One of the best ways to learn about the early Church is by studying the writings of the early Church leaders and teachers. These individuals, known as the Church Fathers, lived during the period from the middle of the first century to the middle of the eighth century. While there are some variations depending on which list one consults, the generally accepted number of Church Fathers is around one hundred.
Some of the more famous Fathers of the Church are St. Justin, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great. One of the more striking writings from the Fathers is St. Justin’s description of the Mass. Written in the mid 2nd century, Justin describes the celebration that takes place on the Lord’s Day. It is almost impossible to miss the similarities to today’s celebration of the Holy Mass. Many Protestants who have converted to Catholicism credit their decision to the writings of the Church Fathers. Studying the writings of the early Christians has convinced many non-Catholic Christians that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church that was founded by Jesus Christ.
Author Mike Aquilina writes in a very readable style and offers a short chapter on several of the Church Fathers. He also includes brief samples of their writings which provide further insights into their beliefs. I strongly recommend this book as an introduction to these early Christians who can teach us so much about the Catholic Faith!