In a dialogue with St. Gregory the Great, Peter the deacon seems to prefer to think there is no hell. But we can’t do that, says St. Gregory the Great, without making a liar out of Christ. Peter: Let me ask you: will those who are condemned to hell burn forever, and never have any end of their torments? Gregory: It is certain, without doubt, and very true that, as the good will have no end of their joys, so… Read more

A mighty building, says Aphrahat, depends on its foundation stones. If we build the structure of our faith on Christ the true Stone, that structure cannot be shaken. Faith is made up of many things, and by many kinds is it brought to per­fection. It is like a building that is built up of many pieces of workmanship, and so its structure rises to the top. And know, dear friends, that stones are laid in the foundation of the building,… Read more

Running at a gallop through salvation history, Aphrahat tells us that all the great things we read about in the Bible were accomplished by faith. Let us draw near then, dear friends, to faith, since its powers are so many. For faith raised Enoch up to the heavens and conquered the Flood. It caused the barren to bring forth. It delivered from the sword. It raised up from the pit. It enriched the poor. It released the captives. It delivered… Read more

Joseph Pearce is a Senior Contributor of The Imaginative Conservative. He is Senior Editor at the Augustine Institute, and Tolkien & Lewis Chair in Literary Studies at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He is editor of the St. Austin Review, series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions, and executive director of Catholic Courses. His books include The Quest for Shakespeare, Tolkien: Man and Myth, C. S. Lewis and The Catholic Church, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, and… Read more

How can I pray to God when I’m such a miserable sinner? Don’t think like that, the visionary Hermas is told. If you get rid of your doubt and just pray, the Lord will answer your prayer. Get rid of all your doubt, and don’t hesitate to ask of the Lord. Don’t say to yourself, “How can I ask of the Lord and receive from him, when I’ve sinned so much against him?” Don’t think that way. With all your… Read more

St. Cyril of Jerusalem tells us that faith is by no means an exclusively Chris­tian idea. It takes as much faith to plant a garden as it does to accept the Christian religion. We Christians are not the only ones for whom faith is very important. Everything that is accomplished in the world, even by those outside the Church, is accomplished by faith. By faith the laws of marriage bring together those who lived as strangers: because of the faith… Read more

Working for the common good is a law implanted in our very nature, says St. Ambrose. The example of our own bodies shows that doing anything to injure someone else injures the whole, and therefore eventually ourselves. Think, human, where your very name comes from—from the humus, the earth, which takes nothing from any one, but gives freely to all, and supplies varied produce for the use of all living things. Thus humanity is called a particular and innate virtue… Read more

If you flit from one activity to the next, the abbot Nesteros tells St. John Cas­sian, you’ll never get anything done. You can’t do everything well, so it’s impor­tant to decide what your calling is and stick to that. Those who are not yet settled in the occupation they have taken up, when they hear some occupations praised for different interests and virtues, are often so excited by the praise of them that they try to imitate their method immediately:… Read more

Palladius of Galatia tells the story of a man who became a monk late in life. He couldn’t learn a new craft, and he couldn’t write well enough to be a scribe. But he found a way to be not only useful to the other monks, but essential. A man named Apollonius, a merchant, who had renounced the world and come to live on Mount Nitria, was unable because of his advanced years either to learn a craft or work… Read more

God gave you wonderful tools and abilities, says St. John Chrysostom. But it’s up to you to use them the way God meant them to be used. Look: you were given an eye, so that you could look at the creation and glorify the Master. But if you do not use the eye well, it becomes a servant of adultery to you. You were given a tongue, so that you could speak well, so that you could praise the Creator…. Read more

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