Father Demetrios Serfes - Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul - September 2000
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The Holy Fathers
by Father Mark A. Leondis
Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes
Boise, Idaho, USA
September 1, 2000

Blessed Is Our God!

Editors Notes: The following are excerpts from Father Mark Leondis, who is the National Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York.

The Fathers of the Church were men who lived holy lives in this temporal world. They are role models for us today. They did not only write about their faith, they lived their faith. The did not only talk about their faith, they walked their faith. Much like us, they sinned daily - but more importantly, they also repented daily. All Fathers are Saints, but not all Saints are Fathers.

The Fathers of the Church left us only with writings and teachings on scripture, theology, and church history, but also on daily living. They left us with pearls of the faith. Some of their words took place thousands of years ago, but are ever so applicable today.

Their writings and thoughts helped develop the doctrine of our Church. As a whole, the writings of the Fathers, built upon the biblical and liturgical foundation of Christian life, had great authority with the Orthodox Church, and are primary sources for the discovery of the Church doctrine. (Father Thomas Hopko).

Although the term "Patristic" usually denotes the early Church Fathers closing with St. John Damascus in the 9th century, Orthodox Christians believe that we are still living in the Patristic era. Such examples of post ninth century fathers are St. Photius from the 9th century, St. Gregory Palamas from the 14th century, St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain of the 18th century, and St. Nektarios from the 20th century. The church has never stopped producing Fathers because the Holy Spirit is continuously working.

The Holy Fathers do not write their own words, but rather are guided and inspired through the Holy Spirit. Saint John Damascus, in his book: "The Fountain of Knowledge" writes "what I say is not mine, but from the previous Fathers."  He re-capitulated most of the Patristic Theology up to the 8th century.

There are three basic criteria to become a "Father of the Church":

  1. Orthodoxy of Doctrine
  2. Holiness of Life
  3. The Acceptance of the Church

To be a Father, one must also be a teacher of the Church. St. Anthony the Great could not read or write, but was considered a Father because of his teachings which are passed down to us today. He was illiterate, but inspired by the Holy Spirit.

There is a fourth century story about some monks who asked St. Athanasius how St. Anthony became an ascetic. His response was to "always breathe Christ". Perhaps, the greatest example that we can take from the Holy Fathers is to focus on the heavenly. This is what made them exemplary! This is what made them holy! They strived to continually place their focus on Christ, and we too must learn to do the same."

Let us read the Holy Fathers when we do not fully understand especially when we are reading the Holy Scriptures, and to allow them to guide us on our path towards our salvation.

Through the prayers of the Holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy
upon us and save us!

Glory To Thee, O GOD
Glory To Thee!


Peace be unto your soul!

God Love And Bless You!

Humbly In Christ Our Lord,
+ Reverend Presbyter Demetrios Serfes
Who prays for you and with you!

September, 2000

Content written/compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes.
(c)2000 Father Demetrios Serfes