Sunday, June 17, 2007

Spending Father's Day with the Fathers

I just finished Mike Aquilina's The Way of the Fathers - what better way to spend Father's day than with the Fathers of the Church (and, of course, with the children who make you a Father). At times light and airy and yet delving into the deep and pensive this is a wonderful introduction to the lives and thoughts of the Fathers. The author did the best thing he could do in a book like this - he let the Fathers speak for themselves, and speak they do in this collection of one thousand sayings. At one point I turned to my wife and said, "you know, people just don't write or talk like this any more." For my money, so much the greater our loss.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to you if you have any interest at all in patristics. Come to think of it, even if you don't think you have any interest in patristics, pick it up anyway - I can almost guarantee you will when you're done. I fully expect to come back to this book regularly as a resource both for research and enlightenment. A few random samples to whet your appetite, and if you're like me, move your spirit:

33. I bore about a shattered and bleeding soul, weary of being borne by me, yet finding nowhere to rest. -- St. Augustine

234. The angel could not touch the fire's coal with his fingers, but just brought it close to Isaiah's mouth. The angel did not hold it, and Isaiah did not consume it, but Our Lord has allowed us to do both. -- St. Ephrem of Syria

569. It is not true humility if a man, perceiving that it is God's will that he should rank above others, refuses to do so. -- Pope St. Gregory the Great

897. Why are there so many snares? That we may not fly low, but seek the things that are above. -- St. John Chrysostom