This Father of the Church still speaks to our times
June 28 is the feast of Saint Irenaeus, a second century bishop who was well known for his opposition to Gnosticism. He is believed to have studied under Saint Polycarp, a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.
In his best-known work, Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), Saint Irenaeus artfully refutes the arguments of Gnosticism using both philosophy and scripture. He also used apostolic succession to prove the authenticity of the Catholic Church’s teachings, pointing out how heresies cannot be traced to the apostles.
On account of his close connection to the apostles, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Anglicans and even some Lutherans venerate Saint Irenaeus.
To help us appreciate this “Church Father,” here are ten inspiring quotes from a bishop who was not far removed from the apostles:
- “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
- “One should not seek among others the truth that can be easily gotten from the Church. For in her, as in a rich treasury, the apostles have placed all that pertains to truth, so that everyone can drink this beverage of life. She is the door of life.”
- “The business of the Christian is nothing else but to be ever preparing for death.”
- “Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than truth itself.”
- “Through a tree we were made debtors to God; so through a tree we have our debt canceled.”
- “The preaching of the Church truly continues without change and is everywhere the same. It has the testimony of the Prophets and Apostles and all their disciples.”
- “Prior to Valentinus, those who follow Valentinus had no existence. Nor did those from Marcion exist before Marcion. Nor, in short, did any of those malignant-minded people, whom I have listed above, have any existence previous to the initiators and inventors of their perversity.”
- “He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man … might become the son of God.”
- The womb of our Immaculate Mother Mary is “wholly untouched, not dug nor sown, from heaven’s dew alone, it brings forth a Savior, and provides mortal men with the Bread of angels and the food of eternal life.”
- “Just as bread from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, made up of two elements, one earthly and one heavenly, so also our bodies, in receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, for they have the hope of resurrection.”