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Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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father's protection, as it were, and, above all, his sons. But they are not destitute whom he left as the heirs of his piety; they are not destitute for whom he gained the grace of Christ and the loyalty of the army, to which he was a proof that God cherishes devotion and is the avenger of treachery.

(3) Recently, then, we lamented the death of this prince, and now we are celebrating the fortieth day, with the prince Honorius assisting at the holy altar. For as holy Joseph performed the burial rites for his father Jacob during forty days, so this son also renders his just due to his father Theodosius. And because some are accustomed to observe the third and the thirtieth day, others the seventh and the fortieth, let us consider what the scriptural text tells us. When Jacob died, it says, "Joseph commanded the servant undertakers to bury him, and the undertakers buried Israel, and forty days were completed for him; for thus the days of the funeral rites are reckoned. And Egypt mourned for him seventy days" (Gen 50:2-3). Accordingly, the observance that Scripture prescribes is to be followed. In Deuteronomy, also, it is written that "the children of Israel mourned for Moses thirty days, and the days of mourning were finished" (Deut 34:8). Both observances, then, have authority because the necessary duty of filial piety is fulfilled.

(4) And so Joseph was good, who furnished the model for filial devotion, whom his father loved, and to whom his father said: "May my God aid you, and may he bless you with the blessing of the earth holding all things because of the blessing of the breasts and of the womb, blessings of your mother, and because of the blessings of your father" (Gen 49:2526). Joseph was the good offspring of a devoted father. So he, too, celebrates the fortieth day of his father, Jacob, that great supplantor, and we celebrate the fortieth day of Theodosius, who, after the exampie of Jacob, supplanted the perfidy of tyrants, who put away the idols of the Gentiles. For his faith removed all worship of images and stamped out all their ceremonies. He grieved, too, that the remission of punishment that he had granted to those who had transgressed against him had come to naught, the opportunity for pardon had been denied him. But his

THE IMPERIAL HOUSE sons will not refuse what their father granted, nor will they refuse, even though anyone should attempt to confuse or disturb them. Those who honor his grants to individuals will not be able to refuse what he granted for all.

(5) The death of so great a prince had in it nothing more glorious, who had already consigned all to his sons: his empire, his power, and the title Augustus. Nothing, I say, more splendid was reserved for him in death than the fact that while the promised mitigation of the necessary payment of the grain tax in some cases was delayed, his successor has become the heir of these indulgences, and the one who wished to prevent this has created ill will for himself. Nevertheless, the crown of so great a favor has not been taken away from Theodosius. And not undeservedly, for if the last wishes of private citizens and the testaments of the dying have permanent validity, how can the testament of so great a prince be considered void? Theodosius is also glorious in this, that he did not make his will in the ordinary manner, for he had no further provision to make for his sons, to whom he had given everything, except to commend them to a relative who was present. He was obliged to provide by will for all who were subject to him or committed to his care, so that he might discharge legacies and designate trusts. He ordered that a law of indulgence that he left in writing be published. What is more worthy than that this law be the last will of the emperor?

(6) Thus the great emperor has withdrawn from us, but he has not wholly withdrawn, for he has left us his children in whom we should recognize him, and in whom we behold and possess him. Let not their age disquiet you. The loyalty of his soldiers is the perfect age of an emperor, for age is perfect where strength is perfect. These characteristics are reciprocal, for the faith of an emperor also is the strength of his soldiers.

(7) You recall, I am sure, what triumphs the faith of Theodosius acquired for you. When, because of the difficulties of the terrain and the hindrance of camp followers, the army was deploying too slowly into combat position and through delay in offering battle the enemy seemed to be charging, the emperor leaped down from his horse and, advancing alone before the line, he cried out: "Where is the God of Theodosius?" He spoke thus when already close to Christ, for who could have said this except one who knew that he was attaching himself to Christ? By this cry he aroused all, and by his example he armed all. He was already indeed somewhat advanced in years, but robust in faith.

(8) The faith of Theodosius, then, was your vie-tory: let your faith be the strength of his sons. Faith, therefore, adds to age. Hence, even Abraham did not consider age when in old age he begot a son, nor Sarah, when she gave birth. And it is not astonishing if faith adds to age, since it anticipates the future. For what is faith except the substance of those things for which we hope (cf. Heb 11:1)? So the Scriptures teach us. Therefore, if faith is the substance of those things for which we hope, how much the more of those that we see? Good is the faith of which it is written: "But the just man lives by faith. But if he draws back, he will not please my soul" (Heb 10:38).

(9) Now, let us not draw back at the expense of our souls, but let us cling to faith for our soul's gain; for in this warfare of faith our elders, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, obtained proof, and thus they left us a heritage of faith. Abraham was faithful, who was justified not by works but by faith, since he believed in God. Isaac was faithful, who through faith did not fear the sword of his father as he was about to strike him. Jacob was faithful, who followed in the footprints of his father's faith and, while he was journeying, saw an army of angels and called it the council of God.

(10) Elsewhere, also, that is, in the Books of Kings we read that Elisha was in Samaria, and suddenly an army of Syrians surrounded and set upon him. Giezi saw them and said to his master: "O Master, what shall we do?" And Elisha the Prophet said: "Fear not, for there are more with us than with them." And he prayed that the Lord would open the eyes of Giezi. And his eyes were opened, and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots around Elisha. And Elisha prayed that God would strike them with blindness. And they were struck, and they entered into the city where they were going, seeing not at all (2 Kings '). Surely, you soldiers who have been surrounded have heard that where there is perfidy there is blindness. Rightly, therefore, was the army of the unbeliever blind. But where there is faith there is an army of angels. Good, then, is faith, which often exercises its power among the dead. Hence, our Adversary and his legions are daily hurled back by the virtue of the martyrs. So I think that the strings of the cithern are called fides' because, although dead, they give forth sound.

(11) Wherefore, we must strive more and more, lest while engaged in the tasks of life we be ungrateful, and let us bestow constant and paternal affection on the children of the pious prince. Pay to his sons what you owe to their father. You owe more to him now that he is dead than you owed to him while he was living. For, if among the children of private citizens the rights of minors are not violated without grave crime, how much more is this true in the case of the children of an emperor!

(12) It may be added: "Of what an emperor!" Of a pious emperor, of a merciful emperor, of a faithful emperor, concerning whom the Scripture has spoken in no ordinary manner, saying, "Great and in honor is the merciful man; but to find a faithful man is difficult" (Prov 20:6 [LXX]). If it is a great thing to find anyone who is merciful or faithful, how much more so an emperor whom power impels toward vengeance, but whom, nevertheless, compassion recalls fromtak-ing vengeance? What is more illustrious than the faith of an emperor whom power does not exalt, pride does not elevate, but piety bows down? Of him Solomon admirably says: "The threatening of an unjust king is like the roaring of a lion, but as dew upon the grass, so also is his cheerfulness" (Prov 19:12). Therefore, what a great thing it is to lay aside the terror of power and to prefer the sweetness of granting pardon!

(13) Theodosius of august memory thought he had received a kindness whenever he was asked to pardon, and he was more disposed to forgiveness at the

1 Ambrose is making a Latin pun between a musical instrument, the cithern (fides), and Christian faith (fides).

time when the emotion of his wrath had been greatest. A token of forgiveness was that he had been angry, and what was feared in others was desired in him, that he be moved to wrath. It was the relief of the accused that, although he had power over all, he preferred to expostulate as a father rather than to punish as a judge. Often we have seen men whom he was rebuking tremble when convicted of crime, and then, when they had despaired, we have seen them freed from the charge. For he wished to win them as a fair judge, not to crush them as a dispenser of punishment, for he never denied pardon to one confessing guilt. If there was anything that the secret conscience concealed, he reserved that for God. Men feared that voice of his more than punishment because the emperor acted with such modesty as to prefer to attach men to himself by reverence rather than by fear.

(14) It is said that the greatest of the philosophers granted immunity from punishment to those crimes that had been committed through anger, but the divine Scripture says better: "Be angry and sin not" (Ps 4:4). It preferred rather to cut off sin than to excuse it. It is better to find praise for mercy in an occasion for indignation than to be incited by wrath toward vengeance.

(15) Who, then, will doubt that he will be a powerful protector for his sons in the house of God? By the favor of the Lord, the Emperor Arcadius is already a robust youth; Honorius now knocks on the door of manhood, a little older than Josiah. For the latter, having lost his father, assumed the government and reigned continuously for thirty-one years. He pleased the Lord because, better than the other kings of Israel, he celebrated the Pasch of the Lord and abolished false religious practices. Asa, likewise, though still of immature age when he succeeded to the throne, reigned in Jerusalem forty years. When he was hard pressed by an infinite and innumerable multitude of Ethiopians, he had trust in the Lord that he could be among the few saved. Would that he had been as faithful during his course as he was devout at its beginning! For, one of the few saved and a victor, he afterward abandoned the Lord and asked aid from the Syrians and summoned physicians to cure a disease of the feet. Since he had received such great in dications of divine favor, he ought not to have abandoned his Helper but to have retained him. Therefore, the physicians did not benefit him, and as an unbeliever he paid the penalty of death.

(16) But their fathers, Abiam and Amon, were both unbelievers. Theodosius, however, was filled with the fear of God, was filled with mercy, and we hope that he stands before Christ as a protector of his children, if the Lord be propitious to human affairs. The merciful man is a blessing. While he assists others, he is mindful of himself, and by applying remedies to others he cures his own wounds. For he who knows how to forgive realizes that he is human, and he follows the way of Christ who, by assuming flesh, chose to come into this world as a Redeemer rather than as a Judge.

(17) Hence the Psalmist has said beautifully: "I have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer" (Ps 116:1). While this psalm was being read, we heard, as it were, Theodosius himself speaking. "I have loved," he says. I recognize his pious voice, and I recognize also his testimonies. And truly has he loved who fulfilled his duty diligently, who spared his enemies, who loved his foes, who pardoned those by whom he was entreated, who did not even allow those who strove to usurp his power to perish. That voice is of one not partially, but fully perfected in the Law, saying: "I have loved. For love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom 13:10). But let us hear what he has loved. When the kind of love is not mentioned, surely the grace of divine charity is signi-fled, whereby we love what is to be desired above all desirable things. Of this it is written: "You shall love the Lord your God" (Matt 22:37).

(18) Thus the good soul, on departing from earth and filled with the Holy Spirit, when questioned, as it were, by those who hastened to meet it as it rose to the high and lofty regions above, kept saying: "I have loved." Nothing is fuller than this, nothing is clearer. Angels and archangels asked repeatedly: "What have you done on earth?" For God alone is the witness of secret things. The soul kept saying, "I have loved," that is, "I have fulfilled the Law, I have not neglected the Gospel"; that is, "I have offered myself to death, and all the day long I am regarded as a sheep for the slaughter. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:38-39).

(19) The Lord Jesus also teaches in the Gospel that this commandment of the Law must be observed, when he says to Peter: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" And he answered: "You know, Lord, that I love you." And he said a second time: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" And again he answered: "Yea, Lord, you know that I love you." And when asked a third time, said: "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you" (John 21:15-17). And so his threefold answer confirmed his love and effaced the fault of his threefold denial. And here, if we seek, we find the threefold answer: '1 have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer. I have loved since he has inclined his ear to me, that in my day I might call upon him. I have loved because I have found tribulation and sorrow, and for the sake of my God I have not fled the dangers of hell but have waited that they might seize and find me."

(20) And beautifully does he say: "I have loved," because now he had completed the course of this life. Wherefore, the Apostle also says in the midst of his suffering: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice" (2 Tim 4:7-8). Great is the Lord who has given us the struggle, whereby he who has conquered merits to be crowned. "I have loved," he says trustingly, "because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer" (Ps 116:1).

(21) "I have loved" and therefore "he has inclined his ear to me" (Ps 116:2), to raise up the fallen, to quicken the dead. For God does not incline his ear so as to hear corporally but to condescend to us. He deigns thus to hear us and to lift up the substance of our weakness. He inclines himself toward us that our prayer may ascend to him. He who offers mercy does not need a voice. He did not need a voice who heard Moses, though silent, and he said that Moses cried out to him, although he did not speak, but was pleading with unutterable groanings. God also knows how to hear blood, for which no voice exists nor tongue is present, but it received a voice by virtue of the sacred Passion. It cried out in martyrdom, it cried out in the parricide that it suffered as a sacrifice.

(22) "I have loved," he said, and therefore, "with love I have done the will of the Lord, and I have called upon him not on a few, but on all the days of my life." For to call upon him on certain days and not on all is the mark of one who is proved, not of one who hopes. It is to return the debt of gratitude after the manner of those who abound in wealth and not from a spirit of devotion. And so Paul said: "Give thanks for all things" (1 Thess 5:18). For when do you not have something which you owe to God? Or when are you without a gift of God, since your daily enjoyment of living is from God? "For what do you have, that you have not received?" (1 Cor 4:7). Therefore, because you always receive, always call upon God, and since what you have is from God, always acknowledge that you are his debtor. I prefer that you pay your debts rather through love than as one forced to do so.

(23) Do you hear him saying: "The sorrows of death have encompassed me" (Ps 116:3)? "Still, I have loved the Lord even in the sorrows of death. The perils of hell have found me, not fearing indeed, but loving, but hoping, because no distress, no persecution, no dangers, no sword shall separate me from Christ." Therefore, he found tribulation and sorrow willingly, knowing that "tribulation works out endurance, and endurance tried virtue, and tried virtue hope" (Rom 5:3-4). As a good athlete, he sought the contest that he might gain the crown, but he knew that this was given to him not through his own strength but by the aid of God. He could not have been victorious had he not called upon him who helps contenders.

(24) Miserable man enters the contest to be victorious, and he rushes headlong into danger unless the name of the Lord be present with him, unless, when he fears, he prays, saying: "O Lord deliver my sour (Ps 116:4). Hence we have these words of the Apos-tie: "But I see a law of my flesh warring against the law of my mind and making me prisoner to the law of sin, that is in my members. Unhappy man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?

The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 7: 23-25).

(25) He is victorious who hopes for the grace of God, not he who presumes upon his own strength. For why do you not rely upon grace, since you have a merciful Judge in the contest. "For the Lord is merciful and just, and our God shows mercy" (Ps 116:5). Mercy is mentioned twice, but justice once. Justice is in the middle, enclosed by a double wall of mercy. Sins superabound. Therefore, let mercy super-abound. With the Lord there is an abundance of all powers, for he is the Lord of hosts. Yet there is neither justice without mercy, nor without the exercise of mercy is there justice, for it is written: "Be not overjust" (Eccl 7:16). What is above measure, you cannot endure, even if it is good. Preserve measure that you may receive according to the measure.

(26) Yet mercy has not impeded justice because mercy is itself justice. "He has distributed, he has given to the poor, his justice remains forever" (Ps 112:9). For the just man knows that he ought to sue-cor the weak and the needy. Wherefore, the Lord, coming to baptism in order to forgive us our sins because we are weak, said to John: "Let it be so now, for so it becomes us to fulfill all justice" (Matt 3:15). Thus, it is clear that justice is mercy, and mercy is justice. For if the mercy of God did not sustain us, how would we survive as infants in the very beginning when, issuing from the womb, from warmth into cold, from moisture into dryness, we are cast forth like fishes that a flood of nature, as it were, has cast shipwrecked into this life? Reason is lacking, but divine grace does not fail. Therefore, he himselfguards the little ones or, at least, those who humbly confess that they are as little ones.

(27) Good, therefore, is humility. It delivers those who are in danger and raises those who have fallen. This humility was known to him who said: "Behold it is I that have sinned, and I the shepherd have done wickedly; and these in this flock, what have they done? Let your hand be against me" (2 Sam 24:17). Well does he say this who made his kingdom subject to God and did penance and, having confessed his sin, asked pardon. He attained salvation through hu mility. Christ humbled himself to raise up all, and whoever follows the humility of Christ attains the rest of Christ.

(28) And so because Theodosius, the emperor, showed himself humble and, when sin had stolen upon him, asked for pardon, his soul has turned to its rest, as Scripture has it, saying: "Turn my soul unto your rest, for the Lord has been bountiful to you" (Ps 116:7). Beautifully is it said to the soul: "Turn," that the soul, tired out, as it were, with the daily sweat of its toil, may turn from labor to rest. The horse is turned toward the stable when it has finished its course; the ship to the port, where it is given safe anchorage protected from the violence of the waves. But what is the meaning of the phrase, "to your rest," unless you understand it according to the words of the Lord Jesus: "Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you as an inheritance from the foundation of the world" (Matt 25:34)? For we receive, as it were, an inherited possession, the things that have been promised to us, for God is trustworthy and does not withdraw what he has once prepared for his servants. If our faith endures, his promise likewise endures.

(29) See, O man, the grace of Christ about you. Even while you are harassed on earth, you have possessions in heaven. There, then, let your heart be where your possession is. This is the rest that is due the just and is denied the unworthy. So says the Lord: "As I swore in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my rest" (Ps 95:11). For they who have not known the ways of the Lord shall not enter into the rest of the Lord, but to him who has fought the good fight and has finished his course it is said: "Turn to your rest." It is a blessed rest to pass by the things of the world and to find repose in the celestial fellowship of the mysteries that are above the world. This is the rest toward which the Prophet hastened, saying: "Who will give me wings like a dove and I will fly and be at rest?" (Ps 55:6). The holy man knows this as his rest, and to this rest he says his soul must turn. Therefore was his soul in its rest, to which he says it must return. This is the rest of the great Sabbath, in which each of the saints is above the sensible things of the world, devoting himself entirely to deep and invisible mystery and cleaving to God. This is that rest of the Sabbath on which God rested from all the works ofthis world.

(30) Theodosius, now at peace, rejoices that he has been snatched away from the cares of this world, and he lifts up his soul and directs it to that great and eternal rest. He declares that he has been admirably cared for, since God has snatched his soul from death, the death that he frequently withstood in the treacherous conditions ofthis world, when he was disturbed by the waves of sin. And God has snatched his eyes from tears, for sorrow and sadness and mourning shall flee away. And elsewhere we have: "He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain" (Rev 21:4). If, then, death will be no more, he cannot suffer a fall when he is in that rest, but he will please God in the land of the living. For while man is here enveloped in a mortal body subject to falls and transgressions, that will not be so there. Therefore, that is the land ofthe living where the soul is, for the soul has been made to the image and likeness of God; it is not flesh fashioned from earth. Hence, flesh returns to earth, but the soul hastens to celestial rest, and to it is said: "Turn, my soul, to your rest."

(31) Theodosius hastened to enter upon this rest and to go into the city of Jerusalem, of which it is said: "And the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it" (Rev 21:24). That is true glory that is assumed there, and that is a most blessed kingdom that is possessed there. To this the Apostle was hastening when he said: "We have the courage, then, and we prefer to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord, and therefore we strive, whether in the body or out of it, to please him" (2 Cor 5:8-9).

(32) Thus freed from an uncertain struggle, Theo-dosius of august memory now enjoys perpetual light and lasting tranquility, and in return for what he did in this body, he rejoices in the fruits of a divine reward. Therefore, because Theodosius of august memory loved the Lord his God, he has merited the companionship of the saints.

(33) And to conclude my discourse by a kind of peroration, I have loved a merciful man, humble in power, endowed with a pure heart and a gentle disposition, a man such as God is accustomed to love, saying: "Upon whom shall I rest, unless upon the humble and gentle?" (Isa 66:2).

(34) I have loved a man who esteemed a reprover more than a flatterer. He threw on the ground all the royal attire that he was wearing. He wept publicly in church for his sin, which had stolen upon him through the deceit of others. He prayed for pardon with groans and with tears. What private citizens are ashamed to do, the emperor was not ashamed to do, namely, to perform penance publicly, nor did a day pass thereafter on which he did not bemoan that fault of his. Need I mention also that when he had gained an illustrious victory, yet because the enemy lay fallen in battle he abstained from participation in the sacraments until he recognized the grace of God toward him in the arrival of his children?

(35) I have loved a man who in his dying hour kept asking for me with his last breath. I have loved a man who, when he was already being released from the body, was more concerned about the condition of the Church than about his own trials. I have loved him, therefore, I confess, and for that reason I have suffered my sorrow in the depths of my heart and thought to be consoled by the delivery of a lengthy discourse. I have loved, and I presume upon the Lord that he will receive the voice of my prayer, with which I accompany this pious soul.

(36) "The sorrows of death have encompassed me, the perils of hell have found me" (Ps 116:3). For perils affect many, but remedies are found for few. A bishop participates in the perils of all, and he suffers anguish in all sinners. What others suffer he himself endures; in turn, he is freed when others who are beset with dangers are freed from them. I am crushed in heart because a man has been taken from us whom it is almost impossible to replace. Yet, O Lord, you alone should be called upon, you should be implored to replace him in his sons. You, Lord, the keeper also of little ones in this lowliness, save those hoping in you. Give perfect rest to your servant Theodosius, that rest that you have prepared for your saints. Let his soul turn from where it descended, where he can not feel the sting of death, where he knows that this death is not the end of nature but of guilt. "For the death that he dies, he died to sin" (Rom 6:10), so that there can no longer be a place for sin. And he will rise again, that his life may be restored more perfectly by a renewed gift.

(37) I have loved, and so I accompany him to the land of the living, and I will not abandon him until, by my tears and prayers, I shall lead the man to where his merits summon, unto the holy mountain of God, where there is eternal life, where there is no corruption, no sickness, no mourning, no sorrow, no companionship with the dead. It is the true land of the living where "this mortal body shall put on immortality and this corruptible body shall put on incorruption" (1 Cor 15:53). It is the great repose which fulfills the prayer of the living, a most glorious promise. Therefore, Psalm 116 bears the title "Alleluia." And, accordingly, above in Psalm 15 we have learned the perfection of man. But while the man represented there may be perfect, he still is subject to sin because he is living in this world. There above is true perfection, where sin has ceased and the beauty of perpetual rest has shone forth.

(38) We have Psalm 116 because it is the recompense of love. From this the Pasch of the Lord received its law of celebration at the fourteenth moon, since he who celebrates the Pasch ought to be perfect.2 He should love the Lord Jesus who, cherishing his people with perfect love, offered himself in his Passion. And let us so love that if there should be need, we shall not avoid death for the name of the Lord, we shall not have thought for my suffering, and we shall fear nothing, "for perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Sublime mystery of number, since the Father delivered his only Son for us all when the moon shone with the full orb of its light! For so is the Church, which devoutly celebrates the Pasch of our Lord Jesus Christ. As the perfect moon, she abides forever. Whoever during life fittingly celebrates the Pasch of the Lord shall be in perpetual light. Who celebrated it

2 The "14" refers to the late antique numbering of the

Psalms, in which Ps 116 was Ps 114.

more gloriously than he who removed sacrilegious errors, closed temples, destroyed idols? For in this was King Josiah preferred to his predecessors.

(39) Theodosius, then, abides in the light and glories in the assembly of the saints. There he now embraces Gratian, who no longer grieves for his wounds, for he has found an avenger. Although he was snatched away prematurely by an unworthy death, he possesses rest for his soul. There those two good and generous exponents of devotion rejoice in the common reward for their mercy. Of them it is well said: "Day to day utters speech." On the other hand, Maximus and Eugenius are in hell, as "night to night shows knowledge" (Ps 19:2). They teach by their wretched example how wicked it is for men to take up arms against their princes.3 And of them it is admirably said: "I have seen the wicked highly exalted and lifted up like the cedars of Lebanon, and I passed by and 10, he was not!" (Ps 37:35-36). The pious man passed over from the darkness of the world to eternal day, and the wicked man was no more, for through his wickedness he ceased to be.

(40) Now, Theodosius of august memory knows that he reigns, since he is in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and contemplates his temple. Now, indeed, he is conscious of his kingship when he receives Gratian and Pulcheria, his sweetest children, whom he had lost here; when his Flacilla, a soul faithful to God, embraces him; when he rejoices that his father has been restored to him; and when he embraces Constantine. Although Constantine was in his last hours when he was freed by the grace of baptism from all sins, yet, since he was the first of the emperors to believe and left after him a heritage of faith to princes, he has found a place of great merit. Of his times the following prophecy has been fulfilled: "In that day that which is upon the bridle of the horse shall be holy to the Lord Almighty" (Zech 14:20). This was revealed by the great Helena of holy memory, who was inspired by the Spirit of God.

(41) Blessed was Constantine with such a mother! At her son's command she sought the aid of divine

3 Maximus and Eugenius were usurpers.

favor in order that he might take part safely even in battles and not fear danger. Noble woman, who found much more to confer upon an emperor than she might receive from an emperor! The mother, solicitous for her son to whom the sovereignty ofthe Roman world had fallen, hastened to Jerusalem and explored the scene of the Lord's Passion.

(42) It is claimed that she originally was hostess of an inn, and thus became acquainted with the elder Constantine, who afterward obtained the imperial office. Good hostess, who so diligently searched for the manger of the Lord! Good hostess, who did not ignore that host who cared for the wounds of the man wounded by robbers! Good hostess, who preferred to be considered dung, to gain Christ! For that reason Christ raised her from dung to a kingdom, for it is written that "he raised up the needy from the earth and lifted up the poor out ofthe dunghill" (Ps 113:7).

(43) Helena, then, came and began to visit the holy places. The Spirit inspired her to search for the wood of the Cross. She drew near to Golgotha and said: "Behold the place of combat: where is your vie-tory? I seek the banner of salvation and I do not find it. Shall I," she said, "be among kings, and the cross of the Lord lie in the dust? Shall I be covered by golden ornaments, and the triumph of Christ by ruins? Is this still hidden, and is the palm of eternal life hidden? How can I believe that I have been redeemed if the redemption itself is not seen?

(44) "I see what you did, O Devil, that the sword by which you were destroyed might be obstructed. But Isaac cleared out the wells stopped up by foreigners and did not permit the water to lie concealed. So let the ruins be removed that life may appear; let the sword by which the head of the real Goliath was cut off be drawn forth; let the earth be opened that salvation may shine out. Why did you labor to hide the wood, O Devil, except to be vanquished a second time? You were vanquished by Mary, who gave the Conqueror birth. Without any impairment of her virginity, she brought him forth to conquer you by his crucifixion and to subjugate you by his death. Today, also, you shall be vanquished when a woman discovers your snares. That holy woman bore the Lord; I shall search for his cross. She gave proof that he was born; I shall give proof that he rose from the dead. She caused God to be seen among men; I shall raise from ruins the divine banner that shall be a remedy for our sins."

(45) And so she opened the ground and cleared away the dust. She found three fork-shaped gibbets thrown together, covered by debris and hidden by the Enemy. But the triumph of Christ could not be wiped out. She hesitated in her uncertainty. She hesitated, as a woman, but the Holy Spirit inspired her to investigate carefully because two robbers had been cruci-fled with the Lord. Therefore, she sought the middle-beam, but it could have happened that the debris had mixed the crosses one with another and that chance had interchanged them. She went back to the text of the Gospel and found that on the middle gibbet a title had been displayed, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Hence, a sequence of sound reasoning was established, and the Cross of salvation was revealed by its title. This is what Pilate answered to the Jews who petitioned him: "What I have written, I have written," that is: "I have not written these things to please you, but that future ages may know them. I have not written for you, but for posterity," saying, as it were: "Let Helena have something to read whereby she may recognize the cross of the Lord."

(46) She discovered, then, the title. She adored the King, not the wood, indeed, because this is an error of the Gentiles and a vanity of the wicked. But she adored him who hung on the tree, whose name was inscribed in the title; him, I say, who, as a scarab, cried out to his Father to forgive the sins of his persecutors. The woman eagerly hastened to touch the remedy of immortality, but she feared to trample under foot the mystery of salvation. Joyful at heart, yet with anxious step, she knew not what she should do. She proceeded, however, to the resting place of Truth. The wood shone and grace flashed forth. And, as before, Christ had visited a woman in Mary, so the Spirit visited a woman in Helena. He taught her what as a woman she did not know and led her upon a way that no mortal could know.

(47) She sought the nails with which the Lord was crucified and found them. From one nail she ordered a bridle to be made, from the other she wove a dia dem. She turned the one to an ornamental, the other to a devotional, use. Mary was visited to liberate Eve; Helena was visited that emperors might be redeemed. So she sent to her son Constantine a diadem adorned with jewels which were interwoven with the iron of the Cross and enclosed the more precious jewel of divine redemption. She sent the bridle also. Constan-tine used both and transmitted his faith to later kings. And so the beginning of the faith of the emperors is the holy relic that is upon the bridle. From that came the faith whereby persecution ended and devotion to God took its place.

(48) Wisely did Helena act who placed the cross on the head of sovereigns, that the Cross of Christ might be adored among kings. That was not presumption but piety, since honor was given to our holy redemption. Good, therefore, is the nail of the Roman Empire. It rules the whole world and adorns the brow of princes, that they may be preachers who were accustomed to be persecutors. Rightly is the nail on the head, so that where the intelligence is, there may be protection also. On the head, a crown; in the hands, reins. A crown made from the Cross, that faith might shine forth; reins likewise from the Cross, that authority might govern and that there might be just rule, not unjust legislation. May the princes also consider that this has been granted to them by Christ's generosity, that in imitation of the Lord it may be said of the Roman emperor: "You have set on his head a crown of precious stones" (Ps 21:3).

(49) On that account the Church manifests joy, the Jew blushes. Not only does he blush, but he is tormented also because he himself is the author of his own confusion. While he insulted Christ, he confessed that he was King; when he called him king of the Jews, he who did not believe confessed his sacrilege. "Behold," they say, "we have crucified Jesus, that Christians after death may rise again and, having died, may reign! We have crucified him whom kings adore; him whom we do not adore they do adore! Behold, even the nail is held in honor, and he whom we crucified to death is the remedy of salvation and by an invisible power torments demons! We thought that we had conquered, but we confess that we ourselves are conquered! Christ has risen again, and princes ac knowledge that he has risen. He who is not seen lives again." Now we have a greater struggle; now the battie against him becomes more furious. We have despised him whom kingdoms attend, whom power serves. How shall we resist kings? Kings are bowed under the iron of his feet! Kings adore him, and Pho-tinians deny his divinity! Emperors prefer the nail of his Cross to their own diadem, and Arians violate his power!

(50) But I ask: Why was the holy relic upon the bridle if not to curb the insolence of emperors, to check the wantonness of tyrants, who as horses neigh after lust that they may be allowed to commit adultery unpunished? What infamies do we not find in the Neros, the Caligulas, and the rest, for whom there was nothing holy upon the bridle?

(51) What else, then, did Helena accomplish by her desire to guide the reins than to seem to say to all emperors through the Holy Spirit: "Do not become like the horse and mule" (Ps 32:9), and with the bridle and bit to restrain the jaws of those who did not realize that they were kings to rule those subject to them? For power easily led them into vice, and like cattle they defiled themselves in promiscuous lust. They knew not God. The Cross of the Lord restrained them and recalled them from their fall into wickedness. It raised their eyes that they might look toward heaven and seek Christ. They threw off the bit of unbelief. They took the bridle of devotion and faith, following him who said: "Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Matt 11:29-30). Thereafter, the succeeding emperors were Christians, except Julian alone, who abandoned the Author of his salvation when he gave himself over to philosophic error. After him came Gratian and Theodosius.

(52) Prophecy did not lie, then, when it said: "Kings shall walk in your light" (Isa 60:3[LXX]). They shall walk openly, and especially Gratian and Theodosius before other princes, no longer protected by the weapons of their soldiers, but by their own merits; clothed not in purple garments, but in the mantle of glory. In this world they took delight in pardoning many. How much the more are they consoled in the other life by the remembrance of their goodness, recalling that they had spared many? They now enjoy radiant light, and, possessing far nobler dwellings there than they enjoyed here, they say: "O Israel, how great is the house of the Lord, and how vast is the place of his possession! It is great and has no end'' (Bar 3:24-25). And they who have endured the greatest hardships converse with each other, saying: "It is good for a man when he has borne the heavy yoke from his youth. He shall not sit solitary, and shall hold his peace because he has borne a heavy yoke" (Lam 3:27-28). For he who has borne the heavy yoke from youth rests afterward. Removed from the throng, he possesses a distinguished place for his rest, saying: "For you, O Lord, singularly have settled me in hope" (Ps 4:8).

(53) Lazarus, the poor man, bore the heavy yoke from his youth, and so he rests apart in Abraham's bosom, according to the testimony of the sacred text (Luke 16:20). Theodosius bore the heavy yoke from youth, since those who had killed his victorious father were plotting against his safety. He bore the heavy yoke, since he endured exile because of filial devotion and since he assumed the imperial power when the Roman Empire was overrun by barbarians. He bore the heavy yoke that he might remove tyrants from the Roman Empire. But, because he labored here, he rests there.

(54) But now let us come to the transportation of the illustrious body. You weep, Honorius, illustrious scion, and give testimony of your filial love by your tears. You are sending the body of your father on a long and distant journey, for it still lacks the honor of a tomb. But the patriarch Jacob, because of the necessity of liberating his people who were being oppressed by the dangers of a great and bitter famine, also left his home, though an old man, and hastened to a foreign land. When he had died, his body, escorted by his son, was brought in the course of some days to the sepulcher of his fathers. And nothing was taken away from his merits; rather, it redounded to his praise that having suffered the loss of his rightful home for the sake of his family, he traveled like an exile even after his death.

(55) You weep, also, august emperor, because you yourself will not escort the honored remains to Constantinople. We are both in the same situation. We all shall accompany them with due sorrow. We should all like, if it were possible, to go with you as an escort for the body. But Joseph went into a neighboring province. Here, many different regions intervene; here, seas must be crossed. Even this would not be laborious to you, did not the public welfare restrain you, which good emperors place before parents and children. Therefore, your father made you emperor, and God has confirmed this, so that you might not serve under your father only, but that you might have command over all.

(56) Do not fear lest the triumphant remains may seem to be unhonored wherever they go. This is not the feeling of Italy, which witnessed his magnificent triumphs, which, freed for a second time from tyrants, acclaims the author of her liberty. This is not the feeling of Constantinople, which for a second time has sent a prince to victory. Although she wished to retain him, she could not. She was indeed awaiting triumphal celebrations at his return and the tokens of victories. She was awaiting the emperor of the whole world, surrounded by the army from Gaul and supported by the might of the whole world. But now Theodosius returns there, more powerful, more glorious. Choirs of angels escort him, and a multitude of saints accompanies him. Surely, blessed are you, Constantinople, for you are receiving a citizen of paradise, and you will possess in the august hospice of his buried body a dweller of the celestial city.

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