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Category: Fathers of the Church

From 2014 to 2017, Thomas V. Mirus wrote on the Church Fathers up to the 3rd century Alexandrians. Patristics is now presented in Mike Aquilina’s podcast, Way of the Fathers.

Church Fathers: The Lesser Alexandrians

Though Clement and Origen were by far the most important members of the School of Alexandria, a number of other associated figures from the third and early fourth centuries are worth mentioning. Their writings are only extant in fragments, if at all. Ammonius was probably a contemporary of...

Church Fathers: Origen’s Theology

It is appropriate to begin this brief summary of Origen’s theology with a reminder that many of the more imaginative aspects of his “doctrine” were presented as his personal speculation and distinguished from the truths taught by the universal Church which all were obligated to...

Church Fathers: Origen’s Works

Origen’s prodigious literary output was encouraged by his wealthy friends, in particular one Ambrose whom he had converted from Valentinianism. Out of his own pocket, this benefactor stationed in Origen’s lecture room “more than seven shorthand-writers, who relieved each other at...

Church Fathers: Origen's Life and Legacy

At last we come to Origen, surely the most titanic intellectual figure of the first three centuries of Christianity after St. Paul. In the breadth of his writings and in the depth of his influence, he is equaled by few among the Church Fathers. He brought the catechetical school of Alexandria to...

Church Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Part II

In the previous article I gave an overview of the life and works of Clement of Alexandria, the head of the catechetical school of that city. He set out a new speculative path in theology, one which used philosophy both for preparatory study and as a tool for developing new insights. Now I will...

Church Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Part I

Clement was the first great writer of the catechetical school of Alexandria, a city which under his influence became the intellectual center of Christianity. It was he who first made philosophy the handmaid of theology. Quasten calls him the “pioneer of Christian scholarship” and...

Church Fathers: The Third Century and the School of Alexandria

The situation of Christianity in its third century was quite different from the second. The old paganism was in decline, not just because of the spread of Christian faith but because of other shifts in Greco-Roman culture. A number of new cults appeared as a result of encounters with Eastern...

Church Fathers: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Part II

The previous article introduced the figure of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, “father of Catholic theology,” and gave an overview of his surviving texts, most notably the five-volume work

Church Fathers: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Part I

As we have seen, the problem of heresy became an increasingly pressing issue for Christians towards the end of the second century. Popes and bishops excommunicated the inventors and adherents of heresies and wrote pastoral letters warning the faithful. Among these protectors of the flock were the...

Church Fathers: Background on Heresies

We are reaching a point in the history of Christianity at which combatting heresy becomes a principal concern of ecclesiastical writers. We will soon be looking, for instance, at St. Irenaeus, whose status as the most important theologian of the second century is due largely to his massive work...

Church Fathers: The Other Greek Apologists

We know the names and some of the works of several other second century Greek Christian writers besides those covered in the preceding two installments. Though all of these explained and defended the Faith as did St. Justin Martyr, either they were writers of lesser power and reliability or their...

Church Fathers: St. Justin Martyr

St. Justin Martyr, generally considered the most important of the Greek apologists, was born between 100 and 110, the son of a pagan Priscus in Flavia Neapolis, Palestine. Justin tells us in his own writings that as a young man, he dallied with a few different schools of philosophy, yet found...

Church Fathers: Introduction to the Greek Apologists

Parallel with the increasing influence of Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism, the second century saw, along with sporadic State persecutions and anti-Christian riots, the publication of numerous works of anti-Christian literature. While Christianity would in subsequent centuries be...

Church Fathers: The Shepherd of Hermas

The Shepherd (or Pastor) of Hermas, an important second-century Christian text, is categorized as an apocryphal apocalypse; it consists of a series of visions urging repentance and penance in preparation for the end times. It contains of three books containing five Visions, twelve...

Church Fathers: St. Polycarp and St. Papias

St. Polycarp, Apostolic Father The earliest extant detailed account of the arrest and martyrdom of a single individual is that of St. Polycarp (70-156), Bishop of Smyrna. According to St. Irenaeus, who had listened to Polycarp as a child, Polycarp himself had learned from the Apostle John...

Church Fathers: St. Ignatius of Antioch

Tradition has it that the church at Antioch was founded by St. Peter himself, who served as its bishop for seven years before moving on to found the church at Rome. (Robert Spencer writes that “Gregory III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, has joked that if...

Church Fathers: St. Clement of Rome

Sometime towards the end of the first century A.D., two men made a journey from Rome to Corinth. Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Vito, a pair of freed slaves from the household of the deceased Emperor Claudius, carried a letter to the Christian community in Corinth from Bishop Clement of Rome...

Church Fathers: The Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas

The Didache One of the most important sources from the age of the Apostolic Fathers is “The Lord’s Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations,” commonly referred to by its short name, the Didache (Greek for “teaching”). While the Didache was lost until the...

Introducing the Church Fathers

Several years ago, CatholicCulture.org processed and made available online a set of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. In order to make our readers aware of this under-used resource, and because the Fathers are still too little known despite their importance as a font of authentic...

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