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Widows and Orphans

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Widows and Orphans


Our widows must be sober-minded as touching the faith of the Lord, making intercession without ceasing for all men, abstaining from all calumny, evil speaking, false witness, love of money, and every evil thing, knowing that they are God’s altar, and that all sacrifices are carefully inspected, and nothing escapes Him either of their thoughts or intents or any of the secret things of the heart.

Ignatius: to Polycarp

Let not widows be neglected. After the Lord be you their protector. Let nothing be done without your consent; neither do you anything without the consent of God, as indeed you doest not. Be steadfast.

Shepherd of Hermas

Hear now what follow upon these; to minister to widows, to visit the orphans and the needy, to ransom the servants of God from their afflictions, to be hospitable (for in hospitality benevolence from time to time has a place).

You shall reckon up the amount of that day’s expenditure, of the cost of food you would have eaten on the day on which you intend to fast, and shall give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to one in want, and so shall you humble your soul, that he that has received from your humiliation may satisfy his own soul, and may pray for you to the Lord. -ibid

They that have the spots are deacons that exercised their office ill, and plundered the livelihood of widows and orphans, and made gain for themselves from the ministrations which they had received to perform. If then they abide in the same evil desire, they are dead and there is no hope of life for them. – ibid

Justin Martyr

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one placeā€¦ And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

Clement of Alexandria

And though maintaining parrots and curlews, they do not receive the orphan child; but they expose children that are born at home, and take up the young of birds, and prefer irrational to rational creatures.

There are also some now who rank the widow higher than the virgin in the matter of continence, on the ground that she scorns pleasure of which she has had experience. – ibid


Further, if we set down in order the higher and happier grades of bodily patience, (we find that) it is she who is entrusted by holiness with the care of continence of the flesh: she keeps the widow, and sets on the virgin the seal and raises the self-made eunuch to the realms of heaven. That which springs from a virtue of the mind is perfected in the flesh; and, finally, by the patience of the flesh, does battle under persecution.

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