Fathers of the Church

Letter LXXXVII. to Domnus, Bishop of Apamea

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) In this brief letter to a fellow bishop he asks for support in his trials and for prayers for the Church.

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. Letters LXXIX-CXI date from 448 and 449, and chronicle the growing agitation in the Eastern Church during the Monophysite crisis, including the slanders that led to Theodoret’s illegitimate deposition at the “Robber-Council” of Ephesus in 449.

by Theodoret in c. 449 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

The law of brotherly love demanded that I should receive many letters from your godliness at this time. For the divine Apostle charges us to weep with them that weep and rejoice with them that do rejoice. I have not received a single one, although just lately I was visited by some of the pious monks of your monastery with the pious presbyter Elias. Nevertheless I have written, and I salute your holiness; and I make you acquainted with the fact that the consolation of the Master has stood me in stead of all other, for in truth not even had I as many mouths as I have hairs on my head, could I worthily praise Him for my being deemed worthy of suffering on account of my confession of Him, and for the apparent disgrace which I hold more august than any honour. And if I be banished to the uttermost parts of the earth all the more will I praise Him as being counted worthy of greater blessings. Nevertheless I hope your holiness will put up prayers for the quiet of the holy churches. It is because of the storm that is assailing them that I wail and groan and lament. That quiet, as I know, was driven away by the Osrhoene clergy, who poured out countless words against me, although I had no share in their condemnation, nor in the sentence passed upon them; on the contrary, as your holiness knows, I besought that the communion might be given to them at Easter. But slanderers find no difficulty in saying what they like. My consolation lies in the blessing of the Master who said, "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

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.