Early Church Fathers


#1

Please explain, using several examples, how we know the Early Church Fathers are Catholic.


#2

Read the Catechism of the Catholic church and check out the references at the bottom of each page. You will see many church fathers sited in support of Catholic doctrines.

You can also look up each quote at www.newadvent.com.

If you don’t own a Cathecism, you can find one on the official vatican webpage.

Good luck in your search and God bless.

Ut


#3

Hi Elclca, and welcome to the forums! :thumbsup:

Early Church Fathers, eh? Believe it or not, it is actually hard to find anything about them that is NOT Catholic, so this should be a cakewalk.

The sacraments is a good place to establish Catholic belief…

Let’s start with Ignatius. A little historical background: This person was the second bishop of Antioch (the other church started by Peter). Just the fact that he was a bishop establishes the Sacrament of Ordination. He was condemned to death for his christian teaching an belief. He was caged and brought to Rome to be cast into an arena and fed to beasts. On his way to Rome he wrote seven letters to different churches.

Let’s look at his Letter to the Smyrnaeans newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm

Chapter 8

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God.

Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

In sentence one we see the hierarchy of Catholicism: Bishop, presbyter (priest), and deacon.

In sentence two we see a reference to a “proper Eucharist” administered by the bishop.

In sentence three two references: 1. the bishop is the central figure of the congregation, and 2. the first written use of the word “catholic”. Notice it is in reference to the church and that the way it is used suggests it is a common usage, not unique to this letter.

In sentence four we see that the bishop has authority. When compared to sentence one, we see that the bishop has the same authority as an apostle.

Chapter 7

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.

In chapter seven there is a clear definition of the Eucharist: It is the"flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ."


#4

Let’s look at the First Apology of Justin Martyr. This is another man who was fed to the lions, as indicated by his name.
newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm

In his Apology to the Roman Emporer Titus he tries to explain Christianity and stop the persecutions (he failed). What is intriguing about this epistle is that it carries the earliest description of an early christian worshop service. Here it is, see if it seems familiar.

Chapter 67

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.

And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.

For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

Isn’t this a Mass?

There’s more, but unfortunately, I gotta go.

Subrosa


#5

Thanks and Peace!


#6

One of my favorite (and most famous) quotes is from St. Augustine:

I would not believe in the Gospels were it not for the authority of the Catholic Church (Against the Letter of Mani Called “The Foundation” 5:6)


#7

Well the entire so called primitive church was the very same catholic church. There were no diferent churches, there were no diferente rites or customs, Every primitve christian comunity celebrated the eucarist , there was just one universal primitive church and it was called by the diciples of the apostoels as Catholic that means"Universal".

I have read a little about the Church Fathers and I prepared some quotes about them and about the catholics doctrines, hope you will enyoi it .

On the succetion of Peter
St Augustine Agaisnst Manicheaus Chapter 4

The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate.

On the unity of the one primitive and universal church

St Irenaus Adversus Haereses (Book I, Chapter 10)

  1. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.

    while the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said.
    end quote.

On the sola scripture:

  1. The veneration and fidelity of the fathers regarding the sacred books may be compared to their veneration and fidelity to tradition. They do not consider themselves masters, but servants of the Sacred Scriptures since they received them from the church, Read and commented on them in and for the church according to the rule of faith proposed and illustrated by ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition. St. Irenaeus, the great lover of the sacred books, maintains that whoever wishes to know the true must look at the tradition of the apostles. 29 He adds that even if the apostles had not left us the Scriptures, tradition would have been enough for our instruction and salvation. 30
    Origen himself, who studied the Scriptures with so much love and passion and worked so much for their comprehension, openly states that only those must be believed as truths of faith that in no way depart from “ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition”. 31
    thereby making tradition the interpretative norm of Scripture. Later, St. Augustine, who found his “delight” in meditation on Scripture, 32 stated this marvelously luminous and sound principle that again refers to tradition: “I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church had not led me to do so” 33.

it continues…


#8

On the eucharist

St Ignatious of antioch diciple of John, Epistle to the Philadelphians

Chapter 4. Have but one Eucharist,
Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Chapter 7. Let us stand aloof from such heretics.
They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes.

St Justin Martyr The First Apology

Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist.
And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

St Cyril bishop of Jerusalem On the Body and Blood of Christ.

St Clement of Alexandria


Stromata chapter 1

So that whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."
1 Corinthians 11:27-28

on the priesthood

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop.
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

Chapter 9. Honour the bishop.
Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Let all things, then, abound to you through grace, for you are worthy. You have refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ [shall refresh] you. You have loved me when absent as well as when present. May God recompense you, for whose sake, while you endure all things, you shall attain unto Him.

On the perpetual virginity of Mary
The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary by St Jerome


#9

Four Witnessess by Rod Bennett is a very readable book. What’s neat about the book is the way he gives the reader the context of the writings and a feel for the times and circumstances. At the back of the book, there is a timeline of when these men lived, and I added notes on what Roman emperors ruled to help the historical context (I’m not that good about keeping these kinds of things straight like my dh).

He was a guest on The Journey Home (you can hear the audio from past shows by going to www.chnetowrk and then scrolling through until you find Rod Bennet (former Baptist?).

Peace,
Mimi


#10
  1. Because they called themselves “Catholic.”

Ingatius of Antioch was the first early church father to use the word “Catholic.” He did so around 110 AD only a few years after the Apostle John died; Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John.

"In the existing documents that have come down to us, Ignatius is the first to use the word catholic in reference to the Church. On his way to Rome, under military escort to the Coliseum, where he would be devoured by lions for his faith, he wrote, “You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8)."
catholic.com/thisrock/2005/0501fea4.asp

  1. Because their beliefs were Catholic, we have their writings affirming purgatory, penance, the papacy, Marian dogmas, confession and all Catholic truths. And the early councils and subsquent ones were Catholic Bishops as we have the writings of the canons of those councils. They also affirm what Catholicism has always taught since they were written by Catholic Bishops.

We do know that they were not Protestant.


#11

You all have been great. I’ve never used a forum until yesterday (my loss, the Lord says He’s a present help …).

Thanks very much and PEACE! :wink:


#12

You are SO welcome. Isn’t it great that we have these early Fathers to guide and affirm the faith still? Awesome.

Peace to you also,
Mimi


#13

See also:
chnetwork.org/ecf.html
The Early Church Fathers I Never Saw
by Marcus Grodi

Happy reading!

Mimi


#14

This is also a good reading if youa re looking to learn more about the Church Fathers.

Instruction on the Study of the Fathers of the Church in the Formation of Priests.


#15

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.