Bro. Sumesh Jerald OFM Cap
The Church established by Christ to continue his work on earth is the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, so formed and constituted as to carry on the work of redemption to the end of time. After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the apostles continued the mission of the Christ. But it is the early fathers of the church who toiled very much to continue this mission. Obviously they played a very significant role to establish the mystical body of Christ in its present form. In this paper I would like to present in short three important church fathers namely, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine.<a
1. ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. After his death in 407 (or, according to some sources, during his life) he was given the Greek epithet chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed” in English, and Anglicized to Chrysostom. He is popularly known as the man of ‘golden tongue’. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and as a Doctor of the Church. John is known in Christianity chiefly as a preacher, theologian and liturgist. Among his homilies, eight directed against Judaizing Christians remain controversial for their impact on the development of Christian antisemitism.
1.1. Early life and education
John was born in Antioch in 349 to Greco-Syrian parents. Different scholars describe his mother Anthusa as a pagan or as a Christian, and his father was a high-ranking military officer. John’s father died soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother.He was baptised in 368 or 373 and tonsured as a reader (one of the minor orders of the Church). As a result of his mother’s influential connections in the city, John began his education under the pagan teacher Libanius. From Libanius, John acquired the skills for a career in rhetoric, as well as a love of the Greek language and literature. As he grew older, however, he became more deeply committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus, founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch.
He lived in extreme asceticism and became a hermit in about 375; he spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping, and committing the Bible to memory. As a consequence of these practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch. John was ordained a presbyter (that is, a priest) in 386 by Evagrius, the successor of Paulinus. He was destined later to bring about reconciliation between Flavian I of Antioch, the successor of Alexandria and Rome, thus bringing those three sees into communion for the first time in nearly seventy years. In Antioch, over the course of twelve years (386-397), John gained popularity because of the eloquence of his public speaking at the Golden Church, Antioch’s cathedral, especially his insightful expositions of Bible passages and moral teaching. The most valuable of his works from this period are his Homilies on various books of the Bible. He emphasized charitable giving and was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor. He also spoke against abuse of wealth and personal property:
What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well. The themes of his talks were practical, explaining the Bible’s application to everyday life. Such straightforward preaching helped Chrysostom to garner popular support. He founded a series of hospitals in Constantinople to care for the poor.
1.2. Archbishop of Constantinople
In the autumn of 397, John was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople, after having been nominated without his knowledge by the eunuch Eutropius. He had to leave Antioch in secret due to fears that the departure of such a popular figure would cause civil unrest. During his time as Archbishop he adamantly refused to host lavish social gatherings, which made him popular with the common people, but unpopular with wealthy citizens and the clergy. His reforms of the clergy were also unpopular with these groups. His time in Constantinople was more tumultuous than his time in Antioch. Depending on one’s outlook, John was either tactless or fearless when denouncing offences in high places. Around 405, Chrysostom began to lend moral and financial support to Christian monks who were enforcing the emperors’ anti-Pagan laws, by destroying temples and shrines in Phoenicia and nearby regions. Naturally he had to face so many enemies,which resulted in his deposition and banishment.
1.3. Death and canonization
Pope Innocent I protested at John’s banishment out of Constantinople to the Caucusus in Lesser Armenia, but to no avail. Innocent sent a delegation to intercede on behalf of John in 405. It was led by Gaudentius of Brescia; Gaudentius and his companions, two bishops, encountered many difficulties and never reached their goal of entering Constantinople. John wrote letters which still held great influence in Constantinople. As a result of this, he was further exiled from the Caucusus (where he stayed from 404-407) to Pontus where his tomb is a shrine for pilgrims. He never reached this destination, though, as he died at Cormana in Pontus on 14 September 407 during the journey. His last words are said to have been, “Glory be to God for all things.”
John came to be venerated as a saint soon after his death. Three decades later, some of his adherents in Constantinople remained in schism. Saint Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434-446), hoping to bring about the reconciliation of these Johannites, preached a homily praising his predecessor in the Church of Hagia Sophia. He said, “O John, your life was filled with sorrow, but your death was glorious. Your grave is blessed and reward is great, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ O graced one, having conquered the bounds of time and place! Love has conquered space, unforgetting memory has annihilated the limits, and place does not hinder the miracles of the saint.”These homilies helped to mobilize public opinion, and the patriarch received permission from the emperor to return Chrysostom’s relics to Constantinople, where they were enshrined in the Church of the Holy Apostles on January 28, 438. ]
The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him as a “Great Ecumenical Teacher” and known as “the greatest preacher in the early church.” His homilies have been one of his greatest lasting legacies. Chrysostom’s extant homiletical works are vast, including many hundreds of exegetical homilies on both the New Testament especially the works of Saint Paul and the Old Testament particularly on Genesis. Among his extant exegetical works are sixty-seven homilies on Genesis, fifty-nine on the Psalms, ninety on the Gospel of Matthew, eighty-eight on the Gospel of John, and fifty-five on the Acts of the Apostles.
Apart from his homilies, a number of John’s other treatises have had a lasting influence. One such work is John’s early treatise Against Those Who Oppose the Monastic Life, written while he was a deacon, which was directed to parents, pagan as well as Christian, whose sons were contemplating a monastic vocation. The book is a sharp attack on the values of Antiochene upper-class urban society written by someone who was a member of that class. Chrysostom also writes that, already in his day, it was customary for Antiochenes to send their sons to be educated by monks. Other important treatises written by John include On the Priesthood , Instructions to Catechumens, and On the Incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature. In addition, he wrote a series of letters to the deaconess Olympias, of which seventeen are extant.
Beyond his preaching, the other lasting legacy of John is his influence on Christian liturgy. Two of his writings are particularly notable. He harmonized the liturgical life of the Church by revising the prayers and rubrics of the Divine Liturgy, or celebration of the Holy Eucharist. To this day, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite typically celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as the normal Eucharistic liturgy, although his exact connection with it remains a matter of debate among experts.
1.7. Legacy and influence
During a time when city clergy were subject to criticism for their high lifestyle, John was determined to reform his clergy in Constantinople. These efforts were met with resistance and limited success. He was an excellent preacher whose homilies and writings are still studied and quoted. As a theologian, he has been and continues to be very important in Eastern Christianity, and is generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church, but has been less important to Western Christianity. He rejected the contemporary trend for allegory, instead speaking plainly and applying Bible passages and lessons to everyday life. His exile demonstrated the rivalry between Constantinople and Alexandria for recognition as the preeminent Eastern See, while in the west, the Pope’s primacy remained unquestioned.
1.8. Influence on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and clergy
John’s influence on church teachings is interwoven throughout the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (revised 1992). The Catechism cites him in eighteen sections, particularly his reflections on the purpose of prayer and the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer: Consider how Jesus Christ teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us”, but “on earth”, the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven. Christian clerics, refer to him as “one of the most eloquent preachers who ever since apostolic times have brought to men the divine tidings of truth and love”, and the 19th-century John Henry Newman described John as a “bright, cheerful, gentle soul; a sensitive heart.”
Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church.
2.1. Early life
Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family about 340 and was raised in Trier. His father was Aurelius Ambrosius, the praetorian prefect of Gaul, his mother was a woman of intellect and piety. Ambrose’s siblings, Satyrus and Marcellina, are also venerated as saints. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint’s symbology.After the early death of his father, Ambrose followed his father’s career. He was educated in Rome, then in about 372 he was made the consular prefect or “Governor” of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters at Milan, which was then the second capital in Italy.
Ambrose was the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in northern Italy until 374 when he became the Bishop of Milan. He was a very popular political figure, and since he was the Governor in the effective capital in the Roman West, he was a recognizable figure in the court of the Emperor Valentinian I. Ambrose never married.In the late 4th century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Catholics and Arians. In 374 the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an Arian, died, and the Arians challenged the succession. Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call “Ambrose, bishop!” which was taken up by the whole assembly. Ambrose was known to be Catholic in belief, but also acceptable to Arians due to the charity shown in theological matters in this regard. At first he energetically refused the office, for which he was in no way prepared, for, Ambrose was neither baptized nor formally trained in theology. Upon his appointment, Ambrose fled to a colleague’s home seeking to hide. Upon receiving a letter from the Emperor Gratian praising the appropriateness of Rome appointing individuals evidently worthy of holy positions, Ambrose’s host gave him up. Within a week, he was baptized, studied theology, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan.As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, apportioned his money to the poor, donating all of his land, making only provision for his sister Marcellina (who later became a nun), and committed the care of his family to his brother. Ambrose also wrote a treatise by the name of “The Goodness of Death.”
According to legend, Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped Arianism in Milan using his excellent knowledge of Greek, which was then rare in the West. To his advantage, he studied the Old Testament and Greek authors like Philo, Origen, Athanasius, and Basil of Caesarea, with whom he was also exchanging letters. He applied this knowledge as preacher, concentrating especially on exegesis of the Old Testament, and his rhetorical abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who hitherto had thought poorly of Christian preachers.In the confrontation with Arians, Ambrose sought to theologically refute their propositions, which were heretical.
The increasing strength of the Arians proved a formidable task for Ambrose. In 385 the emperor and his mother Justina, along with a considerable number of clergy and laity, especially military, professed Arianism. They demanded two churches in Milan, one in the city ‘the basilica of the Apostles’, the other in the suburbs ‘St Victor’s’, to the Arians. Ambrose strongly refused it. His eloquence in defense of the Church reportedly overawed the ministers of Emperor Valentinian, so he was permitted to retire without making the surrender of the churches. The day following, when he was performing divine service in the basilica, the prefect of the city came to persuade him to give up at least the Portian basilica in the suburbs. As he still refused, certain deans or officers of the court were sent to take possession of the Portian basilic, by hanging up in it imperial escutcheons to prepare for the arrival of the emperor and his mother at the ensuing festival of Easter.In spite of Imperial opposition, Bishop Ambrose declared “If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.”
An address by Ambrose to Christian young people warns them against intermarriage with Jews. But his opposition assumed a more active character in the matter of the bishop of Callinicum in Mesopotamia. It appears that in 388 a mob, led by the local bishop and many monks, destroyed the synagogue at Callinicum. The emperor Theodosius the Great ordered the rebuilding of the synagogue at the expense of the rioters, including the bishop. Ambrose immediately issued a fiery protest to the Emperor. He writes to Theodosius that “the glory of God” is concerned in this matter, and that therefore he cannot be silentst. At the end, he succeeded in his opinion. Ambrose could never say a good word for the Jews is shown by a passage in his “Enarratio in Psalmos” in which he remarks, “Some Jews exhibit purity of life and much diligence and love of study.”
2.4. Persecution of Paganism
Under Ambrose’s major influence, emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I carried on a persecution of Paganism. Under Ambrose’s influence, Theodosius issued the 391 “Theodosian decrees,” which with increasing intensity outlawed Pagan practises, and the Altar of Victory was removed by Gratian. Ambrose prevailed upon Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius to reject requests to restore the Altar.
Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose’s administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects. His spiritual successor, Augustine, whose conversion was helped by Ambrose’s sermons, owes more to him than to any writer except Paul. Ambrose’s intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia.
Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are.” His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”One interpretation of Ambrose’s writings is that he was a Christian Universalist. Several works by Ambrose clearly teach the mainstream view of salvation. For example, the Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends.
The powerful Mariology of Ambrose of Milan influenced contemporary Popes like Pope Damasus and Siricius and later, Pope Leo the Great. Central to Ambrose is the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God. We confess, that Christ the Lord was born from a virgin, and therefore we reject the natural order of things. Because not from a man she conceived but from the Holy Spirit. Christ is not divided but one. If we adore him as the Son of God, we do not deny his birth from the virgin… But nobody shall extend this to Mary. Mary was the temple of God but not God in the temple. Therefore only the one who was in the temple can be worshipped. Yes, truly blessed for having surpassed the priest Zechariah. While the priest denied, the Virgin rectified the error. No wonder that the Lord, wishing to rescue the world, began his work with Mary. Thus she, through whom salvation was being prepared for all people, would be the first to receive the promised fruit of salvation. Ambrose viewed virginity as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity. He is alleged to have founded an institution for virgins in Rome.
2.7. Death and legacy
Ambrose died on April 4, 397. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician. Ambrose’s body may still be viewed in the church of S. Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Sts. Gervase and Protase and is one of the oldest extant bodies of historical personages known outside Egypt.
Many circumstances in the history of Ambrose are characteristic of the general spirit of the times. The chief causes of his victory over his opponents were his great popularity and the reverence paid to the episcopal character at that period. He was generous to the poor; it was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius. The saints, although they would have had to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. The applause of the people was mingled with the derision of the court party.
3. ST.AUGUSTIN OF HIPPO
Augustin was an early Christian theologian whose writings are considered very influential in the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was bishop of Hippo Regius located in the Roman province of Africa. He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers. Among his most important works are City of God and Confessions, which continue to be read widely today.
3.1. Childhood and education
Augustine was born in 354 in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa. His father, Patricius, was a pagan, and his mother, Monica, was a Christian. At the age of 11, he was sent to school at Madaurus. There he became familiar with Latin literature, as well as pagan beliefs and practices. His first insight into the nature of sin occurred when he and a number of friends stole fruit they didn’t even want from a neighborhood garden. This echoes nicely with his conversion which also involved a garden later in life.
At age 17, through the generosity of fellow citizen Romanianus, Augustine went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric. Although raised as a Christian, Augustine left the church to follow the Manichaean religion, much to the despair of his mother, Monica. As a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits with women and urged the inexperienced boys, like Augustine, to seek out experiences or to make up stories about experiences in order to gain acceptance and avoid ridicule. It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
At a young age, he began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. Possibly because his mother wanted him to marry a person of his class the woman remained his lover for over thirteen years and gave birth to his son Adeodatus, who was said to have been extremely intelligent. He abandoned her finally on his conversion in 389 when the boy was 17.
3.2. Teaching rhetoric
During the years 373 and 374, Augustine taught grammar at Thagaste. The following year he moved to Carthage to conduct a school of rhetoric, and would remain there for the next nine years. Disturbed by the unruly behavior of the students in Carthage, in 383 he moved to establish a school in Rome, where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced. However, Augustine was disappointed with the Roman schools, where he was met with apathy. Once the time came for his students to pay their fees, they simply fled. Manichaean friends introduced him to the prefect of the City of Rome, Symmachus, who had been asked to provide a professor of rhetoric for the imperial court at Milan.
Augustine won the job and headed north to take up his position in late 384. At the age of thirty, he had won the most visible academic position in the Latin world, at a time when such posts gave ready access to political careers. During this period, although Augustine showed some fervor for Manichaeism, he was never an initiate or “elect”, but remained an “auditor”, the lowest level in the sect’s hierarchy and he became a teacher .
While still at Carthage, he had begun to move away from Manichaeism, in part because of a disappointing meeting with the Manichean Bishop, Faustus of Mileve, a key exponent of Manichaean theology. In Rome, he is reported to have completely turned away from Manichaeanism, and instead embraced the scepticism of the New Academy movement. At Milan, his mother pressured him to become a Christian. Augustine’s own studies in Neoplatonism were also leading him in this direction, and his friend Simplicianus urged him that way as well. But it was the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, who had most influence over Augustine. Like Augustine, Ambrose was a master of rhetoric, but older and more experienced.
3.3. Christian Conversion and Priesthood
In the summer of 386, after having heard and been inspired and moved by the story of Placianus’s and his friends’ first reading of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert, Augustine converted to Christianity. As Augustine later told it, his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to “take up and read” which he took as a divine command to open the Bible. The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13, verses 13 and 14, to wit: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.
Ambrose baptized Augustine, on Easter Vigil in 387 and in 391 Augustine was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius. He became a famous preacher, and was noted for combating the Manichaean religion, to which he had formerly adhered. In 395 he was made coadjutor Bishop of Hippo, and became full Bishop shortly thereafter, hence the name “Augustine of Hippo”; and he gave his property to the church of Thagaste. He remained in that position until his death in 430.Augustine worked tirelessly in trying to convince the people of Hippo to convert to Christianity.
Augustine was one of the first Christian ancient Latin authors with very clear anthropological vision. He saw the human being as a perfect unity of two substances: soul and body. In his late treatise On Care to Be Had for the Dead, section 5 (420 AD) he exhorted to respect the body on the grounds that it belonged to the very nature of the human person. Augustine’s favourite figure to describe body-soul unity is marriage: caro tua, coniunx tua — your body is your wife.
Like other Church Fathers such as Athenagoras, St. Augustine “vigorously condemned the practice of induced abortion” as a crime, in any stage of pregnancy, although he accepted the distinction between “formed” and “unformed” fetuses mentioned in the Septuagint translation of Exodus 21:22–23, a text that, he observed, did not classify as murder the abortion of an “unformed” fetus, since it could not be said with certainty that it had already received a soul.
In City of God, Augustine took the view that everything in the universe was created simultaneously by God, and not in seven calendar days like a literal account of Genesis would require. He argued that the six-day structure of creation presented in the book of Genesis represents a logical framework, rather than the passage of time in a physical way it would bear a spiritual, rather than physical, meaning, which is no less literalApart from his specific views, Augustine recognizes that the interpretation of the creation story is difficult, and remarks that we should be willing to change our mind about it as new information comes up.
Augustine developed his doctrine of the Church principally in reaction to the Donatist sect. He taught that there is one Church, but that within this Church there are two realities, namely, the visible aspect (the institutional hierarchy, the sacraments, and the laity) and the invisible (the souls of those in the Church, who are either dead, sinful members or elect predestined for Heaven). The former is the institutional body established by Christ on earth which proclaims salvation and administers the sacraments while the latter is the invisible body of the elect, made up of genuine believers from all ages, and who are known only to God. Augustine followed Cyprian in teaching that the bishops and priests of the Church are the successors of the Apostles, and that their authority in the Church is God-given.
Although Augustine did not develop an independent Mariology, his statements on Mary surpass in number and depth those of other early writers. Even before the Council of Ephesus, he defended the ever Virgin Mary as the Mother of God, who, because of her virginity, is full of grace. Likewise, he affirmed that the Virgin Mary “conceived as virgin, gave birth as virgin and stayed virgin forever”.
3.8. Original sin
Augustine taught that Original sin of Adam and Eve was either an act of foolishness followed by pride and disobedience to God. The first couple disobeyed God, who had told them not to eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17).Augustine had served as a “Hearer” for the Manicheans for about nine years, who taught that the original sin was carnal knowledge. But his struggle to understand the cause of evil in the world started before that, at the age of nineteen. By malum (evil) he understood most of all concupiscence, which he interpreted as a vice dominating person and causing in men and women moral disorder. The view that not only human soul but also senses were influenced by the fall of Adam and Eve was prevalent in Augustine’s time among the Fathers of the Church. It is clear that the reason of Augustine’s distance towards the affairs of the flesh was different than that of Plotinus, a neo-Platonist who taught that only through disdain for fleshly desire could one reach the ultimate state of mankind. Augustine taught the redemption, i.e. transformation and purification, of the body in the resurrection.
3.9. Death and Veneration
In the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint, pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinians. His memorial is celebrated 28 August, the day of his death. He is the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, the alleviation of sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is considered a saint. He carries the additional title of Blessed among the Orthodox, either as “Blessed Augustine” or “St. Augustine the Blessed.”
The importances of the church fathers lie in defining, forming and in certen extend systemizing the church. This paper was an attempt to explain in short three important church fathers namely St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. I admit my limitations to figure out the paper with wide and accurate ideas. But I hope that this paper may provide at least a few important ides of the subject mentioned.
Thompson, Mourret. History of the Catholic Church, B. Herder book publishers
Hughes, Philip. A Popular History of The Catholic Church, Macmillian Company edition, USA, 1949.
Catholic Encyclopedia, church Fathers.
Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine & St. John Chrysostom.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/church fathers contributions
Class notes of Rev. Fr. Peter Thomas on Church History (Church fathers).