This week we are looking at some of the 33 “Doctors of the Church” with the help of Fr Jerome Bertram, author of the CTS booklet Doctors of the Church. This morning we wanted to highlight how space and time are no limit for the spreading of eternal Truth.
As we said yesterday, there were eight original doctors, four known as the Greek doctors, and four as the Latin doctors. Anyone who has the pleasure of doing the prayer of the Church and the Office of Readings will be familiar with them:
St Athanasius, St Basil the Great, St Gregory of Nazianzen, St John Chrysostom, St Ambrose, St Jerome, St Augustine, St Gregory the Great.
These giants helped define and explain the faith as it grew from an off-shoot of Judaism into a universal call to salvation. As Fr Jerome tells us, their lives were far from easy – St Athanasius, for example,
“Holds the record for the number of times he was sent into exile for his teaching: he died in obscurity, but his teaching triumphed. The question at issue can be simplified into whether Jesus is God or not. It was much more complicated than that, of course, and there were innumerable variations of teaching, some of which was clearly non-Christian, some were seen to be inadequate only with time. The whole controversy is usually known as the ‘Arian Crisis’.
“It became a proverb to talk of him as Athanasius alone against the world, contra mundum. ‘This extraordinary man’, wrote Blessed John Henry Newman, ‘a principal instrument after the Apostles by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world.’”
Other Doctors belie the title “Dark ages” given by some to the time after the collapse of the Roman Empire. St Isidore had to face the Arian problem again in the sixth century, while John of Damascus, – interestingly writing in a land under Muslim rule – argued against the Emperors of Constantinople, who had prohibited representational art. And at the opposite ends of the Christian world, working at the same time, was the only English doctor of the Church, St Bede of Jarrow – more on him later this week.
The value of the each human being – through the Incarnation – and the importance of art, are just two things that have been explained to us and defended for us, by these great teachers of the faith, and there are many more.
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.
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 09:00