Apostolic Fathers

Published November 13, 2020, 12:18 PM

by Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ


Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

The Apostolic Fathers were the early disciples of the Apostles who were the main cause of the conversion of Protestant preachers like Scott Hahn who saw that they were teaching what the Catholic Church holds instead of what Luther started to teach in the 16th century especially about the Eucharist.  There are a number of intellectual Christians who have been coming back home to the Catholic Church.  But as Bishop Robert Barron has pointed out for every learned Protestant pastor who has come back there are six Catholics ignorant of their faith who have left the Church.  These disciples of the Apostles wrote about their faith and these letters have been preserved.  St. Ignatius of Antioquia in chains as he moved from city to city on his way to Rome wrote a letter about the faith to each of these cities. He was especially important on his writings on transubstantiation in the Catholic Mass done in commemoration of the Passion as Jesus had requested.

Among these Apostolic Fathers are Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, the prolific theologian who was not put on the altar as a saint. There was Cyril of Rome and Polycarp and many others till the time of Emperor Constantine legitimized the Christian faith in the Empire of Rome. The big controversy was against the Arians who did not accept the divinity of Jesus. This was defined in the Council of Nicea. Constantine had a vision that he had to put the cross on his banners to win the war. This legitimized the Christian faith against the pagan gods and stopped the brutal persecutions of the Christians.

The last of these Apostolic Fathers was Augustine of Hippo in Africa. He was a neo Platonist teacher in Milan, quite successful and famous. He hesitated to ask for baptism, for what that entailed. In his Confessions he tells of his wild life and boasted that he probably committed all sins possible. But when he was baptized, he became a priest thanks to the prayers of his mother Monica. As Bishop of Hippo, he wrote voluminously and was called the teacher of grace. His autobiography and his work of the City of God are important documents for the faith. He was mainly the defender of the faith against the Donatists and the Pelagians who promoted the will of man against the need for grace. He suffered through the two sackings of Rome and the year after his death, Hippo his diocese in Africa was also sacked by the vandals.

We congratulate former Vice President Joe Biden as the president-elect of the USA and Senator Kamala Harris as vice president-elect of the US. It is unfortunate that President Trump refuses to acknowledge his defeat. In the past the Philippines has done better with Republican presidents. But President Trump was a nightmare for many people. Trump may have may have learned from banana republics that politicians never lose. They only get cheated.

May the Lord bless both our countries?

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