The Church Fathers and the Visbility of the Catholic Church by Joe Gallegos
"Now all these [heretics] are of much later date than the bishops to whom the apostles committed the Churches; which fact I have in the third book taken all pains to demonstrate. It follows, then, as a matter of course, that these heretics aforementioned, since they are blind to the truth, and deviate from the [right] way, will walk in various roads; and therefore the footsteps of their doctrine are scattered here and there without agreement or connection. But the path of those belonging to the Church circumscribes the whole world, as possessing the sure tradition from the apostles, and gives unto us to see that the faith of all is one and the same ... And undoubtedly the preaching of the Church is true and stedfast, in which one and the same way of salvation is shown throughout the whole world. For to her is entrusted the light of God; and therefore the "wisdom" of God, by means of which she saves all men, 'is declared in [its] going forth; it uttereth [its voice] faithfully in the streets, is preached on the tops of the walls, and speaks continually in the gates of the city.' For the Church preaches the truth everywhere, and she is the seven-branched candlestick which bears the light of Christ.
Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth ... not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behoves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures. For the Church has been planted as a garden (paradisus) in this world; therefore says the Spirit of God, 'Thou mayest freely eat from every tree of the garden,' that is, Eat ye from every Scripture of the Lord; but ye shall not eat with an uplifted mind, nor touch any heretical discord."
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,5:20 (A.D. 180),in ANF,I:547-8
"I shall at once go on, then, to exhibit the peculiarities of the Christian society, that, as I have refuted the evil charged against it, I may point out its positive good. We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force, we may wrestle with Him in our supplications. This violence God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation. We assemble to read our sacred writings, if any peculiarity of the times makes either forewarning or reminiscence needful. However it be in that respect, with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more stedfast; and no less by inculcations of God's precepts we confirm good habits."
Tertullian,Apology,39:1(A.D. 197),in ANF,III:46
"To sum up all in one word--what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible."
Letter to Diognetus,6:1(A.D. 200),in ANF,I:27
"You may learn, if you will, the crowning wisdom of the all-holy Shepherd and Instructor, of the omnipotent and paternal Word, when He figuratively represents Himself as the Shepherd of the sheep. And He is the Tutor of the children. He says therefore by Ezekiel, directing His discourse to the elders, and setting before them a salutary description of His wise solicitude: 'And that which is lame I will bind up, and that which is sick I will heal, and that which has wandered I will turn back; and I will feed them on my holy mountain.' Such are the promises of the good Shepherd. Feed us, the children, as sheep. Yea, Master, fill us with righteousness, Thine own pasture; yea, O Instructor, feed us on Thy holy mountain the Church, which towers aloft, which is above the clouds, which touches heaven."
Clement of Alexandria,The Instructor,I:9(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:230-1
"We are not to give heed to those who say, Behold here is Christ, but show him not in the Church, which is filled with brightness from the East even unto the West; which is filled with true light; is the 'pillar and ground of truth'; in which, as a whole,is the whole advent of the Son of Man, who saith to all men throughout the universe,'Behold, I am with you all the days of life even unto the consumption of the world.' "
Origen, Commentary on Matthew,Tract 30(A.D. 244),in FOC,194-195
"Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,--when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated. Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated."
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:423
" 'A city built upon a mountain cannot be hid' The light, or lamp of Christ, is not now to be hidden under a bushel, nor to be concealed by any covering of the synagogue,but, hung on the wood of the Passion, it will give an everlasting light to those that dwell in the church. He also admonishes the apostles to shine with like splendour, that by the admiration of their deeds, praise may be given to God."
Hilary of Poitiers,Commentary on Matthew,5:13(A.D. 355),in FOC,196-7
" 'And his throne as the sun before me.' Understand, by the 'throne' of Christ, the Church; for in it he rests. The Church of Christ, then, he says, shall be refulgent and enlighten all under heaven, and be abiding as the sun and the moon. For this passage says so: 'His throne as the sun beforeme, and as the moon perfect forever, and a faithful witness in heaven.' "
Athanasius,Exposition in the Psalms,88(ante A.D. 373),in FOC,197
"Not therefore on that Mount Sion does Isaias look down upon the valley, but on that holy mountain which is the church, that mountain which lifts its head over the whole Roman world under heaven...a church which is throughout the world, wherein there is one Catholic church."
Optatus of Mileve,Against the Donatist,3:2(A.D. 384), in FOC, 197
" 'And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains' The house of the Lord, 'prepared on the top of the mountains,' is the church, according to the declaration of the apostle, 'Know,' he says, 'how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God' Whose foundations are on the holy mountains, for it is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which the rock the Lord promised to build his church."
Basil,Commentary on Isaiah,2:66(A.D. 375),in FOC,197-8
"It is an easier thing for the sun to be quenched, than for the church to be made invisible."
Chrysostom,In illud: vidi Dom.(ante A.D. 407),in FOC,198
" PETILIANUS said: 'If you declare that yon hold the Catholic Church, the word 'catholic' is merely the Greek equivalent for entire or whole. But it is clear that you are not in the whole, because you have gone aside into the part.'
AUGUSTIN answered: I too indeed have attained to a very slight knowledge of the Greek language, scarcely to be called knowledge at all, yet I am not shameless in saying that I know that means not 'one,' but 'the whole;' and that means "according to the whole:" whence the Catholic Church received its name, according to the saying of the Lord, 'It is not for you to know the times, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and even in the whole earth.' Here you have the origin of the name 'Catholic.' But you are so bent upon running with your eyes shut against the mountain which grew out of a small stone, according to the prophecy of Daniel, and filled the whole earth, that you actually tell us that we have gone aside into a part, and are not in the whole among those whose communion is spread throughout the whole earth. But just in the same way as, supposing you were to say that I was Petilianus, I should not be able to find any method of refuting you unless I were to laugh at you as being in jest, or mourn over you as being mad, so in the present case I see that I have no other choice but this; and since I do not believe that you are in jest, you see what alternative remains."
Augustine,Answer to Letters of Petilian,2:38(A.D. 400),in NPNF1,IV:554-555
"For the church is in lofty and conspicuous, and well known to all men in every place. It is also lofty in another sense; for her thoughts have nothing earthly, but she is above all that is earthly, and with the eyes of the understanding, looks upon, as far as it is possible, the glory of God, and glories in doctrines truly exalted, concerning God ... Wherefore, with justice may the house of God be called a mountain(known) by the understanding, and it is perfectly visible, as being raised upon the hills; and one may say of it, and with great cause, what as a notable illustration was uttered by the mouth of the Saviour: 'A city placed upon a hill cannot be hidden' "
Cyril of Alexandria,Commentary on Isaias,(ante A.D. 429),in FOC,202
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