Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feast of St. Irenaeus

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Irenaeus, one of the first apologists of the faith born in 130 AD and martyred in 2o2 AD. He was the Bishop of Lyons and wrote extensively as well as preached the gospel leading to the conversions of a major portion of his bishopric. Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies was his tour-de-force against the rising tide of gnosticism in the 2nd and third century. His writings protected the Catholic faith from the errors that were rampant and being spread by the gnostics.

St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp who himself was a disciple of the Apostle John. All through his life, he told a friend, he could recall every detail of Polycarp's appearance, his voice, and the very words he used when telling what he had heard from John the Evangelist and others who had seen Jesus. So the deposit of faith and sacred tradition passed to him was still pretty fresh. The things that Irenaeus wrote about the faith, though not canonical, can help us understand what the early Christians believed and preached.

What did St. Irenaeus preach about to combat the heresies? He spoke about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the authority of the Church, apostolic succession and how the deposit of faith was passed on. He warned the Church to avoid those who who claimed to know the truth but couldn't trace their heritage to the Church that Jesus started. (those who departed from "primitive" succession)

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" (ibid., 5:2).

"Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (ibid., 3:3:4).

"Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (ibid., 3:4:1).

"[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth" (ibid., 4:26:2).

"The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (ibid., 4:33:8).

The remains/relics of St. Irenaeus were forever lost when the Church housing them was destroyed in 1562 .


Blogger JP Manzi said...

Thanks for sharing this.

June 28, 2007 8:36 PM  

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