Building Your Spiritual Life with the Early Church Fathers
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Building Your Spiritual Life with the Early Church Fathers

Class 3 in the Fathers of Our Faith Series
4.0 (1 rating)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
12 students enrolled
Last updated 9/2018
English
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This course includes
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 7 articles
  • 10 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • You will learn how the Early Church Fathers understood a "personal relationship with Jesus"
  • You will grow in your understanding of the role of the Holy Eucharist in your spiritual life.
  • You will deepen your appreciation of the role of Sacred Scripture in your spiritual life.
  • You will come to understand the importance of being united to the Church through your bishop.
  • You will be challenged not to go with the flow of the culture, but to be true salt and light for the world.
Requirements
  • The course will make frequent references to Fathers of the Church, 3rd Edition by Mike Aquilina
  • This is a non-academic spirituality course. Basic knowledge of Catholic doctrine is helpful but not necessary.
Description

What can the Early Church Fathers teach us about building a healthy spiritual life? 

TONS!

The teaching and example of the Early Church Fathers can help us to build our spiritual life on a firm foundation.

In this course you'll learn

  • How the Early Church Fathers understood a "personal relationship with Jesus" (and what this phrase can not mean)
  • Why the Holy Eucharist is so central not only to our faith but to your spirituality as well (hint: it has a lot to do with what you'll learn about having a personal relationship with Jesus)!
  • What role Sacred Scripture should have in our spiritual lives (and how to read the Bible most effectively)
  • Why it's so important to be united to the Church as the Body of Christ and the Family of God (you may never see your bishop in the same way again)
  • How we can navigate a culture that hates Christianity and lulls us in to a lax, lazy lukewarm faith at the same time.
Who this course is for:
  • This course is intended for believing Catholics - and other Christians open to a Catholic perspective on Church history and spirituality - who are looking to enhance their spirituality using the ancient wisdom that comes from the early Church.
  • Please do not take this course if your intention is to debate Catholic doctrine.
Course content
Expand all 30 lectures 01:58:38
+ How the Early Church Fathers Understood a "Personal Relationship with Jesus"
6 lectures 32:26

Do Catholics have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ"? On one hand it seems like the answer would be an unqualified YES. Catholics SHOULD have a personal relationship with Jesus if they want any kind of real spirituality. On the other hand we have to be careful how we understand this idea of a personal relationship. In this lesson we'll explore what the term "personal relationship with Jesus" does NOT mean for us as Catholics.

What "Personal Relationship" Does NOT Mean
10:16

The Early Church Fathers did not see the sacraments as mere rituals or rites of passage (as they're often seen today). They saw the Sacraments as entryways into the Divine Mystery of intimacy and love with the Holy Trinity and as fonts fo grace. In this lesson we'll see how the Early Church Fathers spoke about the Sacraments in a way that included God's great love for us and also our entry into an awesome, inexhaustible, Mystery.

Preview 04:55
Recommended Reading on the Sacraments (especially Baptism)
00:33

If we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we would leave ritual and rote prayer behind and just talk to our friend . . . right? Well, not so fast! In this lesson we'll see how Tertullian encourages us to turn to the formula prayers first as prayers that lead us properly to the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, and then to secondarily approach God confidently with our own prayers. But to Tertullian, using formula prayers means anything BUT simply reciting them from memory.

Prayer: Immersing Ourselves Deeper Into the Mystery
08:39

By now you've heard multiple times that our relationship with God is more than a simple friendship. That's why Catholic spiritual tradition (starting with Sacred Scripture and the Early Church Fathers) talk about it in terms of marital intimacy instead of friendship. A relationship with an eternal, infinite God is by its very nature infinite and inexhaustible. In fact, it's so inexhaustible that our relationship with God on earth can lead us feeling greater emptiness - not because God is not with us, but because He opens us to the possibility of receiving more and more of Him. But the fulness of our relationship with and in the Holy Trinity will only be realized in Heaven. So on earth, our relationship with God is marked by growing desire. In this lesson we hear Saint Augustine describe this desire, sounding much like the later spiritual master Saint John of the Cross.

Divine Intimacy and Holy Desire
07:28
Read More About Having a Relationship with Jesus through Prayer
00:34

We just learned how the Early Church Fathers understood a personal relationship with Jesus. Let's review what we learned before we move on to the next section. Next, we're going to explore the role of the Holy Eucharist in our intimacy with the Lord.

Review Activity: Following in the Footsteps of the Early Church Fathers
6 questions
+ Intimate Union with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist
6 lectures 21:57

Not only did the Early Church Fathers believe that the Holy Eucharist was truly Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, they used belief in Jesus' "Real Presence" in the Eucharist as a measuring rod of authentic Christianity!

Preview 07:03

The Early Church Fathers put a lot of emphasis on the Holy Eucharist - not only doctrinally but also spiritually. The Eucharist is the closest intimacy we can have with Jesus in this world. It's such a great intimacy that the Early Church Fathers describe it in terms of marital love.

The Holy Eucharist as Marital Union
02:14

The image of the "Sacred Feast" is recurring in Sacred Scripture. The Sacred Feast means enjoyment of the goods of Creation as signs of God's love, but it is ultimately focused on union with God Himself. The focus of the Sacred Feast is always union with God. The Early Church Fathers saw the Holy Eucharist as the quintessential Sacred Feast.

The Holy Eucharist as the Sacred Feast
03:18

When people are in a relationship of intimacy with each other, they participate in each other's lives. Intimacy means moving from an outside observer to an active participant. So intimacy with God must mean that we participate in His Divine Life. If that's the case, and if it's real participation, it must mean that we participate in some way in the very relationship and life of the Holy Trinity? But how is that even possible? Two answers: grace and the Holy Eucharist. In this lesson we hear Saint Augustine teach how the Holy Eucharist makes us active participants in the life of the Holy Trinity.

Eucharistic Unity with the Holy Trinity
04:07

We have seen in this module how important the Holy Eucharist is to our spirituality. We can see why the Second Vatican Council called the Holy Eucharist the "source and summit" of our faith. So how do we translate this into practical steps for spiritual growth? In this final lesson of the module we'll explore some practical ways to make the Holy Eucharist more central in our own spiritual lives.

Deepening the Presence of the Holy Eucharist in Our Spiritual Lives
04:18
Recommended Reading on the Holy Eucharist
00:57

In our next unit we'll explore what the Early Church Fathers taught about the importance of Sacred Scripture. But first let's review what we learned about what the Early Church Fathers taught us about the Holy Eucharist.

Review - Intimate Union with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist
4 questions
+ Digging Deeply into Sacred Scripture
5 lectures 19:53

We'll talk about a simple way to use the "senses of Scripture" given to us by the Early Church Fathers to get more out of our own reading and praying of Sacred Scripture.

Preview 04:37
How to Read Sacred Scripture More Deeply
07:44
When We Find Scripture Difficult to Understand
03:01
Deepening Your Relationship with Sacred Scripture
03:54
Recommended Reading on Sacred Scripture
00:37

In our next unit we're going to study the importance of unity with the Church to your personal spiritual life. But first let's review what the Early Church Fathers taught about Sacred Scripture.

Review of Digging More Deeply Into Sacred Scripture
4 questions
+ Unity & the Life of the Church
5 lectures 13:38

Most Catholics separate themselves from the Church - not formally, but through their attitude. Our focus is so much on the "local church" (by which we tend to mean the parish). The diocese is seen as a bureaucracy that imposes its will on the local parish and interferes with parish life. But the Early Church Fathers had a very different way of seeing the Church. And their way of seeing the Church can lead us to even greater unity.

A Human Community and a Spiritual Bond
03:39
Bishops as Principles of Unity
02:46
The Necessity of Obedience
02:20
Practical Applications of Unity
04:05
Recommended Reading on Unity
00:48

In the next unit we're going to explore what the Early Church Fathers teach us about navigating a culture that hates Christianity but at the same time offers an environment that makes it easy to be lax in our faith. But first let's review what the Early Church Fathers taught about unity with the Church.

Review for Unity & the Life of the Church
4 questions
+ Navigating Our Culture
5 lectures 18:45

Most of the Early Church Fathers died as martyrs for the faith. While most of us won't be called to that ultimate sacrifice, we are called by jesus to the same level of love. Let's see what we can learn from the Early Church Fathers about what it really means to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul.

Fighting a 2-Front War
03:15

If we really live the faith in our culture, we will face alienation and vilification. Thankfully, the Early Church Fathers faced even worse persecution and give us a model for how to stand for the truth in love, how to be courageous, faithful and loving in the face of those who hate us.

Facing Persecution With Courage
03:31

The life of Saint Cyprian shows us how love for Jesus leads the Christian to sacrificial love, whether that means dying for Him or LIVING for Him.

Focused on the Will of God
05:13

After the Edict of Milan ended three centuries of persecution, Christians continued searching out ways to commit themselves to Jesus in loving sacrifice. This gave birth to the monastic movement. Saint Basil the Great was instrumental in helping Christians discern their vocation to love Jesus and live their lives completely for Him.

Combatting Laxity With Selfless Love
05:33

Our next lesson offers some closing thoughts and ends the course! Before we watch the concluding video, let's review what the Early Church Fathers teach us about navigating our culture.

Review of Navigating Our Culture
4 questions
Recommended Reading on Monasticism
01:13
+ Bonus Lecture
1 lecture 03:56
Bonus Lecture: Digging Deeper
03:56