Best of the Fathers

Scribe in His Cell

(One of our regulars here, James I. McAuley, has come up with a basic list of readings from the Church Fathers, in order that we all may be more grounded in our faith. McAuley, an accomplished lawyer, has made a deep study of Church Fathers. As I have often emphasized here, you do NOT have to be a theologian to keep the faith; you need only acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope. But I, personally, benefitted greatly from among the Church Fathers, particularly when I was discerning my entry into the Church. It can be particularly helpful in times of great strife and controversy. I know, when I was going through RCIA, on more than a few occasions presenters would make claims that did not set right with me – but when I went to the readings of what the Church actually teaches, all was well. This is a solid introduction to Church Fathers – and I thank McAuley for writing it for us all.-CJ)

By James Ignatius McAuley, Esq.

During these ever-darkening days, it is comforting to hear the word of a friend who tells you to strive to finish the race to Christ. Some of the best words are to be found in the words of our friends, the Church Fathers. However, there are over five hundred such works, and it would grossly impractical to attempt to collect all of these works, especially as such an operation would be financially prohibitive.

I decided to make a list that I believe should be on everyone’s bookshelf and was financially reasonable. I chose the number seven in honor of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Sacraments, and the Seven Angels who stand before the Lord.

The Protoevangelium of James – We do not know the author, but the antiquity of this work, the first devotional book, is at least to the mid-second century (150 A.D.) Its existence around 244 is documented by the great Origen in his Commentary on Matthew. It contains all of the background information on St. Joachim and St. Anne, St. Joseph, St. James, St Jude, and of course, Mary. Why is the book by James, well if you look at old pictures of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, there is a young man in the front leading the way, with Joseph, as an older man, following Mary, who is on the donkey – The young man is St. James of Jerusalem, also known as James the Less (a horrible name that I do not like) and James the brother of Jesus. Knowledge of this book in the west would do a lot to help the breach between Eastern and Western Christianity. An excellent translation is found inside the book Aiparthenos Ever Virgin? by Orthodox Father Laurent Cleenewerck for 21.95

Book 3 of Against the Heresies – In this Book, St. Irenaeus of Lyons (taught by St. Polycarp of Smyrna, who was taught by St. John) lays out the first in depth Christian theological treatise, whereby Christ is the new Adam and Mary is the new Eve. The unusual focus on the Bishop of Rome as the successor of St. Peter is also obvious. Written before the year 200. The best edition is found in Paulist Press’ Ancient Christian Writers Series, Volume 64 for 34.95

Confessions of St Augustine – Charlie has spoken of this book several times. A wonderful book. Many decent editions can easily be found at a reasonable price.

The Praktikos – This is the first work of the trilogy of Evagrius the Solitary, also known as Evagrius Ponticus, or Evagrius of Pontus. It is the first great manual of spiritual warfare and is the first comprehensive list of the Eight Deadly Passions that Gregory the Great will reduce to the Seven Deadly Sins. It is a simple, but comprehensive distillation of the wisdom of the monks as well as the wisdom of the early Church. For anyone in spiritual self-improvement, psychology, deliverance ministries, healing ministries, this book is a must. Written in the late 380s or early 390s. It is easily found from Cistercian Liturgical Press for around $10.80.

The Four Centuries on Love (Charity) – By St. Maximus the Confessor. It is often said that St. Maximus “purified” the thought of Evagrius found in the Gnostikos and the Kephalaia Gnostika. Like the Praktikos, everything is broken into groupings of what are called “chapters” (kephalaia) that are essentially short pithy sayings. These are a distillation of the thought of Evagrius and the other Desert Fathers. A beautiful work that is found from Paulist Press in their Ancient Christian Writers Series (No, 21, $37.95) and their Classics of Western Spirituality Series ($24.95).

Homilies on the Gospel of Luke – This is the earliest surviving “bible study” on the Gospel of Luke from the great Origen. These are the first Christian works to discuss devotion to the infant Jesus. The 39 sermons are reasonably short, easy to read, and will show you why so many Church Fathers and Mothers always go to Origen. It is available from the Catholic University of America Press, Fathers of the Church Series as Volume 94 ($39.95). Following the great Henri de Lubac’s dictum “See Origen at work,” you will learn about the Word of God and how each word has a meaning that interpreters of scripture must humbly take into account.

Commentary on Galatians – Remember the quote from St. John, “Little Children, love one another.” The story behind that quote is found in this volume. This volume, by St. Jerome, is probably the best commentary you will find on the book of Galatians. It is, in my opinion, a reworking of Origen’s lost commentary on Galatians, but done so by Jerome in a more down to earth and practical manner, removing controversial sections. For those who fuss about soteriology (What is that? All the fuss about how you’re saved by faith, grace or works), this is the best starting point for the patristic perspective. It is a good read and easily available. (Volume 121 of Catholic University of America’s Fathers of the Church series, for $39.95, or Commentary on Galatians, Titus and Philemon by University of Notre Dame Press, $40.00)

Are there any other books I would suggest? One very remarkable book would be The Dialogues by Pope Gregory the Great. It gives us a great insight into the liturgical and devotional practices of late antiquity, as well as the first biography of St. Benedict of Nursia. It speaks about reverence for the Eucharist. It also is very clear about the need for prayer for the dead and is the source for what we call “Gregorian Masses.” It is a very easy and enjoyable book to read, without any drama or histrionics found in some patristic works. ($39.95, Catholic University of America Press, Volume 39)

Now, if anyone wants a book that talks about how the Fathers interpreted the Bible, they need to look no further than the first “Summa” of Christian theology, Origen’s On First Principles. This book is a masterpiece of pre-Nicene theology and should be understood as reflecting a less developed Christianity. But, the section on Scripture is excellent. If you buy the edition from Ave Maria Press ($25.00) you will also get the superb introduction by the late great Henri de Lubac.

All of these books are reasonable in size and price. None of them are overwhelmingly long and complex, as is Augustine’s City of God, Hilary’s on the Trinity, or, the not very helpful for our day to day lives, Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical Theology. Yes, there are some other very good books, but these are the basics. If you want to understand the faith, you must love Jesus. If you think you know everything about the faith, its doctrine and history, and are sitting comfortably in the fortress of your Catholic piety, then you are setting yourself up for disaster. Approach the faith with humility, fast in hope, and pray in love as the Fathers did and, like them, the storms in Church and society will not shake you.

140 thoughts on “Best of the Fathers

  1. Bravo, James! What a great list and telling for me: I need to expand my reading selections in the patristic writings genre. Thank you for the commentary on each title and I love your closing exhortation.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. JIM, you said you would give us a list of seven books, so I numbered these as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7b, 7c. Just thought you’d like to know I stuck to 7 books in my list. 😀

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Thank you so much, James! So to grow in love of Jesus along with the sacraments, obedience to God and his laws in the church, is the best thing to fast, pray, and see ourselves as very little, prone to making little and big errors and dependent upon Him?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Crew dog!, you made me think: what if I expanded the list to 12 for 12 apostles? We know what books 8 (the Dialogues) and 9 (On First Principles) are. So #10 would be Prognosticum Futuri Saeculi by St. Julian of Toledo, the first book on eschatology. It is #63 in Paulist Press’s Ancient Christian Writers sor $49.95.

      Number 11 would be Eusebius ‘s History of the Church, which volume 19 and 29 in Catholic University of America Press ‘s Fathers of the church Series, $39.95 apiece. Best history of ancient Christianity. Shows the pre-eminence of the papacy and destroys the myth that the Church was corrupted by Constantine. A fuller version is Rufinus’s edition, which is volume 133, for $39.95, which goes through the Arian crisis.

      Number 12 would be Athanasius’s Life of Antony (Anthony), #10 in Paulist Press’s Ancient Christian Writers series for $24.95 or the Classics of Western Spirituality series for $21.95. A wonderful story of the first monk and about spiritual warfare.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Sorry to interrupt the sing-a-long, Doug :-), but I have to ask James, if Vol 19 or 29 deals with the Constantine myth. Have a family member who has issues with that issue. Also are these for the lay reader or more scholarly based. Thank you in advance.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Well, I am going to venture here myself, Marie. I know some atheists and Protestants who speak of the “Constantine myth,” suggesting the Constantine was actually the founder of Christianity rather than a convert. Utter nonsense. Constantine’s role in ending the persecution of Christians is WELL documented historically. The nature of the vision he was said to have that led to this is between him and God and no one can know with certainty. But folks who deny the actual documented history are just the flip side of superstitious ninnies.

            I thought you might like this piece which does a nice job of explaining and puncturing several anti-Catholic myths.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank you very much, Charlie. Will be reading it carefully today.
              Haven’t heard ‘ninny’ used in a long time. Made me smile as I used to call some of my siblings that when we played cards growing up. Being the youngest of 8 I got away with it, but these days, probably not so much.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Haven’t heard “ninny” in a long time, but it was certainly very much around in my (innocent, oh thank God for that) 60s childhood. It strikes me that it could/should be re-introduced as it couldn’t possibly offend but yet conveys disapprobation. In fact, in our present (lack of) culture it would sound pleasantly retro – which seems to be all the fashion these days.

                Although I’m sure that someone would before long invent some offence about it, as the professionally offended seem often to do. Probably too “privileged” in some obscure way…

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          2. Marie, a belated response, but the “Constantine Myth” is a baptist or seventh day Adventist fabrication with no historical foundation, but rather a series of specious assumptions that are belied by the facts. If anything, Eusebius ‘s work will show you the history of the pre-Constantinian Church
            Once you know that, you will see that the “myth” is “lies, rumors, myths, legends, and rubbish.”

            Liked by 1 person

            1. James, thank you sincerely for this. I’ll just say that I love to go back to the sources, and thinking especially of the Letter of St. Ignatius to the people of Smyrna, where he says about heretics: “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

              Now, this is very early indeed, and I cannot see how anyone can deny its authenticity concerning the Faith of the early Church -which is the Faith of the present, and Eternal, Church. It’s been a killer quote for me for some time. Amazing how some who feel free to refer to their faith as coming from the Scripture and the Fathers either don’t look at what they actually said or take it totally out of context.

              Well, no, not amazing. It’s been going on for a long time. Thanks to you, and Charlie, for this.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Steve B.C., seven was the goal, but then I thought of Mick, Caitlynngrace, and Patrick of SD and added the Dialogues. Then I added Origen’s On First Principles after reading a comment by kasa2018, so that is where that book Was brought up.

    I had Susan Skinner and Ashly Blackburn in mind for the Praktikos. I was actually thinking of you, Stevebc, when I put in Ireneaus’s Book 3 of Against The Heresies. The Protoevangelium was with Charlie and Beckita in mind.

    But, yes, I deliberately tried to keep the list short and relevant.
    Happy new year, Stevebc and everyone!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. James, I know a guy in Pennsylvania who deals in used Catholic books (mostly pre-1970, mostly hardcover. He buys out libraries from convents, Catholic schools, etc. that shut down, so he has a ton of books. Anyhow, I’ve just dropped him an e-mail to ask if he has a copy of The Dialogues. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Happy new year, Mick! I think you will like the book. It is made up of four (4) books. It will not give you a headache and is very pleasant to read.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha, James! I love how lawyers do things like “four (4).” Granted, I haven’t practiced in pert near forever; but I still think that the double iteration is so cool (that might not be the correct term, but whatever).

          And Happy New Year to you and yours, too. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Awesome!
            Regarding the double iteration, I have found it helpful for clarity and so it has found it’s way into non-legal writing.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. The set is a very good anthology,, but the small excerpts make you want more. Then, it can be frustrating when you find that the work excerpted from has not been fully translated..

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, James and Happy New Year to everybody!

    I had an idea for a new thread someday. If you knew that there was going to be a several day interim period between Charlie’s new posts, you could put up a short invitation for people to tell their story of how they came to know about Charlie and/or the TNRS site (or ASOH for our newer friends). I’m thinking it could be fun and interesting. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Beckita;
        It is I, Christopher J, who suggested the thread. Something happened in my WordPress login and it posted as MaximemeQ. (long story there) In any case, I wanted to identify myself correctly. Sorry about the oversight on my part. I wasn’t paying attention to the fields below the comment text box. Sometime I’ll hit SteveBC up for some advise and suggestions on how to avoid it in the future.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Well, I knew it was you, Christopher, but thought you simply wished to be incognito for whatever reason(s). Again, it’s a great idea! As soon as SteveBC checks into the site and sees that you’ve named him, he’ll reply. 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Christopher J, I can edit that MaxiMemeQ entry to your normal handle if you wish. I must say that if you are a Q meme-er, you have my admiration, and I would love to see some of your work.

          As for keeping this from happening again, it depends. If you have a personal account, you should set your Profile’s Display Name to Christopher J, which will make it permanent, then be sure you’re logged into your account when on the ASoH website.

          On the other hand, if you are leading a double life and switching between these two handles (or more handles) for various websites, you’ll just have to be careful to switch your display name each time or don’t log into your WP account at all so that you can enter your chosen handle each time you comment here or elsewhere.

          If you don’t use a WordPress account, then presumably you put your handle in each time you publish a comment. If so, again you will just have to be careful.

          If you mess up again, though, there’s no telling what I might do in editing your errant handle. Turns out that the Display Name field can accept a *lot* of characters. 😀

          Liked by 6 people

          1. Thanks, Steve.
            First off, the “Q” isn’t a Qanon reference. Maximeme Q is a play on the aeronautical engineering term Maximum Q. It’s the point at which maximum dynamic pressure is applied to the outer surfaces of a vehicle in flight (most often vertically ascending; rockets, missiles, space shuttle etc.) It’s a function of velocity and atmosphere density. MaxiMEME Q is the point at which maximum pressure is applied to my sanity and is a function of the density of stupid memes and the speed at which I pass through them 🙂

            Re my WP account: I won’t reconstruct the steps I took trying to set up an account here. Btw, I had a WP account at TNRS but put off setting one up here when this site launched. I did go to the FAQ page and when I followed those instructions it told me that Christopher J was already taken. Anyhoo, I’ll look at my profile and try to make sure my default username is correct. I usually look down to the 3 fields below the text entry box to make sure it displays Christopher J in the middle line but obviously didn’t earlier today.
            Thanks for the input and everything you do here.
            Love ya, Bro!

            Liked by 5 people

              1. Well, Chris J, I am laughing. I know about Max Q because I was a space case all through my childhood, reading science fiction and watching every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launch I could. I actually did spend a year in college trying to be an aero-astro engineer. Eventually I shifted into the business side of a couple tech start-ups, the first of which was one of the first three commercial rocket companies in the US, in the first few years of the 1980s. I was fortunate enough to be the project manager of our first set of small engine tests – great fun and lots of unpaid work for me and a bunch of other wild and crazy space cases. Although that company went bankrupt in 1984, the hybrid technology we were using ended up in the hands of what is now Virgin Galactic, having powered Space Ship One in its record-claiming pair of flights a number of years ago. In all that time, I have *never* come across MaxiMemeQ as a term, so in these Q days, I made an incorrect connection. I’ve learned something new today, about sanity if nothing else. 😀

                By the way, you should sign into your Chris J account. It works for *all* websites you go to. It worked for you at TNRS and it will work for you at ASoH and it will work for any other website you happen to end up on. It’s a general account designed to follow you across all websites and give you a common persona on all such sites. All my life I have had a tendency to think something is more complicated than it actually is. I think you’ve been out-thinking yourself on this one. 🙂

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Aha! I should’ve known better than to think you didn’t know about (the real) Max Q. Interesting resume, btw.
                  Indeed, I may have been making my account situation more complicated than necessary. I tend to do that. In the early days of ASOH there was lots back and forth about transitioning one’s TNRS account into the new site and so, relying on memory from nearly two years ago, I was thinking there would be a need to re-register. I only paid passing attention to those discussions back then and now regret that negligence. A one time signup would explain why Christopher J was already taken. I was thinking “Wow! What are the odds of somebody else already having that username?”

                  Mystery solved & Thanks again!

                  Liked by 3 people

    1. All I can remember is stumbling into the old site in 2014, from another site. I found Mark Mallet around the same time. I think I may have heard of Charlie earlier, 2012 or 2013, but I do not recall. B eckita commented before I did. I think I first commented in the fall of 2015.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You have a great memory, James. As I mentioned, previously, Charlie’s writing had captured the attention of a priest friend who wanted me to take a look and convey what I thought. I believe that was in the fall of 2014. I knew from a quick survey that I couldn’t fairly assess without reading more seriously what was growing in the archives. Inundated in several projects, I couldn’t do that until after our return from the latest evangelization journey to China in the spring of 2015. Between severe jet lag and a wicked virus that we had come home with, I was down for 3 weeks and I filled that time with reading the archives already teeming with wisdom and new perspective concerning what we are living.

        Unlike those who criticize and say the sensational is revved up here, I rather found words of calm and reassurance, words reaffirming that God has not left us and is leading us through a process wherein He – as ever – invites us to co-create something new with Him while His Mother – as ever – remains with us, interceding and also leading. I’ve said it often: there has been a gold mine of gems shared and considered via the topics about which Charlie has written which have fostered and clarified faith, led us to train mental and emotional strength – and considering potentially difficult eventualities was never about scaring anyone but about being prepared for a reality of which we have very little detail. I am grateful for this training and for the people who have shared their perspectives, knowledge and wisdom over these few years.

        In this New Year, I’ve been thinking and praying more about how we will most likely grow as a community in 2019. A year of judgement will most likely bring us new commenters who will need the comaradarie we share, our prayers, our love, our reassurance, and our shared faith with words and deeds of hope.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. We have certainly evolved/hanged/grew over the years to be more the mystical body of Christ and not a bunch of apocalyptic crazies, Beckita. Things were certainly more sensational in those days, despite Charlie’s intentions/mission. I do not know if you saw Susan Skinner and Ashley Blackburn’s latest article, “Suffer Well” over at Sue’s site, Veil of Veronica, but it is completely in line where we are going as a community. We all pray for each other, Mick, Jlynnbyrd and Doug, with you, are often in the vanguard of the prayers.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. People are surely tempted to gravitate to the sensational, James, and to try to figure it all out. CJ has spoken to this as clinging to a false sense of security. I agree. Thanks for the heads up on the beautiful “Suffer Well” piece. In a time when there’s so much great reading to enjoy as we benefit from the inspiration and information imparted, I often recommend, to those deep in their personal storms, Fr. Spitzer’s gem of a book: The Light Shines on in the Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith (Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence) In it, one finds a tremendous compendium on Catholic teaching as to the value and purpose of suffering; the book oozes with inspiration to suffer well; Father gives practical strategies and prayers which draw down God’s strengthening and consolation. In my estimation, it’s an antidote to the fear of suffering and in a year of judgement we can be sure there will be ample times to offer, for the good of others, what we shall suffer in the transition, the very laboring of bringing about a New Beginning for the human race.

            Liked by 4 people

            1. I am also looking forward Father Spitzer’s next book: Called out of Darkness: Contending with Evil through Virtue and Prayer. I thought I heard him say that he had turned in the manuscript to Ignatius Press on his EWTN show about two months ago. He had referenced it in a footnote on page 258 of The Light Shines on in the Darkness.
              Just going by the title, it sounds like an excellent follow-up to The Light Shines on in the Darkness…

              Liked by 3 people

          2. I knew that it would be sensational for a while (perfectly natural knowledge, nothing supernatural about it), which is why I was not at all offended when my Archbishop noted that while I emphasized the message and de-emphasized the sensational, there was genuine concern that many were drawn to the site BECAUSE of the sensational. In that sense, even my errors served as a sort of winnowing fan: were you here for the steak or just for the sizzle? Most of the sizzlers have moved on while those who remain are feasting on steak. I like it.

            This was NOT going to easily fit what people’s expectations or pre-conceptions of what such phenomenon would be. When that happens, for a good, long while people impose their own pre-conceptions over what is actually written. One of the greatest graces I have benefitted from is that when the Commission that examined me got to work, they read what I had actually written and listened to what I actually said on tapes rather than listening to the scabrous claims others made about it (it didn’t do those others’ reputations for accuracy or honesty much good, I can tell you).

            If you were an “end is nigh” type looking for all the special effects, you either left for greener pastures than I give such stuff, or you grew into a more seriously faithful person dealing with the actual realities we face. It took a while, but we did, indeed, grow into the sort of community I had envisioned it becoming. There is more growth yet to come. I sure am pleased with the rigor, the fortitude, and the seriousness of those who are here now, though. I think this community is going to be a resource to many as the Storm deepens.

            Liked by 8 people

            1. I came for both the sizzle and the steak 😎

              Seriously though, Lambzie and I have been anticipating major changes based on other approved apparitions as well as Medjugorje talking about warnings and chastisements. So we have always been anticipating some major upheaval. What got me to stay here was your deeper writings which I found very solid and erudite. I could see you were not crazy. Given this and that we believe we will see major disruptions and what you were purporting at the time, we thought that the time was close at hand. We still believe we are in for something big taking place. At this point, we endeaver to not put a time frame on it. Although, in many respects, I want it to start to bring my kids back. It will become apparent when events do actually start and I trust the Holy Spirit will guide us through. I personally think the next phase will be a major world economic collapse which will set off the next chain of events, but only God knows for sure and God knows we need a course correction. In the mean time, we slog on taking the next right step and being a sign of hope.

              Liked by 6 people

            2. Steak with garlic, salt, pepper and butter, Charlie. We are all growing in the love of God, family, and neighbor with help from this community.

              Liked by 3 people

            3. “…..or you grew into a more seriously faithful person dealing with the actual realities we face.” Yes, that would be me and THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for this:)))) Happy New Year!

              Liked by 1 person

        2. Steer clear of China for a while… they are (have) implemented a travel Departure ban for U.S. Citizens…

          “Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively:

          to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,

          to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and

          to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.

          In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.”

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Dear Maxi, it does sound like fun! I, for one, had been disturbed by reading online by a person whom I thought was a credible source that Pope Francis was the False Prophet. I called an old friend, a devout Catholic, who agreed that she ,too, had concerns but did put my mind at ease.Before hanging up she casually mentioned she had some friends, who were solid Catholics, and were interested in a guy named Charlie Johnston. I found his site and he was angrily denouncing those who said he was not validly elected.Immediately I was hooked by all he said and never looked back. I felt that what he said was true….that he spoke the truth as he knew it. Thank you Charlie…I never doubted you. I have been a loyal follower since that time….I think it was 3 or 4 years ago.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Lots of good verses & reflectionS this Christmastide!

    HeartLight Daily Verse – One January

    2 Corinthians 5:17
    If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

    Thoughts on today’s verse:
    We all like “do-overs” or second chances. God does much better than that! He allows us to become new again. Being the “God of new things” he can even make us new. Beyond forgiveness, beyond cleansing, he makes us holy through Jesus. Let’s use the opportunity of a New Year as a springboard to living a life fresh and new and alive to God!

    O LORD, thank you for a New Year and a fresh start. Please give me wisdom and strength to serve you with integrity and faithfulness in this coming year. I pray that your work be done in my life as I offer myself, my plans, and my future to you. I pray this through Jesus, my intercessor and Lord. Amen.
    Visit for more

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE ……. Bless & Protect us in 2019!!!

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Crew Dog is one of my favorites on this site – a Catholic “Drudge” without the garbage. Thanks for your work. Crewdog!

      Liked by 11 people

      1. Lol….VERY well stated about Crew Dog! I check out many of his links.

        Your list is excellent. I’ve ordered the Homilies on the Gospel of Luke for my hubby. (That book can be obtained through Amazon too, by the way.) Thank you.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. I appreciate the list you have provided James. There is so much available to read these days that a summary such as yours is a blessing in busy and confusing times.

    On a different note James, with your lawyer hat on and a quick read of George Weigel’s article, what hope, what next right steps might be taken by faithful Catholics to help Cardinal Pell and the Church?

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Such a well written article by George Weigel. He nails the various facets contributing to the injustice meted out to Cardinal Pell. I’m interested in James’ take on this too, Karen, yet we know for certain the truth in Mark 9:29: “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Cardinal Pell needs our support.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Cardinal Pell has been in my prayers for some time. The whole process sounded contrived, like he was targeted. I thought he was getting close to some truth with the Vatican Bank.

        Liked by 6 people

    2. Karen, I spent an hour writing a reply, which I accidentally deleted. I take that as a sign, so let me get back to on Wednesday with a different approach.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Karen,

      In my shoes as a Lawyer, I must give my first caveat – I am not admitted to the Australian bar, and therefore am not competent to render an opinion. In my shoes as a historian, this is outrageous, and has more in common with the vile Star Courts that the Habeas Corpus Act of 1640 under Charles I and the Long Parliament abolished. (There is an irony for all of you, a Catholic supporting something that John Pym did)

      What can citizens of other nations do? Your legal options are limited: you can file a formal written protest with the Australian embassy in your respective country, and you can also write to the Australian Prime Minister and the Governor of the respective Australian province and express your opinion. You do not have standing to intervene in this action, unless you want to take a globalist perspective. Beckita is correct, prayer and fasting are necessary, and must be done.

      And, I know many want to open up and expand the statue of limitations – but this goes against our common law tradition from King Edward I, the statute of Gloucester of 1278. Once you open the door, it will not shut, and the powerful will use it to abuse the weak.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you for your response James. I can confirm to you that there is much prayer happening for the Cardinal. It might be possible to arrange a fasting commitment through existing networks to go together with some sort of letter to the Prime Minister also – that is a great suggestion thank you.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I’m quite sure you know, Karen, that prayer for Cardinal Pell rises from international places where people have appreciated the work he has been doing for our Church. Such a strong orthodox voice has he! May Our Lady come to his rescue.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m praying for Cardinal Pell but I think he’ll be ok. Thank you James McCauley esquire for my new reading list. I own some of these already but will address them all and thoroughly this New Year. Yes I’m planning to cut back my work schedule.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I ask this community for the charity of your prayers for my son, Samuel. He works hard but when he gets stressed, his impulse is to make silly jokes. He used off-color language and was immediately reported by a co-worker for “not representing company values.” He is on paid suspension. He is resigned to God’s will but I am so dismayed how those who try to live right and adore Jesus (Sam keeps a weekly holy hour for adoration) are shown no mercy and expected to be perfect. May God grant justice.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Prayers ascending for your Sam, Marisa. Placing him and his situation in the intercession of the Theotokos and her Son on this, her solemnity: Mary Mother of God. Tucked Sam right into the Child Jesus’ tunic, actually that brown wrapping outer robe, near His Sacred Heart, as He is presented to us near the Immaculate Heart.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. This brought tears to my eyes, Beckita. Where could anyone be more loved and cared for than next to our Saviour’s Sacred Heart?

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Marisa, I’m praying for your son too. Also for you, as his mother. One of my sons was diagnosed many years ago with Tourette’s Syndrome, so I understand and have compassion for you and your son when you feel he is not shown any mercy. I love that your son keeps a weekly hour for Adoration. God bless the both of you.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Thank you, AudieMarie. Sam is mildly autistic. One of the symptoms of this is an inability to pick up on social cues and impulse control. When he heard his two black co-workers calling each other the N-word, and knowing that they often teased him for his ethnic surname, he thought it perfectly fine to join in their horseplay. But, of course, when HE said it, he was overheard and immediately reported. Perhaps those two will speak up for Sam and he will be able to keep his job.

        My younger son, JohnPaul is more disabled than his brother and unable to work. I would hate to see that there are those who would discriminate against the different-minded just because their “minority” is on the inside and not the outside. The key difference, I believe, is that they both know Jesus and are submissive to His holy will.

        Thanks to ALL for your prayers. God is good, all the time.

        Liked by 7 people

  11. Hello again Steppers. Just back. I have missed you. I have been unable to respond to your good wishes until now. I now thank you for them. I pray that in 2019 we can all grow in grace and grace others with our gifts.

    Liked by 14 people

    1. Joecro, so good to see you here! God bless you and your loved ones this new year and beyond. Looking forward to your posts.

      Liked by 4 people

  12. Another good verse & reflection for New Year:

    HeartLight Daily Verse – 2 January

    Psalms 90:12
    Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

    Thoughts on today’s verse:
    So often we look up and time has passed us by. The things we promised ourselves we’d accomplish and the deeds we told others we’d do get left undone. Before we know it, days have become weeks, and weeks months, and months years. We find ourselves unable to do what we once assumed we could do any time we want. We must ask the Spirit of God to help us see and seize the opportunities the LORD places in our path.

    Father, I confess that so often I leave undone what needs to be done. Please help me see your plans in each of my days and live in a way which not only honors you, but also blesses those you want me to reach. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
    Visit for more

    …. & MILINET: Articles for Christians
    Turning to Jesus with Sister Wendy Beckett–KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ

    Witches, Presbyterians and the Booger Man–Wesley Pruden

    After year of bad press, Pope delivers new year Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

    AP Exclusive: India’s hidden years of nuns abused by priests

    US Catholic bishops to pray over clergy sexual abuse scandal

    Vatican spokesman, deputy resign suddenly amid overhaul by Pope Francis

    Russian Patriarch Urges Constantinople to Stop Partaking in Schism in Ukraine

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!! ….. & Merry 9th Day of Christmas 😉

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Message of Our Blessed Mother Mary to Mirjana, Medjugorje, January 2, 2019

    Dear children! Sadly, among you, my children, there is so much battle, hatred, personal interests and selfishness. My children, so easily you forget my Son, His words, His love. Faith is being extinguished in many souls, and hearts are being grasped by material things of the world.

    But my motherly heart knows that there are still those who believe and love, who are seeking how to draw all the closer to my Son, who are tirelessly seeking my Son – then, in this way, they are also seeking me. These are the humble and the meek with their pain and suffering which they carry in silence with their hopes and, above all, with their faith. These are the apostles of my love.

    My children, apostles of my love, I am teaching you that my Son is not only asking for continuous prayers, but also for works and feelings – that you believe, that you pray, that with your personal prayers you grow in faith, that you grow in love. To love each other is what He asks for – that is the way to eternal life. My children, do not forget that my Son brought the light to this world, and He brought it to those who wanted to see it and receive it. You be those, because this is the light of truth, peace and love.

    I am leading you in a motherly way to adore my Son; that you love my Son with me; that your thoughts, words and actions may be directed to My Son – that they may be in His name. Then my heart will be fulfilled. Thank you.

    Liked by 8 people

  14. James, thank you for compiling this list of good reads. I had just ordered Confessions of St. Augustine, but not sure if I would comprehend all of these books. I am a slow reader, but love to read. No one else in my family is interested in them, so I feel like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. Some day, when I am gone, they will be, hopefully, a treasure for someone else. There might not be a lot of money for them, but there will be wisdom.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Charlie,

    I’ve taught and tutored ‘The Fathers’ now for over 40 years. Getting a basic feel for the lives, general thrust, and writings of the ‘Fathers of the Church’ per se is a daunting task. It is difficult at best with solid Patristics scholars for your teachers/Profs.

    The list of books recommended above isn’t bad at all – with one kind caveat to be found below.

    [Mind you, In what I’m about to write – I’m NOT trying to discourage anyone from trying to wade through the writings of the Fathers. But for the beginner, there is a COMPANION way to learn which I always recommend to students beginning study of the Church Fathers. I’ll cite this series a little later].

    Here is the problem for the non-professionals: For a professional teaching the subject it takes approximately 20 to 30 years to studiously get through the vast majority of the subject material. By the time they finish, they discover that they remember much of what they have read in a general manner – but they still often need a good reference library [private or one to which they have ready access] from which to refresh their memories and flesh out their thought.

    Now, my intent here is not to denigrate anything recommended in the article above.

    HOWEVER, I NEVER refer people to the writings of Origen without a gentle warning that, parts of Origen’s writings were condemned by several General Councils of the Church for containing material which is incompatible with the teachings of the Church.

    Two examples are;

    1) his teaching of a ‘Final Apocatastasis’, some point at which all will be “regenerated reconciled with God.’ A number of Origen’s contemporaries chided him with questions as to whether Satan and the fallen angels will be released from hell at the end of time.

    Of course – as those Councils, and John Paul II point out in his ‘Crossing the Threshold of Hope’,

    – “The problem of hell has always disturbed great thinkers in the Church, beginning with ORIGEN and continuing in our time with Mikhail Bulgakov and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the “final apocatastasis,’ according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction”, and every creature would be saved, A THEORY WHICH INDIRECTLY ABOLISHED HELL [*emphasis mine*]. But the problem remains. Can God, who loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal punishment? AND YET, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel He clearly speaks of those who go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt. 25:46).”

    John Paul II’s condemnation of these ideas in Origen could not be clearer. The Church has always condemned, and does so to this day, the idea of Universal Salvation – which Origen taught. Here is just one of the paragraphs from the Catechism which teaches this with absolute certainty vis-a-vis the eternity of hell:

    – *1035 *The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

    Origen also taught the pre-existence of souls, i.e., that God pre-created the souls of those who will ever come to life – and that those souls in some manner lay dormant till the creation of a human body here on earth – at which point God takes one of them and joins it with the newly created body. [That is a crude explanation of Origen’s theory on the prior creation of all souls – but it essentially covers the subject.] The Church of course refuses this explanation, and holds that God creates the human soul of a human being “at the moment of conception”.

    These theories of Origen were not formally condemned by the Church till after the death of Origen. Therefore such heresies in Origen’s case were ‘material’ ones – not ‘formal’. In other words, his errors were in ignorance of the Church’s eventual formal teachings on such matters.

    Never-the-less, I always pre-warn my students of the fact that there are some dangerously grave concepts and ideas to be found in the writings of Origen. I do that right before I recommend certain of Origen’s writings to them, such as his commentary of the ‘Song of Songs’ [amongst others]. I always try to have them read a reasonable number of selections from Origen’s commentary on that Book, before I have them read St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Sermons on same.

    Many of the Fathers made mistakes here and there. Therefore, amongst other works at hand in the library, I recommend the 3 vol. set of Fr. William A. Jurgens, ‘THE FAITH of the EARLY FATHERS, selected and translated by Rev. William A. Jurgens, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN., 1979. It has an excellent doctrinal and topical index. This can be invaluable in ascertaining where a quote from one of the Fathers stands within the body of the Church’s full teaching.

    One final observation, Pope Pius XII declared that St. Bernard of Clairvaux was chronologically speaking, the last Father of the Church. Bernard in large part represents the great Monastic Tradition of scholarship and thought on the writings of the Church Fathers. There is an excellent hard bound edition covering a vast amount of those writings of Bernard – with truly fruitful introduction and commentary on said writings. [If anyone wishes to know where to get that series, ask Charlie, and he will pass it on to me.)

    All that having been said, I wish for all a most spiritually prosperous NewYear, filled with God’s blessings and our recognition of them as such.

    All my love in Christ


    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s funny because I had some of these caveats in mind. I have said that God knew, from the beginning, all souls He would ever create. Someone privately suggested to me that I was channeling a condemned theory from Origen. I quickly corrected that friend – noting that Origen said that God had actually created all souls from the beginning, while I say He knew all things that He would create from the beginning – a very different claim.

      The thing is, Origen wrote so many truly beautiful and profoundly insightful things that he is important to all serious Christians. But this gets to a point that I have often made: even the greatest of saints have made some comments that were later determined to be unsound or erroneous. We all have feet of clay and we all have need to build each other up – and neither dismiss someone of the stature of Origen because of his occasional errors, nor treat every word that a saint has ever spoken as Holy Writ. We are, in a very real way, the Army of God. It is right that we should give honor to those soldiers who have made such enormous contributions to expanding the (intellectual and theological) territory of Christendom – without losing sight of the fact that even the greatest of generals, both in war and in faith, had their setbacks.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. Great point Charlie.
        I had the great gift of friendship with a priest from Malta who retired here in my small town after many years teaching in India. He often gave me important books to read for my take on them, I guess he wanted to see how they were understood from a layman’s point of view. I remember one of the books was the Chatechism.
        Your point about having “feet of clay” reminded me of a story he told about Padre Pio.
        One of Fr’s spiritual children went to Padre Pio for confession and afterwards told Fr about a certain issue Pio lambasted her about.
        Later, Fr confronted Pio about his spiritual daughter and told him he was mistaken about her. Padre Pio politely apologised and said that sometimes he made mistakes in his discernment!
        I always ponder this story when reminded of our feebleness when divining the mind of God and the other stories of saints, great and small, making their way through the Great Mystery which is God. I think St Paul’s last Testament of “I kept the faith” is the clarion call to it all for us all.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Hmmmm. On a side note relative to “A THEORY WHICH INDIRECTLY ABOLISHED HELL [*emphasis mine*]. But the problem remains. Can God, who loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal punishment? ”

      I think this is a fairly straight forward question to answer. Would you let a rabid or mad dog into your home? Of course not because of the risk of injury or death to the inhabitants. Ok. What if God healed the dog? Hmmm. Add free will to the mix. What if the rabid or mad dog is so angry, it refuses to change. What then do you do? Would you still let the dog in?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Is this Desmond A. Birch, the author of Trial, Tribulation & Triumph Before, During and After Antichrist? I have that book! 🙂 Wow is right, Beckita!

        Liked by 3 people

    3. Desmond,

      A good and necessary warning, but I believe that the reader has less to fear from Origen then from reading Hans Urs von Balthasar’s work “Dare We Hope that all Men Be Saved?”. “On First Principles” has been around Latin Christianity since the late 4th century and has not seemed to create any problems in the Latin Church. The Butterfield translation with de Lubac’s introduction has sufficient caveats for the reader and Behr addresses this in his new translation.

      When we look at the Second Council of Constantinople of 553, neither Origen himself, nor his work is expressly condemned, though, the Council was interpreted/understood in the Greek speaking east to be a condemnation of Origen. However, the one whose work was expressly quoted, though he is not named, is Evagrius Ponticus. The work cited in the condemnation is the “Kephalaia Gnostika.” There is much beauty and good in this work, but this work, more than anything Origen wrote, deserves caveats, because it is clearly the Evagrian eschatology and understanding of the apocatastasis that is condemned by Second Constantinople. But again, this work survived in Syriac (S2) and has had no ill effect on the various forms of Syrian Christianity. However, I do not recommend the “Kephalaia Gnostika” to anybody without prudence and prayer, because if you read the introduction that Illaria Ramelli did for her remarkable recent translation, you might come away thinking that almost all of the 4th-5th century fathers believed in the Evagrian type of eschatology..

      And, the “Praktikos” should not be tossed aside because of the mistakes that Evagrius made in the “Kephalaia GnostiKa. In any event, Desmond, I have always liked the idea that Jerome “purified” Origen and Maximus the Confessor “purified” Evagrius.

      Fairly enough, you could make the same sort of caveats about Augustine. Over reliance on Augustine and Aquinas has lead to all sorts of problems, one of the worst being Calvinism and the other being the perennial overcorrection that happens when either Augustine or Aquinas is over emphasized. It is unhealthy to rely primarily one one father. After all, part of the point of St. Vincent of Lerin’s “Commonitorium” is that there is a general consensus among the fathers for something to be considered part of the deposit of faith handed on by the apostles. Yet, all too often it seems that we over emphasize one fathers at the expense of others.

      My problem with Jurgens is not only that it is a dated anthology (there are more current critical editions of many works), but it comes across as a series of proof texts for apologetics that can give the reader a misconception because some (not all) of the quotes are taken out of context. It is defintiely perfect for a course for introductory patristics, and I do not think there is anything that has surpassed Jurgen’s work on the market, especially for the doctrinal index.

      I think the old Latin concept of stopping the “fathers” with St. Bernard is arbitrary and erroneous. Being Ukrainian Greek Catholic, I think the Orthodox approach that every age has its fathers is the better way. That is why the Catholic Univesity of America did the Fathers of the Church Medieval Continuation. Now, people like Bl. Henry Suso and St. Albert the Great are being considered fathers.

      But, back to Origen – I do not know if you have seen Lorenzo Perrone’s critical edition of Origen’s recently discovered Psalm Homilies. These sermons are incredible and Joseph Trigg has the basic translation done. It should be in the Fathers of the Church Series for 2021. Meanwhile, look for the sermons of Chromatius and his Tractates on Matthew that just came out as #75 in the Paulist Press Ancient Christian Writers series. My pal Thomas Scheck did the translation.

      Thank you, Desmond for commenting and raisng the concern, I should have done that. I have thoroughly enjoyed what you and Charlie wrote on this. Charlies, what you wrote is beautiful.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. James, you and others here discussing Origen, etc. is beyond my intellect. I admire all your minds. Do you have any suggestions for people like me of where to start with getting to know the Fathers, or maybe we should just stick with the basics? Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Audimarie,

          The Jurgens set that Dedmond Birch recommended is a good start, but I have often found that isolated selections of an author can lead to misunderstanding of the work. That is why I made the list. There are certainly some patristic works that are only helpful for specialists, such as the boring “Scholia on the Apocalypse ” by Cassian the monk from the 6th century.

          Sometimes , a condensed book is helpful. For example, most people do not have the money, time, or shelf space to buy the “Summa Theologica.” So, I recommend Peter Kreeft’s amazing “Summa of the Summa.” With Kreeft’s notes and introduction, it makes the Summa approachable. My personal hardcover copy, is battered, filled with notes from my college days.

          Let prayer with the Holy Spirit be your guide. And I give you the words of the great Evagrius from his “Chapters on Prayer”(found in the copy of the Praktikos above referenced): Chapter 61: “If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. If you pray truly, you are a theologian.”

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Love this closing quote, James. Look what you started here: excellent discussions concerning some of treasures of our faith! I appreciate your depth of knowledge and your willingness to set us on a path which challenges us to dig deeper into what we believe. Holy Bravo! I fully intend to continue studying in Paradise. Too many rich resources and too little time on this side of the veil to take them all in!

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Oh! And won’t that be exciting, if God grants us the grace and perseverance to reach the Heavenly Heights, to actually talk to the Fathers themselves!!!

              Liked by 3 people

              1. Great thought, Marisa! Surely they’d be willing to be our professors. 🙂

                But as it is written:
                “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
                Nor have entered into the heart of man
                The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
                (1 Cor 2:9)

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Beckita and Marisa, so well said. Most of this life is spent acquiring virtue, the practical life, to be generally free of the passions, as found in the Praktikos. Then we move to the life of contemplation, the life of the beloved, as found in the Gnostikos. Then there is theology, the study of God, conversation with God, as found in the Kephalaia Gnostika. If we do not do it here on earth.
                  We will do it across the veil.

                  Liked by 3 people

          2. James, thank you so much for your help. I truly appreciate it.. This is what I needed. I am going to order Peter Kreeft’s book to begin. The quote at the end of your comment is very encouraging. Thank you! God bless you and your loved ones.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Charlie, that means I’m going to have to read it extra slowly. 😉 It’s on order, so will spend the winter nights reading.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Read that yesterday Bob. Good article from one who knows. Dan came in person to our church two years ago. Great testimony. Thanks.

      Liked by 4 people

  16. Latest Medjugorje message

    Latest Medjugorje Message, January 2, 2019 – Apparitions to Mirjana

    “Dear children! Sadly, among you, my children, there is so much battle, hatred, personal interests and selfishness. My children, so easily you forget my Son, His words, His love. Faith is being extinguished in many souls, and hearts are being grasped by material things of the world.

    But my motherly heart knows that there are still those who believe and love, who are seeking how to draw all the closer to my Son, who are tirelessly seeking my Son – then, in this way, they are also seeking me. These are the humble and the meek with their pain and suffering which they carry in silence with their hopes and, above all, with their faith. These are the apostles of my love.

    My children, apostles of my love, I am teaching you that my Son is not only asking for continuous prayers, but also for works and feelings – that you believe, that you pray, that with your personal prayers you grow in faith, that you grow in love. To love each other is what He asks for – that is the way to eternal life. My children, do not forget that my Son brought the light to this world, and He brought it to those who wanted to see it and receive it. You be those, because this is the light of truth, peace and love.

    I am leading you in a motherly way to adore my Son; that you love my Son with me; that your thoughts, words and actions may be directed to My Son – that they may be in His name. Then my heart will be fulfilled. Thank you. ”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Look back on those messages people…This messages never changes. It always the same, whether Pedro or Luz..

      One day of course the clock will strike the chime…


  17. Thank you all for your warm welcome back – having a bit of trouble resurrecting my word press so please excuse me if your kindness seems ignored – I can assure you it is not. Becks is working on it for me.

    Liked by 7 people

  18. Very perfect timing is this list of material on the Fathers. A particular priest in my parish, a “biblical scholar”, whose homilies often disturb my spirit and soul so deeply before the Transubstantiation takes place, that it is everything within me to focus, and I usually fail . A recent homily included a Kahlil Gibran poem On Children “…you may give them your love but not your thoughts.” Eli was punished because he did not council his sons against their evil when they were adults. So I have been attempting to read the daily readings in the office that have the writings of the Ancients included, but they are just snippets. So I am also going to begin with the Dialogues. Much appreciation.

    Liked by 3 people

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