Patristics and lessons from the Saints


S. Cyril of Jerusalem [image source]

It appears that, as Catholics, we have more of an inheritance than we know what to do with. Centuries of great thinkers and writers, poets and preachers, artists of all types. We have a vague idea of this glorious history, but we do not always know how to tap into it. In a time of high education and literacy (or so we think), few of us can actually read and understand anymore the lessons of the past, certainly not in their completion, and we often have to travel to find the beauty of earlier times of faith. Our difficulty is not really for want of ability, but rather for want of patience and application. We seem to expect even difficult subjects to be delivered to us, these days, in small packages. Even those distillations of Holy Scripture that have been placed into the Holy Mass as readings now can seem too long for us. And it certainly leaves the great works of learning on the shelves in libraries.

But there's nothing terribly wrong with having beautiful things served up to us pint-sized, especially on the internet, with links taking us to the full wealth they were derived from. Those readings at Mass were never meant to deliver the whole of Scripture to Catholics, over the course of however-many years. Although it may sometimes seem like that. They were always starting points, delivering particular lessons and asking for explanations. Explanations that could be present in the homily or could be found elsewhere, given the enthusiasm of the hearer. The internet has itself been a boon for Christian and Catholic society in general and in particular for the young among us, during the last twenty or more years. It has made easily available much information that would have earlier required the discovery of a theological library or a specialist bookshop, both of which most people do not have access to.

But this is already too long, and it will serve as an introduction to a series of posts, extracting wisdom from the work of the faithful Catholics through the generations, in the form of text, art, music, whatever can be found. Our first extract is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is quoting S. Cyril of Jerusalem, on the Creed. This same Creed we recite at Holy Mass every Sunday, hopefully with the greatest attention and devotion.

"This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments."

Here are some resources from the great bishop, which could give us a taste of his work: