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A Book Review… A Thorough And Understandable Treatment Of The Faith

June 29, 2020 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Donal Anthony Foley reviews This Is the Faith: A Complete Explanation of the Catholic Faith, by Canon Francis Ripley (TAN Books, 484 pages, Kindle and paperback).

This is the Faith by Canon Francis Ripley (1912-1998), an English priest, is a substantial paperback which was originally published in 1951. It is a comprehensive treatment of the teachings of the Church which started out as a series of talks given over a period of three years to non-Catholic inquirers about the faith.
Canon Ripley was well-qualified for this work since he was the superior of the Catholic Missionary Society, and a very zealous, intelligent, and dedicated priest, who was also much involved with the work of the Legion of Mary and a personal friend of its founder, Frank Duff.
In writing this book, the author wanted to get across to potential converts the idea that the Catholic Church is indeed the one, true Church, founded by Christ. Given the very much changed social conditions over the years and the situation post-Vatican II, it has been updated by Tan Books, but the essence of the original text remains.
This is the Faith comprises forty chapters covering all aspects of the Catholic faith, from the existence of God, through such topics as sin, the Commandments, Church doctrine, the papacy, the sacraments, devotions, and the Four Last Things.
Canon Ripley had a very methodical way of dealing with his subject matter, and frequently quotes from the Bible to back up his arguments. Each chapter begins with a mini-catechism section covering essential points of Christian doctrine. In the first chapter, after looking at the nature of God, the author then goes on to point out that given that nature, that God is the eternal, unchanging, utterly perfect and self-existent being, and one who has also created us and is our Father, and loves us with an unfathomable love, then we have an obligation, and more than an obligation, to love Him in return.
This in turn implies duties we have toward God, which include adoration, contrition for our sins, thanksgiving for all He has done for us, and supplication for all the graces we need.
Subsequent chapters follow the same type of approach, all the time focusing on the essentials of Catholic teaching, but in a such a way that the ideas put forward are reasonably easy to follow and understand. The author also uses incidents from the lives of the saints and Church history to bring home important points in a practical way.
It is plain that the book was written in an earlier and very different time, even though fewer than seventy years have elapsed since it was first published. An example of this is the point made by the author that Catholic churches are full at Mass times on Sundays, not because believers only attend Mass because they are forced to, but because people have been consistently taught that it is their duty to attend Sunday Mass.
While most churches may not be empty these days on Sundays, certainly Mass attendance is, generally speaking, well down on what it was in the fifties, and likewise the obligatory nature of Sunday Mass is not emphasized as much as it used to be.
The author always has the underlying, but very necessary, motive of bringing home to the reader the essential nature of religion and belief in God, and the duty to act on that belief. And so, for example in speaking of religion in general, he says:
“Religion matters more than anything else in life. It is the one supremely important thing. It must occupy the most important place in every person’s life — and actually, in the life of every nation as well.”
As Canon Ripley points out, the sources of our faith are the Church and the Bible, but even here, it is the Church that has given us the Bible, since it was compiled by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He demonstrates that the Gospels are true history and that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and so we can, and should have, complete trust in its teachings.
The importance of prayer is emphasized by the author, who says, “Prayer is absolutely necessary for salvation. Man must dispose himself for justification: otherwise he cannot be saved. He must therefore turn to God in some way.”
The same is true of faith, which, although it is a supernatural gift, requires a correspondence on our part, made up of prayerfulness, humility, and living a morally upright life, amongst other things.
Canon Ripley deals at some length with sin and the Commandments of God, devoting four chapters to the latter topic. In looking at the Ten Commandments, he goes into detail about exactly which sins transgress against a particular one of the Commandments. So for example, with the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” he lists willful murder — which is one of the sins crying to Heaven for vengeance — quarreling, giving scandal or bad example, and giving vent to anger, hatred, or revenge, as all being sins against this Commandment.
The importance of belief in the Church as a visible organization founded by Christ, the Son of God, is emphasized by the author, as is the fact that no other religious body has been able to demonstrate heroic holiness on the part of so many of its members, from all walks of life, who have been sanctified within the Church.
Canon Ripley notes that if the Church had just been a human organization, she would have shared the fate of all other such organizations, that is gradual dissolution and death, but rather, “the Church is not an organization; She is the continuance of the work of a divine Person: She will never fail simply because Christ can never fail.”
The importance of the office of the Pope is likewise emphasized by Canon Ripley, given that any body, religious or otherwise, needs a central authority; and he shows how the papacy was established by Christ with an infallible head.
There is also a useful chapter on the Commandments of the Church, and the centrality of the sacraments is underlined by the fact that the author devotes twelve chapters to them. He is at pains to emphasize the importance of receiving the sacraments if we are to live truly Christian lives.
Regarding marriage, he notes that the word “matrimony” comes from two Latin words, matris and munus, and actually means the “duty of motherhood” — and so, as he says, the very word indicates God’s purpose in instituting marriage.
The final chapters of the book deal with devotion to our Lady and the saints, and death, judgment, Purgatory, Heaven, and Hell, and there are also two useful chapters on the devotional life a Catholic should lead, as well as chapters on the Reformation and on Catholic social principles.
In sum, This Is the Faith is a very thorough, understandable, and well-sourced volume. The typeface is large and easy to read, with many of the main points in bold for emphasis.
It would make an excellent refresher for any believer who wants to renew his understanding of the faith, or as a text for someone who would like to know more about Catholicism in general, or is thinking of becoming a Catholic.

  • + + (Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people, and the third in the series is due to be published next year — details can be seen at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk.)
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Please educate yourself on this! Toward the end of this statement 2 points are made that are contrary to FAITH...#1 opposing the nuclear family (where is dad?) and #2 opposing God’s plan for sex as a union of male & female. This agenda is DANGEROUS!

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Likely two more Supreme Court appointments likely in the next presidential term. Something to consider. The conservative majority is a myth. Roberts has proven himself to be another leftist. Thank Bush for this one.

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