"Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation be there also. Just as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would look upon the Lord Himself, standing, as he does, before the Lord. As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters. Be ye subject to the bishop as to the Lord, for 'he watches for your souls, as one that shall give account to God.' In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the Sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church. See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. He who honors the bishop has been honored by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Give ye heed to the bishop, that God also may give heed to you. Be ye subject to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons.” St. Ignatius of
"The church of God that sojourns at Smyrna, to the church of God sojourning in Philomelium - and to all of the congregations of the holy and Catholic Church in every place." St. Polycarp, "The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp," c. 135 A.D.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world." St. Polycarp, "The Martyrdom Of St. Polycarp," c. 135 A.D.
"The house of God is one, and there can be no salvation to anyone except in the church." St. Cyprian of
"There is no salvation outside of the church." St. Cyprian of
"The Catholic church is one." St. Victorinus, "Against Arius," c. 280 A.D.
"It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the Earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one end and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness and the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul and body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts." St. Cyril of
"Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian." St. Athanasius, "Four Letters to Serapion of Thmuisc," c. 360 A.D.
Printed with permission from Catholic Defense.