chaff by which the corn is protected on the floor until it is separated from its covering. On this floor everyone voluntarily makes himself either corn or chaff. Therefore every man’s sin or error is tolerated until he finds an accuser or defends his wicked opinion with pertinacious animosity. Those who are excluded return by way of penitence, or in baleful liberty sink into wickedness as a warning to us to be diligent; or they cause schisms to exercise our patience; or they beget a heresy to try our intelligence or to quicken it. By such ways carnal Christians leave us, for they could neither be corrected nor endured.

(§11) Often, too, divine providence permits even good men to be driven from the congregation of Christ by the turbulent seditions of carnal men. When for the sake of the peace of the Church they patiently endure that insult or injury, and attempt no novelties in the way of heresy or schism, they will teach men how God is to be served with a true disposition and with great and sincere charity. The intention of such men is to return when the tumult has subsided. But if that is not permitted because the storm continues or because a fiercer one might be stirred up by their return, they hold fast to their purpose to look to the good even of those responsible for the tumults and commotions that drove them out. They form no separate conventicles of their own, but defend to the death and assist by their testimony the faith which they know is preached in the Catholic Church. These the Father who seeth in secret crowns secretly. It appears that this is a rare kind of Christian, but examples are not lacking. Indeed there are more than can be believed. So divine providence uses all kinds of men as examples for the oversight of souls and for the building up of his spiritual people.

(§12) …Repudiating all who do not carry philosophy into religious observance or philosophize in a religious spirit; those also who wax proud in wicked opinions or some other cause of dissension and so deviate from the Rule of Faith and from the communion of the Catholic Church; and those who refuse to own the light of the Holy Scripture and the grace of the spiritual people of God, which we call the New Testament—all of whom I have censured as briefly as I could—we must hold fast the Christian religion and the communion of the Church which is Catholic, and is called Catholic not only by its own members but also by all its enemies. Whether they will or no, heretics and schismatics use no other name for it than the name of Catholic, when they speak of it not among themselves but with outsiders. They cannot make themselves understood unless they designate it by this name which is in universal use…

(§15) It has been truly said: “There must be many heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). Let us also make use of that gift of divine providence. Men become heretics who would have no less held wrong opinions even within the Church. Now that they are outside they do us more good, not by teaching the truth, for they do not know it, but by provoking carnal Catholics to seek the truth and spiritual Catholics to expound it. There are in the Holy Church innumerable men approved by God, but they do not become manifest among us so long as we are delighted with the darkness of our ignorance, and prefer to sleep rather than to hold the light of truth. So, many are awakened from sleep by the heretics, so that they may see God’s light and be glad. Let us therefore use even heretics, not to approve their errors, but to assert the Catholic discipline against their wiles, and to become more vigilant and cautious, even if we cannot recall them to salvation…

(§17) I am not now refuting their [heretics’] opinions, partly because I have already done so and partly because I intended to do so again, if God permit. In this work I am showing so far as I can with the arguments God deigns to supply, how secure the Catholic faith is against them, and how the things which move men to give in to their opinions need not disturb the mind…

(§20) …Hold fast whatever truth you have been able to grasp [in Augustine’s work] and attribute it to the Catholic Church

(§51) If any of the earthly people at any time had the merit of reaching the illumination of the inward man, he gave to the human race in his day his aid showing it what that age required, hinting by prophecy what it was not opportune to show clearly. Such were the patriarchs and the prophets. So these discover who do not behave like children, but who diligently and piously handle this good and great secret of the divine-human relations. In the time of the new people I see that this has been carefully provided by great and spiritual men for the nurselings of the Catholic Church. They are not to treat publicly of what they know is not seasonable to be handled before the people. They earnestly feed the multitude of those who are weak and needy with copious supplies of milky food; and the few who are wise they feed with stronger meats…

St. Augustine, Faith and the Creed (Ch. 10, §21) (393)

(§21) …[W]e believe also in The Holy Church, [intending thereby] assuredly the Catholic. For both heretics and schismatics style their congregations churches. But heretics, in holding false opinions regarding God, do injury to the faith itself; while schismatics, on the other hand, in wicked separations break off from brotherly charity, although they may believe just what we believe. Wherefore neither do the heretics belong to the Church catholic, which loves God; nor do the schismatics form a part of the same, inasmuch as it loves the neighbor, and consequently readily forgives the neighbor’s sins, because it prays that forgiveness may be extended to itself by Him who has reconciled us to Himself, doing away with all past things, and calling us to a new life.

St. Augustine, Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus (Ch. 4, §5; Ch. 5, §6) (397)

(Ch. 4, §5)

(§5) For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derived their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith)—not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things that most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his Resurrection, gave it in charge to feed his sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the previous ties belonging to the Christian name that keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself. But with you, where there are none of these things to attract or keep me, the promise of truth is the only thing that comes into play. Now if the trust is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfilment, no one shall move me from the faith that binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion…

(Ch. 5, §6)

(§6) …If you should find some who does not yet believe in the gospel, what would you [Mani] answer him when he says, “I do not believe”? Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.

St. Vincent of Lerins (died c. 445) (WEST)

St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory (Ch. 2, §§4-6; Ch. 3, §§7-8; Ch. 4, §9; Ch. 5, §14; Ch. 6, §§15-16, 18; Ch. 8, §21; Ch. 9, §§24-26; Ch. 10, §27; Ch. 11, §30; Ch. 13, §36; Ch. 14, §39; Ch. 15, §40; Ch. 16, §41; Ch. 17, §§42, 45; Ch. 18, §46; Ch. 20, §§48, 50; Ch. 22, §53; Ch. 23, §§57-59; Ch. 24, §§60-63; Ch. 25, §66; Ch. 26, §§68-69; Ch. 27, §70; Ch. 28, §§71-73; Ch. 29, §§76-78; Ch. 33, §86) (c. 434)

(Ch. 2, §§4-6)

(§4) I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or anyone else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

(§5) But here someone perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation? For this reason—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

(§6) Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

(Ch. 3, §§7-8)

(§7) What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

(§8) But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in various times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation.

(Ch. 4, §9)

(§9) …In the time of Donatus, from whom his followers were called Donatists, when great numbers in Africa were rushing headlong into their own mad error, and unmindful of their name, their religion, their profession, were preferring the sacrilegious temerity of one man before the Church of Christ, then they alone throughout Africa were safe within the sacred precincts of the Catholic faith, who, detesting the profane schism, continued in communion with the universal Church, leaving to posterity an illustrious example, how, and how well in future the soundness of the whole body should be preferred before the madness of one, or at most of a few.

(Ch. 5, §14)

(§14) But in this divine virtue, as we may call it, exhibited by these Confessors, we must note especially that the defense which they then undertook in appealing to the Ancient Church, was the defense, not of a part, but of the whole body. For it was not right that men of such eminence should uphold with so huge an effort the vague and conflicting notions of one or two men, or should exert themselves in the defense of some ill-advised combination of some petty province; but adhering to the decrees and definitions of the universal priesthood of Holy Church, the heirs of Apostolic and Catholic truth, they chose rather to deliver up themselves than to betray the faith of universality and antiquity. For which cause they were deemed worthy of so great glory as not only to be accounted Confessors, but rightly, and deservedly to be accounted foremost among Confessors.

(Ch. 6, §§15-16, 18)

(§15) Great then is the example of these same blessed men, an example plainly divine, and worthy to be called to mind, and meditated upon continually by every true Catholic, who, like the seven-branched candlestick, shining with the sevenfold light of the Holy Spirit, showed to posterity how thenceforward the audaciousness of profane novelty, in all the several rantings of error, might be crushed by the authority of hallowed antiquity.

Nor is there anything new in this? For it has always been the case in the Church, that the more a man is under the influence of religion, so much the more prompt is he to oppose innovations. Examples there are without number: but to be brief, we will take one, and that, in preference to others, from the Apostolic See [Rome], so that it may be clearer than day to everyone with how great energy, with how great zeal, with how great earnestness, the blessed successors of the blessed apostles have constantly defended the integrity of the religion which they have once received.

(§16) 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…

(§18) And O marvelous 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?

(Ch. 8, §21)

(§21) When therefore certain of this sort wandering about provinces and cities, and carrying with them their venal errors, had found their way to Galatia, and when the Galatians, on hearing them, nauseating the truth, and vomiting up the manna of Apostolic and Catholic doctrine, were delighted with the garbage of heretical novelty, the apostle putting in exercise the authority of his office, delivered his sentence with the utmost severity, Though we, he says, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [Gal. 1:8]

(Ch. 9, §§24-26)

(§24) …[J]ust as it is unlawful for all to provoke one another, or to envy one another, so, likewise, it is unlawful for all to receive any other Gospel than that which the Catholic Church preaches everywhere.

(§25) …To preach any doctrine therefore to Catholic Christians other than what they have received never was lawful, never is lawful, never will be lawful: and to anathematize those who preach anything other than what has once been received, always was a duty, always is a duty, always will be a duty.

(§26) Which being the case, is there any one either so audacious as to preach any other doctrine than that which the Church preaches, or so inconstant as to receive any other doctrine than that which he has received from the Church? That elect vessel, that teacher of the Gentiles, that trumpet of the apostles, that preacher whose commission was to the whole earth, that man who was caught up to heaven [2 Cor. 12:2], cries and cries again in his Epistles to all, always, in all places, “If any man preach any new doctrine, let him be accursed.” On the other hand, an ephemeral, moribund set of frogs, fleas, and flies, such as the Pelagians, call out in opposition, and that to Catholics, Take our word, follow our lead, accept our exposition, condemn what you used to hold, hold what you used to condemn, cast aside the ancient faith, the institutes of your fathers, the trusts left for you by your ancestors and receive instead—what? I tremble to utter it: for it is so full of arrogance and self-conceit, that it seems to me that not only to affirm it, but even to refute it, cannot be done without guilt in some sort.

(Ch. 10, §27)

(§27) But someone will ask, How is it then, that certain excellent persons, and of position in the Church, are often permitted by God to preach novel doctrines to Catholics? A proper question, certainly, and one which ought to be very carefully and fully dealt with, but answered at the same time, not in reliance upon one’s own ability, but by the authority of the divine Law, and by appeal to the Church’s determination…

(Ch. 11, §30)

(§30) Leaving Nestorius, in whom there was always more that men admired than they were profited by, more of show than of reality, whom natural ability, rather than divine grace, magnified, for a time in the opinion of the common people, let us pass on to speak of those who, being persons of great attainments and of much industry, proved no small trial to Catholics. Such, for instance, was Photinus, in Pannonia, who, in the memory of our fathers, is said to have been a trial to the Church of Sirmium, where, when he had been raised to the priesthood with universal approbation, and had discharged the office for some time as a Catholic, all of a sudden, like that evil prophet or dreamer of dreams whom Moses refers to, he began to persuade the people whom God had entrusted, to his charge, to follow strange gods, that is, strange errors, which before they knew not. But there was nothing unusual in this: the mischief of the matter was, that for the perpetration of so great wickedness he availed himself of no ordinary helps. For he was of great natural ability and of powerful eloquence, and had a wealth of learning, disputing and writing copiously and forcibly in both languages, as his books which remain, composed partly in Greek, partly in Latin, testify. But happily the sheep of Christ committed to him, vigilant and wary for the Catholic faith, quickly turned their eyes to the premonitory words of Moses, and, though admiring the eloquence of their prophet and pastor, were not blind to the trial. For from thenceforward they began to flee from him as a wolf, whom formerly they had followed as the ram of the flock.

(Ch. 13, §36)

(§36) In these ways then do these rabid dogs, Nestorius, Apollinaris, and Photinus, bark against the Catholic faith: Photinus, by denying the Trinity; Apollinaris, by teaching that the nature of the Word is mutable, and refusing to acknowledge that there are two substances in Christ, denying moreover either that Christ had a soul at all, or, at all events, that he had a rational soul, and asserting that the Word of God supplied the place of the rational soul; Nestorius, by affirming that there were always or at any rate that once there were two Christs. But the Catholic Church, holding the right faith both concerning God and concerning our Savior, is guilty of blasphemy neither in the mystery of the Trinity, nor in that of the Incarnation of Christ. For she worships both one Godhead in the plenitude of the Trinity, and the equality of the Trinity in one and the same majesty, and she confesses one Christ Jesus, not two; the same both God and man, the one as truly as the other. One Person indeed she believes in Him, but two substances; two substances but one Person: Two substances, because the Word of God is not mutable, so as to be convertible into flesh; one Person, lest by acknowledging two sons she should seem to worship not a Trinity, but a Quaternity.

(Ch. 14, §39)

(§39) But the Catholic Faith teaches that the Word of God became man in such wise, that He took upon Him our nature, not feignedly and in semblance, but in reality and truth, and performed human actions, not as though He were imitating the actions of another, but as performing His own, and as being in reality the person whose part He sustained…

(Ch. 15, §40)

(§40) …From this unity of Person it follows, by reason of a like mystery, that, since the flesh of the Word was born of an undefiled mother, God the Word Himself is most Catholicly believed, most impiously denied, to have been born of the Virgin; which being the case, God forbid that anyone should seek to defraud Holy Mary of her prerogative of divine grace and her special glory…

(Ch. 16, §41)

(§41) But now that we may refresh our remembrance of what has been briefly said concerning either the afore-mentioned heresies or the Catholic Faith, let us go over it again more briefly and concisely, that being repeated it may be more thoroughly understood, and being pressed home more firmly held…

But blessed be the Catholic Church, which worships one God in the completeness of the Trinity, and at the same time adores the equality of the Trinity in the unity of the Godhead, so that neither the singularity of substance confounds the propriety of the Persons, not the distinction of the Persons in the Trinity separates the unity of the Godhead…

(Ch. 17, §§42, 45)

(§42) We said above that in the Church of God the teacher’s error is the people’s trial, a trial by so much the greater in proportion to the greater learning of the erring teacher. This we showed first by the authority of Scripture, and then by instances from Church History, of persons who having at one time had the reputation of being sound in the faith, eventually either fell away to some sect already in existence, or else founded a heresy of their own. An important fact truly, useful to be learned, and necessary to be remembered, and to be illustrated and enforced again and again, by example upon example, in order that all true Catholics may understand that it behooves them with the Church to receive Teachers, not with Teachers to desert the faith of the Church…

(§45) But someone will say, Origen’s books have been corrupted. I do not deny it; nay, I grant it readily. For that such is the case has been handed down both orally and in writing, not only by Catholics, but by heretics as well. But the point is, that though himself be not, yet books published under his name are, a great trial, which, abounding in many hurtful blasphemies, are both read and delighted in, not as being someone else’s, but as being believed to be his, so that, although there was no error in Origen’s original meaning, yet Origen’s authority appears to be an effectual cause in leading people to embrace error.

(Ch. 18, §46)

(§46) …Yet this man also, notwithstanding all that I have mentioned, this Tertullian, I say, too little tenacious of Catholic doctrine, that is, of the universal and ancient faith, more eloquent by far than faithful, changed his belief, and justified what the blessed Confessor, Hilary, writes of him, namely, that “by his subsequent error he detracted from the authority of his approved writings.”…

(Ch. 20, §§48, 50)

(§48) This being the case, he is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the Catholic Faith above everything, above the authority, above the regard, above the genius, above the eloquence, above the philosophy, of every man whatsoever; who sets light by all of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the faith, resolves that he will believe that, and that only, which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient time; but that whatsoever new and unheard-of doctrine he shall find to have been furtively introduced by some one or another, besides that of all, or contrary to that of all the saints, this, he will understand, does not pertain to religion, but is permitted as a trial, being instructed especially by the words of the blessed Apostle Paul, who writes thus in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, “There must needs be heresies, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you,” [1 Cor. 2:9] as though he should say, This is the reason why the authors of Heresies are not immediately rooted up by God, namely, that they who are approved may be made manifest; that is, that it may be apparent of each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love of the Catholic faith

(§50) This affliction, indeed, of a hesitating and miserably vacillating mind is, if they are wise, a medicine intended for them by God’s compassion. For therefore it is that outside the most secure harbor of the Catholic Faith, they are tossed about, beaten, and almost killed, by various tempestuous cogitations, in order that they may take in the sails of self-conceit, which, they had with ill advice unfurled to the blasts of novelty, and may betake themselves again to, and remain stationary within, the most secure harbor of their placid and good mother, and may begin by vomiting up those bitter and turbid floods of error which they had swallowed, that thenceforward they may be able to drink the streams of fresh and living water. Let them unlearn well what they had learned not well, and let them receive so much of the entire doctrine of the Church as they can understand: what they cannot understand let them believe.

(Ch. 22, §53)

(§53) But it is worthwhile to expound the whole of that passage of the apostle more fully, O Timothy, keep the deposit, avoiding profane novelties of words.

O! The exclamation implies fore-knowledge as well as charity. For he mourned in anticipation over the errors which he foresaw. Who is the Timothy of today, but either generally the Universal Church, or in particular, the whole body of The Prelacy, whom it behooves either themselves to possess or to communicate to others a complete knowledge of religion? What is “Keep the deposit”? Keep it, because of thieves, because of adversaries, lest, while men sleep, they sow tares over that good wheat which the Son of Man had sown in his field. “Keep the deposit.” What is The deposit? That which has been entrusted to you, not that which you have yourself devised: a matter not of wit, but of learning; not of private adoption, but of public tradition; a matter brought to you, not put forth by you, wherein you are bound to be not an author but a keeper, not a teacher but a disciple, not a leader but a follower. “Keep the deposit.” Preserve the talent of Catholic Faith inviolate, unadulterate. That which has been entrusted to you, let it continue in your possession, let it be handed on by you. You have received gold; give gold in turn. Do not substitute one thing for another. Do not for gold impudently substitute lead or brass. Give real gold, not counterfeit…

(Ch. 23, §§57-59)

(§57) For example: Our forefathers in the old-time sowed wheat in the Church’s field. It would be most unmeet and iniquitous if we, their descendants, instead of the genuine truth of grain, should reap the counterfeit error of tares. This rather should be the result—there should be no discrepancy between the first and the last. From doctrine which was sown as wheat, we should reap, in the increase, doctrine of the same kind—wheat also; so that when in process of time any of the original seed is developed, and now flourishes under cultivation, no change may ensue in the character of the plant. There may supervene shape, form, variation in outward appearance, but the nature of each kind must remain the same. God forbid that those rose-beds of Catholic interpretation should be converted into thorns and thistles. God forbid that in that spiritual paradise from plants of cinnamon and balsam, darnel and wolfsbane should of a sudden shoot forth…

(§58) For if once this license of impious fraud be admitted, I dread to say in how great danger religion will be of being utterly destroyed and annihilated. For if any one part of Catholic truth be given up, another, and another, and another will thenceforward be given up as a matter of course, and the several individual portions having been rejected, what will follow in the end but the rejection of the whole? On the other hand, if what is new begins to be mingled with what is old, foreign with domestic, profane with sacred, the custom will of necessity creep on universally, till at last the Church will have nothing left untampered with, nothing unadulterated, nothing sound, nothing pure; but where formerly there was a sanctuary of chaste and undefiled truth, thenceforward there will be a brothel of impious and base errors. May God’s mercy avert this wickedness from the minds of his servants; be it rather the frenzy of the ungodly.

(§59) But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another’s, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view—if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined, to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practiced negligently should thenceforward be practiced with double solicitude? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils—this, and nothing else—she has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name.

(Ch. 24, §§60-63)

(§60) But let us return to the apostle. “O Timothy,” he says, Guard the deposit, shunning profane novelties of words. Shun them as you would a viper, as you would a scorpion, as you would a basilisk, lest they smite you not only with their touch, but even with their eyes and breath.” What is “to shun”? Not even to eat  with a person of this sort [1 Cor. 5:11]. What is shun? “If anyone, says,” St. John, “come to you and bring not this doctrine.” What doctrine? What but the Catholic and universal doctrine, which has continued one and the same through the several successions of ages by the uncorrupt tradition of the truth and so will continue forever—“Receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed, for he that bids him Godspeed communicates with him in his evil deeds.” [2 John 10]

(§61) “Profane novelties of words.” What words are these? Such as have nothing sacred, nothing religious, words utterly remote from the inmost sanctuary of the Church which is the temple of God. Profane novelties of words, that is, of doctrines, subjects, opinions, such as are contrary to antiquity and the faith of the olden time. Which if they be received, it follows necessarily that the faith of the blessed fathers is violated either in whole, or at all events in great part; it follows necessarily that all the faithful of all ages, all the saints, the chaste, the continent, the virgins, all the clergy, Deacons and Priests, so many thousands of Confessors, so vast an army of martyrs, such multitudes of cities and of peoples, so many islands, provinces, kings, tribes, kingdoms, nations, in a word, almost the whole earth, incorporated in Christ the Head, through the Catholic faith, have been ignorant for so long a tract of time, have been mistaken, have blasphemed, have not known what to believe, what to confess.

(§62) Shun profane novelties of words, which to receive and follow was never the part of Catholics; of heretics always was. In truth, what heresy ever burst forth save under a definite name, at a definite place, at a definite time? Whoever originated a heresy that did not first dissever himself from the consentient agreement of the universality and antiquity of the Catholic Church?…

(§63) There are innumerable instances of this kind [heresies], which for brevity’s sake, pass over; by all of which, however, it is manifestly and clearly shown, that it is an established law, in the case of almost all heresies, that they evermore delight in profane novelties, scorn the decisions of antiquity, and, through oppositions of science falsely so called, make shipwreck of the faith. On the other hand, it is the sure characteristic of Catholics to keep that which has been committed to their trust by the holy Fathers, to condemn profane novelties, and, in the apostle’s words, once and again repeated, to anathematize everyone who preaches any other doctrine than that which has been received. [Gal. 2:9]

(Ch. 25, §66)

(§66) …But what says the Savior? By their fruits you shall know them; that is, when they have begun not only to quote those divine words, but also to expound them, not as yet only to make a boast of them as on their side, but also to interpret them, then will that bitterness, that acerbity, that rage, be understood; then will the ill-savor of that novel poison be perceived, then will those profane novelties be disclosed, then may you see first the hedge broken through, then the landmarks of the Fathers removed, then the Catholic faith assailed, then the doctrine of the Church torn in pieces.

(Ch. 26, §§68-69)

(§68) …It behooves us to pay special attention to this passage [Matt. 4:6] and bear it in mind, that, warned by so important an instance of Evangelical authority, we may be assured beyond doubt, when we find people alleging passages from the Apostles or Prophets against the Catholic Faith, that the Devil speaks through their mouths. For as then the Head spoke to the Head, so now also the members speak to the members, the members of the Devil to the members of Christ, misbelievers to believers, sacrilegious to religious, in one word, Heretics to Catholics.

(§69) But what do they say? If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down; that is, If you would be a son of God, and would receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, cast yourself down; that is, cast yourself down from the doctrine and tradition of that sublime Church, which is imagined to be nothing less than the very temple of God. And if one should ask one of the heretics who gives this advice, How do you prove? What ground have you, for saying, that I ought to cast away the universal and ancient faith of the Catholic Church? He has the answer ready, For it is written; and immediately he produces a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand authorities from the Law, from the Psalms, from the apostles, from the Prophets, by means of which, interpreted on a new and wrong principle, the unhappy soul may be precipitated from the height of Catholic truth to the lowest abyss of heresy…

(Ch. 27, §70)

(§70) But it will be said, If the words, the sentiments, the promises of Scripture, are appealed to by the Devil and his disciples, of whom some are false apostles, some false prophets and false teachers, and all without exception heretics, what are Catholics and the sons of Mother Church to do? How are they to distinguish truth from falsehood in the sacred Scriptures? They must be very careful to pursue that course which, in the beginning of this Commonitory, we said that holy and learned men had commended to us, that is to say, they must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal Church and in keeping with the rules of Catholic doctrine, in which Catholic and Universal Church, moreover, they must follow universality, antiquity, consent. And if at any time a part opposes itself to the whole, novelty to antiquity, the dissent of one or a few who are in error to the consent of all or at all events of the great majority of Catholics, then they must prefer the soundness of the whole to the corruption of a part; in which same whole they must prefer the religion of antiquity to the profaneness of novelty; and in antiquity itself in like manner, to the temerity of one or of a very few they must prefer, first of all, the general decrees, if such there be, of a Universal Council, or if there be no such, then, what is next best, they must follow the consentient belief of many and great masters. Which rule having been faithfully, soberly, and scrupulously observed, we shall with little difficulty detect the noxious errors of heretics as they arise.

(Ch. 28, §§71-73)

(§71) …But heresies already widely diffused and of old standing are by no means to be thus dealt with, seeing that through lapse of time they have long had opportunity of corrupting the truth. And therefore, as to the more ancient schisms or heresies, we ought either to confute them, if need be, by the sole authority of the Scriptures, or at any rate, to shun them as having been already of old convicted and condemned by universal councils of the Catholic Priesthood.

(§72) …But the opinions of those Fathers only are to be used for comparison, who living and teaching, holily, wisely, and with constancy, in the Catholic faith and communion, were counted worthy either to die in the faith of Christ, or to suffer death happily for Christ…

(§73) Lest anyone perchance should rashly think the holy and Catholic consent of these blessed fathers to be despised, the Apostle says, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, “God has placed some in the Church, first Apostles,” [1 Cor. 12:27-28] of whom himself was one; “secondly Prophets,” such as Agabus, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 11:28]; “then doctors,” who are now called Homilists, Expositors, whom the same apostle sometimes calls also Prophets, because by them the mysteries of the Prophets are opened to the people. Whosoever, therefore, shall despise these, who had their appointment of God in His Church in their several times and places, when they are unanimous in Christ, in the interpretation of some one point of Catholic doctrine, despises not man, but God, from whose unity in the truth, lest anyone should vary, the same Apostle earnestly protests, I beseech you, brethren, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. [1 Cor. 1:10] But if any one dissent from their unanimous decision, let him listen to the words of the same apostle, God is not the God of dissension but of peace [1 Cor. 14:33]; that is, not of him who departs from the unity of consent, but of those who remain steadfast in the peace of consent: as, he continues, I teach in all Churches of the saints, that is, of Catholics, which churches are therefore churches of the saints, because they continue steadfast in the communion of the faith.

(Ch. 29, §§76-78)

(§76) …We said above, that it has always been the custom of Catholics, and still is, to prove the true faith in these two ways; first by the authority of the Divine Canon, and next by the tradition of the Catholic Church. Not that the Canon alone does not of itself suffice for every question, but seeing that the more part, interpreting the divine words according to their own persuasion, take up various erroneous opinions, it is therefore necessary that the interpretation of divine Scripture should be ruled according to the one standard of the Church’s belief, especially in those articles on which the foundations of all Catholic doctrine rest.

(§77) We said likewise, that in the Church itself regard must be had to the consentient voice of universality equally with that of antiquity, lest we either be torn from the integrity of unity and carried away to schism, or be precipitated from the religion of antiquity into heretical novelties. We said, further, that in this same ecclesiastical antiquity two points are very carefully and earnestly to be held in view by those who would keep clear of heresy: first, they should ascertain whether any decision has been given in ancient times as to the matter in question by the whole priesthood of the Catholic Church, with the authority of a General Council: and, secondly, if some new question should arise on which no such decision has been given, they should then have recourse to the opinions of the holy Fathers, of those at least, who, each in his own time and place, remaining in the unity of communion and of the faith, were accepted as approved masters; and whatsoever these may be found to have held, with one mind and with one consent, this ought to be accounted the true and Catholic doctrine of the Church, without any doubt or scruple.

(§78) Which lest we should seem to allege presumptuously on our own warrant rather than on the authority of the Church, we appealed to the example of the holy council which some three years ago was held at Ephesus in Asia, in the consulship of Bassus and Antiochus, where, when question was raised as to the authoritative determining of rules of faith, lest, perchance, any profane novelty should creep in, as did the perversion of the truth at Ariminum, the whole body of priests there assembled, nearly two hundred in number, approved of this as the most Catholic, the most trustworthy, and the best course, viz., to bring forth into the midst the sentiments of the holy Fathers, some of whom it was well known had been martyrs, some Confessors, but all had been, and continued to the end to be, Catholic priests, in order that by their consentient determination the reverence due to ancient truth might be duly and solemnly confirmed, and the blasphemy of profane novelty condemned. Which having been done, that impious Nestorius was lawfully and deservedly adjudged to be opposed to Catholic antiquity, and contrariwise blessed Cyril to be in agreement with it…

(Ch. 33, §86)

(§86) Whoever then gainsays these Apostolic and Catholic determinations, first of all necessarily insults the memory of holy [Pope] Celestine, who decreed that novelty should cease to assail antiquity; and in the next place sets at naught the decision of holy Sixtus, whose sentence was, Let no license be allowed to novelty, since it is not fit that any addition be made to antiquity; moreover, he condemns the determination of blessed Cyril, who extolled with high praise the zeal of the venerable Capreolus, in that he would fain have the ancient doctrines of the faith confirmed, and novel inventions condemned…But if neither apostolic injunctions nor ecclesiastical decrees may be violated, by which, in accordance with the sacred consent of universality and antiquity, all heretics always, and, last of all, Pelagius, Cœlestius, and Nestorius have been rightly and deservedly condemned, then assuredly it is incumbent on all Catholics who are anxious to approve themselves genuine sons of Mother Church, to adhere henceforward to the holy faith of the holy Fathers, to be wedded to it, to die in it; but as to the profane novelties of profane men — to detest them, abhor them, oppose them, give them no quarter.

Gennadius of Massilia (died c. 496) (WEST)

Gennadius of Massilia, Supplement to “The Lives of Illustrious Men” (Ch. 27, 60, 86, 92, 94-97) (c. 495)

(Ch. 27) Ursinus the monk wrote against those who say that heretics should be rebaptized, teaching that it is not legitimate nor honoring God, that those should be rebaptized who have been baptized either in the name of Christ alone or in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, though the formula has been used in a vitiated sense. He considers that after the simple confession of the Holy Trinity and of Christ, the imposition of the hands of the catholic priest is sufficient for salvation.

(Ch. 60) Leporius, formerly monk afterwards presbyter, relying on purity, through his own free will and unaided effort, instead of depending on the help of God, began to follow the Pelagian doctrine. But having been admonished by the Gallican doctors, and corrected by Augustine in Africa, he wrote a book containing his retraction, in which he both acknowledges his error and returns thanks for his correction. At the same time in correction of his false view of the incarnation of Christ, he presented the Catholic view, acknowledging the single person of the Son of God, and the two natures existing in Christ in his substance.

(Ch. 86) Faustus, first abbot of the monastery at Lerins, and then made bishop of Riez in Gaul, a man studious of the Divine Scriptures…There is also a letter of his, written in the form of a little book, and addressed to a certain deacon, named Graecus, who, leaving the Catholic faith, had gone over to the Nestorian impiety…

(Ch. 92) Sidonius bishop of the Arverni wrote several acceptable works and being a man sound in doctrine as well as thoroughly imbued with divine and human learning and a man of commanding genius…Strong in Christian vigor even in the midst of that barbaric ferocity which at that time oppressed the Gauls he was regarded as a catholic father and a distinguished doctor. He flourished during the tempest which marked the rule of Leo and Zenos.

(Ch. 94) Gelasius, bishop of Rome wrote Against Eutyches and Nestorius a great and notable volume, also Treatises on various parts of the scripture and the sacraments written in a polished style. He also wrote Epistles against Peter and Acacius which are still preserved in the catholic church. He wrote also Hymns after the fashion of bishop Ambrosius. He died during the reign of the emperor Anastasius.

(Ch. 95) Honoratus, bishop of Constantina in Africa wrote a letter to one Arcadius who on account of his confession of the catholic faith had been exiled to Africa by King Genseric. This letter was an exhortation to endure hardness for Christ and fortified by modern examples and scripture illustrations showing that perseverance in the confession of the faith not only purges past sins but also procures the blessing of martyrdom.

(Ch. 96) Cerealis the bishop, an African by birth, was asked by Maximus bishop of the Arians whether he could establish the catholic faith by a few testimonies of Divine Scripture and without any controversial assertions…

(Ch. 97) Eugenius, bishop of Carthage in Africa and public confessor, commanded by Huneric King of the Vandals to write an exposition of the catholic faith and especially to discuss the meaning of the word Homoousian [“one substance”], with the consent of all the bishops and confessors of Mauritania in Africa and Sardinia and Corsica, who had remained in the catholic faith, composed a book of faith, fortified not only by quotations from the Holy Scriptures but by testimonies of the Fathers, and sent it by his companions in confession…

St. John of Damascus (c. 675/676-749) (EAST)

St. John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Book 1, Ch. 8; Book 4, Ch. 10)

(Book 1, Ch. 8)

(Ch. 8) …The holy catholic and apostolic Church, then, teaches the existence at once of a Father: and of His Only-begotten Son, born of Him without time and flux and passion, in a manner incomprehensible and perceived by the God of the universe alone…

(Book 4, Ch. 10)

(Ch. 10) Moreover, faith is twofold. For faith comes by hearing. [Rom. 10:17] For by hearing the divine Scriptures we believe in the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The same is perfected by all the things enjoined by Christ, believing in work, cultivating piety, and doing the commands of Him Who restored us. For he that believes not according to the tradition of the Catholic Church, or who has intercourse with the devil through strange works, is an unbeliever…


Roman Synod on Receiving the Lapsed (c. 253)

A divine and sacred provincial synod, gathered together at Rome by Stephen, the blessed martyr and father [Pope] who excommunicated those who in an African synod had, without reason, conceded that they who came to the Catholic Church from any heresy should be re-baptized.

Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (Echthesis; Can. 8-9, 19; Synodal Letter) (325)

(The Ecthesis of the Synod at Nice)

…And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (ἤν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion [τρεπτὸν in Greek; convertibilem in Latin —all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.

(Can. 8-9, 19)

(Can. 8) Concerning those who call themselves Cathari, if they come over to the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the great and holy Synod decrees that they who are ordained shall continue as they are in the clergy. But it is before all things necessary that they should profess in writing that they will observe and follow the dogmas of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; in particular that they will communicate with persons who have been twice married, and with those who having lapsed in persecution have had a period [of penance] laid upon them, and a time [of restoration] fixed so that in all things they will follow the dogmas of the Catholic Church. Wheresoever, then, whether in villages or in cities, all of the ordained are found to be of these only, let them remain in the clergy, and in the same rank in which they are found. But if they come over where there is a bishop or presbyter of the Catholic Church, it is manifest that the Bishop of the Church must have the bishop’s dignity; and he who was named bishop by those who are called Cathari shall have the rank of presbyter, unless it shall seem fit to the Bishop to admit him to partake in the honor of the title…

(Can. 9) If any presbyters have been advanced without examination, or if upon examination they have made confession of crime, and men acting in violation of the canon have laid hands upon them, notwithstanding their confession, such the canon does not admit; for the Catholic Church requires that [only] which is blameless.

(Can. 19) Concerning the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church

(Synodal Letter)

…So that these men are to have no authority to make appointments of persons who may be pleasing to them, nor to suggest names, nor to do anything whatever, without the consent of the bishops of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, who are serving under our most holy colleague Alexander; while those who, by the grace of God and through your prayers, have been found in no schism, but on the contrary are without spot in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, are to have authority to make appointments and nominations of worthy persons among the clergy, and in short to do all things according to the law and ordinance of the Church…

Ecumenical Council of Constantinople I (Creed, Can. 5) (381)

(Creed) And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver-of-Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And [we believe] in one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, [and] we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

(Can. 5) 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.

Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (Session 1, 2, 3, 5; Session 15, Can. 14, 30; Session 16) (451)

(Session 1) …And when they were read, the most glorious judges and immense assembly (ὑπερφυὴς σύγκλητος) said: What do the most reverend bishops of the present holy synod say? When he thus expounded the faith did Flavian, of holy memory, preserve the orthodox and catholic religion, or did he in any respect err concerning it?…

…For the most reverend archbishop of Old Rome, Leo, appears to have sent a letter to Flavian of blessed memory, with reference to Eutyches’s unbelieving doubt which was springing up against the Catholic Church.

(Session 2) [Pope Leo’s Tome; see under St. Pope Leo the Great]

(Session 3) …Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, has stripped him of the episcopate, and has alienated from him all hieratic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties…

(Session 5, Definition of Faith of the Council of Chalcedon) …Moreover, observing the order and every form relating to the faith, which was observed by the holy synod formerly held in Ephesus, of which Celestine of Rome and Cyril of Alexandria, of holy memory, were the leaders, we do declare that the exposition of the right and blameless faith made by the Three Hundred and Eighteen holy and blessed Fathers, assembled at Nice in the reign of Constantine of pious memory, shall be pre-eminent: and that those things shall be of force also, which were decreed by the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers at Constantinople, for the uprooting of the heresies which had then sprung up, and for the confirmation of the same Catholic and Apostolic Faith of ours…

(Session 15, Can. 14) Since in certain provinces it is permitted to the readers and singers to marry, the holy Synod has decreed that it shall not be lawful for any of them to take a wife that is heterodox. But those who have already begotten children of such a marriage, if they have already had their children baptized among the heretics, must bring them into the communion of the Catholic Church

(Session 15, Can. 30) Since the most religious bishops of Egypt have postponed for the present their subscription to the letter of the most holy Archbishop Leo, not because they oppose the Catholic Faith, but because they declare that it is the custom in the Egyptian diocese to do no such thing without the consent and order of their Archbishop, and ask to be excused until the ordination of the new bishop of the metropolis of Alexandria, it has seemed to us reasonable and kind that this concession should be made to them, they remaining in their official habit in the imperial city until the Archbishop of the Metropolis of Alexandria shall have been ordained…

(Session 16) …The most glorious judges, said: Say what you wish. The most holy Paschasinus the bishop, holding the place of Rome, said: The rulers of the world, taking care of the holy Catholic faith, by which their kingdom and glory is increased, have deigned to define this, in order that unity through a holy peace may be preserved through all the churches…


Liturgy of St. James (§§33-34) (300s)

[The Priest by himself standing]

(§33) That they may be to all that partake of them for remission of sins, and for life everlasting, for the sanctification of souls and of bodies, for bearing the fruit of good works, for the establishing of Your Holy Catholic Church, which You have founded on the Rock of Faith, that the gates of hell may not prevail against it; delivering it from all heresy and scandals, and from those who work iniquity, keeping it till the fullness of the time.

[And having bowed, he says]

(§34) We present them to You also, O Lord, for the holy places, which You have glorified by the divine appearing of Your Christ, and by the visitation of Your all-holy Spirit; especially for the glorious Zion, the mother of all the churches; and for Your Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church throughout the world: even now, O Lord, bestow upon her the rich gifts of Your all-holy Spirit.

The Divine Liturgy of St. Mark (300s)

We pray and beseech You, merciful God, to grant in Your goodness that we may spend this holy day and all the time of our lives without sin, in fullness of joy, health, safety, holiness, and reverence of You. But all envy, all fear, all temptation, all the influence of Satan, all the snares of wicked men, do You, O Lord, drive away from us, and from Your Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

O Sovereign and Almighty God, the Father of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, we pray and beseech You to defend in Your good mercy our most holy and blessed high priest our Father in God [name], and our most reverend Bishop [name]. Preserve them for us through many years in peace, while they according to Your holy and blessed will fulfil the sacred priesthood committed to their care, and dispense aright the word of truth; with all the orthodox bishops, elders, deacons, sub-deacons, readers, singers, and laity, with the entire body of the Holy and only Catholic Church. Graciously bestow upon them peace, health, and salvation. The prayers they offer up for us, and we for them, do You, O Lord, receive at Your holy, heavenly, and reasonable altar. But all the enemies of Your Holy Church put speedily under their feet, through the grace, mercy, and love of Your only-begotten Son…

[The Priest]

O Sovereign Lord our God, who hast chosen the lamp of the twelve apostles with its twelve lights, and hast sent them forth to proclaim throughout the whole world and teach the Gospel of Your kingdom, and to heal sickness and every weakness among the people, and hast breathed upon their faces and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit the Comforter: whosesoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins you retain, they are retained: Breathe also Your Holy Spirit upon us Your servants, who, standing around, are about to enter on Your holy service, upon the bishops, elders, deacons, readers, singers, and laity, with the entire body of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

[The Priest]

O Sovereign and Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray and beseech You to fill our hearts with the peace of heaven, and to bestow moreover the peace of this life. Preserve for us through many years our most holy and blessed Papas [Pope] [name], and our most pious Bishop [name], while they, according to Your holy and blessed will, peacefully fulfil the holy priesthood committed to their care, and dispense aright the word of truth, with all the orthodox bishops, elders, deacons, sub-deacons, readers, singers, with the entire body of the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

[The Priest begins the Anaphoral prayer]

(§14) We pray and beseech You, O lover of men, O good Lord, remember in Your good mercy the Holy and only Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the whole world, and all Your people, and all the sheep of this fold. Vouchsafe to the hearts of all of us the peace of heaven, but grant us also the peace of this life…

[The Priest offers incense, and says]

As You accepted the sacrifice of our father Abraham, the incense of Zacharias, the alms of Cornelius, and the widow’s two mites, accept also the thank-offerings of these, and give them for the things of time the things of eternity, and for the things of earth the things of heaven. Defend, O Lord, our most holy and blessed Papas [Pope] [name], whom You have fore-ordained to rule over Your Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and our most pious Bishop [name], that they through many years of peace may, according to Your holy and blessed will, fulfil the sacred priesthood committed to their care, and dispense aright the word of truth.

Liturgy of Sts. Adaeus and Maris (300s)

[The Priest says this secret prayer in the sanctuary]

O Lord God Omnipotent, Yours is the Holy Catholic Church, inasmuch as You, through the great passion of Your Christ, bought the sheep of Your pasture; and from the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is indeed of one nature with Your glorious divinity, are granted the degrees of the true priestly ordination; and through Your clemency You vouchsafed, O Lord, to make our weakness spiritual members in the great body of Your Holy Church, that we might administer spiritual aid to faithful souls…

Pray for me, my fathers, brethren, and masters, that God may grant unto me the capability and power to perform this service to which I have drawn near, and that this oblation may be accepted from the hands of my weakness, for myself, for you, and for the whole body of the Holy Catholic Church, through His grace and mercies forever. Amen…

God, the Lord of all, confirm your words, and secure to you peace, and accept this oblation from my hands for me, for you, for the whole body of the Holy Catholic Church, and for the entire world, through His grace and mercies forever…

O Lord God Almighty, accept this oblation for the whole Holy Catholic Church, and for all the pious and righteous fathers who have been pleasing to You, and for all the prophets and apostles, and for all the martyrs and confessors, and for all that mourn, that are in straits, and are sick, and for all that are under difficulties and trials, and for all the weak and the oppressed, and for all the dead that have gone from among us; then for all that ask a prayer from our weakness, and for me, a degraded and feeble sinner…

O Lord our God, bestow on us Your rest and peace all the days of this life, that all the inhabitants of the earth may know You, that You are the only true God the Father, and You sent our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son and Your beloved; and He Himself our Lord and God came and taught us all purity and holiness. Make remembrance of prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, bishops, doctors, priests, deacons, and all the sons of the Holy Catholic Church who have been signed with the sign of life, of holy baptism…

(§14) O Christ, peace of those in heaven and great rest of those below, grant that Your rest and peace may dwell in the four parts of the world, but especially in Your Holy Catholic Church; grant that the priesthood with the government may have peace; cause wars to cease from the ends of the earth, and scatter the nations that delight in wars, that we may enjoy the blessing of living in tranquility and peace, in all temperance and fear of God. Spare the offenses and sins of the dead, through Your grace and mercies forever.

Other Documents

Muratorian Fragment (c. 178)

He [St. Paul] wrote, besides these, one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy, in simple personal affection and love indeed; but yet these are hallowed in the esteem of the Catholic Churchand in the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline. There are also in circulation one to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, and addressed against the heresy of Marcion; and there are also several others which cannot be received into the Catholic Church, for it is not suitable for gall to be mingled with honey.

Apostolic Constitutions (Book 1, Sec. 1, General Commandments; Book 2, Sec. 4, §25; Sec. 6, §56; Book 6, Sec. 3, §§14, 18; Book 7, Sec. 2, §30; Sec. 3, 41; Book 8, Sec. 2, §10; Sec. 5, §47) (c.400)

(Book 1, Sec. 1, General Commandments)

The Catholic Church is the plantation of God and His beloved vineyard [Isa. 5:7]; containing those who have believed in His unerring divine religion; who are the heirs by faith of His everlasting kingdom; who are partakers of His divine influence, and of the communication of the Holy Spirit; who are armed through Jesus, and have received His fear into their hearts; who enjoy the benefit of the sprinkling of the precious and innocent blood of Christ; who have free liberty to call Almighty God, Father; being fellow-heirs and joint-partakers of His beloved Son: hearken to this holy doctrine, you who enjoy His promises, as being delivered by the command of your Savior, and agreeable to His glorious words.

(Book 2, Sec. 4, §25)

(§25) …You, therefore, O bishops, are to your people priests and Levites, ministering to the holy tabernacle, the holy Catholic Church; who stand at the altar of the Lord your God, and offer to Him reasonable and unbloody sacrifices through Jesus the great High Priest. You are to the laity prophets, rulers, governors, and kings; the mediators between God and His faithful people, who receive and declare His word, well acquainted with the Scriptures…

…Hear, O Holy Catholic Church, who has escaped the ten plagues, and has received the ten commandments, and has learned the law, and has kept the faith, and has believed in Jesus, and has known the decad, and has believed in the iota which is the first letter of the name of Jesus, and art named after His name, and art established, and shinest in the consummation of His glory…

(Book 2, Sec. 6, §56)

(§56) …Such a one is a disperser of the sheep, an adversary, an enemy of God, a destroyer of those lambs whose Shepherd was the Lord, and we were the collectors out of various nations and tongues, by much pains and danger, and perpetual labor, by watchings, by fastings, by lyings on the ground, by persecutions, by stripes, by imprisonments, that we might do the will of God, and fill the feast-chamber with guests to sit down at His table, that is, the holy and Catholic Church, with joyful and chosen people, singing hymns and praises to God that has called them by us to life…

(Book 6, Sec. 3, §§14, 18)

(§14) On whose account also we, who are now assembled in one place—Peter and Andrew; James and John, sons of Zebedee; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; James the son of Alphæus, and Lebbæus who is surnamed Thaddeus; and Simon the Canaanite [Matt. 10:2], and Matthias, who instead of Judas was numbered with us; and James the brother of the Lord and bishop of Jerusalem, and Paul the teacher of the Gentiles, the chosen vessel, having all met together, have written to you this Catholic doctrine for the confirmation of you, to whom the oversight of the universal Church is committed: wherein we declare unto you, that there is only one God Almighty, besides whom there is no other, and that you must worship and adore Him alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the most holy Spirit…

(§18) And this we did in every city, everywhere through the whole world, and have left to you the bishops and to the rest of the priests this very Catholic doctrine worthily and righteously, as a memorial or confirmation to those who have believed in God; and we have sent it by our fellow-minister Clement, our most faithful and intimate son in the Lord, together with Barnabas, and Timothy our most dearly beloved son, and the genuine Mark, together with whom we recommend to you also Titus and Luke, and Jason and Lucius, and Sosipater. [Rom. 16:21]

(Book 7, Sec. 2, §30)

(§30) On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church: “In every place shall incense and a pure sacrifice be offered unto me; for I am a great King, says the Lord Almighty, and my name is wonderful among the heathen.” [Mal. 1:11]

(Book 7, Sec. 3, §41)

(§41) …And I am baptized into the Holy Ghost, that is, the Comforter, who wrought in all the saints from the beginning of the world, but was afterwards sent to the apostles by the Father, according to the promise of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ; and after the apostles, to all those that believe in the Holy Catholic Church; into the resurrection of the flesh, and into the remission of sins, and into the kingdom of heaven, and into the life of the world to come. And after this vow, he comes in order to the anointing with oil.

(Book 8, Sec. 2, §10)

(§10) Let us pray for the peace and happy settlement of the world, and of the holy churches; that the God of the whole world may afford us His everlasting peace, and such as may not be taken away from us; that He may preserve us in a full prosecution of such virtue as is according to godliness. Let us pray for the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church which is spread from one end of the earth to the other; that God would preserve and keep it unshaken, and free from the waves of this life, until the end of the world, as founded upon a rock; and for the holy parish in this place, that the Lord of the whole world may vouchsafe us without failure to follow after His heavenly hope, and without ceasing to pay Him the debt of our prayer…

(Book 8, Sec. 5, §47)

(§47) …The end of the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles by Clement, which are the Catholic doctrine.


  1. Niceta of Remesiana, Sulpicius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, Prosper of Aquitaine, J. Reginald O’Donnell, C.S.B., trans., The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 7: St. Nicetas, Writings, Commonitories, Grace and Free Will (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 49-50. ↩︎
  2. St. Augustine, J.H.S. Burleigh, Of True Religion (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1964), 10-14, 15-16, 17, 19, 47-48. ↩︎
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