TCA Reviews for September/October 2014

Evangelizing Catholics

Author: Scott Hahn

Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2013, 176 pp., $19.95 hardcover; 800-348-2440

One of the great Catholic scholars in the modern Church, Scott Hahn turns his attention to a task that is equally important and challenging: implementing the vital call for all Catholics to participate in the New Evangelization. Many average Catholics remain uncertain what exactly the New Evangelization entails and what role they should have in bringing it to fruition in their own lives. And yet, as Hahn writes: “The New Evangelization is more for the baptized than the unbaptized. It’s for those who have been inadequately catechized but all too adequately secularized, and for those who’ve been de-Christianized in the very process of being sacramentalized.” He notes as well that the New Evangelization is also for those who have drifted away from or have grown hostile to the Faith or have never encountered the Gospel. The question, then, is how to reach all of these different groups.

“Evangelizing Catholics” is intended to assist Catholics with practical advice in advancing the New Evangelization. Hahn uses three parts: “The Call: Understanding the New Evangelization”; “The Response: Models and Methods for the New Evangelization”; and “The Message: The Content of the New Evangelization.” He stresses the lessons from the four Gospel writers — the Church’s first evangelists — and their approaches to sharing the Faith, and from the men and women of the early Church who were such key instruments in the conversion of the Roman pagan world. His arguments likewise assist Catholics in understanding the role of the family as the primary field of evangelization, with the Mass as the center of family life, as well as the impact of charity, almsgiving, gratitude and joy. This is a useful book with many applications, including use in parishes, small study groups and individual families.

Jerzy Popieluszko, Messenger of the Truth

Messenger of the truth

Director: Tony Haines

Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2013, 90 mins., $19.95 DVD; 800-651-1531

In 1984, members of the communist Polish Secret Police kidnapped and murdered a 37-year-old priest, Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, the chaplain of the Solidarity movement in Poland. The priest was killed for standing against the communists and proclaiming human rights and justice. His murder proved a powerful moment in the collapse of communism in the country. He was beatified in 2010. The story of Father Jerzy is told in a well-crafted documentary narrated by actor Martin Sheen, based on the book “The Priest and the Policeman,” written by John Moody and Roger Boyes. The film was awarded first place at the International Catholic Film Festival in Warsaw, Poland.

Basic Catechism

Author: Mary Lea Hill, F.S.P., and Susan Helen Wallace, F.S.P.

Publisher: Pauline Books and Media, Boston, Mass., 2013, 284 pp., $10.95 softcover; 800-876-4463

basic catechism

There are many different catechisms available today that serve as useful and sometimes unhelpful supplements to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Basic Catechism, FAQs About the Catholic Faith,” originally published in 1980, remains a valuable work that has undergone several updates to keep it current. This eighth edition, built around the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church — Creed, Sacraments, Morality and Prayer — continues to present the fundamentals of the Catholic faith in a useful Q & A format and reflects the changes in the liturgy brought about by the revised Roman Missal. The questions are straightforward and accessible to the average reader, both Catholic and non-Catholic. It might be a good gift for those who are intimidated by the scale of the Catechism. Especially helpful is the careful referencing to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as a section of basic prayers and guidelines for Christian living.

The Urging of Christ’s Love

Author: Omar F.A. Gutierrez

Publisher: Discerning Hearts, Omaha, Neb., 2013, 202 pp., $12.95 softcover;

urging Christ's Love

In “The Urging of Christ’s Love: The Saints and The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church,” Omar Gutierrez presents the stories of 11 people who were dedicated to embracing Christ Jesus as the model of their lives. The list of saints and blesseds is an impressive one, with both famous names and lesser known men and women. They include the renowned Mary Magdalene, Thomas More, Joseph, Thomas Becket and Maria Goretti, as well as the more obscure Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, St. Germaine Cousin and St. Jean Denaloue. Each is seen through the lens of Catholic social teaching, with each chapter incorporating prayers and quotes from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

The objective here is to personalize each of the saints as role models for different aspects of the Church’s rich teachings concerning Catholic social doctrine. Gutierrez does a good job in helping the reader apply these stories and teachings to daily life, and the prayers for each section are especially helpful and well-composed.

The Way God Teaches

the way God teaches

Author: Joseph White

Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind, 2013, 112 pp., $16.95 hardcover; 800-348-2440

In full, “The Way God Teaches: Catechesis and the Divine Pedagogy” offers a study on the integral relationship between catechesis and our relationship with God. Joseph White expertly describes the way that God reveals the truth about himself and His creation, a divine pedagogy that instructs us and guides us in the task of catechesis. He shows this pedagogy to be directed toward the individual human person, incarnational, relational, structured, systematic and comprehensive, and perpetual. Valuable for any catechist or teacher.

Something Other Than God

Author: Jennifer Fulwiler

Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2013, 256 pp., $22.95 hardcover; 800-651-1531

other than God

Author and convert Jennifer Fulwiler has penned a provocative, unflinching and nicely written account of her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. Her account is riveting, but it is also one that might be familiar to many people who are caught up in the supposedly good life of modern-day secular materialism. As she writes, she told herself she was happy working as a programmer at a tech start-up, being married to an Ivy League graduate and living in a 21st-floor condo in Austin, Texas, where she could sip sauvignon blanc while watching sunsets. The truth was, of course, that her atheist background and secular lifestyle hid a growing darkness and unhappiness that climaxed with her standing on the balcony in torment at the question as to whether anything really mattered.

That encounter with the abyss proved the doorway for her to faith and the embrace of a religion she once hated and reviled. She describes her journey as a slow and hidden one, kept from everyone save for her husband, and her books on religion were kept in opaque bags as if they were pornography and were read behind locked doors of public bathroom stalls. As Fulwiler writes: “I’d traveled a long, rocky path to end up in this place, and it would have been so easy for me to stray off course at countless points along the way. It gave me chills to consider how often a slight difference in the way events played out would have thrown me onto an entirely different path.”