[This is the second post in our series on why readers are reading. The author, Amy Cavender, is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and an assistant professor of political science at Saint Mary’s College. If you are interested in contributing a similar post (details here), please send us a note. —LAM]

An icon of Constantine, Helena, and the True Cross

Constantine, Helena, and the discovery of the true cross

When I first learned about the “Read the Fathers” project, I was immediately intrigued, and it didn’t take me very long to get signed up and to add the first year’s reading schedule to my calendar.

Why? What on earth would interest me in reading the works of the early Church Fathers?

Partly, it’s curiosity. I enjoy learning about matters religious, and I’ve not read the Fathers—so signing on for the project means I get to read something new, in an area that interests me.

But there’s more to it than that. The Church Fathers are part of the heritage that belongs to us as Christians, just as, for instance, the American Founders are an important part of the heritage that belongs to citizens of the United States. It certainly isn’t necessary to be familiar with the Founders’ works to be a good American citizen. Still, it’s worth knowing something of the history of the Founding if one wishes to understand what the United States is all about. Familiarity with the Founders’ written works provides an even deeper understanding of the American project.

I see the project of reading the Fathers similarly. Of course one can be a good Christian without knowing much about Church history or being familiar with the writings of the earlierst generations of Church leaders to follow the Apostles. But one’s understanding of and appreciation for Christianity in all its richness can be enhanced by both. That, far more than mere curiousity, is what’s prompted me to sign up.