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Patristic theology is

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Title: Patristic theology is


1
Patristic theology is
  • A spiritual and intellectual exposition of the
    Symbol of the Faith (the Creed), promulgated by
    the witness of the Apostles.
  • The crystallized experience of Grace filled
    Orthodox spirituality.
  • The dogmatic writings of the Fathers
  • are essentially the same common witness
  • that was delivered by Christs Apostles
  • once and for all.
  • This Apostolic witness is preserved
  • in the Church, and in the words of
  • St. Irenæus of Lyons resides there as an
  • ever-increasing depository of faith.

2
Being a fruit of the ever-increasing depository
of the Apostolic witness
  • Patristic teaching is a constant standard of the
    Orthodox Faith,
  • the highest measure of correct belief.
  • It is for this reason that it is more essential
    to make reference to the Fathers than to seek
    historical evidence from the past.
  • In Orthodox theology, references to the Fathers
    are no less important than references to Holy
    Writ.
  • Moreover, these two things can never be
    separated.
  • The Fathers themselves have always been servants
    of the Hypostatic Word.
  • Their theology is, thus, intrinsically exegetical.

3
  • Writings of the Apostolic Fathers are considered
    those earliest manuscripts written after the New
    Testament
  • These include among others
  • The Writings of Irenaeus of Lyons and Justin the
    Martyr
  • First and Second Epistles of Clement of Rome
  • The Didache (The Teaching of the twelve apostles)
  • The Epistle of Barnabas
  • The Shepherd of Hermes
  • The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch

4
The Contents of These Writings Varies
  • The Epistle of Clement of Rome
  • Sent from Rome to settle some of the difficulties
    frictions and schisms affecting the church of
    Corinth
  • The Didache
  • Discovered at Constantinople in 1875, contains
    teaching on the two ways, liturgical directives,
    practices of church discipline, and an
    exhortation to watchfulness and sobriety with
    reference to the end of the world.
  • The Epistle of Barnabas
  • Treats the two ways and gives a Christian
    interpretation of the old testament against a
    Jewish interpretation
  • The Second Epistles of Clement
  • A homily delivered during the liturgy, it is
    perhaps the oldest Christian sermon preserved
    outside the New Testament
  • The Shepherd of Hermes
  • Is primarily a call to repentance
  • The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch
  • Sent to various Christian communities while the
    bishop was traveling to Rome to face his martyrdom

5
  • St. Irenaeus of Lyons
  • The business of the Christian is nothing else
    than to be ever preparing for death.

6
St. Irenaeus is the most important Christian
writer of the 2nd century
  • He was born in the city of Smyrna
  • (in modern-day Turkey)
  • As a youth, he became a disciple of St. Polycarp.
  • He went to Gaul
  • (modern-day France)
  • during the persecution of the Church by the
    Emperor Marcus Aurelius,
  • He became a priest in the city of Lyons
  • later becoming its Bishop.

7
Irenaeus wrote in Greek of all his written works
only two complete ones survive
  • Proof of the Apostolic Tradition
  • A work of apologetics that provides a good
    summary of basic Christian teaching
  • and
  • The Detection and Overthrow of the Pretended but
    False Gnosis
  • (Adversus Haereses)

8
Irenaeus was instrumental in leading the fight
against the heresy of Gnosticism
  • Against Heresies (Adversus Haereses)
  • was comprised of five books
  • Summarized the teachings of heretical Gnostics
    and is a valuable source for the history of
    Gnosticism
  • Contained refutations of Gnostic teaching drawn
    from reason
  • Contained refutations drawn from the teachings of
    the apostles and Christian tradition
  • Contained refutations drawn from the sayings of
    the Lord
  • Dealt exclusively with the resurrection of the
    body since this was denied by all Gnostics

9
Irenaeus would have no part of the ontological
dualism of the Gnostics and their pessimism about
creation and the human person.
  • He is one of the first Christian humanists.
  • Visible creation is good, not evil,
  • and the body will rise again.
  • His well known description of the human person
    sums up much of his thought
  • The glory of God is the human person fully
    alive.
  • Christ has taken on our human condition
  • in order to destroy sin,
  • do away with death,
  • and bring us eternal life.

10
Since Gnostics drastically limited the role of
Christ in the plan of salvation and denied the
reality of the Incarnation
  • Irenaeus emphasized the incarnational principle
    which states God's creation is good, and He can
    use physical or material items as a source of
    grace.
  • Irenaeus also emphasized the true nature of
    Christ and the importance of his death in the
    work of redemption.
  • Salvation comes through Christs Incarnation
  • and through the Cross.
  • Following the teaching of Paul on the
    recapitulation of all things in Christ Irenaeus
    taught that
  • what was lost through the sin of Adam was
    restored by Christ.

11
Christ is the recapitulation of all things and
the restorer of what was lost.
  • When the Son of God was incarnated and became
    man, He recapitulated in Himself the long history
    of men, bringing us salvation in a universal way,
    in such a way that what we lost in Adam
    existence to the image and likeness of God, we
    regained in Jesus Christ.
  • Irenaeus contributed much to the early Church
  • with his spirited defense against heresies
  • that threatened the Church
  • and his clear exposition of Christian teaching
  • and the apostolic tradition.
  • Because of the important role he played he is
    rightly looked upon as the founder of Christian
    theology.

12
Ireneaus also provided reasons for accepting the
authority of the New Testament books.
  • He acknowledged as authoritative those books that
    virtually correspond to the 27 books of the
    canon.
  • He believed the New Testament should be accepted
    because it rests on apostolic authority.
  • For the Lord of all gave to His apostles the
    power of the Gospel, through whom also we have
    known the truth, that is, the doctrine of the Son
    of God. . . .
  • We have learned from none others the plan of our
    salvation, than from those through whom the
    Gospel has come down to us the apostles,, which
    they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at
    a later period, by the will of God, handed down
    to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and
    pillar of our faith.
  • He believed the Bible taken as a whole is
    self-evident and that we should
  • interpret scripture in light of scripture.

13
Irenaeus taught that orthodoxy is based on a
succession of teachers, the bishops, in any
church founded by an apostle.
  • This is called the doctrine of apostolic
    succession.
  • It is within the power of all, therefore, in
    every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to
    contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles
    manifested throughout the whole world and we are
    in a position to reckon up those who were by the
    apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and
    to demonstrate the succession of these men to
    our own times those who neither taught nor knew
    of anything like what these heretics rave
    about
  • Since the teachings of the gnostics are of recent
    origin and are not taught by the successors to
    the apostles, Irenaeus concluded, they must not
    be orthodox.

14
Irenaeus provided the first list of bishops of
the church at Rome
  • He argued that this list,
  • proved an unbroken succession from Peter and Paul
    down to his own day.
  • And this is most abundant proof that there is
    one and the same vivifying faith,
  • which has been preserved in the Church from the
    apostles until now,
  • and handed down in truth
  • (Against Heresies 3.3.3).

15
Irenaeus contributed to the concept that the
tradition of the church, passed down from the
apostles to their successors, is equally
authoritative along with scripture.
  • For it is a matter of necessity that every
    Church should agree with this Church Rome, dwp,
    on account of its preeminent authority, that is,
    the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the
    apostolic tradition has been preserved
    continuously by those faithful men who exist
    everywhere (Against Heresies 3.3.2).
  • His argument was that the authority of the church
    in Rome rested on the uniformity of its tradition
    with the tradition of the church as a whole.
  • This paved the way for the Roman Catholic
    doctrine that revealed truth does not come
    through scripture alone.
  • Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted
    and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and
    reverence
  • (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1995 ed.,
    31).

16
Irenaeus theory of apostolic succession also
contributed to the development of creeds.
  • These summaries of Christian faith, known as
    Rules of Faith, became common in the second half
    of the second century. They also provided
    theological material for defense against the
    heretics
  • (John Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches 20).
  • Irenaeus believed heresy and division could be
    avoided by retaining what he called the rule of
    the truth acknowledged by the churches
  • (Against Heresies 1.9.4).
  • He was one of the first to outline such a rule
    of faith,
  • and taught that
  • the Church, having received this preaching and
    this faith . . . carefully preserves it.

17
Though he vigorously opposed heresy, Irenaeus
remained gentle and personally concerned for the
spiritual well-being of his opponents.
  • He is said to have been martyred during the
    persecution of the Emperor
  • Septimus Severus,
  • though details are unknown.
  • One of his greatest contributions was to
    Christian Ascetical Theology

18
The Two Ways
  • With its roots in Jewish catechesis and the
    Sermon on the Mount this is a prominent theme in
    the writings of the Apostolic Fathers
  • It is the main theme in the first part of the
    Didache
  • There are two ways, one of life and one of
    death
  • and great is the difference between the two
    ways.
  • Epistle of Barnabas
  • There are two ways of Teaching and of Power
    that of Light and that of Darkness. Over the one
    are stationed the light-bringing angels of God
    over the other, the angels of Satan. And the
    first is Lord from eternity to eternity the
    latter is the ruler of the present world of
    lawlessness.
  • Between these two ways, the person must choose
    with a clear and definitive decision!

19
  • IRENAEUS
  • Those persons, then, who possess the earnest of
    the Spirit, and who are not enslaved by the lusts
    of the flesh,
  • but are subject to the Spirit,
  • and who in all things walk according to the light
    of reason,
  • does the apostle properly term "spiritual,"
  • because the Spirit of God dwells in them.
  • Now, spiritual men shall not be incorporeal
    spirits
  • but our substance,
  • that is, the union of flesh and spirit,
  • receiving the Spirit of God, makes up the
    spiritual man.
  • But those who do indeed reject the Spirit's
    counsel,
  • and are the slaves of fleshly lusts,
  • and lead lives contrary to reason,
  • and who, without restraint, plunge headlong into
    their own desires,
  • having no longing after the Divine Spirit,
  • do live after the manner of swine and of dogs
  • these men, I say, does the apostle very
    properly term "carnal,"
  • because they have no thought of anything else
    except carnal things.

20
The Notion of Aplotes Simplicity
  • Closely connected to the two ways is the notion
    of aplotes, the Greek word for simplicity or
    purity of heart
  • This is a response and a choice that comes from a
    heart that is pure and united
  • The opposite of this would be the divided heart,
    the response of duplicity that tries to avoid the
    choice of the two ways
  • The Greek word that sums up
  • this divided heart and duplicity is dispuchia
  • This teaching is one of the most remarkable
    constants to be found in even the most different
    Apostolic Fathers
  • Clement writes
  • The Father pours out his graces with sweetness
    on those who come to him with a simple heart
    having no duplicity.

21
  • IRENAEUS
  • For it renders us like to Christ, if we
    experience
  • "the power of his resurrection and the fellowship
    of His sufferings.
  • For this is the affinity of the apostolic
    teaching and the most holy
  • "faith delivered unto us,"
  • which the unlearned receive,
  • and those of slender knowledge have taught,
  • not "giving heed to endless genealogies,"
  • but studying rather to observe a
    straightforward course of life
  • lest, having been deprived of the Divine Spirit,
  • they fail to attain to the kingdom of heaven.
  • For truly the first thing is to deny one's self
    and to follow Christ
  • and those who do this are borne onward to
    perfection,
  • having fulfilled all their Teacher's will,
  • becoming sons of God by spiritual regeneration,
  • and heirs of the kingdom of heaven
  • those who seek which first
  • shall not be forsaken.

22
Distinctive Themes Emerge
  • A clear call to preserve unity in the face of
  • external persecutions
  • internal conflicts challenging the Churchs
    struggle
  • to clarify its identity
  • to remain faithful to the teaching of the Gospel
  • The presence of charisms in the early church
  • Prophecy
  • Visions
  • Gnosis

23
Christian Gnosis gave root to Christian
Asceticism
  • A gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to know
    Christ in Scripture
  • It finds its source in the prayerful meditation
    of Scripture
  • It centers on Christ and his Cross
  • It brings about a living grasp of the realities
    of Christs saving work

24
  • Irenaeus
  • True knowledge, then,
  • consists in the understanding of Christ,
  • which Paul terms the wisdom of God
  • hidden in a mystery, which
  • "the natural man receives not,"
  • the doctrine of the cross
  • of which if any man "taste,"
  • he will not accede to the disputations and
    quibbles
  • of proud and puffed-up men,
  • who go into matters of which they have no
    perception.
  • For the truth is unsophisticated and
  • "the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy
    heart,"
  • as the same apostle declares,
  • being easy of comprehension
  • to those who are obedient.

25
Gnosis must not be confused with Gnostics
  • Christian gnosis is first and always
  • the understanding of the scriptures wholly
    illuminated and absorbed in Christ
  • The Gnostics are a heretical movement in the
    early church who claimed that
  • The material world is inherently evil, having
    been created by a being (demiurge) that fell away
    from God
  • Christ did not come in the flesh, nor experience
    a bodily resurrection
  • Salvation is achieved through a special knowledge
    (gnosis) that frees the human spirit from the
    material body, and through strict denial of the
    flesh (asceticism).
  • Many of them rejected the Old Testament and much
    of the New.

26
There is a close connection between Asceticism
and Purity of Heart
  • Asceticism is the religious doctrine that teaches
    one can reach a higher spiritual state through a
    way of life based on rigorous self-discipline and
    systematic self-denial.
  • Asceticism in all its Christian forms was not an
    end in itself but a means to keep the heart from
    becoming divided.
  • The various ascetical practices had as their goal
    the ongoing growth in purity of heart.
  • Ascetics sought to nourish and preserve
  • a heart that was focused
  • on the Lord and His way.

27
  • IRENAEUS
  • As many as fear God and trust in His Son's
    advent,
  • and who through faith do establish the Spirit of
    God in their hearts,
  • --such men as these shall be properly called
  • both "pure," and "spiritual," and "those living
    to God,"
  • because they possess the Spirit of the Father,
  • who purifies man,
  • and raises him up to the life of God.
  • For as the Lord has testified that "the flesh is
    weak,"
  • so does He also say that "the spirit is
    willing.
  • For this latter is capable of working out its own
    suggestions.
  • If, therefore, any one admix the ready
    inclination of the Spirit to be, as it were, a
    stimulus to the infirmity of the flesh,
  • it inevitably follows that what is strong will
    prevail over the weak, so that the weakness of
    the flesh will be absorbed by the strength of the
    Spirit
  • and that the man in whom this takes place cannot
    in that case be carnal, but Spiritual,
  • because of the fellowship of the Spirit.

28
Asceticism (askesis, askein Gr.)
  • taken in its literal sense means a polishing, a
    smoothing or refining.
  • The Greeks used the word to designate the
    exercises of the athletes, whereby the powers
    dormant in the body were developed and the body
    itself was trained to its full natural beauty.
  • The end for which these gymnastic exercises were
    undertaken was the laurel-wreath bestowed on the
    victor in the public games.
  • Paul uses this concept as an analogy of Christian
    life
  • The life of the Christian is, as Christ assures
    us, a struggle for the kingdom of heaven
  • (Matt. 1112).

29
Paul gave his readers an object-lesson of this
spiritual battle and moral endeavor
  • Paul, who had been trained in the Greek fashion,
    uses the picture of the Greek pentathlon
  • (I Cor. 924).
  • The exercises to be assumed in this combat tend
    to develop and strengthen the moral stamina,
  • while their aim is Christian perfection leading
    up to man's ultimate end,
  • union with God.

30
The moral struggle consists first of all in
attacking and removing the obstacles
  • Human nature having been weakened by original sin
    and ever inclining toward what is evil cannot
    reach union with God except at the price of
    overcoming,
  • with God's grace,
  • many and serious obstacles.
  • These are the evil concupiscences
  • (concupiscence of the flesh,
  • concupiscence of the eyes, and pride of life),
  • which due to the effects of original sin serve to
    try and test man
  • (Trid., Sess. V, De peccato originali).

31
Ascetics hold that there are available distinct
means for overcoming concupiscence
  • Prayer
  • Examination of Conscience
  • Sacraments
  • Blessed Mary and the Saints
  • Self-Denial
  • Labor
  • Suffering
  • Practice of Virtues

32
Prayer, above all, in its stricter meaning, is a
means of attaining perfection
  • Special devotions approved by the Church
  • and the sacramental means of sanctification have
    a special reference to the striving after
    perfection
  • (frequent confession and communion).
  • Ascetics
  • proves the necessity of prayer (II Cor. 35)
  • teaches the mode of praying with spiritual profit
  • justifies vocal prayers
  • teaches the art of meditating according to the
    various methods

33
An important place is assigned to the examination
of conscience
  • Ascetical life wanes or waxes with its neglect or
    careful performance.
  • Without this regular practice,
  • a thorough purification of the soul and progress
    in spiritual life are out of the question.
  • It centers the searchlight of the interior vision
    on every single action
  • all sins, whether committed with full
    consciousness or only half voluntarily,
  • even the negligence which, though not sinful,
  • lessens the perfection of the act,
  • all are carefully scrutinized

34
Ascetics distinguishes a twofold examination of
conscience
  • giving at the same time directions how both kinds
    may be made profitable by means of certain
    practical and psychological aids.
  • In the general examination we recall all the
    faults of one day
  • In the particular examination we focus our
    attention on
  • one single defect and mark its frequency,
  • or on one virtue to augment the number of its
    acts.

35
Ascetics encourages visits to the Blessed
Sacrament.
  • A practice meant especially to nourish and
    strengthen the divine virtues of
  • faith, hope, and charity.
  • It also inculcates the veneration of the saints,
    whose virtuous lives should spur us on to
    imitation.
  • It is plain that imitation cannot mean an exact
    copying.
  • What ascetics proposes as the most natural method
    of imitation is the removal or at least the
    lessening of the contrast existing between our
    own lives and the lives of the saints, the
    perfecting, as far as is possible, of our
    virtues, with due regard to our personal
    disposition and the surrounding circumstances of
    time and place.

36
Christian ascetics must not overlook the Blessed
Mother of God
  • She is, after Christ, our most sublime ideal.
  • No one has received grace in such fullness,
  • no one has co-operated with grace so faithfully
    as she.
  • It is for this reason that the Church praises her
    as the Mirror of Justice.
  • The mere thought of her transcendent purity
    suffices to repel the alluring charms of sin and
    to inspire pleasure in the wonderful luster of
    virtue.

37
Self-Denial is another means which ascetics
teaches us (Matt. 1624-25).
  • Without it the combat between spirit and flesh,
    which are contrary to each other
  • will not lead to the victory of the spirit
  • (Rom. 723 I Cor. 927 Gal. 517),
  • How far self-denial should extend is clear from
    the actual condition of human nature after the
    fall of Adam.
  • The inclination to sin dominates both the will
    and the lower appetites
  • not only the intellect, but also the outer and
    the inner senses are made subservient to this
    evil propensity.
  • Hence, self-denial and self-control must extend
    to all these faculties.

38
  • IRENAEUS
  • For when the infirmity of the flesh is absorbed,
  • it exhibits the Spirit as powerful
  • and again, when the Spirit absorbs the weakness
    of the flesh,
  • it possesses the flesh as an inheritance in
    itself,
  • and from both of these is formed a living man,
  • --living, indeed, because he partakes of the
    Spirit,
  • but man, because of the substance of flesh.
  • The flesh, therefore, when destitute of the
    Spirit of God, is dead,
  • not having life, and cannot possess the kingdom
    of God
  • it is as irrational blood, like water poured
    out upon the ground.
  • And therefore he says,
  • "As is the earthy, such are they that are
    earthy.
  • But where the Spirit of the Father is,
  • there is a living man
  • there is the rational blood preserved by God
    for the avenging of those that shed it
  • there is the flesh possessed by the Spirit,
    forgetful indeed of what belongs to it, and
    adopting the quality of the Spirit, being made
    conformable to the Word of God.
  • And on this account he (the apostle) declares,
  • "As we have borne the image of him who is of the
    earth, we shall also bear the image of Him who is
    from heaven."

39
Ascetics reduces self-denial to exterior and
interior mortification
  • Exterior mortification is the mortification of
    sensuality and the senses
  • Interior mortification consists in the
    purification of the faculties of the soul
    (memory, imagination, intellect, will) and the
    mastering of the passions.
  • The term "mortification" must not be taken to
    mean the stunting of the "strong, full, healthy"
    life
  • what it aims at is that the sensual passions do
    not gain the upper hand over the will.
  • It is precisely through taming the passions by
    means of mortification and self-denial that life
    and energy are strengthened and freed from
    cumbersome shackles.

40
Special attention is devoted to the mastering of
the passions
  • It is with them above all else that the moral
    combat must be waged most relentlessly.
  • Scholastic philosophy enumerates the following
    passions
  • love, hatred, desire, horror, joy, sadness, hope,
    despair, boldness, fear, anger.
  • Starting from the Christian idea that the
    passions are inherent in human nature, ascetics
    affirms that they are neither sicknesses, nor
    harmless.
  • On the contrary, it insists that in themselves
    they are indifferent, that they may be employed
    for good and for evil, and that they receive a
    moral character only by the use to which the will
    puts them.

41
It is the purpose of ascetics to point out the
ways and means by which these passions can be
tamed and mastered
  • So that, instead of goading the will to sin,
  • they are rather turned into welcome allies for
    the accomplishment of good.
  • And since the passions are inordinate in as far
    as they turn to illicit things or exceed the
    necessary bounds in those things which are licit,
    ascetics teaches us how to render them innocuous
    by averting or restraining them, or by turning
    them to loftier purposes.

42
Labor, also, is subservient to the striving after
perfection.
  • Untiring labor runs counter to our corrupt
    nature, which loves ease and comfort.
  • Hence labor, if well-ordered, persistent, and
    purposeful, implies self-denial.
  • This is the reason why the Catholic Church has
    always looked upon labor, both manual and mental,
    as an ascetic means of no small value.
  • St. Basil is even of the opinion that piety and
    avoidance of labor are irreconcilable in the
    Christian ideal of life

43
Suffering, too, is an integral constituent of the
Christian ideal and pertains consequently to
ascetics.
  • But its real value appears only when seen in the
    light of faith, which teaches us that suffering
    makes us like unto Christ,
  • we being the members of the mystic body of which
    He is the head
  • (I Peter 221),
  • that suffering is the channel of grace which
    heals, preserves, and tests.
  • Finally, ascetics teaches us how to turn
    sufferings into channels of heavenly grace.

44
In Ascetics the Virtues are subjected to a
thorough discussion.
  • As is proved in dogmatic theology,
  • our soul receives in justification supernatural
    habits,
  • not only the three Divine, but also the moral
    virtues.
  • These supernatural powers are joined to the
    natural faculties or the acquired virtues,
  • constituting with them one principle of action.
  • It is the task of ascetics to show how the
    virtues,
  • taking into account the obstacles and means
    mentioned,
  • can be reduced to practice in the actual life of
    the Christian,
  • so that love be perfected and
  • the image of Christ receive perfect shape in us.

45
The practice of the passive virtues is a support
and aid to true activity.
  • Ascetics insists that
  • the so-called "passive" virtues
  • (meekness, humility, obedience, patience)
  • must never be set aside in favor of the
  • "active" virtues
  • (devotion to duty, scientific activity, social
    and civilizing labor)
  • This would be tantamount to denying that Christ
    is the perpetual model.
  • Both kinds must be harmoniously joined in the
    life of the Christian.
  • True imitation of Christ is never a brake,
  • nor does it blunt the initiative in any field of
    human endeavor

46
  • IRENAEUS
  • We are convinced that there exist so to speak
    two men in each one of us.
  • The one is confessedly a hidden thing,
  • while the other stands apparent
  • one is corporeal, the other spiritual
  • although the generation of both
  • may be compared to that of twins.
  • For both are revealed to the world as but one,
  • for the soul was not anterior to the body in its
    essence
  • nor, in regard to its formation, did the body
    precede the soul
  • but both these were produced at one time
  • and their nourishment consists in purity and
    sweetness.

47
Application of the Means in the Three Degrees of
Christian Perfection
  • Imitation of Christ is the duty of all who strive
    after perfection.
  • It lies in the very nature of this formation
    after the image of Christ that the process is
    gradual and must follow the laws of moral energy
  • for moral perfection is the terminus of a
    laborious journey,
  • the crown of a hard-fought battle.

48
Ascetics divides those who strive after
perfection into three groups
  • the beginners, the advanced, the perfect
  • It correspondingly sets down three stages or ways
    of Christian perfection
  • the purgative way,
  • the illuminative way,
  • the unitive way.
  • The means stated previously are applied
  • with more or less diversity
  • according to the stage which the Christian has
    reached.

49
  • In the purgative way
  • when the appetites and inordinate passions still
    possess considerable strength, mortification and
    self-denial are to be practiced more extensively.
  • For the seeds of the spiritual life will not
    sprout unless the tares and thistles have first
    been weeded out.
  • In the illuminative way
  • when the mists of passion have been lifted to a
    great extent,
  • meditation and the practice of virtues in
    imitation of Christ are to be insisted on.
  • During the last stage, the unitive way
  • The soul must be confirmed and perfected in
    conformity with God's will ("And I live, now not
    I but Christ lives in me" Gal. 220).
  • Care must be taken not to mistake these three
    stages for wholly separate portions of the
    striving after virtue and perfection.
  • Even in the second and the third stages there
    occur at times violent struggles, while the joy
    of being united with God may sometimes be granted
    in the initial stage as an inducement for further
    advance.
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