Saint Optatus, Bishop of Milevum, Confessor, and one of the Fathers of the Church whose name occurs in the Roman Martyrology on June 4th. Listen carefully to his voice speaking from the fourth century; and apply these words to our present day crisis. Our Saint not only rebukes the errors of Donatism with spoken words. He is also well-known for his books against Parmenian, the successor of Donatus (Bishop of Carthage); Donatus who eventually spawned Donatism.
The Donatist’s already condemned at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325, are not meant to be the subject of this writing. Those who have ears to hear, I challenge you! Find, recognize the errors of past centuries than comparing them with this writing from an early edition of “The Lives of the Saints” dated 1864. You will agree, I feel,
that words and actions of yesterday’s Saints still hold true today.
The article quoted below states historical facts that the Donatists having gained the keepers of the treasury of the church of Carthage; got possession of the gold and silver chalices, other vessels and precious ornaments that belonged to that church, located in Carthage. Sounds much like a small apostasy happening then, but now much of the same continue to occur only universally.
St. Optatus who … Then proceeds to show that the Donatists cannot be the true church, “because,” says he, “in them where is the propriety of the Catholic name; cooped up as they are in one little part of Africa, in one corner of a single country? Whereas the Church is Catholic or universal and is spread everywhere.” He shows by several texts of the prophets this universality to be one of the essential characteristics of the Church. He adds as other marks, its unity, sanctity, and the chair of Peter, “which,” says he, “is ours; and by this, it is plain that we possess its other prerogatives.” He adds; “Peter sat first in this chair, and was succeeded by Linus.” He names the bishops of Rome from him down to Siricius, “at this day.” says he, “united in our fraternity, in which the whole world agrees with us joined in one communion.
St. Optatus often speaks of the holy oil and chrism and relates that “certain Donatists also caused a bottle full of holy oil to be thrown out of a window on purpose to break it. Though it was cast down from a very high place, yet being supported by angels, it fell upon the stones without breaking.” He says, “that the furious Donatist mob broke down the altars, which the Catholics had made use of: “on which he writes as follows: “What hath Jesus Christ done to you,” says he to the Donatists, “that you should destroy the altars on which He rests? Why do ye break the sacred tables where Jesus Christ makes His abode? You have imitated the crime of the Jews; for as they put Jesus Christ to death upon the cross, so ye have beaten Him upon these altars.” He then objects to their ridiculous inconsistency: “All the faithful know,” says he, “that linen cloths are laid upon the altars for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. The Eucharist does not touch the wood of the altars, but only the linen cloths. Why then do you break, why do you scrape, why do you burn the wood of the altar?
He passes to other accusations still more grievous and says: “You have also redoubled your sacrilege breaking the chalices which carried the Blood of Jesus Christ; you have melted them down to make ingots of gold and silver, which you have sold in the markets indifferently to every one that offered to buy them. O enormous crime! O unheard of impiety! The Holy Eucharist itself they threw to beasts, what could be more impious? Your bishops commanded the Eucharist to be thrown to the dogs, but presently visible tokens of the divine anger appeared; for the same dogs, being enraged, turned upon their masters, and with their avenging teeth, bit and tore those who were guilty of profaning the Holy Body!”
The saint also mentions with having compelled their sacred virgins to lay aside the veils which they wore, and the little mitres which they put upon their heads as signs or marks of their profession, and to wear mitres of another color, and another sort of linen.
Saint Optatus survived the year 384, but the time of his death is not known. >>>>>>>>>>>>>
Please think long on this last sentence of advice from the author of said article.
<<<<<<<<<<<Hence, the ancient fathers charge us not to make shipwreck of our faith. As we value our everlasting happiness and they took so many pains to point to the rocks upon which so many have split and to show the highway which Christ Himself has chalked out; which is His true Church. >>>>