Advent Reflection

Nov 27, 2018

JOURNEY WITH THE FATHERS

It seems to me that there is a great interest in genealogy or DNA. We want to know where we come from. We want to know our history. It gives us a sense of belonging and continuity. As Catholics, as you may or may not know, we have a long and rich history that spans two millennia and encompasses the entire planet. There isn’t any location that has not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed. Every century, starting with the birth of Our Lord at Christmas some two thousand years ago has its own story to tell and is part of our patrimony that has been handed down to us by our Holy Mother Church. We have a Christian DNA that we can trace back to Jesus and his Mother who gave him a human nature. This is who we are.

This coming year the Sunday gospel will be taken from the gospel of Luke and I intend to share with you the sermons of many of the early Fathers and saints who wrote so beautifully about our lord. My source for these sermons is a book published by New City Press and edited by Edith Barnecut, O.S.B. (Order of Saint Benedict) called Journey With The Fathers. I hope that this journey will help you to connect more closely with your past so that you can see more clearly into the future.

Fr. James Marshall

 

Throughout the Christian centuries the Bible, especially the gospels, has inspired many volumes of sermons and commentaries. Those written in the early ages of the Church have a special value because of their formative influence on later theology and spirituality—the two were always wedded. It was for this reason that some of the early Christian writers came to be known as the “Fathers of the Church.”

The esteem in which these early writings were held is shown by the great labor that was undertaken to copy them by hand so that they became familiar to scholars throughout the known world. Sermons preached by Saint Augustin of Hippo in North Africa in the fifth century were read by Saint Bede in England in the eighth.

Meanwhile translations were being made, though these were mostly of the theological and philosophical works of the Gathers or Church writers, the sermons receiving less attention. Not all of these writings, even of the sermons, speak to people of our day. Many are too diffuse for modern taste, or deal with subjects which are no longer of current interest. To find the gems concealed in this huge mass of material requires great labor, but this was undertaken after the Second Vatican Council to produce the readings in the revised Liturgy of the Hours published in 1970 and later translated into various languages. This put the choicest passages from our patristic and modern readings, one such being the present series Journey with the Fathers which will deepen one’s understanding of the gospels read at Mass on Sundays or feasts which replace a Sunday. It puts within reach of all some of the treasures of our Christian tradition.

                                                                                                John E. Rotelle, O.S.A