Kindle (coming soon)
St. Charles of Sezze was a Franciscan mystic and stigmatist of the 17th century.
Although he was quite unlettered, still, through the ever increasing influence of the Holy Spirit he wrote books that number in size, and content make him one of the greatest mystical writers of the Church, ranking with St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. In his own times this mystical doctrine, illustrated in this Autobiography, served as a powerful counterweight to fatal Quietism and Jansenism.
The canonization of St. Charles after his having remained unknown for several centuries should serve to indicate that his life and writings carry a message for modem man. His complete obedience rebukes the present-day lust for self-determination; his humility, its pride and boastfulness; his poverty, its precipitate rush after material pleasures. What he suffered at the hands of the demons also carries a lesson for modem times. It is that the devil is very much in existence, and deliberately to close our mind against the thought of him will only serve to give him greater power. St. Charles teaches us the way to oppose the devil and all the fallen angels in their incessant warfare against our souls. Very few will ever be asked to suffer bodily harm from the devil, but all must suffer, and overcome, his temptations to pride, lust and ambition.
St. Charles’ autobiography is more than just history, it is a spiritual treatise of development of the Holy Spirit in the soul through obedience, prayer and love. This is not a work to be missed!
In Wilderness Cathedral: The Story of Idaho’s Oldest Building, historian and Coeur d’Alene resident Jake Eberlein writes with relish as he tells the story of the Old Sacred Heart Mission and its significance to Cataldo and the larger Pacific Northwest region. Eberlein correctly points out that although this is a history of a single building, the story he tells is really the history of the region. Wilderness Cathedral makes important contributions to our understanding of Idaho’s history but it also offers a valuable lesson on why communities should strive to preserve our historical landmarks for future generations to appreciate.
-Mark Ellis, PhD Professor of History University of Nebraska at Kearney
While much is written about religious buildings such as the California Missions or St. Patrick’s Cathedral, until this book precious little has been written about Sacred Heart Mission in Cataldo, ID. Historian Jake Eberlein traces the founding of the mission in the 19th century, the struggles and conflicts in building the mission, the changes it survived and the faith of the Native Americans and the Jesuits who served them which stood the passage of time. In fact, the Cataldo Mission can be said to be one of the foundational monuments integral to the establishment of the Pacific Northwest. Wilderness Cathedral is a pioneering historical effort that sheds light on one of America’s great monuments.
Jake Eberlein holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Nebraska. He currently resides in Idaho with his wife and children.
The first volume on the Church is finally here! We have at last completed the first volume of Bellarmine’s treatise on the Church to accompany the one volume on the Roman Pontiff.
This volume contains Bellarmine’s treatise on Councils, on the Church Militant and on the Marks of the Church. These books constitute a marvelous treatise in Ecclesiology which lays down the principles made use of by all subsequent theologians. The first book is on the nature of Councils, which traces the history of Councils, who calls them, etc. The second book deals with the Authority of Councils, and treats that one essential question of whether a Council is above a Pope. In book three, Bellarmine takes up the question of who constitutes the Church Militant, whether the Church is visible, and whether evil members are still members? Lastly, he takes up the Marks of the Church, expanding the four marks of the Creed into 15 marks discernible in the Church throughout her history which prove the Catholic Church is true and the churches of the Protestants are false.
This tour de force is absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of Catholic ecclesiology. We have attached a sample chapter!
Book 2 ch. 12: Whether the authority of a Council is greater than Scripture
WE spoke on the authority of Councils considered absolutely, now we must speak on the same by a comparison to other principles of faith, i.e. the written word of God (and for traditions the reasoning is the same), and the Pope. The heretics of this time everywhere cry out that we subject Scripture to Councils. Calvin, in the Institutes, book 4, cap. 9 §14, says: “To subject the oracle of God in this manner to the censure of men that it would be ratified because it pleases men is an unworthy blasphemy which is commemorated.” Similar things are discovered everywhere in the writings of the others. Moreover, this is not our blasphemy, but is their strawman. For Catholics do not subject the Sacred Scripture to Councils, but places it before them; nor is there any controversy on this point. But if some Catholics sometimes say scripture depends upon the Church, or a Council, they do not understand this in regard to its authority, or according to what it is, but in regard to the explanation and in regard to us.
Therefore, it must be observed that there is a manifold distinction between Sacred Scripture and the decrees of Councils, from which it is understood that Scripture is put before Councils. 1) Scripture is the true word of God, immediately revealed, and in a certain measure at God’s dictation according to what we read in 2 Peter 1:21 “Inspired by the Holy Spirit the holy men of God spoke,” and in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is divinely inspired.” Nevertheless, it is not so understood to mean that all the sacred writers had new revelations and wrote things of which they were ignorant beforehand. It is certain that the Evangelists, Matthew and John, wrote those things which they saw while Mark and Luke wrote those things which they heard, as Luke himself declares at the beginning of his gospel: “Just as they handed it down to us who saw from the beginning.” (Luke 1:2).
Therefore, the Sacred Writers are said to have had immediate revelation, and wrote the words of God himself, because either some new and previously unknown things were revealed by God, according to that in Psalm 50 (51):8, “You have made known to me the uncertain and hidden matters of your wisdom”; God immediately inspired and moved the writers to write the things which they saw or heard and directed them so that they would not err in some matter. Just like an epistle may truly said to be of a prince and dictated by the prince, even if he that transcribed the dictation already knew what he was going to write, so it is said to be and really is the immediate word of God which was written by the Evangelists at God’s inspiration and direction, even if they wrote the things which they saw or heard. But Councils do not have, nor write immediate revelations, or the words of God, rather they only declare what indeed the word of God is, written or handed down, and how it ought to be understood; besides, they deduce conclusions from it by reasoning. Consequently, when Councils define what are the canonical and divine books, they do not cause them to be of infallible truth, but only declare that they are such.
So even the Council of Trent, in session 13, c. 1, when it defines that those words: “This is my body” must be understood properly, not figuratively, it did not publish but declared the word of God. And when the Council of Nicaea defined that Christ is homoousion (consubstantial) with the Father, it drew the conclusion from the Scriptures in which it is precisely contained that there is one God, and the Father is God, as well as the Son, from which it necessarily follows that the Father and the Son are of the same substance and divinity. Likewise, in the sixth Council, when it defines that Christ had two wills, divine and human, it drew the conclusion from Scripture in which it is contained that Christ is perfect God and perfect man.
The second distinction arises from this first, and is that the sacred writers ought not labor much in in producing these books; for it was enough if they would labor by writing or dictating if they were giving prophecies; or to the chief point by recalling to memory what they had seen or heard, and thought the words which they should write, if they were writing histories or epistles or something similar. But the Fathers in Councils ought to seek the matter itself, i.e. to investigate conclusions by disputation, reading and reflection. For that reason, we read in Acts 15 in the first Council that there was a great deal of questioning. Ruffinus witnesses about the Council of Nicaea in book 10, cap. 5, hist. Ecclesiasticae, in regards to Acts 15 the fathers of the Council say: “It has been seen by the Holy Spirit and us,” i.e. the Holy Spirit assists our industry and diligence. But the sacred writers only attribute the things which they write to God and this is why the prophets so often repeat: “Thus speaks the Lord.”
The third is that in the Scripture there is no error whether it is treated on faith or on morals, and whether some general thing is affirmed, even common to the whole Church, or some particular thing pertaining to one man. But it is both certain and of the faith that without the grace of the Holy Spirit no man is saved, and Peter, Paul, Stephan and certain others truly had the Holy Spirit and were saved, seeing that the same Scripture witnesses that both are most true, but Councils can err in particular judgments.
The fourth is that in Scripture not only teachings, but even each and every word pertains to faith. We believe no word in Scripture is in vain or not correctly placed, but in Councils the greater part of the acts does not pertain to faith. For disputations that are prefaced, or reasons which are added, or the things that are advanced to explain and illustrate matters are not de fide, rather only the bare decrees and not even all of these, but only those which are proposed as de fide. Sometimes Councils define something not as a decree but as probable, such as when the Council of Vienne decreed that it must be held as more probable that grace and the virtues are infused into infants at Baptism, as it is contained in Clem. uni. de Summa Trinitate et fide Catholica. But when a decree is proposed as de fide, it is easily discerned from the words of the Council because they usually say they explain the Catholic faith or they must be held as heretics who think the contrary; or what is most common, they say anathema and exclude anyone from the Church that thinks the contrary. But when they say none of these, the matter is not certain de fide.
Next, in the very decrees on faith, not the words but only the sense pertains to faith. It is not heretical to say that in canons of Councils some word is superfluous or not correctly placed, except perhaps the decree were formed from the word itself, such as when in the Council of Nicaea they decreed the word o`moou,sion must be received, and in Ephesus the word Qeoto,kon.
The fifth is, that Scripture does not need the approval of the Pope to be authentic, but only that its authority would be known; but Councils, even legitimate and general ones, are not ratified until they are confirmed by the Pope, as we showed in a previous question.
But certain men object. Gratian, in d. 19, can. In canonicis, affirms the decretal epistles of Popes ought to be numbered among the canonical Scriptures, and in d. 20, can. Decretales, says the canons of Councils are of the same authority with the decretal epistles, therefore even the canons of Councils are numbered among the canonical Scriptures; consequently the Scriptures are not placed before Councils. Besides, St. Gregory says that he venerates the first four Councils as the four books of the Gospels (lib. 1 epist. 24).
I respond twofold to Gratian.
Firstly, he was deceived from a corrupted codex which he held to be of St. Augustine, for he attributed that canon to Augustine (lib. 2 doct. Christiana, cap. 8); but the true and corrected codices of St. Augustine do not have what Gratian relates but differ by far. Augustine does not say that the epistles that the Apostolic See usually gives or receives are canonical Scripture, as Gratian read, but a judgment on holy writings that pertain to the Churches and chiefly to those which are Apostolic Sees or merit to receive epistles, such as are Rome, in which Peter sat and to which Paul wrote; Ephesus, in which John sat and to which the same Paul wrote, and certain others.
I say secondly, with this error posited, Gratian did not mean to say that decrees of the Popes are properly sacred and canonical Scriptures like the Gospels or the Psalms, but that they are holy writings so as to distinguish them from profane writings, and canonical so as to distinguish them from the sacred writings of the Fathers, which are not rules nor have the authority to oblige. Although the canons of Popes and Councils are distinguished and placed after the divine Scripture, nevertheless they may and must be called sacred writings as well as canonical, just as the seventh Council, in act. 3, calls decrees of Councils divinely inspired constitutions. Nay more, Innocent, cap Cum Marthae extra de celebratione Missarum, calls the teaching of St. Augustine a sacred writing: “He does a martyr an injury that prays for him,” serm. 17, from the words of the Apostle. Moreover, that Gratian felt the decrees of Councils must not be equated with the divine scriptures properly so called, is clear from 36 caussa, quaest. 2 can. Placuit, where he placed the opinion of Jerome, because it was fortified with the testimony of divine Scripture, ahead of a decree of a Council.
I respond to that of Gregory: it sounds like a similitude, not equating, as that of Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect.” Or if it would sound like equating, it will need to be said that Gregory does not compare the Councils with the Gospels in all things, but only in the same certitude whereby it is spoken of in the Scriptures as well as in the decrees of Councils. Since both are of infallible truth, they can be said to be equally certain; but just as Councils are not of a greater authority than the Scripture, it remains that we explain at least whether the authority of an ecumenical Council were greater than that of the Supreme Pontiff.
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States was unprecidented. The media and the polls predicted a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton while many celebrated the first woman president; until the returns came in and she wasn’t. What followed was a very public struggle between the humiliated media and the belleagured president-elect for whom, while he was a relative newcommer, it can be rightly said it was not his first rodeo. Through claims of Russian hacking, racism and protests and in return, cries of bias, negativity and “fake news”, the two were locked in a stand-off of mutual disrespect.
Now, with the first 100 days behind us, author and historian Jake Eberlein takes on the task of documenting the protests, tweets, deals and squeals through the eyes of the media and White House press conferences to document just how the media covered the new president and how the latter struggled to control his public image and be faithful to campagin promises.
Jake Eberlein possesses a master’s degree in history from the Uinversity of Nebraska. He currently resides in Idaho with his wife and children.
[What follows is a preview of a few pages of the first translation ever made of Chrysostom’s sermon on Galatians 2:11, where St. Paul declares he “resisted Cephus [Peter] to the face.” The translation was made from Greek by the scholarly Johnathan Arrington, an excellent Classicist. We look forward to getting this into print! – Editor]
A note about the sort of English that you will read in this translation.
There is a movement afoot in the rarified air wherein the translators of classical works move and breathe. We are encouraged by some to translate all Latin and Greek as if they were the colloquial speech of the latest Tweet, a Facebook post, or even an article in Reader’s Digest. This is the twenty-first century, so we’re told.
I’m not convinced: I’m not talking about the century, of course; rather, about this mode of reasoning (there’s an undisclosed and barely apparent enthymeme in their sorites, if you prefer an Aristotelian charge). There is a gradation in Latin and Greek style, and Saint John Chrysostom’s eponym (in one sense, a nick-name or a name given on account of one’s [de]merits) is derived from his literary prowess; so, we do him justice when we render his original with English that is at least somewhat befitting his name and even his chronographical and geographical placement: he flourished during what some call a Third Sophistic – in Antioch and Constantinople, no less! – a period and two places known to posterity for their many glorious orators and authors.
PG 51 Preface: Monitum ad Homiliam in illud “In faciem ei restiti”
An admonition in regard to the Homily “I resisted him to his face”
Hanc concionem post peractam lectionem epistolae ad Galatas Antiochiae habuit Chrysostomus. Veritus enim ne tantilla, quae hic apparet inter Petrum et Paulum Ecclesiae, ait ille, columnas, dissensio, piorum animos interturbaret, longa locum illum oratione explanare nititur. Multis statim explicat, quanta hinc incommoda sequantur, si vere et objurgandi animo, plurimis praesentibus, apostolorum coryphaeum Paulus sit adortus. Hinc duas circa hunc locum sententias aperit, statimque refutat: quarum prior est, Petrum de quo hic agitur, non apostolorum principem, sed alium esse cognominem: altera veram statuit esse reprehensionem, sed simulate factam. Deinde vero suam profert ille opinionem: nempe apostolos Petrum et Paulum ad hanc piam simulationem paratos meditatosque venisse; exque pacto et convento inter ambos inito, cum se a gentibus segregasse Petrum, ne in Judaeorum offensionem incurreret, tum Paulum ei in faciem restitisse, illo non reluctante, quia amborum ea mens erat, ut legis jugum gentibus non imponeretur. Caeterum Chrysostomi opinio, quae ab Origene manasse creditur, ab Hieronymo primum propugnata, ab Augustino refutata est, asserente veram nec simulatam fuisse Pauli reprehensionem, ita ut ejus argumentis cederet vel ipse Hieronymus. Non desunt tamen, qui priorem sententiam, quae Petrum ab apostolo alium asserit, nec qui posteriorem a Chrysostomo propugnatam hodieque defendant.
Chrysostom preached this sermon after a reading from the Letter to the Galatians. He feared lest the seemingly ever so slight disagreement between Peter and Paul – the Church’s pillars, Chrysostom would say – should disturb the devout souls; he makes efforts to explain this passage with a lengthy sermon. He straightway makes it abundantly evident, by means of what troubles would follow is Paul truly insulted the head of the Apostles in a spirit of reproach and with many present. Hence, he puts on display two interpretative approaches to the passage – which he quickly refutes – the first of which is that the Peter of whom we here speak was not the prince of the Apostles but an homonymous someone; secondly, that there was a true reprimand but that it was simulated. Yet then he offers his own opinion, to wit, that the Apostles Peter and Paul had come prepared with forethought for this holy simulation – and from a commonly agreed upon plan: once Peter had kept himself from the Gentiles, lest he should offend the Jews, then Paul would resist him to his face, and Peter would not fight back, because their common accord was that the onus of the Law should not be imposed upon the Gentiles. Besides this, Chrysostom’s opinion is believed to have come from Origen, and was first promoted by Jerome and then impugned by Augustine, the latter of whom said that Paul’s rebuke was true and not simulated, such that Jerome himself would have seemed to accede to Augustine’s argumentation. Still, there is no lack of those who – even today – defend that earlier hypothesis, which would understand all this of another Peter; there are also those who support the latter stance, Chrysostom’s own.
α – 1
Καθάπερ γὰρ παῖς ὑπομάζιος τῆς μητρικῆς θηλῆς ἀποσπασθεὶς, ὅπουπερ ἂν ἀπενεχθῇ, πυκνὰ περιστρέφεται, περιβλεπόμενος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ μητέρα· οὕτω δὴ κἀγὼ τῶν κόλπων τῶν μητρικῶν ἀπενεχθεὶς ποῤῥωτέρω, πυκνὰ περιεσκόπουν, πανταχοῦ τὴν ἁγίαν ὑμῶν ἐπιζητῶν σύνοδον.
Πλὴν ἀλλ’ εἶχον ἱκανὴν τούτων παραμυθίαν, τῷ πατρὶ φιλοστόργῳ πειθόμενος ταῦτα πάσχειν, καὶ ὁ τῆς ὑπακοῆς μισθὸς τὴν ἀκηδίαν τὴν ἐπὶ τῷ ξενισμῷ γινομένην ἀπεῖργε.
For, just like a babe who is being weaned from his mother’s breast, who is ever turning around – no matter where he is carried – in search of his mother; so, too, I myself had been carried far away from the maternal bosom: I looked about here and there, in earnest search of your holy company.
Albeit, I nevertheless had sufficient relief from all this, trusting as I did that I suffered such things out of obedience to a dearly affectionate father; and, that the recompense for obedience warded off the weariness attached to stranger-hardship (hardship due to travel, Lampe).
Καὶ καθάπερ πλοῖον κυβερνητῶν χεῖρες, καὶ οἴακες, καὶ ζεφύρου πνοαὶ μετὰ ἀσφαλείας εἰς λιμένα παραπέμπουσιν·οὕτω δὴ καὶ ἡ εὔνοια τούτου, καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη, καὶ ἡ τῶν εὐχῶν βοήθεια, καὶ ζεφύρου καὶ κυβερνήτου κρεῖττον καὶ τῶν οἰάκων κατευθύνει τὸν λόγον ἡμῶν.
And just as the hands of the captain, the handle of the rudder, and the favorable westerly winds lead the ship to port with security; so, too, do his benevolence and charity, his aid by prayer – better than any westerly winds, helms, helmsman – guide and prosper our speech.
Ἔγνωμεν δὲ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ἀκοῆς μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ αὐτῆς τῆς πείρας.
Καὶ γὰρ ἦσαν οἱ διακομίζοντες ἡμῖν τὰ εἰρημένα, καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν λειψάνων ὁλόκληρον τὴν εὐωχίαν ἐστοχασάμεθα.
Ἐπῄνεσα μὲν οὖν τὸν ἑστιάσαντα, καὶ ἐθαύμασα τῆς πολυτελείας καὶ τοῦ πλούτου·
ἐμακά ρισα δὲ καὶ ὑμᾶς τῆς εὐνοίας, καὶ τῆς ἀκριβείας, ὅτι μετὰ τοσαύτης φυλακῆς τὰ εἰρημένα κατέχετε, ὡς καὶ ἑτέρῳ διακομίσαι.
∆ιὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς πρὸς τὴν ὑμετέραν ἀγάπην προθύμως διαλεγόμεθα.
Ὁ γὰρ καταβάλλων ἐνταῦθα τὰ σπέρματα, οὐ ῥίπτει αὐτὰ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν, οὐδὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας ἐκχεῖ, οὐδὲ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν σπείρει·
οὕτω λιπαρὰ καὶ βαθύγειος ὑμῶν ἐστιν ἡ ἄρουρα, καὶ πάντα εἰς τοὺς οἰκείους δεχομένη κόλπους, πολυπλασιάζει τὰ σπέρματα.
And we know this not only from what we have heard, but also from experience itself: for, there were those who carried the words to us, and from those remnants we made a conjecture about the entire feast.
Therefore, I have certainly praised your entertainer, and I marveled at his magnificence and treasure; but I also called you blessed for your goodwill and diligence because with such care you retain what was said so as to report this to someone else, too.
On this account we too gladly converse in the presence of your charity.
For, whoever throws his seeds here does not cast them beside the road, and neither does he pour them out among the thorns, nor is he seeding the rocks (cf. Lk. 8, Mk. 4, Mt. 13): your tilled ground is so rich and productive, and all the seedlings that it welcomes into its bosom are multiplied many-fold!
∆ιόπερ ὀφθαλμῶν δέομαι πανταχόθεν ὀξὺ βλεπόντων, διανοίας διεγηγερμένης, διανεστηκότος φρονήματος, συντεταμένων λογισμῶν, ψυχῆς ἀγρύπνου καὶ ἐγρηγορυίας. Καὶ γὰρ ἠκούσατε τοῦ ἀναγνώσματος πάντες τοῦ ἀποστολικοῦ καὶ εἴ τις ὀξέως προσέσχε τοῖς ἀναγνωσθεῖσιν, οἶδεν ὅτι μεγάλοι ἡμῖν ἀγῶνες καὶ ἱδρῶτες πρόκεινται τήμερον.
Ὅτε γὰρ ἦλθε Πέ τρος, φησὶν, εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην.
For this very reason, I have need of sharp eyes from all corners, an attentive intelligence, awakened senses, vigorous rational capacities, and roused and watchful souls. Of course you too have listened to the reading from the Apostle, and if one paid close attention to what was read, he knows that a great contest confronts us and that what is prescribed for today will elicit the sweat of our brow. The reading says: “For when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face”.
β – 2
ὥστε καὶ Βαρνάβας συναπήχθη αὐτῶν τῇ ὑποκρίσει.
Ἀλλ’ ὅτε εἶδον, ὅτι οὐκ ὀρθοποδοῦσι πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, εἶπον τῷ Πέτρῳ ἔμπροσθεν πάντων.
Καὶ ἄνω λέγει, ὅτι Κατὰ πρόσωπον·
καὶ ἐνταῦθα, Ἔμπροσθεν πάντων.
Παρατηρεῖτε τοῦτο, τὸ εἰπεῖν, Ἔμπροσθεν πάντων.
so that Barnabas too was lead away by their outward show.
But when I saw that they were not proceeding in an upright way, in accord with Gospel’s truth, I said to Peter in the presence of everyone.
So, above he says, “openly, to his face”, and then, “in front of everyone”. Pay close attention to this statement: “in front of everyone”.
 Bishop as Father of the Diocese/Eparchy: compare another Antiochian’s thoughts and words on the matter, viz., St. Ignatius of Antioch in Magn. 6:1; Smyrn. 8:2; Trall. 2:1-2; Eph. 3:2; Rom.
 Agape, or “charity”, is a word rich in meaning and with many connotations in regard to early Christian life and practice; it brings to mind the Eucharistic liturgy for love of which the congregants came together, from the time of the Apostles (cf. the few chapters of Acts; Jude 1:12; 1 Cor. 11), through St. Ignatius of Antioch (To the Smyrn. 8:2), Clement of Alexandria (Paedag. 2:1) and Origen (passim).
 Clearly, this is not primarily in regard to the legal sense of this idiom; however, there is, perhaps, a hint of the language characteristic of the Adamic curse.
 See in the following paragraph the clarification regarding the “aim” of this discourse.
 Τί οὖν Στωϊκὸν λέγεις σεαυτόν, τί ἐξαπατᾷς τοὺς πολλούς, τί ὑποκρίνῃ, [ Ἰουδαῖος ὤν, Ἕλληνας ] Ἰουδαῖον ὢν Ἕλλην; οὐχ ὁρᾷς, πῶς ἕκαστος λέγεται Ἰουδαῖος, πῶς Σύρος, πῶς Αἰγύπτιος; καὶ ὅταν τινὰ ἐπαμφοτερίζοντα ἴδωμεν, εἰώθαμεν λέγειν “οὐκ ἔστιν Ἰουδαῖος, ἀλλ’ὑποκρίνεται”. Epicteti Ab Arriano Dissertationes ii, 9.19,20 ]
 In the sense of legal or military action.
The following is from St. John Fisher: Reformer, Humanist, Martyr by E.E. Reynolds, the only complete biography of St. John Fisher currently in print! View a glimpse of the excellent historical work that makes this book a must have! If you like what you see here don’t forget to order at the links below!
THE BISHOP IN HIS DIOCESE—I
CAMBRIDGE affairs were only part of the business that occupied John Fisher’s days and thoughts. He was summoned to the Parliaments and Convocations of 1510, 1512 and 1515. Nothing is recorded of the part he played on those occasions. We get glimpses of him at great functions; thus on 15th November 1515 he was crosier to Archbishop Warham at Westminster Abbey when Wolsey received the Cardinal’s hat, “in so solemn wise,” wrote George Cavendish, “as I have not seen the like unless it had been at the coronation of a mighty prince or king.” In the following year, the Bishop of Rochester christened the son of Mary, the king’s sister, who was now Duchess of Suffolk after having been Queen of France.
Pope Leo X urged the princes of Europe to war against the Turks who were threatening to carry their power north of the Danube. He proposed in 1518 to send Cardinal Campeggio as his legate to England to advance this intention. Henry and Wolsey objected that it was contrary to English practice to receive a cardinal legate; this difficulty could be overcome, however, if Wolsey were granted the same powers as Campeggio. So on 17th May Wolsey became cardinal a latere, an exceptional appointment that he skillfully made permanent. Campeggio was kept waiting at Calais until further, and more profitable, concessions were granted to Wolsey. John Fisher was one of the prelates who received Campeggio at Canterbury on 23rd July 1518, and, no doubt, joined the cardinal’s train as far as Rochester.
Shortly afterwards, Wolsey called a synod of the clergy; in this way he demonstrated that his new powers were greater than those of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The early biographer of John Fisher gives an account of this synod which needs to be read with the caution that it does not report speeches verbatim, but as historical reconstructions. The words he puts into the mouth of John Fisher no doubt expressed the bishop’s real opinions though it may be questioned if he would have used some of the phrases given to him.
This council was called by my lord Cardinal rather to notify to the world his great authority and to be seen sitting in his pontifical seat, than for any great good that he meant to do, which this learned and wise prelate [Fisher] perceived quickly. Wherefore having now good occasion to speak against such enormities as he saw daily rising among the spirituality, and much the rather for that his words were among the clergy alone, without any commixture of the laity, which at that time began to hearken any speaking against the clergy. He there reproved very discreetly the ambition and incontinency of the clergy, utterly condemning their vanity in wearing of costly apparel, whereby he declared the goods of the Church to be sinfully wasted and scandal to be raised among the people seeing the tithes and other oblations given by the devotion of them and their ancestors to a good purpose so inordinately spent in indecent and superfluous raiment, delicate fare and other worldly vanity.
Which matter he debated so largely and framed his words after such sort that the Cardinal perceived himself to be touched to the very quick. For he affirmed this kind of disorder to proceed through the example of the head and thereupon reproved his pomp, putting him in mind that it stood better with the modesty of such a high pastor as he was, to eschew all worldly vanity, specially in this perilous time, and by humility to make himself conformable and like to the image of God. “For in this trade of life,” said he, “neither can there be any likelihood of perpetuity with safety of conscience, neither yet any security of the clergy to continue, but such plain and imminent dangers are like to ensue as never were tasted or heard of before our days.”
“For what should we,” said he, “exhort our flocks to eschew and shun worldly ambition, when we ourselves, that be bishops do wholely set our minds to the same things we forbid in them? What example of Christ our Saviour do we imitate, who first exercised doing and after fell to teaching? If we teach according to our doing, how absurd may our doctrine be accounted? If we teach one thing and do another, our labour in teaching shall never benefit our flock half so much as our examples in doing shall hurt them. Who can willingly suffer and bear with us in whom (preaching humility, sobriety and contempt of the world) they may evidently perceive haughtiness in mind, pride in gesture, sumptuousness in apparel and damnable excess in all worldly delicates? Truly, most reverend fathers, what this vanity in temporal things worketh in you I know not; but sure I am that in myself I perceive a great impediment to devotion and so have felt a long time, for sundry times when I have settled and fully bent myself to the care of my flock committed unto me, to visit my diocese, to govern my church, and to answer the enemies of Christ, straightways hath come a messenger for one cause or another sent from higher authority by whom I have been called to business and so left of my former purpose. And thus by tossing and going this way and that ways, time hath passed and in the meanwhile nothing done but attending after triumphs, receiving ambassadors, haunting of princes’ courts and such like, whereby great expenses rise that might better be spent many other ways.”
That last passage may well have been spoken from the heart of one who regarded himself first as a bishop and to a less degree as a statesman.
The early biographer went on to lament that “few were persuaded by his counsel. . . . So that (excuses never wanting to cover sin) this holy father’s words spoken with so good a zeal were all lost and came to nothing for that time.”
As Rochester lay on the road from Canterbury to London, visitors of distinction who were travelling from or to Dover would expect to be received by the Bishop of Rochester.
The letter he received from the Council in 1514 when the sword and cap presented by Leo X to Henry VIII arrived in England, is typical of others.
. . the prior of Christ’s Church of Canterbury shall meet with the said ambassador and . . . shall conduct him to some place convenient between Sittingbourne and Rochester, where the king hath appointed that your lordship, the Master of the Rolls, and Sir Thomas Bolyn shall meet with him and so conduct him to London.
So too in 1522 when Charles V came to England, the Bishop of Rochester had to be at Canterbury with the archbishop to meet him, and, on the way to London, to entertain the emperor at Rochester during a Sunday.
The early biographer said that “if any strangers came to him, he would entertain them according to their vocations with such mirth as stood with the gravity of his person, whose talk was always rather of learning or contemplation than of worldly matters.”
John Fisher could easily have allowed affairs of state and the prestige and allurements of court life to draw him more and more away from the care of his diocese, nor would anyone have thought this surprising; he was peculiar in that he never allowed secular matters to overwhelm his primary duty to the Church as a bishop. William Rastell recorded the opinion of a young contemporary.
He was in holiness, learning and diligence in his cure and in fulfilling his office of bishop such that of many hundred years England had not any bishop worthy to be compared unto him. And if all countries of Christendom were searched, there could not lightly among all other nations be found one that hath been in all things like unto him, so well used and fulfilled the office of bishop as he did. He was of such high perfection in holy life and strait and austere living as few were, I suppose, in all Christendom in his time, religious or other.
The diocese of Rochester, it has already been noted, was the smallest in the kingdom, but it was even smaller than a map suggests; there were thirty-four parishes belonging to Canterbury and forming the deanery of Shoreham; these therefore did not come under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rochester.
There were two episcopal palaces and several manors belonging to the bishop. In those days of horseback travel and of bad, and, in winter, sometimes impassable roads, it was necessary for the bishop to have several centres from which he could carry out his duties. This also met the problem of supplies as the produce of each manor could be used in turn. The palace of Rochester, which had been built during the previous century, was between the monastery (the present cathedral) and the river. The site today seems more removed from the Medway mud than Erasmus suggested, but the banks of the river have been built up and there may have been inlets up which the tide could wash. There are no substantial remains of the buildings.
The bishop’s London palace was by Lambeth Marsh adjoining the archbishop’s palace to the east, so it was simple for John Fisher to hurry off to show William Warham the complimentary passages in the Novum Instrumentum. From the Register we learn that John Fisher built a brick wall round the palace and repaired the buildings. It ceased to be a palace of the Bishops of Rochester in 1540; after many changes of use and occupation it was demolished in 1827.
There were manors at Hailing (between the church and the river), at Bromley, at Stone (near Dartford), and at Trottescliffe (near Wrotham), but John Fisher does not seem to have used the last two.
The Register for the period of John Fisher’s episcopate has been preserved; so too has the Act Book of his Consistory Court.
Unfortunately the records of his visitations have not survived. The first began on 15th May 1505. The early biographer gives us:
And first, because there is small hope of health in the members of that body where the head is sick, he began his visitation at his head church of Rochester, calling before him the priors and monks exhorting them to obedience, chastity and true observation of their monastical vows; and where any fault was tried, he caused it to be amended. After that he carefully visited the rest of the parish churches within his diocese in his own person; and sequestrating all such as he found unworthy to occupy that high function, he placed other fitter in their rooms; and all such as were accused of any crime, he put to their purgation, not sparing the punishment of simony and heresy with other crimes and abuses. And by the way he omitted neither preaching to the people, nor confirming of children, nor relieving of needy and indigent persons; so that by all means he observed a due comeliness in the house of God.
During the first half of his episcopate, he carried out visitations in 1508, 1511, 1514 and 1517. His archdeacon no doubt shared this important work but to what extent we cannot now determine.
From the Register we can follow the bishop’s movements about the diocese from year to year. Occasional intervals of a month or two indicate when he was away on state or university business but without giving information of what occupied him.
A survey of one year, 1513, will give a typical record of his official acts. There is much more we should like to know, but these bare facts add something to the picture.
The first entry is dated 5th March; it records an abjuration of heresy before the bishop in his chapel at Hailing. Henry Potter of West Mailing was accused of saying publicly that he would not believe in the Last Judgment “till I see it.” He promised to avoid suspect persons in the future, also books of Scripture in English, and to give information about them as soon as possible. The bishop absolved him from excommunication and ordered him as penance to walk in procession in his parish church with the faggot on his back, and to do so again in the cathedral on the following Sunday unless dispensed from this by the bishop. In addition he was to see that no harm came to those who had testified against him. Finally he was not to leave the diocese for two years, during each of which he must present himself to the bishop. Henry Potter made his cross on the record.
On 12th March, also at Hailing, the bishop ordained a deacon. He was at Rochester on 4th April when he collated one priest and admitted another to vicarages. On the same day he confirmed the election of the new abbot of Lesnes, William Ticehurst, formerly Prior of Bilsington. The bishop, vested in pontificals, received the profession of obedience of the abbot elect. There is a long account of the proceedings, including testimonies that William Ticehurst was of legitimate birth, and discreet and circumspect. On 27th June at Lambeth, the bishop admitted a cleric to a vacancy in Cobham College in conformity with the king’s wishes.
The bishop collated three priests to livings on 20th August at Bromley, and on 7th October, two others at the same place. There is then a copy of a letter from the bishop instituting Richard Clarke to the vicarage of Hailing vacant by the deprivation of John Cotton. Here the Acts of the Consistory Court explain the circumstances. On 17th September at Hailing the bishop had dealt with five cases of correction of his clergy. One of these was John Cotton who had again fallen into adultery; he said, “I would my lord had put me in prison when he commanded Joan Hubbard to prison.” The investigation took several sittings and was not concluded until 27th September.
There is also the copy of a letter dated 1st October. This is from the bishop to the Barons of the Exchequer stating what arrangements he was making to collect the four-tenths ordered by the king. The Augustinian canons of Tonbridge and of Lesnes, and the prior of Rochester were to be responsible for making the collection by stated dates. A list of nearly forty benefices follows which he described as too poor to be taxed.
This summary of one year of the Register shows the pattern of the normal diocesan business. A similar account could be given for any one of the other years of John Fisher’s long episcopate, the only noticeable variation being that in the later period he seems to have spent more time at Rochester; this may have been due to declining health.
Some particular entries may be noted from the other years for the first half of his rule. One instance of an abjuration has been given. Two earlier cases give other examples of heretical opinions before the onset of the full tide of Lutheranism.
The first is dated May 1505. John Mores (or Wener) of St. Nicholas Parish, Rochester, was accused of saying, in addition to expressing “divers doubts concerning Scripture”:
1. that Christ did not die in perfect charity on Good Friday because he did not die to redeem Lucifer as well as Adam and Eve;
2. that our Lady “is butt a sakk”, and the Son of God desired the Father to come to middle earth to take a sack upon his back.
It is impossible to make sense of the last statement. Mores made his cross to a document in which he promised to have no further dealings with heretics, nor to use any suspect books of Scripture in English, and to denounce such books and persons as soon as possible.
The abjuration was made in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral before the bishop. Mores was freed from excommunication and had to do penance in the usual form. He was not to leave the diocese for seven years. He made his cross on the record.
Another case of heresy was brought before the bishop in 1507. This concerned a Richard Gavell of Westerham who said that:
1. the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle [sic: of Canterbury?] should not be observed;
2. it was not necessary to take holy water “of the priest’s hand”;
3. offerings and offering days were only ordained by priests and curates “by their own covetous minds and singular avayles [advantages]”; on one such day he had caused Joan Harries to withhold her offering “to the evil example of the people”.
It was further stated that:
1. he often left church and went to the alehouse rather than hear a sermon;
2. he had spoken against the priest while he was in the pulpit, saying “Now the priest standeth in the pulpit and he doth nothing but chide and travail for I look more on his deeds than of his words whatsoever he saith”;
3. he despised the authority of the Church saying that the Church’s sentence had no effect, only that of God who was not in the power of priests and bishops;
4. after being accursed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and so openly by my curate demanded now of late in the church of Westerham”, he replied, in the presence of divers persons, “Sirs, though my lord of Canterbury has accursed me, I am, I trust, not yet accursed of God, and pray, sirs, fear ye not to company or eat and drink with me for all that.”;
5. he had a bad reputation for heresy.
The usual penance of going in procession was imposed; he was not to leave the diocese for four years, and during those years, he was to present himself annually to the bishop. Richard Gavell made his mark. The penance was to be carried out at Bromley and at Rochester, but he was dispensed by the bishop from appearing in the cathedral.
The problem of heresy must be dealt with more fully later in these pages; here it may be noted that the penances imposed by the bishop were of the customary character.
Some further examples from the Register will indicate the scope of the bishop’s activities.
On 17th July 1508 in the chapel of St. Blaise at Bromley, the bishop received the profession of William Temple, “singleman”, as a hermit. He gave him the eremetical habit with his blessing. The hermit promised before God and the Saints to direct his conduct and conversation according to the rule of St. Paul the first hermit; he was to live in the hermitage built in honour of St. Catherine at Dartford. All this was written down and the hermit made his cross.
There is one example of the bishop’s desire to have a better instructed clergy. On 29th November 1508, Hugh Taylor of Foot’s Cray came before the bishop with letters of presentation from the canons of St. Mary Overy, Southwark, to that benefice. The bishop examined him but was not satisfied with his attainments. Hugh Taylor was therefore told that he must spend a year in a grammar school, and if, after that, he had made sufficient progress, he would be admitted. Meanwhile a curate would be put in charge. Hugh Taylor made good use of his twelve months and was then able to satisfy the bishop.
On 21st April 1511, the bishop received the vow of chastity of Elizabeth Fitzwaren, a widow of Beckenham. She undertook “to be chaste of my body and truly and devoutly shall keep me chaste from this time forward as long as my life lasteth after the rule of St. Paul [the hermit].”
The bishop presided at a synod of his clergy on 6th October 1518. After a Mass of the Holy Ghost had been sung, he preached a sermon; this was followed by the reading of the constitutions, provincial and legatine, against concubinage.
The Acts of the Consistory Court do not add much to out knowledge of the bishop’s work. The court was held in the churches of parishes conveniently situated for the cases to be heard. Thus in December 1511 the itinerary was West Mailing, Strood, Gravesend, Dartford, Trottescliffe and Swanscombe, dealing with over a hundred cases in all. The bishop himself rarely presided, but from time to time he was present for more serious cases; thus on 17th March 1511 at Lambeth he absolved a priest from his contumacy (the nature of which is not stated), but suspended him from saying Mass in his parish or elsewhere in the diocese.
The Register records one royal intervention in the work of the court. A letter from the king, 13th February 1520, ordered the bishop not to proceed with the action brought by William Rogers, vicar of Plumstead, for tithes against William Goldwyn, gent. The vicar had denounced Goldwyn in the church at Woolwich and declared him excommunicate in defiance of the decision of the civil courts.
The Acts of the Consistory Court and the Register do little more than tell us of the normal duties of a bishop; the unusual feature for the times was that John Fisher carried out these duties himself as far as other responsibilities would allow.
The early biographer adds life to the bare facts of these records.
Wheresoever he lay, either at Rochester or elsewhere, his order was to inquire where any poor sick folks lay near him, which, after he once knew, he would diligently visit them. And where he saw any of them likely to die, he would preach to them, teaching them the way to die, with such good persuasions, that for the most part he never departed till the sick persons were well satisfied and contented with death. Many times it was his chance to come to such poor houses as for want of chimneys were very smoky and thereby so noisome that scant any man could abide in them. Nevertheless himself would there sit by the sick patient many times the space of three or four hours together in the smoke, when none of his servants were able to abide in the house, but were fain to tarry without till his coming abroad. And in some other poor houses where stairs were wanting, he would never disdain to climb up by a ladder for such a good purpose. And when he had given them such ghostly comfort as he thought expedient for their souls, he would at his departure leave behind him his charitable alms, giving charge to his steward or other officers daily to prepare meat convenient for them (if they were poor) and send it unto them. Besides he gave at his gate to divers poor people (which were commonly no small number) a daily alms of money, to some 2d., to some 4d., some 6d., and some more after the rate of their necessity. That being done, every one of them was rewarded likewise with meat, which was daily brought to the gate. And lest any fraud, partiality, or other disorder might rise in the distribution of the same, he provided himself a place whereunto immediately after dinner he would resort and there stand to see the division with his own eyes.
To this may be added William Rastell’s testimony:
He, like a good shepherd, would not go from his flock, but continually fed them with preaching of God’s word and example of good life. He, like a good shepherd, did what he could to reform his flock both of the spirituality and temporality, when he perceived any of them to range out of the right way, either in manners or doctrine.
The first half of John Fisher’s episcopate was a period of steady work and quiet achievement. He had regulated his diocese and had gathered round him like-minded men such as Nicholas Metcalfe. He knew his small diocese as only a diligent bishop could know it. By 1520 the priests must have known him as a person and as a pastor to whom they could turn in times of difficulty. The example of his austere and devout life would be a reproach to the easy-going and an inspiration to the faithful. “All pastors and curates used him for their lantern, as one of whom they might perfectly learn when to use action and when contemplation; for in these two things did he so far excel that hard it were to find one so well practised and expert in any one of them, apart, as he was in both of them together.”
His work for his university had prospered; Christ’s College was established, and, in spite of all the obstacles, St. John’s had been well founded. His encouragement of sound learning and preaching, and of the study of Greek and Hebrew had helped to lead Cambridge out of the lethargy of the past into the more vigorous world of the new scholarship.
The second half of his episcopate was to prove more and more discordant; the rapid spread of heresy, not least in his own beloved university, and the increasing bitterness of anti-clericism, of themselves would have brought sorrow enough, but to these was to be added “the king’s great matter” and his subsequent claim” to be “the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England.”
St. Thomas More, by E.E. Reynolds, is a complete life of the saint based on primary source accounts, state papers and contemporary registers. Reynolds leaves no written source uncovered in drawing together for us the man who became one of the most famous men not only in England, but even in Europe, who gave his life for the rights of the Church over the tyranny of the state.
Reynolds traces More’s life and environs, as well as More’s writings and poetry, to bring out the man and the hour in which he lived. There are lengthy studies of Richard III, Utopia, and The Dialogues which More wrote against heretics. Lastly, he concludes with a penetrating legal analysis of the reasons which brought More to the Tower and to beheading.
Throughout there are many crucial and important direct quotes from letters, speeches and of course, the words of More related by early authorities in court and at his trial. Thereby we see the warm relationship between More and great scholars like Colet and Erasmus, as well as his close relationship with his daughter Margaret (Meg) and his great strides to provide her an education which she took up brilliantly. This makes More come to life as a real person, with wit and joy and above all passion, not the plaster saint of a second nocturn variety. There is a reason why More is one of the few and best known laymen to be canonized and remembered through the ages.
This will be an excellent companion to Reynold’s Life of St. John Fisher, which is also available from Mediatrix Press.
To the extent that St. John Fisher is remembered at all, he is remembered as the one Bishop that refused to pinch incense to Henry VIII. Yet, he was also a holy Bishop and an expert Theologian. Those familiar with the Mediatrix Press reprint of the Life of St. John Fisher by E.E. Reynolds, will know that St. John Fisher was a model for all Bishops. Yet his theological writings, which are mostly in Latin, had not been translated at all until the 1930’s. Fr. Hallet translated the shortest but no less important of St. John Fisher’s works, his defense of the priesthood against Martin Luther.
In these pages we see that it is Fisher, not Luther, who is the true witness to the gospel, defending the Catholic priesthood by the Scriptures, the Fathers and reason, while quoting Luther directly in his refutation.
While responding to Luther, Fisher lays out several Axioms and proves them one by one in
order so that as the pages turn, it is abundantly clear that Fisher is following the Scripture completely, while Luther’s position is increasingly indefensible. It is no wonder that Fisher was the only opponent of Luther that that the latter did not and could not answer.
Given that it is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, what better work could be published, to help dispel some of the confusion engendered by those who wish to celebrate Luther in ignorance of what the great heresiarch had actually taught. Anyone seeing this will immediately see that it is Fisher who is the witness to the Gospel.
In On Councils: Their Nature and Authority, St. Robert Bellarmine answers the attack of the early Protestant Reformers on by treating on all matters pertaining to Councils. Beginning with definitions and terms, Bellarmine explores in summary all the Councils approved in his day, as well as those only partially approved and those not approved at all. Then he examines their purpose and foundations in Scripture, the Fathers, and history. In the second book, Bellarmine examines the authority of Councils according to the same standard, proving especially that the Pope is above Councils and is the one to summon and confirm them. To prove his case he musters his considerable scholarship and answers not only the arguments of Luther and Calvin, but of each early Protestant to show that approved Councils do not contradict each other, and the Church does not put Councils above the Word of God.
Book I, CHAPTER IX
On the utility or even the necessity of celebrating Councils
Therefore, with all of this noted, we must explain in what things legitimate Councils consist, and these can be reduced to four: 1) the end; 2) efficiency; 3) matter and; 4) the form of Councils. Now let us begin with the end, which is the first of these reasons. It will be the first reason that must be briefly explained on account of which Councils are usually celebrated; then from those it will be determined whether a gathering of Councils is necessary or merely useful. Moreover, the particular reasons on account of which Councils are celebrated are usually numbered as six.
a) The first reason is a new heresy, i.e. something that had never been judged before, which is the very reason the first seven Councils were convened. The Church always so dealt with the danger of new heresies that she did not think it could be resisted otherwise than if all or certainly a great many leaders of the Churches, once their strength was joined as if it were made into a column of soldiers, would rush upon the enemies of the faith.
b) The second reason is schism among Roman Pontiffs; for a Council in the time of Pope Cornelius was celebrated for this very reason. Likewise, another in the time of Pope Damasus and again in the times of Symmachus, Innocent II and Alexander III, as well as Pisa and Constance in the times of Gregory XII and Benedict XIII, for there is no more powerful remedy than a Council as has so often been proved.
c) The third is resistance to a common enemy of the whole Church; in this manner Councils were convened by Urban II, Calixtus II, Eugene III, and other Popes, for war against the Saracens. Likewise, to depose an emperor, Gregory III celebrated Councils against Leo III the Iconoclast, as did Gregory VII against Henry IV, and Innocent IV against Frederick II.
d) The fourth reason is suspicion of heresy in the Roman Pontiff, if perhaps it might happen, or if he were an incorrigible tyrant; for then a general Council ought to be gathered either to depose the Pope if he should be found to be a heretic, or certainly to admonish him if he seemed incorrigible in morals. As it is related in the 8th Council, act. ult. can. 21, general Councils ought to impose judgment on controversies arising in regard to the Roman Pontiff—albeit not rashly. For this reason we read that the Council of Sinvessano in the case of St. Marcellinus, as well as Roman Councils in the cases of Pope Damasus, Sixtus III, and Symmachus, as well as Leo III and IV, none of whom were condemned by a Council; Marcellinus enjoined penance upon himself in the presence of the Council, and the rest purged themselves (See Platina and the volumes of Councils).
e) The fifth reason is doubt about the election of a Roman Pontiff. For if the cardinals could not or would not create a Pope, or certainly if they all died at the same time, or a true doubt should arise for another reason to whom an election of this sort would pertain, would look to a general Council to discern in regard to the election of a future Pope, although it does not seem to be realistic to expect this would ever happen.
f) The sixth reason is the general reformation of abuses and vices which crept into the Church; for even if the Pope alone can prescribe laws for the whole Church, nevertheless, it is by far more agreeable for matters to be done with the approval of a general Council when the Pope prescribes laws of this sort. Hence, we see nearly all general Councils published canons on reformation (See Juan Torquemada, lib. 3, cap. 9 &10).
“[The Casuistic method] was inefficacious in urging men to lead good lives, [and] tends to laxism. … But during this period there appeared a man, sent by God, to remedy the evils of casuistry. This man was St. Alphonsus Liguori, doctor of the Church, founder of the Redemptorists, renowned author of many works, ascetic and moral, highly praised by various popes. He is rather practical than speculative. As founder of aequiprobabilism, he cleansed casuistry from the defects of probabilism and laxism.”
Beatitude, c. II, p. 13.
St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Moral Theology has long been praised and held in the highest regard by the Church. Covering every moral question of his day, Bl. Pope Pius IX declared: “It happened, not without the most provident counsel of God almighty, that since the doctrine of the Jansenist innovators turned all eyes to themselves, enticing many to the sight of their error and leading them over to it, it was then that Alphonsus Maria Liguori stood up, the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and the Bishop of St. Agatha of the Goths, who, ‘fighting the good fight, opened his mouth in the midst of the Church’; and by his learned writings and labors eradicated this plague, roused from hell, and saw to it tear it out and so exterminate it from the field of the Lord. Not only did Alphonsus appoint these shares for himself, but focusing his mind on the glory of God and the spiritual salvation of men he wrote many books, related with holy erudition and piety, whose opinions were between those embraced by both more lax and rigid theologians, to fortify the safe path by which the confessors of Christ’s faithful could advance without dashing their foot upon a stone; whether to train and establish the clergy, or to confirm the truth of the Catholic faith and to defend against the heretics of every kind or name; or to assert the laws of this Apostolic See; or to rouse the souls of the faithful to piety.” [Apostolic Letter Honoring St. Alphonsus with the title of Doctor of the Church]
Mediatrix Press is pleased to bring you the first English Translation of this excellent work, once widely read but relegated to obscurity on account of the loss of Latin fluency in Western Society. Volume 1 embraces the first three Books of Alphonsus’ Moral Theology. Subsequent volumes will complete the full work. You can support this work by making a donation, which you can find on the Alphonsus Translation project page.
The Kindle will be coming soon!