Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and St. Jerome are all Church Fathers whose names you will become familiar with in the pages of Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will. Mike Aquilina has packed a lot of info into this relatively short read coming in at 134 pages. I found myself taking a TON of notes as I worked my way through the book. The format of the book itself makes it read almost like a collection of essays as each chapter could justifiably stand on its own. This in no way detracts from the material contained within.
Mr. Aquilina covers topics ranging from the family structure of the early Christians, martyrdom in the early church, John Henry Newman’s conversion, icons, feast days, and the twelve apostles themselves. None of the chapters is overly long nor is this a heavy theological book as it reads quite easily. I have to say this once more, it is amazing the amount of information Mike was able to squeeze into each chapter without it becoming overbearing and hard to grasp.
There were a number of chapters that really drew me in. “The Family on Mission” is a great read on how early Christians were able to survive the poor conditions in Rome. Those conditions included poor hygiene, crowded living conditions, poor medical care and rampant infanticide (although this did not affect the Christians but it had huge negative effects on the pagan Romans). None of these were able to stop the astonishing growth of Christianity by 40%!
The second chapter that I feel deserves pointing out was “The Martyr’s Cup”. I advise you read and reflect on this chapter. If you think you have problems, you haven’t experienced anything. Imagine being clothed in skins and torn apart by dogs, nailed to crosses or doused with pitch, set on fire and used as lamps to light the night. The author also does a good job in this chapter of detailing how the early Christians linked there martyrdom to the Eucharist. In their writings both the Mass and Martyrdom meant sacrifice.
Another in the book include the chapter “Newman’s Conversion”. Mike points out that Newman’s conversion was a result of what he found while reading and studying the Fathers. Though not his intent he really started studying them to find out how to revive his Anglican church. Newman discovered through his research that the Fathers were correct in their beliefs and anyone not following the traditions they practiced stood against Christ’s Church.
This was a very enjoyable book that packed a lot of punch into a mere 134 pages. I would recommend this to anyone but in particular I think it is a good book to read if you are just starting to read about the Fathers. The book provides a nice overview of the Early Chrisitans and Mike also recommends further reading sources in the chapter “Four Great Books”. For more information on Mike Aquilina, this book and a few more suggested books see my interview with Mike here.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.