February 2001By David Arias Jr.
A Students Guide to the Study of History. By John Lukacs. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 49 pages. $5.95.
In this short and accessible work, Lukacs takes up some of the most fundamental questions pertinent to the discipline of history. To be a rational being in time, argues Lukacs, is to be a historian. Thus, at some level, all men are historians. What really distinguishes the historian from his fellow men is the fact that he is more conscious of, and more adept at expressing, his own history and that of others. Lukacs takes up such topics as the philosophy of history, the methods (or lack thereof) in history, professional history, and the history of history. Lukacs also briefly introduces the reader to some of the great ancient, medieval, and modern historians and their works.
Alphonsus de Ligouri: Selected Writings. Edited by Frederick M. Jones, C.SS.R. Paulist Press. 423 pages. $24.95.
This volume collects many magisterial teachings of this great Doctor of the Church. St. Alphonsus was a prolific theologian who wrote on a wide array of theological topics. This work reveals this fact by including St. Alphonsuss treatment of an assortment of topics, from the nature and method of mental prayer to advice to priests who minister to those condemned to death. St. Alphonsuss writings exhibit at once a speculative soundness and a practical exactitude, making them both satisfying to the intellect and comforting to the heart. This work is highly recommended, as are any other works by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri.
Knowledge and Faith (The Collected Works of Edith Stein: Volume Eight). By St. Edith Stein. ICS Publications. 149 pages. $10.95.
A great student of St. Thomas Aquinas and phenomenology, St. Edith Stein, in this profound work, demonstrates how both of these schools, with their points of overlap and their differences, contribute to a complete understanding of the nature of knowledge and faith. This work is helpful for anyone even remotely interested in the relationship between knowledge and faith, philosophy and theology, and the various ways in which we come to know God. One of the most interesting and illuminating features of this book is a dialogue St. Edith constructs between St. Thomas Aquinas and Edmund Husserl wherein these two great thinkers discuss various points of agreement and disagreement within their respective philosophical systems.
Scripture Alone? Twenty-One Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura. By Joel Peters. TAN Books. 72 pages. $2.
St. Augustine, the great defender of divine Tradition, once wrote, I would not believe the Gospel itself, if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so. This quote of note is not only a personal statement of St. Augustine, but also encapsulates the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church that Gods supernatural Revelation has both a scriptural and an extrascriptural component. It is precisely the existence and necessity of this extrascriptural component, known as divine Tradition, that Peters defends in his brief but illuminating booklet. He argues that the Scripture alone position of Protestantism cannot be authentically God-given since it is self-refuting, philosophically and theologically untenable, unknown to the early Church, and unworkable at the practical level.
The Conversion of Ratisbonne. By Alphonse Ratisbonne and Baron Theodore de Bussières. Roman Catholic Books. 84 pages. $16.95.
This work contains the remarkable firsthand accounts of Alphonse Marie Ratisbonnes miraculous conversion to Catholicism in 1842. Ratisbonne, born a Jew, was a most hostile enemy of the Church since his youth. His hostility greatly increased with the ordination of his brother Theodore to the priesthood in 1830. However, Ratisbonnes obstinate unbelief was done away with altogether, and he was miraculously converted to the Faith, once he experienced a vision of the Blessed Virgin in the Church of St. Andrea delle Fratte on January 20, 1842. In addition, the Church, in that same year, issued a decree that verified and accredited the miracle as a genuine instance of heavenly, and more specifically, Marian intercession. This Church decree, as well as two fascinating firsthand accounts of Ratisbonnes conversion, are included in this work.
A Students Guide to Literature. By R.V. Young. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 71 pages. $5.95.
All literature is, at base, a mimesis or imitation of reality. As Aristotle teaches, art imitates nature. Now, since literature is a form of art, it must imitate nature or reality. Based on this classical view of literature, Young provides the reader with an introduction to the essence, purpose, and development of the literature of Western civilization. Finally, Young lists some of the indispensable works of our tradition with which every educated person should be acquainted. By way of note, Young also has another important work entitled At War with the Word: Literary Theory and the Liberal Education, wherein he more fully defends the classical view of the nature of literature against deconstructionist and postmodern understandings of the same.
The Popes Against Modern Errors. Edited by Anthony J. Mioni, Jr. TAN Books. 365 pages. $16.50.
This book is hard-hitting and eye-opening! Mioni brings together 16 papal documents from Popes Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XI, and Pius XII which unmask and refute most of the theological and philosophical errors of the modern era. And due to the fact that the heresy of Modernism continues to plague the Church, these papal documents are as relevant today as they were when they were originally penned. Topics such as Freemasonry, liberalism, the nature of true human liberty, democracy, the Kingship of Christ, evolution, biblical exegesis, Modernism, and the nature of genuine ecumenism are all treated at length. This book can be especially illuminating for Americans, since our country has been heavily influenced in its political ideology by many of the same philosophical and theological errors these Holy Fathers condemn.