John Michael Talbot tells the story of how the Church Fathers deeply influenced his spiritual, professional and personal life. Coming to the Christian faith as a young man during the turbulent 1960s, he soon grew a fond of the Church Fathers, including St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine and Gregory the Great and found guidance, reassurance and wisdom on his path to Jesus.C.S. Lewis famously wrote that “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” John Michael Talbot could testify to the truth of that statement. He wasn't atheist but reading the Church Fathers pushed him from a Protestant path into one that he never could have predicted. The Ancient Path tells how Talbot's life and work were shaped by his encounters with those ancient writings.
“The First Epistle of Saint Peter,” writes Talbot, “tells us that we are ‘a spiritual temple built of living stones.’ The early Church Fathers represent the first rows built upon the foundation of the Apostles. And that sacred building project continues throughout history to our time today. But it rests on the Fathers. It depends on them.”
It is a story with an unusual trajectory that you'll either find fascinating or odd. In this it echoes that of the Church Fathers themselves who have often earned those same adjectives because they were following an internal logic, God's logic, that was difficult to see from the outside. You get a good dose of Talbot's life as he founds a monastic community, marries, becomes a musician, etc. You get an even bigger dose of the Church Fathers and their influence on his internal growth. This means it also spills over into topics like prayer, liturgy, community life, environmentalism and more. As we read about Talbot's life we also are led to consider those topics in our own lives.
It's a good mixture and a good way to remind us how applicable the Church Fathers' lessons are to modern life, to our lives, wherever we are and whatever we do.