Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan

I've read many quotes from the early Church Fathers-- naturally, the excerpts that show how Catholic the early Church was-- but I have not read entire letters or sermons of theirs from beginning to end. So I was happy to be emailed this link today: a plan for reading through a few of the biggies in forty days, which supposedly takes only 10-15 minutes per day, and all the readings are online. Since I just quoted C.S. Lewis in my last post about reading old books, and since that quote came from a forward he wrote for a new translation of a work (On the Incarnation) by St. Athanasius, and since St. Athanasius is one of the Church Fathers on the list... well, I don't seem to have an excuse not try it.

More info about the various readings and their authors can be looked up in the online Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917.

By the way, how old do you imagine is the idea of fasting for forty days before Easter? I just learned that the first mention we have of it in writing comes from the Canons of Nicea in A.D. 325. Back then it was just for catechumens preparing for baptism at Easter, but soon it spread to the whole Church. But of course, the Bible also mentions forty-day fasts, by Elijah, Moses, and Jesus Himself.

May you all have a blessed Ash Wednesday!


JimAroo said...

Here is a link to an excellent on line source for the writings of the Fathers of the Church:

They have many complete texts and other written resources available. It is the best
online source I have found for the Fathers... reading these would make anybody Catholic... oh by the way the site is run by a school in Michigan called Calvin College. I kid you not.

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks Jim!

I've heard that there's a huge multi-volume set of the writings of the Church Fathers being published, very well received by Catholic reviewers, and it's a Protestant publisher that's doing it. Pretty cool!