Joining a fruitful adventure

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap

While joyfully recalling my student years as a student of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Malta my mind and heart raced back to the following affirmation I heard again and again during my theology courses: Thanks to the Second Vatican Council the Church Fathers were brought back to light and started holding their prestigious place both in the ecclesial reflection and action.

My question is spontaneous as much as it is obvious: Why should we study the Church Fathers? Why are we to commit ourselves to the demanding journey of patristics? What do these great masters of our faith have to offer us? Can they really comprehend the problems we are struggling with? Will they offer us solutions for them?

In number 14 of the Instruction on the Study of the Fathers of the Church in the Formation of Priests, issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Catholic Education on November 10 1989, one finds a clear reference to the importance that the Fathers of the Church has for theology, particularly for the correct understanding of the Bible. On this point the Instruction rightly and heavily relies to what the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, says on the relationship between sacred Scripture and sacred tradition:

“Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence” (no. 9).

In the light of Dei Verbum paragraph 9 the study of the Church Fathers presents to us an opportunity to understand our specific Christian tradition. Such a study anchors us to our faith in a world that is “led away by diverse and strange teachings” (Heb 13:9). Hence, familiarizing ourselves with the Fathers helps us build a strong relationship with God, others and ourselves. Their teachings offer a way for strengthening us, as Church, while aiding us to discern the faulty dynamics of our world and the type of spiritual medicine it direly needs to be healed.

The opening of academic year 2016-2017 of the Augustinian Institute of Pietà will take place on Friday, 7th October 2016, at the Augustinian Institute, Gwardamangia Hill, Pietà. At 6.15pm Provincial Ray Francalanza OSA will preside the Eucharistic Celebration followed by a short address by the Director, Prof. Salvino Caruana OSA. This year’s series of lectures will focus on Matristics and Patristics 1st to 5th centuries. Lectures are held every other Friday from 6.15pm to 7.15pm, commencing on Friday, 14th October 2016, and are delivered at the Augustinian Institute Pietà. Lectures will be delivered by Prof. Salvino Caruana OSA (UOM), Prof. Martin Zammit (UOM), Revd Dr Mark Sultana (UOM), Revd Dr Jonathan Farrugia, Dr Ritienne Debono MD MRCP, Prof. Hector Scerri (UOM), Dr Pauline Dimech (UOM), Dr Nadia Delicata (UOM), and Fr Mario Attard Ofm Cap. A Certificate of Attendance will be awarded to participants on Friday 31st March 2017 after the Eucharistic celebration at the Church of Poor Clares, Regional Road, St Julian’s.Prof. J.M. Cacciottolo, Pro-Rector UOM will give tghe certificate. For further info and to receive a printed copy of academic year 2016-2017 for free, contact The Secretary PO BOX 61, IMSIDA PO, MSD 1000 – Malta, or phone on 2124 9407 – 2124 5934 – 2124 3557 ext.143/150 – mob 9940 2102 – 7929 4177 or email – or The Secretary Ms A. Borg, on 2131 3644 mob 9945 0099, or 7708 7711 or email or visit website: http://www.augustinianinstitute

Will you join this fruitful adventure?

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