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Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2010

    Fascinating introduction to a treasure trove of faith.

    We live in times that like everything to be new. Christianity, being countercultural, says new is nice but old is better because that's where we find the living roots of faith in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. The Fathers of the Church, great Christian teachers of the early centuries, witness to Christ's revelation. As Mike Aquilina recalls, Joseph Ratzinger--now, Pope Benedict XVI--called their witness an essential element of this body of truth. The Fathers are our forefathers in the faith. In Roots of the Faith, Aquilina performs a tremendous service, making accessible to today's reader the rich insights of these seminal figures. Short, readable chapters address topics that include liturgy, the bible, the papacy, sexual morality, and marriage--all from the Fathers' perspective and often in their words. In these well-written pages the perennial wisdom of men like Augustine, Ambrose, and John Chrysostom comes vividly to life. Roots of the Faith opens a door on the past, but it also sheds important light on the here and now.

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  • Posted September 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good resource for teachers and preachers

    From the beginning of the Church, nothing essential has been added or taken away, writes Mike Aquilina in Roots of the Faith. At the same time, each generation has added its wisdom to the growing tradition of the Church. Here Aquilina concentrates on the contributions from Fathers of the Church living during the Roman persecution and the period immediately following. He tells their story through their own writings and insights from fields such as archeology and other sciences that shed light on their culture. In Chapter 9, The Mysteries of Marriage, he focuses on St. John Chrysostom, a Church Father known for his writings on sexuality and marriage. Some historians judge John as prudish, and others consider his views as an exaltation of Christian marriage. Aquilina is able to reconcile the two views through an examination of John's life. His father died shortly after John's birth in 349, and his mother enrolled in the Church's order of widows, where she devoted herself to prayer, continence, and service. With her example to follow, John adopted a life of renunciation as a young man, joining a brotherhood that practiced such austerities as sleep deprivation and extreme fasting. When one of the brotherhood decided to return to the world and marry, John wrote a lengthy letter denouncing what Aquilina describes as "the transitory nature of bodily beauty and grossness of its constituent parts" in hopes of convincing his friend that marriage was the wrong choice for him. The letter is used by some to vilify John. Aquilina points out the need for context in judging John's state of mind, recalling that he probably had little experience of normal family life. After reentering the world, John was ordained a deacon and, five years later, a priest. During that period he counseled and came to know ordinary Christian families. He reached the conclusion that Christian marriage was as much a divine vocation as monasticism "and that Christian perfection was, by God's grace, attainable in marriage," writes Aquilina. In his teachings Chrysostom saw marriage as an image of baptism where the believer is wed to Christ, an image of Eucharist, in which the believer and Christ are one flesh, and an icon of the Trinity. And he condemned adultery, domestic violence, sodomy, abortion, divorce, and contraception. Aquilina, author and occasional host for The Eternal Word Television Network, also addresses the Mass, confession, purgatory and the communion of saints in Roots of Faith. The book is a good resource for teachers, preachers, and individuals seeking a deeper understanding of the evolution of Catholicism.

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