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Catholic Quote of the Day: St. John of Damascus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 04 December 2009 11:15
Arab by birth, Arab-speaking, and a high ranking administrator for an Umayyad caliph, Yu?ann? Al Demashqi, or St. John of Damascus as we know him, lived in a time and place that most western Christians find almost unthinkable.

It was the fact that St. John did not live under Byzantine Christian rule, but under Muslim rule, that made it possible for him to defend the use of icons so clearly and eloquently during the great Iconoclast struggles of the 8th century. St. John is considered to be the last of the Fathers of the Church and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1883. His hymns are still sung in Eastern monasteries today.

Meditate on this famous passage from St. John's On Holy Images:

"Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was never depicted. Now, however, when God is seen clothed in flesh, and conversing with men, I make an image of the God whom I see.

I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honouring that matter which works my salvation.

I venerate it, though not as God. How could God be born out of lifeless things? And if God's body is God by union, it is immutable. The nature of God remains the same as before, the flesh created in time is quickened by, a logical and reasoning soul.

I honour all matter besides, and venerate it. Through it, filled, as it were, with a divine power and grace, my salvation has come to me. Was not the thrice happy and thrice blessed wood of the Cross matter? Was not the sacred and holy mountain of Calvary matter? What of the life-giving rock, the Holy Sepulchre, the source of our resurrection: was it not matter? Is not the most holy book of the Gospels matter? Is not the blessed table matter which gives us the Bread of Life? Are not the gold and silver matter, out of which crosses and altar-plate and chalices are made? And before all these things, is not the body and blood of our Lord matter? Either do away with the veneration and worship due to all these things, or submit to the tradition of the Church in the worship of images, honouring God and His friends, and following in this the grace of the Holy Spirit."

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