A podcast about the Fathers of the Church—the foundational figures in Christian history. Hosted by popular Patristics author Mike Aquilina.
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Marcus Minucius Felix is one of the greatest writers you never heard of. His “Octavius,” written in the late second century, is a work of fictionalized memoir set in the resort town of Ostia. Three friends go to the beach, and in a day of walks and conversation one of them leads another to conversion. It is the most deeply human study we have of the early Christians, describing the feel of the ocean breezes and the sand between their toes — and the best arguments for believing.
He was a prophet living altogether in the Spirit. He was a second-century apologist, able to elucidate the doctrine of Christ for the understanding of strangers. He was a bishop, so he spoke with hierarchical authority. For us, though, Melito of Sardis is most valuable for the Paschal liturgy he left us. It is an important witness to Jewish-Christian relations at a crucial time in their development. His Peri Pascha serves well for the Lenten-Easter seasons and for a lifetime.
In the late second century the Church suffered an infestation of heresies — many of them, and they kept changing their claims. Into the fray God sent the great pioneer of anti-heretical literature, Irenaeus of Lyons. The title of his best known work says it all: Against Heresies. Irenaeus’s tools range from logic to parody. He put the smack down on some strains of heresy, and they stayed down for centuries.
"Whatever things are rightly said are ours." Justin looked at creation and saw Christ. He looked into the mind of Plato and found a Christian, born centuries before his time. Speaking with Romans, speaking with Jews, he sought the good in his adversaries’ best ideas and showed that the good belonged properly to Christ and Christians. He showed us how to be fearless in the face of ideas, and fearless even in the face of death.
Forget the Dale Carnegie course. Here's how to win skeptical friends and influence pagans. Read the second-century Letter to Diognetus. The author's name is lost to history, but his warm, winsome overture still stands as a model of apologetics, the art of explaining and defending the faith. It's good reading, praised by saints and popes for centuries.
The Shepherd of Hermas is the strangest text from the Church’s earliest period. It’s at once a conversion story and a first-person account of heavenly visions. It’s a poem in prose and a guidebook for morals. It exercised a powerful influence in the early centuries of Christianity, especially on the practice of the sacrament of penance.
A bit of back and forth about the Apostolic Fathers: Mike Aquilina's interview with Dr. Matthew J. Thomas, who teaches at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. Dr. Thomas is author of “Paul’s ‘Works of the Law’ in the Perspective of Second Century Reception.” He earned his doctorate from Oxford.
The work of the early Church was largely done by Christians whose names we’ll never know. In fact, many of the most important documents from the first and second centuries have unknown or uncertain authorship. In this episode we examine some of those fascinating documents — the Didache, the Letter of Barnabas, and Second Clement — and we pay homage to our great (though nameless) ancestors in the faith.
St. Polycarp was a man with many connections. He knew the Apostle John, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyon, Pope Anicetus, and the arch-heretic Marcion. He also sought the company of many elders who had heard Jesus and witnessed the Lord’s miracles. Polycarp led a long and fascinating life, and he died a martyr’s death. In this episode we tell his story through his many relationships — his social network in the infant church, which like an infant child was rapidly growing in 150 A.D.
Ignatius of Antioch is the first of the Fathers to leave us abundant writings. His seven letters were written in 107 A.D. as the aged bishop traveled to his appointed death in Rome. They give witness to many of the early Church’s beliefs and practices: Jesus’ true humanity and true divinity; his real presence in the Eucharist; and the Church's hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon. The host of this podcast, Mike Aquilina, confesses Ignatius to be his favorite among the Fathers.
Clement of Rome led a church in turmoil. And it was only 67 A.D. His letter is the earliest piece of literature outside the New Testament whose author we can name with confidence. Clement knew both Peter and Paul and carried their mission forward. His letter gives a snapshot of earliest church life and reveals the origins of apostolic succession, Roman primacy, and the unity of the Old Testament and the New. It was considered Scripture in some ancient churches.
What drives people to read the Fathers? They’re delightful to read. They fill us with hard-won wisdom. They’re apologetically useful. They inspire conversions. They tell riveting, dramatic stories. They teach us how to keep a good sense of humor. Best of all, they draw us closer to Jesus Christ. Over the centuries they've changed the lives of Christians as great as John Henry Newman, Erik Peterson, Louis Bouyer, Robert Louis Wilken. Hear about it in this podcast.
With this episode author Mike Aquilina begins his twice-monthly series on the lives, times, and works of the early Church Fathers. The Way of the Fathers begins with answers to basic questions. What is fatherhood? And who are the...
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