Month: August 2011

Falling away

To exhibit the nature of defection or falling away, on the part of those who conduct themselves carelessly, it will not appear out of place to employ a similitude by way of illustration. Suppose, then, the case of one who had become gradually acquainted with the art or science, say of geometry or medicine, until he had reached perfection, having trained himself for a lengthened time in its principles and practice, so as to attain a complete mastery over the art: to such an one it could never happen, that, when he lay down to sleep in the possession of his skill, he should awake in a state of ignorance. It is not our purpose to adduce or to notice here those accidents which are occasioned by any injury or weakness, for they do not apply to our present illustration. According to our point of view, then, so long as that geometer or physician continues to exercise himself in the study of his art and in the practice of its principles, the knowledge of his profession abides with him; but if he withdraw from its practice, and lay aside his habits of industry, then, by his neglect, at first a few things will gradually escape him, then by and by more and more, until in course of time everything will be forgotten, and be completely effaced from the memory. It is possible, indeed, that when he has first begun to fall away, and to yield to the corrupting influence of a negligence which is small as yet, he may, if he be aroused and return speedily to his senses, repair those losses which up to that time are only recent, and recover that knowledge which hitherto had been only slightly obliterated from his mind. Let us apply this now to the case of those who have devoted themselves to the knowledge and wisdom of God, whose learning and diligence incomparably surpass all other training; and let us contemplate, according to the form of the similitude employed, what is the acquisition of knowledge, or what is its disappearance, especially when we hear from the apostle what is said of those who are perfect, that they shall behold face to face the glory of the Lord in the revelation of His mysteries.

Origen, “On First Principles,”, Book 1, Chapter 4.1

Nous, Logos, Spirit

God the Father bestows upon all, existence; and participation in Christ, in respect of His being the word of reason, renders them rational beings. From which it follows that they are deserving either of praise or blame, because capable of virtue and vice. On this account, therefore, is the grace of the Holy Ghost present, that those beings which are not holy in their essence may be rendered holy by participating in it. Seeing, then, that firstly, they derive their existence from God the Father; secondly, their rational nature from the Word; thirdly, their holiness from the Holy Spirit,—those who have been previously sanctified by the Holy Spirit are again made capable of receiving Christ, in respect that He is the righteousness of God; and those who have earned advancement to this grade by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, will nevertheless obtain the gift of wisdom according to the power and working of the Spirit of God.

Origen, “On First Principles,” Book 8, Chapter 3.8

Scripture as the completion of philosophy

All who perceive, in whatever manner, the existence of Providence, confess that God, who created and disposed all things, is unbegotten, and recognise Him as the parent of the universe. Now, that to Him belongs a Son, is a statement not made by us only; although it may seem a sufficiently marvellous and incredible assertion to those who have a reputation as philosophers among Greeks and Barbarians, by some of whom, however, an idea of His existence seems to have been entertained, in their acknowledging that all things were created by the word or reason of God. We, however, in conformity with our belief in that doctrine, which we assuredly hold to be divinely inspired, believe that it is possible in no other way to explain and bring within the reach of human knowledge this higher and diviner reason as the Son of God, than by means of those Scriptures alone which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, i.e., the Gospels and Epistles, and the law and the prophets, according to the declaration of Christ Himself. Of the existence of the Holy Spirit no one indeed could entertain any suspicion, save those who were familiar with the law and the prophets, or those who profess a belief in Christ. For although no one is able to speak with certainty of God the Father, it is nevertheless possible for some knowledge of Him to be gained by means of the visible creation and the natural feelings of the human mind; and it is possible, moreover, for such knowledge to be confined from the sacred Scriptures. But with respect to the Son of God, although no one knoweth the Son save the Father, yet it is from sacred Scripture also that the human mind is taught how to think of the Son; and that not only from the New, but also from the Old Testament, by means of those things which, although done by the saints, are figuratively referred to Christ, and from which both His divine nature, and that human nature which was assumed by Him, may be discovered.

Origen, “On First Principles,” Book 1, Chapter 3.1

Relics of Anglo-Saxon saint discovered

(h/t: Medieval News)

From Medievalists.net:

Archaeologists working in the Oxfordshire town of Bicester believe they have discovered a reliquary containing some of the bones of Saint Edburg, a seventh-century saint.

John Moore Heritage Services is conducting the excavations of a site of former apartment buildings (flats) which is being redeveloped. The land once belonged to Bicester Priory, and the archaeological work has uncovered the entire north transept of the Priory Church, After coming across thirteen other skeletons during the dig, the archaeologists found some partial remains of a skeleton wrapped in a lead sheet.

Paul Riccoboni, who is leading the archaeological work for John Moore Heritage Services, told the Bicester Advertiser, “We have found a reliquary which is probably the bones of St Edburg. It is really exciting. A first-class reliquary is actually the bones of a saint and a second-class is the clothes of a saint. It is the first time I am aware of, or come across, others being found. I am assuming they are the bones of Saint Edburg.”

Saint Edburg was the daughter of King Penda of Mercia, and spent most of her life as a nun. She even founded a monastery and died in the year 650. Her relics were kept at Bicester Priory from the twelfth century to 1500, when Pope Alexander VI ordered her remains to be removed and relocated to Belgium. Apparently, some of the bones remained behind and were reburied at the Priory Church.

The other remains found may also date back to the fourteenth century, and probably include monks and prominent local citizens. Mr Riccoboni added, “There is only one other excavation like it to a modern standard. It’s a very rare excavation.”