Church doctors

Have you ever said or written something that keeps getting mentally regurgitated like the cud in a cow’s multiple stomachs?  You want to swallow it, but it just doesn’t want to stay down?

Well, that’s what happened since my September fifth entry.

Four?

While I was totally taken by what I read about St. John Chrysostom (Sept 13th), I had a tough time accepting the quote I read describing him as “one of the four doctors of the church.”

Hmm.  I used the quote but felt bothered.  My doubting Thomasina kept me on edge for ten days.  What if there are more than four?  What if someone reads this and quotes the error?  I’ve gotta look into it, or the Monk within won’t let me rest! (Monk is a TV detective with an overly meticulous personality.)

To silence the discomfort, I deleted the quote from my entry.  I was still curious, mind you; but I lacked the oomph to check into the topic.  And what about the fathers of the church?  I searched for worthwhile links on this week’s saints and serendipitously discovered— gasp— another doctor!

St. Robert Bellarmine (September 17th).  Oh, my! 

I know St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th) is a doctor, and St. Lawrence Brindisi (July 21st) is another.  This is four already! 

I couldn’t delay my search any longer.

Thirty-three!

For those of you who, like me, are curious to learn more about the fascinating doctors of the Catholic church, Tommy Ferris lists thirty-three on his homepage and provides noteworthy links to each of these saints.

But wait! 

Wasn’t there someone else?  I know I’ve recently seen someone else who writes on this topic.

Father or doctor?

I revisited Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, who has St. Irenaeus (June 28th) listed as both church father and church doctor.  But how can one saint be both? 

What’s the difference between a church father and a church doctor?  This inquiring mind really wanted to know.

Among New Advent‘s (2009) copious definitions is one for church father that makes sense to me.

It follows that, as our own fathers are the predecessors who have taught us, so the fathers of the whole church are especially the earlier teachers, who instructed her in the teaching of the apostles, during her infancy and first growth.

On the other hand, church doctors are “certain ecclesiastical writers [who] have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole church has derived from their doctrine.”

The Catholic encyclopedia also lists and differentiates among saints, fathers, and doctors but doesn’t include all thirty-three of the church doctors on the existing list.

Church doctors

Additionally, my searches yielded three important considerations regarding church doctors:  (1) The Western church had four doctors: Sts. Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome; the Eastern church, three: Sts. John Chrysostom, Basil, and Gregory Nazianzen.  Then others were added over time.  (2) To be called a doctor of the church, a saint had to meet three criteria: “eminent learning, a high degree of sanctity, and proclamation by the church” (New Advent).  However, unlike those of us mere mortals who must go before a dissertation defense committee, the bar, or the medical board to receive the title of doctor, saints don’t appear before a council.  Instead, the title is conferred after the saint’s death.  (3) And, finally, not all extraordinary saints can be doctors of the church.  Martyrs, like St. Irenaeus, are honored only as fathers of the church.

Regardless, I did find the answer to my original question: The Catholic church has thirty-three doctors.  But what about the number of church fathers?  And who are they?

June 22, 2012

“God did not tell us to follow him because he needed our help, but because he knew that loving him would make us whole” (St. Irenaeus in the Word among us, June 2012, p. M81).

February 21, 2015

Pope Francis proclaimed St. Gregory of Narek (950-1003) the thirty-sixth doctor of the Church.

June 30, 2015

Hold firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients.  Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church (St. Thomas Aquinas).

June 28, 2016

“God did not tell us to follow him because he needed our help, but because he knew that loving him would make us whole” (St. Irenaeus).

Links of interest…  Apostles, major saints, & feast days…  Catholic Church doctors / fathers (& the Eucharistearlymore – patriarchs) / martyrs…  Back to the beginning: A brief introduction to the ancient Catholic Church…  Doctors of the Catholic Church: about / audios / book (more / rating) / “faithful people” (more) / list (more) / two new (more)…  Learning to appreciate Church documents…  Monk (TV show)…  St. Gregory of Narek: about (more) / Armenian mystic / Catholic / church / monk /  newest doctor / tenets of prayer (about – book)…  St. Irenaeus of Lyons: about (more) / bishop / gnostics (more) / quotes (more) / ten things to know / theologian / writings

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church time blues…  Concrete abstraction…  Golden…  Kindred acorns…  Picturing God…  Seven dwelling places…  Simple yet profound…  St. Anthony…  St. Chrysostom…  Teresa of Avila

Dear God

Decades ago I came to this realization…

All that I am, all that I have been, all that I hope to be, and all that I shall become I owe to you, dear God.

Child’s daily offering

For love of me you came to earth;
You gave your life for me.
So every day you give me now
I give back happily.

Take all my laughter, all my tears,
Each thought, each word, each deed,
And let them be my all-day prayer
To help all those in need.

October 18, 2010

Reading Saturday’s meditation after Communion yesterday, I immediately linked to my little prayer above.

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of glory, all I am and all I have comes from you.  Having come into this place, I yield myself to you.  With a deep breath, I will welcome your Spirit and release the anxieties that weigh me down.  I give back to you the mind you have given me.  Empty it of useless information, Father, and fill it with the only knowledge that matters: personal acquaintance with you (the Word among us, October 2010, p. 40).

April 1, 2013

“You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands”
(Psalms 16:5).

March 16, 2014

Father, thank you for the life you have called me to.  Give me grace to trust you with the details as I say “yes” to you (the Word among us, Lent 2014,
p. 38).

April 24, 2014

Father, you loved me long before I came to know you.  Open my eyes to see how you are at work in every human heart (the Word among us, April 20 – May 31, 2014, p. 27).

“It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future” (St. Fidelis).

July 21, 2014

“God is love, and all his operations proceed from love” (St. Lawrence of Brindisi).

November 19, 2014

Nothing but self-will can separate us from God.  Neither all the men upon earth, nor all the devils in hell can deprive us of his grace (St. Alphonsus Ligouri).

March 30, 2015

“Grant me a humble spirit, O God, that I may be graced with a deepening knowledge that you love me not because of my worthiness, but because you are love and reach out to me in love” (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB; 1938-2014).

May 16, 2015

“My past, O Lord, to your mercy; my present, to your love; my future, to your providence! (St. Padre Pio).

June 26, 2015

“You must be careful: don’t let your professional success or failure— which will certainly come— make you forget, even for a moment, [that] the true aim of your work is the glory of God!” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

August 1, 2015

God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us.  His will is that no one should lose his soul, that everyone should save and sanctify his soul….  God has made the attainment of our happiness, his glory.  Even chastisements come to us not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

August 6, 2015

“When it comes to obeying the commandments or enduring adversity, the words uttered by the Father should always echo in our ears: This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (St. Leo the Great).

August 25, 2015

The needle of a compass points north; if you turn it aside, it weighs against your finger, showing its natural tendency and, from the moment all pressure ceases, returns to its original direction.  And so the person who has become truly simple turns continually to God, impelled by an instinctive need (Emmanuel de Gibergues in Strength in Simplicity).

September 9, 2015

“We shall never thank God enough for the love with which he has loved us” (Fr. Raoul Plus, SJ in How to Pray Well).

September 14, 2015

I want to live at the level to which in the mind of God I belong; I accept the state in which I find myself, and whatever the degree of my love, I mean it to be the highest of which I am capable (Dom Hubert Van Zeller in How to Find God).

November 2, 2015

“What we do for ourselves during life is more certain than all the good we expect others to do for us after death” (St. Gregory the Great).

November 13, 2015

Lord, you are the one who acts.  I am not even an instrument in your hands, as others say.  You alone are the one who does all, and I am nothing more than a spectator of the great and wonderful works that you know how to accomplish (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

November 23, 2015

My sacrifice, my holy Mass, begins in daily life.  From the altar of the Lord, I go to the altar of my work.  I must be able to continue the sacrifice of the altar in every situation….  It is Christ whom we must proclaim through our lives; to him we offer the sacrifice of our own will (Blessed Zdenka).

January 8, 2016

Nothing created has ever been able to fill the heart of man.  God alone can fill it infinitely (St. Thomas Aquinas).

February 4, 2017

Deep down, we all have a sense that we were put on earth for something.  We have a mission and our hearts yearn to discern what that mission is.  Often we come close, but we sense what we’ve found isn’t quite the whole thing or the real thing.  Not to fret because, if our hearts are pure, we’ll be led to it (Heather King in Loaded: Money and the Spirituality of Enough).

February 28, 2017

“We must begin with a strong resolution to give ourselves wholly to God, professing to him, in a tender, loving manner, from the bottom of our hearts, that we intend to be his without any reserve; and then we must often go back and renew this same resolution” (St. Francis de Sales).

May 11, 2017

The desire for happiness is, at its core, the desire for God.  The fulfillment of true happiness can be found only in him.  We were made for relationship with him. How mind-blowing is that?  The God of the universe created you for him (Bear Woznick in Deep Adventure: The Way of Heroic Virtue).

May 26, 2017

I haven’t a clue how my story will end, but that’s all right.  When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, that’s when you discover the stars (Nancy Willard).

June 16, 2017

In Christ, even our failures become a source of grace when we accept them in imitation of his humility and courage; even our anxieties become a path to holiness when we ally them with his sufferings.  All that we do and say, if it is done and said in Christ, is done and said well, for true wellness is life in Christ (Clayton C. Barbeau in The Father of the Family).

July 7, 2017

“Be what you are and do it well” (St. Francis de Sales).

July 17, 2017

Unless I am connected to God, who invented the happiness I’m seeking, I come up frustrated, angry, and disappointed by life— empty instead of full.  When I feel disconnected from God, I feel restless— not at peace with myself, with my God, or with others (Melissa Overmyer in Born to Soar: Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life).

August 30, 2017

“The past must be abandoned to God’s mercy, the present to our fidelity, the future to divine providence” (St. Francis de Sales).

August 31, 2017

“He who desires nothing but God is rich and happy” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

September 5, 2017

All we do— our prayer, our work, our suffering— is for Jesus.  Our life has no other reason or motivation.  This is a point many people do not understand.  I serve Jesus twenty-four hours a day.  Whatever I do is for him.  And he gives me strength.  I love him in the poor and the poor in him, but always the Lord comes first (Kerry Walters in St. Teresa of Calcutta: Missionary, Mother, Mystic).

October 16, 2017

Charity works.  It gets good jobs done.  It gives form and life to all of the virtues.  Infused by God, it reigns supreme in loving goodness over the talents of learning and the talents of living (Kevin Vost in Unearthing Your Ten Talents).

National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe – Marytown, IL

Links of interest…  Apostleship of Prayer…  Be willing to simply love God…  Desire for God is written in the human heart…  Discovering the true self in God with Merton’s guidance…  Expecting the unexpected I can’t get the institutional church out of my system…  Journalism as a vocation…  Knowing ourselves in Jesus…  Love of God…  Memoir…  Prayer is a relationship with God…  See life through God’s eyes…  Sisters of St. Benedict: dome blog / facebook / gift shop & bakery / website…  St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen: about / biography / Capuchin / feast (4.24) / lessons / Mark Roymartyr / memorial / prayer (more / readings) / profile Why middle age is prime time for creativity the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Budding relationships…  Concrete abstraction…  Gifts…  Little gifts…  Picturing God…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful…  St. Felix…  Two takes

St. Chrysostom

September 13th is the feast day of St. John Chrysostom, one of the doctors of the Church.  Born in Antioch, Syria in 347, he was a prolific writer until his death in 407.

Peace and justice

A consummate believer in peace and justice, his last words were, “Glory be to God for all things.”  When his remains were returned from exile, his relics were said to have uttered, “Peace be with you.”

Prayerful insight

??????????Until today, I’d never heard of St. John Chrysostom.  But, on reading the Word among us, I was moved by the beauty of his sentiment, which resonates strongly with Isaiah’s “treasures in secret places” (45:3).

“Prayer,” St. John Chrysostom wrote, “is a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm” (the Word among us, September 2008, p. M35).

May 19, 2013

“Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit and raises man to heaven”
(St. Ephrem).

September 13, 2013

“Nothing makes us so God-like as our willingness to forgive” (St. John Chrysostom).

April 18, 2014

Do you fast?  Give me proof of it by your works.  By what kind of works?  If you see a poor man, take pity on him.  If you see an enemy, be reconciled with him. If you see a friend gaining honor, do not be jealous of him.  If you see a beautiful woman, pass her by.  And let not only the mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all members of your bodies (St. John Chrysostom).

April 26, 2015

We have a Shepherd who so loves us that he gave even his life for us.  When, therefore, he is both powerful and loves us, what is there to hinder us from being saved?  Nothing, unless we ourselves revolt from him (St. John Chrysostom).

September 13, 2015

“Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has, and this requires transforming greed into gratitude” (St. John Chrysostom).

July 8, 2016

“If there were no tribulation, there would be no rest; if there were no winter, there would be no summer” (St. John Chrysostom).

September 13, 2016

Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else.  If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God.  Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord.  If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life (St. John Chrysostom in Prayer is the light of the soul).

October 25, 2016

“The parable of the mustard seed encourages the disciples to have faith and shows them that the gospel preaching will spread in spite of everything” (St. John Chrysostom).

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Garden at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church – Aransas Pass, TX

Links of interest…  Lazarus the hero…  St. John Chrysostom: about (more) / biography / church / commonality with Pope Francis / doctor / feast (more) / gift of eloquent teaching / golden mouth (more) / hierarch / homilies (more) / hourly prayers / life (more) / memorial / on the Jesus prayer / prayers (more) / quotes (more) / saint / skull / vegan / writings…  Prayer is the light of the soul…  Spiritual reading arms us for battle / makes saints…  Treasures in heaven…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours & half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (1898)…  With God all things are possible…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Call of service…  Christmas blessings…  Church doctors…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  God’s master plan…  Golden…  Memory lane…  Mercy and justice…  Oh, happy day!…  Prayerful messages…  Promise of hope…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  Sweet Jesus

Faith and prayer

“God gives faith equally to everyone, and he invites all of us to develop this faith” (the Word among us, August 2008, p. 16).  Faith is both “an attitude of heart” (p. 15) that grows through prayer and “an inner conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit” (p. 17).

ND12609Warm welcome

On our way back home Saturday morning, Steven drove us to Kerrville.  Never having been there, our first impression turned into wondering if we could make it our home.  We looked for a Catholic church, easily found Notre Dame, and stopped for a visit.  How perfect to find open doors leading to a simplistically elegant spaciousness warmly lit through stained glass windows in the open truss ceiling.

Within moments, a woman arrived, smiled at us, and knelt to pray.  In no time, she joined us in quiet meditation before the Blessed Sacrament.

“Where two or more are gathered” (Matthew 18:20) came to mind.  Were we meant to pray together? I wondered.

Trusting soul

As we stood by the choir section, a very humble, elderly Hispanic man came up to me.  Without speaking, he insistently, almost urgently, handed me a church envelope.

Puzzled, I wanted to say “but we’re not from here” or “we’re not staying for Mass.”  But, realizing it was his weekly offering, I thanked him and looked around for a receptacle in which to deposit the padded envelope.

Some churches have metal boxes by the statues or by the candles; but, seeing none, I turned back to the man who was then kneeling on the floor.

Even before genuflecting he’d already been deeply in prayer.  He didn’t hear me thank him two more times.  His attire made me wonder if his work in the fields or with livestock would keep him from attending Mass the following day (Sunday), too.

I wanted to bless him in Spanish, but the words eluded me.

A woman with a small child had entered and was in prayer facing the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe not far from us.  I thought to ask her for help.

I turned again to the man, but he was gone.  I wondered, Is this the reason God called us here today?

Building community

The woman with the little girl disappeared into the room in the back, so I couldn’t ask for directions to the rectory.

We exited through the side door we’d first entered and walked around to the front.  Those doors were unlocked.

On going in, we again found the woman and her child.  I spoke to her in Spanish when I noticed she was having difficulty speaking English.  I explained our dilemma regarding the man’s envelope.

After introductions, we exchanged bits and pieces of our Catholic journey within our respective parishes.

Gloria shared her excitement about the Cursillo movement and enthusiastically invited us to be part of the experience on our return visit.  Gloria’s face lit up as she told us about her family.  The three oldest daughters attend school and love to learn; her youngest, Rosibel, will attend Head Start after she turns four in November.  Gloria wants to look for work once her little one’s in school.

When I told her about our church website, she asked that I write down the information for them.  Since her husband is arthritic, the family lives on a meager Social Security income.  They can’t afford the Internet, but she wants to stay in touch through her daughters who can email from the library.

Despite her family’s economic struggles, Gloria continues to walk in faith the way her mother taught her in Coahuila.  She’s lived in Kerrville for nineteen years and is thoroughly excited about God’s love, goodness, and mercy.

Listening to her, I wondered, Was Gloria’s need to share so great that You made our meeting possible, that You made her part of the solution to our dilemma regarding Agustin’s church offering?

Connectedness

Although Gloria at first refused to do so, she finally agreed to drop off Agustin’s envelope at nine-thirty Mass the following day.  She was quite happy to be of service.

We conversed as if we’d been long-lost friends.

Gloria told us that Notre Dame is the only Catholic church in town, “one among many, many of the other churches.”  She gave us her telephone number so that the next time we’re in town, we can call her and attend Mass together.

Steven and I came away with a connectedness to the four parishioners at Notre Dame, and I’ve since kept my word to Gloria.  I placed the names of those we met and their family members in the two little baskets— one for petitions, the other for thanksgiving and praise— before the Holy Infant of Prague here at home.

“Remember that faith is a gift and a disposition, not a set of rules and tasks that one must accomplish” (the Word among us, p. 18).  When we make the time to discover God’s “treasures in secret places” (Is. 45:3), we unwittingly practice our faith.

December 10, 2014

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances” (C. S. Lewis).

June 3, 2015

“But when you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson, Pope Awesome & other stories).

August 28, 2015

Faith is the first light, the heralding light, the foundation placed in us of what in its final perfection will be the beatific vision of God.  It is the beginning of the eternal ways in us, the commencement of our union with God (William Ullathorne, 1806-1889, Patience and Humility).

October 29, 2015

When faith grows weak, all virtues are weakened.  When faith is lost, all virtues are lost (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

November 6, 2015

“Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God” (St. Teresa of Ávila).

January 15, 2016

Holiness is not something for some privileged few.  God calls everyone.  From everyone he waits for love: from everyone, wherever they may be; from everyone, whatever may be their state in life, profession, or occupation
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

June 18, 2016

“Faith furnishes prayer with wings, without which it cannot soar to heaven” (St. John Climacus).

June 22, 2016

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest” (St. Thomas More).

July 25, 2016

“Faith … if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

November 4, 2016

“Such is the nature of faith that the greater are the obstacles it encounters, the more ardent it becomes” (St. Charles Borromeo).

January 2, 2017

The gift of faith, which comes to us from God, is a sublime grace.  But we are not intended to keep it to ourselves— in effect, to bury it in the ground.  The apostolic fishermen were ordained to be fishers of souls and not custodians of an aquarium (Fr. George W. Rutler in Hints of Heaven).

April 20, 2017

Faith is the door through which we enter the supernatural order.  It opens into heaven.  It tells us [that] we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come (Abbot Chapman).

June 6, 2017

“When you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson in Pope Awesome & Other Stories).

June 12, 2017

Faith dovetails with hope and matures in charity.  The life of faith is truly redemptive if there is hope for a future glory and a true friendship with God, which is charity.  The work of Christian faith is charity, and the eternal expectation connected with it is hope (Fr. Maurice Emelu in Our Journey to God).

August 24, 2017

“For faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

August 31, 2017

Faith requires perseverance.  It often grows in stages.  Sometimes we fall.  Sometimes we walk away.  So often, we must crawl.  Whether we consciously admit to it or not, our faith— our life in Christ— has sustained us throughout the ups and downs of our lives.  It has sustained us in moments of new life and in death, at times of sickness, and at those times when we struggle to give meaning to painful situations (Peter J. Vaghi in Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life).

September 18, 2017

We must express joy and thanks to the Lord in our problems.  Joy and thankfulness transform our problems into opportunities for the Lord to work in our lives.  They turn our minds from our problems to him (Bert Ghezzi in Getting Free: How to Overcome Persistent Spiritual Problems).

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Links of interest…  Beatific vision of God: heavenseeing face to face / what is…  Can we endure the light…  Catholic faith: A life-altering journey…  Creating a space for Jesus in the midst of duty & anxiety…  Deepen your friendship with God…  Don’t compartmentalize your faith (audio)…  Faith connected to everythingin the gospels / through love / what is…  Five ways to listen to God…  Getting out of God’s way & cooperating with his divine plan…  Hear God speaking to you…  Hope born of prayer & purification / proper place / that banishes fear…  How faith relates to hope & charity / our small actions can change the world…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  Little book of holy gratitudelitany of Thanksgiving…  Listen for the Spirit in your prayer…  Miracle in the Whataburger parking lot…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Patron saint of missing socks, pray for us…  Stir the flame of faith…  What is Cursillo…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  the Word among us

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