Fathers of the Church

Letter XV. to Silvanus the Primate

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 consoles a widower on the recent death of his wife.

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

I know that in my words of consolation I am somewhat late, but it is not without reason that I have delayed to send them, for I have thought it worth while to let the violence of your grief take its course. The cleverest physicians will never apply their remedies when a fever is at its height, but wait for a favourable opportunity for using the appliances of their skill. So after reckoning how sharp your anguish must be, I have let these few days go by, for if I myself was so distressed and filled with such sorrow by the news, what must not have been the sufferings of a husband and yoke-fellow, made, as the Scripture says, one flesh, at the violent sundering of the union cemented both by time and love? Such pangs are only natural; but let reason devise consolation by reminding you that humanity is frail and sorrow universal, and also of the hope of the resurrection and the will of Him who orders our lives wisely. We must needs accept the decrees of inestimable wisdom, and own them to be for our good; for they who reflect thus piously shall reap piety's rewards, and so delivered froth immoderate lamentations shall pass their lives in peace. On the other hand they whom sorrow makes its slaves will gain nothing by their wailing, but will at once live weary lives and grieve the Guardian of us all. Receive then, my most honoured friend, a fatherly exhortation "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. He hath done whatsoever pleased Him. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

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.