Selection from Saint Lawrence Brindisi''s Hypotyposis of The Lutheran Church and Doctrine, translated by Fr. Vernon Wagner, OFM, Cap

"Holiness: The True Church Supports Monasticism & Religious Life" [written in the early 1600's by the Doctor of the Church, Saint Lawrence of Brindisi]

[from Section Two, Dissertation Two] ... Luther, consequently, in order not only to be like or equal to Arius, but to far surpass him, not content to lead out of monasteries many professed virgins consecrated to God and espoused to Christ, also took one of them, Katherina von Bora, a young woman of elegant bearing and of noble birth, and with a celebrated wedding took her as his wife, condemned the institution of monastic life as an invention of the devil, and violently attacked monastic vows both verbally and in writings as contrary to Christian liberty and the precepts of the law of God, the Gospel, faith, charity, and even contrary to reason itself. Therefore, vows made to God notwithstanding, since chastity is a commitment totally impossible of observance, by natural and divine and evangelical right all monks and nuns without exception should be free to contract marriage and devote themselves to sexual pleasure and having children.

Regarding monasteries in his book on Monastic Vows, he proclaims the following: “I want all monasteries to be rooted out, extinguished, and abolished and, in fact, that the Lord would sink them into the depths beneath fire and brimstone from heaven as he did Sodom and Gomorrah, so that not even their memory would remain, and then there would be no need to call down a curse upon them.” Speaking of the vows, he writes: “Monastic vows are ungodly, heathen, Jewish, sacrilegious, lying, erroneous, satanic, hypocritical, apostate, and even contrary to the examples of the saints.” That is clearly the case, if Luther wants to call Arians and Jovinians holy.

VII. On the other hand, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzen, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and other holy and at the same time very learned men were monks and had only praise for monastic life. John Chrysostom even called John the Baptist the first among monks: “As the apostles are first among priests, so John the Baptist is first among monks.” Elsewhere he writes: “Monks, consider your dignity. John is the foremost of your profession.” On the subject of monastic life in his letter to Eustochius, Jerome says: “Paul is the author of this life, Anthony its model, and, to rise to even greater heights, John the Baptist is its champion.”

After Christ, the preeminent founder of monks and cloistered religious was Saint Anthony, as Athanasius writes in his biography, for he established many monasteries which adopted his holy rule. Athanasius writes that these monasteries “were in the mountains like tabernacles filled with divine choirs of men singing, reading, and praying,” and that “they seemed to inhabit a boundless area, like a village separated from contact with the world and filled with piety and holiness.” With this holy man as its founder and due to the fame of his holiness renowned throughout the entire Christian world, immediately the order of monastic living was propagated and attracted immense interest so that it grew and spread outside Egypt into Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Pontus, Armenia, Mesopotamia, and other regions extending far and wide.

Saint Athanasius turned Egypt into a Rome of monks observing the rule of Saint Anthony, as Jerome recounts in his letter to Principia. Later, moreover, with Athanasius as its promoter, the Roman Church accepted the institute of monastic life, which was flourishing in the East with Anthony as its founder and promoter, into the city of Rome itself. From then on the Christian world in the West in no way shunned this sublime life of perfection and, as if instituted by Elijah and John the Baptist, accepted it with open arms. As Ambrose writes, Saint Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli, was the first in the West to attempt to unite monastic institutes with clerical life. Not long after, Saint Martin of Tours introduced monastic life into Gaul, and Saint Augustine into Africa.

According to Gregory Nazianzen in his Monodia, Saint Basil was a founder of a monastic institute, a great reformer, and a kind of restorer of monastic life to its pristine state. He was accused of this by heretics, as he himself writes to the Neocaesareans, but gave this in reply: “We are accused also of this, that we have monks, men desirous of piety, who have renounced the world and all the anxieties of this present age, which the Lord compares to thorns which impede the fruitfulness of the word. Those who follow this life are always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, and each one takes up his cross to follow God. I, moreover, would consider it worth my whole life if such accusations would be directed against me and I would have with me, under my guidance, such men as have up to now embraced this pursuit of piety.” Then he speaks about the monks of Egypt and Mesopotamia, whom he calls perfect and blessed men, who live their life in perfect conformity with the norm of the Gospel. He says that “those who prefer virginity to marriage and have embraced the evangelical life, subjecting the designs of the flesh to servitude and living in that mourning which the Lord pronounced blessed will be blessed in their choice wherever they may live on this earth.” How, then, can Luther say that monastic life is contrary to the examples of the saints, when many very holy men were monks and founders and institutors of monastic orders? Even Arius never spoke so deceitfully and impudently.

VIII. Luther, this man with a thousand ruses, did not like Arius with bold deceit seduce seven hundred virgins and a few deacons, priests, and bishops, and infect them with the venom of his pestilential doctrine, but instead Luther led countless clerics and monks and nuns away from Christ to the devil. He is the reason why Lutherans, taught both by his doctrine and moved by his example, have either torn down or profaned throughout all Germany countless monasteries both of men and consecrated virgins, totally destroying them and leveling them to the ground, and he has instilled such hatred for all monks in his Lutherans, that not even among the Turks are Christian monks so hated.

In Greece, in Asia, in Arabia from the mountains all the way to the Sinai peninsula monks of the institute of Saint Basil are permitted to live, where they have many monasteries and, in fact, very numerous monasteries with many monks and abundant flocks. In many places friars from the Franciscan Order who are called the Observants, are also allowed to live and work there. In the dominions of Lutheran princes, however, Lutherans will not in any way tolerate them. I am not simply saying that they may not live there but, in fact, that they cannot even pass through those regions and provinces nor travel within them. With their new gospel Lutherans have become more inhuman than even the Turks towards religious men of any order or institute whatsoever.

The Lutherans have also become more carnal and, if I may say so, more beastly, for even the Turks, as a matter of fact, have a kind of profession of chastity, as formerly the pagans had their Vestal virgins, who were bound by sacred religious rites to chastity. If they violated their vows, as Livy writes, Vestal virgins were put to death by the frightful punishment of being buried alive, because they had broken a vow given to the immortal gods, and by their incontinence they had badly influenced other virgins to prostitute their virginity and married women to pollute their marriage beds. Accordingly, it is very rare that Rome heard that a Vestal virgin had been violated. Cicero, in his De Legibus, has left a written account that one reason why there were Vestal virgins among the Romans was so that women would realize it was possible for chastity to exist in the nature of all women.

Just as formerly there was some profession of chastity among the pagans , so now among the Turks we find men, and not just a very insignificant number, who in order to serve God more fully and expeditiously according to the prescripts of the Quran, live without wives and profess a chaste and celibate life and, as Ambrose says, among the pagans themselves along with their temples and shrines it was customary to discover a venerable virginity, even though their piety has no merit, and there is no purity of intention, but in which only virginity of the flesh is proclaimed. And, he asks, should virginity be banned by the Church of God?

The new apostle, Luther, however, as totally holy as he was totally chaste, clearly has founded a church in Germany equal to his own holiness and chastity, more immoral than a Turkish sect, a church that is not Christian but Jovinian. In Luther we can readily discover a Jovinian recalled from the dead and restored to this world. As Augustine writes in his De Haeresibus ad Quodvultdeum, Jovinian was a monk who laid aside monastic life and taught many heresies. He especially taught a dogma, very ably refuted by Jerome in two books, that in the eyes of God virginity did not take preference over marriage and that marriage was on a par with virginity, even though he himself did not intend to marry. His heresy or madness, as Augustine says, was quickly suppressed and extinguished, lest it might reach the point where it could deceive certain priests, for it was only a certain number of promiscuous consecrated virgins attracted to the flesh by these appealing voices who married.

Luther, however, not only by his teaching but also by his example gave free rein to every kind of shameful disgrace against clerics, monks, and nuns consecrated to God, nor was he unwilling to allow anything which the mind found pleasurable. Luther confirmed this with his deeds. Having thrown off his monk’s hood, and having trampled underfoot his solemn vow of chastity, and having broken his promise made to the immortal God, casting aside all divine and human law and all natural shame, he publicly joined to himself in marriage a young woman vowed and consecrated to God and very fruitful. Only a few days after the wedding, she brought forth a child for Luther, as Erasmus of Rotterdam as a kind of herald of joyful news, writes to his friend Daniel Mauch Ulmann, saying: “Luther, in his search for happiness and acceptance, has laid aside the pallium of a philosopher and has married a young woman twenty-six years old of elegant bearing and from the noble family of Bora, but not endowed, and who already had ceased to be a virgin. And so that you may know that the wedding had a favorable outcome, just a few short days after the wedding song had ended the newlywed gave birth.” So our good Luther, more evil than Jovinian in contempt of chastity, exhorted all men vowed to God and all consecrated virgins to marriage.

Since, like Jovinian, Luther had incorporated into his teaching this paradoxical dogma, the figment of his intoxicated and unbalanced brain, bolstered with certain Scriptures very badly interpreted, perverted, and distorted, as is customary among heretics, he formed a church of new Jovinians, i.e. Lutherans, lacking any profession of chastity whatsoever, which contained absolutely none of those to whom Christ could say: They have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, or any of those of whom Isaiah could say: Thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who observe my sabbaths and choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters an eternal, imperishable name will I give them. He also wanted a church which would contain no woman of whom Paul might say: An unmarried woman or virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.

Luther wanted to return his Germans to that former state which they had before accepting the faith of Christ, when they lived without any profession or cult of chastity, virginity, and angelic purity, that divine gift to which they had been introduced by the Christian religion through the work of Saint Boniface, for previously Germany could not name even one virgin who had dedicated herself totally to God. However, after receiving the Gospel of Christ, Germany had flourished with very many virgins even among the most noble women who possessed admirable sanctity. posted July 6, 2020

"Church: Like Noah's Ark with Clean and Unclean Animals"
Words of wisdom from the "Apostolic Doctor": SECTION TWO, DISSERTATION ONE...

II. The Church, accordingly, is called holy as if that were its title and epithet, not because all its members are holy and only the chosen of God and no sinners can be found in it, as many of the new sects and dogmatists like to pretend, but because true holiness of life and doctrine can be found only in the Church. In the Church of God not all Christians are holy and righteous and, in fact, many are despicable sinners. Yet if not all are good, neither are all bad. The Church is somewhat like the ark of Noah in which there were found not only clean animals but both clean and unclean. It is like the Lord’s threshing floor where along with the wheat one finds also chaff: He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. The Church is that field of the Lord in which throughout the wheat there are weeds sown, which will be gathered together at the time of harvest and bound into bundles to be burned. It is also that net thrown into the sea that encloses all kinds of fishes but eventually only the good will be retained whereas the bad will be thrown away. It is that wedding feast where one can find also some without a wedding garment and, consequently, they will be cast into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. The Church is also like that group of ten virgins of whom five were wise and five were foolish. It is made up of all the servants who received talents from the Lord and among whom are some who receive their talent but bury it. Again the Church is the sheepfold of the Lord, in which among the sheep there are also goats that will be placed on his left on the day of judgment.

Still, even though not all Christians are holy, nevertheless, the Church remains that household of God, as Paul writes to Timothy: In a large household there are vessels not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for lofty and others for humble use. If anyone cleanses himself of these things, he will be a vessel for lofty use, dedicated, beneficial to the master of the house, ready for every good work. However, as I said, not all Christians who belong to the Church of God are saints, for many – alas, far too many! – are sinners, leading a life not at all in keeping with the name of Christian. Yet, only the community of Christians is called holy and referred to as a holy nation, a people of his own, for true holiness is found only among Christians. Outside the Church, it is true, a certain semblance of holiness and piety can be found, for even among pagans and heretics many will be found who, judging from their moral virtues and the uprightness of their lifestyles, might seem to be and might be said to be living a holy life, but as Paul says, they make a pretense of religion but deny its power, for without faith it is impossible to please God. Unbelievers who live virtuously, and there are many such who can be found even among the pagans, such as Socrates and men of that caliber, might best be called imitators of the righteous.

Among all humans only Christians are called holy, just as among all animals only humans are called rational, not because all humans use their reason and live and act in accordance with the prescript of right reason, since many lack the use of right reason, but because only humans have a soul endowed with reason enabling them to live and act in accord with sound judgment. Every human is called a rational animal not because each and every part of a man is capable of reason, for only his mind and intellect but not his flesh, nor his body, nor the vegetative and sentient faculties of his soul, are capable of reason. Every human is called a rational animal, therefore, because among all the animals man alone has a mind and intellect. In the same way, I say, among all human communities, only the community of Christians is called holy in Scripture, because true holiness among humans is found and can be found only in the true Church of Christ.

Just as in a rational man there are also many parts that lack reason, in the holy Church there are many Christians lacking in holiness. They live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit, and do not understand what pertains to the Spirit of God, for they are like those parts of a man which have no reference to his immortal soul but only to the body itself which is subject to death and decay. Again, just as a man, as long as he is a man, cannot be without a rational soul, so the true Church of Christ cannot be lacking the Spirit of Christ which sanctifies a man, since the Spirit was given to the Church to remain with it forever. He will give you another Advocate, Christ says, to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.

posted June 29, 2020 Feasts of Saint Peter and Paul