Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy St. Irenaeus Day

St. Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons (in France) back in the late second century. I suppose we could call him the spiritual grandchild of St. John the Evangelist, who was the teacher of St. Polycarp who was the teacher of Irenaeus. He was a formidable opponent of gnostic heretics and is one of the best sources for learning just how insane their ideas really were.

His magnum opus is a five book set called Against Heresies. It is an amazing work and is a great source for demonstrating the historical claims of the Catholic Church. Irenaeus discusses Church teaching on everything from apostolic succession to papal primacy to the Eucharist. There are some parts that drag on and on with details on what the gnostics believe, but it's well worth slogging through. The dull bits are few and far between anyway.

On the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, St. Irenaeus reminds us:

But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.

Against Heresies, Book Three.

St. Irenaeus, pray for us!

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