Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter I. Of the life of Abbot Daniel.
Of the life of Abbot Daniel.
Among the other heroes of Christian philosophy we also knew Abbot Daniel, who was not only the equal of those who dwelt in the desert of Scete in every sort of virtue, but was specially marked by the grace of humility. This man on account of his purity and gentleness, though in age the junior of most, was preferred to the office of the diaconate by the blessed Paphnutius, presbyter in the same desert: for the blessed Paphnutius was so delighted with his excellent qualities, that, as he knew that he was his equal in virtue and grace of life, he was anxious also to make him his equal in the order of the priesthood. And since he could not bear that he should remain any longer in an inferior office, and was also anxious to provide a worthy successor to himself in his lifetime, he promoted him to the dignity of the priesthood. 1286 He however relinquished nothing of his former customary humility, and when the other was present, never took upon himself anything from his advance to a higher order, but when Abbot Paphnutius was offering spiritual sacrifices, ever continued to act as a deacon in the office of his former ministry. However, the blessed Paphnutius though so great a saint as to possess the grace of foreknowledge in many matters, yet in this case was disappointed of his hope of the succession and the choice he had made, for he himself passed to God no long time after him whom he had prepared as his successor.
Nothing further appears to be known of Daniel than what is here told us by Cassian. There has been some discussion as to the action of Paphnutius in having him raised to the priesthood, as Cassian here narrates. Was Paphnutius really a bishop, or is it a case of presbyterian orders, or do Cassians expressions merely mean that Paphnutius procured his ordination first to the Diaconate and then to the Priesthood? Probably the latter, for (1) all the evidence goes to show that presbyters had not the power of ordination; and (2) there are many instances, in which it is said even of the laity that they “ordained” men to the ministry when all that can possibly be meant is that they “procured their ordination;” further (3) it will be noticed that it is not even said that Paphnutius ordained Daniel but merely that he “promoted” him to the priesthood; an expression which might equally well be used of nomination as of actual ordination. See the subject discussed in Binghams Antiquities, Book II. c. iii. § 7, and C. Gores “Church and the Ministry,” p. 374.
Next: Chapter II. An investigation of the origin of a sudden change of feeling from inexpressible joy to extreme dejection of mind.
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