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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Part 100: Doctors of the Church and Perfection-Cyril of Jerusalem

I am looking at this Doctor's copious works on catechesis and the mystagogia. One of the things which stands out in his writing is, thankfully, he insistence on seeking a life of perfection, but only after purification.

Cyril warns us of the dangers of this journey, as he knows that vice can look like virtue. He also, like all the Doctors so far, emphasizes orthodoxy, which must be accepted by those wanting to enter the Kingdom of God.

Here is a snippet and my comments are in blue"

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, &c.
1.  Vice mimics virtue, and the tares strive to be thought wheat, growing like the wheat in appearance, but being detected by good judges from the taste.  The devil also transfigures himself into an angel of light639; not that he may reascend to where he was, for having made his heart hard as an anvil640, he has henceforth a will that cannot repent; but in order that he may envelope those who are living an Angelic life in a mist of blindness, and a pestilent condition of unbelief.  
The devil is not obvious in his deceit. He is more than cunning, he is brilliant intellectually and watches us for weaknesses. But, what does Cyril mean when he states that vice mimics virtue? We see this daily in the false use of the words "love", "committment", "care" and so on with regard to abortion, contraception, euthenasia and same-sex unions. Language is twisted to seem virtuous when the ideals depart from Revelation and natural law.
Many wolves are going about in sheeps’ clothing641, their clothing being that of sheep, not so their claws and teeth:  but clad in their soft skin, and deceiving the innocent by their appearance, they shed upon them from their fangs the destructive poison of ungodliness.  We have need therefore of divine grace, and of a sober mind, and of eyes that see, lest from eating tares as wheat we suffer harm from ignorance, and lest from taking the wolf to be a sheep we become his prey, and from supposing the destroying Devil to be a beneficent Angel we be devoured:  for, as the Scripture saith, he goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour642.  This is the cause of the Church’s admonitions, the cause of the present instructions, and of the lessons which are read.
Grace, as defined and described in the mini-series of the last few days, is absolutely necessary. And, grace is connected to the acceptance and belief in the doctrines of the Church.

2.  For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice:  and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines.  For what profit is it, to know well the doctrines concerning God, and yet to be a vile fornicator?  And again, what profit is it, to be nobly temperate, and an impious blasphemer?  A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines:  also there is need of a wakeful soul, since there are many that make spoil through philosophy and vain deceit643.  

Sadly, in this day of television and Internet evangelization, there are too many false prophets. Men and women who claim to know God but support contraception or same-sex unions. 

One must be always looking at preachers of all kinds with the eyes of Christ. If one is in a prayer group which is not upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church and yet claims to be spirit-filled, beware.

The Greeks on the one hand draw men away by their smooth tongue, for honey droppeth from a harlot’s lips644:  whereas they of the Circumcision deceive those who come to them by means of the Divine Scriptures, which they miserably misinterpret though studying them from childhood to old age645, and growing old in ignorance.  But the children of heretics, by their good words and smooth tongue, deceive the hearts of the innocent646, disguising with the name of Christ as it were with honey the poisoned arrows647 of their impious doctrines:  concerning all of whom together the Lord saith, Take heed lest any man mislead you648.  This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it.

The road to perfection begins with the Creed.

To be continued....