Defending Constantine

Feast of Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles
Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart

Defending_Constantine_Square.jpgAND THE search for the historical Constantine continues. Reexamining the major primary sources on Constantine and the emperor’s own recorded words, the ever-engaging Peter Leithart paints a very different picture from the one promoted by Constantine’s pagan enemies, and ultimately transmitted to us by Gibbon... Continue Reading


Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives

Feast of St Kalliope the Martyr
Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives by Peter C. Bouteneff

Bouteneff__Beginnings.jpgTHE DEBATE about human origins has all but overtaken discussions of “faith issues” in mainstream media. Each side wishes to present the other as a laughable absurdity, and we are led to believe that historic Christianity is singularly proved or undone by the amassing of scientific research. In this scenario,... Continue Reading


The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism

Feast of Sts Carpos and Alphaeus, Apostles of the 70
The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov; translated by Archimandrite Lazarus

Brianchaninov__The_Arena_book_Square.jpegBISHOP IGNATIUS Brianchaninov (1807-1867, glorified 1988) composed this manual in two parts, the first on the inner life, the second on outer conduct, of a monk. It is rooted firmly in Scripture, the Fathers (especially John Climacus and Isaac the Syrian) and the author’s... Continue Reading


Orthodox Spirituality

Feast of St Euphrasia the Martyr of Nicea and Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople
Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae

Staniloae__Orthodox_Spirituality_Cover.jpgSOMETIMES it is best to stand aside and let the author speak for himself: “Orthodox spirituality has as its goal the deification of man and his union with God, without being merged with Him. It has... Continue Reading


Maximus the Confessor

Feast of St Hilary the Wonderworker
Maximus the Confessor (Routledge Early Church Fathers) by Andrew Louth

Louth_Maximus_square.jpegST MAXIMUS was a seventh-century Byzantine aristocrat—he was at one time Secretary to the Emperor—who became a monk and one of the most celebrated Byzantine theologians. A prolific writer, he was famous for, among other things, his important contributions to the Christological debate (he opposed Monothelitism) that led up to the decisions of... Continue Reading


Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Feast of St Mark, Bishop of Arethusa
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham

Christ_Teaching_Square.jpegTHE ROLE of eyewitnesses in transmitting true information about Jesus and his ministry is affirmed in many crucial passages of the New Testament, epitomized in the First Epistle of John: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have... Continue Reading


The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks

Feast of St. Patrick
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks translated by Benedicta Ward

Ward_desert_frs_square.jpgTHIS TRANSLATION of the Vitae Patrum has it all: comical stories, thwarted demons, sagacious aphorisms, and hard truths. Open the book at random and you’ll find a pearl some fourth century monk sold all for and spent a lifetime seeking. Take Bessarion, who on his deathbed said, “A monk ought to be... Continue Reading


The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse

Feast of St Procopius the Confessor and St Raphael of Brooklyn
The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse by Steven D. Smith

Disenchantment_of_Secular_Discourse_Square.jpegTHOSE WHO bemoan (or tune out) that American tower of Babel known as “public discourse” should certainly tune in to these reflections on why such conversations are either deplorably shallow, degraded, or at best inconclusive. Smith dismisses the usual suspects (technology, education, religion in the public square) to focus... Continue Reading


A Secular Age

Feast of Theophany and St. Theophane the Recluse
A Secular Age by Charles Taylor

Taylors_Secular_Age_Square.jpgWE MODERNS tend to believe in God reflectively rather than reflexively. Such a reduction is useful in navigating one of the most important contributions to the definition of the secular. Having described the nature of the person in Sources of the Self, Taylor seeks to understand the person-in-the-world: “How did we move from a condition... Continue Reading


Beauty for Truth's Sake

Feast of the Great Martyr Anastasia of Rome
Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education by Stratford Caldecott

Caldecott_Beauty_square.jpegG. K. CHESTERTON nicely frames the problems of modern culture, and as a result, modern education: “People are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralysed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves.” Unapologetically, Stratford Caldecott (editor of... Continue Reading


St. Ambrose: Seven Exegetical Works

Feast of the Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes, and Eugraphus
St. Ambrose: Seven Exegetical Works Fathers of the Church, Volume 65

Ambrose_Square.jpgCHURCH historians tell us that Ambrose considered preaching a sacred duty. He addressed his flock on all Sundays and feast days, and every day during the season of Lent. The seven sermons presented in this work were prepared (and likely delivered) between 386 and 394. Included are Isaac, or... Continue Reading


The Mother of God: A Letter to the Rev. E. B. Pusey

Feast of the Holy Prophet Habakkuk
The Mother of God: A Letter Addressed to the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D., on His Recent Eirenicon by John Henry Newman, edited with an introduction by Stanley L. Jaki

Newman_Square.jpegTHIS IS A “simple” writing, another of Newman’s sharp but elegant replies to those who opposed Roman dogma and practice in his day. Simple, because in it Newman is not composing a systematic... Continue Reading


On the Human Condition

Feast of All Saints
On the Human Condition by St. Basil the Great; translated by Nonna Verna Harrison

Basil__On_Human_Condition_book_cover.jpgTHE ACTS of the Apostles says of the early Christians that, “the whole group were of one heart and soul. . . and nobody said that anything he had was his own, but to them all things were common.” Possessions are transient, but the Faith is the inheritance of every generation,... Continue Reading


The Christian West and Its Singers: The First Thousand Years

Feast of Eulampius & Eulampia the Martyrs
Christian_West_and_its_Singers_Square.jpegThe Christian West and Its Singers: The First Thousand Years by Christopher Page

READING this account of liturgical singing in the early Church, one marvels at the detective work of Dr. Page, a reader in Medieval Literature and Musicology at Cambridge. No musical scores survived this period (staff notation itself was first developed in the 11th century, as an aid to... Continue Reading


Homilies on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

Feast of St Thecla the Protomartyr & Equal to the Apostles
Gregory_on_Ezekiel_Square.jpgHomilies on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel by St. Gregory the Great; translated by Theodosia Tomkison

ORIGINALLY delivered in AD 593 as Lombard hordes surrounded a beleaguered Rome, Pope Gregory's exposition of Ezekiel overflows with concern for the preservation of the Church's spiritual life in difficult times. This is therefore necessarily a pedagogical work, a "curriculum"... Continue Reading


The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption

Forefeast of the Transfiguration
The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption: A Study of the Development of Doctrine During the First Five Centuries by H. E. W. Turner

Patristic_Doctrrine_of_Redemption.jpgBASED UPON a series of lectures given in 1949 during Passion Week, H. E. W. Turner builds upon the foundation laid eighteen years earlier by Gustaf Aulen’s seminal work on the atonement, Christus Victor. While Aulen revived what he described as the “classic”... Continue Reading


The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition

Feast of the Holy Virgin Theodota
The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition by Norman Russell

Doctrine_of_Deification_Square.jpegGOD BECAME man in order that man might become God” is one of the dominant themes in the Greek Fathers from St. Irenaeus forward, the exegetical development of the scriptural phrases “you are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you” (Ps. 81/2.6) and “that you might . . .... Continue Reading


Partakers of the Divine Nature

Feast of St. Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles
Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions edited by Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A. Wittung

Partakers_Divine_Nature_Square.jpgPARTAKERS of the Divine Nature is an uncommon anthology. Born from an academic conference exploring the topic of theosis / deification at Drew University, it is a collection of essays by writers representing the perspectives of both... Continue Reading


The Lives of Simeon Stylites

Feast of St Athanasius of Athos
The Lives of Simeon Stylites translated by Robert Doran; foreword by Susan Ashbrook Harvey

Lives_of_Symeon_Stylites_Square.jpgOF ALL THE pioneers of asceticism in the ancient world, the stylites have drawn the most puzzled attention – not to say derision – from their modern observers. Sitting atop high pillars, exposed to the elements (much can be left to the imagination here) and dependent upon disciples for what... Continue Reading


St Gregory Palamas: The Homilies

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles
St. Gregory Palamas: The Homilies translated by Christopher Veniamin

Palamas_Homilies_Square.jpgA CHRISTIAN should be able to recall, with reverence, the names of the men and women in any given century who speak with the voice of the Church. The list should include Apostles and writers of Scripture, and great defenders of the faith such as Irenaeus, Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, Maximus... Continue Reading