Gerusalemme Liberata continues, as Armida finishes Phase 1 of her plan and moves on to Phase 2.
“On the Lapsed” concludes with some scary stories about receiving the Eucharist unworthily, more praise of the martyrs, and a moving call to repentance for the whole community.
I should probably explain a couple things, though. The “peace” from the martyrs was a custom where people asked those about to get martyred to forgive them their sins against them. This was fine, but it grew into asking the martyrs to forgive all their sins, and then to martyrs signing “Get Out of Sins Free, Do Not Pass the Priest, Do Not Do Penance” cards that said the martyr had forgiven X his sins, so X should be admitted to communion in all Christian communities. And then, there were the martyrs who forgave and then got spared martyrdom. (Oops.) So Bishop Cyprian is reining this in, and telling people to go confess to their priests instead, as is normal. (Even if they’ll also have to do the normal huge amount of penance for a huge sin.)
The certificates Cyprian refer to were some kind of signed affidavit that the bearer had made a sacrifice to the Emperor and wasn’t a Christian. Apparently, Cyprian wasn’t enamored of the fake ID method of avoiding persecution.
(Read the Catholic Encyclopedia for the details on both kinds of papers.)
Btw, Cyprian wasn’t martyred in this persecution, because he “withdrew” from Carthage, as he advocates to others. But he was martyred in a later one, and the people of North Africa were very proud of him.
“Treatise III: On the Lapsed” was written immediately after a nasty period of Roman persecution. But the most discouraging thing for poor Bishop Cyprian was how many of his flock hurried to sacrifice to idols so as to keep their homes and businesses.
This is highly topical, given what happened to poor Centanni and Wiig. Thanks to Mike Aquilina for suggesting it.
Expect the concluding part tonight.
Against Heresies continues as Irenaeus keeps pointing out that, if the Gnostics are going to claim that the Demiurge is the Creator of everything on Earth, including the Gnostics, they can hardly go around saying that the Demiurge has only an animal nature while Gnostics like them are spiritual beings.
Irenaeus also begs God’s forgiveness for descending to the Gnostics’ level enough to argue with them on their own terms, and opines that there isn’t enough hellebore on earth to purge their bowels of foolishness. Yeah, I think this particular theory gets on the good saint’s nerves.
Against Heresies continues as Irenaeus finishes off his comments on the uselessness of numerology for theological inquiry, and then breaks it to us that nobody but God is ever going to know and understand everything about Scripture or things of the spirit. Especially since the most modern science doesn’t know everything about ordinary Earth stuff going on all around us. (He must’ve been really interested to know how tides work, ’cause he keeps bringing that up!)
Chs. 26-28: “Knowledge Puffeth Up, But Love Edifieth.” Proper Mode of Interpreting Parables and Obscure Passages of Scripture. Perfect Knowledge Cannot Be Attained in the Present Life: Many Questions Must Be Submissively Left in the Hands of God.