Saturday 3 December 2022

Doctors of the Church The 33 Great Catholic Teachers - Father Jerome Bertram - The Catholic Truth Society

Doctors of the Church
The 33 Great Catholic Teachers
Father Jerome Bertram
ISBN 9781860827464
CTS Booklet B742

A few years ago, I stumbled across the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society quite by accident. I was researching an author I had run across, and was trying to track down all of her works. Soon I had a long lost of books from the CTS on my Wishlist, and it seems that for everyone I read I end up with 1 or 2 more on my wish list. At the writing of this review I have read over  325 titles from the CTS over the last 5 years and currently have almost 200 either in my ‘to be read’ pile or on my wish list still. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This book based on the CTS Booklet number is part of the Biography series. It was published in 2011. Father Jerome Bertram has edited and written other volumes for the CTS. 

The description of this booklet is:

“The Doctors of the Church were saints who were devoted to the Word of God, eager to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to pass on to others what they had learned. Each memorable and influential figure is described in this intriguing booklet with a concise summary of their contribution to the Church and to the development of doctrine. Their preaching and writing continue to influence people today. Fr Jerome Bertram is a priest of the Oxford Oratory, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, author of various books on historical subjects and translator of Medieval Latin texts.”

The chapters and sections in the volume are:

What is a Doctor of the Church? 
The four Greek Doctors 
     Saint Athanasius (295-373) 
     Saint Basil the Great (330-379) 
     Saint Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) 
     Sa int John Chrysostom 
     The four Latin Doctors 
     Saint Ambrose (340-397) 
     Saint Jerome (345-420) 
     Saint Augustine (354-430) 
     Saint Gregory the Great (540-604)

The fathers of the first millennium 
     Sault Ephraem the Syrian (306-73) 
     Saint Hilary of Poitier (315-68) 
     Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (315-87) 
     Saint Cyril of Alexandria (376—444)
     Saint Leo the Great (390-461)
     Saint Peter Chrysologus (400-450)
     Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636) 
     Saint Bede of farrow (67 3-735) 
     Saint John Damascene (676-749) 

The scholars of the middle ages 
     Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072) 
     Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) 
     Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) 
     Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) 
     Saint Albert the Great (1206-1280) 
     Saint Bonaventure (1217-1274) 
     Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) 
     Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1379) 

The early modern reformers 
     Saint Teresa of A vi la (1515-82) 
     Saint John of the Cross (1542-91) 
     Saint Peter Canisius (1521-97) 
     Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) 
     Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1622) 
     Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) 

Into the age of revolution 
     Saint Alphonsus de' Liguori (1696-1787) 
     Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-97) 

Will there be more? 
Further Reading 

Before moving on to the text it should be noted that a few doctors have been promoted since the publication of this volume. They are:

     John of Ávila (1500-1569)
     Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
     Gregory of Narek (951-1003)
     Irenaeus of Lyon (130-202)

This was a fantastic little volume. And I would love to see an updated version released by the CTS. I highlighted numerous passages while reading this booklet, some of them are: 

“Among the innumerable saints honoured, venerated or forgotten in the Western Church, there is a small band of outstanding teachers, no more than thirty three in two thousand years, who have been honoured with the title of “Doctor of the Church”. Since the Middle Ages it has been established that the title is conferred only by the Pope, in a public ceremony: more recently certain rules have been developed to help the Pope discern whether a particular saint is worthy of the title.”

“The title is not conferred lightly, although it is clear that some Doctors are of much greater importance than others. Some have a message that is enduring and essential for the faith of all time: others were called for particular times. and their work is done. Some have left writings that should be eagerly read by all Christians today, others are now veiled in obscurity. Their writings out of print and no longer accessible. For each age. God sends the message it needs to hear; some messages need to be repeated over and over again to the end of time.”

“We begin by looking at the eight teachers, three from Asia Minor. two from the North African provinces of the Roman Empire and three Europeans, who helped the Church come through the transition from a race of fugitives to become a kingdom of saints. These were the first to be acclaimed as "Doctors", and are frequently represented together in mediaeval art. Four are from the Eastern Church, four from the West. known as the Greek and Latin Doctors respectively.”

“Saint Athanasius towers over the turbulent fourth century, a valiant champion of the faith against the world.”

“Saint Athanasius holds the record for the number of times he was sent into
exile for his teaching: he died in obscurity, but his teaching triumphed.”

“Alexander and his clergy felt that Athanasius was probably right. and Arius probably wrong, but were not that sure about it. So Athanasius wrote a short pamphlet, which changed the world.

The pamphlet is called On the Incarnation, and explains not only that Jesus really is God by nature, but also shows why he became one of us, and why it is important to grasp these essential facts.”

“Athanasius began his career as a serial refugee. Now Bishop of Alexandria, he was driven into exile seven times by the Imperial supporters, on a variety of trumped-up charges, but in reality always because he would not compromise on his teaching that Jesus is true God. It became a proverb to talk of him as Athanasius alone against the world, contra mundum.”

“True sanctity does not make us less human. but rather enhances our common
humanity. Basil's social action shows how a deep love of Goel is inseparable from practical love of neighbour.”

“Chrysostom's social teaching is still relevant today. and still likely to be unpopular among the powerful and the wealthy.”

“In September 20 I 0. Pope Benedict XVI speculated publicly that Blessed John Henry Newman would fit the criteria laid clown for a Doctorate. He certainly enjoyed the “Charism of Wisdom”, with an acute mind and intellectual ability beyond most or us. His long ponderings on the Scriptures and the writings of the Church Fathers helped him to attain a “Mature Sapiental Synthesis”: in particular, his thought on the relationship between faith and reason, religion and science, is peculiarly relevant today.”

I hope those few quotes give you a fell for the content of this great little volume. The ‘Further Reading’ section at the end of the volume is excellent and refers readers to several other volumes from the Catholic Truth Society, most of which I have read and can endorse as well. They are:

Key Texts
     Spiritual Masters: Medieval Fathers and Writers (B 740)
     The Fathers of the Church (Do 780)

The Doctors of the Church
     Augustine of Hippo (B 703)
     Bernard of Clairvaux (B 735)
     Anthony of Padua (B 679)
     Thomas Aquinas (B 723)
     Catherine of Siena (B 690)
     Teresa of Avila (B 706)
     John of the Cross (B 702)
     Robert Bellarmine (B 728)
     Francis de Sales (B 708)
     Therese of Lisieux (B 204)

Blessed John Henry Newman
     John Henry Newman (B 665)
     Newman Prayer Book (D 729)

This was a great little read. I am very thankful I was able to track down a copy. It was both informative and entertaining. It was 33 brief biographies and highlights of their contributions that lead to them being named Doctors of the Church. 

It is another excellent resource from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Father Jerome Bertram:
Jesus, Teach Us to Pray
Vita Communis: The Common Life of the Secular Clergy
Heresy Through the Ages
Traditions of the Oratory
Anointing: Christ's Healing Touch 
The Life Of Saint Edward, King And Confessor 

No comments: