A professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and author of numerous books, Dr. Alan Schreck has compiled a handy and very readable study on what Catholics really believe about Jesus Christ. It seems a rather obvious topic, but it is not always done well or becomes caught up with excessively complicated theology. Schreck makes clear from the start that his goal “is to present not a set of doctrines but the consummate importance and the power of the encounter that we Catholics have with the almighty and living God in the Person of Jesus Christ.” His presentation is well-organized along thematic chapters, including “Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?,” “How Jesus Saves Us: The Mystery of the Cross” and “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.” This is a helpful work for Catholics hoping to deepen their understanding of Christology in an accessible way.
Author: Mike Aquilina and Mark W. Sullivan
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2013, 128 pp., $12.95 softcover; 800-348-2440
“St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer” is a lovely meditation on the holy mother of St. Augustine of Hippo and a true role model for all Catholics, but especially parents.
Monica spent long and difficult years praying that her brilliant but wayward son would turn his life around and come to belief. Her child, of such immense promise, seemed lost in a world of immorality, vanity and pride, and dabbled in heresy unworthy of his intellect. In the end, her fortitude was vindicated.
Mike Aquilina and Mark Sullivan begin with a biographical sketch of Monica and then proceed to a beautiful series of prayerful reflections on Monica as a model for our relationships with each other and with God.
Each chapter includes a meditation based on the writings of Augustine, a resolution to follow and a prayer.
Written thoughtfully and with solid pastoral sense, this St. Monica book is a good gift for parents, especially but not exclusively those in need of help with their children.
Author: Roberto Zanini
Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2013, 210 pp., $16.95 softcover; 800-651-1531
“Bakhita: From Slave to Saint” offers the compelling story of St. Josephine Bakhita (d. 1947), who made the incredible journey from the slave markets of the Sudan to the life of a beloved woman religious in Italy to canonized saint in 2000. Robert Zanini’s work is based on St. Josephine’s autobiography, which she dictated to a Canossian sister at the request of her superior, as well as official documents of her cause of canonization, including her life, virtues and miracles. This is a powerful story of fortitude, grace, forgiveness and humility.
Consuming the Word
Author: Scott Hahn
Publisher: Image Books, New York, N.Y., 2013, 176 pp., $22 hardcover; 800-733-3000
Dr. Scott Hahn is one of the pre-eminent and most popular biblical theologians today, author of many best-selling books, including “The Lamb’s Supper” and “Signs of Life.” In “Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church,” Hahn turns his attention to a study of Christianity’s most foundational terms to appreciate their meaning to the earliest Church. By doing so, we can deepen our own understanding of the truths of the Church, most so the Eucharist.
As Hahn documents, long before the New Testament was used to describe a document, the members of the early Church saw the Eucharist as a sacrament. Jesus called the Eucharist by the term that was applied by His followers to the latter books of the Bible: the “New Covenant” and the “New Testament.” Subsequently, Christians utilized the term to denote the books produced by the apostles and their companions, but the use flowed from the fact that the books were read at Mass. This historical reality brings enormous implications for our proper read of the Bible.
Hahn documents that “New Testament” appears six times in the documents that later were brought together into the biblical New Testament and had a meaning to the Christians not of text but as a sacrament. From here, he traces the Church’s understanding from a variety of perspectives, including the original setting of the New Testament, the Old Testament in the New, the development of the Canon of the Bible, the New Testament in the Lectionary, and the New Testament and Christian Doctrine. At times potentially challenging for the non-scholar, this is still a fascinating and valuable work.