Today the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the great Church Father St. Irenaeus of Lyons (d. circa 202AD). Irenaeus is revered by both the East and West for his remarkable and extensive teachings.
One of the earliest theologians in the Church, Irenaeus (whose relationship with St. Polycarp connects him also somewhat directly to the gospel writer and apostle John) combated the rampant heresy of the day: gnosticism.
Irenaeus is important to Patristic scholarship for the variety of issues he covers in his extensive writings. In terms of Church history, we can help piece together the puzzle of the “mindset” of the first century or two of Christianity through Irenaeus’ writings.
But Irenaeus’ legacy is not limited to academics. His writings contain deep spiritual insights that speak to the Church of every age. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes this Father extensively within its pages, including one particular passage of note from his great work Adversus Haereses (“Against Heresies”):
“The glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God” (Catechism, no. 294).
The complete work Adversus Haereses can be read here.
St. Irenaeus, ora pro nobis!