Following is my April column that appears in this weekend’s print edition of The Catholic Post.
ICYMI is a common recent acronym which stands for “In case you missed it.” On social media, it’s often meant to share something especially newsworthy or must-see. Sometimes, ICYMI is intended to make people feel a sense of FOMO (“fear of missing out”), a by-product of our plugged-in always, social media culture.
I’ve noticed an increase in Catholic publishers reprinting books from either just a few decades, or many decades ago. It’s not because there isn’t a wealth of newer authors out there writing great books—there are so many! But consider it a form of ICYMI for the current generation, without the insinuation you’re out of the loop.
Yes, used copies of older books of Catholic classics are often available, but it’s good to have a fresh cover, modern formatting, and current forewords, that help introduce a book to a newer generation. And it’s truly helpful and edifying to revisit the wisdom of not-too-distant generations of Catholic writers, to help us understand and grow in faith.
Two publishers have re-released older titles of local son Venerable Fulton Sheen that are very worthwhile.
First is Ignatius Press’ Remade for Happiness: Achieving Life’s Purpose Through Spiritual Transformation.
Originally published in 1946 as Preface to Religion, Sheen spends much of the book exploring how the natural law—our very desires, search for happiness, and successes and failures in finding it, all point us towards the God who made us, loves us, and wants us to be happy.
Another Sheen re-release is one of his first books, The Mystical Body of Christ by Christian Classics, an imprint of Ave Maria Press. The Mystical Body of Christ, first published in 1935, is a defense of the Church as an extension of the Incarnation. But it is more than apologetics—Sheen spends time exploring how Christ formed the Church, is present in and guides the Church, with a particular focus on the Eucharist.
What is best about Sheen is that he’s the kind of author that one can read in both short doses or long stretches—he writes relatively short chapters that meander over popular culture, classic poetry, all infused with his general good sense and highly quotable style. It’s a great combination, in both books.
Finally, Fr. John Hardon’s The Faith: A Question-and-Answer Guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church published by Servant Books. It’s a reprint of a 1995 book Fr. Hardon wrote in response to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
When the CCC first came out in 1992, it was recommended to be used as a resource by theologians and catechists who would write materials to help explain it to the wider population. Though I’m a non-theologian, I take pride in the fact that many years ago, I read the CCC cover to cover, and so I can find my way around it fairly easily. I’ve long thought that the CCC is itself well-written and accessible enough that it doesn’t need a “translator.”
While that may be true, there is a learning curve to understanding the structure and language of the CCC. In addition, it’s no doubt good to have multiple ways to experience the truths of our faith. Fr. Hardon’s book is one of the better ones, with a “user-friendly” Q&A format to explain different elements of church doctrine and teaching. Fr. Hardon has 1306 Q&As, to the CCC’s nearly 3,000 paragraphs, but his book doesn’t feel condensed or rushed in any way.
This is my first time reading a book by the prolific Fr. Hardon’s, though I have more than a few friends who had the good fortune to meet him while he was alive (he died in 2000), and consider him a saint. I’m glad to have discovered him as an author, and look forward to reading more of his sensible, helpful works.
JK (which means “just kidding”). But really, here are some other links that you might find of interest.
“All Caught Up.” A humor column exploring the perils of trying to not experience FOMO.
A prayer for the Canonization of Fr. Hardon. He’s currently a Servant of God.