July 2013 Letter
A few days ago we started the Apostles’ fast which will end on July 12th (5th of Abib), in commemoration of St. Peter and St. Paul. Previously, we reviewed the lives of our fathers the apostles, and this month we would like to review the lives of the second generation after the apostles, whom are called the “Apostolic fathers.”
The Apostolic fathers are the disciples of the apostles (e.g. Ignatius of Antioch the disciple of St. Peter), and whose teachings are considered a direct reflection of the preaching of the apostles. They belong to several places of the Roman empire: Asia Minor, Syria, Rome. In studying their writings we find that the content and way of writing are very close to that of the New Testament, particularly the epistles. Although each of them wrote in different circumstances, they present one universal thought that indicates the Christian dogma at that time.
The apostolic fathers and their writings:
v St. Clement of Rome: was a priest in Rome, wrote a letter to the church in Corinth. Other letters are doubtfully referred to him. Was martyred in the year 101.
v St. Ignatius of Antioch: the second bishop on the See of Antioch, was a disciple of St. John the Beloved and some say to St. Peter. Wrote 7 letters on his way to Rome to be martyred by being thrown to the wild beasts, and was martyred in the year 107 during the reign of Emperor Trajan.
v St. Polycarp: was born around the year 80 AD, ordained bishop of the city of Smyrna (now Izmir). Was a disciple of the Apostle St. John. History records a document about the story of his martyrdom in 167 AD. Wrote a letter to the Philippians.
v Papias: bishop of Hierapolis Asia Minor. Was a listener of St. John the Apostle and friend of St. Polycarp. Wrote his memoirs in five books, which traces the origins of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark and shows the witnesses whom he relied on.
v Letter of Barnabas: an unknown author, and its history is uncertain, but it dates back to the end of the first century and the beginning of the second.
v The Didache: or “teaching of the Lord to the nations by the 12 apostles” is a small book dedicated to guide ethical behavior, and the definition of the rites and laws of the Church.
v The Shepherd by Hermas: a symbolic book that consists of group of revelations.
May the blessing of Saint Mary, the holy apostles, and Saint Mercurius be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, July 1, 2013