Tuesday, January 6, 2015

These Just In: Interesting Books for the New Year

Two devotionals arrived in a very timely fashion on New Year's Eve. Obviously I haven't had a chance to use either but they are both very appealing to my love of the saints and interest in the desert fathers.

A Daily Catholic Moment: Ten Minutes a Day Alone With GodA Daily Catholic Moment: Ten Minutes a Day Alone With God by Peter Celano
Simple, straightforward, and Catholic are the adjectives that might best describe this book of wisdom and spiritual practice. For each day you will find a verse or two from Holy Scripture, followed by a reflection from one of the great saints or writers of the Church and then a short prayer or intention.

Daily inspirations from the saints include Athanasius, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi ... Great writers, poets and theologians past and present include Dr. Benet Tvedten OSB, Enzo Bianchi, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Day ...
It's interesting that compiler Peter Celano used a variety of different translations for scripture. I think that might make me look up different translations to see how they compare. That's a good thing in my book.

Here's a sample:

I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the assembly I will praise you.
— Psalm 22:23 (NAB)

"I have said that St. Francis deliberately did not see the wood for the trees. It is even more true that he deliberately did not see the mob for the men. What distinguishes this very genuine democrat from any mere demagogue is that he never either deceived or was deceived by the illusion of mass-suggestion. Whatever his taste in monsters, he never saw before him a many-headed beast. He only saw the image of God multiplied but never monotonous."—G. K. Chesterton

Help me today to see every person in the image of You.

A Little Daily Wisdom from the Early ChurchA Little Daily Wisdom from the Early Church by Bernard Bangley
Following Christ’s example, many early Christians around the Mediterranean retreated to the desert for contemplation. These were ordinary men and women with a strong spiritual awareness. By the fourth century thousands had endured the rigors of desert survival. While they accepted visitors, they preferred long hours of solitude and quiet. They were not prolific writers. Instead, people jotted down the things they said. These sayings and anecdotes ultimately became parts of written collections. A Little Daily Wisdom from the Early Church gathers the best of this material, expressing it in clear, modern English. Each brief insight becomes a nugget for our own daily meditation throughout a year. With this book we can experience spiritual growth in our own quiet corner of this busy world.
Here's a sample:


The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him!
Habakkuk 2:20

An Egyptian hermit said, "If you desire a spiritual pilgrimage, begin by closing your mouth."

Keep silence before the Lord.

The following two books look very interesting after a quick review of their introductions. Both are somewhat intellectual and I won't be getting through them in a hurry. However, they seem balanced and I wanted to let you know about them. The publisher description accompanies each.

Heaven Can Wait: Purgatory in Catholic Devotional and Popular CultureHeaven Can Wait: Purgatory in Catholic Devotional and Popular Culture by Diana Walsh Pasulka
After purgatory was officially defined by the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century, its location became a topic of heated debate and philosophical speculation: Was purgatory located on the earth, or within it? Were its fires real or figurative?

Diana Walsh Pasulka offers a groundbreaking historical exploration of spatial and material concepts of purgatory, beginning with scholastic theologians William of Auvergne and Thomas Aquinas, who wrote about the location of purgatory and questioned whether its torments were physical or solely spiritual. In the same period, writers of devotional literature located purgatory within the earth, near hell, and even in Ireland. In the early modern era, a counter-movement of theologians downplayed purgatory's spatial dimensions, preferring to depict it in abstract terms--a view strengthened during the French Enlightenment, when references to purgatory as a terrestrial location or a place of real fire were ridiculed by anti-Catholic polemicists and discouraged by the Church.

The debate surrounding purgatory's materiality has never ended: even today members of post-millennial ''purgatory apostolates'' maintain that purgatory is an actual, physical place. Heaven Can Wait provides crucial insight into the theological problem of purgatory's materiality (or lack thereof) over the past seven hundred years.

Mary in Scripture, Liturgy, and the Catholic TraditionMary in Scripture, Liturgy, and the Catholic Tradition by René Laurentin
Examines the invigorating presence of Mary in the mystery of the redemption that is the heart of the life of the church. The author contemplates her presence in the course of Scripture, human and ecclesial history, the church fathers, the mystics, and others.

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