St. Fulgentius of Ruspe
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Fulgentius of Ruspe (462-533) was a bishop of the city of Ruspe, a Roman province of North Africa, in modern-day Tunisia. In 499 Fulgentius set out to become a monk and applied to Faustus, a bishop who had been forced from his diocese by the Vandal king Huneric and later set up a monastery at Byzacena. Faustus tried to dissuade Fulgentius because his physical weakness made him a poor candidate for the rigorous life of the monastery. When Fulgentius persisted, Faustus admitted him on a trial basis. He was then forced to flee the monastery when a local Arian priest had the abbots arrested and tortured after learning the pair were preaching the orthodox Nicene teaching. In 500, he returned to Byzacena, where he built a monastery, electing to live in an isolated cell. Fulgentius’s reputation quickly spread, and he was offered a bishopric several times due to dioceses being vacated through the actions of the Vandal King Thrasamund, who was Arian.
Fulgentius became Bishop of Ruspe in 502, but he was soon banished to Sardinia with sixty other bishops who did not hold the Arian position. Pope Symmachus knew of their plight and sent them annual provisions of food and money. In 515, he returned to Africa, having been summoned there by Thrasamund for a public debate with his Arian replacement, but in 520 Thrasamund banished Fulgentius back to Sardinia. In 523, following the death of Thrasamund and the accession of his Catholic son Hilderic, Fulgentius was allowed to return to Ruspe and try to convert the populace to the Catholic position. He worked to reform many of the abuses which had infiltrated his old diocese in his absence. He died in 533.
- An Answer to Ten Objections
- Three Books to King Thrasamund
- Letter to Peter on the Faith
Quotes and Excerpts:
LETTER OF FULGENCE, BISHOP OF RUSPE, TO SENATOR THEODORE
Study your heart in the light of the Holy Scriptures, and you will know therein who you were, who you are, and who you ought to be. If you approach the Scriptures in meekness and humility, you will really discover there both the prevenient grace by which it is possible to be inspired to a beginning (1), and the concomitant grace, by which it is possible to continue a journey on the right path (2), as well as the subsequent grace, by which one is enabled to achieve the blessedness of the heavenly
LETTER OF FULGENCE, BISHOP OF RUSPE, TO FERRANDUS, A DEACON
I think, holy brother, that what we have discussed, confirmed by the word of the preeminent teacher Augustine, should leave no room for doubt at all, that anyone of the faithful becomes a participant in the Body and Blood of the Lord when in Baptism he
has been made a member of the Body of Christ; and, having been brought into the unity of the Body of Christ, he is not to be alienated from the assembly of that Bread and Cup, even if before he can eat that Bread and drink that Cup he depart from this world (4).
LETTER OF FULGENCE AND FOURTEEN OTHER AFRICAN BISHOPS
EXILED IN SARDINIA, TO VARIOUS OF THEIR BRETHREN
If the Word of God had become flesh in the Virgin in such a way that He had not been of her, without a doubt God would not have had the same substance of flesh from the flesh of the Mother, and His flesh would have been only channeled through the Virgin,
and then there would have been no sacrament of a Mediator to assist us unto salvation. for Christ the Son of God would not have united unconfusedly in Himself the full truth of the human and divine substances.
The human nature could in no way be sufficient and suitable for taking away the sin of the world, if it had not entered into a union with God the Word, and not in a confusion of natures but only in a unity of Person. For when the Word became flesh, in a wonderful union it made its own the nature which it took from us. But in the deifying and utterly marvellous union the divinity of the Word was not changed into flesh, and the true humanity of the Word held forthwith the true nature of our race. The Virgin,
therefore,-a matter to which attention must frequently be called,-both conceived and bore God the Word Himself, by the fact that He was made flesh in her.
For God, not restraining His mercies in anger (8), was made Man to this end, that whatever He had created sound in man, this same creation God might make sound again, assuming it wholly into Himself.  This was certainly a wonderful Person, having the natures of God and of man, but truly conceived and born according to the flesh, inasmuch as the Virgin, in an indescribable manner, conceived and bore the God of heaven, and remained inviolate, Virgin and Mother,-she, of course, is truly designated by the angel “full of grace” and “blessed among women (9), “_ because she neither had nor desired any commerce of man but, while retaining a virginity both of mind and of body, she received from Him whom she was about to conceive and bear the gift of uncorrupted fruitfulness and of fruitful integrity.
Just as the flesh does not have life of its very self, but receives it from the soul, so too man cannot have faith unless he receives it as the gift of God, the Donor. And just as for the flesh to live is the work of the soul alone, so too for man to believe is the work of grace alone; and just as the flesh can do nothing if it lacks a soul to vivify it, so too man can will nothing good if the assistance of grace is withdrawn from him. So that the flesh, therefore, may be able to live and operate, it is supported by the enlivening presence of the soul; man too, so that he may will or do what is good, is helped constantly
by the assistance of vivifying grace.
The law which is of creatures, and which is not able to justify a man because no flesh is justified by the works of the law (12), can be found naturally both in the hearts of the pagans and in the hearts of the unfaithful Jews; but since it is without the faith of Christ it can in no way justify those who follow it, but keeps them bound with a chain of impiety (13).
The grace of God unto faith and the beginning of a will to do good is given us, and help is accorded the will itself, so that what good it wills, that good may be done; for God, who created man, did Himself will, by His predestination, to give to those
whom He prepared, both the gift of illumination for believing and the gift of perseverance for perfecting and remaining constant, and the gift of glorification for reigning,-God, who does not bring to perfection of deed anyone whom he has not prepared beforehand in His eternal and unchangeable will. The Apostle bears witness to the reality of this predestination,
THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS (post A. D. 512 et ante A. D. 523)
[1, 19, 2]
Anyone who is outside this Church, which received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, is walking a path not to heaven but to hell. He is not approaching the home of eternal life; rather, he is hastening to the torment of eternal death. And this is the case not only if he remains a pagan without Baptism, but even if, after having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he continue as a heretic. For he is saved by the Sacrament of Baptism, whom the unity of love holds within the Catholic Church up to his passing from this present life.
[1, 23, 1]
From this Church even those who are involved in various errors outside the Church can receive the forgiveness of their sins, if, while they are still in this world, they will be converted to this same Church in a correct belief and in contrite and heartfelt humility. Let them hasten, then, while there is yet time, to their legitimate Mother, who diligenty sustains and nourishes the sons born of her womb.
1, 23, 2]
Let them abandon heresy and return quickly to the Catholic Church. Let them neither doubt the possession of their inheritance nor despair of the forgiveness of their sins.
For anyone who does not believe that within the Catholic Church all sins can be loosed deprives himself of the forgiveness of sins if, persevering in the same hardness of an impenitent heart, he departs from this world alienated from the Church’s society.
TO MONIMUS (post A. D. 512 el ante A. D. 523)
[1, 7, 1]
The evil are not predestined to do evil, drawn away and enticed by their own concupiscence (3); rather, they are predestined to this: that, against their will, they suffer justly. For the term predestination does not express some compulsory necessity (4) of the human will, but it foretells the eternal disposition, merciful and just, of a future divine operation. The Church, however, sings to God of mercy and judgment (5), to God, whose predestination is operative in man in such a way that by a hidden though
not unjust resolution of His will, He may either award a gratuitous mercy to the wretched or weigh out due justice to the unrighteous.
[1, 25, 4]
He foretold and promised a reward for the enjoyment of the righteous; He did not promise, however, but only foretold a torment for the punishment of the unrighteous. But neither did He predestine the wicked to the losing of righteousness as He predestined the saints to the receiving of that same righteousness, because the merciful and just Lord was able gratuitously to free whomever He wished from depravity. He was never the perpetrator of depravity, because no one ever was depraved except insofar as he withdrew from God. Nor did God predestine any to withdraw from Him, although the divine knowledge foresaw who would so withdraw.
THE RULE OF FAITH (inter A. D. 523-526]
From that time at which our Savior said: “If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven (10), ” no one can, without the Sacrament of Baptism, except those who, in the Catholic Church, without Baptism pour
out their blood for Christ, receive the kingdom of heaven and life eternal. Anyone who receives the Sacrament of Baptism, whether in the Catholic Church or in a heretical or schismatic one, receives the whole Sacrament; but salvation, which is the strength of the Sacrament, he will not have, if he has had that Sacrament outside the Catholic Church. He must, therefore, return to the Church, not so that he might receive again the Sacrament of Baptism, which no one dare repeat in any baptized person, but so that he may receive eternal life in Catholic society, for the obtaining of which no one is suited who, even with the Sacrament of Baptism, remains estranged from the Catholic
Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the Only-begotten God the Word Himself become flesh offered Himself in an odor of sweetness as a Sacrifice and Victim to God on our behalf; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the time of the Old Testament animals were sacrificed by the patriarchs and prophets and priests; and to whom now, I mean in the time of the New Testament, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, with whom He has one Godhead, the Holy Catholic Church does not cease in faith and love to offer throughout all the lands of the world a sacrifice of Bread and Wine. In those former sacrifices what would be given us in the future was signified figuratively; but in this sacrifice which has now been given us, it is shown plainly. In those former sacrifices it was fore-announced that the Son of God would be killed for the impious; but in this present sacrifice it is announced that He has been killed for the impious.
Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the Sacrament of Baptism is able to exist not only within the Catholic Church but also among heretics who are baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; but outside the Catholic Church it cannot be of any profit; nay, just as within the Church salvation is conferred through the Sacrament of Baptism upon those who believe rightly, so too, outside the Church, if they do not return to the Church, ruin is heaped up for those who were baptized by the same Baptism. For it is the unity as such of ecclesiastical society that avails unto salvation, so that a man is not saved by Baptism to whom it was not given in that place where it is needful that it be given.
“Hold most firmly and never doubt that the same Holy Spirit, who is the one Spirit of the Father and the Son, proceeds from the Father and the Son. For the Son says, ‘When the Spirit of Truth comes, who has proceeded from the Father,’ where he taught that the Spirit is his, because he is the Truth.” –Letter to Peter on the Faith
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