Thursday, December 11, 2008

Book Review: "The Fathers" by Pope Benedict XVI

In early November, I purchased The Fathers by Pope Benedict XVI (ISBN: 978-1592764402). It is a collection of weekly audiences he gave over the course of about a year on 26 Fathers of the Church, from Pope St. Clement I to the ubiquitous St. Augustine. In the span of 200 pages (an average of less than 8 pages per Father), His Holiness talks about the lives of these men, the times they lived in, and the things they wrote. The chapters are quick and easy reading, given the Pope's fluid style of writing and speaking. The book can be absorbed all in one sitting, or spaced over days or weeks. (I read two Fathers a day, a very leisurely pace.)

If you are looking for a primer on the thoughts of the early builders of the Church's sacramental, ecclesial, and spiritual theology, I strongly recommend this book. It works as a refresher for someone who has been away from the lives and writings of these men for some time just as well as it works as an introductory course (taught by the Pope, no less!) for the beginner. If you have considered starting to get into patristic writing (such as is found at CCEL or New Advent), read this book first.

If you prefer to read things digitally (or you just need to save a few bucks), you can find the Pope's addresses online as well. Start here (beginning with Pope St. Clement of Rome from 7 March 2007) and work your way here (ending with St. Augustine from 9 January 2008 through 27 February 2008). You can keep reading, too, because although the book ends with St. Augustine, Pope Benedict continued his weekly audiences on ten more people (from Pope St. Leo the Great on 5 March 2008 to St. Maximus the Confessor on 25 June 2008).

1 comment:

Mark said...

Jeff:

Thank you so much for this review. I am really looking forward to hopefully getting this book at some point.

Secondly, your blog is looking fantastic now. I don't suppose you want to give us some pointers to spruce up "In the Sight of Angels"!? ;-)