On a rainy (not snowy, yet!) Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, I am writing my annual pre-Christmas Harvest column with a few suggestions for your reading or for last minute Christmas gifts. In this Year of Faith, you will not be surprised to discover that the three books I recommend are all about appreciating our Catholic faith more deeply and being confident in sharing it — sometimes defending it — to others.
Christopher Kaczor’s The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012) offers compelling and readable answers to some of the widespread misconceptions in people’s thinking about Catholic teaching. Among the mistaken notions the author takes on are that the Church opposes science (the myth of Catholic irrationality); that the Church hates women (the myth of Catholic misogyny); and that the Church opposes same-sex marriage because of bigotry (the myth that there is no rational basis for limiting marriage to one man and one woman).
As Patrick Coffin, host of “Catholic Answers Live,” (hear him on the Presence Radio Network), sums it up, “this book is myth-busting at its best about the things that matter most.” If you are searching for a book that slices through the ignorance and prejudice of a lot of popular opinion about the Catholic Church, Dr. Kaczor’s book is for you.
Bill Donohue, author of Why Catholicism Matters: How Catholic Virtues Can Reshape Society in the Twenty-first Century (New York: Image, 2012), is the feisty “in your face” defender of the Catholic Church and her teachings. President of the Catholic League, Donohue is ever on the front line as the voice of protest whenever the Church is unfairly attacked — by people on the outside or, sadly, the inside.
This volume is a celebration of the rich potential of Catholic teaching for the enrichment of human living and the betterment of society.
With the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance) as his framework, Donohue introduces his thesis that Catholicism matters by pointing to Catholic contributions to society through the ages: the university system, art, architecture, and music, scientific achievement, social teaching, and the Catholic understanding of human nature.
Why Catholicism Matters is a convincing tour through the “great wealth of charity and wisdom that exists in the Catholic tradition.” It is our responsibility as Catholics to know this tradition and its values, and give witness to it in the quest for the common good.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, gives us The New Evangelization -Responding to the Challenge of Indifference. This book is a cultural and religious manifesto for the Year of Faith and a theoretical and practical resource for the mission of the new evangelization.
Archbishop Fisichella describes the context of the ideological and cultural crisis that haunts Western society (and beyond), e.g., secularism, indifference, agnosticism, the disorientation of the human person. He invites his readers to become “new evangelizers,” convinced and committed and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, loyal members of the Church who have the courage and passion to face today’s challenge with the truth and beauty of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
Fisichella’s final paragraph captures the essence and the challenge of his argument: “…the new evangelization starts from here: from the credibility of our living as believers and from the conviction that grace acts and transforms to the point of converting the heart. It is a journey which still finds Christians committed to it after 2000 years of history.” May you and I be counted enthusiastically in their number!
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Apostolic Administrator of Portland
Bishop of Buffalo