January 2004

The Teachings of the Church Fathers.  Edited by John R. Willis, S.J. Ignatius. 496 pages. $19.95.

Imagine: When this book was first published in 1966, most English-speaking Catholics knew at least the popularized version of these teachings from the Baltimore Catechism. The reprinting of this book now, when so many have forgotten or have never known the teachings, is a great help. Even those who pride themselves on their knowledge of the Faith will thrill to read again the way the Fathers explained it in the early centuries. As Karl Keating notes in his Foreword, what better book could there be for Protestants seeking to know more about the Fathers?

The patristic selections are divided into such topics as revelation, the Church, Scripture and Tradition, creation, the Trinity, sin, grace and the Sacraments, Mary, and the Last Things. Most entries are a half-page long, for ease of perusal.

The beautiful cover, taken from a gilt plaque, “Christ in Majesty and Crucifixion,” from the 11th century, makes this a suitable book to display for guests.

- Ronda Chervin



Priest: Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today.  By Michael S. Rose. Sophia Institute Press. 185 pages. $14.95.

All of us have known good priests, whose purpose in life is to help people get to Heaven. Over the years, we have encountered many of these selfless men in a wide variety of circumstances — at Masses, in confessionals, at baptisms and funerals, in schools, and in retreat houses.

In his latest book, Michael S. Rose introduces us to 10 of these exceptional men who, day after day, serve their Maker and His people simply, prayerfully, and with deep devotion and unswerving faith. It is likely that Rose could have included thousands more in this short, well-written book.

The recent scandals in the American priesthood have shocked the laity, re-energized the enemies of the Church, and caused grave concern about the future of Catholicism in this country. Million-dollar lawsuits are draining the coffers of many dioceses — and derailing the careers of more than a few high churchmen.

Rose, author of The New York Times bestseller Goodbye, Good Men, has written a decidedly upbeat book about priests. But Priest does not ignore the problems confronting today’s Church — homosexuality, the sexual abuse of children, and the uncertain stance of many bishops in the face of these outrageous problems. The continuing shortage of vocations and the pressure to ordain women and allow priests to marry are also addressed.

While good priests have much in common and look on their calling as a special gift from God, the 10 men highlighted here serve in a wide variety of ways. Perhaps the most visible of the men profiled is the “conversion specialist,” Fr. C. John McCloskey III, who has brought into the Church an incredible array of people, including former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, columnist and TV commentator Robert Novak, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Wall Street economist Lawrence Kudlow, and conservative publisher Alfred S. Regnery.

Nathanson, who had been an active abortionist for more than 30 years, was director of New York’s largest abortion clinic and co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League. He estimates that he had presided over 75,000 abortions in his professional career. Now he is a leading speaker at prolife conferences all over the world.

Fr. Myron Effing, a native of Indiana, went to far-off Vladivostok, Russia, in 1992, just after the fall of the Soviet Union, to re-establish the Catholic Church in that desolate landscape where he found fewer than 10 baptized Catholics and only a handful of churches, all in decay, following the excesses of atheistic Communism. With no prior knowledge of the language and almost no help, he has slowly and steadily restored a Catholic presence in a territory once described by the Holy Father as “the end of the earth.” His deanery is larger than the states of California, Oregon, and Washington combined and his five parishes cover a territory larger than Wisconsin. He has taken to heart the words of Jesus, “go forth and teach all nations.”

Like most of our finest priests, Fr. Eduard Perrone of Assumption Grotto in Detroit, speaks frequently and courageously against contraception and abortion from the pulpit. He has led prayer vigils at abortion mills and supported sidewalk counseling and even survived a lawsuit by one of the clinics. A large number of young students are his most active supporters in the prolife effort. One of his four Sunday Masses is sung in Latin and traditional sacred music occupies an important place in his Church.

We meet real priests in this excellent book, whose inspiring stories testify that the one true faith is alive and well, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

- Arthur J. Brew





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