The Church Fathers and Holy Orders by Joe Gallegos
"Since therefore I have, in the persons before mentioned, beheld the whole multitude of you in faith and love, I exhort you to study to do all things with a divine harmony, while your bishop presides in the place of God, and your presbyters in the place of the assembly of the apostles, along with your deacons, who are most dear to me, and are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed. Do ye all then, imitating the same divine conduct, pay respect to one another, and let no one look upon his neighbour after the flesh, but do ye continually love each other in Jesus Christ. Let nothing exist among you that may divide you ; but be ye united with your bishop, and those that preside over you, as a type and evidence of your immortality."
Ignatius of Antioch,Epistle to the Magnesians,6(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:61
"For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, ye may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire."
Ignatius of Antioch,Epistle to the Trallians,2(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:67
"Be on your guard, [therefore, against such persons, that ye admit not of a snare for your own souls. And act so that your life shall be without offence to all men, lest ye become as 'a snare upon a watch-tower, and as a net which is spread out.' For' he that does not heal himself in his own works, is the brother of him that destroys himself.' If, therefore, ye also put away conceit, arrogance, disdain, and haughtiness, it will be your privilege to be inseparably united to God, for "He is nigh unto those that fear Him.' And says He, 'Upon whom will I look, but upon him that is humble and quiet, and that trembles at my words?' And do ye also reverence your bishop as Christ Himself, according as the blessed apostles have enjoined you. He that is within the altar is pure, wherefore also he is obedient to the bishop and presbyters: but he that is without is one that does anything apart from the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons. Such a person is defiled in his conscience, and is worse than an infidel. For what is the bishop but one who beyond all others possesses all power and authority, so far as it is possible for a man to possess it, who according to his ability has been made an imitator of the Christ Of God? And what is the presbytery but a sacred assembly, the counsellors and assessors of the bishop? And what are the deacons but imitators of the angelic powers, fulfilling a pure and blameless ministry unto him, as the holy Stephen did to the blessed James, Timothy and Linus to Paul, Anencletus and Clement to Peter? He, therefore, that will not yield obedience to such, must needs be one utterly without God, an impious man who despises Christ, and depreciates His appointments."
Ignatius of Antioch,Epistle to the Trallians,7(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:68-69
" I must not omit an account of the conduct also of the heretics--how frivolous it is, how worldly, how merely human, without seriousness, without authority, without discipline, as suits their creed. To begin with, it is doubtful who is a catechumen, and who a believer; they have all access alike, they hear alike, they pray alike--even heathens, if any such happen to come among them. 'That which is holy they will cast to the dogs, and their pearls,' although (to be sure) they are not real ones, 'they will fling to the swine.' Simplicity they will have to consist in the overthrow of discipline, attention to which on our part they call brothelry. Peace also they huddle up anyhow with all comers; for it matters not to them, however different be their treatment of subjects, provided only they can conspire together to storm the citadel of the one only Truth. All are puffed up, all offer you knowledge. Their catechumens are perfect before they are full-taught. The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures--it may be even to baptize. Their ordinations, are carelessly. administered, capricious, changeable. At one time they put novices in office; at another time, men who are bound to some secular employment; at another, persons who have apostatized from us, to bind them by vainglory, since they cannot by the truth. Nowhere is promotion easier than in the camp of rebels, where the mere fact of being there is a foremost service. And so it comes to pass that to-day one man is their bishop, to-morrow another; to-day he is a deacon who to-morrow is a reader; to-day he is a presbyter who tomorrow is a layman. For even on laymen do they impose the functions of priesthood."
Tertullian,On Prescription Against Heretics,41(c.A.D. 200),in ANF,III:263
"Since, according to my opinion, the grades here in the Church, of bishops, presbyters, deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel. For these taken up in the clouds, the apostle writes, will first minister [as deacons], then be classed in the presbyterate, by promotion in glory (for glory differs from glory) till they grow into 'a perfect man.' "
Clement of Alexandria,Stromata,13(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:505
"And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale? which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant's death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit. Having come to one of the cities not far off (the name of which some give), and having put the brethren to rest in other matters, at last, looking to the bishop appointed, and seeing a youth, powerful in body, comely in appearance, and ardent, said, 'This (youth) I commit to you in all earnestness, in the presence of the Church, and with Christ as witness.' And on his accepting and promising all, he gave the same injunction and testimony. And he set out for Ephesus. And the presbyter taking home the youth committed to him, reared, kept, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he relaxed his stricter care and guardianship, under the idea that the seal of the Lord he had set on him was a complete protection to him."
Clement of Alexandria,Who is te rich man that shall be saved?,42(A.D. 210),in ANF,II:603
"Why, moreover, should we not rather recognise, from among (the store of) primitive precedents, those which communicate with the later (order of things) in respect of discipline, and transmit to novelty the typical form of antiquity? For look, in the old law I find the pruning-knife applied to the licence of repeated marriage. There is a caution in Leviticus: 'My priests shall not pluralize marriages.' I may affirm even that that is plural which is not once for all. That which is not unity is number. In short, after unity begins number. Unity, moreover, is everything which is once for all. But for Christ was reserved, as in all other points so in this also, the 'fulfilling of the law.' Thence, therefore, among us the prescript is more fully and more carefully laid down, that they who are chosen into the sacerdotal order must be men of one marriage; which rule is so rigidly observed, that I remember some removed from their office for digamy. But you will say, 'Then all others may (marry more than once), whom he excepts.' Vain shall we be if we think that what is not lawful for priests is lawful for laics. Are not even we laics priests? It is written: 'A kingdom also, and priests to His God and Father, hath He made us.' It is the authority of the Church, and the honour which has acquired sanctity through the joint session of the Order, which has established the difference between the Order and the laity. Accordingly, where there is no joint session of the ecclesiastical Order, you offer, and baptize, and are priest, alone for yourself. But where three are, a church is, albeit they be laics. For each individual lives by his own faith, nor is there exception of persons with God; since it is not hearers of the law who are justified by the Lord, but doers, according to what the apostle withal says. Therefore, if you have the right of a priest in your own person, in cases of necessity, it behoves you to have likewise the discipline of a priest whenever it may be necessary to have the fight of a priest. If you are a digamist, do you baptize? If you are a digamist, do you offer? How much more capital (a crime) is it for a digamist laic to act as a priest, when the priest himself, if he turn digamist, is deprived of the power of acting the priest! 'But to necessity,' you say, 'indulgence is granted.' No necessity is excusable which is avoidable. In a word, shun to be found guilty of digamy, and you do not expose yourself to the necessity of administering what a digamist may not lawfully administer. God wills us all to he so conditioned, as to be ready at all times and places to undertake (the duties of) His sacraments. There is 'one God, one faith,' one discipline too. So truly is this the case, that unless the laics as well observe the rules which are to guide the choice of presbyters, how will there be presbyters at all, who are chosen to that office from among the laics? Hence we are bound to contend that the command to abstain from second marriage relates first to the laic; so long as no other can be a presbyter than a laic, provided he have been once far all a husband."
Tertullian,On Exhortation to Chastity,7(A.D. 212),in ANF,III:54
"To Flavius Philagrius, and to Flavius Palladius, Ducenary, Officer of the Palace, and Controller, and to Flavius Antoninus, Commissary of Provisions, and Centenary of my lords the most illustrious Prefects of the sacred Praetorium, these from the Presbyters and Deacons of the Mareotis, a home of the Catholic Church which is under the most Reverend Bishop Athanasius, we address this testimony by those whose names are underwritten:--Whereas Theognius, Maris, Macedonius, Theodorus, Ursacius, and Valens, as if sent by all the Bishops who assembled at Tyre, came into our Diocese alleging that they had received orders to investigate certain ecclesiastical affairs, among which they spoke of the breaking of a cup of the Lord, of which information was given them by Ischyras, whom they brought with them, and who says that he is a Presbyter, although he is not,-for he was ordained by the Presbyter Colluthus who pretended to the Episcopate, and was afterwards ordered by a whole Council, by Hosius and the Bishops that were with him, to take the place of a Presbyter, as he was before; and accordingly all that were ordained by Colluthus resumed the same rank which they held before, and so Ischyras himself proved to be a layman,--and the church which he says he has, never was a church at all, but a quite small private house belonging to an orphan boy of the name of Ision ;--for this reason we have offered this testimony, adjuring you by Almighty God, and by our Lords Constantine Augustus, and the most illustrious Caesars his sons, to bring these things to the knowledge of their piety. For neither is he a Presbyter of the Catholic Church nor does he possess a church, nor has a cup ever been broken, but the whole story is false and an invention. Dated in the Consulship of Julius Constantius the most illustrious Patrician, brother of the most religious Emperor Constantine Augustus, and of Rufinus Albinus, most illustrious men, on the tenth day of the month Thoth. These were the letters of the Presbyters."
Athanasius,Defence Against the Arians,76(A.D. 347),in NPNF2,IV:140
"The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatae, by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church's true baptism. Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted. We must, however, perceive the iniquitous action of the Encratites; who, in order to shut themselves out from being received back by the Church have endeavoured for the future to anticipate readmission by a peculiar baptism of their own, violating, in this manner even their own special practice."
Basil,To Amphilochius,Epistle 188:1(A.D. 347),in NPNF2,VIII:244
"Beware lest ever like Simon thou come to the dispensers of Baptism in hypocrisy, thy heart the while not seeking the truth. It is ours to protest, but it is thine to secure thyself. If thou standest in faith, blessed art thou; if thou hast fallen in unbelief, from this day forward cast away thine unbelief, and receive full assurance. For, at the season of baptism, when thou art come before the Bishops, or Presbyters, or Deacons,--(forits grace is everywhere, in villages and in cities, on them of low as on them of high degree, on bondsmen and on freemen, for this grace is not of men, but the gift is from God through men,)--approach the Minister of Baptism, but approaching, think not of the face of him thou seest, but remember this Holy Ghost of whom we are now speaking. For He is present in readiness to seal thy soul, and He shall give thee that Seal at which evil spirits tremble, a heavenly and sacred seal, as also it is written, In whom also ye believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,XVII:35(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:132
"Driven from this line of defence you will appeal to the example of the clergy. These, you will say, remain in their cities, and yet they are surely above criticism. Far be it from me to censure the successors of the apostles, who with holy words consecrate the body of Christ, and who make us Christians. Having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, they judge men to some extent before the day of judgment, and guard the chastity of the bride of Christ. But, as I have before hinted, the case of monks is different from that of the clergy. The clergy feed Christ's sheep; I as a monk am fed by them. They live of the altar: I, if I bring no gift to it, have the axe laid to my root as to that of a barren tree. Nor can I plead poverty as an excuse, for the Lord in the gospel has praised an aged widow for casting into the treasury the last two coins that she had. I may not sit in the presence of a presbyter; he, if I sin, may deliver me to Satan, 'for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved.' Under the old law he who disobeyed the priests was put outside the camp and stoned by the people, or else he was beheaded and expiated his contempt with his blood. But now the disobedient person is cut down with the spiritual sword, or he is expelled from the church and torn to pieces by ravening demons. Should the entreaties of your brethren induce you to take orders, I shall rejoice that you are lifted up, and fear lest you may be cast down. You will say: 'If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.' I know that; but you should add what follows: such an one "must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, chaste, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker but patient.' After fully explaining the qualifications of a bishop the apostle speaks of ministers of the third degree with equal care."
Jerome,To Heliodorus,Epistle 14:8(A.D. 379),in NPNF2,VI:16
"Despise not, therefore, the Divine laver, nor think lightly of it, as a common thing, on account of the use of water. For the power that operates is mighty, and wonderful are the things that are wrought thereby. For this holy altar, too, by which I stand, is stone, ordinary in its nature, nowise different from the other slabs of stone that build our houses and adorn our pavements; but seeing that it was consecrated to the service of God, and received the benediction, it is a holy table, an altar undefiled, no longer touched by the hands of all, but of the priests alone, and that with reverence. The bread again is at first common bread, but when the sacramental action consecrates it, it is called, and becomes, the Body of Christ. So with the sacramental oil; so with the wine: though before the benediction they are of little value, each of them, after the sanctification bestowed by the Spirit, has its several operation. The same power of the word, again, also makes the priest venerable and honourable, separated, by the new blessing bestowed upon him, from his community with the mass of men. While but yesterday he was one of the mass, one of the people, he is suddenly rendered a guide, a president, a teacher of righteousness, an instructor in hidden mysteries; and this he does without being at all changed in body or in form; but, while continuing to be in all appearance the man he was before, being, by some unseen power and grace, transformed in respect of his unseen soul to the higher condition. And so there are many things, which if you consider you will see that their appearance is contemptible, but the things they accomplish are mighty: and this is especially the case when you collect from the ancient history instances cognate and similar to the subject of our inquiry."
Gregory of Nyssa,On the Baptism of Christ(ante A.D. 394),in NPNF2,V:519
"Therefore the good of marriage throughout all nations and all men stands in the occasion of begetting, and faith of chastity: but, so far as pertains unto the People of God, also in the sanctity of the Sacrament, by reason of which it is unlawful for one who leaves her husband, even when she has been put away, to be married to another, so long as her husband lives, no not even for the sake of bearing children: and, whereas this is the alone cause, wherefore marriage takes place, not even where that very thing, wherefore it takes place, follows not, is the marriage bond loosed, save by the death of the husband or wife. In like manner as if there take place an ordination of clergy in order to form a congregation of people, although the congregation of people follow not, yet there remains in the ordained persons the Sacrament of Ordination; and if, for any fault, any be removed from his office, he will not be without the Sacrament of the Lord once for all set upon him, albeit continuing unto condemnation."
Augustine,On the Good of Marriage,24:32(A.D. 401),in NPNF1,III:412
"When a priest is ordained, while the bishop is blesing [him] and holding his hands over his head, let all the priests also, who are present, hold their hands close to the hands of the bishop above his head."
Council of Chalcedon,Canon 3(A.D. 451),in DEN,62-63
"As often as GOD's mercy deigns to bring round the day of His gifts to us, there is, dearly-beloved, just and reasonable cause for rejoicing, if only our appointment to the office be referred to the praise of Him who gave it. For though this recognition of GOD may well be found in all His priests, yet I take it to be peculiarly binding on me, who, regarding my own utter insignificance and the greatness of the office undertaken, ought myself also to utter that exclamation of the Prophet,'LORD, I heard Thy speech and was afraid: I considered Thy works and was dismayed.' For what is so unwonted and so dismaying as labour to the frail, exaltation to the humble, dignity to the undeserving? And yet we do not despair nor lose heart, because we put our trust not in ourselves but in Him who works in us. And hence also we have sung with harmonious voice the psalm of David, dearly beloved, not in our own praise, but to the glory of Christ the LORD. For it is He of whom it is prophetically written, 'Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedeck,' that is, not after the order of Aaron, whose priesthood descending along his own line of offspring was a temporal ministry, and ceased with the law of the Old Testament, but after the order of Melchizedeck, in whom was prefigured the eternal High Priest. And no reference is made to his parentage because in him it is understood that He was portrayed, whose generation cannot be declared. And finally, now that the mystery of this Divine priesthood has descended to human agency, it runs not by the line of birth, nor is that which flesh and blood created, chosen, but without regard to the privilege of paternity and succession by inheritance, those men are received by the Church as its rulers whom the Holy Ghost prepares: so that in the people of GOD's adoption, the whole body of which is priestly and royal, it is not the prerogative of earthly origin which obtains the unction, but the condescension of Divine grace which creates the bishop."
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D. 440-461],Sermons,3:1(ante A.D. 461),in NPNF2,XII:116
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