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Fathers of the Church

1910 New Catholic Dictionary

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Saintly writers of the first centuries of the Christian era, whom the Catholic Church acknowledges as witnesses of her faith. To be numbered among the Fathers of the Church, four qualities are required of a writer. First, he must have lived when the Church was in her youth; hence Saint Gregory the Great (died 604) is generally regarded as the last Father in the West, Saint John Damascene (died 754), in the East. Secondly, he must have led a saintly life. Thirdly, his writings must not only be free from heresies, but also excel in the explanation and defense of Catholic doctrine. Lastly, his writings must bear the seal of the Church's approval. Though the majority of the Fathers were bishops, yet this is not true of all of them. Saint Jerome was a simple priest to the end of his days, Saint Ephraem a deacon, Saint Justin a layman. Not all Fathers have been proclaimed Doctors of the Church. In matters of faith and morals, the consent of the Fathers has always been held in high esteem by the Church. What they unanimously teach to be of faith, is of faith; what they unanimously reject as heretical, is heretical. Even the logical conclusions which they unanimously draw from the articles of faith, furnish us with a certain theological argument. Their authority is due not only to the fact that they were saints or bishops or eminent scholars and lived at a time when Christ's revelation was still fresh in the minds of men, but primarily to the approbation of the Church. What Christ said of the Apostles, "He that heareth you heareth me", the Church says in a manner of the Fathers. They are the mouthpiece of the infallible teaching body of the Church, and the Church acknowledges them as witnesses of her own faith. Hence, when anathematizing new heresies or defining new dogmas, the Councils appeal to the consent of the Fathers. The Council of Ephesus (431) declared in its first session that it would define nothing save what had been held unanimously by the ancient and holy Fathers. This approbation of the Church gives added authority even to the Fathers, considered singly, though in varying degrees. A general approbation given to a saintly writer of the first centuries implies that his doctrine in general is orthodox and worthy of recommendation. Sometimes, however, a certain Father's doctrine receives a special approbation as being exceptionally solid; such is Saint Augustine's fundamental doctrine on grace. Lastly, the highest degree of ecclesiastical approbation is reached when the Church takes the very doctrine of a Father and embodies it in her own official pronouncements, as, in the case of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, whose twelve anathematisms against Nestorius were adopted by the Council of Ephesus (431).

Sancte scriptores de le prime seculos del era Christian, qui le Ecclesia Catholic recognosce como testes de fide. A fin de numerava inter la Patros del Ecclesia, quatro qualitates son requirite de un scriptor. Prime, ildebe habeva vivite quando le Ecclesia era in su juventute; si Sancte Gregory le Grande (moriva 604) generalimente es reguardate como le supreme Patro in le Occidente, Sancte John Damascene (moriva 754), in le Oriente. Secunde, ildebe habeva vivite un vita sancte. Tertie, lor scriptos debe non ha heresias, e debe exceller in le explanation e defensa de doctrinas Catholic. Ultime, lot scriptos debe ha le approbation official del Ecclesia.

Le majoritate de le Patros era episcopos, ma non le toto. Sancte Jerome era un preste a le fin de su vita, Sancte Ephraem un diacono, Sancte Justin un laico. Non le toto de le Patros son Doctores del Ecclesia.

In re fide e morales, le consentimento de le Patros sempre era estimate elevatemente per le Ecclesia. Que illes unanimemente insenia es de fide, es de fide; que le unanimemente repudia como heresia, es heresia. Le conclusiones logic que illes unanimemente extrahe del articulos de fide nos forni con argumentos theologic. Lor autoritate deriva non solmente a causa de su vitas sancte, ni a causa de illos era episcopos o eruditos magne e viveva in le tempo quando le revelation de Christo era fresce in le mente de homines, ma primarimente ab le approbation del Ecclesio. Que Christo diriva del apostolos, "Il que vos audi, mi audi", le Ecclesio diri de le Patros. Illes parla del infallibile docente del Ecclesio, el Ecclesio les recognosce como testes de su fide. Si, quando le Concilios anathematisa neo heresias o defini neo dogmas, illes appella pro le accordo de le Patros. Le Consilio de Ephesus (431) declarava dum su prime session que illo non facerea definitiones si non assecurava unanimemente per le Patros ancian e sancte. Iste approbation del Ecclesio dona autoritate additional a le Patros, considerate solo, ma in quanto variante. Un approbation general dona a un scriptore sancte de le seculos prime insinua que le lor doctrina, in general, es orthodoxe et recommendable. Ma interdum, le doctrina de ali Patro recipeva un approbation special como exceptionalemte solide; tal es le doctrina fundemental re gratia per Sancte Augustine. Ultimemente, le grandissime mesura de approbation ecclesiastic es attingete quando le Ecclesio incarna le doctrina de un Patro in su pronunciamentos official, como in le caso de Sancte Cyril de Alexandria, de qui dece-duo anathemas contra Nestorius era adoptate per le Consilio de Ephesus (431).

Dictionario Catholic Neo

Bibliography Information
Entry for 'Fathers of the Church'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​ncd/​f/fathers-of-the-church.html. 1910.
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