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PRESS RELEASE: JESUS THE BRIDEGROOM

THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD 

What do you see when you look at a crucifix?

In Jesus the Bridegroom ((Image, March 11, 2014), Brant Pitre taps into the wells of Jewish Scripture and tradition, and unlocks the secrets of what is arguably the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith: the cross of Christ.

In this thrilling exploration, Pitre shows that Jesus saw his own suffering and death as far more than a tragic Roman execution. Rather, as the apostle Paul puts it, the torture and crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary was nothing less than an expression of spousal love with Christ as a bridegroom and the Church as his bride.

“By looking at the love of God and the passion of Christ through the lens of the Bridegroom Messiah, we can transform not only the way we see Jesus and his death,” writes Pitre, “but also how we understand baptism, the Lord’s Supper, marriage, virginity, and even the end of the world.”

“This book will change you,” says Scott Hahn, author of The Lamb’s Supper and Signs of Life. “It is an invitation to the Messiah’s wedding feast–and a foretaste of heaven. It will change the way you experience the sacraments, personal prayer, Scripture study, and marriage. Most of all, it will deepen your love for Christ.”

 

About the Author

Brant Pitre is a professor of sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the author of the bestselling book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper (2011). Dr. Pitre is an extremely enthusiastic and highly sought-after speaker who lectures regularly across the United States. He has produced dozens of Bible studies on both CD and DVD, in which he explores the biblical roots of the Catholic faith. He has also appeared on a number of Catholic radio and television shows, such as Catholic Answers Live and EWTN. He currently lives in Louisiana with his wife, Elizabeth, and their five young children.

 

Praise for Jesus the Bridegroom:
“Brant Pitre has a wonderful gift for blending insight, scholarship, and an elegant, appealing style. The result is an extraordinary encounter with Jesus Christ, the meaning of his mission, and the spousal nature of God’s love for humanity and Christ’s love for the Church.” -Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Capp., Archbishop of Philadelphia

“Brant Pitre helps us to know Jesus not just as a Savior and lord, but as our divine bridegroom. This excellent book shows how the theme of Christ the bridegroom is at the very heart of salvation history and how it can transform the way we view baptism, the Eucharist, marriage, and our own relationship with Christ. The profound Biblical insights and clear, engaging writing style will take you deeper into the divine love story found in Sacred Scripture.” -Edward Sri, author of Walking with Mary

“With his customary combination of deep erudition and clarity of expression, Brant Pitre sheds light on a central theme of the New Testament:  Jesus as the incarnation of the God who wants to marry his people.  In the course of elaborating this motif, Pitre offers wonderfully fresh readings of the Wedding Feast of Cana, the Woman at the Well, the Last Supper, and the Crucifixion.  His interpretation of the Passion as the consummation of the spousal relationship between Jesus and his people is simply stunning.  This is a book that will appeal to both the scholar and the ordinary believer, indeed to anyone interested in understanding Jesus Christ more profoundly.” -Father Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire and author of Catholicism

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Brant Pitre, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@randomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.

 

 


PRESS RELEASE: SACRED FIRE

After 15 Years, the Wait is Over! 

Ronald Rolheiser Returns with the Follow-up to The Holy Longing 

“How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples’ lives more meaningful?”

In Sacred Fire (Image, March 11, 2014), beloved author Ronald Rolheiser answers that question and more as he continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in this highly anticipated sequel to the contemporary classic, The Holy Longing.

With his trademark faculty and thoughtfulness, Rolheiser moves beyond the foundational aspects of The Holy Longing, by offering readers a deeper vision for Christian maturity as he seeks to answer the question: “How can we live less self-centered, more mature lives?”

In Sacred Fire, Rolheiser draws from the writings of St. John of the Cross and other Christian mystics as he identifies three distinct levels of Christian discipleship— essential, mature, and radical. He then looks at these three categories of discipleship as they correspond to the three great struggles in our lives.

Three Stages of Discipleship:

Essential Discipleship – The struggle to get our lives together. How do we struggle to become essential (if not yet fully mature) disciples of Christ?

Mature Discipleship – The struggle to give our lives away. How do I give my life away more deeply, more generously, and more meaningfully?

Radical Discipleship – The struggle to give our deaths away. How can I now live so that my death will be an optimal blessing for my family, my church, and the world?

 

In Sacred Fire, Rolheiser reframes the three categories of discipleship within a contemporary context and language that is practical for Christians in today’s world. Ultimately, he demonstrates how identifying and embracing the three stages of the spiritual life will lead to new heights of spiritual awareness.

 

About the Author

Ronald Rohlheiser O.M.I., is a specialist in the fields of spirituality and systematic theology. His regular column in the Catholic Herald is featured in newspapers in five different countries. He is the author of the prizewinning The Restless Heart as well as Forgotten Amongst the Lilies. His book The Holy Longing has more than a quarter of a million copies in print.

 

Praise for Sacred Fire:

“Ronald Rolheiser is one of the great Christian spiritual writers of our time, as well as one of my own personal favorites.  I have read, and recommended, his beautiful book The Holy Longing more times than I can remember.  His sequel, Sacred Fire, is a superb book–one to give to a seeker looking to find God, to a friend struggling with a relationship with God, to a devout believer looking to deepen his or her faith–or best of all, to yourself, as a way of coming to know the God who desires ever more to know you.” —James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“When Ron Rolheiser writes, it is clear, compelling, and challenging, plus it is about issues that matter to the soul.  Well, here he does it again–and does it well!” —Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Ronald Rolheiser, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@randomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.

 


INTERVIEW: Joseph Bottum discusses An Anxious Age

 Q. How did you come up with the idea for An Anxious Age?

In some ways, An Anxious Age really began when I was sent out to report on the protesters at Occupy Wall Street—and couldn’t finish the assignment. I could feel a spiritual anxiety about modern civilization radiating from nearly all of them, but I could find no easy way to explain it.
Now, two years later, this book is my answer: Not just those protesters but nearly everyone today is driven by supernatural concerns, however much or little they realize it. Radicals and traditionalists, liberals and conservatives—together with politicians, artists, environmentalists, followers of food fads, and the chattering classes of television commentators: America is filled with people frantically seeking confirmation of their own essential goodness. We are a nation of individuals desperate to stand on the side of morality—anxious to know that we are righteous and dwell in the light.
The trouble, of course, is that we’ve lost any shared cultural notion of what exactly that goodness might entail.

 
Q. The crux of the book is your claim that the most significant and under-appreciated fact about all of contemporary America is the collapse of the Mainline Protestant churches over the last fifty years. That’s a pretty bold claim. How did you come to view the decline of Mainline Protestantism as such an influential factor in the shaping of America’s cultural landscape?

The reasons for the Mainline churches’ decline are interesting in themselves. Science, capitalism, liberal Protestant religion, the bureaucratic needs of rising nation states—all those changes that Max Weber called the “elective affinities” that created the modern world—resulted in a pretty thin metaphysical order. By the late 1800s, most educated Americans probably had no strong belief in any supernatural entities beyond the bare Christian minimum of the individual soul, below, and God, above.
Maybe as a result, a hunger for a thicker world, for a supernatural infusion, is written across America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—from the table-rapping ghosts heard by spiritualists in the 1840s to the popularizing of the Ouija board in the 1910s, and on to our own time. Denied much sustenance in the central rooms of American religion, this spiritual hunger would eventually drain the Mainline churches down to their present cultural weakness.
And here’s where it really starts to get interesting. Because American history has led us to expect our national spirituality to be explicitly religious, tied to the nation’s churches, we often fail to recognize other effects as spiritual. But strange beings were set free to enter the social and political realms by the decay of the churches that were once a primary source of the cultural unity and social manners that we now lack in the United States.
I’ve gone back more than a century to Max Weber’s classic sociological study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism to resurrect the notion of “spiritual anxiety”—in an effort to explain what escaped into the public life with the collapse of Mainline Protestantism. What once were religious concerns have fled the churches to become political and social agitations. And across the nation, in liberals and conservatives alike, there lurks a disturbing sense that how we vote is how our souls are saved.
Our dangerous spiritual anxieties, in other words, have broken loose from the churches that used to contain them, and they now madden everything in American life. These new supernatural entities—or, at least, these new social and political manifestations of the enduring human desire to perceive something supernatural in the world—seem to me omnipresent. Think of our willingness to believe that our political opponents are not just wrong but actually evil. Think of the ways we talk about food, weight, and cigarettes, the way we use such concepts as gender, race, and the environment.
In politics, culture, art—in everything, spirits and demons, angels and demigods, flitter through American public life, ferrying back and forth across our social and political interactions the burdens of our spiritual anxieties.

 
Q. In An Anxious Age you take up two case studies of contemporary American social classes. The first being “The Poster Children,” the college-educated members of the upper-middle-class, many of whom reject Christian belief. The second being “The Swallows of Capistrano,” the Catholics formed by the pontificate of John Paul II. How did you land on these two groups?

When the marvelous publisher Image Books and I first discussed writing something about the public face of American religion, the idea was a simple one: Catholicism in the United States had been on the rise since the late 1970s, both in numbers and influence. And it was planned that I would write about how Catholicism was replacing the dying Mainline Protestant vocabulary for speaking about morality in political settings.
I still think that’s more or less true. For a Catholic with any kind of historical memory, there’s something astonishing about reading a discussion of Just War Theory in, say, the New York Times—or hearing the figures on FOX News arguing about Natural Law. In an essentially Protestant nation, as the United States had always been, such forms of ethical and social analysis always used to be thought something eccentric that Catholics do.
But as I worked my way through the topic, I began to see political and cultural consequences beyond simply a rush to fill the public vacuum left by the Mainline’s collapse (a vacuum drawing in Catholics on one side and Evangelicals on the other side, the two main Christian groups traditionally pushed to the margins by the old liberal Protestant consensus).
What I saw was the rise, over the last fifty years, of a new class of post-Protestants—re-creating the bourgeois social attitudes of previous generations, however much they believe they have uniquely escaped the past. In both the noble range and the insufferable self-righteousness of their moral and spiritual concerns, the members of the elite Poster Children social class define and set the agenda for American culture—and they prove identical to their middle-class Mainline Protestant Christian grandparents, just without much of their grandparents’ Christian religion.
At the same time, I saw the influence of Mainline collapse on what I call “The Swallows of Capistrano,” the American Catholics formed by the papacy of John Paul II. Watching from the inside of many of the public fights, I observed the personal and cultural effect on these Catholics of the early victories—and later defeats—in the attempt to substitute Catholicism for the dying Mainline voice in public life. And now, I conclude in An Anxious Age, these Catholics will have to find ways to develop their own subculture, for they have lost to the Poster Children the battle to become a dominant American social force.

 
Q. Did you learn anything surprising while working on An Anxious Age?

I wanted William James or Ralph Waldo Emerson or even Louisa May Alcott to be the heroes of the story as I made my way through American intellectual and cultural history. But as I read the work of Walter Rauschenbusch, chief figure of the Social Gospel movement at the beginning of the 20th century, and the social critic Christopher Lasch toward the century’s end (both, it should be noted, longtime professors at the University of Rochester), I came more and more to see that the story of American religion wasn’t based in Boston. It happened, in truth, in Upstate New York—from the Mormons to the Oneida Community, from the growth of revivalism to the rage for spiritualism.
In other words, I sat down intending to write an account of the major features of American Protestantism centered around the Puritans and their Bostonian descendents. But when it came time to name my claim that no moment in American history is intelligible without understanding the condition of American Protestantism, I saw that I had to call it “the Erie Canal Thesis,” for much—maybe most—of that Protestant history actually happened somewhere near the old canal in Upstate New York.

 
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with the book? What do you hope readers will glean from it?

I hope that An Anxious Age will remind the social groups I called the post-Protestant Poster Children and the Catholic Swallows of Capistrano—will remind, in fact, all Americans—that we are not as far from the traditional forms of American history as we sometimes imagine ourselves. Spiritual concerns still motivate us, and our historical situation is still set by the condition of American Protestantism at any given moment.
More, I would like readers to see that Max Weber’s kind of sociological awareness of spiritual causes gives a fuller account of human culture than Karl Marx’s hard materialism. Purely material causes (economics, geography, even genetics, as some argue) undoubtedly have strong effects, but the spiritual anxieties of an age, together with the available spiritual rewards, have at least as much influence—and probably more—on the political, moral, and intellectual culture of a society.

 

 To schedule an interview with Joseph Bottum, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@randomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


Will You Join the Day of the Little Way?

Have you heard the news? St. Therese of Lisieux loves Twitter! (We think she does, anyway.)

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI called social media the “digital continent,” and said to those active in the digital landscape: “Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm.”

Yet, it is so easy to forget to be enthusiastic about the Gospel on social media. So often, our Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with heart wrenching news reports, snarky commentaries, mindless chatter, and pictures of grumpy cats. But the digital continent provides an opportunity for all of us to unite our voice of faith and reach out in new and creative ways. Perhaps a creative approach to our social media presence was what Pope Benedict meant when he encouraged us to announce the Gospel “with enthusiasm.”

Of course, Pope Benedict isn’t alone in his understanding of the digital world as a new frontier for the New Evangelization. Pope Francis continues to use the Twitter handle established by Pope Benedict, @Pontifex, and reaches millions of people around the world every time he sends out 140 little characters of faith.

It was the 140 little characters that got us thinking about social media and St. Therese in a new way. 140 characters isn’t a lot–but they have the potential for enormous reach. That’s why we think St. Therese would love Twitter. It’s 140 little–but powerful–characters!

What would happen if Catholics decided to unite their voice of faith under one hashtag on Twitter, just for one day? Can you imagine how God might use something as simple as a hashtag to reach people with love and hope?

We decided to try it! On February 4, 2014, Image Books is hosting the Day of the Little Way. All day long, Catholics are encouraged to tweet, using the Little Way of St. Therese as both a guide and a hashtag. By tweeting your personal #LittleWay stories, quotes, prayers, and inspirations all day long on Feb. 4, you can take an active part in the New Evangelization in a way that has never been seen before on social media!

The Day of the Little Way was inspired by a lovely little book by the late Bishop Patrick Ahern, Three Gifts of Therese of Lisieux, which releases on Feb. 4. In his book, Bishop Ahern says that St. Therese left the world with three invaluable gifts: her Universal Appeal, her Conviction, and of course, her Little Way. In celebration of the release of his book, the Day of the Little Way is meant to encourage Catholics everywhere to embrace these three gifts in their own lives–starting with their social media accounts.

Interested in joining the #LittleWay movement? There are so many ways you can help! Please visit the Little Way Resources page to learn more.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!


INTERVIEW: Thomas J. Craughwell talks about St. Peter’s Bones

Q. You’ve written a couple books on saints and one on relics. What is it that first drew you to this topic?

I’ve been studying and publishing about the saints for thirty years. Naturally, if you study the saints, relics will be part of the picture.

 

Q. What inspired you to write St. Peter’s Bones?

I became especially interested in the story of the rediscovery of St. Peter’s relics after a 2006 visit to Rome when I toured the Scavi, the excavations below St. Peter’s Basilica where the tomb of St. Peter is located. Through a glass door, I could see his bones—it was an unforgettable experience and led me to write this book.

 

Q. What do you hope readers will take away from St. Peter’s Bones?

I hope they find, as I did, that this is an Indiana Jones story, a quest for something priceless that was lost and then found.

 

Q. How did you go about researching this subject?

Several of the archaeologists involved in the excavation published accounts of their finds, and fortunately Fairfield University library—about 30 minutes from my house—had English translations of these books. Margherita Guarducci, the specialist in ancient inscriptions, also wrote about her findings, and her book is available online.

 

Q. Did you discover anything that was particularly surprising?

It was interesting to learn that were tensions among the archaeologists, and ever greater tension between the archaeologists and Msgr. Ludwig Kaas, the administrator of St. Peter’s Basilica. You would think they would all work together like a well-oiled machine, but human foibles emerged even among people who were at the top of their field and involved in one of the most significant archaeological digs in history.

 

 To schedule an interview with Thomas Craughwell, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@randomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.




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