Thursday, May 11, 2006
Against the Heresies: St. Irenaeus of Lyon
Unity of the faith of the Church throughout the whole world
1. The Church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one," and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven,, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess" to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send "spiritual wickednesses," and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.
2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.
3. It does not follow because men are endowed with greater and less degrees of intelligence, that they should therefore change the subject-matter [of the faith] itself, and should conceive of some other God besides Him who is the Framer, Maker, and Preserver of this universe, (as if He were not sufficient for them), or of another Christ, or another Only-begotten. But the fact referred to simply implies this, that one may [more accurately than another] bring out the meaning of those things which have been spoken in parables, and accommodate them to the general scheme of the faith; and explain [with special clearness] the operation and dispensation of God connected with human salvation; and show that God manifested longsuffering in regard to the apostasy of the angels who transgressed, as also with respect to the disobedience of men; and set forth why it is that one and the same God has made some things temporal and some eternal, some heavenly and others earthly; and understand for what reason God, though invisible, manifested Himself to the prophets not under one form, but differently to different individuals; and show why it was that more covenants than one were given to mankind; and teach what was the special character of each of these covenants; and search out for what reason "God hath concluded every man in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all;" and gratefully describe on what account the Word of God became flesh and suffered; and relate why the advent of the Son of God took place in these last times, that is, in the end, rather than in the beginning [of the world]; and unfold what is contained in the Scriptures concerning the end [itself], and things to come; and not be silent as to how it is that God has made the Gentiles, whose salvation was despaired of, fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers with the saints; and discourse how it is that "this mortal body shall put on immortality, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption;" and proclaim in what sense [God] says, "'That is a people who was not a people; and she is beloved who was not beloved;" and in what sense He says that "more are the children of her that was desolate, than of her who possessed a husband." For in reference to these points, and others of a like nature, the apostle exclaims: "Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" 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 Aeon, 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 Aeons, 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 V, Chapter 2
When Christ visited us in his grace, he did not come to what did not belong to him: also, by shedding his true blood for us, and exhibiting to us his true flesh in the Eucharist, he conferred upon our flesh the capacity of salvation.
1. And vain likewise are those who say that God came to those things which did not belong to Him, as if covetous of another's property; in order that He might deliver up that man who had been created by another, to that God who had neither made nor formed anything, but who also was deprived from the beginning of His own proper formation of men. The advent, therefore, of Him whom these men represent as coming to the things of others, was not righteous; nor did He truly redeem us by His own blood, if He did not really become man, restoring to His own handiwork what was said [of it] in the beginning, that man was made after the image and likeness of God; not snatching away by stratagem the property of another, but taking possession of His own in a righteous and gracious manner. As far as concerned the apostasy, indeed, He redeems us righteously from it by His own blood; but as regards us who have been redeemed, [He does this] graciously. For we have given nothing to Him previously, nor does He desire anything from us, as if He stood in need of it; but we do stand in need of fellowship with Him. And for this reason it was that He graciously poured Himself out, that He might gather us into the bosom of the Father.
2. But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption. But if this indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body. For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins." And as we are His members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills ). He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.
3. When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? -- even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh; but [he refers to] that dispensation [by which the Lord became] an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones -- that [flesh] which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body. And just as a cutting from the vine planted in the ground fructifies in its season, or as a corn of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed, rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things, and then, through the wisdom of God, serves for the use of men, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ; so also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption, because the strength of God is made perfect in weakness, in order that we may never become puffed up, as if we had life from ourselves, and exalted against God, our minds becoming ungrateful; but learning by experience that we possess eternal duration from the excelling power of this Being, not from our own nature, we may neither undervalue that glory which surrounds God as He is, nor be ignorant of our own nature, but that we may know what God can effect, and what benefits man receives, and thus never wander from the true comprehension of things as they are, that is, both with regard to God and with regard to man. And might it not be the case, perhaps, as I have already observed, that for this purpose God permitted our resolution into the common dust of mortality, that we, being instructed by every mode, may be accurate in all things for the future, being ignorant neither of God nor of ourselves?
Book V, Chapter 3
The power and glory of God shine forth in the weakness of human flesh, as he will render our body a participator of the resurrection and of immortality, although He has formed it from the dust of the earth; He will also bestow upon it the enjoyment of immortality, just as He grants it this short life in common with the soul.
1. The Apostle Paul has, moreover, in the most lucid manner, pointed out that man has been delivered over to his own infirmity, lest, being uplifted, he might fall away from the truth. Thus he says in the second [Epistle] to the Corinthians: "And lest I should be lifted up by the sublimity of the revelations, there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. And upon this I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. But he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for strength is made perfect in weakness. Gladly therefore shall I rather glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me." What, therefore? (as some may exclaim:) did the Lord wish, in that case, that His apostles should thus undergo buffering, and that he should endure such infirmity? Even so it was; the word says it. For strength is made perfect in weakness, rendering him a better man who by means of his infirmity becomes acquainted with the power of God. For how could a man have learned that he is himself an infirm being, and mortal by nature, but that God is immortal and powerful, unless he had learned by experience what is in both? For there is nothing evil in learning one's infirmities by endurance; yea, rather, it has even the beneficial effect of preventing him from forming an undue opinion of his own nature (non aberrare in natura sua). But the being lifted up against God, and taking His glory to one's self, rendering man ungrateful, has brought much evil upon him. [And thus, I say, man must learn both things by experience], that he may not be destitute of truth and love either towards himself or his Creator. But the experience of both confers upon him the true knowledge as to God and man, and increases his love towards God. Now, where there exists an increase of love, there a greater glory is wrought out by the power of God for those who love Him.
2. Those men, therefore, set aside the power of God, and do not consider what the word declares, when they dwell upon the infirmity of the flesh, but do not take into consideration the power of Him who raises it up from the dead. For if He does not vivify what is mortal, and does not bring back the corruptible to incorruption, He is not a God of power. But that He is powerful in all these respects, we ought to perceive from our origin, inasmuch as God, taking dust from the earth, formed man. And surely it is much more difficult and incredible, from non-existent bones, and nerves, and veins, and the rest of man's organization, to bring it about that all this should be, and to make man an animated and rational creature, than to re-integrate again that which had been created and then afterwards decomposed into earth (for the reasons already mentioned), having thus passed into those [elements] from which man, who had no previous existence, was formed. For He who in the beginning caused him to have being who as yet was not, just when He pleased, shall much more reinstate again those who had a former existence, when it is His will [that they should inherit] the life granted by Him. And that flesh shall also be found fit for and capable of receiving the power of God, which at the beginning received the skilful touches of God; so that one part became the eye for seeing; another, the ear for hearing; another, the hand for feeling and working; another, the sinews stretched out everywhere, and holding the limbs together; another, arteries and veins, passages for the blood and the air; another, the various internal organs; another, the blood, which is the bond of union between soul and body. But why go [on in this strain]? Numbers would fail to express the multiplicity of parts in the human frame, which was made in no other way than by the great wisdom of God. But those things which partake of the skill and wisdom of God, do also partake of His power.
3. The flesh, therefore, is not destitute [of participation] in the constructive wisdom and power of God. But if the power of Him who is the bestower of life is made perfect in weakness -- that is, in the flesh -- let them inform us, when they maintain the incapacity of flesh to receive the life granted by God, whether they do say these things as being living men at present, and partakers of life, or acknowledge that, having no part in life whatever, they are at the present moment dead men. And if they really are dead men, how is it that they move about, and speak, and perform those other functions which are not the actions of the dead, but of the living? But if they are now alive, and if their whole body partakes of life, how can they venture the assertion that the flesh is not qualified to be a partaker of life, when they do confess that they have life at the present moment? It is just as if anybody were to take up a sponge full of water, or a torch on fire, and to declare that the sponge could not possibly partake of the water, or the torch of the fire. In this very manner do those men, by alleging that they are alive and bear life about in their members, contradict themselves afterwards, when they represent these members as not being capable of [receiving] life. But if the present temporal life, which is of such an inferior nature to eternal life, can nevertheless effect so much as to quicken our mortal members, why should not eternal life, being much more powerful than this, vivify the flesh, which has already held converse with, and been accustomed to sustain, life? For that the flesh can really partake of life, is shown from the fact of it; being alive; for it lives on, as long as it is God's purpose that it should do so. It is manifest, too, that God has the power to confer life upon it, inasmuch as He grants life to us who are in existence. And, therefore, since the Lord has power to infuse life into what He has fashioned, and since the flesh is capable of being quickened, what remains to prevent its participating in incorruption, which is a blissful and never-ending life granted by God?
Monday, May 08, 2006
The Myrrhbearing Women: St. Gregory Palamas
The resurrection of the Lord is the regeneration of human nature. It is the resuscitation and re-creation of the first Adam, whom sin led to death, and who because of death, again was made to retrace his steps on the earth from which he was made. The resurrection is the return to immortal life. Whereas no one saw that first man when he was created and given life—because no man existed yet at that time—woman was the first person to see him after he had received the breath of life by divine inbreathing. For after him, Eve was the first human being. Likewise no one saw the second Adam, who is the Lord, rise from the dead, for none of his followers were near by and the soldiers guarding the tomb were so shaken that they were like dead men. Following the resurrection, however, it was a woman who saw Him first before the others, as we have heard from Saint Mark’s Gospel today. After his resurrection Jesus appeared on the morning of the Lord’s Day [Sunday] to Mary Magdalene first.
It seems that the Evangelist is speaking clearly about the time of the Lord’s resurrection - that it was morning - that he appeared to Mary Magdalene, and that he appeared to her at the time of the resurrection. But, if we pay some attention it will become clear that this is not what he says. Earlier in this passage, in agreement with the other Evangelists, Saint Mark says that Mary Magdalene had come to the tomb earlier with the other Myrrhbearing women, and that she went away when she saw it empty. Therefore, the Lord had risen much earlier on the morning on which she saw him. But wishing to fix the time more exactly, he doesn’t say simply “morning,” as is the case here, but “very early in the morning.” Thus the expression “and the rising of the sun” as used there refers to that time when the slightest light precedes from the east on the horizon. This is what Saint John also wants to indicate when he says that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in the morning while it was still dark and saw the stone pulled away from it.
According to Saint John, she did not come to the tomb alone, even though she left the tomb without yet having seen the Lord. For she ran to Peter and John, and instead of announcing to them that the Lord was risen, told them that he had been taken from the tomb. Therefore, she did not yet know about the resurrection. It is not Mary Magdalene’s claim that Christ appeared to her first but that he appeared after the actual beginning of the day. There is, of course, a certain shadow covering this matter on the part of the Evangelists that I shall, through your love, uncover. The good news of the resurrection of Christ was received from the Lord first, before all others, by the Theotokos. This is truly meet and right. She was the first to see him after the resurrection and she had to joy to hear his voice first. Moreover, she not only saw him with her eyes and heard him with her ears but with her hands she was the first and only one to touch his spotless feet, even if the Evangelists do not mention these things clearly. They do not want to present the mother’s witness so as not to give the nonbelievers a reason to be suspicious. In that now my words about the joy of the risen one are directed to believers, the opportunity of this feast moves us to explain what is relative to the Myrrhbearers. Justification is given by him who said: There is nothing hidden that shall not be made known, and this also will be made known.
The Myrrhbearers are all those women who followed with the mother of the Lord, stayed with her during those hours of the salvific passion, and with pathos anointed him with myrrh. After Joseph and Nicodemos asked for and received the body of the Lord from Pilate, they took it down from the cross, wrapped it in a cloth with strong spices, placed it in a carved out tomb, and closed the door of the tomb with a large stone. The Myrrhbearers were close by and watched, and as the Evangelist Mark relates, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated opposite the grave. With the expression “and the other Mary” he means the mother of Christ without a doubt. She was also called the mother of Iakovos [James] and Joses, who were the children of Joseph, her betrothed. It was not only they who were watching the entombment of the Lord but also the other women. As Saint Luke relates:
And the women, also, who had come with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher and how his body was laid. These women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of Iakovos, and the other women who were with them.He writes that they went and bought spices and myrrh; for they did not yet clearly know that he is truly the perfume of life for those who approach him in faith, just as he is also the odor of death for those who remain unbelievers to the end. They did not yet clearly know that the odor of his clothes, the odor of his own body, is greater than all perfumes, that his name is like myrrh that is poured out to cover the world with his divine fragrance. For those who wanted to remain close by the body, the contrived an antidote of perfumes for the stench of decomposition and anointed it.
Thus they prepared the myrrh and the spices and rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. For they had not yet experienced the true sabbath, nor did they understand that exceedingly blessed sabbath that transports us from the confines of hell to the perfection of the bright and divine heights of heaven. Saint Luke says that “on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” they came to the sepulchre bearing the spices that they had prepared. And Saint Matthew says that those who came “late on the Sabbath towards the dawn of the Lord’s day” were two in number. Saint John says that it was only Mary Magdalene who came, and that it was “morning, even though it was still dark.” But Saint Mark says that three women came very early in the morning on the first day of the week. By ‘’the first day of the week” all the Evangelists mean the Lord’s Day [Sunday] and they use expressions like “late on the Sabbath,” ”early dawn,” ”early dawn,” “early morning,” “morning,” and “even though it was still dark” [to refer to the Lord’s Day which is Sunday]. They mean the daybreaking hour when the darkness fights with the light and the hour when the eastern part of the horizon begins to become light as it presages the day. Observing from afar, one sees the light changing colors in the east at about the ninth hour of the night, which colors remain until the fulfillment of the day three hours later. It seems that the Evangelists disagree some-what concerning both the time of the visits and the number of women [that are involved]. This is attributable to the fact that, as we said, the myrrhbearers were many; that they did not come to the sepulchre one time only but two and three times, and not always in the same groups; that all the visits were at dawn but not at exactly the same hour. Mary Magdalene also came by herself without the others and stayed longer. Each of the Evangelists, therefore, relates one journey of some of the women and leaves the others. Consequently, by comparing all the Evangelists—and I said this before–I conclude that the Theotokos was the first who came to the grave of her son and God, together with Mary Magdalene. We are informed of this by the Evangelist Matthew who said:
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary–who was, of course, the Mother of the Lord-went to look at the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake: for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards did shake and become like dead men.
The other women came after the earthquake and the flight of the guards, and found the grave open and the stone rolled back. The Virgin Mother, however, was there when the quake occurred, when the stone was rolled back, when the grave opened, and while the guards were there, even though they were completely shaken with fear. That is why the guards immediately thought of fleeing when they came to from the earthquake but the Mother of God rejoiced without fear at what she saw. I believe that the life-bearing grave opened first for her. For her and by her grace all things were revealed for us, everything that is in heaven above and on the earth below. For her sake the angel shone so brightly so that, even though it was still dark, she saw by means of the bright angelic light not only the empty grave but also the burial garments carefully arranged and in an orderly fashion, thereby witnessing in many ways to the resurrection of the one who was entombed. He was, after all, that same angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel; he watched her proceed rapidly towards the grave and immediately descended. He who in the beginning had told her “fear not, Mary, you have found grace with God,” now directs the same exhortation to the Ever Virgin. He came to announce the resurrection from the dead to her who, with seedless conception, gave him birth; to raise the stone, to reveal the empty grave and the burial garments, so that in this manner the good news would be verified for her. He writes:
And the angel answered the women and said: fear not. Do you seek the Christ whom they crucified? He is risen. Here is the place where the Lord was placed. If you see the soldiers overcome with fear, do not be afraid. I know that you seek the Christ whom they crucified. He is risen. He is not here.
For not only can He not be held by the keys, the bars, and the seals of hell, of death, and of the grave, but he is even the Lord of the immortal angels of heaven, and the only Lord of the whole world. See the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead. And they departed, he says, with fear and great joy. At this point I am of the opinion that Mary Magdalene and the other women who had come up to that point were still frightened. For they did not understand the meaning of the angel’s powerful words nor could they contain to the end the power of the light so as to see and understand with exactitude. But I think that the Mother of God made this great joy her own, since she comprehended the words of the angel. Her whole person radiated from the light in that she was all pure and full of divine grace. She firmly appropriated all these signs and the truth and she believed the archangel, since, of course, he formerly had shown himself to be worthy of trust for her in other matters. And why shouldn’t the Virgin understand with divine wisdom. what had occurred in that she observed the events at first hand? She saw the great earthquake and the angel descending from heaven like lightening, she saw the guards fall as dead men, the removal of the stone, the emptying of the tomb, and the great miracle of the burial garments which were kept in place by smyrna and aloes, even though they contained no body. In addition to all of these things, she saw the joyous countenance of the angel and heard his joyful message. But Mary Magda-lene, in responding to the annunciation, acted as if she had not heard the angel at all–he had not in fact spoken directly to her. She testifies only to the emptying of the tomb and says nothing about the burial garments, but runs directly to Peter and to the other disciples, as Saint John says. The Mother of God went back to the tomb again when she met the other women and, as Saint Matthew says, behold Jesus met them and told them to rejoice.
So you see that even before Mary Magdalene, the Mother of God saw Him who for our salvation suffered and was buried and rose again in the flesh. "And they approached, touched his feet and worshipped him." Just as the Theotokos alone under-stood the power of the angelic words–even if she heard the good news of the resurrection together with Mary Magdalene–when she met her son and God with the other women she saw and recognized the risen one before all the other women. And falling down, she touched his feet and became his apostle to his apostles. We learn from Saint John that Mary Magdalene was not with the Mother of God when, on her return to the sepulchre, she encountered the Lord. He writes:
She runs to Peter Simon and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and tells them: they have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.
If she had seen and touched him with her hands and heard him speak, how could she say the words “they have taken him and placed him elsewhere, and we don’t know where?” But after Peter and John ran to the grave and saw the burial clothes and returned, Saint John says that Mary Magdalene was standing near the tomb and crying.
You see that not only had she not yet seen him but neither had she been informed of the resurrection. And when the angels that appeared asked her “why are you crying, woman,” she again answered as if she thought that he was dead. Thus when, upon turning, she saw Jesus and still did not understand, she answered his question “why do you weep” in the same manner. Not until he called her by her name and showed her that he was the same did she understand. Then, when she also fell down before him wishing to kiss his feet, she heard him say: “Don’t touch me.” From this we understand that when he appeared previously to his mother and to the women who accompanied her, he allowed only his mother to touch his feet, even if Matthew makes this a common concession to all the women. He did not wish, for the reason we mentioned in the beginning, to suddenly present the appearance of the mother into the issue. It was the Ever Virgin Mary who came to the grave first and she was the first to receive the good news of the resurrection. Many women then gathered and they also saw the stone rolled back and heard the angels, but they were separated on their return. As Saint Mark says, since they were afraid, some of the women left the tomb in a frightened and ecstatic state without saying anything to anyone. Other women followed the Mother of the Lord and because they happened to be with her they saw and heard the Lord. Mary Magdalene left to go to Peter and John, and with them was returning to the grave. And even though they left, she stayed and she also was made worthy to see the Lord and to be sent by him to the apostles. Thus, as Saint John says, she again comes to them shouting to all that she had seen the Lord and that he had told her these things.
And Saint Mark says that this appearance happened in the morning, the indisputable beginning of the day, when the dawn had passed. But he does not contend that the resurrection of the Lord occurred at that time, nor that it was his first appearance. Therefore, we have information concerning the Myrrhbearers that is exact and the general agreement of the four Evangelists as a higher confirmation. But even with all that they had heard on the same day of the resurrection from the Myrrhbearers, from Peter, and even from Luke and Cleopas that the Lord lives and that they had seen him, the disciples showed disbelief. That is why He castigates them when he appeared to all of them gathered together. When, however, he showed them many times through the witness of many that he was alive, not only did they all believe but they preached it everywhere.Their voice poured out on all the earth and their words spread to the ends of the earth; and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by signs that accompanied it. For until the teaching is preached to all the earth, the signs were indispensable. Exceptional signs were needed to represent and certify the truth of the message. But excellent signs are not needed for those who accept the word through firm belief. Who are these [who have firm belief]? They are those whose deeds bear witness [to their faith]. ‘’Show me your faith in your deeds,” he says. “Who is faithful? Let him manifest it with the deeds of his good life.” For who will believe that he who commits wicked acts and is oriented to the earth and material things has a true, exalted, great, and heavenly under-standing which is, so to speak, exactly what piety is? Brethren, what does it profit a man to say that he has divine faith if he does not have deeds analogous to the faith? What did the lamps profit the foolish maidens when they had no oil, in other words, the deeds of love and of compassion? What did it profit that rich man who, when he was burning in the unquenchable flame because of his indifference to Lazarus, invoked the father of Abraham? What did it profit that a man to accept an invitation to the divine wedding and that incorruptible bridal chamber when he did not have a suitable garment of good deeds? Of course, in so much as he believed anyway, he received an invitation and went to sit amongst those holy ones who were at the banquet. But he also received the examination and was ashamed because he was clothed in the wickedness of his attitude and works, through which his hands and feet were tied and he was lowered to Gehenna where wailing and gnashing of teeth reverberates. May no one who has the name of Christ experience [such a thing]. Rather let us all manifest a life analogous with the faith and enter the bridal chamber of unstained joy and eternal life with the saints, which is the resting place of all who perceive the true joy.