I apologize due to the upcoming American holiday of Veteran’s Day; there will be no podcast for I was mandated for overtime work this morning. However, I will like to post the introduction of the First Letter of John. In prayer, this morning, I was reading it in a form of Lectio Divina, something called to me to do so, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how beautiful this letter is to the faithful.
The First Letter of John
1 ¶* That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship† with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 ¶ And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.
God Is Light
5 ¶ This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness‡ at all. 6 ¶ If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 ¶ but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 ¶ If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Christ Is Our Advocate
2 ¶ My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 ¶ and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 ¶ And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.§ 4 ¶ He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 ¶ but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 ¶ he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
A New Commandment
7 ¶ Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 ¶ Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. 10 ¶ He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. 13 ¶ I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the Evil One. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the Evil One.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
1.The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 1 Jn 1:1–2:17.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our friend Neo has bid farewell. I have thought about leaving in the past and I have said as much as well. However, this blog was something of a community, one that kept drawing me back. I do hope the call of the communio calls to Neo once more, but it appears as we’re all resigned to our sinful natures that one by one each pilgrim with the evening advanced looks to rid the sweat ridden clothes of our collective ecumenical dialogue.
The greatest lesson of scripture I believe is the call for repentance. I have a co-worker who is deaf and is debating whether to get a cochlear implant. She jokingly asked me today, knowing I am a man of faith if I could heal her or pray for her to receive her hearing. I told her first off that I am far from holy and that I am still working on my faith every day, but I expressed that in many of the healings of Christ in scripture, such as the paralytic, Christ preferenced the desire of forgiving sins over physical miracles. “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’
Love, repenting, and forgiveness
Many will claim are not miraculous,…but… with an examination of the nature of humanity, one could easily argue are perhaps the greatest miracles we can perform with our fellow man. The Spirit gives us many gifts: Understanding, Counsel, wisdom, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. Gifts that aid us in communio and can give us the ability to show the world the true miracle of Christian love.
Our community is one that can only express ideas, therefore, we do not have the privilege to see each others’ love. The Word of God took flesh, one single word of utterance of God to show us His love. The Incarnation of our Lord is God’s word–it’s the Word from the beginning. Christ has left us so that the Paraclete could guide us. As Teresa of Avila writes, Christ has no body, but as being baptized into the Body of Christ, I am the eyes, the ears, the arms, the feet so that others can hear the one utterance of God–the Word of God.–Love….Love.
My job takes me to some of the poorest parts of my community and it tears my soul. The Word of God with the guidance of the spirit has called me to show Christ’s love by starting a ministry in my parish, one that can put forth the love of the Word in our community. Ideas are grand and fun to discuss, but they do get bogged down and stale, ideas do not move mountains, but faith, as small as a mustard seed can move mountains.
I do not know what my plans are for continuing with this blog. Many of the great Protestant voices and others have left. Chalcedon has left, Geoff gone, Jess and now Neo. We may have differences, but through the Word of God, I do love you.
On the Incarnation
In Athanasius’ work, the first 5 sections discuss creation and the fall of man. In the text, we are reminded of the God’s only prohibition and the result of ignoring such an edict from God.
“First of all believe that God is one, which created and framed all things, and made them to exist out of nothing.” 2. To which also Paul refers when he says, “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.” 3. For God is good, or rather is essentially the source of goodness: nor could one that is good be niggardly of anything: whence, grudging existence to none, He has made all things out of nothing by His own Word, Jesus Christ our Lord… and He did not barely create man, as He did all the irrational creatures on the earth, but made them after His own image, giving them a portion even of the power of His own Word; so that having as it were a kind of reflexion of the Word, and being made rational, they might be able to abide ever in blessedness, living the true life which belongs to the saints in paradise. 4. But knowing once more how the will of man could sway to either side, in anticipation He secured the grace given them by a law and by the spot where He placed them. For He brought them into His own garden, and gave them a law: so that, if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care, besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven; but that if they transgressed and turned back, and became evil, they might know that they were incurring that corruption in death which was theirs by nature: no longer to live in paradise, but cast out of it from that time forth to die and to abide in death and in corruption.
Here, St. Athanasius reminds us, that by committing this sin against God by ignoring his edict, we, in fact, lost existence with God being cast out of the garden by inventing wickedness
“as Wisdom also says: “God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world.” But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thence-forward prevailed against them… having to begin with been inventors of wickedness and called down upon themselves death and corruption; while later on, having turned aside to wrong and exceeding all lawlessness, and stopping at no one evil but devising all manner of new evils in succession, they have become insatiable in sinning”
However, in sections six through ten, St. Athanasius explains God’s resolution for the salvation of humanity. He explains, in section six, that he cannot go back on his word in Genesis, in regards to his prohibition, humanity must die; however, if God were to leave his creation as thus it would show God to be limited in his own nature.
It is in section six of On The Incarnation that we come to a theological crossroads between St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Arguably, the greatest thinker, philosopher, and theologian of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas Aquinas argues for a theological position which is in contradiction with St. Athanasius work in On the Incarnation about the necessity of The Word becoming flesh. In the Summa, St. Thomas remarks that the Incarnation is not necessary, but fitting; however, in On the Incarnation, St. Athanasius, by explaining that God cannot go back on his word in Genesis, there is only one fitting method for deification or theosis of humanity in salvation history. For all practical purposes, as I’ve quoted both sources, they appear contradictory, as I would assume St. Thomas would agree with the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction, only one explanation can be correct.
In the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas writes:
Whether it was necessary for the restoration of the human race that the word of god should become incarnate?
We proceed thus to the Second Article:—
Objection 1. It seems that it was not necessary for the reparation of the human race that the Word of God should become incarnate. For since the Word of God is perfect God, as has been said (I., Q. IV., AA. 1 and 2), no power was added to Him by the assumption of flesh. Therefore, if the incarnate Word of God restored human nature, He could also have restored it without assuming flesh.
Obj. 2. Further, for the restoration of human nature, which had fallen through sin, nothing more is required than that man should satisfy for sin. Now man can satisfy, as it would seem, for sin; for God cannot require from man more than man can do, and since He is more inclined to be merciful than to punish, as He lays the act of sin to man’s charge, so He ought to credit him with the contrary act. Therefore it was not necessary for the restoration of human nature that the Word of God should become incarnate.
Obj. 3. Further, to revere God pertains especially to man’s salvation; hence it is written (Mal. 1:6): If, then, I be a father, where is my honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? But men revere God the more by considering Him as elevated above all, and far beyond man’s senses, hence (Ps. 112:4) it is written: The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens; and farther on: Who is as the Lord our God? which pertains to reverence. Therefore it would seem unfitting to man’s salvation that God should be made like unto us by assuming flesh.
On the contrary, What frees the human race from perdition is necessary for the salvation of man. But the mystery of the Incarnation is such; according to John 3:16: God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. Therefore it was necessary for man’s salvation that God should become incarnate.
I answer that, A thing is said to be necessary for a certain end in two ways. First, when the end cannot be without it; as food is necessary for the preservation of human life. Secondly, when the end is attained better and more conveniently, as a horse is necessary for a journey. In the first way it was not necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. For God of His omnipotent power could have restored human nature in many other ways. But in the second way it was necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii.): We shall also show that other ways were not wanting to God, to Whose power all things are equally subject; but that there was not a more fitting way of healing our misery.
St. Thomas is correct that the omnipotent eternal God can choose whatever course for salvation; however, what it appears that St. Thomas fails to realize that it wouldn’t be possible for God though to chose a course that would contradict He that is logic. Athanasius reminds us that necessity of the Incarnation in six section of the Incarnation by stating:
“For this cause, then, death having gained upon men, and corruption abiding upon them, the race of man was perishing; the rational man made in God’s image was disappearing, and the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution. 2. For death, as I said above, gained from that time forth a legal hold over us, and it was impossible to evade the law, since it had been laid down by God because3 of the transgression, and the result was in truth at once monstrous and unseemly. 3. For it were monstrous, firstly, that God, having spoken, should prove false—that, when once He had ordained that man, if he transgressed the commandment, should die the death, after the transgression man should not die, but God’s word should be broken. For God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man died not. 4. Again, it were unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption. 5. For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practised on men by the devil. Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.”
Now and again, I’ll hear atheist come up with a question in an attempt to stump Christians. Two examples: “Could your all-powerful God create a rock that he could not lift?” or “Could God make a square a triangle?” These ideas by their nature violate the very foundation of reason because God could not possibly make a square a triangle for it would lose its essence of being a square. It’s also an illogical proposition for the idea of God to create an immovable rock for it would violate the essence of an omnipotent God. At the same time, the necessity of the Incarnation becomes apparent because of mankind, by the words of God, as stated by the first Doctor of the Church, St. Athanasius, must be sentenced to the penalty of death. Man must die.
However, in accord to salvation, in section nine, St. Athanasius writes so beautifully the purpose and necessity of Christ’s incarnation in fulfillment of His divine plan explaining that because man must die and the Word cannot die, the Word becomes true flesh:
He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent. 2. For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt by His death. And thus He, the incorruptible Son of God,
It’s important to remember St. Athanasius’ story in our own current time. When the culture demands that our faith change and “get with the times.” In fact, many of our own bishops, priests, and fellow laymen may side against the orthodoxy of our own faith just as many emperors, bishops, and fellow Christians of Athanasius’ time sided with Arius.
 Athanasius of Alexandria, “On the Incarnation of the Word,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 37–38.
 Ibid, 39.
 On the Incarnation, 6.
 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, n.d.).
 Athanasius of Alexandria, “On the Incarnation of the Word,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 39.
 On The Incarnation, 9
Pope Benedict XVI writes, “Athanasius was undoubtedly one of the most important and revered early Church Fathers. But this great Saint was above all the impassioned theologian of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Word of God who – as the Prologue of the fourth Gospel says – “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1: 14).”
St. Athanasius was born around 300 A.D, his exact date of birth is debated among scholars, and died on May 2, 373 A.D. Fr. Christopher Rengers writes in his book, The 35 Doctors of the Church, “nothing is known of his family. From the thoroughness of his education, it is presumed that he came from well-to-do parents who could afford a good education. But he could have received much of this through the influence of Alexander (Patriarch of Alexandria)” Pope Benedict believes that this education occurred before any contact with Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. Prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., in 318 A.D, Athanasius wrote his most famous work called On the Incarnation in which Marcellino D’Ambrosio articulates as “one of the great theological classics of all time.” However, it must be expressed that there is some debate when the classic text was written; D’ambrosio dates it to an earlier period due to addressing the topics brought forth by Arius and the Arian heresy, but not ever naming Arius distinctly.
The issues brought forth by St. Athanasius and settled during the Council of Nicaea would appear to us modern Catholics as non-controversial, but Catholics of the modern age have to realize that much of our creedal traditions were forged during these pivotal years. Fr. Rengers explains, “A GREAT controversy that involved emperors, popes and bishops, that stirred up intrigue and bloodshed, that shook Christianity to its depths, centered on one simple, sure answer in the Catechism. The answer goes very simply: ‘The chief teaching of the Catholic Church about Jesus Christ is that He is God made man.” Fr. Renger goes on, “Because of his championship of this fundamental truth he is called ‘The Father of Orthodoxy’…St. Athanasius defended the divine Sonship at the cost of immense personal discomfort, suffering and danger. His whole live was shaped around his defense of the divinity of Christ.”
St. Athanasius’ orthodoxy exhibited in his work On the Incarnation and others that defended the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ caused him a lot of turmoil in his life. D’Ambrosio reminds us that “during the forty-five years he was bishop, he was banished five times for a total of seventeen years in exile. By the time he died in A.D. 373, he had outlasted most of his enemies. He fought tirelessly, sometimes almost singlehandedly, for the truth of the Catholic faith taught at Nicaea.” During one of his many exiles, St. Athanasius “was pursued up the Nile, When the imperial officers were gaining on him, he ordered his boat turned around. At the time it was still hidden from the pursuers by a bend in the river. When the two boats crossed paths, the Roman officers, not personally knowing Athanasius shouted out, asking if anyone had seen Athanasius. St. Athanasius himself answered them: “He is not very far off.” It’s important to ponder this story, for it reveals that in our future struggles, we must use our intelligence to not only defend ourselves from our enemies but also to defend the faith.
Arius was a priest in Alexandria who “threatened authentic faith in Christ, declaring the Logos was not a true God but a created God, a creature “halfway” between God and man who hence remained for ever inaccessible to us.” Jimmy Akin explains Arianism very well in his book, The Fathers Know Best, writing that the heresy was “Founded by Arius, a priest of Alexandria, Egypt, in the early 300s. Arius held that originally the Son of God did not exist. There was a time in which there was a single divine Person who became the Father when he created the Son out of nothing. The Son was the first of all created beings and thus separate from the Father in being. The heresy was condemned at the first ecumenical council—Nicaea I in 325—but the controversy intensified and lasted much longer.
What would be the result if Arius’ assertion were true?
D’Ambrosio explains “If Christ is simply a demigod, an intermediary who is something less than God, he is not really Emmanuel, God with us, Rather, he is an emissary sent by God…the emissary conveys the orders of the Sovereign but does not himself know the Sovereign intimately, he cannot reveal God to us as he really is. We are condemned to obey God but to never really know him.”
The idea of the Incarnation and Divinity of Jesus is important to Christianity that D”Ambrosio explains it as “the linchpin of our salvation. If Christ were only a creature, the Gospel would truly be such a good news after all.” In many ways, it has always been sin that is easily visible in the world. The good news of the Gospels gives us hope that the hole that has been caused by our sin against God will be healed by God with our cooperation, as St. Athanasius explains so beautifully in his work On the Incarnation.
I am reminded of the consequence of Christ being a creation of God and also of an essay written by G.K. Chesterton on Original Sin.
“ONCE upon a time when Mr. H. G. Wells was setting forth on his varied and splendid voyage from Utopia to Utopia, he announced as a sort of watchword or war-cry that the new world would have nothing to do with the idea of Original Sin. He did not specially speak, and, indeed, there was no reason for him to speak, about his other beliefs or unbeliefs. He had not then compared the Trinity to a dance; but neither had he called adoring multitudes to the shrine of the Invisible King. But, standing at the end of the great scientific nineteenth century, he thought it time to announce that the one doctrine he did not believe in was Original Sin. Standing at the beginning of the still more scientific twentieth century, Mr. Aldous Huxley calmly announces that the one doctrine he does believe in is Original Sin. He may be a sceptic or a heretic about many things, but on that point he is quite orthodox. He may not hold many theological dogmas, but about this dogma he is quite dogmatic. There is one fragment of the ancient creed which he not only clings to, but declares to be necessary to all clear minds of the new generation. And that is the very fragment which Mr. Wells threw away thirty years ago, as something that would never be needed any more. The stone that the builder of Utopia rejected . . .”
It is St. Athanasius work, On the Incarnation, where he lays down both the importance of the divinity of Christ and his necessary sacrifice to make the world anew as a result of humanities sin against God.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2008),58.
 Christopher Rengers and Matthew E. Bunson, The 35 Doctors of the Church (Tan Books: Charlotte, 2014), 2.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 59.
 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers (Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014),162.
 Ibid, 163.
 Renger and Bunson, 1.
 D’Ambrosio, 177.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 59.
 Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2010), 85.
 D’Ambrosio, 165.
 Ibid, 164.
Generally, Apologists, because their job description entails the defense of the faith, their works are generally reactive to the charges of the non-believers. Justin’s responses are no different in this aspect, from D’ambrosio we learn that the calumny of the day expressed charges of incest and cannibalism, “Rumors had arisen, based on Christians’ terminology, that their secret meetings were “love feasts” between “brothers and sisters” who “consumed the flesh and blood of a man called Christus.” These types of accusations continue through St. Augustine’s day to our present “meme” culture. The First Apology starts off, as D’ambrosio explains, “by blasting the idolatry and sexual immorality of the pagan society of his day…adultery and promiscuity, including homosexual liaisons and pedophilia, were rife in the empire at this time.” By studying Church history, we learn that the culture of “free love” or the modern version “love is love” brought forth by the sexual revolution of the late 60s is not a result of modern progression from the dark ages, but rather, a regression to the pagan moral system of hedonism.
Justin challenges the majority culture of the day with a polemical response accusing the pagan faithful of immoral behavior as exhibited in D’ambrosio’s book:
“as for us, we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do any one an injury, and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution…And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And any one who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; (1 Apology 27.)
St. Justin also by discrediting the accusations of incest by Christians gives a magnificent opus of the purity and dignity that is exhibited in Marriage founded on Christian principles taught by Jesus Christ himself:
“Concerning chastity, He uttered such sentiments as these: “Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart before God.” And, “If thy right eye offend thee, cut it out; for it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into everlasting fire.” And, “Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced from another husband, committeth adultery.”4 And, “There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake; but all cannot receive this saying.” So that all who, by human law, are twice married,6 are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her. For not only he who in act commits adultery is rejected by Him, but also he who desires to commit adultery: since not only our works, but also our thoughts, are open before God. And many, both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples from childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years; and I boast that I could produce such from every race of men. For what shall I say, too, of the countless multitude of those who have reformed intemperate habits, and learned these things? For Christ called not the just nor the chaste to repentance, but the ungodly, and the licentious, and the unjust; His words being, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” For the heavenly Father desires rather the repentance than the punishment of the sinner. And of our love to all, He taught thus: “If ye love them that love you, what new thing do ye? for even fornicators do this. But I say unto you, Pray for your enemies, and love them that hate you, and bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.”8
What one finds in St. Justin’s text is a belief system pulled straight from scripture. First and foremost, it indicates the early Christian understanding of Jesus’ concept of what constitutes as marriage, as Justin is responding to the promiscuity of pagan culture. In Matthew Chapter 19, as a response to the Pharisees challenging Christ in regards to Moses’ allowance for divorce, Jesus gives a definition of marriage based on Genesis chapter three. The only indication from Christ for a properly ordered relationship, in accordance to God’s creation, is a relationship ordered by biological compatibility and one predisposed to life, anything other than this type of relationship is one that does not reflect the proper sense of Christian community, but rather, pleasure of each single individual; and therefore, in the most proper sense is not true love.
So, If we compare what we’ve learned from our study of the Didache with the writings of St. Justin Martyr, D’ambrioso articulates that “Justin insists that Christianity is not just a belief system but a whole new way of living.” A Christian must choose either the way of life or the way of death. In many ways, the struggle between the two choices sets up much of the frame work of St. Augustine’s text the City of God. We must ultimately between the City of God or the City of Man while living in the City of Man.
 Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 172.
 Justin Martyr, 167.
 D’Ambrosio, 50.
The Didache serves as a good catechism in addressing particular questions about God’s commandments. For example, What does “Thou Shall not Kill” actually mean when God commands the Hebrews to kill the Canaanites? What does “Thou Shall not commit Adultery” mean to the unmarried? 
The Didache addresses both of these topics:
Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys, do not fornicate (have relations outside of marriage); do not steal; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.
Marcellino D’Ambrosio, in his book on the Church Fathers, explains that this is earliest known documentation in Christian literature that murder in accordance with the fifth commandment includes abortion. The document also references a code for sexual relations. Modernity attempts to profess that its views on human sexuality are new and progressive, but this could not be farther from the truth as explained by the Didache’s explanation on the sixth commandment for “In the Greco-Roman society of the time, religion had little to do with sexual morality. Adventuresome sexual exploration was the fashion.”
One of the most interesting facts that we find in the Didache is the instruction of Baptism. When I was a teenager, there was a church that would have bonfires after every football game and most of the high school kids would go to eat free pizza and roast marshmallows. After awhile, the youth minister of this particular church began to attempt to convert us to his faith. It got to the point that this particular youth minister began to tell us Catholics, and other mainstream Protestants, that we were not immersed when we baptized like Jesus in the Jordan River then our baptism was not valid.
So why do we believe our Baptism to be valid? Again, I cannot stress this enough, studying the early Christians allows us to defend our faith. First off, scripture doesn’t necessarily say that Jesus was immersed, it says that “he went up immediately from the water,” “And when he came up out of the water,” So imagine yourself on a riverbank, you have go down a hill to get into the river and to get out of the river you “went up” from it, or you come “up out of the water.” Now, it’s very possible, and even probable that Jesus was immersed, but just because the Gospel records a particular event doesn’t mean it’s a formula. In fact, the only formula for baptism in the Gospel is given at the end of the Gospel of Matthew:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Now, this could just be my particular interpretations of these particular text, I would imagine the youth minister in Mt. Sterling would tell me that these are Catholic apologist proof texts. So, I ask, what were the early Christian understanding of baptism.
The Didache reads:
“Baptize in running water, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (note that the only no negotiable is based on scripture) If you do not have running water, baptize in some other (form of water). If you cannot in cold, then in warm, If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
The early Christians only understood two necessities: #1 The Scriptural Formula and #2 Water. Different variables of water were allowed, and sprinkling was also allowed by early Christians.
Please read the other posts in this series:
 Didache 2:2 Some argue that abortion was allowed in Judaism; however, we must also keep in mind that Divorce was allowed in Judaism as referenced in Mt. 19, but Christ explains the reasoning why Divorce displeases God. Regardless of Judaic arguments for or against abortion, our faith asserts that the Church has been given the authority to teach God’s will.
 D’Ambrosio, 13.
 Mt. 3:16
 Mk. 1:10
 Mt. 28:19
 Didache 7:2
Newman described well the type of Christian who is so worried about ‘Judgement’ that she never shares the joy of knowing Christ, so conscious of her sins that she cannot take pleasure in her Christianity. The passage which I quoted yesterday is not only a warning to me (as I have pronounced tendencies that way) but also has wider application.
One of the things often commented upon by anti-Christian polemicists is just that tendency to be concerned with judging others which can come from judging ourselves. Jesus Himself asked how we could love God, whom we did not know, if we did not love our brother whom we did? If we hate ourself, how can we love others? What, after all, is love, save that which emanates from the mystery of the Economy of the Trinity?
The most startling insight of Christianity is not the revelation that God is one, but that He is Three. The Jews, and now the Muslims, hold the first belief; Christians alone hold the latter. When St. John tells us that ‘God is love’, he describes the relationship of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
The only distinction between the persons of the Trinity is their mutual relations. None of the persons exists in respect to Himself alone, but each exists relatively to the other two:
…the “three persons” who exist in God are the reality of word and love in their attachment to each other. They are not substances, personalities in the modern sense, but the relatedness whose pure actuality… does not impair unity of the highest being but fills it out. St Augustine once enshrined this idea in the following formula: “He is not called Father with reference to himself but only in relation to the Son; seen by himself he is simply God.” Here the decisive point comes beautifully to light. “Father” is purely a concept of relationship. Only in being-for the other is he Father; in his own being-in-himself he is simply God. Person is the pure relation of being related, nothing else. Relationship is not something extra added to the person, as it is with us; it only exists at all as relatedness.
….the First Person [the Father] does not beget the Son in the sense of the act of begetting coming on top of the finished Person; it is the act of begetting, of giving oneself, of streaming forth. It is identical with the act of giving.
(Joseph Ratzinger Introduction to Christianity, pp. 131-132; cf. Augustine, ; De Trinitate VII, 1, 2.)
In short, each of the persons of the Trinity lives completely for the others; each is a complete gift of self to the others. The complete self-giving not only constitutes the individual persons of the Trinity, but also their inseparable oneness.
That love, it was which impelled him to take action to help his creatures gone astray so when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman to redeem us and make us sons by adoption. If He loves us, let us love ourself too.
Nicholas responded to my short essay on Christ teaching the doctrine of purgatory in the Gospel of Matthew.
It needs to be clarified in accord to Catholic theology that Christ has already paid the debt of our original sin; however, as exemplified by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 13, because we are still scarred by concupiscence we may need to cleanse ourselves of sin before entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
Nicholas claims that he proves a lack of clarity, of course, this is false. In regards to my prior post, I broke down Christ’s teaching in my eschatological assertion that according to Mt. 5: 5:23-26 that there will be an accuser, a judge, and price to be paid for not settling our sins here on earth. Now in the comments section, there was mention of Maccabees, but I wish to refrain from that point, as I did in the original essay for the reason that book is disputed within the canon between Protestants and Catholics. However, Luther and his contemporary reformers did keep the title in the appendixes as it does have value in understanding the beliefs of Judaism in the period.
Regardless, my response here is to disprove a lack of clarity, which as I claimed, Jesus says there will be an accuser, a judge, and penance (payment). Of course, for the purpose of showing clarity, it would be wise to seek the wisdom of the Church Fathers. I think here, as I am about to give a talk at my parish on various Church Father will state my introduction of said fathers:
““The Church Fathers are those great Christian writers who passed on and clarified the teaching of the apostles from approximately the second through the eighth centuries.” I believe this to be a very distinct and thorough definition but if one is looking for a more generalized definition, Catholic Apologist provides a more generalized definition explaining, “In time, the concept (Church Fathers) came to be applied in a general way to those who shaped the faith and practice of the Church in its earliest centuries. They became “Fathers” not only for their own age but for all ages that would follow. Some of these—the ones who heard the preaching of the apostles themselves or lived very shortly after the time of the apostles—came to be called the “Apostolic Fathers” or “Sub-Apostolic Fathers.” Together with the Fathers of later ages, they were important witnesses to the apostolic Tradition.
Also, as Chalcedon’s connection with John Henry Newman, as well as my budding respect for the man, I’ve included his view on the importance of what the Father’s claim:
“When they (the Church Fathers) speak of doctrine, they speak of them as being universally held. They are witnesses to the fact of those doctrines having been received not here or there, but everywhere. We receive those doctrines which they thus teach, not merely because they teach them, but because they bear witness that all Christians everywhere then held them…they do not speak of their own private opinion; they do not say, ‘This is true, because we see it in Scripture’—about which there might be differences of judgment—but, ‘this is true, because in matter of fact it is held, and has ever been held, by all the Churches, down to our times without interruption, ever since the Apostles.”
After stating the importance on the Church Fathers thought in forming orthodox Christian theology, it would be prudent to take a look at what they actually have to say about this passage, as proof that I’ve not created a supposition out of then air which lacks clarity in thought, as well as not all orthodox Christian theology is found jumping out of canon, but can be located in its subtleness.
Fortunately, the great Saint, theologian, and scholar Thomas Aquinas has already compiled s document with views of Church Fathers in a commentary of the Gospels called Catena Aurea.
In regards to this particular passage: St. Augustine writes of the judge, which, of course, is the Son of God, The Christ Jesus:
Whosoever then shall not have been reconciled in this life with God through the death of His Son, shall be by Him delivered to the Judge, that is, the Son, to whom He has committed all judgment.
In the comment section of the previous essay, as I was commenting during my breaks at work, and did not have the material readily available to make certain my assertions, I did error in regards to St. Ambrose speaking in regards to Mt. 5 23-24; however, the passage has a correlating passage in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 12:57-59 in which Ambrose does share his thoughts on the accuser.
57 ¶“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”
For this particular passage, St. Ambrose writes, “Ambrose. Or our adversary is the devil, who lays his baits for sin, that he may have those his partners in punishment who were his accomplices in crime; our adversary is also every vicious practice. Lastly, our adversary is an evil conscience, which affects us both in this world, and will accuse and betray us in the next. Let us then give heed, while we are in this life’s course, that we may be delivered from every bad act as from an evil enemy. Nay, while we are going with our adversary to the magistrate, as we are in the way, we should condemn our fault. But who is the magistrate, but He in whose hands is all power? But the Magistrate delivers the guilty to the Judge, that is, to Him, to whom He gives the power over the quick and dead, namely, Jesus Christ, through Whom the secrets are made manifest, and the punishment of wicked works awarded. He delivers to the officer, and the officer casts into prison, for He says, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness. (Matt. 22:12.) And he shews that His officers are the angels, of whom he says, The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; (Matt. 13:49.) but it is added, I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite. For as they who pay money on interest do not get rid of the debt of interest before that the amount of the whole principal is paid even up to the least sum in every kind of payment, so by the compensation of love and the other acts, or by each particular kind of satisfaction the punishment of sin is cancelled.
Now there are several elements to tease out here.
#1 St. Ambrose indicates that Satan is the accuser of which Christ speaks. In fact, his protégé, St. Augustine admits it to be a possibility:
“Augustine. (Serm. in Mont. i. 11.) Let us see who this adversary is to whom we are bid to be benevolent, It may then be either the Devil, or man, or the flesh, or God, or His commandments. But I do not see how we can be bid be benevolent, or agreeing with the Devil; for where there is good will, there is friendship, and no one will say that friendship should be made with the Devil, or that it is well to agree with him, having once proclaimed war against him when we renounced him; nor ought we to consent with him, with whom had we never consented, we had never come into such circumstances,”
If one takes a closer look at Aquinas’ commentary, we do not find anything in regards to the payment in Matthew’s commentary. However, in regards to Luke’s passage, we find quite a bit from the Venerable Bede on the topic in which Bede writes:
“If I paid every man every thing, I come to the officers and answer with a fearless heart, “I owe them nothing.” But if I am a debtor, the officer will cast me into prison, nor will he suffer me to go out from thence until I have paid every debt. For the officer has no power to let me off even a farthing. He who forgave one debtor five hundred pence and another fifty, (Luke 7:41.) was the Lord, but the exactor is not the master, but one appointed by the master to demand the debts. But the last mite he calls slight and small, for our sins are either heavy or slight. Happy then is he who sinneth not, and next in happiness he who has sinned slightly. Even among slight sins there is diversity, otherwise he would not say until he has paid the last mite. For if he owes a little, he shall not come out till he pays the last mite. But he who has been guilty of a great debt, will have endless ages for his payment.
Again, I must assert that logically “the prison” cannot be hell because In the context of Jesus’ words when one pays the penny, they will be released, the judgment of hell is final. Furthermore, I would hope that it being heaven is quite obvious. Now, as Nicholas has concluded, the early church understanding of these topics does provide substantial evidence for the practice of penance which would also indicate, albeit, I’ll admit, circumstantial evidence of state in which penance would be needed to purify the soul. I hold firmly that all of this is more than enough evidence to point to clear theological discourse of purgatory in the Gospels. And, in the sentiment of John Henry Newman, for one to conclude that there isn’t enough evidence, let that one also claim clear and precise theological evidence for the Holy Spirit in scripture. Of course, this is not to discount the person in the Trinity, it only serves as an example that one has to look for more textural imagery for some concepts.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), 1 Co 3:10–15.
 D’Ambrosio, 2.
 Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 2010), 23.
 Dave Armstrong, Quotable Newman (Sophia Press: Manchester, 2012), 169-70.
 Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 182.
 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Lk 12:57–59.
 Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, 473.
 Ibid, 181–182.
 Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 474.
What is it about purgatory that divides Catholics from Protestants? Does it actually have to do with justification? At first, I think it’s important to state that there is only so much that we can possibly know about purgatory—like Heaven or hell.
My post here will be mostly informal and written from my observations having spent a great deal of time and having a magnificent opportunity listening to confessional Lutherans. I’ve heard told in many circles that Martin Luther, a pious Christian, had been using the sacrament of confession; however, after each time of reconciliation, the Augustinian monk, would hesitate a bit while walking back to his theological studies as he just remembered sins that he forgot to confess. Luther, then, thought something of the nature, “I must still be damned.” The term for this is called scrupulosity, in fact, I was having a discussion on Justification and purgatory one night, I said, “I believe that at best, I will no doubt have to be purified in purgatory, I then used the term, scrupulosity, in response to being told, “I just want you to have peace.” I looked very puzzled at the reply, “peace?” The individual thought that there was no possible way that I could be confident in my salvation if I had to continue to worry about my sins and practice the sacrament of confession. However, my response, “I already have peace. I can be confident in both my state of grace and the mercy of God; however, If I do deserve damnation, I have faith in God’s true justice.”
So, why do I have confidence in the doctrine of purgatory, as opposed to this individual and Luther? There are various proofs in Scripture that Catholics point to in regards to Purgatory such as 1 Cor. 3:11-15, Jn. 14:2, Mt. 12:32.
However, my confidence rests on the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew Ch. 5:23-26
23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. 
The great accuser—The opponent– that we will all have at our judgment is Satan. So, here are two topics that many Christians fail to speak about in this day and age, Satan and Sin, mainly because most no longer believe in either. So, if most do not believe that there are Satan and Sin, is it fair to say that it would be difficult to believe in a purification of Sin? Could one make the argument that our failure to acknowledge such is founded in Sola Fide? Perhaps not, after all, many Catholics no longer believe that Satan or Sin exists. In regards to on the way to court, of course, this means our life on the way to the beatific vision, and our way to settle our debt of sin is with confession and penance.
It’s important to note that Christ then says, “you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Christ couldn’t be talking about hell as the verdict from the Judge by this statement because if the judgment is hell, the judgment is final; however, purgatory is not a final state, but rather a purifying state, in which one will be “released;” therefore, their judgment of salvation has been assured.
One of the best pieces of Western Literature is Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the great attributes of the text is that it speaks to us today of the Christian worldview of a faithful Catholic in the 13th century before the Reformation.
Notice, even in both Canto III’s of the Inferno and Purgatory the difference of the fates of those souls:
Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,
Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell’d the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that forever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.
I then, with horror yet encompast, cried:
“O master! what is this I hear? what race
Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?”
“O spirits perfect! O already chosen!”
Virgil to them began: “by that blest peace,
Which, as I deem, is for you all prepared,
Instruct us where the mountain low declines,
So that attempt to mount it be not vain.
For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.”
In Dante’s Hell, those souls, as with every circle of hell, are continuously moved in endless unending circles, but notice, that in purgatory, as Virgil says as the souls approach him and Dante, “O already Chosen!” those spirits are beginning to move forward as pilgrims to the reward they’re already assured as they can not move back.
The Book of Concord reads in regards to penance in indulgence:
They add further that satisfactions ought to be works of supererogation. These consist of the most stupid observances, like pilgrimages, rosaries, and similar observations, none of which have the command of God.  Then, just as they buy off purgatory with satisfactions, so they also devised a way to buy off satisfactions, which turned out to be very profitable. For they sell indulgences, which they interpret as the remission of satisfactions. They collect this revenue not only from the living but even more from the dead. They buy off the satisfactions for the dead not only with indulgences but also with the sacrifice of the Mass.
As I read the above text, I hear the “voice” of the writer, in respect, to being angry at the selling for profit of indulgences in regards to removing penance. I fully admit that those in the Church, and yes even leaders, are sinners and did egregious actions. Regardless, Catholics and Protestants differ on how God conducts commands. Protestants claim Sola Scriptura while Catholics claim that Church tradition can also produce theological truths. However, after applying Christ words using scripture, can it truly be claimed there is no command from God? Furthermore, is it “works” to simply pray for souls in purgatory? It’s well noted in the historical record that Luther edited books from the canon that displayed prayers for the dead, as it opposed to his prospective theology. It’s clear from Catholic theology that souls who receive no prayers will still be purified and receive their reward, in this regard, no action from anyone is meriting salvation, as salvation is assured. God initiates by a free gift salvation. I implore my Protestant brothers and sisters to see that “works” is not a bad word. If salvation is granted to us Prima Gratia, Christ still speaks time and time again about “storing treasures in Heaven” by actions on earth.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 5:22–26.
 Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 13–14.
 Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 157.
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 190.