Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An Apologists' Book List

Have you ever thought that maybe your gut feeling about a Church teaching you disagree with may be wrong and that the Church may be right? You’d be surprised what you’ll find if you investigate why the Church teaches what it does. Here’s a list of resources (which the theology department doesn’t want you to see) that may be helpful to you:

  • Is there a difference between blind obedience and religious obedience? Yes! http://bcatholic2.blogspot.com/2008/01/on-blind-faith-and-obedience-to-holy.html
  • The Handbook of Christian Apologetics by our very own Kreeft and Tacelli demonstrates that Jesus Christ is God and He rose from the dead. Christianity is metaphysical and not just a moralism. It corresponds to reality.
  • Refutation of Moral Relativism also by Kreeft. Title says it all.
  • Karl Adams’ The Spirit of Catholicism is a great overview of what the faith is.
  • Upon This Rock by Stephen Ray is a great defense of the papacy.
  • Audio talk “The Conversion of Scott Hahn” available at www.catholicity.com. Catholicism is Biblical. www.Biblechristiansociety.com has more audio that is helpful.
  • The Ratzinger Report, Salt of the Earth, and God and the World. All three include great commentary by Joseph Ratzinger on modern Church issues.
  • Christopher West The Good News About Sex and Marriage. You’ve been lied to about your sexuality and the Church has good news about what it’s really for.
  • Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy. A deeply theological book on the Mass and why more ‘traditional” Masses are more fitting for worship.
  • Patty Schneier “Prove it God” and He did audio talk from omsoul.com. One practicing Catholic’s conversion story on an issue of Church teaching that can apply to all of us in other areas.
  • The Theology of the Body talks by Pope John Paul II
  • “Humanae Vitae and Conscience” audio talk by Janet Smith. What is the role of conscience in Church teaching?
  • Companionofjesus.org explains Ignatian spirituality without watering it down.
  • “Development or reversal?” by Avery Cardinal Dulles. How many times are we told Church teaching has changed on X so it can change on Y? This exposes that fallacy. http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=234
  • History of Christendom by Warren Carroll. The first book debunks a lot of myths about Scripture that we are taught at BC. Read all of them.
  • Person and Being by Father Norris Clarke. The Church has long held that men and women complement one another. A lot of feminists reject this, seeing receptivity (a fact of sexuality) as something bad. They get this belief from Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre. Clarke shows how both men and women are at times receptive and that this is something good. The first chink in the armor of feminism.
  • The Priest is Not his Own by Fulton Sheen. This explains what priesthood is all about, in case there was any confusion.
  • The Courage to be Chaste by Groeschel shows that a celibate life can be a joyful one. This applies to those with same-sex attraction and those without it.
  • Beyond Gay by David Morrison. This book shows that not every person with same-sex attraction has the same experience that tells them there is nothing wrong with what they are doing and how conversion to Christ brings about true happiness.
  • The Truth about Homosexuality by Father John Harvey. Explains Church teaching and debunks the myths that in all circumstances same-sex attraction is innate and unchangeable.
  • God or goddess by Manfred Hauke. Think it’s okay to call God “Mother” or “She”? Think again.
  • Women and the Priesthood by Alice von Hildebrand and Kreeft. A short little book on the topic.
  • Women in the Priesthood by Manfred Hauke. To my knowledge, the definitve work.
  • Priesthood and Diaconate by Gerhard Muller. Women aren’t going to be deacons either.
  • Why Catholics Can’t Sing by Thomas Day. This is just for fun, and it explains why so many people find Mass boring and the music is so bad.
  • www.Catholiceducation.org has articles explaining everything.

And just remember, none of any of this matters if you don’t live as a disciple. So study, yes, but love and follow Christ.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Articles that Never Made It

As a writer for The Observer, many times pieces I write never go to print. This may happen if we run out of room or after I write the article, something happens and I make a last minute change in what I submit. Here is one of those articles.

Catholicism is not a set of rules

My roommate is from Long Island, and as such has a great love for Billy Joel. Last month, when I should have been at an Observer meeting, we were busy going through his iPod and listening to every Billy Joel song ever, looking for a particular song. It turns out that what I was seeking is in fact by Jim Croce, but at one point he said to me, “Do you like ‘Only the Good Die Young?’”

I responded by saying that it has a catchy tune but dislike the text. At the same time, I was on Wikipedia and other websites seeing if I could see anything that would point me towards the song I was looking for. I noticed that on Wikipedia, the song was described, in Joel’s own words, as not being anti-Catholic but “pro-lust.” Joel, who is a former Catholic, is certainly not anti-Catholic. I’d say that pro-lust is accurate.

The whole instance reminded me of a question an atheistic friend of mine once asked me. “Donato, if we proved that Christianity was false, which commandments would you still keep?” He was trying to show that I was “enslaved to God” and arbitrarily doing His will, as He is a tyrannical lawmaker. It’s a very common view, one which I have had many people express to me, and I must admit I one-time myself believed it, both when I was an agnostic and when I first came back to the Church. However, at this point in my life, I said to my friend, “The only things that I would stop doing are going to Mass and praying Catholic prayers.” I think he was hoping that I would say I’d go out and hire a prostitute or at least be willing to go to the local porn store and do what he deemed as “having fun.”

What I was trying to explain to him, I recently heard Father Michael Himes homilize on very well. “If you abide in My word, then you are My disciples, and you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.” He said that we should note the order. If we abide in His word, then we will understand the Truth. It wasn’t until I lived the Church’s teachings that I understood that nothing had ever made me so happy. I had previously decided these teachings must be right because the Church that logic had shown me to be infallible had said these teachings were true.

The thing about Pascal’s Wager, and Father Himes said this in the same homily (although I’ve said it many times, so this wasn’t new to me) is that it’s not just “fake your faith to get into Heaven.” Pascal says, if you live it and try to understand it, you will eventually understand the Truth. “All who have ears ought to hear,” said our Lord. It isn’t until we understand what the Mass is and begin going that we learn how much joy it brings. It isn’t a burden at all! The same thing goes for all prayer, reading the Bible, and any number of the moral teachings of the Church.

This is why the teachings must not become simply a moral law. They must flow out of the relationship we have with Jesus. For example, the “rules” about going to Mass feed us and help us fall more truly in love with He who is Love itself (source of all happiness) and the ones about sexuality explain to us how we ought to love our neighbor. It isn’t until we study them and then try living them that they be comprehend as the meaning of our lives. It’s a beautiful experience.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

RIP Father W. Norris Clarke

This was sent to me today.

Fr. Tacelli asked me to inform you that Fr. Norris Clarke S.J. passed away early this morning. Fr. Clarke was not only one of the most distinguished and brilliant Thomistic philosophers of his day, but he was also a wonderful man and holy priest. He came up to BC numerous times for lectures and conferences and was a very good friend to the St. Thomas More Society. He will be solely missed. To read more about this amazing Jesuit go to http://www.fordham.edu/Campus_Resources/Public_Affairs/topstories_1280.asp.

I have recommended his book Person and Being here before and have also enjoyed his The One and the Many.

Welcome into your Kingdom Lord, our dearly departed brother. May Your face shine upon Him and may He experience the dynamic bliss which is Your Presence.