Posts Tagged ‘religion’

INTERVIEW: Cardinal Donald Wuerl on new book THE FEASTS

Q. How did you come up with the idea for a book about feasts?

 The feasts have an outsized importance in Christianity. They teach doctrine. They form culture. They deliver the truths and mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ in a way that’s delightful and memorable. Think of Christmas and Easter. Every ethnic group marks those days with special customs, special foods, special songs. It’s a powerful experience for the senses; and it makes a deep impression on the mind. If you drive home from church and you’re still humming the hymns, then you’re probably also rehearsing the doctrine in your mind — without realizing it.

This book marks the third book in a series Mike and I have written for Image Books. The three books consider three Christian institutions that are supremely important for forming Christian community and individual Christians — the Mass, the parish church, and the feasts.

 

Q. Who should read this book? Did you have a specific audience in mind when you were writing it?

 We wrote it for everyone, really. I think Catholic families will get more out of celebrating feast days after they’ve gained a deeper understanding of each day’s biblical roots, historical development, and particular symbols and customs. Clergy will find the book a treasury of good material for homilies. Non-Catholics will, I hope, find it an easy way to get to know the celebrations of their Catholic friends, neighbors, and family members.

 

Q. In The Feasts, you refer to the calendar as a catechism and teacher. In what ways can we learn from the feasts?

The feasts are a great delivery system for doctrine. Every Sunday, Catholics recite the Creed, confirming that they accept certain basic propositions about Jesus: that he is true God, and that he is true man, that he took flesh to be the Savior of the world. It’s good that we recite the Creed; and it’s good that we commit the propositions to memory. But I think they become more truly part of us when we sing them in Christmas carols and when we kneel before the manger. In a similar way, our Lenten exercises, like the Stations of the Cross and meatless Fridays, work on us — mind, body, and soul — in a way that abstract lessons on the atonement never could. If we have been tending to these things faithfully since childhood, that’s all the better.

There’s more than one way to teach doctrine and more than one way to learn. Through much of history, many Christians could not read. They didn’t own catechisms or subscribe to religious magazines. Yet they too kept the faith and passed it on to their children. They learned it, to a great degree, as they celebrated the cycle of feasts in the common life of the Church.

 

Q. In the introduction, you write: “Catholics love to celebrate the feasts, but often passively. The time rolls around each year, and we show up because we have an obligation to do so. And participating brings us joy. But our joy could be far greater if we celebrated with understanding.” What can Catholics do to better understand the feasts of the Church and celebrate them with greater intention (other than read your book, of course!)?

The feasts are part of a greater enterprise called the calendar. The Church keeps time to its own ancient rhythm — or, more accurately, eternal rhythm. If you live the life all year round, you’ll have a better appreciation of the special times. If you’ve lived a good Lent and Easter, you’ll be better prepared for Christmas, next time it rolls around. There are many good guides that help Catholics “stay tuned” in between the major holidays. The magazines Magnificat and Word Among Us come to mind. They give ordinary Catholics a way to walk prayerfully at life’s pace, from feast to feast and season to season.

 

Q: You write, “The feasts are to time what churches are to space.” How did you come up with such an interesting analogy?

Prayer is important to the life of both authors. Mike and I have also done a lot of spiritual reading down the years. So, if you like an analogy, there’s a good chance we learned it from some long-ago — and unfortunately long-forgotten— master.

As for that particular analogy: it seemed self-evident to Mike and me. A Church is a holy place. A feast is a holy day, a holiday.

 

Q. What is your favorite Catholic feast day?

My favorite liturgical celebration is the Easter Vigil, with Easter Sunday and Christmas as very close seconds. It’s my privilege to celebrate all of them in Washington’s beautiful Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle.

Of the feasts, I particularly love the Annunciation on March 25 and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29. The Immaculate Conception has a very special place in my heart for two reasons. It is the patronal feast of the United States — and I get to celebrate that Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here in D.C. And it is also the anniversary date of my Baptism (December 8, 1940).

A newcomer among the feasts, but very dear to my heart, is the Feast of Saint John Paul II, October 22. It was my privilege to know the saint, and so the prayers of the day affect me in a powerful and personal way. That Mass I can celebrate in the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II, also here in Washington, D.C.

My co-author, Mike Aquilina, shares my love for the Easter Vigil and for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. He has a particular devotion to all the saints of the early Church, and he keeps their feasts in a special way, as he also keeps the Memorial of the Guardian Angels. The beauty of the calendar is that we hold it in common, and yet it becomes something different and beautiful in every Christian life, assuming the contours of each personality and each person’s particular vocation and graces from God.

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


PRESS RELEASE: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

“Imagine if a Martian showed up, all big ears and big nose like a child’s drawing, and he asked to be baptized. How would you react?”  – Pope Francis, May, 2014

Pope Francis posed that question to provoke deeper reflection about inclusiveness and diversity in the Church. But it’s not the first time that question has been asked.

Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father Paul Mueller hear questions like that all the time. They’re scientists at the Vatican Observatory, the official astronomical research institute of the Catholic Church.

In Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Image, Oct. 7, 2014) they explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason, and show how science and religion can have different but complementary ways of looking at the same issue.

“This book is about what it’s like when science encounters faith on friendly, mutually respectful terms,” writes Mueller.

Although the authors are serious scientists, the book is written for an audience of educated laypeople who are interested in both science and religion, and how each operates in our society.

“We simply want to share with you the joy and hope— and fun— that we find in doing science and living faith,” writes Mueller referring to his goal for the book. “We hope that our hope and joy will be contagious!”

Written in the form of a dialogue, the book takes place over the course of six conversations between the two authors. The six conversations are meant to recreate the sorts of conversations the authors have had with each other, with other Jesuits, and with people they’ve met through their work.

In answering those questions, the authors dispel the assumption that science and faith must be at odds with one another.

“Science and religion have common historical roots—the war between them (if there is one) has not been eternal,” notes Consolmagno. “And many people who do science are also religious. At least for them—as for the two of us—religion and science are not at war at all.”

“Paul and I are very fortunate,” Consolmagno writes. “We get to live and work with a group of Jesuit scientists who take both science and faith very seriously. We all work together in the lab, but we also pray together in the chapel. In our daily lives, we don’t feel any particular conflict or tension between science and faith.”

6 questions that are addressed in the book:

  • How do you reconcile The Big Bang with Genesis?
  • What happened recently when astronomers debated the status of Pluto as a planet?
  • Was the Star of Bethlehem just a pious religious story or an actual description of astronomical events?
  • What really went down between Galileo and the Catholic Church – and why do the effects of that confrontation still reverberate to this day?
  • Will the Universe come to an end?
  • And… could you really baptize an extraterrestrial?

About the Authors

BROTHER GUY CONSOLMAGNO, SJ was born in Detroit, Michigan, earned undergraduate and masters’ degrees in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT (in 1974 and 1975), and a Ph. D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow and lecturer at Harvard University’s Department of Astronomy, and MIT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences; served in the US Peace Corps, teaching physics at the University of Nairobi; and was a physics professor at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, before entering the Jesuits as a brother in 1989. At the Vatican Observatory since 1993, his research explores connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies. In July of 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public from the American Astronomical Society.

FATHER PAUL R. MUELLER, SJ is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended a Jesuit high school and earned a degree in physics at Boston University before entering the Society of Jesus in 1982. As part of his Jesuit training, he earned masters’ degrees in divinity, philosophy, and theology, along the way developing an interest in religion-science issues. After being ordained a priest in 1993, he attended the University of Chicago, where he completed a fourth master’s degree (in physics) and a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science through the interdisciplinary program in Conceptual Historical Studies of Science. He served as professor of philosophy at Loyola University Chicago from 2004 until 2009.

For more information, visit ImageCatholicBooks.com

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno or Father Paul Mueller, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


PRESS RELEASE: The American Catholic Almanac

Discover the Rich History of the Catholic Church in America

What do Buffalo Bill, John F. Kennedy, Vince Lombardi, Fulton Sheen, and Andy Warhol have in common? They’re all Catholics who have shaped America.

In The American Catholic Almanac (Image, Sept. 30, 2014) Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson have put together a page-a-day history of 365 inspiring stories celebrating the historic contributions of American men and women who have been shaped by their Catholic faith.

From Revolutionary War to Notre Dame Football, the Catholic Church has played a unique and often transformative role in American public life over the last 300 years. The American Catholic Almanac tells the fascinating, funny, uplifting and unlikely tales of the famous figures and lesser-known saints and sinners who have influenced history, culture, and politics.

At a time when all eyes are focused on Pope Francis and the Church in Rome, Burch and Stimpson have provided American Catholics with a masterful resource for learning about the rich history of the church right here in our own backyards.

“Many American Catholics have studied the history of the Faith in Europe and know about the lives of the saints who built the Church there,” write the authors, “But for all that American Catholics know about Church history elsewhere, much of our own history remains a mystery.”

“When we first set out to write The American Catholic Almanac we wanted to accomplish two things,” write Burch and Stimpson. “First, we wanted to tell the stories of the men and women who built the Catholic Church in America. Second, we wanted to demonstrate just how much America has benefited from what those men and women did.”

The American Catholic Almanac brings to light the contributions of priests, religious and lay Catholics whose unyielding faith and humble acts of service changed minds, transformed hearts and gave rise to greater Catholic devotion in America.

“In the end, the best gift we received from writing this book was getting to know the men and women in these pages,” write Burch and Stimpson. “They charmed us, amused us, inspired us, and encouraged us. They brought us to a deeper faith in Christ and a deeper love for the Church.”

 

Did you know…

  • The first immigrant to arrive in America via Ellis Island was a 15-year-old Irish-Catholic girl?
  • Al Capone’s tombstone reads, “My Jesus Mercy”?
  • Andrew Jackson credited America’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans to the prayers of the Virgin Mary and the Ursuline Sisters?
  • Five Franciscans died defending the Church’s teachings on marriage in sixteenth-century Georgia?
  • Jack Kerouac died wanting to be known as a Catholic and not as a beat poet?
  • Catholic missionaries lived in Virginia 36 years before the English settled Jamestown?

About the Authors

BRIAN BURCH is the president of CatholicVote.org, a non-profit political advocacy group based in Chicago, Illinois.

EMILY STIMPSON is a Catholic writer based in Steubenville, Ohio, and the author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years and These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body.

For more information, visit ImageCatholicBooks.com

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Brian Burch or Emily Stimpson, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


PRESS RELEASE: The Feasts

Finding True Joy in the Feasts of Christ

Catholics love to celebrate the feasts, but often these celebrations become routine.

In their latest collaboration, The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics (Image, Sept. 16, 2014), Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina remind us of the reasons for the seasons and celebrations of the Church and show us how to find true joy in the feasts of Christ.

The authors examine the history and traditions behind both favorite and forgotten holidays, from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to the Feast of the Sacred Heart. They demonstrate how through the feasts, ordinary Christians learn the life of Christ, share it, and come to imitate it.

“The feasts form us,” write the authors, “They help to make us and remake us according to the pattern of the life of Jesus Christ. We number our days as we walk in his footsteps, from his birth to his baptism, from his passion to his resurrection, from his Ascension to his sending of the Spirit to make us saints. We do this faithfully every year, and it defines us as who we are.”

This book continues the work of exploring the meaning and purpose of the most basic and beloved aspects of Catholic life, which the authors began in their books The Mass and The Church. The Feasts begins with introductory material about the Christian calendar, looking at the biblical origins of the feasts and the ways they’ve developed through the centuries. The authors then go on to examine the Church’s individual major (and some minor) feasts and seasons.

Wuerl and Aquilina show readers how the feasts of Christ are like our family celebrations (baptisms, weddings, birthdays, etc.), only on a grand scale, noting “They are universal. They are eternal. They provide true joy that satisfies.”

 

“The feasts are to time what churches are to space,” write the authors, “They are moments we mark off as sacred. They are moments of special grace for our prayer and our common life as a family—a Church.”

 

Included in The Feasts are more than two dozen beautiful black-and-white photos depicting various Church celebrations.

 

About the Authors

CARDINAL DONALD WUERL is the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and the author of The Catholic Way and New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today.

MIKE AQUILINA is the author of more than 20 books, including Angels of God and Fathers of the Church. He appears regularly on EWTN.

 

Praise for The Feasts

“In this highly approachable volume, co-authors Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina have combined sound research with pastoral sensitivity to take readers on a journey of discovery and inspiration through the Church’s liturgical year.  Beginning with the fundamental question of why the Church has always celebrated the Eucharist on Sundays, all the way to the origins of feasts of more recent vintage, such as Divine Mercy Sunday, this fine work reminds us that the feasts and seasons we celebrate are not just arbitrary events.  Rather, we discover how the Church year is the Church’s time-honored way of inviting present-day Christians to learn about,  be challenged by, and find hope for the future through the unfolding of the Paschal Mystery in time and the witness of all the saints, upon whom ‘we rely for unfailing help’” (Quotation taken from Eucharistic Prayer III). —Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville & President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“This gracefully written book will serve not only as a splendid explanation of the Church’s feasts and solemnities but also as an illuminating introduction to the faith itself. Mike Aquilina and Cardinal Wuerl have once again shown their prowess as champions of the new evangelization.” —Robert Barron, author of Catholicism

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Cardinal Wuerl or Mike Aquilina, contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


Fortnight for Freedom Reading Essentials: Books About Religious Freedom

The USCCB has issued a call for a Fortnight for Freedom in celebration of the many rights that American citizens enjoy and to patriotically pray for our nation and the current challenges facing religious freedoms in the US. As part of that effort, we’ve assembled this list of books on the subjects of religious freedom and faith and politics from some of the most respected Catholic voices in America.

 NEW!!

$20.00 Hardcover edition

Born out of a speech celebrating the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, in which emperors Constantine I and Licinius granted Christians legal rights, this book by Cardinal Angelo Scola gives attention to the crisis of religious freedom in the twenty-first century. Let’s Not Forget God outlines how Christianity has been at the center of creating a pluralistic society, from the Roman Empire in 313 to the American Revolution in 1776. This bold vision of freedom brings religion into the realm of public debate without allowing the state to banish or control it.

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eBook Exclusives: The following titles are important messages from prominent Catholic leaders and are available only as eBooks at a very low price:


True Freedom by Timothy Dolan

99 Cent eBook Original

Are American liberties on the endangered species list? In this eBook original, the Archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issues a plea for all citizens to reject the cynicism of the day and foster a culture in which religious freedom and all human life are infinitely valued.

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A Heart on Fire Charles J. Chaput

99 Cent eBook Original

In this eBook original, Charles J. Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, offers a powerful manifesto on the need for Americans to protect religious freedom. By thoughtfully interpreting and applying Catholic values to this confusing moment in history, he provides hope for an American audience hungry for courage and counsel.

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Proclaim Liberty by Carl Anderson$2.99 eBook Original
In this ebook, comprised of three talks Carl Anderson gave between April and August 2012, the author argues that all people of faith ought to approach politics in an effort to transform the divisiveness and hostility in today’s political arena into a society in which every person is respected and valued—a society that Pope John Paul II has called a “Civilization of Love.”

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Available in Print and eBook Formats:

On Heaven and Earth by Pope Francis A conversation between Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and prominent Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka that brings remarkable insight to subjects such as politics, abortion, religious freedom, and the intersection of faith and the public arena.

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Why Catholicism Matters by Bill Donohue

One of the most visible representatives of the Catholic Church in the United States shows how the Church is far from being an ossified carry-over tradition from antiquity. Why Catholicism Matters celebrates the significant contribution the Church makes in many aspects of today’s world and applies its wisdom to issues on a personal, national, and global scale.

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God in Action by Cardinal George

In this bracing manifesto, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, one of the leading Catholic intellectuals in America today, provides refreshing insight into the intersection of faith and the public sphere. Finding both challenges and reasons for hope, he lays out a vision for national life that respects natural law, human dignity, and the essential ways religion uniquely contributes to the common good.

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Render Unto Caesar by Charles ChaputFew topics in recent years have ignited as much public debate as the balance between religion and politics. Does religious thought have any place in political discourse? Do religious believers have the right to turn their values into political action? What does it truly mean to have a separation of church and state? The very heart of these important questions is here addressed by one of the leading voices on the topic, Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

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A People of Hope by John AllenOne of the world’s most respected religion journalists profiles New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, one of the country’s—and possibly the world’s—most important Catholic leaders through lengthy exclusive interviews. Hear Dolan’s thoughts on many issues including religious freedom and political involvement.

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Beyond a House Divided by Carl AndersonFrom health care, to the role of religion in America, to abortion, to the importance of traditional ethics in business and society, Anderson uses fresh polling data and keen insight in Beyond a House Divided to show that a surprising consensus has emerged despite these debates. He sheds light on what’s been missing in the public and political debates of the last several years: the consensus that isn’t hard to find if you know where to look.

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The Right to be Wrong by Kevin HassonIn the running debate we call the “culture wars,” there exists a great feud over religious diversity. One side demands that only their true religion be allowed in the public square; the other insists that no religions ever belong there. The Right to Be Wrong offers a solution, drawing its lessons from a series of stories–both contemporary and historical–that illustrates the struggle to define religious freedom.

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