Friday, June 11, 2010

The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth

By Brian Singer-Towns and others, 474 pages, $18.95, St. Anthony's Messenger Books.

The authors attempt the near-impossible, and offer an introduction to the Catholic Church in one short book. With informative side-bar boxes giving details of important personages, or of various Catholic practices, the book succeeds in showing the depth of the faith.

The Introduction section reminds readers of the essential connection between faith and reason, as well as between the Bible and tradition, as proclaimed by the magisterium. From this Introduction onwards, the authors clarify a lot of Catholic vocabulary, including infallibility, revelation, stewardship, and salvation history.

Whereas the Catholic Church can appear to be an imposing edifice of hierarchy, ritual, and philosophy, this book shows a simple way of living the Catholic faith. Its recipe for reading the Bible is "The PRIMA Process: Pray, Read, Imagine, Meditate, Apply."

The book spends several chapters explaining the meaning of the Creed to faithful living. It keeps to the simple, straightforward approach with an easy-to-understand discussion on the Trinity, including the idea, "God is not solitary," and therefore, "We are made for community" since we are made in God's image.

The truth of the incarnation is revolutionary, even if we forget that sometimes: "When Jesus Christ took on human nature, he was able to reveal his Father to us in the way that only a child can speak about a parent." These words also point to the mysterious nature of redemption and the trinity, since we can't ever fully understand the full nature of Jesus and therefore of his Father.

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