Friday, March 21, 2014

Doctors of the Church (Our Sunday Visitor)

Doctors of the Church is a collection of audiences (or talks) given by Pope Benedict XVI during his papacy, which provides a biography and summary of the teachings of 32 Doctors of the Church. At the time this book was compiled (2011), there were 33 Doctors of the Church, and Pope Benedict XVI had yet to give a talk on St. Peter Chrysologous. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI declared two more people to be Doctors of the Church, John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen, which brings our count up to 35.

But what exactly is a Doctor of the Church? They are certain saints whose writings and preachings are considered inspired by the Holy Spirit and that have contributed significantly to the formulation of Christian teaching. Looking at the Table of Contents in this book, I'm ashamed to admit that there are names on this list I do not recognize. There are of course familiar names like Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, and Ambrose. However, the names Robert Bellarmine and Lawrence of Brindisi stump me, so I immediately want to read about them. I am also drawn to reading about the Eastern Fathers, like Chrysostom, Basil, and Gregory Nazianzus.

Pope Benedict XVI didn't talk about all of these great men and women in chronological order, but the book is arranged that way. This provides the reader one way to read it, but you could also do like me and just skip around, depending on who you want to learn more about. I particularly enjoyed reading about St. Ephrem the Syrian. Even though this chapter was only a few pages, it made me want to buy a book of his hymns and dive into them. Here is a brief sample of one, "The Lord entered her  and became a servant; the Word entered her, and became silent within her; thunder entered her and his voice was still; the Shepherd of all entered her; he became a Lamb in her, and came forth bleating."

It takes a brilliant mind to know other brilliant minds, and Pope Benedict XVI can definitely be considered a brilliant mind. It's a shame how many Catholics are missing out on his writings and audiences. I thoroughly recommend this book and other books from Our Sunday Visitor, like The Apostles, Great Teachers, Holy Women, The Fathers Volume 1, and The Fathers Volume 2. Reading through these will provide you with a wealth of knowledge on the great men and women of our Faith.

This book was provided to me for free by Our Sunday Visitor in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, click the link, and hit Yes!