Church Fathers, Day 158: St. Cyprian advises us to think about what your entertainment is teaching

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Think about what your entertainment is teaching Just as in our own time, the ancient Roman public flocked to lowbrow enter­tainment full of dirty jokes, sex, and immorality. An early Christian writer, traditionally identified as St. Cyprian, says that what you watch will eventually affect what you do. And now on to the shameless corruption of the stage. I’m ashamed to tell you what things are said. I’m ashamed even to denounce the things that happen—the tricks of arguments, the cheatings of … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 157: Tertullian says to be Christian in our entertainment

Be Christian in your entertainment The pagans, says Tertullian, behave one way in real life and a completely dif­ferent way when they go to sports or plays. That’s because they let their feelings guide their judgment. It’s strange how the same man who can barely bring himself to lift his tunic in public, even when the call of nature urges him, takes it off in the circus, as if he longed to expose himself in front of everybody. Or how a father who carefully protects and guards his virgin daug … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 156: St. Gregory of Nyssa advises us to hate only evil

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Hate only evil There is only one thing we’re allowed to hate, says St. Gregory of Nyssa, and that is evil itself. Writing to three devout women, he tells them that to hate our neighbors is to ally ourselves with the devil. The Lawgiver of our life has commanded only one hatred to us: the ha­tred of the Serpent. He has not told us to use the faculty of hatred for any other purpose except as a resource against wickedness. “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” he says (Genesis 3:15). Si … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 155: St. John Chrysostom reminds us that only we can hurt our own salvation

Only you can hurt your own salvation No one can take salvation away from you, but you can reject it, says St. John Chrysostom. If you’ve built your house on stone, no storm can blow it down. So there is no way anyone can injure you if you don’t choose to injure yourself. But if you’re not willing to be temperate and to help yourself from your own resources, then no one will ever be able to do you any good. This is what was made obvious to us by the parable of the two men—the one who built h … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 154: St. Basil tells us don’t give an opening to rumor

Don’t give an opening to rumor Living properly isn’t always enough, St. Basil tells a bishop who had been the victim of nasty rumors. We must appear to live properly as well, so that people don’t think ill of us. After all, we represent Christ, not just ourselves. One of the hardest things to do—almost impossible, in fact—is to rise above slander. I am quite sure of this, and I imagine your excellency is as well. Yet it is possible not to give a handle by our own conduct either to curious s … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 153: St. John Chrysostom tells us to give praise instead of blasphemy

Give praise instead of blasphemy “I can’t help it,” we often say when we’ve cursed and used bad language. St. John Chrysostom has a practical suggestion: if you can’t help saying something when you get hurt, teach yourself to speak in thanksgiving instead of blasphemy. But, you say, you are not able to be silent when goaded by pain. And I do not hinder you from speaking. But instead of blasphemy, speak praise. Instead of discontent, express thankfulness. Make confession to your Master; cry … [Read more...]


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