Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture 19

Cyril of Jerusalem

Lecture 19

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, stalks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Whom resist firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are endured by your brothers and sisters worldwide.  Yet, the God of all grace, Who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, He Himself will complete, establish[i], strengthen, and seat[ii] you.  To Him be glory and might into the ages of ages.  Amen.

“By Silvanus[iii] to you, [your] faithful brother, as I count him, I wrote briefly, exhorting, and witnessing that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.  She[iv] greets you, who is in Babylon[v], [your] co-elect, as well as my son Mark.  Greet one another with a kiss of charity.  Peace be with you all who are in Christ Jesus.  Amen.” — 1 Peter 5:8-14

Summary: We begin now, the review of St. Cyril’s five so-called “mystagogical”[vi] lectures given immediately on the days following Pascha or Pesach.  Parts of this lecture are so pedantic that it is hard to believe that St. Cyril wrote them.[vii]  If genuine, they condemn all of twenty-first century world civilization as demonic: for what do we have anywhere that is not dominated by sport and other entertainment?  Unfortunately, we will make little additional headway in the evaluation of such problems until a critical Greek edition is published with an updated translation.  In the meantime we have the privilege of finding and reading this... a detailed description of the renunciation of Satan immediately prior to baptism.

Preview:  1.  “I have long been wishing … to discourse to you concerning these spiritual and heavenly Mysteries; but since … seeing is far more persuasive than hearing, I waited for the present season; that … I might lead you by the hand into the brighter and more fragrant meadow of the Paradise before us; especially as you have been made fit to receive the more sacred Mysteries … [by] divine and life-giving Baptism.  … let us now teach you these things exactly, that you may know the effect wrought upon you on that evening of your baptism.”  2.  “First you entered into the vestibule … and there facing … West … as [if] in the presence of Satan you renounced him.  … this figure is found in ancient history.  For when Pharaoh … was oppressing … the Hebrews, God sent Moses to bring them out of … bondage….  Then the door posts were anointed with the blood of a lamb … and the Hebrew people was marvelously delivered.  The enemy … pursued after them,[viii] … and was all at once overwhelmed and engulphed in the Red Sea.”  3.  “Now turn from the [type] … to the reality.”  “The tyrant of old was drowned in the sea; and this present one [Satan] disappears in the water of salvation.”  4.  “… you are bidden to say … I renounce you, Satan.  … you stand facing to the West … [as] the region of sensible darkness.  I fear your might no longer; for that Christ has overthrown, having partaken with me of flesh and blood, that through these He might by death destroy death,[ix] that I might not be made subject to bondage forever.”  5.  Then … you are taught to say, and all your works.  Now the works of Satan are all sin….  … all that you say … is written in God’s books; when therefore you do any thing contrary to these promises, you shall be judged as a transgressor.[x]  You renounce therefore … all deeds and thoughts which are contrary to reason.”  6.  “Then you say, And all his pomp.  … theatres … horse-races … hunting … vanity: from which that holy man … says unto God, Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.[xi]  “… for the sake of their own god, their belly, they cast away their life headlong in single combats.”[xii]  7.  Moreover, the things … [of] idol festivals … [are] polluted by the invocation of the unclean spirits….  [xiii]  …such meats belonging to the pomp of Satan, though in their own nature simple, become profane by the invocation of the evil spirit.[xiv]  8.  “After this you say, and all your service.  … prayer in idol temples … honor of lifeless idols….”  … divination [of various sorts[xv]]….  Take heed therefore to yourself, and turn not again to what is behind, having put your hand to the plough, and then turning back to the salt savour of this life’s doings; but escape to the mountain, to Jesus Christ, that stone hewn without hands,[xvi] which has filled the world.”  9.  “When therefore you renounce Satan, utterly breaking all your covenant with him, that ancient league with hell,[xvii] there is opened to you the paradise of God … turning from West to East, the place of light.  Then you were told to say, I believe in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, and in one Baptism of repentance.”  10.  “Guarded therefore by these discourses, be sober.  For our adversary the devil, as was just now read, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.[xviii]  But … at the holy Laver of regeneration God has wiped away every tear from off all faces.  … you shall keep holy-day, clothed in the garment of salvation,[xix] even Jesus Christ.”  11.  “These things were done in the outer chamber.  But … when … we have entered into the Holy of Holies, we shall there know the symbolic meaning of the things which are there performed.  Now to God the Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory, and power, and majesty, forever and ever.  Amen.”

[i] He will provide you with honor, a standing.

[ii] He will enthrone you, giving you a place at His festal table.

[iii] We suspect this means that Silvanus will deliver the message; less likely, that he was the scribe that penned it: the fact that Peter continues in the first person makes this latter possibility less likely.

[iv] The Church, the co-elect.  The Co-elect greets you who is in Babylon….”  Peter may be writing before the term Church comes into common use; or, he may desire to emphasize election: namely, the baptism of the Spirit.

[v] The pejorative term, Babylon, most likely indicates that Peter is writing from Jerusalem, which he now regards as the seat of all evil.  If Rome were intended, we would have to explain why Rome is the seat of evil at this early date, and how Mark journeyed there.  Still, it was not Rome that crucified Christ.

[vi] Mystagogy implies a relationship between Christianity and mystery religions; in which, as with social fraternities, the secret rites are only disclosed after initiation.  Christianity is not a secret society, and is wholly unlike any secret society (Luke 11:13).  That being said, the Baptism, which the Spirit brings, opens fresh, direct avenues of communication with God (Romans 8:16); this can be a somewhat startling event: the newly baptized may wonder what hit them: so, some explanation is in order.  St. Cyril, now goes through the previous day’s activities, reviewing them one step at a time.  These are not secrets.  They were openly published from around 313; prior to that, Christianity was an illegal religion, for which any publication was a high-risk venture: getting caught publishing Christian literature meant almost certain death, plus the destruction of all the work.  So, before 313 much Christian activity went on behind closed, locked doors; admission required careful vetting to exclude pagan spies.  This made Christianity appear to be a secret pagan mystery religion, even though it was not.  The legalization of Christianity in 313 changed all that; more and more Christians were again free to speak openly and publicly; in 385 the Nicene Creed is amended, approved, and made part of the law of the Roman Empire.  The Sacraments of the Church (including Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, and several other things) are called Mysteries, because God is Spirit, and invisible; thus, the operations of the Spirit in these Sacraments cannot be seen… they are mysterious, even though real inwardly observable, felt change takes place.  No one saw the Spirit overwhelm me; yet, I certainly know that it happened.  No one understands the meaning of “this is My body, this is My blood”; yet, roughly a billion people have experienced it.  A better and more thorough explanation may be found in St. Cyril’s biography and under Disciplina Arcani.  However, beware: for, much of the biographical material concerning St. Cyril is pejorative, prejudicial, and presumptive.

[vii] St. Cyril’s authorship of these last five “mystagogical” lectures has not gone undisputed.  Some reasons for suspecting the genuineness of St. Cyril’s authorship would be a paucity of Scripture, where other of St. Cyril’s writings are immersed in Scripture; a tone of legalism, which St. Cyril, elsewhere, opposes.  Better biographical materials (NPOV, less biased) may be found at:
Nevertheless, biographers often miss obvious Scripture references and attribute these to St. Cyril.

[viii] Exodus 14:9, 23

[ix] Hebrews 2:14-15

[x] Galatians 2:18

[xi] Psalms 119:37

[xii] It seems unlike St. Cyril to harp on specific sins; these are not the sorts of sin with which Jesus seems concerned; nor the sins condemned in Acts 15: perhaps a Judaizing legalism has crept back into the Church.
Little is known of horse racing prior to the seventh century; so, it seems strange to find an emphasis against horse-racing.

[xiii] St. Cyril specifies details of Communion here, “For as the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist before the invocation of the Holy and Adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, while after the invocation the Bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the Wine the Blood of Christ.”
We are not comfortable with this illustration.  The work of a Sacrament is the work of the Spirit, not simply a powerless invocation as with pagan sacrifice.

[xiv] Only in the sense of the superstition associated with them; depending on the circumstances, Paul classifies some of these things as adiaphora.

[xv] St. Cyril speaks of birds here, which may be a veiled reference, mocking the Roman or other practice of Augury or Auspices.

[xvi] Daniel 2:35, 45

[xvii] Isaiah 28:15

[xviii] 1 Peter 5:8

[xix] Isaiah 61:10

Friday, May 25, 2018

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Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture 18, Part C

Cyril of Jerusalem

Lecture 18, Part C

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones.” — Ezekiel 37:1

Summary: St. Cyril, after firmly and decisively showing that Judaism is cut off, sings the praises of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church[i] in a beautiful chorus and litany of Scripture quotations.  He warns of the dangers of false churches, and the wolves that would come, spoiling the flock; he especially reminds us of the fact of the resurrection and eternal life.  He emphasizes that salvation requires of us both faith and works.  He concludes his catechetical lectures, prior to Baptism, with the assurance that our Baptism should fill us with exceeding joy, as the wealth of the Spirit begins to grow within us.

Preview:  25.  “The Psalmist sang, Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lordfrom the fountains of Israel.[ii]  After which there can be no doubt about the cutting off of the Jews as a chosen nation from the kingdom of God, because of their evil deeds; not as repentant individuals.[iii]  “But after the Jews … were cast away from His grace, the Savior built … a second Holy 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.[iv]  And David … said plainly of the first … I have hated the Congregation of evil doers;[v] but of the second … Lord, I have loved the beauty of Your house;[vi] and … In the Congregations will I bless you, O Lord.[vii]  For now that … Judea is cast off, the Churches of Christ are increased over all the world … Sing unto the Lord a new song, His praise in the Congregation of Saints.[viii]  … the prophet also said to the Jews, I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Almighty;[ix]For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name is glorified among the Gentiles.[x]  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.[xi]  26.  But since the word Ecclesia is applied to different things … And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the Assembly,[xii] … [or] that there is a Church of evil doers … 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 [of false churches], and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which you were regenerated.”  “for it is written, As Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it….[xiii]  and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all[xiv]….”  27.  In this 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,[xv] and every sort of virtue … 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,[xvi] in former days [of] persecutions and tribulations … and now in times of peace by God’s grace receives her due honors from kings and those who are in high place[xvii]….  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.[xviii]  28.  “In this Holy Catholic Church … 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.”  “Wherefore … after the words, And in the resurrection of the flesh … we are taught to believe also in the life eternal, for which as Christians we are striving.”  29.  “The real and true life … is the Father, … through the Son in the Holy Spirit pours forth as from a fountain His heavenly gifts to all; and through His love to man, the blessings of the life eternal are promised without fail to us men also.  for with God all things are possible.[xix]  … and that we may look for eternal life, Daniel declares, And of the many righteous shall they shine as the stars for ever and ever.[xx]  And Paul says, And so shall we be ever with the Lord[xxi].  And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.[xxii]  30.  “And many are the proofs concerning the life eternal [and ways of gaining it].”  “… it is by faith; for it is written, He that believes in the Son has eternal life….[xxiii]  … and again … Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears My word, and believes Him that sent Me, has eternal life….[xxiv]  … it is by the preaching of the Gospel; for He says, that He that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit unto life eternal.[xxv]  … [it is] by martyrdom and confession in Christ’s name; for He says, And he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal.[xxvi]  … [it is] by preferring Christ to riches or kindred; And every one that has forsaken brethren, or sisters[xxvii]shall inherit eternal life. … it is by keeping the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill…. as He answered to him that came to Him, and said, Good Master, what shall I do that I may have eternal life?[xxviii]  … it is by departing from evil works, and henceforth serving God; for Paul says, But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life.[xxix]  31.  “The ways of finding eternal life are many, though I have passed over them by reason of their number.    that … all might enjoy it without hindrance.  Thus much have we … spoken … concerning the life eternal … the last doctrine of those professed in the Faith, and its termination; which life may we all, both teachers and hearers, by God’s grace enjoy!”[xxx]  32.  “And now, brethren beloved … prepare your souls for the reception of the heavenly gifts.  As regards the Holy and Apostolic Faith … we have spoken through the grace of the Lord as many Lectures, as was possible … not that this is all we ought to have said, for many are the points omitted….  But now the holy day of the Passover is at hand, and you, beloved in Christ, are to be enlightened by the Laver of regeneration.  You shall therefore again be taught what is requisite, if God so will; with how great devotion and order you must enter in when summoned, for what purpose each of the holy mysteries of Baptism is performed, and with what reverence and order you must go from Baptism to the Holy Altar of God, and enjoy its spiritual and heavenly mysteries; that your souls being previously enlightened by the word of doctrine, you may discover in each particular the greatness of the gifts bestowed on you by God.”  33.  And after Easter’s Holy Day of salvation, you shall come on each successive day, beginning from the second day of the week, after the assembly into the Holy Place of the Resurrection , and there, if God permit, you shall hear other Lectures; in which you shall again be taught the reasons of everything which has been done, and shall receive the proofs thereof from the Old and New Testaments — first, of the things done just before Baptism, — next, how you were cleansed from your sins by the Lord, by the washing of water with the word[xxxi] …[how] you have become partakers of the Name of Christ … how the Seal of the fellowship of the Holy Ghost was given to you … the mysteries at the Altar of the New Testament … how ye must approach them, and when and how receive them … how for the time to come ye must behave yourselves worthily of this grace both in words and deeds, that you may all be enabled to enjoy the life everlasting.”  34.  Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice: for your redemption has drawn near,[xxxii] and the heavenly host of the Angels is waiting for your salvation.[xxxiii]  the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord;[xxxiv]Ho, you that thirst, come ye to the water;[xxxv]Hearken unto me, and you shall eat that which is good, and your soul shall delight itself in good things.[xxxvi]  Shine, shine, O thou new Jerusalem; for your light has come.[xxxvii]  And afterwards you shall be called the city of righteousness, Zion, the faithful mother of cities; because of the law[xxxviii] which went forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,[xxxix] which word has from hence been showered forth on the whole world.  Lift up your eyes round about, and behold your children gathered together;[xl]Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves with their young ones to me?[xli]  “… Who knows such things? Or who has seen it thus? Did ever a land bring forth in one day? Or was ever a nation born all at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.[xlii]  Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.[xliii]  35.  “… Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth; … for the Lord has had mercy on His people, and comforted the lowly of His people.[xliv]  Behold, I will blot out as a cloud your transgressions, and as a thick cloud your sins.[xlv]  Upon My servants shall be called a new name which shall be blessed on the earth,[xlvi]Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ[xlvii]in whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He abounded towards us….[xlviii]  But God being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, when we were dead through our trespasses, quickened us together with Christ….[xlix]  But when the kindness of God our Savior, and His love towards man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs, according to hope, of eternal life.[l]  And may God Himself the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened,[li] and may He ever keep you in good works, and words, and thoughts; to Whom be glory, honor, and power, through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, now and ever, and unto all the endless ages of eternity.  Amen.

[i] He refers to neither the Orthodox Catholic nor the Roman Catholic churches: for, in the fourth century there was only one true Church, in spite of the claims of Donatists, Nestorians, Nicolaitans, Novationists, Rogatists, and many others… too numerous and tedious to list.

[ii] Psalms 68:26

[iii] We ought not suppose that the events around 1666 reversed this situation in any way.  There is no Judeo-Christian ethic or union.  There may be an Abrahamic-Israelite-Mosaic-Christian theology.  Make no mistake, the continuing Old Testament Church is Christianity, not Judaism: for Judaism continues to resist the Word of God in countless ways.  Repentance and faith are the only cures: Jews need to be baptized and become Christians.

[iv] Matthew 16:18

[v] Psalms 26:5

[vi] Psalms 26:8

[vii] Psalms 26:12

[viii] Psalms 149:1

[ix] Malachi 1:10

[x] Malachi 1:11

[xi] 1 Timothy 3:15

[xii] Acts 19:41

[xiii] Ephesians 5:25

[xiv] Galatians 4:26

[xv] 1 Corinthians 12:28

[xvi] 2 Corinthians 6:7-8

[xvii] 1 Timothy 2:2

[xviii] Psalms 147:14

[xix] Matthew 19:23-30

[xx] Daniel 12:3

[xxi] 1 Thessalonians 4:17

[xxii] Matthew 25:46

[xxiii] John 3:36

[xxiv] John 5:24

[xxv] John 4:36

[xxvi] John 12:25

[xxvii] Matthew 19:29

[xxviii] Mark 10:17-23

[xxix] Romans 6:22

[xxx] This seems to us to be a somewhat circuitous, complex and contrived way of saying the same thing that James 2:14-26 so clearly explains.  It is impossible that true biblical faith and true biblical works every be separated one from the other: for the Law, working alive within us due to the perfect work of Christ, urges us onward to do what is right in every situation.  There just ain’t no such thing as easy believism….

[xxxi] Ephesians 5:26

[xxxii] Philippians 4:4; also, Philippians 4:1-7

[xxxiii] Note that St. Cyril understands joining the Church through Baptism to be a specific act of the Spirit; not of the application of water, which is an act of man; yet, St. Cyril expects this spiritual act to take place along with the application of water, and he will be surprised if this spiritual act does not take place; nevertheless, the Spirit will not come wherever He perceives an evil heart of unbelief: this is not magic.  So, the Spirit Himself acts ex opere operato, wherever He wishes; but, humanity has no power to confect such an act, with or without water.  Therefore, we should be awestruck by the power of God in this matter: for He can neither be deceived nor denied.  Thus, the person being touched by the Spirit may experience considerable spontaneous emotional response and excitement.  Indeed, it is exciting every time the Spirit speaks to us; yet, He comes mostly in a still small voice, teaching the Bible, so our excitement quiets down into a more peaceful love.

[xxxiv] Isaiah 40:3

[xxxv] Isaiah 55:1

[xxxvi] Isaiah 55:2-7

[xxxvii] Isaiah 60:1

[xxxviii] Note the necessity of the Law here, and its equation with the Word of the Lord, Who is Christ Himself.

[xxxix] The Church is the New Jerusalem, the City of Righteousness.  Isaiah 1:21, 26-31; 45:13; Daniel 9:16, 18, 24 Septuagint

[xl] Isaiah 40:9, 26; 49:18; 60:4

[xli] Isaiah 60:8

[xlii] Isaiah 66:8 Septuagint

[xliii] Isaiah 65:18

[xliv] Isaiah 49:13

[xlvi] Isaiah 62:2; 65:15-16; 66:22

[xlvii] Ephesians 1:3

[xlviii] Ephesians 1:7-9

[xlix] Ephesians 2:4-7