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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Orthodox Fresco Condeming Witchcraft and Traditional Folk Magic


A fresco of the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, condemning witchcraft and traditional folk magic.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos and the Dead Woman Under Excommunication


One one occasion, when Saint Dionysios found himself in the city, a funeral was being conducted in the cemetery of the Church of Saint Nicholas of the Strangers. The church was named this way because many strangers were buried in that plot of land. This church was also the Metropolitan Cathedral of Zakynthos. It happened that the people opened a certain grave, so that they might bury someone else inside. There they discovered a woman who had long been dead, but whose body and clothing had not decomposed. The reason for this was because this wretched woman had died under the ban of excommunication.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Saint Patapios and the Demon Possessed Boy

St. Patapios of Thebes (Feast Day - December 8)

There was a youth who was possessed by a terrible demon. At times, the demon tore at the young man's garments, leaving him totally naked; on other occasions, the youth was cast over precipices and into ditches. He was also thrown into water, where he was in serious danger of drowning.

As the youth was walking on the road one day, the demon seized him and was about to cast him into the sea. However, by God's providence, at that very moment, the great Patapios passed by and saw the attempt to drown the youth. As the demon beheld Patapios, it violently shook its victim, causing the young man to twist his eyes and foam at the mouth. Next the demon had the young man gnash his teeth and cast a fierce look at the Saint.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Krampus, the Demonic Companion of Saint Nick


In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, beastly figure who punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Regions in Austria feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Near-Death Experience of St. Athanasius the Recluse


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

St. Athanasius died after a long life of asceticism and was bathed, clothed and prepared for burial by his brethren. Athanasius lay dead for two days and suddenly came to life. When they came to bury him, they found him sitting up and crying. After that, he closed himself in his cell and lived for twelve more years on bread and water, not speaking a word to anyone. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 1176.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Case of Near Premature Burial of a Greek Bishop in 1896


The following story, from the newspaper London Echo (March 3, 1896), concerns the near premature burial of Metropolitan Nikephoros Glykas of Methymni, who was born in Imvros in 1819, and finally reposed a few weeks after these events in 1896. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Frankenstein And The Vampyre - A Dark and Stormy Night (Documentary)


A fascinating exploration of one of the most significant moments in Gothic history: the night when Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and their cohorts gathered together in Lake Geneva to tell ghost stories. The night when Frankenstein was born.

Drawing on British Library manuscripts and archives, the one hour documentary will bring together a stellar cast of Gothic, horror, science-fiction writers and historians to discuss why one single night had such a significant impact on our culture.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

St. Gregory of Agrigentum and the Harlot

St. Gregory of Agrigentum (Feast Day - November 23)

Saint Gregory, Bishop of Agrigentum, peacefully guided the flock entrusted to him by God. He was a defender of the down-trodden, a wise preacher, and miraculous healer. As bishop, Gregory led the life of an ascetic monk, fervently observing monastic vows. The flock loved their hierarch and trusted in him. But there were also malicious people who had resolved to slander him.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

St. Gregory the Wonderworker and the Harlot


By St. Gregory of Nyssa

From The Life of Saint Gregory the Wonderworker

When he [Gregory] dwelt in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, to which assiduous young men flocked to study philosophy and medicine, the youthful [Gregory] was an irksome sight to his peers because he was adorned with a restraint unlike anyone else in the city, and the esteem surrounding his integrity irritated such corrupt individuals. Because of this, some undisciplined characters sought to make all sorts of excuses if no one went along with them. They maintained that this great man's life was tainted with a certain flaw and hatched a plot to release from prison a harlot notorious for shameful behavior. But following the conduct of learned and responsible men accustomed to philosophical speculation, [Gregory] approached the woman in a nonchalant and unassuming manner while pretending to agree with everything she said and did. He then said that she was cheated of her wage and was refused the payment she had sought. When they who acknowledged the quality of his life became outraged at the woman, their anger neither troubled him nor did he claim that this humiliation had slandered his reputation. [Gregory] neither summoned witnesses on his behalf, nor did he repudiate the disgrace by swearing an oath nor respond to the evils brought against him; rather, in a calm, subdued voice he replied as to a friend, "He who paid money to this woman should no longer be distressed at having caused such trouble." When they learned of the harlot's accusation who had sought money from him and he readily accounted for everything, the plot to smear his self-control by accusations of licentious conduct came to an end. Now that this attempt to dishonor him fell back upon them, with God's help the youth's control and the reproach of his comrades became evident. Having received the money, an evil spirit at once tormented her, and she bellowed out a loud animal sound. This woman presented a dreadful sight in the midst of the assembly by taring out her hair, rolling her eyes and emitting foam from her mouth. But before the demon suffocated her, she earnestly besought God almighty.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

When St. Martin of Tours Preached Repentance to the Devil


By Sulpitius Severus

(Life of Saint Martin, Chs. 21 & 22)

It is also well known that angels were very often seen by him, so that they spoke in turns with him in set speech. As to the devil, Martin held him so visible and ever under the power of his eyes, that whether he kept himself in his proper form, or changed himself into different shapes of spiritual wickedness, he was perceived by Martin, under whatever guise he appeared. The devil knew well that he could not escape discovery, and therefore frequently heaped insults upon Martin, being unable to beguile him by trickery.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Healing of the Possessed Boy by the Archangels in 1913


By Elder Gabriel of Dionysiou

In October of 1913, the Chief of Staff of our National Army Victor Dousmanis, sent with an escort of two soldiers his nephew, who was a psychopath and possessed by a spirit of the python, just as the fortune-teller of Philippi, along with a letter for the Monastery, which said: "Here fathers in my homeland (Kerkyra), is the best mental hospital in Greece, where my nephew John was, but we saw no improvement. We were told by doctors that we exhausted all means of science, and therefore we decided to send him to your holy places, and we ask that you please accept him and make him become strong spiritually, so that by your prayers God may pity us and him and will make him well." We accepted him at the Monastery.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Scott Derrickson, the Most Interesting Filmmaker in Hollywood


Scott Derickson is probably Hollywood's most interesting filmmaker, primarily focusing on writing and directing horror movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil, and more recently offering his take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor Strange. This interest in movies with a strong good vs. evil motif piques Derrickson’s interest because of his Christian faith. In a 2007 interview Derrickson said in an interview about the horror genre:

Monday, October 31, 2016

True Orthodox Ghost Story #2: The Exorcism of the Haunted Cabin


By John Sanidopoulos

"...around their graves shadowy phantoms of the departed are often seen."

- St. Gregory of Nyssa ("On the Soul and the Resurrection")

According to my own many experiences, ghosts are real and hauntings are real. As for what the nature of these ghosts and hauntings are, it is uncertain and I believe each must be examined on a case by case basis. It may be possible, and it would seem most likely, that a demonic entity is behind it. However some arguments also offer up the possibility that it could be the soul of a person who has passed, whether in tragedy or not. Yet, one must not forget to allow for some healthy skepticism, since such matters usually end up being the figment of ones imagination, or an unexplained natural occurrence. Keeping this in mind, I offer the following true personal experience, that can be corroborated outside of my own personal testimony.

True Orthodox Ghost Story #1: A Demonic Attack


By John Sanidopoulos

"There is also a very general rumor. Many have verified it by their own experience and trustworthy persons have corroborated the experience others told, that sylvans and fauns, commonly called incubi, have often made wicked assaults upon women."

- St. Augustine of Hippo ("The City of God")

One summer day in 1991 I was in Athens sitting in my cousin Dimitra's house watching television with my pious grandmother, as she was cleaning the kitchen. Specifically we were watching a documentary on the miracle of the Holy Light of Jerusalem, with actual footage of the ceremony (rarely seen on tape before the days of the internet). When the Holy Light was seen to emerge from the Holy Sepulcher, it caught Dimitra's attention and she stopped cleaning. I could see her visibly moved by the event, and even a bit troubled, as if she had something to say but didn't know how to say it. Dimitra, though she believed in God, was not necessarily a very devout Christian. Troubled by her conscience, she asked me if she could tell me something that she had never revealed before to anyone else. Though I was only fifteen and she was in her early twenties, she felt like our grandmother and I were probably the only ones that would not think she was crazy for speaking about an event in her life that she could not explain and was truly a terrifying experience for her.

Movie: "Dracula In Istanbul" (1953)


Drakula Istanbul'da (Dracula in Istanbul) is a Turkish horror film from 1953. The screenplay was based on a 1928 novel by Ali Riza Seyfi called Kazikli Voyvoda (Impaler Voivode), and is more or less a translation of Stoker's novel, but there is no Renfield character and Guzin, the "Mina" character, is a showgirl given to performing in revealing outfits. Drakula/Dracula is played by balding Atif Kaptan. Long believed lost, Drakula Istanbul'da is considered the first non-western film version of the Dracula story, and oddly, one of most faithful to the Bram Stoker original. With Dracula scaling the castle walls, implied infanticide, and the ceremonious end of the vampire, with first a staking, then a beheading, then stuffing the mouth with garlic (as per the instructions in the novel), this movie adaption contains more of the creepier elements of the book than many higher-budgeted and more pedigreed productions. Perhaps it's the proximity of Turkey to the Eastern European setting of the novel, or perhaps shared similar legends and folklore, but Drakula Istanbul'da, in all it's threadbare grace, seems to have an authentic and maybe innate feel for the myths of the region that cannot be found in any Hollywood back lot.

Christians and Horror: Three Views


In 2011 the website Zombie Theology (no longer in existence) did a series on the three different views Christians generally have in regard to the horror genre. They were written by three different Christian authors who stated their case for each, providing an interesting and helpful exchange of opinions regarding this divisive topic. Below are the links to the original sources:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Critique of Pure Horror


Jason Zinoman
July 16, 2011

WITH gruesome television series about vampires, werewolves, serial killers and zombies earning huge ratings, and a new cinematic bloodbath opening seemingly every week, the cultural appetite for horror raises a curious question: why do so many of us enjoy being disgusted and terrified?

The question has long puzzled parents and mystified spouses, but it has also increasingly engaged the attention of academics. Scholarship on the horror genre has grown so much over the last three decades that a peer-reviewed journal devoted to it, Horror Studies, was started last year. While much of the field’s research is sociological or cultural, focusing on what scary movies reveal about the time or place in which they were made, a small library of books and essays has also tried to explain the visceral appeal of shivers down your spine.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Papa John the Exorcist, and the Forty Day Exorcism of 1917


When the Bolshevik revolution took place in Russia in 1917, seventeen priests were arrested in Odessa in order to executed them. One of them hid in the forests and was saved. Then he found his two children, a boy and a girl, who had been hidden by his neighbors and escaped from the communists. His presvytera, however, was arrested and executed.

The name of this priest was Papa-John and he was a Greek. He therefore took his two children and wandered from place to place, on foot most of the time, through Romania, Bulgaria and back to Greece, his homeland. He was a parish priest in Macedonia and Thrace. Then he came to the village of Skoutera in Agrinio, because the position of parish priest was vacant.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween, Jack Chick, and Anti-Catholicism


Halloween, Jack Chick, and Anti-Catholicism

The Anti-Catholic Origins of the Attack on Halloween

By Scott P. Richert

Anti-Catholic Myths

What would you think if I told you that the Catholic Church invented Islam, communism, and freemasonry, in order to undermine the faith of true Christians? That the holocaust was a Vatican plot, and Hitler merely the pawn of Pope Pius XII? That Catholics do not worship Christ and venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, but instead worship the reincarnated Nimrod, founder of Babylon, and his wife (and mother!) Semiramis? That, as early as 1980, the Vatican had a supercomputer containing the names of every Protestant Christian in the world, designed to make it easier to round them all up in a future persecution carried out by the Catholic Church, headed up by the Antichrist, otherwise known as the Pope?

In all likelihood, you would (at best) laugh at these ridiculous ideas, and probably dismiss me as a raving anti-Catholic. Certainly, you wouldn't accept my claims as the gospel truth.

What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

But what if I told you that every year, dozens of children are kidnapped and murdered by Satanists on Halloween?

That scores more are injured or killed when they eat candy laced with poison or shards of glass? That every year on October 31, modern-day witches follow in the footsteps of ancient Druids by celebrating demonic rituals, including human sacrifice?

Some of you are now likely nodding your head in agreement. After all, you've heard these claims for years, and where there's smoke, there must be hellfire, right?

Jack Chick Thinks He Knows

But what if I told you that, over the past 30-plus years, one man has worked tirelessly to advance both sets of claims, and that his attacks on Halloween have as much truth to them as his attacks on the Catholic Church? And that, indeed, his attacks on Halloween are not separate from, but very much a part of, his anti-Catholicism?

That man's name is Jack T. Chick, the owner of Chick Publications, the world's largest publisher of fundamentalist tracts—three quarters of a billion since 1960. Since 1980, he has made it his life's mission to subvert and undermine the Catholic Church. And in 1986, he opened a new front in that battle by focusing his attacks on the vigil of All Saints Day, better known as Halloween.

Life Was So Much Easier 40 Years Ago

In the 1970's, in the small Midwestern village where I grew up, Halloween was eagerly anticipated by children of all ages and every Christian denomination (with the exception, of course, of the very small population of Jehovah's Witnesses). In those days before the end of Daylight Savings Time was moved to the first Sunday in November, Halloween always took place after we had set our clocks back, which meant that it was good and dark by the time trick or treating began. Jack-o'-lanterns decorated every stoop, and every porch was an oasis of warm light in the chill night air. The sounds of laughter and cries of "Trick or Treat!" filled that air, as little ghosts and goblins ran from house to house, their empty pillowcases slowly filling with candy bars and popcorn balls and fruit.

No one thought that Halloween was the "Devil's Night"; in fact, in the Michigan of my youth, Devil's Night had a very specific meaning: It referred to the mayhem that took place in the inner city of Detroit every October 30, culminating, in the mid-1980's, in hundreds of acts of arson every year. But in the overwhelmingly Christian West Michigan of my youth, a few smashed pumpkins, a handful of tossed eggs, a couple of soaped windows, and some rolls of toilet paper draped over trees were the most devilish activities that occurred on Halloween.

And the very next evening, November 1, the 20-odd Catholic children on my block would all be found in Saint Mary's Church, celebrating the Holy Day of Obligation known as All Saints Day, from which Halloween ("All Hallows Eve") derived its very existence and its name.

All of that began to change around 1980.

Enter Jack Chick

I was in junior high school the year that I returned from home from trick-or-treating to find, hidden among the Butterfingers (my favorite) and Skittles (a candy I could do without), a little comic book that patiently explained why Catholics were not Christians. It was my first Jack Chick tract, but it would be far from my last.

Jack Chick is a fundamentalist Christian who first began publishing his little tracts in comic-book form in 1960. (For an exhaustive examination of Chick's background and his influence, see The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick, published by Catholic Answers.) Each tract tells a little story of a soul gone bad, often without even knowing that he has; he discovers his error over the course of the story, and on the final page, the reader is given the opportunity to "invite Jesus into your life to become your personal Saviour." He is then admonished to read the King James Bible every day, pray, be baptized and to worship with fellow Christians, and to "Tell others about Jesus Christ." One of the best ways to do that, of course, is to purchase more Jack Chick tracts like the one that has brought the gift of faith to the unbeliever, and to hand them out at every possible opportunity—including in lieu of candy on Halloween.

By 1980, Chick had published 45 tracts, and was fairly well known in fundamentalist circles, but not so much outside of them. That changed when he added a new topic into the mix: anti-Catholicism. His first anti-Catholic tract, My Name? . . . In the Vatican? (1980), made the absurd claim that the Catholic Church has a supercomputer that holds the names of all members of every Protestant church in the world, in order to make it easier to track them down and round them up in a future persecution of true Christians by the Catholic Church, which is headed up by the Antichrist, in the form of the pope. (Not all of the tracts that Chick has published remain in print, but Chick's website, www.chick.com, claims that any out-of-print title can be reprinted by special order. My Name? . . . In the Vatican?, however, is no longer offered even in the out-of-print titles.)

In the first half of the 1980's, Chick stepped up his attacks on Catholicism in such tracts as Are Roman Catholics Christians? (1981), Kiss the Protestants Good-bye (1981), Macho (1982), Is There Another Christ? (1983), The Poor Pope? (1983), Holocaust (1984), The Only Hope (1985), The Story Teller (1985), and The Attack (1985). Among other things, these tracts claim that the Catholic Church has tried to convince Protestants that Catholics are Christians, in order to Catholicize the Protestant churches; that communism, Masonry, and Islam were all created by the Catholic Church to attack and undermine true Christianity; and that Hitler was a good Catholic, who carried out the holocaust against the Jews on orders from the Vatican.


Only Nimrods Celebrate Halloween

Mixed in with all of this is an unhealthy dose of ideas drawn from a pamphlet published in 1853 (and later expanded to book length) by the Rev. Alexander Hislop, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. The Two Babylons: Or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife argues that Roman Catholicism is actually a form of paganism—specifically, a Babylonian mystery cult. According to Hislop, the Christ that Catholics worship is not the same as the Christ other Christians worship, but the reincarnated Nimrod, founder of Babylon, and the Virgin Mary whom Catholic venerate is really the Babylonian deity Semiramis, worshiped in Egypt as Isis, in Greece as Athena, and in Rome as Venus and Diana. True Christianity, according to Hislop, was subverted by pagan worship during the reign of Constantine the Great, and did not reemerge again until the late Middle Ages, and was not fully restored until the Protestant Reformation.

In a similar vein, Hislop argued that the Catholic veneration of the saints, particularly on All Saints Day, and the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory (emphasized strongly in the month of November, beginning on November 2, All Souls Day), is a modified form of Babylonian worship of the dead.

Given Chick's reliance on The Two Babylons, it should have come as no surprise when, in 1986, his series of anti-Catholic tracts culminated in his first attack on Halloween, in his 1986 tract The Trick.

Witchcraft, Human Sacrifice, Poisoned Candy, and Spells

By the mid-1980's, many parents had become concerned for the safety of their children on Halloween. The rise of the subgenre of horror movies known as "slasher films," such as the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises, combined with stories of serial killers such as Chicago's "Killer Clown," John Wayne Gacy, in the popular imagination. Scattered reports of candy laced with drugs or poison, and caramel apples embedded with shards of glass, never very widespread and entirely debunked by 2002 (see Is Halloween Candy Tampering a Myth?), led parents to inspect the goodies that the neighbors they saw every day had given to their children on Halloween night.

The Trick capitalized on this unease to advance Chick's attack on Halloween. A coven of witches is shown tampering with Halloween candy and performing incantations over it, leading, on Halloween, to the death of children and frightening changes in the behavior of others. Even though the children have been warned by their parents only to visit the houses of people they know, one of those kindly neighbors turns out to be a witch, proving that there is no way to ensure the physical and spiritual safety of any child who celebrates Halloween. Only when an ex-witch exposes Halloween as a "holy day" created by Satan to allow a worldwide conspiracy of witches to "provide additional sacrifices to him" is the kindly but evil neighbor's plot foiled, as the parents of the affected children accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and then convince their children to do so also.

The Druids Are Coming!

The worldwide conspiracy, however, is nothing new; according to Chick, who, in The Trick, cites Hislop's Two Babylons as his source, Halloween was first celebrated by the Druids, who offered children as human sacrifices on Halloween night:

When [a Druid] went to a home and demanded a child or virgin for sacrifice, the victim was the Druid's treat. In exchange, they would leave a jack-o-lantern with a lighted candle made of human fat to prevent those inside from being killed by demons that night. When some unfortunate couldn't meet the demands of the Druids, then it was time for the trick. A symbolic hex was drawn on the front door. That night Satan or his demons would kill someone in that home.

In other Chick tracts, similar accounts of Druidic celebration of Halloween are offered, and the jack-o'-lantern is specifically identified as a carved pumpkin.

Of course, as I've shown in Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?, Halloween—that is, the vigil or eve of All Hallows or All Saints Day, was first celebrated in the eighth century A.D., approximately 400 years after the Celts had abandoned druidism for Christianity. And the pumpkin, which is native to North American, was not imported to the British Isles until over a millennium after the conversion of the Celts to Christianity. Indeed, as David Emery, the Expert at About Urban Legends points out in Why Do We Carve Pumpkins on Halloween?, both the name and the custom of the jack-o'-lantern date from the 17th century, and it was commonly associated with Catholic beliefs and practices:

For Catholic children it was customary to carry jack-o'-lanterns door-to-door to represent the souls of the dead while begging for soul cakes on Hallowmas (All Saints Day, Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). 

Irish Catholic immigrants to North America celebrated Halloween by carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, and, just as their Puritan ancestors had in England, Protestants of English descent in the American Northeast banned the celebration of Halloween (and of Christmas) not out of concerns over witchcraft and the "Devil's Night," but explicitly in opposition to Catholic practice. By the late 19th century, those bans had been dropped, and both Halloween and Christmas had been adopted by Protestant Christians of all stripes in the United States, but by the late 1980's Jack Chick had succeeded in reviving the earlier anti-Catholic attack on Halloween.


Happy Birthday, Satan

Chick's anti-Halloween tracts helped spread another idea that is ridiculous on its face: that Halloween is Satan's birthday. Satan, of course, is Lucifer, the leader of the angels who rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven by Saint Michael the Archangel and the other angels who remained loyal to their Creator (Revelation 12:7-10). As such, he has no "birthday"—a fact that Chick actually admits in one of his tracts, though he attributes the casting of Lucifer and his demons out of Heaven to Jesus Christ, not Saint Michael, as the account in Revelation does. Yet that same tract, Boo! (1991), while getting the story at least partially right, shows Satan, wearing a jack-o'-lantern as a head, rejoicing that a bunch of high-school students are "coming to celebrate my birthday," before he mows 19 of them down with a chainsaw. The sheriff who is unable to stop Satan's bloody rampage finally gives up, praying, "May the saints preserve 'em"—a subtle yet potent anti-Catholic reference.

The Triumph of Chick's Anti-Catholic War on Halloween

By the turn of the millennium, Jack Chick had made great strides in his attack on Halloween, and not just among his fellow fundamentalist Christians. Many mainstream Christians, including a sizable number of Catholics who had themselves happily and innocently celebrated Halloween when they were young, decided not to let their children take part in trick-or-treating and other Halloween festivities. The common reasons given came straight out of the Jack Chick tracts that many of them had received in their own youth: the supposed Celtic and Babylonian pagan roots of Halloween; the ridiculous claim that Halloween is Satan's birthday; the possible dangers to the physical and spiritual health of their children, if they are allowed to accept candy from the neighbors that they see everyday. (These have been supplemented in recent years by the claim that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI warned Catholics against celebrating Halloween—an urban legend that I've debunked in Did Pope Benedict XVI Condemn Halloween?)

Various Christian churches came up with "alternatives" to Halloween, such as harvest parties (which, as I've discussed in Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?, actually have more in common with Celtic pagan practices than Halloween ever did) and All Saints Day parties. But underlying all of these is the big lie that Jack Chick has successfully propagated: that there's something wrong or anti-Christian about Halloween, and therefore an alternative is needed.

By 2001, Chick himself had become something of a victim to his success. Halloween had been a very good time of year for Chick Publications, as fundamentalists purchased Chick tracts to distribute to unsuspecting children. But as Chick managed to convince more and more Christians that Halloween was evil, those who used to pass out Chick tracts quit doing so, and simply kept their porch lights dark on the "Devil's Night."

So, in recent years, Chick has changed tactics, announcing in a Halloween Letter on his website that Christians should not shun Halloween, but "Turn Halloween into a night of evangelism," as it was back in the early 80's, when I received my first Chick tract on Halloween night. More recent Halloween tracts from Chick Publications, such as The Little Ghost (2001) and First Bite (2008) have dropped scare tactics in favor of humorous stories.

Is Halloween Evil? Consider the Source of the Claim

Yet the damage has been done, and a whole new generation of Christians, including many Catholics, have been indoctrinated in lies about Halloween spread by a man who believes that Catholics aren't Christians; that Catholics worship Babylonian deities, and not Jesus Christ; and that the Catholic Church created Islam, communism, and Masonry to subvert true Christianity, and raised up Hitler to commit genocide against the Jews.

Catholic children do not need to celebrate Halloween to be good Catholics, though they should understand the true origins of Halloween as the vigil of All Saints Day. But if you're contemplating keeping your children at home on Halloween while others are enjoying a night of innocent fun because you've been told that Halloween is the "Devil's Night," I can offer only this advice: Consider the source.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Demon That Was Subject to Saint Abercius


Saint Abercius was the Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180). During a pagan celebration one day, Abercius shut himself in his house and prayed with tears for the people who worshiped lifeless and dumb idols. As he prayed, the Lord appeared to him and instructed him to go and topple the altars of the idols. After doing as he was instructed in the middle of the night, when morning came the angry pagans went to the house of the Saint in order to kill him. Instead of fleeing, Abercius went to the marketplace and publicly proclaimed the truth of the Christian faith over pagan superstition. To give evidence to his words, he healed three demon possessed men. When the people saw his words confirmed by the power of grace bestowed upon him, they listened to him, received the Christian faith, and about five hundred people were baptized Christians.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Zombies Tell Us About Religion and Faith


By Karen Willows

‘There’s no more room in hell’ goes the famous line, lifted from Romero’s infamous The Night of the Living Dead.

For decades, the zombie has fascinated public consciousness and caught the imagination of authors and filmmakers. The zombie has always been a metaphor however, and behind the shambling walk and the slow groan, lays a wealth of commentary on modern society.

Religion Dispatches published articles that looked at what they termed ‘zombie theology’, indicating that discussions on decaying corpses and religion may overlap – particularly on the question of what it means to be human.

Zombies however, from their roots to modern incarnations, have consistently posed difficult questions about life, death, morality and the end of the world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

In Praise of Darkness


By Barbara Brown Taylor

“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Saint Who Was Buried By Twelve Demoniacs

St. Andrew who is at Krisi (Feast Day - October 17)

Saint Andrew, who came from Crete, lived during the reign of the iconoclast Emperor Constantine Copronymos (741-775), and at a young age became a monk. As a defender of holy icons, Andrew went to Constantinople to denounce the wicked Emperor Constantine Copronymos for taking a stand against icons and persecuting those who venerated them. As the emperor stood in the Church of the Holy Martyr Mamas, Andrew entered the church, stood before him, and openly rebuked him before all. "It would be better for you, O Emperor, to attend to military matters and to govern the people, than to persecute Christ and His servants," he said. For this, St. Andrew was beaten severely, tortured and dragged through the streets, during which an iconoclast struck him in the leg with a cleaver and killed him.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Elizabeth Krebs, the Founder of our Modern Halloween


By John Sanidopoulos

If you think Halloween has its origins with satanists and pagans, guess again. Elizabeth Krebs, a woman you’ve probably never heard of unless you are from Hiawatha, Kansas, is actually a very important part of our history with Halloween and how it's currently celebrated.

Back in the early 1900’s Halloween in North America was primarily one of mischief, pranks, and vandalism. This mischief was inspired by how Guy Fawkes Day in England was celebrated, that falls on November 5th, and this mischief initially took place in North America around Thanksgiving time in the late 19th century, eventually moving closer to the feast of All Hallows Eve on October 31st.

Elizabeth Krebs was the president of the local garden club in Hiawatha, Kansas back in 1912. On the morning of November 1st of that year, Elizabeth woke to find her prize-winning garden smashed to bits. There were other reports of havoc; fences being destroyed, houses egged, and windows being smashed. She knew it had to be the same culprits who had destroyed other flowers around town – rowdy children. In her town, kids were notorious for creating all kinds of destruction on Halloween night. Desperate to make her town garden-smashing free, Elizabeth put together a plan.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When St. John the Theologian Faced the Magician Kynops on the Island of Patmos


There was on the island of Patmos, where the Holy Apostle John was exiled to, a certain magician by the name of Kynops, who lived in the wilderness and for many years held converse with unclean spirits. On account of the predictions uttered by him, all the inhabitants of the island considered him a god. The priests of Apollo, who were enraged at John for having destroyed the temple of Apollo and because he had made all the people followers of Jesus Christ, went to Kynops and complained to him of Christ’s apostle, beseeching him to take revenge for the dishonor shown their gods. Kynops, however, did not wish to go to the city himself, since he had lived for many years in that place without leaving. But the citizens all the more often came to him with their request. Then he promised to send a wicked spirit to the house of Myron to seize the soul of John and deliver it to eternal judgment. In the morning he sent to John one of the princes of the evil spirits, commanding him to bring John’s soul to him. Arriving at the house of Myron, the demon stood in the place where John was. But John, perceiving the demon, said unto him: “In the name of Christ I command you not to leave this place until you tell me for what cause you have come here to me.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

An Orthodox Look At Nostradamus


By Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

The word of God gives us very precise warnings about self-proclaimed prophets and spiritual deceivers. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Mt. 7:15). We have to follow the Lord’s injunction: "Take heed that no man deceive you" (Mt. 24:4). In order to do this one must be guided closely by Scripture and the teachings of the Holy Fathers. These words of the Apostle Paul are very applicable to our times: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:3–4). That is what the writings of M. Nostradamus and other false prophets are — fables.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

On Spiritual Deception (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov)


By Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov)

Disciple: Give me a precise and detailed notion of spiritual deception. What exactly is this condition?

Elder: Spiritual deception is the wounding of human nature by falsehood. Spiritual deception is the state of all men without exception, and it has been made possible by the fall of our original parents. All of us are subject to spiritual deception. Awareness of this fact is the greatest protection against it. Likewise, the greatest spiritual deception of all is to consider oneself free from it. We are all deceived, all deluded; we all find ourselves in a condition of falsehood; we all need to be liberated by the Truth. The Truth is our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 8:32-14:6). Let us assimilate that Truth by faith in it; let us cry out in prayer to this Truth, and it will draw us out of the abyss of demonic deception and self-delusion. Bitter is our state! It is that prison from which we beseech that our souls be led out, that we may confess the name of the Lord (Ps 141:8). It is that gloomy land into which our life has been cast by the enemy that hates and pursues us. It is that carnal-mindedness (Rom. 8:6) and knowledge falsely so called (I Tim. 6:20) wherewith the entire world is infected, refusing to acknowledge its illness, insisting, rather, that it is in the bloom of health. It is that “flesh and blood” which “cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50). It is that eternal death which is healed and destroyed by the Lord Jesus, Who is “the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn. 11:25). Such is our state. And the perception thereof is a new reason to weep. With tears let us cry out to the Lord Jesus to bring us out of prison, to draw us forth from the depths of the earth, and to wrest us from the jaws of death! “For this cause did our Lord Jesus Christ descend to us,” says the venerable Symeon the New Theologian, “because he wanted to rescue us from captivity and from most wicked spiritual deception.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Saint Anthony's Encounter With the Satyr and the Centaur


In the Life of Paul the Hermit by Saint Jerome, written in the year 374 or 375 during Jerome’s stay in the desert of Syria, we read how Saint Anthony was on a journey in the desert to find Saint Paul of Thebes, who according to his dream was a greater and more perfect desert-dweller than he. Saint Anthony had been under the impression that he was the first person to ever dwell in the desert; however, due to the dream, Saint Anthony was called into the desert to find his "better," Saint Paul. On his way there, he ran into two creatures in the forms of a centaur and a satyr, which are considered to have been demonic temptations, although Jerome seems to be open to the possibility that they may have been monstrous creatures of the desert, of which he says that one such creature was seen alive in Alexandria during the reign of Constantine the Great.

Monday, August 22, 2016

On Dreams (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

In the previous chapter we discussed fantasy and imagination, the damage they cause to our spiritual health, and how we can be ultimately healed of their negative influence.

Dreams are also closely linked with imagination, as we shall see in the following pages. Because many Christians are inexperienced in this aspect of spiritual warfare and incapable of dealing with the matter of dreams, they create problems for themselves. It is not uncommon for people to pay close attention to dreams and to examine what they dreamt the night before, without realising that by so doing they become dupes of the devil. There is also a tendency for people to examine dreams in accordance with the teachings and conclusions of secular psychotherapy, which are different from the Orthodox Tradition.

The holy Fathers were concerned about this issue. In the following pages I shall set out their teaching on dreams, the distorting consequences they have for man, and how they can be cured. It will become clear that the way the Fathers treat the subject of dreams deserves our attention.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on Deluders and the Deluded


"While evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deluding and being deluded."(1)

Regarding the Delusion of the Pentecostals

- Elder, the things that are said by those who go over to the Pentecostals – that is, about seeing visions, speaking in tongues etc. – are those things from their own imagination, or from demonic influences?

- They are energies of demonic influences; because when they go over to the Pentecostals and are re-baptized, they are actually disregarding, denying Holy Baptism: “I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins” as the Creed declares – in which case, they un-baptize themselves and become susceptible to demonic influences and then they jabber-jabber, supposedly in tongues. “It is the Holy Spirit of Pentecost talking” they tell us. But it is not the Holy Spirit; it is a whole mess of unclean spirits. What tongues? They are merely uttering gibberish, which not even they can comprehend. They even record that gibberish and then produce statistics and reach conclusions: “That tongue has so many ‘hallelujahs’ in it, and there are so many in the other tongue.” Well, it’s to be expected, among so much jabber-jabber, you will surely hear something that resembles the word ‘hallelujah’ in one of the languages of the world! And so you can see, while it is something demonic, they actually believe that demonism to be the energy of the Holy Spirit, and that they are supposedly experiencing what the Apostles had experienced on the day of the Pentecost! Blasphemies are the things they believe, which is why they become demon-possessed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on Spiritual Delusion


Ascesis and delusion

- Elder, I am afraid of delusion.

- So you should. Whoever is afraid of delusion will not be deluded, because they are careful and they deposit their every thought - they hide nothing and are thus helped.

- Elder, what is a predisposition for delusion?

- The predisposition for delusion is to imagine that you are something special and showing others that you are achieving something. It is to imagine that you have reached spiritual heights because - for example - you have accomplished an ascetic feat (when others have not yet perceived the meaning of the spiritual life) and then behave arrogantly. It is when you force yourself egotistically during ascesis in order to attain the measure of a Saint so that others might admire you: that is the beginning of delusion. Violence is one thing and force is another. I told someone once, "Take care that you don't become deluded, with those tactics of yours; it won't be to your benefit." "Me, deluded?" he replied. "I even abstain from meat." But he didn't go to confession either. He used to disclose his sins to an icon. "What are you? Orthodox or a Protestant?" I said to him. "Where did you find that in writing?" "Why?" he retorted. "Can't Christ hear me?" What a remark!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on the Demonically Possessed


- Elder, how many demons lived inside the demon possessed Gadarene?(1)

- "Many demons"(2), according to the Gospel. That's why the possessed man said that his name was "legion"(3). And you should note that, just as a whole lot of demons can dwell inside a possessed person, in the same way, all the Saints can fit inside the heart of the faithful. If Christ can fit in there, then the Saints most certainly can! Such huge mysteries! One time, when I was at the Hut of the Honorable Cross, someone rang the doorbell outside. I looked through the window, and what did I see? A man that was being trailed by an entire column of demons - a black swarm of them! It was the first time that I have ever seen a man possessed by so many demons. He was a medium: he had combined benedictions of the Church with invocations to demons; Christian books with books of magic spells; this was the reason he was under the power of the demons. Terrible! I was greatly sorrowed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Saint Paraskevi and the Dragon


In the Life of Saint Paraskevi we read how she entered a certain city outside the Roman Empire to evangelize the people there. The ruler of this city was King Asklepios, who when informed of her activities had her arrested and brought before his judgment seat. After inquiring what brought her to their city, she boldly confessed that she was a Christian and proclaimed Christ as the true God who made heaven and earth and in these latter days was incarnate, crucified and resurrected for our salvation. At the same time she denounced the soulless idols of paganism, quoting from the Prophet Jeremiah: "Let the gods which have not made heaven and earth perish from off the earth, and from under the sky" (Jer. 10:11).

Monday, July 18, 2016

St. Marina and Satan: A Syriac Dialogue Poem


Syriac authors took over and adapted the ancient Mesopotamian genre of precedence dispute, transforming it into a dispute or dialogue, with theological overtones, which is normally between biblical characters. A small number of these dialogue poems concern saints, rather than biblical characters, and it is one of these, where the protagonists are St Marina and Satan, which is re-published here in a critical edition, together with three soghyatha which concern the life of St Marina. All are taken from the Maronite Office for the Commemoration of St Marina (July 17th).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on Sorcery


Having spoken to you many times about Paradise, the Angels and the Saints so that you may be helped, I shall now also say a few words about Hell and the demons, so that you can be aware of who we're fighting against: again, so that you may be helped.

A young sorcerer from Tibet once visited me at my cell and told me a lot of things about his life. This child, no sooner was he weaned from his mother than his father dedicated it - at the age of three - to a group of thirty, high-ranking sorcerers in Tibet, in order to initiate it in their art. He reached the eleventh degree of sorcery - the twelfth being the highest. At the age of sixteen he left Tibet and went to Sweden, to see his father. While there, he happened to meet an Orthodox priest - a very devout one - and invited him to a conversation. In the room where they had sat down to talk, he began to do some of his magic, in order to show the priest his powers. He invoked an initial(1) demon, Menas, and said to it: "I want water". A glass rose up from the kitchen, it went to the tap on its own, the tap came on, it filled the glass with water, then it passed through the glass screen and entered the room they were in. He took the glass and drank the water. Then he "showed" the priest all the universe: the skies, the stars, etc. He used magic of the fourth degree and intended to continue, up to the eleventh degree. He asked the priest what he thought of all those things.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How a Scientist Learned to Work with Exorcists


Richard Gallagher is a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College. He is at work on a book about demonic possession in the United States. On July 1, 2016 The Washington Post published an interesting article of his titled As a Psychiatrist, I Diagnose Mental Illness. Also, I Help Spot Demonic Possession. In this article he describes how he as an academic physician came to diagnose and treat demonic possession in people, and why it is important to treat people assailed by demons.

Read the article here.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula": Interesting Facts for Orthodox Christians


Though Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is one of my favorite works of fiction, the movie adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992 is among my least favorite on-screen depictions (though it is a very entertaining movie with good cinematography and gothic atmospherics). By putting the authors name into the title, it was hailed to be the most accurate depiction of the story on film, when in reality very little is accurate but for certain details. The same false advertising was done with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, also directed by Coppola. Having said this, there are a few interesting facts within the film that may be of interest to Orthodox Christians.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saint James, Who Was Beguiled to Worship the Devil

St. James, Who Was Beguiled to Worship the Devil (Feast Day - June 13)

Verses

Haughtiness is not the most severe passion,
But through it the enemy beguiled James.

Saint James had such love for Christ, and so little regard for the things of this world, that he liquidated his entire estate and gave the proceeds to the poor without spending any of the money on himself. He gave himself over to a life of poverty, fasting and prayer. His life won him the praise of the people. Later, instead of closing his ears to this praise, he fell into a demonic temptation and became very proud. He would say, "Who knows better than I do, concerning my own salvation?" Following his own self-will and personal preferences, he lived in solitude and undertook difficult struggles without first seeking the advice of wise and experienced ascetics. This was diagnosed to be his downfall.

While in solitude with a puffed up ego, a demon appeared to him in the guise of an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). He told James that Christ was very pleased by his labors and that he was an equal of the Apostle Paul, and therefore he would come that night to reward him. "Clean your cell," the demon said, "and make ready by lighting the lamps and burning incense."

The foolish James, in his delusion, accepted all of this without question. When Satan came at midnight, James opened his door and fell down in worship before him. Satan mocked him and struck him on the head, then vanished after James made the sign of the Cross.

James fell into despair and at dawn went to visit a certain Elder to tell him what had happened. Before James could speak a single word, the Elder said, "You must leave this place, for you have been deceived by Satan."

James was heartbroken and wept bitter tears. The Elder also advised him to go to a cenobitic monastery, which he did. There he fulfilled his obedience in the dining room with great humility and obedience. Then for seven years he sat in his cell working at some handicraft, and fulfilling his rule of prayer.

Saint James acquired the gift of discernment, learned the straight and narrow path of God, and became a great wonderworker for being an example of humility. He completed the course of his life in peace.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Christian Brothers and Message Behind the 'Conjuring' Films


Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes are two brothers from a family of pastors and missionaries, and are committed Christians themselves, who also happen to be the screenwriters behind the The Conjuring (2013), the second highest grossing original horror film behind The Exorcist, and the highly anticipated sequel The Conjuring 2 (2016).

To read about why these two brothers have decided to dedicate themselves to mixing the Christian message with horror films, see the following two interviews:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Do You Seek A Heavenly Vision?


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Spiritists of our day accept every manifestation from the spiritual world as though sent by God, and immediately they boast that God has been "revealed" to them.

I knew an eighty year old monk whom everyone respected as a great spiritual director. To my question: "Have you ever in your life seen anything from the spiritual world?", the monk answered me, "No, never, praise be to God's Mercy." Seeing that I was astonished at this, he said, "I have constantly prayed to God that nothing appear to me, so that, by chance, I would not succumb to pride and receive a fallen devil as an angel. Thus far, God has heard my prayers." This recorded example shows how humble and cautious the elders were.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

St. John Chrysostom's Three Homilies on the Devil (Homily 3)


Three Homilies on the Devil


Homily 3. On the Power of Man to Resist the Devil

(That evil comes of sloth, and virtue from diligence, and that neither wicked men, nor the devil himself, are able to do the wary man any harm. The proof of this from many passages, and amongst others from those which relate to Adam and to Job.)

By St. John Chrysostom

1. The day before yesterday we set on foot our sermon concerning the Devil, out of our love for you. But others, the day before yesterday while these matters were being set on foot here, took their places in the theatre, and were looking on at the Devil's show. They were taking part in lascivious songs; you were having a share in spiritual music. They were eating of the Devil's garbage: you were feeding on spiritual unguents. Who pray decoyed them? Who pray separated them from the sacred flock? Did the Devil pray deceive them? How did he not deceive you? You and they are men alike; I mean as regards your nature. You and they have the same soul, you have the same desires, so far as nature is concerned. How is it then that you and they were not in the same place? Because you and they have not the same purpose. On this account they indeed are under deception, but you beyond deception. I do not say these things again as discharging the Devil from accusation, but as desiring earnestly to free you from sins. The Devil is wicked; I grant this indeed, but he is wicked for himself not towards us if we are wary. For the nature of wickedness is of this kind. It is destructive to those alone who hold to it. Virtue is the contrary. It is not only able to profit those who hold to it, but those nearest at hand too. And in order that you may learn that evil is evil in itself, but good is also good to others, I provide you with proverbial evidence: "My son," says he, "if you have become evil, you shall bear your evils alone, but if wise, for yourself and your neighbor."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

St. John Chrysostom's Three Homilies on the Devil (Homily 2)


Three Homilies on the Devil


Homily 2. On the Power of Man to Resist the Devil


(Against those who object because the devil has not been put out of the world, and to prove that his wickedness does no harm to us — if we take heed, and concerning repentance.)

By St. John Chrysostom

1. When Isaac, in old time, was desirous to eat a meal at the hands of his son, he sent his son forth from the house to the chase. But when this Isaac was desirous to accept a meal at my hands he did not send me forth from the house, but himself ran to our table. What could be more tenderly affectionate than he? What more humble? Who thought fit to show his warm love thus, and deigned to descend so far. On this account surely, we also having spent the tones of our voice, and the strength of our feet over the morning discourse, when we saw his fatherly face, forgot our weakness, lay aside our fatigue, were uplifted with pleasure; we saw his illustrious hoary head, and our soul was filled with light. On this account too, we set out our table with readiness, in order that he should eat and bless us. There is no fraud and guile, here, as there was then, there. One indeed was commanded to bring the meal — but another brought it. But I was commanded to bring it, and brought it too. Bless me then, O my father, with spiritual blessing, which we all also pray ever to receive, and which is profitable not only to you, but also to me, and to all these. Entreat the common master of us all, to prolong your life to the old age of Isaac. For this is both for me, and for these, more valuable, and more needful than the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth.

Monday, May 16, 2016

St. John Chrysostom's Three Homilies on the Devil (Homily 1)


Three Homilies on the Devil

Homily 1: Against Those Who Say that Demons Govern Human Affairs


(Against those who say that demons govern human affairs, and who are displeased at the chastisement of God, and are offended at the prosperity of the wicked and the hardships of the just.)

By St. John Chrysostom

I indeed was hoping, that from the continuance of my discourse, you would have had a surfeit of my words: but I see that the contrary is happening: that no surfeit is taking place from this continuance, but that your desire is increased, that an addition is made not to your satiety but to your pleasure, that the same thing is happening which the wine-bibbers at heathen drinking-bouts experience; for they, the more they pour down unmixed wine, so much the rather they kindle their thirst, and in your case the more teaching we inculcate, so much the rather do we kindle your desire, we make your longing greater, your love for it the stronger. On this account, although I am conscious of extreme poverty, I do not cease to imitate the ostentatious among entertainers, both setting before you my table continuously, and placing on it the cup of my teaching, filled full: for I see that after having drunk it all, you retire again thirsting. And this indeed has become evident during the whole time, but especially since the last Lord's Day: For that ye partake of the divine oracles insatiably, that day particularly showed: whereon I discoursed about the unlawfulness of speaking ill one of another, when I furnished you with a sure subject for self accusation, suggesting that you should speak ill of your own sins, but should not busy yourselves about those of other people: when I brought forward the Saints as accusing themselves indeed, but sparing others: Paul saying I am the chief of sinners, and that God had compassion on him who was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, and calling himself one born out of due time, and not even thinking himself worthy of the title of Apostle: Peter saying "Depart from me because I am a sinful man:" Matthew styling himself a publican even in the days of his Apostleship: David crying out and saying "My iniquities have gone over my head, and as a heavy burden have been burdensome to me:" and Isaiah lamenting and bewailing "I am unclean, and have unclean lips:" The three children in the furnace of fire, confessing and saying that they have sinned and transgressed, and have not kept the commandments of God. Daniel again makes the same lamentation. When after the enumeration of these Saints, I called their accusers flies, and introduced the right reason for the comparison, saying, that just as they fasten themselves upon the wounds of others, so also the accusers bite at other people's sins, collecting disease therefrom for their acquaintance, and those who do the opposite, I designated bees, not gathering together diseases, but building honeycombs with the greatest devotion, and so flying to the meadow of the virtue of the Saint: Then accordingly—then ye showed your insatiable longing. For when my discourse was extended to some length, yea to an interminable length, such as never was, many indeed expected that your eagerness would be quenched by the abundance of what was said. But the contrary happened. For your heart was the rather warmed, your desire was the rather kindled: and whence was this evident? The acclamations at least which took place at the end were greater, and the shouts more clear, and the same thing took place as at the forge. For as there at the beginning indeed the light of the fire is not very clear, but when the flame has caught the whole of the wood that is laid upon it, it is raised to a great height; so also accordingly this happened on the occasion of that day. At the beginning indeed, this assembly was not vehemently stirred by me. But when the discourse was extended to some length, and gradually took hold of all the subjects and the teaching spread more widely, then accordingly, then the desire of listening was kindled in you, and the applause broke forth, more vehemently. On this account, although I had been prepared to say less than was spoken, I then exceeded the measure, nay rather I never exceeded the measure. For I am wont to measure the amount of the teaching not by the multitude of the words spoken, but by the disposition of the audience. For he who meets with a disgusted audience, even if he abridge his teaching, seems to be vexatious, but he who meets with eager, and wide-awake, and attentive hearers, though he extend his discourse to some length, not even thus fulfills their desire.

But since it happens that there are in so great a congregation, certain weak ones, unable to follow the length of the discourse, I wish to suggest this to them, that they should hear and receive, as much as they can, and having received enough should retire: There is no one who forbids, or compels them to remain beyond their natural strength. Let them not however necessitate the abridgment of the discourse before the time and the proper hours. You are replete, but your brother still hungers. You are drunk with the multitude of the things spoken, but your brother is still thirsty. Let him then not distress your weakness, compelling you to receive more than your own power allows: nor do thou vex his zeal by preventing him from receiving all that he can take in.

2. This also happens at secular feasts. Some indeed are more quickly satisfied, some more tardily, and neither do these blame those, nor do they condemn these. But there indeed to withdraw more quickly is praiseworthy, but here to withdraw more quickly is not praiseworthy, but excusable. There to leave off more slowly, is culpable and faulty, here to withdraw more tardily, brings the greatest commendation, and good report. Pray why is this? Because there indeed the tardiness arises from greediness, but here the endurance, and patience are made up of spiritual desire and divine longing.

But enough of preamble. And we will proceed hereupon to that business which remained over to us from that day. What then was that which was then spoken? That all men had one speech, just as also they had one nature, and no one was different in speech, or in tongue. Whence then comes so great a distinction in speech? From the carelessness of those who received the gift—of both of which matters we then spoke, showing both the loving-kindness of the Master through this unity of speech, and the senselessness of the servants through their distinction of speech. For he indeed foreseeing that we should waste the gift nevertheless gave it: and they to whom it was entrusted, waxed evil over their charge. This is then one way of explanation, not that God wrested the gift from us but that we wasted what had been given. Then next after that, that we received afterwards gifts greater than those lost. In place of temporal toil he honoured us with eternal life. In place of thorns and thistles he prepared the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our souls. Nothing was more insignificant than man, and nothing became more honoured than man. He was the last item of the reasonable creation. But the feet became the head, and by means of the first-fruits, were raised to the royal throne. For just as some generous and opulent man who has seen some one escape from shipwreck and only able to save his bare body from the waves, cradles him in his hands, and casts about him a bright garment, and conducts him to the highest honours; so also God has done in the case of our nature. Man cast aside all that he had, his right to speak freely, his communion with God, his sojourn in Paradise, his unclouded life, and as from a shipwreck, went forth bare. But God received him and straightway clothed him, and taking him by the hand gradually conducted him to heaven. And yet the shipwreck was quite unpardonable. For this tempest was due entirely not to the force of the winds, but to the carelessness of the sailor.

And yet God did not look at this, but had compassion for the magnitude of the calamity, and him who had suffered shipwreck in harbour, he received as lovingly as if he had undergone this in the midst of the open sea. For to fall in Paradise is to undergo shipwreck in harbour. Why so? Because when no sadness, or care, or labours, or toil, or countless waves of desire assaulted our nature, it was upset and it fell. And as the miscreants who sail the sea, often bore through the ship with a small iron tool, and let in the whole sea to the ship from below; so accordingly then, when the Devil saw the ship of Adam, that is his soul, full of many good things, he came and bored it through with his mere voice, as with some small iron tool, and emptied him of all his wealth and sank the ship itself. But God made the gain greater than the loss, and brought our nature to the royal throne. Wherefore Paul cries out and says, "He raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him, on his right hand in the heavenly places, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us." What dost thou say? the thing has already happened and has an end, and dost thou say "in order that he might show to the ages to come?" Has he not shown? He has already shown, but not to all men, but to me who am faithful, but the unbelieving has not yet seen the wonder. But then, in that day the whole nature of man will come forward, and will wonder at that which has been done, but especially will it be more manifest to us. For we believe even now; but hearing and sight do not put a wonder before us in the same way, but just as in the case of kings when we hear of the purple robe, and the diadem, and the golden raiment, and the royal throne, we wonder indeed, but experience this in greater degree when the curtains are drawn aside and we see him seated on the lofty judgment seat. So also in the case of the Only-Begotten, when we see the curtains of heaven drawn aside, and the King of angels descending thence, and with his body-guard of the heavenly hosts, then we perceive the wonder to be greater from our sight of it. For consider with me what it is to see our nature borne upon the Cherubim, and the whole angelic force surrounding it.

3. But look, with me, too, at the wisdom of Paul, how many expressions he seeks for, so as to present to us the loving-kindness of God. For he did not speak merely the word grace, nor riches, but what did he say? "The exceeding riches of his grace in kindness." But notwithstanding even so, he is below the mark; and even as the slippery bodies when grasped by countless hands, escape our hold, and slip through easily; so also are we unable to get hold of the loving-kindness of God in whatever expressions we may try to grasp it, but the exceeding magnitude of it baffles the feebleness of our utterances. And Paul therefore experiencing this, and seeing the force of words defeated by its magnitude, desists after saying one word: and what is this? "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." For neither speech, nor any mind is able to set forth the tender care of God. On this account he then says that it is past finding out, and elsewhere: "The peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts."

But, as I was saying, these two ways of explanation are found in the meantime: one indeed that God has not wrested the gift that we have lost; and next, that the good things which have been given to us are even greater than those which we have lost. And I wish also to mention a third too. What then is the third? That even if he had not given the things after these, which were greater than those we had lost, but had only taken away what had been given to us, as we furnished the reason why, (for let this be added); even this is enough of itself to show his tender care towards us. For not only to give, but also to take away what was given, is a mark of the greatest loving-kindness, and, if you will, let us lay bare the matter, in the case of Paradise. He gave Paradise. This of his own tender care. We were seen to be unworthy of the gift. This of our own senselessness. He took away the gift from those who became unworthy of it. This came of his own goodness. And what kind of goodness is it, says one, to take away the gift? Wait, and you shall fully hear. For think, what Cain would have been, dwelling in Paradise after his blood-guiltiness. For if, when he was expelled from that abode, if when condemned to toil and labour, and beholding the threat of death hanging over his head, if seeing the calamity of his father before his eyes, and holding the traces of the wrath of God still in his hands, and encompassed with so great horrors, he lashed out into such great wickedness, as to ignore nature, and to forget one born from the same birth pangs, and to slay him who had done him no wrong, to lay hold on his brother's person, and to dye his right hand with blood, and when God wanted him to be still, to refuse submission and to affront his maker, to dishonour his parents; if this man had continued to dwell in Paradise—look, into how great evil he would have rushed. For if when so many restraints were laid upon him, he leapt with fatal leaps; and if these walls were set at nought, whither would he not have precipitated himself?

Wouldest thou learn too from the mother of this man, what a good result the expulsion from the life of Paradise had, compare what Eve was before this, and what she became afterwards. Before this indeed, she considered that deceiving Devil, that wicked Demon to be more worth believing than the commandments of God, and at the mere sight of the tree, she trampled under foot the law which had been laid down by Him. But when the expulsion from Paradise came, consider how much better and wiser she grew. For when she bare a son, she says: "I have gotten a man through the Lord." She straightway flew to the master, who before this had despised the master, and she neither ascribes the matter to nature, nor puts the birth down to the laws of marriage, but she recognizes the Lord of Nature, and acknowledges thanks to Him for the birth of the little child. And she who before this deceived her husband, afterwards even trained the little child, and gave him a name which of itself was able to bring the gift of God to her remembrance: and again when she bare another, she says: "God has raised up seed to me in place of Abel whom Cain slew." The woman remembers her calamity, and does not become impatient but she gives thanks to God, and calls the little child after his gift, furnishing it with constant material for instruction. Thus even in his very deprivation God conferred greater benefit. The woman suffered expulsion from Paradise, but by means of her ejection she was led to a knowledge of God, so that she found a greater thing than she lost. And if it were profitable, says one, to suffer expulsion from Paradise, for what cause did God give Paradise at the beginning? This turned out profitably to man, on account of our carelessness, since, if at least, they had taken heed to themselves, and had acknowledged their master, and had known how to be self-restrained, and to keep within bounds, they would have remained in honour. But when they treated the gifts which had been given them with insolence, then it became profitable, that they should be ejected. For what cause then did God give at first? In order that he might show forth his own loving-kindness, and because He himself was prepared to bring us even to greater honour. But we were the cause of chastisement and punishment on all sides, ejecting ourselves through our indifference to goods which were given to us. Just as therefore an affectionate father, at first indeed, suffers his own son to dwell in his home, and to enjoy all his father's goods, but when he sees that he has become worthless of the honour, he leads him away from his table, and puts him far from his own sight, and often casts him forth from his paternal home, in order that he, suffering expulsion, and becoming better by this slight and this dishonour, may again show himself worthy of restoration, and may succeed to his father's inheritance: So has God done. He gave Paradise to man. He cast him out when he appeared unworthy, in order that by his dwelling outside, and through his dishonour, he might become better, and more self-restrained, and might appear worthy again of restoration. Since after those things he did become better, he brings him back again and says: "Today shall you be with me in Paradise." Do you see that not the gift of Paradise but even the ejection from Paradise was a token of the greatest tender care? For had he not suffered expulsion from Paradise, he would not again have appeared worthy of Paradise.

4. This argument therefore let us maintain throughout, and let us apply it to the case of the subject lying before us. God gave a speech common to all. This is part of his loving kindness to men. They did not use the gift rightly, but they lapsed to utter folly. He took away again that which had been given. For if when they had one speech, they fell into so great folly, as to wish to build a tower to heaven: had they not immediately been chastised would they not have desired to lay hold on the height of heaven itself? For why? If indeed that were impossible for them, yet notwithstanding their impious thoughts are made out from their plan. All which things God foresaw, and since they did not use their oneness of speech rightly, he rightly divided them by difference of speech. And see with me, his loving-kindness. "Behold," says he, "they all have one speech, and this they have begun to do."

For what reason did he not at once proceed to the division of tongues, but first of all defend himself, as if about to be judged in a law-court? And yet at least no one can say to him, why have you done this? Yea he is at liberty to do all things as he wills. But still as one about to give account, he thus sets up a defense, teaching us to be gentle and loving. For if the master defends himself to his servants, even when they have done him this wrong; much more ought we to defend ourselves to one another, even if we are wronged to the highest degree. See at least how he defends himself. "Behold they have all one mouth and one speech," says he, "and this they have begun to do," as if he said let no one accuse me of this when he sees the division of tongues. Let no one consider that this difference of speech was made over to men from the beginning. "Behold they all have one mouth, and one speech." But they did not use the gift aright. And in order that you may understand that he does not chastise for what has taken place so much as he provides for improvement in the future, hear the sequel "and now none of all the things will fail them, which they set on foot to do." Now what he says, is of such a kind as this. If they do not pay the penalty now, and be restrained from the very root of their sins, they will never cease from wickedness. For this is what "none of the things will fail them which they set on foot to do" means, as if he said, and they will add other deeds yet more monstrous. For such a thing is wickedness; if when it has taken a start it be not hindered, as fire catching wood, so it rises to an unspeakable height. Do you see that the deprivation of oneness of speech was a work of much loving-kindness? He inflicted difference of speech upon them, in order that they might not fall into greater wickedness. Hold fast this argument then with me, and let it ever be fixed and immovable in your minds, that not only when he confers benefits but even when he chastises God is good and loving. For even his chastisements and his punishments are the greatest part of his beneficence, the greatest form of his providence. Whenever therefore you see that famines have taken place, and pestilences, and drought and immoderate rains, and irregularities in the atmosphere, or any other of the things which chasten human nature, be not distressed, nor be despondent, but worship Him who caused them, marvel at Him for His tender care. For He who does these things is such that He even chastens the body that the soul may become sound. Then does God these things saith one? God does these things, and even if the whole city, nay even if the whole universe were here I will not shrink from saying this. Would that my voice were clearer than a trumpet, and that it were possible to stand in a lofty place, and to cry aloud to all men, and to testify that God does these things. I do not say these things in arrogance but I have the prophet standing at my side, crying and saying, "There is no evil in the city which the Lord has not done" — now evil is an ambiguous term; and I wish that you shall learn the exact meaning of each expression, in order that on account of ambiguity you may not confound the nature of the things, and fall into blasphemy.

5. There is then evil, which is really evil; fornication, adultery, covetousness, and the countless dreadful things, which are worthy of the utmost reproach and punishment. Again there is evil, which rather is not evil, but is called so, famine, pestilence, death, disease, and others of a like kind. For these would not be evils. On this account I said they are called so only. Why then? Because, were they evils, they would not have become the sources of good to us, chastening our pride, goading our sloth, and leading us on to zeal, making us more attentive. For when, saith one, "he slew them, then they sought him, and they returned, and came early to God." He calls this evil therefore which chastens them, which makes them purer, which renders them more zealous, which leads them on to love of wisdom; not that which comes under suspicion and is worthy of reproach; for that is not a work of God, but an invention of our own will, but this is for the destruction of the other. He calls then by the name of evil the affliction, which arises from our punishment; thus naming it not in regard to its own nature, but according to that view which men take of it. For since we are accustomed to call by the name of evil, not only thefts and adulteries, but also calamities; so he has called the matter, according to the estimate of mankind. This then is that which the prophet saith: "There is no evil in the city which the Lord has not done." This too by means of Isaiah God has made clear saying: "I am God who makes peace and creates evil," again naming calamities evils. This evil also Christ hints at, thus saying to the disciples, "sufficient for the day is the evil thereof," that is to say the affliction, the misery. It is manifest then on all sides, that he here calls punishment evil; and himself brings these upon us, affording us the greatest view of his providence. For the physician is not only to be commended when he leads forth the patient into gardens and meadows, nor even into baths and pools of water, nor yet when he sets before him a well furnished table, but when he orders him to remain without food, when he oppresses him with hunger and lays him low with thirst, confines him to his bed, both making his house a prison, and depriving him of the very light, and shadowing his room on all sides with curtains, and when he cuts, and when he cauterizes, and when he brings his bitter medicines, he is equally a physician. How is it not then preposterous to call him a physician who does so many evil things, but to blaspheme God, if at any time He does one of these things, if He bring on either famine or death, and to reject his providence over all? And yet He is the only true physician both of souls and bodies. On this account He often seizes this nature of ours wantoning in prosperity, and travailing with a fever of sins, and by want, and hunger, and death and other calamities and the rest of the medicines of which He knows, frees us from diseases. But the poor alone feel hunger, says one. But He does not chasten with hunger alone, but with countless other things. Him who is in poverty He has often corrected with hunger, but the rich and him who enjoys prosperity, with dangers, diseases, untimely deaths. For He is full of resources, and the medicines which He has for our salvation are manifold.

Thus too the judges do. They do not honour, or crown those only who dwell in cities, nor do they provide gifts alone, but they also often correct. On this account both the sword is sharpened by them, and tortures are prepared; both the wheel and the stocks, and the executioners, and countless other forms of chastisement. That which the executioner is to the judges, famine is to God—as an executioner correcting us and leading us away from vice. This too, it is possible to see in the case of the husbandmen: They do not then, only protect the root of the vine, nor hedge it round but prune it, and lop off many of the branches; on this account not only have they a hoe, but a sickle too, suitable for cutting: yet notwithstanding we do not find fault with them, but then above all we admire them, when we see them cutting off much that is unserviceable, so as through the rejection of what is superfluous to afford great security to that which remains. How is it not then preposterous, that we should thus approve of a father indeed and a physician and a judge, and a husbandman, and should neither blame nor censure him who casts his son out of his house nor the physician who puts his patient to torture nor the judge who corrects, nor the husbandman who prunes: but that we should blame and smite with countless accusations God, if he would at any time raise us up, when we are as it were, besotted through the great drunkenness which comes of wickedness? How great madness would it not be, not even to allow God a share of the same self-justification, of which we allow our fellow servants a share?

6. Fearing these things for them who reproach God, I speak now, in order that they may not kick against the pricks, and cover their own feet with blood, that they may not throw stones to heaven, and receive wounds on their own head. But I have somewhat else far beyond this to say. For omitting to ask (I say this by way of concession) if God took from us to our profit, I only say this; that if He took what had been given, not even thus, could anyone be able to reproach Him. For He was Lord of his own. Among men indeed, when they entrust us with money, and lend us silver, we give them our thanks for the time during which they lent it, we are not indignant at the time at which they take back their own. And shall we reproach God who wishes to take back his own? Indeed now is this not the extreme of folly? Yea the great and noble Job did not act thus. For not only when he received, but even when he was deprived, he gives the greatest thanks to God saying, "The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be blessed for ever." But if it is right to give thanks for both these even separately, and deprivation is not the less serviceable than bestowal; what excusableness should we have, tell me, in recompensing in a contrary spirit, and being impatient with Him when we ought to worship, who is so gentle, and loving and careful, who is wiser than every Physician, and more full of affection than any father, juster than any judge, and more anxious than any husbandman, in healing these souls of ours? What then could be more insane and senseless than they who in the midst of so great good order, say that we are deprived of the providence of God? For just as if some one were to contend that the soul was murky and cold, he would produce an example of extreme insanity, by his opinion; so if any one doubts about the providence of God, much rather is he liable to charges of madness.

Not so manifest is the Sun, as the providence of God is clear. But nevertheless some dare to say that Demons administer our affairs. What can I do? You have a loving Master. He chooses rather to be blasphemed by you through these words, than to commit your affairs to the Demons and persuade you by the reality how Demons administer. For then you would know their wickedness well by the experience of it. But rather indeed now it is possible to set it before you as it were by a certain small example. Certain men possessed of Demons coming forth out of the tombs met Christ, and the Demons kept beseeching him to suffer them to enter the herd of swine. And he suffered them, and they went away, and straightway precipitated them all headlong. Thus do Demons govern; and yet to them the swine were of no particular account, but with you there is ever a warfare without a truce, and an implacable fight, and undying hatred. And if in the case of those with whom they had nothing in common they did not even endure that they should be allowed a brief breathing space of time: if they had gotten unto their power us their enemies who are perpetually stinging them what would they not have done? And what incurable mischief would they not have accomplished? For for this reason God let them fall upon the herd of swine, in order that in the case of the bodies of irrational animals you may learn their wickedness, and that they would have done to the possessed the things which they did to the swine, had not the demoniacs in their very madness experienced the providence of God, is evident to all: and now therefore when you see a man excited by a Demon, worship the Master. Learn the wickedness of the Demons. For it is possible to see both things in the case of these Demons, the loving-kindness of God, and the evil of the Demons. The evil of the Demons when they harass and disturb the soul of the demented: and the loving-kindness of God whenever he restrains and hinders so savage a Demon, who has taken up his abode within, and desires to hurl the man headlong, and does not allow him to use his own power to the full, but suffers him to exhibit just so much strength, as both to bring the man to his senses, and make his own wickedness apparent. Do you wish to form another example to see once more how a Demon arranges matters when God allows him to use his own power? Consider the herds, the flocks of Job, how in one instant of time he annihilated all, consider the pitiable death of the children, the blow that was dealt to his body: and you shall see the savage and inhuman and unsparing character of the wickedness of the Demons, and from these things you shall know clearly that if God had entrusted the whole of this world to their authority, they would have confused and disturbed everything, and would have assigned to us their treatment of the swine, and of those herds, since not even for a little breathing space of time could they have endured to spare us our salvation. If Demons were to arrange affairs, we should be in no better condition than possessed men, yea rather we should be worse than they. For God did not give them over entirely to the tyranny of the Demons, otherwise they would suffer far worse things than these which they now suffer. And I would ask this of those who say these things, what kind of disorder they behold in the present, that they set down all our affairs to the arrangement of Demons? And yet we behold the sun for so many years proceeding day by day in regular order, a manifold band of stars keeping their own order, the courses of the moon unimpeded, an invariable succession of night and day, all things, both above and below, as it were in a certain fitting harmony, yea rather even far more, and more accurately each keeping his own place, and not departing from the order which God who made them ordained from the beginning.

7. And what is the use of all this, says one, when the heaven indeed, and sun, and moon, and the band of stars, and all the rest keep much good order, but our affairs are full of confusion and disorder. What kind of confusion, O man, and disorder? A certain one, says he, is rich, and overbearing, He is rapacious and covetous, he drains the substance of the poor day by day, and suffers no terrible affliction. Another lives in forbearance, self-restraint, and uprightness, and is adorned with all other good qualities, and is chastened with poverty and disease, and extremely terrible afflictions. Are these then the matters which offend you? Yes, these, says he. If then you see both of the rapacious, many chastened, and of those living virtuously, yea some even enjoying countless goods, why do you not abandon your opinion, and be content with the Almighty? Because it is this very thing which offends me more. For why when there are two evil men, is one chastened, and another gets off, and escapes; and when there are two good men, one is honoured, and the other continues under punishment? And this very thing is a very great work of God's providence. For if he were to chasten all the evil men, here; and were to honour here all the good men, a day of judgment were superfluous. Again if he were to chasten no wicked man, nor were to honour any of the good, then the base would become baser and worse, as being more careless than the excellent, and they who were minded to blaspheme would accuse God all the more, and say that our affairs were altogether deprived of his providence. For if when certain evil men are chastened, and certain good men punished, they likewise say that human affairs are subject to no providence; if even this did not happen what would they not say? And what words would they not send forth? On this account some of the wicked he chastens, and some he does not chasten and some of the good he honours and some he does not honour. He does not chasten all, in order that he may persuade you, that there is a Resurrection. But he chastens some in order that he may make the more careless, through fear by means of the punishment of the others, more in earnest. Again he honours certain of the good, in order that he may lead on others by his honours to emulate their virtue. But he does not honour all, in order that you may learn that there is another season for rendering to all their recompense. For if indeed all were to receive their deserts here, they would disbelieve the account of the Resurrection. But if no one were to receive his desert here, the majority would become more careless. On this account some he chastens, and others he does not chasten, profiting both those who are chastened, and those who are not chastened. For he separates their wickedness from those, and he makes the others by their punishment, more self-restrained. And this is manifest from what Christ himself said. For when they announced to him that a tower had been brought to the ground, and had buried certain men, he saith to them: "What do you think? That these men were sinners only? I say to you nay, but if ye do not repent ye also shall suffer the same thing."

Do you see how those perished on account of their sin, and the rest did not escape on account of their righteousness, but in order that they might become better by the punishment of the others? Were not then the chastened unjustly dealt with says one? For they could without being chastened themselves become better by the punishment of others. But if He had known that they would become better from penitence God would not have chastened them. For if when he foresaw that many would profit nothing from his long-suffering, he nevertheless bears with them, with much tolerance, fulfilling his own part, and affording them an opportunity of coming out of their own senselessness to their sober senses one day; how could he deprive those who were about to become better from the punishment of others, of the benefit of repentance? So that they are in no way unjustly treated, both their evil being cut off by their punishment, and their chastening is to be lighter there, because they suffered here beforehand. Again, they who were not chastened are in no way unjustly treated; for it was possible for them, had they wished, to have used the long-suffering of God, to accomplish a most excellent change, and wondering at his tolerance, to have become ashamed at his exceeding forbearance, and one day to have gone over to virtue, and to have gained their own salvation by the punishment of others. But if they remain in wickedness, God is not to blame, who on this account was long-suffering, that he might recover them, but they are unworthy of pardon, who did not rightly use the long-suffering of God: and it is not only possible to use this argument as a reason why all the wicked are not chastened here, but another also not less than this. Of what kind then is this? That if God brought upon all, the chastenings which their sins deserved, our race would have been carried off, and would have failed to come down to posterity. And in order that you may learn that this is true, hear the prophet saying: "If Thou observedst iniquity O Lord, who shall stand?" And if it seems good to you to investigate this saying, leaving the accurate inquiry into the life of each, alone: (For it is not possible even to know all that has been accomplished by each man) let us bring forward those sins which all, without contradiction, commit: and from these it will be plain and manifest to us, that if we were chastened for each of our sins, we should long ago have perished. He who has called his brother fool, is liable to the hell of fire saith He. Is there then any one of us who has never sinned this sin? What then? Ought he to be straightway carried off? Therefore we should have been all carried off and would have disappeared, long ago, indeed very long ago. Again he who swears, says he, even if he fulfill his oath, does the works of the wicked one. Who is there then, who has not sworn? Yea rather who is there who has never sworn falsely? He who looks on a woman, says he, with unchaste eyes, is wholly an adulterer, and of this sin any one would find many guilty. When then these acknowledged sins are such and so insufferable, and each of these of itself brings upon us inevitable chastisement, if we were to reckon up the secret sins committed by us, then we shall see especially that the providence of God does not bring upon us punishment for each sin. So that when you see anyone rapacious, covetous, and not chastened, then do you unfold your own conscience; reckon up your own life, go over the sins which have been committed and you shall learn rightly that in your own case first, it is not expedient to be chastened for each of your sins: for on this account the majority make reckless utterances, since they do not look on their own case before that of others, but we all leaving our own alone, examine that of the rest. But let us no longer do this, but the reverse, and if you see any righteous man chastened, remember Job: for if any one be righteous, he will not be more righteous than that man, nor within a small distance of approaching him. And if he suffer countless ills, he has not yet suffered so much, as that man.

8. Taking this then into your mind, cease charging the master; learning that it is not by way of deserting him does God let such an one suffer ill, but through desire to crown him, and make him more distinguished. And if you see a sinner punished, remember the paralytic who passed thirty eight years on his bed. For that that man was delivered over then to that disease through sin, hear Christ saying: "Behold you are made whole; sin no more lest a worse thing happen to you." For either when we are chastened, we pay the penalty of our sins, or else we receive the occasion of crowning if, when we live in rectitude, we suffer ill. So that whether we live in righteousness, or in sins, chastening is a useful thing for us, sometimes making us more distinguished, sometimes rendering us more self-controlled, and lightening our punishment to come for us. For that it is possible that one chastened here, and bearing it thankfully should experience milder punishment there hear St. Paul saying: "For this reason many are weak and sickly, and some sleep. For if we judged ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged we are corrected by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." Knowing all these things therefore, Let us both moralize in this way on the providence of God, and stop the mouths of the gainsayers. And if any of the events which happen pass our understanding, let us not from this consider that our affairs are not governed by providence, but perceiving His providence in part, in things incomprehensible let us yield to the unsearchableness of His wisdom. For if it is not possible for one not conversant with it to understand a man's art, much rather is it impossible for the human understanding to comprehend the infinity of the providence of God. "For his judgments are unsearchable and his ways past finding out." But nevertheless from small portions we gain a clear and manifest faith about the whole, we give thanks to him for all that happens. For there is even another consideration that cannot be contradicted, for those who wish to moralize about the providence of God. For we would ask the gainsayers, is there then a God? And if they should say there is not, let us not answer them. For just as it is worthless to answer madmen, so too those who say there is no God. For if a ship having few sailors, and passengers, would not be conducted safely for one mile even, without the hand which guides it, much more, such a world as this, having so many persons in it, composed of different elements, would not have continued so long a time, were there not a certain providence presiding over it, both governing, and continually maintaining this whole fabric, and if in shame, through the common opinion of all men, and the experience of affairs, they confess that there is a God, let us say this to them. If there is a God, as indeed there is, it follows that He is just, for if He is not just neither is He God, and if He is just He recompenses to each according to their desert. But we do not see all here receiving according to their desert. Therefore it is necessary to hope for some other requital awaiting us, in order that by each one receiving according to his desert, the justice of God may be made manifest. For this consideration does not only contribute to our wisdom about providence alone, but about the Resurrection; and let us teach others, and let us do all diligence to shut the mouths of them who rave against the master, and let us ourselves glorify him in all things. For thus shall we win more of his care, and enjoy much of his influence, and thus shall we be able to escape from real evil, and obtain future good, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, By whom and with whom be glory to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, now and always, for ever and ever. Amen.


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