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In Hope We Endure


From a homily written in the second century

For the sake of eternal life, my brothers, let us do the will of the Father who called us, resisting the temptations that lead us into sin and striving earnestly to advance in virtue. Let us reserve God for fear of the evils that spring from impiety. If we are zealous in doing good, we shall have peace, but there is no peace for those who, governed by human respect, prefer present enjoyment to the future promises. They realise neither the torment that is laid up for them on account of these momentary pleasures, nor the joy of the promises to come. And indeed it could be endured if their conduct affected only themselves, but as it is, they persist in corrupting the innocent, unaware that they incur a double condemnation, for themselves and their disciples.

So let us serve God with a pure heart, and then we shall be living as we should. If we fail to serve him because of our disbelief, we shall only be miserable. Wretched are those of wavering faith, says the prophet, the people who doubt in their hearts and says: We heard all this even when our parents were alive and day after day we have waited in vain for any proof of it. A vine, for example, first sheds its leaves and then the bud appears; after that there comes the sour grape and finally a cluster of ripened fruit. So it is with my people. They have had their tumults and afflictions, but afterwards will come their reward.

Therefore, my brothers, in order to obtain the reward, we must endure in hope with unwavering faith. He who made the promise to repay every man as his deeds, deserve will be faithful to it. If we do what is right in God’s sight, we shall enter into his kingdom and receive the promise which no ear has heard, no eye seen, no human heart conceived.

So let us live loving and upright lives, in hourly expectation of the kingdom of God, since we do not know when God will come. Let us repent at once of our great folly and wickedness, and from now on always be ready to do good. We should blot out past sins by being truly sorry for them, and then we shall be saved. We must have no desire to curry favour with men, nor should we think only of making ourselves acceptable to our fellow Christians. We should live upright lives in order to win the respect of non-Christians as well. The Name must not be blasphemed on our account.

Your Body is Holy and Excelling in Splendour

From the Apostolic Constitution On the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pope Pius XII


In their homilies and sermons on this feast the holy fathers and great doctors spoke of the assumption of the Mother of God as something already familiar and accepted by the faithful. They gave it greater clarity in their preaching and used more profound arguments in setting out its nature and meaning. Above all, they brought out more clearly the fact that what is commemorated in this feast is not simply the total absence of corruption from the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also her triumph over death and her glorification in heaven, after the pattern set by her only Son, Jesus Christ.

Thus, Saint John Damascene, pre-eminent as the great preacher of this truth of tradition, speaks with powerful eloquence when he relates the bodily assumption of the loving Mother of God to her other gifts and privileges: “it was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death. It was necessary that she who had carried the creator as a child on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God. It was necessary that the bride espoused by the father should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven. It is necessary that she who had gazed on her crucified son and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in giving him birth, should contemplate him seated with the Father, it was necessary that the mother of God should share the possessions of her son, and be venerated by every creature as the Mother and handmaid of God.”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople considered that it was in keeping not only with her divine motherhood but also with the unique sanctity of her virginal body that it was incorrupt and carried up to heaven: “in the words of scripture you appear in beauty. Your virginal body is entirely holy, entirely chaste, entirely the house of God, so that for this reason also it is henceforth a stranger to decay: a body Changed, because a human body, to a pre-eminent life of incorruptibility, but still a living body, excelling in splendor, a body inviolate and sharing in the perfection of life.”

Another early author declares: “therefore as the most glorious Mother of Christ, our God and Saviour, giver of life and immortality, she is enlivened by him to share an eternal incorruptibility of body with him who raised her from the tomb and took her up to himself in a way he alone can tell.”

All these reasoning and considerations of the holy fathers rest on scripture as their ultimate foundation. Scripture portrays the loving mother of God, almost before our very eyes, as most intimately united with her divine Son and always sharing in his destiny.

Above all, it must be noted that from the second century the Holy Fathers present the Virgin Mary as the new Eve, most closely associated with the new Adam, though subject to him in the struggle against the enemy from the nether world. This struggle, as the first promise of a redeemer implies, was to end in perfect victory over sin and death, always linked together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Therefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part of this victory and its final trophy, so the struggle shared by the Blessed Virgin and her Son was to end in the glorification of her virginal body. As the same Apostle says:  When this mortal body has clothed itself in immortality, then will be fulfilled the word of Scripture: Death is swallowed up in victory.


Hence, the august Mother of God, mysteriously united from all eternity with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a virgin inviolate in her divine motherhood, the wholehearted companion of the divine Redeemer who won complete victory over sin and its consequences, gained at last the supreme crown of her privileges –  to be preserved immune from the corruption of the tomb, and, like her Son, when death had been conquered, to be carried up body and soul to the exalted glory of heaven, there to sit in splendour at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the ages.

The Church is The Bride of Christ

From a Catechetical instruction by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop.


The Catholic Church is the distinctive name of this holy Church which is the mother of us all. She is the bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God (for Scripture says: Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her). She is the type and she bears the image of the Jerusalem above that is free and is the mother of us all, that Jerusalem which once was barren but now has many children.


The first assembly, that is, the assembly of Israel, was rejected, and now in the second, that is, in the Catholic Church, God has appointed first, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators and speakers in various kinds of tongues, as Paul says; and together with these is found every sort of virtue – wisdom and understanding, self-control and justice, mercy and kindness, and invincible patience in persecution. With the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left, in glory and dishonor, this Church in earlier days, when persecution and afflictions abounded, crowned her holy martyrs with the varied and many flowered wreaths of endurance. But now when God has favoured us with times of peace, she receives her due honour from kings and men of high station, and from every condition and race of mankind. And while the rulers of the different nations have limits to their sovereignty, the holy Catholic Church alone has a power without boundaries throughout the entire world. For, as Scripture says: God has made peace her border.


Instructed in this holy Catholic Church and bearing ourselves honourably, we shall gain the kingdom of heaven and inherit eternal life. For the sake of enjoying this at the Lord’s hands, we endure all things. The goal set before us is no trifling one; we are striving for eternal life. In the Creed, therefore, after professing our faith “in the resurrection of the body,” that is, of the dead, which I have already discussed, we are taught to believe “in life everlasting,” and for this as Christians we are struggling.


Now real and true life is none other than the Father, who is the fountain of life and who pours forth his heavenly gifts on all creatures through the Son in the Holy Spirit, and the good things of eternal life are faithfully promised to us men also, because of his love for us.

The Church as The Assembly of The People of God

From a catechetical instruction by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop.

The church is called Catholic or universal because it has spread throughout the entire world, from one
end of the earth to the other. Again, it is called Catholic because it teaches fully and unfailingly all the
doctrines which ought to be brought to men’s knowledge, whether concerned with visible or invisible
things, with the realities of heaven or the things of earth. Another reason for the name Catholic is that
the Church brings under religious obedience all classes of men, rulers and subjects, learned and
unlettered. Finally, it deserves the title Catholic because it heals and cures unrestrictedly every type of
sin that can be committed in soul or in body, and because it possesses within itself every kind of virtue
that can be named, whether exercised in actions or in words or in some kind of spiritual charism.
It is most aptly called a church, which means an “assembly of those called out,” because it “calls out” all
men and gathers them together, just as the Lord says in Leviticus: Assemble all the congregation at the
door of the tent of meeting. It is worth noting also that the word “assemble” is used for the first time in
the Scriptures at this moment when the Lord appoints Aaron high priest. So in Deuteronomy God says to
Moses: Assemble the people before me and let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me.
There is a further mention of the assembly in the passage about the tablets of the law: And on them
were written all the words which the lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire,
on the day of the assembly; it is as though he had said, even more clearly, “on the day when you were
called out by God and gathered together.” So too the psalmist says: I will give thanks to you in the great
assembly, O Lord; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Long ago the psalmist sang: Bless God in the assembly; bless the Lord, you who are Israel’s sons. But now
the Saviour has built a second holy assembly, our Christian Church, from the Gentiles. It was of this that
he spoke to Peter: On this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against
Now that the single church which was in Judea has been rejected, the churches of Christ are already
multiplying throughout the world, and of them it is said in the psalms: Sing a new song to the Lord, let
his praise be sung in the assembly of the saints. Taking up the same theme the prophet says to the Jews:
I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts; and immediately he adds: For from the rising of the sun
to its setting my name is glorified among the nations. Of this holy Catholic Church Paul writes to
Timothy: That you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of
the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.