HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE emperor was deeply grieved at finding that all his efforts to secure the predominance of Paganism were utterly ineffectual: for, although the gates of the temples were kept open, although sacrifices were offered, and the observance of ancient festivals restored in all the cities, yet he was far from being satisfied; for he could plainly foresee that, on the withdrawal of his influence, a change in the whole aspect of affairs would speedily take place. He was particularly chagrined on discovering that the wives, children, and servants of many of the Pagan priests had been converted to Christianity. On reflecting that one main support of the Christian religion was the virtuous course of life of its professors, he determined to introduce into the Pagan temples the order and discipline of Christianity, to institute various orders and degrees of ministry, to appoint readers, and teachers to give instruction in Pagan doctrines, and to command that prayers should be offered on certain days at stated hours. He, moreover, resolved to found monasteries for the accommodation of men and women who desired to live in philosophical retirement, as likewise hospitals for the relief of strangers and of the poor, and for other philanthropical purposes. He wished to introduce among the Pagans the Christian system of penance for voluntary and involuntary transgressions: but the point of ecclesiastical discipline which he chiefly admired, and desired to establish among the Pagans, was the custom of the bishops to give letters of recommendation to those who travelled to foreign lands, wherein they commended them to the hospitality and kindness of other bishops, in all places, and under all contingencies. In this way did Julian strive to engraft the customs of Christianity upon Paganism. But if what I have stated appears to be incredible, I need not go far in search of proofs to corroborate my assertions; for I can produce a letter, written by the emperor himself on the subject. He writes as follows:—

“To Arsacius, High Priest of Galatia.

“Paganism has not yet reached the degree of prosperity that might be desired, owing to the conduct of its votaries. The worship of the gods, however, is conducted on the grandest and most magnificent scale, so far exceeding our very hopes and expectations, that no one could have dared to look for so surprising a change as that which we have witnessed within a very short space of time. But are we to rest satisfied with what has been already effected? Ought we not rather to consider that the progress of Christianity has been principally owing to the humanity evinced by Christians towards strangers, to the reverence they have manifested towards the dead, and to the delusive gravity which they have assumed in their conduct and deportment. It is requisite that each of us should be diligent in the discharge of duty: I do not refer to you alone, as that would not suffice, but to all the priests of Galatia. You must either put them to shame, or try the power of persuasion, or else deprive them of their sacerdotal offices, if they do not, with their wives, their children, and their servants, join in the service of the gods, or if they permit their wives or their sons to disregard the gods, and to prefer impiety to piety. Exhort them not to frequent theatres, not to drink at taverns, and not to engage in any trade, or practise any nefarious art. Honour those who yield to your remonstrances, and expel those who disregard them. Establish hospitals in every city, so that strangers from neighbouring and foreign countries may reap the benefit of our philanthropy, according to their respective need. I have provided means to meet the necessary expenditure, and have issued directions throughout the whole of Galatia, that you should be furnished annually with thirty thousand bushels of corn, and sixty thousand measures of wine, of which the fifth part is to be devoted to the support of the poor who attend upon the priests; and the rest is to be distributed among strangers and our own poor. For, while there are no persons in need among the Jews, and while even the impious Galileans provide, not only for those of their own party who are in want, but also for those who hold with us, it would indeed be disgraceful if we were to allow our own people to suffer from poverty. Teach the Pagans to co-operate in this work of benevolence, and let the first-fruits of the towns be offered to the gods. Habituate them to the exercise of this liberality, by showing them how such conduct is sanctioned by the practice of remote antiquity; for Homer represents Eumæus as saying,—

‘It never was our guise,

To slight the poor, or aught humane despise;

For Jove unfolds our hospitable door,

’Tis Jove that sends the stranger and the poor.’

“Let us not permit others to excel us in piety; let us not dishonour ourselves, nor the service of the gods by our negligence. If I hear that you act according to my directions, I shall rejoice exceedingly. Do not often visit the governors at their own houses, but write to them frequently. When they enter the city, let no priest go to meet them; and let not the priest accompany them further than the vestibule when they repair to the temple of the gods: neither let any soldiers march before them on such occasions; but let those follow them who will. As soon as they have entered within the gates of the temple, they are but private individuals; for there it is your duty, as you well know, to preside, according to the divine decree. Those who humbly conform to this law manifest that they possess true religion; whereas those who contemn it are proud and vainglorious. I am ready to render assistance to the inhabitants of Pessena, provided that they will propitiate the mother of the gods; but, if they neglect this duty, they will incur my utmost displeasure.

‘It is not right for me to show compassion

Towards those with whom the immortal gods are at enmity.’

“Convince them, therefore, that if they desire my assistance, they must offer up supplications to the mother of the gods.”








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com