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Fathers of the Church

Letter XXXII. to the Bishop Theoctistus

Description

Theodoret’s letters are a mine of information for the history of the fifth century, of the author’s life and of the history of dogma in general. This large correspondence is distinguished for its unpretentious learning, felicitous diction and perfect grace of style. (Quasten) Here he asks Bishop Theoctist to find a home for Celestinianus and his family (see letter XXIX).

Provenance

Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393-466), the wise and zealous bishop of Cyrus, a small town near Antioch, was the last great theologian of the school of Antioch. Although he first considered Alexandrian Christology dangerous, and refused to condemn Nestorius until the Council of Chalcedon, his commitment to the correct doctrine of the Incarnation should not be questioned. As late as the 14th century more than 500 of his letters were extant, of which we still have 232.

by Theodoret in Unknown | translated by Blomfield Jackson

If the God of all hath forthwith inflicted punishment on all that err he would utterly have destroyed all men. But He spares; He is a merciful Judge; and therefore some He chastises, and to others He gives the lesson of the punishment of the chastised. An instance of this merciful dealing has been shewn in our times. Exiles from what was once known as Libya, but is now called Africa, have been brought by Him to our doors, and by shewing us their sufferings He moves us to fear, and by fear rouses us to sympathy; thus He accomplishes two ends at once, for He both benefits us by their chastisement, and to them by our means brings comfort. This comfort I now beg you to give to the very admirable and honourable Celestinianus, a man who once was an ornament of the Africans' chief city, but now has neither city nor home, nor any of the necessaries of life. Now it is proper that those who in the jurisdiction of your holiness have been entrusted with the pastoral care of souls should bring before their fellow citizens what is for their good, for indeed they need such teaching. For this reason, as we know, the divine Apostle in his Epistle to Titus writes "Let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses," for if our city, solitary as it is, and with only a small population, and that a poor one, succours the strangers, much rather may Beroea, which has been nurtured in true religion, be expected to do so, especially under the leadership of your holiness.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (NPNF II/III, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.