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Why Blog the Fathers?

That’s a very good question. My father, God rest his soul, had a stock response whenever people asked him what his youngest son did for a living.

“Mike’s got quite a racket,” Pop would say. “He finds authors who’ve been dead so long they can’t collect royalties. Then he re-publishes their work under his name.”

Pop was talking about my books on the Church Fathers — the ancient Christian authors who caught my attention, some years back, and never let it go.

He was joking, of course. Even with cataracts and Coke-bottle glasses, he saw enough of my life to conclude that no one ever got rich in my “racket.”

But if you’ve read the Fathers, you know they’re worth a little sacrifice. And if you know they’re worth it, that’s probably why you landed on this blog. The Fathers make for rewarding reading, and anything that reads so well is worth talking about. Blogging is one good way to carry on the conversation.

We’re the blessed heirs of two centuries of intensive study of the Fathers. Prolific scholars like John Henry Newman and Prosper Gueranger got it going. Giants like Quasten, Danielou, de Lubac, Balthasar, Wilken, and Pelikan have kept it going. The Patristic Movement — with two other movements, the Biblical and the Liturgical — defined the twentieth-century trend of Catholic ressourcement, the “return to the sources.”

And it all came to full flower in the Second Vatican Council, most especially in the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, whose anniversary we celebrate this month: “The words of the holy Fathers witness to the presence of . . . living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church” (DV 8). The fathers witness to the canon, the creeds, and the teaching Church, all of which are indispensable to a Christian’s sure and steady grasp of Scripture. For this reason and many others, Dei Verbum “encourages the study of the holy Fathers of both East and West” (23). And the document practices what it preaches, citing as authorities many of the great Fathers: Irenaeus, Cyprian, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine.

It is surely because of this conciliar endorsement that we received, in 1994, a Catechism so rich in the Fathers. The Catechism lists the Fathers among its “principal sources, after the Bible but before the liturgy (n. 11; see also n. 688).

The last generation has also witnessed an explosion of publishing in patrology. There are currently three major series of the Fathers in print in English! There are two series that collect the Fathers’ abundant commentaries on each of the books of the Bible. And there are countless smaller series, anthologies, and studies. My small, popular books are a drop in that glorious bucket.

This is not to say the patristic retrieval has always gone smoothly. The Da Vinci Code managed to make a complete muddle of early Christian history — and reach more readers than Newman did in his hyperproductive lifetime. (Another reason to start a blog.)

Maybe my occasional posts on this blog will help other enthusiasts find their way to the good stuff. I’ll also post, free of charge, my occasional radio interviews on the early Church, and my even more occasional lectures on the Fathers.

My own father was right: it’s quite a racket. And for that we thank the God of our Fathers! In the words of one of the greatest Fathers: Te deum laudamus.

11 thoughts on “Why Blog the Fathers?

  1. Welcome to the world of blogging Mike!

  2. I love the Church Fathers as well. Thank you for doing this!

  3. Hi Mike. Great idea! I hope your family is doing well.

  4. I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to the blogging world. I really look forward to making your site part of my daily rounds.

    This is going to be awesome!

  5. Hello Mike,

    Your books are great and this blog will be a great extension of them. I hope you will mention St. Ambrose often. He is very neglected. I think the last common use biography for him was published in the 60s. Other than in your books, he is rarely quoted.

  6. Excellent, Mike. A great idea for a blog.

  7. Is anyone else having trouble with the downloads of lectures? mine sound like they were recorded in reverse in a hailstorm.

  8. Sorry you’re having trouble with the audio downloads. Can you specify which one is problematic so I can take a look at it?


  9. Mike, I’m thrilled you’re here! You’re bookmarked, of course ….

  10. I do love Ambrose. Thanks for your kind words. I hope to write something on his mystagogical homilies for Lay Witness this year. It’s not too late to subscribe:

  11. Mike

    I would like to suggest the following books:

    1) General Readings

    My Spiritual Director gave to me the Sunday Sermons of the Great Father. These writing include the Catena Aurea. These were the first complete set, from which I studied.

    The Philokalia is an excellent source for intense contemplative prayer from the Eastern Fathers.

    2) Systematic Theology

    Maurice de la Taille, SJ
    Mystery of Faith: Regarding the Most August Sacrament and Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ
    Volume 1 The Sacrifice of Our Lord
    Volume 2 The Sacrifice of the Church

    Boris Bobrinskoy
    The Mystery of the Trinity: Trinitarian Experience and Vision in the Biblical and Patristic Tradition

    3) History

    Manual of Patrology and History of Theology
    by F. Cayre, Translated by H. Howitt

    Faith of Catholics: Confirmed by Scripture and Attested by the Fathers of the First Five Centuries of the church
    Compiled by Revds. J. Berington and J. Kirk


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