Friday, January 09, 2009


Here's a book whose publication I have been quite excited about, ever since I read it in manuscript form over a year ago. I'm so glad it came out in time for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul during the Pauline Year.

"Facing the Apostle" was also the inspiration for my series of talks on St. Paul. In this lovely book (printed on glossy paper), Sr. Armanda Santos of our Redwood City community investigates the life, letters and spirituality of St. Paul through the lens of Christian art through the ages. She has wonderful insights into the work of Caravaggio, for example, in his two renderings of the Conversion of St. Paul. It's a wonderful look at our Catholic art heritage and how it expresses the message of the Bible. I think this would also be a spectacular gift for anyone who is being welcomed into the Catholic Church during this Year of St. Paul.

Another book is a bit unseasonal (for now), but since I contributed to it, it belongs in my blog. Lenten Grace offers a daily meditation for Lent, approaching the day's Gospel in a "lectio divina" style that is not simply a reflection, but a progressive deepening of one core thought or message, summing everything up in a short phrase that can be prayed easily throughout the day. (I only provided two of the meditations, truth to tell.) A companion Advent volume is in the editorial department now; I contributed two or three meditations for that one, too.

Finally, this wasn't on my bookshelf, but in an MP3 player: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. I really enjoyed this work. It is a kind of historical apologetics, and one that is very needed today when so many of us Catholics naively repeat the extremely damning assumptions of so many of our contemporaries, according to which Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, has had a very negative influence over science, technology, medicine, human rights and general knowledge and well-being. I was even astonished to learn that in certain areas, even in very ordinary fields of science, it was Catholic doctrine that made some discoveries possible! The teachings of the Church in areas of creation and redemption freed scientists (read: monks) to investigate things that the ancients had never inquired into: the worldview of the ancients was too constricting, and they had been incapable of even knowing that there were mysteries of nature they could truly examine and then use as the basis of inventions. Then when you get to the areas of international law and human rights... wow.

God willing, if the snowstorm doesn't change my plans, I hope to arrive in New Orleans. After I defrost (!), maybe I'll be able to get Sr. Julia talking about some more good reads for the new year!

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