The title comes from the Latin “docere” meaning, “to teach”, and all these men and women, have made a major contribution to upholding or developing the Church’s understanding of the truth of her faith. Some, as Fr Jerome Bertram explains in the new CTS booklet Doctors of the Church, are better known or more widely read and understood than others.
Br Lawrence of Brindisi for example, does not perhaps spring to mind as quickly when thinking of Doctors of the Church, as say, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. Now we can lay open, in a brief informative and understandable way, the work and contribution of these immensely important people in the history of the Church.
In the introduction, Fr Jerome puts things into context:
“To be a Doctor of the Church it is not enough to be holy, a worker of miracles, a shining example of Christian virtue: a Doctor is one who has something to teach, who helps the Church in the age-long process of Development of Christian Doctrine. When controversies arise, or when love grows cold, God raises up men and women with the vocation to explain disputed points of the Truth, or to call God’s people back to the Way of Life, through their preaching or through their writing.
“We shall understand the vocation of a Doctor of the Church best if we look at those who have already been granted the rank of Doctor, from the beginning of the Church until modern times. The title is not conferred lightly, although it is clear that some Doctors are of much greater importance than others. Some have a message that is enduring and essential for the faith of all time; others were called for particular times, and their work is done. Some have left writings that should be eagerly read by all Christians today, others are now veiled in obscurity, their writings out of print and no longer accessible. For each age, God sends the message it needs to hear; some messages need to be repeated over and over again to the end of time.”
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at Fr Jerome’s expositions of some of the lesser known doctors, and perhaps thinking of some other names that one day may be added to this most exclusive of lists.
Can you name the original 8?
Doctors of the Church is available from CTS priced £2.50
Of related interest:
|Augustine of Hippo – St Augustine was a bishop, is a father of the Church and a Doctor of the Church, but above all is a man with an extraordinary story to tell. This booklet uses the famous Confessions of St Augustine to recount the wonderful journey from a life of sin and error to a life lived for Christ.|
|Spiritual Masters: Medieval Fathers and Writers – In this richly illustrated, beautifully bound hardback volume, Pope Benedict examines the great saints of the Middle Ages from St Odo, Abbot of Cluny, to St Peter Lombard the twelfth-century theologian.|
|The Fathers of the Church – Following his series of Catecheses on the Apostles and major figures of the primitive Church, Benedict XVI turns all his knowledge and insight to the preachers, writers, homilists and theologians of the next five centuries.|