POPE LEO the GREAT, c. 458
Sermon 63
(Passion 12); Letter 59

  The Trinity, Little Hours of the Duke of Berry

Sermon 63.7;      Letter 59.2

Engl.:C. L. Feltoe (Trans.), Leo the Great, Gregory the Great . NPNF Vol. 12a.  58-61; 175-178; .Latin: Sermo LXIII. De Passione Domini XII; habitus feria quarta. PL 54, 353-357; Epistola 59 clero, honoratis et plebi consistenti Constantinopoli, PL 54, 865-872.
















(On the Passion 12.:  preached on Wednesday.)

De Passione Domini XII; habitus feria quarta [0353A]





1.  The glory, dearly-beloved, of the Lord’s Passion, on which we promised to speak again to-day, is chiefly wonderful for its mystery of humility, which has both ransomed and instructed us all, that He, Who paid the price, might also impart His righteousness to us.  For the Omnipotence of the Son of God, whereby He is by the same Essence equal to the Father, might have rescued mankind from the dominion of the devil by the mere exercise of Its will, had it not better suited the Divine working to conquer the opposition of the foe’s wickedness by that which had been conquered, and to restore our nature’s liberty by that very nature by which bondage had come upon the whole race.  But, when the evangelist says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt in us (Jn 1.14),” and the Apostle, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5.19),”

CAP. I. Gloria, dilectissimi, Dominicae passionis, de qua nos etiam hodie locuturos esse promisimus, [0353B] humilitatis maxime est miranda mysterio; quae omnes nos et redemit et docuit: ut unde datum est pretium, inde et justitia sumeretur. Omnipotentia enim Filii Dei, qua per eamdem essentiam aequalis est Patri, potuisset humanum genus a dominatu diaboli solo imperio suae voluntatis eruere, nisi divinis operibus maxime congruisset, ut nequitiae hostilis adversitas de eo quod vicerat vinceretur, et per ipsam naturam naturalis repararetur libertas, per quam generalis fuerat illata captivitas. Dicente autem evangelista quod Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis (Joan. I, 14); et dicente Apostolo quod Deus erat in Christo mundum reconcilians sibi [0354A] (III Cor. V, 19):

it was shown that the Only-begotten of the Most High Father entered on such a union with human humility, that, when He took the substance of our flesh and soul, He remained one and the same Son of God by exalting our properties, not His own:  because it was the weakness, not the power that had to be reinforced, so that upon the union of the creature with the Creator there should be nothing wanting of the Divine to the assumed, nor of the human to the Assuming. ostensum est, quia Unigenitus summi Patris tale iniit cum humana humilitate consortium, ut suscepta nostrae carnis animaeque substantia unus atque idem Dei Filius permaneret, nostra augendo, non propria : quia infirmitas erat provehenda, non virtus: ut cum suo Creatori creatura esset unita, nihil 244 assumpto divinum, nihil assumenti deesset humanum.





2. This plan of God’s mercy and justice, though in the ages past it was in a measure enshrouded in darkness, was yet not so completely hidden that the saints, who have most merited praise from the beginning till the coming of the Lord, were precluded from understanding it:  seeing that the salvation, which was to come through Christ, was promised both by the words of prophecy and by the significance of events, and this salvation not only they attained who foretold it, but all they also who believed their predictions.  For the one Faith justifies the saints of all ages, and to the self-same hope of the faithful pertains all that by Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and man, we acknowledge done, or our fathers reverently accepted as to be done.  And between Jew and Gentile there is no distinction, since, as the Apostle says, “Circumcision is [p.176] nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of God’s commands (1 Cor. 7.19),” and if they be kept in entirety of faith, they make Christians the true sons of Abraham, that is perfect, for the same Apostle says, “For whosoever of you were baptized in Christ Jesus, have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek:  there is neither slave nor free:  there is neither male nor female.  For ye are all one in Christ.  But if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise (Gal. 3.27–29).”

CAP. II. Hoc consilium misericordiae et justitiae Dei, licet in praeteritis saeculis quibusdam velaminibus fuerit obumbratum, non tamen ita obtectum est ut sanctorum, qui ab initio usque ad adventum Domini laudabiles exstiterunt, intellectui negaretur: cum et propheticis verbis, et rerum gestarum significationibus, salus quae in Christo erat ventura, promissa [0354B] sit: quam non solum qui praedicabant adepti sunt, sed omnes etiam qui praedicantibus crediderunt. Una enim fides justificat universorum temporum sanctos, et ad eamdem spem fidelium pertinet, quidquid per mediatorem Dei et hominum Jesum Christum (I Tim. II. 5), vel nos confitemur factum, vel patres nostri adoravere faciendum. Nec inter Judaeos atque gentiles ulla distinctio est. Siquidem, sicut ait Apostolus, circumcisio nihil est, et praeputium nihil est, sed observatio mandatorum Dei (Rom. II, 25; I Cor. VII, 19); quae si cum integritate fidei serventur, veros Abrahae filios, id est perfectos faciunt Christianos, dicente eodem Apostolo: Quicumque [0355A] enim in Christo Jesu baptizati estis, Christum induistis. Non est Judaeus, neque Graecus; non est servus, neque liber; non est masculus, neque femina. Omnes enim unum estis in Christo. Si autem nos Christi: ergo Abrahae semen estis, secundum promissionem haeredes (Galat. III, 27-29).





3. There is no doubt therefore, dearly-beloved, that man’s nature has been received by the Son of God into such a union that not only in that Man Who is the first-begotten of all creatures, but also in all His saints there is one and the self-same Christ, and as the Head cannot be separated from the members, so the members cannot be separated from the Head.  For although it is not in this life, but in eternity that God is to be “all in all ,”(1 Cor. 15.28) yet even now He is the inseparable Inhabitant of His temple, which is the Church, according as He Himself promised, saying, “Lo!  I am with you all the days till the end of the age .”(Mt. 28.20)  And agreeably therewith the Apostle says, “He is the head of the body, the Church, which is the beginning, the first-begotten from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence, because in Him it was pleasing that all fulness (of the Godhead) should dwell, and that through Him all things should be reconciled in Himself.” (Col. 1.18–20)

CAP. III. Non ergo est dubium, dilectissimi, naturam humanam in tantam connexionem a Filio Dei esse susceptam, ut non solum in illo homine qui est primogenitus totius creaturae (Coloss. I, 18), sed etiam in omnibus sanctis suis unus idemque sit Christus; et sicut a membris caput, ita a capite membra dividi non possint. Quamvis enim non istius vitae sit, sed aeternae, ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus (I Cor. XV, 28); tamen etiam modo templi sui, quod est Ecclesia [0355B] (Coloss. I, 18), indivisus habitator est, secundum quod ipse promisit, dicens: Ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi (Matth. XXVIII, 20). Quibus Apostolus consonans ait: Ipse est caput corporis Ecclesiae, qui est principium, primogenitus ex mortuis: ut sit in omnibus ipse primatum tenens, quia in ipso complacuit omnem plenitudinem habitare, et per eum reconciliari omnia in ipso (Coloss. I, 18-20).





4. And what is suggested to our hearts by these and many other references, save that we should in all things be renewed in His image Who, remaining “in the form of God,”(Cf. Phil. 2.6,7) deigned to “take the form” of sinful flesh?  For all our weaknesses, which come from sin, He took on Him without sharing in sin, so that He felt the sensation of hunger and thirst and sleep and fatigue, and grief and weeping, and suffered the fiercest pangs up to the extremity of death, because no one could be loosed from the snares of death, unless He in Whom alone all men’s nature was guileless allowed Himself to be slain by the hands of wicked men.  And hence our Saviour the Son of God provided for all that believe in Him both a mystery (sacramentum) and an example, that they might apprehend the one by being born again, and follow the other by imitation.  For the blessed Apostle Peter teaches this, saying, “Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps.  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.  Who when He was reviled, reviled not:  when He suffered, threatened not, but gave Himself up to His unjust judge.  Who Himself bare our sins in His body on the tree, that being dead to sins, we may live to righteousness.” (1Pet. 2.21–24)

245 CAP. IV. His autem et aliis pluribus testimoniis quid insinuatur cordibus nostris, nisi ut per omnia ad imaginem ejus renovemur, qui permanens in forma Dei, carnis peccati forma esse dignatus est (Philip. II, 6)? Omnes enim infirmitates nostras, quae veniunt de peccato, absque peccati communione [0355C] suscepit, ut famis et sitis, somni et lassitudinis, moeroris ac fletus affectionibus non careret, doloresque saevissimos usque ad mortis extrema pateretur: quia nemo posset laqueis mortalitatis absolvi, nisi ille, in quo solo innocens erat natura omnium, sineret se interfici manibus impiorum. Unde Salvator noster Dei Filius universis in se credentibus, et sacramentum condidit, et exemplum: ut unum apprehenderent renascendo, alterum sequerentur imitando. Hoc enim docet beatus Petrus apostolus dicens: Christus passus est pro nobis, vobis relinquens exemplum, ut sequamini vestigia ejus. Qui peccatum non fecit, nec inventus est dolus in ore ejus. Qui cum malediceretur, non maledicebat; cum pateretur, non comminabatur: tradebat [0356A] autem judicanti se injuste. Qui peccata nostra ipse pertulit in corpore suo super lignum, ut peccatis mortui, justitiae vivamus (I Petr. II, 21-24).





5. As therefore there is no believer, dearly-beloved, to whom the gifts of grace are denied, so there is no one who is not a debtor in the matter of Christian discipline; because, although the severity of the mystic Law is done away, yet the benefits of its voluntary observance have increased, as the evangelist John says, “Because the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”(Jn 1.17)  For all things that, according to the Law, went before, whether in the circumcision of the flesh, or in the multitude of victims, or in the keeping of the Sabbath, testified of Christ, and foretold the grace of Christ.  And He is “the end of the Law,”(Rom. 10.4) not by annulling, but by fulfilling its meanings.  For although He is at once the Author of the old and of the new, yet He changed the symbolic rites connected with the promises, because He accomplished the promises and put an end to the announcement by the coming of the Announced.  But in the matter of moral precepts, no decrees of the earlier Testament are rejected, but many of them are amplified by the Gospel teaching:  so that the things which give salvation are more perfect and clearer than those which promise a Saviour.

CAP. V. Sicut ergo nemo est credentium, dilectissimi, cui dona neganda sint gratiae, ita nemo est qui non sit Christianae debitor disciplinae: quia etsi remota est mysticae legis asperitas, voluntariae tamen observantiae crevit utilitas, dicente evangelista Joanne: Quia lex per Mosen data est, gratia autem et veritas per Jesum Christum facta est (Joan. I, 17). Omnia enim quae secundum legem, sive in circumcisione carnis, sive in diversitatibus hostiarum, sive in sabbati observantia praecesserunt, Christum testificata, Christi sunt gratiam praelocuta. Et ipse est finis legis (Rom. X, 4), non evacuando significationes [0356B] ipsius, sed implendo. Qui licet idem sit auctor veterum qui novorum, figuratarum tamen promissionum sacramenta mutavit, quia promissa perfecit: et denuntiationibus cessationem imposuit, quoniam denuntiatus advenit. In praeceptis autem moralibus nulla prioris Testamenti decreta reprobata, sed evangelico magisterio multa 246 sunt aucta: ut perfectiora et lucidiora essent dantia salutem quam promittentia Salvatorem.





6. All therefore that the Son of God did and taught for the world’s reconciliation, we not only know as a matter of past history, but appreciate in the power of its present effect.  It is He Who, born of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, fertilizes His unpolluted Church with the same blessed Spirit, that by [p.176] the birth of Baptism an innumerable multitude of sons may be born to God, of Whom it is said, “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”(Jn 1.13)  It is He, in Whom the seed of Abraham is blessed by the adoption of the whole world,(Gen. 22.18) and the patriarch becomes the father of nations by the birth, through faith not flesh, of the sons of promise.  It is He Who, without excluding any nation, makes one flock of holy sheep from every nation under heaven, and daily fulfils what He promised, saying, “Other sheep also I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”(Jn 10.16)  For though to the blessed Peter first and foremost He says, “Feed My sheep;”(Jn. 17) yet the one Lord directs the charge of all the shepherds, and feeds those that come to the rock with such glad and well-watered pastures, that countless sheep are nourished by the richness of His love, and hesitate not to perish for the Shepherd’s sake, even as the good Shepherd Himself was content to lay down His life for His sheep.  It is He whose sufferings are shared not only by the martyrs’ glorious courage, but also in the very act of regeneration by the faith of all the new-born.  For the renunciation of the devil and belief in God, the passing from the old state into newness of life, the casting off of the earthly image, and the putting on of the heavenly form—all this is a sort of dying and rising again, whereby he that is received by Christ and receives Christ is not the same after as he was before he came to the font,

CAP. VI. Omnia igitur quae Dei Filius ad reconciliationem mundi et fecit, et docuit, non in historia tantum praeteritarum actionum novimus, sed etiam in praesentium operum virtute sentimus. Ipse est qui de Spiritu sancto ex matre editus Virgine incontaminatam Ecclesiam suam eadem inspiratione fecundat, [0356C] ut per baptismatis partum innumerabilis filiorum Dei multitudo gignatur, de quibus dicitur: Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt (Joan. I, 13). Ipse est in quo semen Abrahae totius mundi adoptione benedicitur; et fit patriarcha gentium pater (Gen. XXII, 18), dum promissionis filii fide, non carne nascuntur. Ipse est qui nullius gentis exceptionem faciens, de omni natione quae sub coelo est unum sanctarum ovium efficit gregem, et quotidie implet quod promiserat, dicens: Habeo et alias oves, quae non sunt ex hoc ovili, et illas oportet me adducere, et vocem meam audient; et erit unus grex et unus pastor (Joan. X, 16). Quamvis enim beato Petro [0357A] principaliter dicat, Pasce oves meas (Joan. XXI, 17), ab uno tamen Domino ipsa omnium regitur cura pastorum, et venientes ad petram tam laetis tamque irriguis pascuis alit, ut innumerae oves dilectionis pinguedine roboratae, sicut bonus pastor dignatus est pro ovibus suis animam suam ponere (Joan. X, 15), ita et ipsae non dubitent pro nomine pastoris occumbere. Ipse est cui non solum gloriosa martyrum fortitudo, sed etiam omnium renascentium fides in ipsa regeneratione compatitur. Dum enim renuntiatur diabolo, et creditur Deo, dum in novitatem a vetustate transitur, dum terreni hominis imago deponitur, et coelestis forma suscipitur, quaedam species mortis et quaedam similitudo resurrectionis intervenit, ut susceptus a Christo Christumque suscipiens [0357B] non idem sit post lavacrum qui ante baptismum fuit,

for the body of the regenerate becomes the flesh of the Crucified. sed corpus regenerati fiat caro Crucifixi.

assertion of the union between Christ, the Head and the members of His body, the Church effected by Holy Baptism


Serm 63.7




7. This change, dearly-beloved, is the handiwork of the Most High, (Cf. Ps.77. 10 (LXX.) & 1 Cor. 17.6) Who “worketh all things in all,” so that by the good manner of life observed in each one of the faithful, we know Him to be the Author of all just works, and give thanks to God’s mercy, Who so adorns the whole body of the Church with countless gracious gifts, that through the many rays of the one Light the same brightness is everywhere diffused, and that which is well done by any Christian whatsoever cannot but be part of the glory of Christ.  This is that true Light which justifies and enlightens every man.  This it is that rescues from the power of darkness and transfers us into the Kingdom of the Son of God.  This it is that by newness of life exalts the desires of the mind and quenches the lusts of the flesh

CAP. VII. Haec commutatio, dilectissimi, dextrae est Excelsi (Ps. LXVII, 21), qui operatur omnia in omnibus (I Cor. XII, 6): 247 ut in singulis fidelibus per bonae conversationis qualitatem ipsum piorum operum intelligamus auctorem; gratias agentes agentes misericordiae Dei, qui innumeris charismatum donis ita universum Ecclesiae corpus exornat, ut per multos unius luminis radios idem ubique splendor appareat, nec possit nisi gloria esse Christi, cujuslibet meritum Christiani. Hoc est illud verum lumen, quod omnem hominem justificat et illustrat. Hoc est quod eruit de potestate tenebrarum, et transfert in regnum Filii Dei (Coloss. I, 13).

This it is whereby the Lords Passover is duly kept “With the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” by the casting away of “the old leaven of wickedness”(1 Cor. 5.8) and the inebriating and feeding of the new creature with the very Lord Hoc est quod per novitatem vitae [0357C] desideria animae provehit, et concupiscentias carnis exstinguit. Hoc est quo Pascha Domini in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis legitime celebratur (I Cor. V, 8): dum fermento veteris malitiae abjecto, nova creatura de ipso Domino inebriatur et pascitur.
For naught else is brought about by the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ than that we pass into that which we then take, and both in spirit and in body carry everywhere Him, in and with Whom we were dead, buried, and rose again, [cf.Letter 59.2] Non enim aliud agit participatio corporis et sanguinis Christi, quam ut in id quod sumimus transeamus: et in quo commortui, et consepulti, et conresuscitati sumus, ipsum per omnia et spiritu et carne gestemus,
as the Apostle says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  For when Christ, your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3.3, 4)..”  Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever. dicente Apostolo: Mortui enim estis, et vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo. Cum enim Christus apparuerit vita vestra, tunc et vos apparebitis cum ipso in gloria (Coloss. III, 3): qui cum Patre et sancto Spiritu vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum. Amen.


















To the Clergy and People of the City of Constantinople.






LEO the bishop to the clergy, dignitaries, and people, residing at Constantinople.

LEO episcopus clero, honoratis et plebi consistenti Constantinopoli.





1. Though we are greatly grieved at the things reported to have been done recently in the council of priests at Ephesus, because, as is consistently rumoured, and also demonstrated by results, neither due moderation nor the strictness of the Faith was there observed, yet we rejoice in your devoted piety and in the acclamations of the holy people, instances of which have been brought to our notice, we have approved of the right feeling of you all; because there lives and abides in good sons due affection for their excellent Father, and because you suffer the fulness of catholic teaching to be in no part corrupted.  For undoubtedly, as the Holy Spirit has unfolded to you, they are leagued with the Manichćans’ error, who deny that the only-begotten Son of God took our nature’s true Manhood, and maintain that all His bodily actions were the actions of a false apparition.  And lest you should in aught give your assent to this blasphemy, we have now sent you, beloved, by my son Epiphanius and Dionysius, notary of the Roman Church, letters of exhortation wherein we have of our own accord rendered you the assistance which you sought, that you may not doubt of our bestowing all a father’s care on you, and labouring in every way, by the help of God’s mercy, to destroy all the stumbling-blocks which ignorant and foolish men have raised.  And let no one venture to parade his priestly dignity who can be convicted of holding such detestably blasphemous opinions.  For if ignorance seems hardly tolerable in laymen, how much less excusable or pardonable is it in those who govern; especially when they dare even to defend their mendacious and perverse views, and persuade the unsteadfast to agree with them either by intimidation or by cajoling.

CAP. I. Licet de his quae in concilio sacerdotum [0867A] nuper apud Ephesum gesta memorantur, multus nos moeror afficiat, eo quod, sicut consonans fama dispersit, et ipso rerum monstratur effectu, nec justitiae illic moderatio, nec fidei est servata religio; de vestrae tamen devotionis pietate gaudemus, et in sanctae plebis acclamationibus, quarum ad nos exempla delata sunt, omnium vestrum probavimus affectum: quia vivit ac permanet apud bonos filios optimi patris justa dilectio, et catholicae doctrinae 976 eruditionem in nulla patimini parte corrumpi. Non dubie enim, sicut vobis Spiritus sanctus reseravit. Manichaeorum confoederantur errori, qui ab unigenito Dei Filio verum et nostrae naturae hominem negant esse susceptum, omnesque ejus corporeas actiones simulatorii volunt fuisse [0867B] phantasmatis. Cui impietati ne in aliquo praeberetis assensum, jam per filium meum Epiphanium et Dionysium Romanae Ecclesiae notarium cohortatoria ad dilectionem vestram scripta direximus, quibus confirmationem quam expetistis ultro praebuimus: ut nos paternam vobis curam non dubitetis impendere, ac modis omnibus laborare ut, auxiliante misericordia Dei, omnia quae ab imperitis et insipientibus excitata sunt scandala destruantur. Nec quisquam sibi audeat de sacerdotali honore blandiri, qui potuerit in exsecrandi sensus impietate convinci. NAM SI VIX in laicis tolerabilis videtur inscitia, quanto magis in eis qui praesunt, nec excusatione est digna nec venia: maxime cum etiam defendere perversarum opinionum commenta praesumunt, [0868A] et in consensum suum aut terrore aut gratia instabiles quosque traducunt?

Letter 59.2




2. Let such men be rejected by the holy members of Christ’s Body, and let not catholic [p.59] liberty suffer the yoke of the unfaithful to be laid upon it.  For they are to be reckoned outside the Divine grace, and outside the mystery of man’s salvation, who, denying the nature of our flesh in Christ, gainsay the Gospel and oppose the Creed.  Nor do they perceive that their blindness leads them into such an abyss that they have no sure footing in the reality either of the Lord’s Passion or His Resurrection:  because both are discredited in the Saviour, if our fleshly nature is not believed in Him.  In what density of ignorance, in what utter sloth must they hitherto have lain, CAP. II. Spernantur hujusmodi a sanctis membris corporis Christi, neque sibi catholica libertas infidelium jugum patiatur imponi. Extra donum enim divinae gratiae et extra sacramentum habendi sunt salutis humanae, qui negantes naturam nostrae carnis in Christo, et Evangelio contradicunt, et Symbolo 977 reluctantur. Nec sentiunt se in hoc praeruptum sua obcaecatione deduci, ut nec in passionis Dominicae, nec in resurrectionis veritate consistant: quia utrumque in Salvatore vacuatur, si in eo nostri generis caro non creditur. In quibus isti ignorantiae tenebris, in quo hactenus desidiae torpore jacuere?
not to have learnt from hearing, nor understood from reading, that which in God’s Church is so constantly in men’s mouths, that even the tongues of infants do not keep silence upon the truth of Christ’s Body and Blood at the rite of Holy Communion? ut nec auditu discerent, vel lectione [0868B] cognoscerent, quod in Ecclesia Dei in omnium ore tam consonum est, ut nec ab infantium linguis veritas corporis et sanguinis Christi inter communionis sacramenta taceatur.
For in that mystic distribution of spiritual nourishment, that which is given and taken is of such a kind that receiving the virtue of the celestial food we pass into the flesh of Him, Who became our flesh.  [cf. Serm. 63.7] Quia in illa mystica distributione spiritalis alimoniae hoc impartitur, hoc sumitur: ut accipientes virtutem coelestis cibi, in carnem ipsius qui caro nostra factus est transeamus.

 Hence to confirm you, beloved, in your laudably faithful resistance to the foes of Truth, I shall fully and opportunely use the language and sentiments of the Apostle, and say:  “Therefore I also hearing of your faith, which is in the Lord Jesus, and love towards all saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your hearts being enlightened that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power in us, who believed according to the working of His mighty power which he has wrought in Christ, raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His right hand in heavenly places above every principality, and power, and strength, and dominion, and every name which is named not only in this age, but also in that which is to come:  and hath put all things under His feet, and given Him to be the head over all the Church which is His body, and the fulness of Him Who filleth all in all (Eph. 1.15–23).”

 Unde et ad confirmationem charitatis vestrae, quae laudabili fide inimicis veritatis obnititur, apte atque opportune sermone affectuque Apostoli utar, et dicam: Propterea et ego audiens fidem vestram, quae est in Domino Jesu, et dilectionem in omnes sanctos, non cesso gratias agens pro vobis, memoriam vestri faciens in orationibus meis: ut Deus Domini nostri Jesu Christi, Pater gloriae, det vobis spiritum sapientiae [0869A] et revelationis in agnitione ejus, illuminatos oculos cordis vestri; ut sciatis quae sit spes vocationis ejus, et quae divitiae gloriae haereditatis ejus in sanctis, et quae sit supereminens magnitudo virtutis ejus in nobis, qui credidimus secundum operationem potentiae virtutis ejus, quam operatus est in Christo, suscitans illum a mortuis, et constituens illum ad dexteram suam in coelestibus supra omnem principatum, et potestatem, et virtutem, et dominationem, et omne nomen quod nominatur non solum in hoc saeculo, sed etiam in futuro; et omnia subjecit sub pedibus ejus, et ipsum dedit caput supra omnem Ecclesiam, quae est corpus ipsius et plenitudo ejus, qui omnia in omnibus adimpletur (Ephes. I, 15-23).





3. In this passage let the adversaries of the Truth say when or according to what nature did the Almighty Father exalt His Son above all things, or to what substance did He subject all things.  For the Godhead of the Word is equal in all things, and consubstantial with the Father, and the power of the Begetter and the Begotten is one and the same always and eternally.  Certainly, the Creator of all natures, since “through Him all things were made, and without Him was nothing made (Jn 1.3),” is above all things which He created, nor were the things which He made ever not subject to their Creator, Whose eternal property it is, to be from none other than the Father, and in no way different to the Father.  If greater power, grander dignity, more exalted loftiness was granted Him, then was He that was so increased less than He that promoted Him, and possessed not the full riches of His nature from Whose fulness He received.  But one who thinks thus is hurried off into the society of Arius, whose heresy is much assisted by this blasphemy which denies the existence of human nature in the Word of God, so that, in rejecting the combination of humility with majesty in God, it either asserts a false phantom-body in Christ, or says that all His bodily actions and passions belonged to the Godhead rather than to the flesh.  But everything he ventures to uphold is absolutely foolish:  because neither our religious belief nor the scope of the mystery admits either of the Godhead suffering anything or of the Truth belying Itself in anything.  The impassible Son of God, therefore, whose perpetually it is with the Father and with the Holy Spirit to be what He is in the one essence of the Unchangeable Trinity, when the fullness of time had come which had been fore-ordained by an eternal purpose, and promised by the prophetic significance of words and deeds, became man not by conversion of His substance but by assumption of our nature, and “came to seek and to save that which was lost  (Lk 19.10).”  But He came not by local approach nor by bodily motion, as if to be present where He had been absent, or to depart where He had come:  but He came to be manifested to onlookers by that which was visible and common to others, receiving, that is to say, human flesh and soul in the Virgin mother’s womb, so that, abiding in the form of God, He united to Himself the form of a slave, and  [p.60] the likeness of sinful flesh, whereby He did not lessen the Divine by the human, but increased the human by the Divine.

CAP. III. Dicant hic adversarii veritatis quando [0869B] omnipotens Pater vel secundum quam 978 naturam Filium suum super universa provexerit, vel cui substantiae cuncta subjecerit. Deitas enim Verbi par in omnibus et consubstantialis est Patri, et sempiterne atque intemporaliter una eademque potentia est genitoris et geniti. Creator quippe omnium naturarum, quoniam per ipsum omnia facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil (Joan. I, 3), superior est omnibus quae creavit, nec umquam Creatori suo non fuerunt subjecta quae condidit: cui proprium et sempiternum est, nec aliunde quam de Patre, nec aliud esse quam Pater est. Huic si addita est potestas, si illustrata dignitas, si exaltata sublimitas, minor erat provehente qui crevit, nec habebat divitias ejus naturae cujus indiguit largitate. Sed talia [0869C] sentientem in societatem suam Arius rapit, cujus perversitati multum haec suffragatur impietas, negans Verbo Dei humanam inesse naturam, ut dum humilitatem in Dei majestate fastidit, aut falsam in Christo asserat imaginem corporis, aut omnes actiones ejus passionesque corporeas, Deitatis potius fuisse dicat quam carnis. Quodlibet autem defendere audeat, prorsus insanum est: quia nec pietas fidei, nec ratio recipit sacramenti, ut aut aliquid passa sit Deitas, aut in ullo mentita sit veritas. Impassibilis igitur Dei Filius, cui cum Patre et cum Spiritu sancto in una incommutabilis Trinitatis essentia, hoc quod est esse perpetuum est: in ea plenitudine temporis, quae sempiterno consilio fuerat praestituta, et prophetica dictorum atque gestorum [0870A] significatione promissa, factus filius hominis non suae conversione substantiae, sed nostrae assumptione naturae, venit quaerere et salvare quod perierat (Luc. XIX, 10). Venit autem non locali accessu, nec motione corporea, tamquam praesens futurus unde abfuisset, aut illinc recessurus unde venisset; sed venit per hoc quod erat visibile et commune cernentibus declarandus, humanam scilicet carnem atque animam in visceribus Virginis matris accipiens, ut manens in forma 979 Dei, turmam servi sibimet et similitudinem carnis peccati uniret, per quam non minueret divina humanis, sed augeret humana divinis.





4. For such was the state of all mortals resulting from our first ancestors that, after the transmission of original sin to their descendants, no one would have escaped the punishment of condemnation, had not the Word become flesh and dwelt in us, that is to say, in that nature which belonged to our blood and race.  And accordingly, the Apostle says:  “As by one man’s sin (judgment passed) upon all to condemnation, so also by one man’s righteousness (it) passed upon all to justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man’s obedience shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5.18, 19);” and again, “For because by man (came) death, by man also (came) the resurrection of the dead.  And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1Cor. 25. 21, 22).”  All they to wit who though they be born in Adam, yet are found reborn in Christ, having a sure testimony both to their justification by grace, and to Christ’s sharing in their nature; for he who does not believe that God’s only-begotten Son did assume our nature in the womb of the Virgin-daughter of David, is without share in the Mystery of the Christian religion, and, as he neither recognizes the Bridegroom nor knows the Bride, can have no place at the wedding-banquet.  For the flesh of Christ is the veil of the Word, wherewith every one is clothed who confesses Him unreservedly.  But he that is ashamed of it and rejects it as unworthy, shall have no adornment from Him, and though he present himself at the Royal feast, and unseasonably join in the sacred banquet, yet the intruder will not be able to escape the King’s discernment, but, as the Lord Himself asserted, will be taken, and with hands and feet bound, be cast into outer darkness; where will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 22.11–13).  Hence whosoever confesses not the human body in Christ, must know that he is unworthy of the mystery of the Incarnation, and has no share in that sacred union of which the Apostle speaks, saying, “For we are His members, of His flesh and of His bones.  For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and there shall be two in one flesh (Eph. 5.30,31,32).”  And explaining what was meant by this, he added, “This mystery is great, but I speak in respect of Christ and the Church.”  Therefore, from the very commencement of the human race, Christ is announced to all men as coming in the flesh.  In which, as was said, “there shall be two in one flesh,” (Gen 2.24) there are undoubtedly two, God and man, Christ and the Church, which issued from the Bridegroom’s flesh, when it received the mystery of redemption and regeneration, water and blood flowing from the side of the Crucified.  For the very condition of a new creature which at baptism puts off not the covering of true flesh but the taint of the old condemnation, is this, that a man is made the body of Christ, because Christ also is the body of a man.

CAP. IV. Talis enim erat omnium a primis ducta genitoribus causa mortalium, ut originali peccato [0870B] transeunte per posteros, nullus poenam damnationis evaderet, nisi Verbum caro fieret, et habitaret in nobis (Joan. I, 14), in ea scilicet natura quae nostri et sanguinis esset et generis. Propter quod dicit Apostolus: Sicut per unius delictum in omnes homines in condemnationem, sic et per unius justitiam in omnes homines ad justificationem vitae. Sicut enim per inobedientiam unius hominis peccatores constituti sunt multi, ita et per unius hominis obedientiam justi constituentur multi (Rom. V, 18, 19). Et iterum: Quia enim per hominem mors, et per hominem resurrectio mortuorum. Et sicut in Adam omnes moriuntur, ita et in Christo omnes vivificabuntur (I Cor. XV, 2). Hi utique omnes, qui licet in Adam sint nati, in Christo tamen inveniuntur renati, habentes fidei testimonium, [0870C] et de justificatione gratiae, et de communione naturae: quam qui susceptam ab unigenito Dei Filio in utero Davidicae virginis diffitetur, ab omni sacramento Christianae religionis alienus est; et nec sponsum agnoscens, nec sponsam intelligens, nuptiali non potest interesse convivio. Caro enim Christi velamen est Verbi, quo omnis qui ipsum integre confitetur induitur. Erubescens autem illud, et quasi indignum refutans, nullum ex eo habebit ornatum: ac licet se regio inserat festo, sacrisque se epulis importunus immisceat, discretionem tamen regis fallere improbus conviva non poterit; sed, sicut ipse Dominus protestatus est, tolletur, et ligatis manibus et pedibus mittetur in tenebras exteriores, ubi erit fletus et stridor dentium (Matth. XXII, [0871A] 13). Unde quicumque in Christo non confitetur corpus humanum, noverit se mysterio incarnationis indignum, nec ejus sacramenti habere consortium, quod Apostolus praedicat, dicens: Quia membra sumus corporis ejus, de carne ejus et de ossibus ejus. Propter hoc relinquet homo patrem et matrem, et adhaerebit uxori suae, 980 et erunt duo in carne una. Et exponens quid per hoc significaretur, adjecit: Sacramentum hoc magnum est: ego autem dico in Christo et in Ecclesia (Ephes. V, 30-32). Ab ipso ergo principio generis humani omnibus hominibus Christus est denuntiatus in carne venturus. In qua, sicut dictum est, Et erunt duo in carne una (Gen. II, 24), utique duo sunt, Deus et homo, Christus et Ecclesia, quae de sponsi carne prodiit, quando [0871B] ex latere Crucifixi manante sanguine et aqua, sacramentum redemptionis et regenerationis accepit. Ipsa est enim novae conditio naturae, quae in baptismate non indumento verae carnis, sed contagio damnatae vetustatis exuitur, ut efficiatur homo corpus Christi, quia et Christus corpus est hominis.

The mystical transmutation of the believer’s body into the body of Christ is here referred to the sacrament of Baptism, while earlier in the letter (chap. ii.) it is described as one of the effects of Holy Communion.






5. Wherefore we call Christ not God only, as the Manichćan heretics, nor Man only, as the Photinian heretics, nor man in such a way that anything should be wanting in Him which certainly belongs to human nature, whether soul or reasonable mind or flesh which was not derived from woman, but made from the Word turned and changed into flesh; which three false and empty propositions have been variously advanced by the three sections of the Apollinarian heretics.  Nor do we say that the blessed Virgin Mary conceived a Man without Godhead, Who was created by the Holy Ghost and afterwards assumed by the Word, which we deservedly and properly condemned Nestorius for preaching:  but we call Christ the Son of God, true God, born of God the Father without any beginning in time, and likewise true Man, born of a human Mother, at the ordained fulness of time, and we say that His Manhood, whereby the Father is the greater, does not in anything lessen that nature whereby He is equal with the Father.  But these two natures form one Christ, Who has said most truly both according to His Godhead:  “I and the Father are one (Jn 10.30; 14.28),” and according to His manhood “the Father is greater than I.”(Jn 10.30; 14.28) This true and indestructible [p.61] Faith, dearly-beloved, which alone makes us true Christians, and which, as we hear with approval, you are defending with loyal zeal and praiseworthy affection, hold fast and maintain boldly.  And since, besides God’s aid, you must win the favour of catholic Princes also, humbly and wisely make request that the most clement Emperor be pleased to grant our petition, wherein we have asked for a plenary synod to be convened; that by the aid of God’s mercy the sound may be increased in courage, and the sick, if they consent to be treated, have the remedy applied.  (Dated October 15, in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes, 449.)

CAP. V.. Unde non Deum tantum dicimus Christum, sicut haeretici Manichaei; nec hominem tantum, sicut haeretici Photiniani; nec ita hominem, ut aliquid ei desit quod ad humanam certum est pertinere naturam, sive animam, sive mentem rationalem, sive carnem, quae non de femina sumpta [0872A] sit, sed facta de Verbo in carnem converso atque mutato: quae tria falsa et vana Apollinaristarum haereticorum tres partes varias protulerunt. Nec dicimus quod beata Virgo Maria hominem sine Deitate conceperit, qui creatus a Spiritu sancto postea sit susceptus a Verbo, quod Nestorium praedicantem merito justeque damnavimus; sed dicimus Christum Dei Filium, Deum verum, natum de Deo Patre sine ullo initio temporis, eumdemque hominem verum, natum de matre homine certa plenitudine temporis; nec ejus humanitatem, qua major est Pater, minuere aliquid ejus naturae, qua aequalis est Patri. Hoc autem utrumque unus est Christus, qui verissime dixit, et secundum Deum: Ego et Pater unum sumus (Joan. X, 30); et secundum hominem: [0872B] Pater major me est (Joan. XIV, 28). Hanc fidem, dilectissimi, veram et indissolubilem, quae sola veros efficit Christianos, quamque, ut intelligimus et probamus, pio studio et laudabili amore defenditis, perseveranter tenete et constanter asserite. 981 Et quoniam oportet vos post divinum auxilium etiam catholicorum principum gratiam promereri, humiliter ac sapienter exposcite ut petitioni nostrae, qua plenariam indici synodum postulavimus, clementissimus imperator dignetur annuere: qua citius, adjuvante misericordia Dei, et sanis fortitudo augeatur, et morbidis, si curari acquiescant, medicina praestetur.



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