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3 Great books to get to know the Church Fathers


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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 09/13/21

Reading the wise words of the Church Fathers is an incredible way to strengthen your faith in today's world.

It’s the feast of St. John Chrysostom, and if you’re wondering who he is, you’re not alone. Most Christians aren’t familiar with the theologians who were part of the early Church.

They’re called the Church Fathers, and they helped articulate the doctrines we still believe today. These spiritual “fathers” nurtured the faith of the early Church and maintained what the Apostles taught. 

The following saints are recognized as the “Great Church Fathers”: 

  • St. Ambrose
  • St. Jerome
  • St. Augustine
  • Pope St. Gregory the Great 
  • St. Basil the Great 
  • St. Athanasius 
  • St. Gregory of Nazianzus 
  • St. John Chrysostom 

Reading their works is an incredible experience. You can clearly recognize the Liturgy of the Mass, the intercession of the saints, and other distinctly Catholic beliefs in these words written nearly two millennia ago. 

That’s why reading the Church Fathers is such a great way to strengthen your faith. Several of my friends have converted to Catholicism from other Christian denominations after reading the writings of the Church Fathers. Their words are that convicting, and that unmistakably Catholic.

If you’d like to get to know the Church Fathers a little better, here are 3 great books for spiritual reading. They’ll give you a great introduction to these early theologians. And their wisdom provides plenty of spiritual insight for your modern life!

1Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine

Pope Benedict XVI wrote this book that presents these important figures of early Christianity in all their evangelical vitality, spiritual profundity, and uncompromising love of God. The book is a wonderful way to get to know the Church Fathers and the rich patrimony they have bequeathed to us.

2Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words

Author Rod Bennett reveals how we can reliably know what the early Church was like, based on the writings of early witnesses to Christianity. These witnesses left an extensive body of documentation on this vital subject, and this book brings their fascinating testimony to life for modern believers. 

Highly readable and engaging, this book is a journey of discovery of ancient and beautiful truths through the lives of four great saints of the early Church. It helps readers fall in love with the historic Church that Christ Himself founded.

3The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers took a unique approach in writing this book. It’s designed to make it very easy to look up specific topics the Church Fathers discussed. Many of these are moral issues that still come up today, so this book is a handy and useful resource for understanding what early Christians believed about these things.

And one more bonus resource … If you don’t want to read a whole book right now, check out this helpful compilation of the Church Fathers’ writings online. This reading list is short but profound, giving you plenty to ponder as you get to know the Church Fathers.

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