. . . is a thorough reading of the lives of the saints. Don’t pick up one of those sweet-tart packets of platitudes people try to pass off as hagiography. What you want, if you wish to understand the Church and understand the nature of the Faith, is Butler’s Lives, the big version. Here are excerpts from the life St. Beatus of Liebana, who died circa 798, and whose feast came around just recently:
. . . there was at Toledo an aged archbishop called Elipandus, who had been infected by that subtle revival of the Nestorian heresy which asserted that Christ was only the adopted son of the Eternal Father. This false doctrine Elipandus taught openly and disseminated far and wide.
. . . When he [Beatus] heard the errors of Elipandus he at once set himself to counteract his teaching, both by speech and by writing, and he was joined by Etherius, who afterwards became bishop of Osma in Catalonia. They were very successful, and won back multitudes to the true faith.
This soon reached the ears of the archbishop, who was furious and wrote a scathing letter to [Beatus’] Abbot Fidelis, apparently a dignitary of great importance. . . . In it he denounced Beatus as a vagrant mountaineer (or worse things) who dared set himself against the archbishop of Toledo and the Church.. . . This letter the abbot showed to Beatus, and the saint’s reply was to publish a book with Etherius in which they set forth, none too clearly, the orthodox teaching.
Butler leaves to the reader’s imagination what it is that might be worse than being a mountaineer. Get the whole story, and four volumes of companion tales, here.