Greek Church Fathers

Greek Church Fathers (7)

Τετάρτη, 31 Μάιος 2023 19:08

A Brief Introduction to the Catecheses

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 katihisis agiou kyrillou St. Cyril himself gives us the date of his “Catecheses” as fully seventy years after the emperor Probus that is about 347 A.D, providing that he is accurate. The catecheses, or catechetical homilies (lectures), are genuine and are of the greatest interest, both for the history of the Christian faith concerning dogmas, and the true understanding of the liturgy and catechetical methods of the ancient Church.
  Undoubtedly, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is one of the most important sources we have for how the church celebrated the Divine Liturgy and Mysteries (see Mystagogical Catecheses) during the first few decades after the legalization of Christianity.
  In particular, in these 24 homilies, Saint Cyril instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church. In these homilies we find very strong insistence on the value and efficacy of the mystery of baptism as well as heavy emphasis on the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the mystery of the Divine Communion.
  They include an introductory homily, the “procatechesis”, followed by eighteen instructions delivered in Lent to those who were preparing for baptism, and five “mystagogical” instructions given during Easter week to the same persons after their having been baptized. They contain interesting local references to the finding of the Holy Cross, the position of Golgotha in relation to the walls of the Holy City, to the other holy places, and to the great basilica of the Resurrection built by Constantine in which these conferences were delivered in 348 A.D or 350 A.D. They seem to have been spoken extempore, in the first place, and written down afterwards.
  Briefly, the Catechetical Homilies are among the most valuable remains of Christian antiquity and especially for an Orthodox Christian they speak volumes of the continuity of the authentic faith throughout the centuries. According to Cyril, the faith is to be proved out of Divine Scripture. That is why his text is rich in scriptural references. Also, he gives us the canon of the Scripture according to his understanding (Concerning the Divine Scriptures, Cat 4, 33-37). It is noteworthy that at that time the canon had not been officially defined by the Church. Additionally, St. Cyril gives us an account of the heresies of the time (Concerning Heresies, Cat 6, 12-36).
In particular, the material of the Catechetical Homilies is divided as follows:

Procatechesis

Eighteen Catechetical Homilies to those who are to be Enlightened:

Homily 1. An Introductory Homily to those who had come forward for Baptism
Homily 2. On Repentance and Remission of Sins and Concerning the Adversary
Homily 3. On Baptism
Homily 4. On the Ten Points of Doctrine
Homily 5. On faith
Homilies 6-18. On the Articles of the Creed

And finally,

Five Mystagogical Catecheses:

Homily 1: To the Enlightened
Homily 2: On Baptism
Homily 3: On Chrism
Homily 4: On the Body and Blood of Christ
Homily 5: On the Mysteries. On the Divine Liturgy and Communion.

Saint Cyril’s Catecheses are included in Patrologia Graeca, Volume 33.

 

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Σάββατο, 01 Απρίλιος 2023 17:31

St. John the Chrysostom as a Pedagogue (3)

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Dr Despoina M. Kalogeraki, Bth, Mth, PhD

The Purpose of Agogi (Upbringing/Education)

Xrisostomos  The purpose of Christian agogi, according to St. Chrysostom is the act of shaping a child into an icon of God1. Thus, he exhorts the parents “to raise their children” as if they were raising “athletes in Christ”. He counsels them that though they live in the world (Gk κόσμος) they should teach their children το be pious from their first steps2.
  The purpose of Christian pedagogy is not secular and “from this world” (Jn 18, 36)· it is rather “Christocentic”, not man-centric but Godman-centric (as Jesus Christ who has two natures, human and divine)3. Thus, it goes without saying that the core of the pedagogy of St. Chrysostom has long-lasting power as it is derived from the divinely inspired Scriptures, the Word of God. That is why referring to a disciple he notes, “even if you have not a teacher to follow his advice you have Jesus’ Christ advice to follow… He is the perfect teacher to obey to”4.
  The enlightened father of the Church teaches that as the first human being was created according to the “image” of God (Gen 12:6), likewise every child that is conceived, bears the imprint of God on its soul. It is actually an image of God. This image however, was injured by sin. This injury is now to be healed by the pedagogy in Christ. A pedagogue’s ultimate purpose is to lead his disciples off any kind of sin. Thus, as we have already noted above, its value is priceless.
  Furthermore, it goes without saying that a pedagogue is not capable of intervening in the process of the creation of God as it is utterly God’s work. He can however, affect the willingness of a man in order to help him act according to God’s commandments. For, human’s soul “is not bad or good by nature”, on its own. To the contrary, one’s good or bad will makes a person a good or a bad human being5. Thus, the pedagogue, either a parent or a teacher, tries to cultivate children’s will and teach them to abstain from every kind of sin. And, as St. Chrysostom points out, this is where the great responsibility lies. So, it seems that with the proper education-pedagogy, nature is to be overcome6.
  Undoubtedly, St. Chrysostom has stressed the pedagogical role of both parents and family as a whole7. What makes somebody a father or a mother, he points out, is not only to give life to their children but to raise them in the proper way, namely in Christ8. Hence, parents have to transform their families to an “ecclesia=church” (Gk ἐκκλησία), which means a gathering of the faithful to worship God. In doing so, “fathers and mothers, by bringing up their children shall not lose their reward”9, he notes. He also develops what we would call today “parental counseling”10 underlining how much the sentimental environment affects the upbringing of children. One cannot expect much when a family resembles to “a ship, while being in a storm, the captain is arguing with the officer at the bow”11. For Chrysostom, marital life and upbringing of children is actually a kind of “a science”12.

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1.PG 62, 154. See also V. Tatakis, Studies on Christian philosophy, ed. Papadimirtiou, Athens 1967.

2. About vanity and how…, par. 19.

3. See Eph 4, 13.

4. Have you a teacher who is not virtuous? Still you have Him who is truly a Teacher, whom alone you should call a Teacher. Learn from Him: He has said, “Learn of Me, for I am meek.” (Matt. 11, 29.) Do not take heed, then, to your teacher, but to Him and to His lessons. Take thence thy examples, you have a most excellent model, to it conform yourself”. On Philippians, PG 62, 273. See Heb 12, 2.

5. On Thessalonians 2,4· PG 62, 478.

6. See also, About children’ upbringing, PG 63, 767.

7. “…fathers may be benefited by the virtue of their children, and mothers also, when they have brought them up well. But what if she be herself addicted to wickedness and vice? Will she then be benefited by the bringing up of children? Is it not probable that she will bring them up to be like herself? It is not therefore of any woman, but of the virtuous woman, that it is said she shall receive a great recompense for this also”. See On first letter to Timothy, PG 62, 547 .

8. Just like Anna raised Samuel. See To Anna…, Logos A΄, PG 54, 652-660. See also, On Maccabees…, Homily I, PG 50, 621 See also, To a widow…, PG 51, 329.

9. Ibid.

10. On Ephesians, Homily XX, PG 62, 146-148.

11. On first letter to Corinthians, PG 61, 153.

12. On first letter to Timothy, Homily IX, PG 62, 547.

 

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Κυριακή, 19 Μάρτιος 2023 18:10

St. John the Chrysostom as a Pedagogue (2)

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Dr Despoina M. Kalogeraki, Bth, Mth, PhD

The Value of Pedagogy

Xrisostomos  Pedagogy for the eminent father of the 4th century, is “an art above all arts” and “a science superior to all other”1. Every art is useful and every piece of knowledge is necessary. Nevertheless, to know how to form young people’ soul is the ultimate task. If a coppersmith or a goldsmith, St. Chrysostom explains, fashion their pots and vessels with great effort, the teacher, “has a far mightier craft (than theirs)”, namely, “he is beating into shape not vessels of gold, but the soul, which is more precious than all gold, even as the smith hammers out his vessel. For it is no material vessel that he is working at, but he is freeing their soul from all imaginations belonging to this life”2.
  Moreover, the work of a pedagogue is greater than the work of even, a king. For, the latter is in charge of ruling his town with justice, but the former is expected to lead the soul of youth, which happens to be not an ordinary town but a “golden town”3. Thus, the fact that the soul of a child is a “golden town”, makes the work of a pedagogue valuable and superior to all other professions. Besides, St. Chrysostom exhorts us, “you should consider everything of secondary importance in relation to the care of children”4. For, if we managed to solve all social problems but we failed to solve the issue concerning the pedagogy of children, we would succeed nothing. On the contrary, if we managed to take care of the upbringing of our children, there would be no unsolved problem5. Thus, for St. Chrysostom, the value of the agogi is as much as the value of the soul· and, needless to say, there is nothing equal to soul. For, it is written, “what will it profit (us) if (we) gain the whole world but forfeit (our) life? Or what will (we) give in return for (our) life?” (see Matt 16:26)6.
  At this point we should point out what we have already mentioned above namely, the fact that the basis of St. Chrysostom’s pedagogy is his theology. The prototype of the “good and virtuous” (Gk καλός κἀγαθός)7 that was set forth when John Chrysostom studied in Athens near famous teachers and philosophers, who happen to be idolaters, was not enough for him8. Ηis pedagogical ideas were not limited to the human categories. The task of agogi becomes priceless when one acknowledges the value of human life, the value of humans’ soul. Having as starting point that “humans are an icon of God”9 and they are worthy of honor “more than anything in God’s creation”10, Chrysostom as an anthropologist, underlines both the greatness and at the same time, the tragedy of human nature. He teaches that human nature can only be comprehended if proper attention to its origin is to be paid. All humans are God’s live icons. And among all people, children represent “the great legacy”11 that humans have. Hence, the task of pedagogy is the highest one· in Chrysostom’s words, “the art of the arts”12.

 

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1. For teaching (ruling spiritually) is an art, not merely a dignity, and an art above all arts. For if the rule of those without is an art and science superior to all other, much more this. For this rule is as much better than that, as that than the rest· rather, even much more”. See, On Corinthians, PG 61, 506· See also, St. Sakkos, “The art of the arts”Pedagogical courses by St. John Chrysostom, ed. Christianiki Elpida, Thessaloniki 2014.

2. On Acts, PG 60, 204.

3. About vanity and how are the parents supposed to raise their children 54, ΕΠΕ 30, 674.

4. On Ephesians, PG 62, 151.

5. Chrysostom, On Ephesians, PG 62, 151.

6. It has to be noted that in this article the NSRV edition of the Bible is to be followed.

7. See M. Siotis, Christianity and Humanism, Athens 1969.

8. The use of the phrase “καλόςκἀγαθός” is attested since Herodotus and the classical period. The phrase is adjectival, composed of two adjectives, καλός (beautiful) and ἀγαθός (good in the sense of virtuous), the second of which is combined by crasis with καί (and) to form κἀγαθός. There is thematic discussion of kalokagathia (καλοκαγαθία noun) in Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics (Book VIII, ch. 3 (1248b).

9. For if men for making statues and painting portraits of kings enjoy so great honor, shall not we who adorn the image of the King of kings, (for man is the image of God,) receive ten thousand blessings, if we effect a true likeness?”. See, On Ephesians, PG 62, 154.

10. On the Gospel of John, ΕΠΕ 14, 32.

11. On Ephesians, PG 62, 546.

12. On Corinthians, PG 61, 506.

 

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Παρασκευή, 03 Μάρτιος 2023 17:03

Biography of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

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 From the Book

The Catechetical Homilies of St. Cyril Archbishop of Jerusalem
Edited by Despoina M. Kalogeraki, Ph.D.
Published by Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki 2011

 

 Kurillos Ierosolumwn St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem and one of the “Fathers of the Church”, was born most probably in Jerusalem about 316 A.D, just about the time the emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire (313 A.D.) and reposed in peace probably 18 March 386 A.D, shortly after the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (381 A.D) which completed the Creed often known as the Nicene Creed. In the East his feast is observed on the 18th of March. Little is known of his life. We gather information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret.
  He spent his whole life in Jerusalem where was consecrated bishop of the Holy City of David about 348 A.D by Acacius of Caesarea. St Cyril was banished from his Jerusalem see a total of three times for his bold proclamation of faith in Christ’s full divinity during a time when many bishops and emperors were in favour of various forms of the Arian1 heresy. Being zealous for the Orthodox faith, he was exiled three times by the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens.
  St. Cyril attended the great Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D, the Second Ecumenical Council, at which Theodosius ordered the Nicene faith (the one of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D), now a law of the empire, to be promulgated. According to the Second Council of Constantinople Cyril proved himself to be one of the greatest fighters against Arianism.
  The extant works2 of St. Cyril of Jerusalem include a sermon on the Pool of Bethesda, a letter to the emperor Constantius describing a wonderful cross of light extending from Golgotha to the Mount of Olives, a cross which appeared in the air during the celebration of Pentecost in 351 A.D, four small fragments of other homilies of his, and the famous “Catecheses”, which are presented in this book and which are among the most precious remains of Christian antiquity.

 

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1. Arianism is the theological teaching of Arius (250-336 A.D.), a Church priest, who was deemed a heretic at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. and pronounced a heretic again after his death at the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. According to the heretic Arius, God the Father and the Son did not exist together eternally. The Son was not God himself but he was created by the Father in time.

2. See Patrologia Graeca 33, 331-1180.

 

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Παρασκευή, 03 Μάρτιος 2023 13:51

St. John the Chrysostom as a Pedagogue (1)

Γράφτηκε από

Dr Despoina M. Kalogeraki, Bth, Mth, PhD

 Xrisostomos It is a fact that St. Chrysostom, “the great ecumenical teacher”, as the Orthodox Church chants, has not written a, let us say, systematic pedagogical piece of work, in the strict sense of the word. However, if we were to study his hermeneutical works thoroughly, we would gather a treasure of teaching elements about pedagogy (Gk παιδαγωγία). He actually belongs to the chorus of founders of Christian pedagogy. Since his pedagogy is being based on theology, it has undoubtedly a timeless value. St. Chrysostom was not a philosopher1. On the contrary, he was a theologian whose teaching was first and foremost, a living experience. It is said that St. Chrysostom was the stubborn champion of assiduous Bible reading, even among the laity. This very fact makes his pedagogical principles part of his theology.
  Being an eminent pedagogue and, as a matter of fact, excellent connoisseur of human psychology2, St. Chrysostom with his teaching has introduced a timeless, integrated pedagogical system.
  The period that Chrysostom lived (344/354-407), was a rather difficult time in many aspects. That is why Christian teaching was accepted by people from every social class. During this very period, spiritual fathers of the Church, apart from St. John Chrysostom, having as a starting point the teaching of the Holy Scripture and simultaneously, based on the Holy Tradition (Gk Παράδοσις)3, have studied fundamental issues of the education (Gk ἀγωγή “agogi” meaning the act of leading), in other words, issues concerning pedagogy (Gk παιδαγωγία meaning leading young people-παῖδες- by teaching). Thus, the foundation of what we call “Christian pedagogy”4 has been laid by a number of Christian teachers of that period.
  All these enlightened teachers were inspired by the teaching of the foremost teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We also have to mention the pedagogical concepts of St. Paul5 who was the most eminent pedagogue in Christ (Gk ἐν Χριστῷ), as well. His teaching exemplifies the connection and interdependence between theology and pedagogy in Christ. For, as St. Paul confesses “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20)6. Thus, he is the one who embodies the teaching of Jesus Christ the Teacher and our Savior.
  Let us briefly refer to the pedagogical works of the teachers of the first Christian centuries, during which fathers of the Church have actually formed the pedagogical system of the Church. It has been accurately said that Christianity is a “religion of pedagogy”7. I esteem that it is a very proper characterization as its ultimate goal is to lead all people who are God’s children, to their final destination, namely near God. For, God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Tim 2, 4).
  Moreover, during that “golden” period of the history of the Christian Church, there were people who have written relative works. Firstly, Clement of Alexandria (2nd century), has written the “Pedagogue”8, Basil the Great (+379), John Chrysostom (+407), as an ecclesiastical teacher and preacher at the same time9, Jerome (+420) and St. Augustine (+430). Additionally, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386) has written the Catecheses10, St. Gregory of Nyssa (+394) and Kassianos the Roman (end of the 4th century)11 as well. All the above mentioned, have put together the axioms that form the Christian pedagogy, which is not a secular approach to the issue of counseling young people but an approach through the prism of Christian theology. These axioms and principles stay unchanged in our spiritual tradition and remain valid till today. Contemporary teachers, ascetics like St. Prorfyrius, Paisius the Athonite, Sofronios of Essex and many others have continued to espouse and underscore the principles of pedagogy that have been laid on the basis of Orthodox theology.
  Specifically, the pedagogical and phycological principles of the teaching of St. Chrysostom, are embedded in many of his pieces of work12 but there are some of them that would be of special interest to our subject matter13. Namely, homily “to a widow must be said that…”, homily “to Anna…”, homily 21st “on Ephesians”, homily 9th “on the first letter to Timothy”, homily 27th “about children’ upbringing”, Logos 3nd “to a faithful father”, homily 21st “on the Gospel of Matthew” and homily “About vanity and how are parents supposed to raise up their children”14.
  Let us have a look at some of John Chrysostom’s fundamental pedagogical ideas. We will explore some ideas concerning the value and the purpose of “agogi” and the profile of a pedagogue as well, according to Chrysostom’s pedagogical system. Examining these aspects of St. Chrysostom’s pedagogical ideas, we will witness the interrelation between theology and pedagogy in his thought.

To be continued

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1. As he actually notes in his exegesis “you teach by words? But this is easy, to philosophize in words: teach me by your life· that is the best teaching. You say that it is right to be moderate, and you make a long speech about this thing, and play the orator, pouring forth your eloquence without a check?” St. Chrysostom, On Acts, Homily XXX.

2. A. Danassis, Johannes Chrysostomos, Pädagogisch – Pshychologische Ideen in seinem Werk, PhD work, Bonn, 1971, Bouvier Verlag Herbert Grundmann. Also, see S. Seidlmayer, Die Pädagogik des Johannes Chrysostomus, München, 1923, Münster, 1926.

3. Gk ἹεράΠαράδοσις, meaning the teaching of the Holy Scripture as it is interpreted by the very life of the Church. There are four main sources, the Word of God laid down in the Holy Scripture, the definitions of the Councils, the liturgical texts and the writings of the Fathers. For the Orthodox Church, the Holy Scripture on the one hand and the Holy Paradosis (tradition) on the other are the two pillars of its faith.

4. J. Kogoulis, Catechetical and Christian Pedagogy, ed. Kyriakidis, Thessaloniki 1990.

5. A. Mpitsakis, The education of man according to St. Paul, ed. Gregory, Athens 1968

6. References from the Bible, as well as abbreviations of them (see pp. xxvii-xxviii) follow New Standard Revised Version of the Bible.

7. D. Moraitis, Pedagogical ideas of the three Hierarchs, ed. Gregory, Athens 1968.

8. Clement of Alexandria, All works, The Pedagogue, 1 EΠΕ, 112, ed. “Gr. Palamas”, 1992.

9. See P. Mpratsiotis, The revival of the Three Hierarchs through the centruries, ed. Ap. Diakonia, Athens 1972.

10. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses, ed. “Etoimasia”, Kareas 1991.

11. Abbas Kassianos, Talking with the fathers of the desert, ed. “Etoimasia”, Kareas 2004 (vol. A), 2006 (vol. B).

12. See bibliography

13. For the English translation in this article, Philip Schaff’s translation is followed wherever necessary.

14. Concerning this homily there is a dispute among the interpreters with regard to its fraternity. See D. Moraitis, John Chrysostom’s pedagogy, About vanity and how are the parents supposed to raise their children, Library “Papyrus”, n. 96, Athens 1940. With regard to the fraternity issue see pp. 3-20.

 

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Πέμπτη, 02 Νοέμβριος 2023 17:44

GOD’S LOVE

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By Saint John Chrysostom

 Jesus I am your father, your brother, your bridegroom, your home, the one who brings you up, your cloth, your root, your foundation. I am all whatever you may wish for, in order not to be in need of anything.
  I will be your servant too, for I came to serve, not to be served. I am your friend and member, your head and brother, sister and mother. I am all for you. Only stay closely to me.
  I became poor and a wanderer for you. I was hung on the cross for you, placed in the tomb for you. In heaven I pray for you to the Father. I was sent by my Father for your sake and I came to earth. You are everything to me, brother, and co-heir, a friend and member. What more would you ask for? Why do you turn away from Him, who loves you so much?

Saint John Chrysostom, On Matthew 76,5· PG 58,700


 sky God’s love united earth to Heaven. God’s love seated man on the kingly throne. God’s love manifested God upon earth.
  God’s love made him, the Beloved, surrender to death for the sake of his enemies, of those who hate the Son...
  God’s love didn’t stop here, but called us to more greater things. God didn’t only release us from our former evils, but promised to bestow upon us other much greater blessings.
  For all these things, then, let us give thanks to God, and follow after every virtue and above all things, let us with complete precision practice love that we may be counted worthy to attain the promised blessings.

Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Ephesians 9,4· PG 62,74-75

 

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Παρασκευή, 27 Ιανουάριος 2023 11:16

MESSAGES ABOUT “HOPE” FROM THE THREE HIERARCHS

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Messages about “Hope” from the three Hierarchs:
Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian

  3 ierarxes The three holy Hierarchs have been rightly characterized as the preachers of hope. In their wonderful writings they often refer to this subject, which nowadays is so relevant and necessary for everyone. Modern people experience insecurity and despair. The three saints Hierarchs can support and comfort us through the only "Living hope" of the world, Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Blessed is the one who rests his hope in God only and not to the hope that the world offers... (M. Βασιλείου, Εἰς Ἠσαΐαν 10· PG 30,549C-D) (Basil the Great, On Isaiah 10, PG 30,549C-D).

  2. God, the Holy One, promises to those who have their hope in Ηim, to give them a way out of sorrow. Therefore, despite the fact that we have reached the ultimate limit of evil, we do not abandon hope in God, but we try to discern the works of His helping hand (Μ. Βασιλείου, Ἐπιστολαί 242· ΕΠΕ 2,26) (Basil the Great, Letters 242· EΠΕ 2,26).

  3. Hope inspires courage for the future, even in times when what is seen leads to despair (Ἰω. Χρυσοστόμου, Εἰς Ψαλμούς 142· ΕΠΕ 7,380) (John Chrysostom, On the Psalms 142, EΠΕ 7,380).

  4. We may suffer a lot but we have a powerful hope. We face dangers and intrigues, but we have the Οne who saves us. He is not a human being but God Himself (Ἰω. Χρυσοστόμου, Εἰς Α΄ Τιμόθεον 1,2· ΕΠΕ 23,124) (John Chrysostom, On the First Letter to Timothy 1,2· ΕΠΕ 23,124).

  5. In my life, I rely more on You, Jesus Christ, for encouragement than on my own efforts (Γρηγορίου Θεολόγου, Ποιήματα ΟΣΤ΄, ΕΠΕ 10,396) (Gregory the Theologian, Poems 76, ΕΠΕ 10,396).

 

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