Tuesday 12th December 2017

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Two Great Books For Christmas

December 2, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

(Editor’s Note: For readers looking for a good book to give as a gift for Christmas, Christopher Manion offers two suggestions below.)

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A Detailed Approach
To Finding The Best
Catholic College

The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College (Manassas, VA: The Cardinal Newman Society, $24.95. Visit cardinalnewmansociety.org or call 703-367-0333 ext. 117).

This latest edition of a perennial favorite offers indispensable resources for families looking for an orthodox college education. And these schools aren’t carbon copies at all; as the introduction tells us, “the fine institutions recommended in this Guide are unique, each with [its] own special charism, approach to education, and campus culture.”
These considerations — orthodoxy combined with a variety of approaches and campus cultures — stress important distinctions that often escape notice. Quite often, parents and prospective students are often just delighted to find a college that boasts about its Catholic character at all.
On one level, this indispensable Guide limns an overview that could easily be gleaned from the variety of easily accessible websites and brochures offered by each of the 17 residential colleges covered.
To enhance that approach, the guide provides a “comparison chart” including all the basics — along with particulars of special interest to Catholic families, such as the percentage of Catholic students and faculty, the availability of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, number of days of scheduled Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and dorm rules.
When the student digs more deeply into the guide, a greater sense of appreciation arises in discovering how seriously, and in what ways, these institutions take their Catholic character, both inside and outside the classroom. The attentive Catholic family will begin to take those “extras” more seriously as well, as they discover the reasons for the various approaches adopted by the colleges.
The guide includes several helpful articles, basic definitions, and questions to ask as one begins to focus on a smaller group of colleges. There’s a special section on schools outside the United States and even a couple of seminaries. And then there is the discussion of “Other Catholic Colleges” — and why they aren’t included.
“Put bluntly, the majority of Catholic colleges have lost sight of what it means to be Catholic. You can visit many Catholic campuses with little or no indication of their religious mission.”
This brings to mind the Guide’s earlier editions, some of which included critiques of my Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame. Alas, I agree with the Guide’s editors: To put it bluntly, Notre Dame just doesn’t measure up. With a $400 million football stadium replacing the Sacred Heart Basilica (where I was baptized) as the “Campus Crossroads,” the university has combined symbol and substance to resonate the arrogant Land O’Lakes declaration of 50 years ago and proclaim that it’s going to take its own path, whether the Church likes it or not.
(Ironically and perhaps hilariously, as my graduating class prepares for its 50th reunion in May, a prominent dean at the university recently told an audience that the education that Notre Dame offered half a century ago was merely “mediocre.”)
Well, as Knute Rockne used to tell my dad (who headed the university’s athletic committee in the 1920s and 1930s), “You don’t spit on a man’s head if you’re standing on his shoulders.”
With its many valuable contributions, this excellent guide does not address one pivotal consideration, perhaps because the issue pertains to every institution of higher learning in the country: finances — not tuition, room and board, but the financial stability of the institution itself.
It is no secret that most “higher education,” broadly considered, is increasingly worthless today even as it becomes ever more expensive. Daily the educational media report colleges closing, consolidating, hiring adjuncts instead of full-time teachers (an important category not included in the Guide, by the way), and other indicators of impending or potential collapse.
Many of the colleges considered in the Guide are small. They might not have large endowments, and some might even be in debt — perhaps deeply in debt. Parents and students alike need to ask tough questions, bearing in mind an oft-forgotten truism: After the rigors of application and acceptance, in the “Magic Month of April” the prospective student changes from supplicant to potential customer.
He is then in command: “Several colleges have accepted me, and I’m asking all of them these critical questions. Please answer them before the May 1 deadline.”
Here the college assumes the role of a salesman bent on “closing the deal.” This is the moment of truth in which the accepted applicant is the boss. Be sure to use it well and often in making the decision of a lifetime.

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A Magnificent Tribute
To A Great Saint

Controversies of the Christian Faith, St. Robert Bellarmine, translated by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. (Saddle River, NJ: Keep The Faith, $50.00. Available at amazon.com or see the ad and payment coupon in The Wanderer, November 23, 2017, p. 8A).

This superb volume is the result of years of devotion and dedication on the part of translator Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ. For forty years the editor of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Fr. Baker has devoted many years to translating the German works of Pope Benedict XVI as well as the Latin works of St. Robert Bellarmine, of which this volume is an outstanding example.
St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was the chief Catholic theologian during the latter part of the 16th and the early 17th centuries. His literary production was immense, since he produced books and treatises on most areas of theology, including Scripture, Christology, the sacraments, liturgy, ecclesiology, and eschatology.
This volume contains the three controversies that are critical to his corpus. The first deals with the Bible, where he proves that the Bible is the revealed work of God in that it contains no errors.
The second is his defense of the Church’s teaching on the divinity and humanity of Christ. In great detail he refutes the 16th-century heretics who deny either the divinity of Jesus or His humanity. He also proves the distinction of the Three Persons in the Trinity and shows that the Second Person, or Word of God, is the one who assumed human nature and is Jesus of Nazareth.
The third controversy is centered on the Sovereign Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome. Here he addresses the primacy of Peter among the twelve apostles, as well as the infallibility of the Pope in defining matters of faith and morals. On this matter he was a key theological source of the First Vatican Council, when the infallibility of the Pope was solemnly defined as an article of faith.
In all three controversies Bellarmine is refuting the errors of the countless adversaries of the Catholic Church, who were quite vocal in the 16th century, publishing many books savagely attacking the Catholic faith and traditions. His favorite targets are Martin Luther and John Calvin, which makes this book an immensely important contribution to current theological discussion, as well as an indispensable addition to any serious Catholic library.
The lucidity of the text is due to the painstaking efforts of Fr. Baker to work from what were little more than class notes of the saintly professor from his teaching days in Rome. That work required careful attention to the Latin styles of various commentators and Pontiffs, a challenge to even seasoned theologians, and required perseverance as well — the book is over 1,000 pages long.
Fr. Baker is clearly one of the greatest English-speaking theologians of his generation, and we owe him a great debt for this marvelous work.

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Please Pray for Dr. Robert Hickson

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Can Catholic schools resist the new gender confusion?

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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