My Reading Challenge Pick for…A Book by Pope Benedict XVI

I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge, and we are down to the last few.  

Category: A Book by Pope Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

My Pick: Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief

This book is a really quick read; I got through it in under two hours. It provides an excellent introduction to the most significant biblical roots of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Mary and how her role is woven into the fabric of our faith. (Since this book was written before Cardinal Ratzinger became pope, I will refer to his authorship here by that name.)

The book is basically divided into two parts. In the first section, Ratzinger states that “the image of Mary in the New Testament is woven entirely of Old Testament threads,” and he identifies three main “strands” (p.12):

  1. Mary resembles the “great mothers” of the old testament — like Sarah and Hannah.
  2. Mary is a picture of “daughter zion” — the people of Israel — with whom God has established his everlasting covenant.
  3. Mary is the “New Eve” — a woman whose “yes” birthed life, where the disobedience of the first woman had birthed death to mankind.

Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for…A Book by Pope Benedict XVI”

My Reading Challenge Pick for “A Book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton”

I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge, and I’m very excited to talk about this one… 

Category: A Book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton

My Pick: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

If I was forced to pick my top five favorite authors, C. S. Lewis would have to be among them. His wisdom is inspired; his insights are timeless; his tone is, ahhh, so compelling. For the Reading Challenge I decided to re-read Mere Christianity. The first time I read it I was 18, and I still have that copy. It’s funny to see what passages I underlined and noted this time that were not marked before, but I disagreed with none of my previous markings of years ago. They would have all been underlined again (although without the unsteady, florescent highlighter pen). 

Lewis must be the most-quoted Christian author of recent decades, and many of his famous passages that you have heard recited probably came from this book. Just for fun, here are a few examples: Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for “A Book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton””

My Reading Challenge Pick for “Writings of an Early Church Father”

I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge, and I’m chipping away at my list. There’s only three months left! This was a shorter one, but a powerful one… 

Category: Writings of an Early Church Father

My Pick: The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians & The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Before reading St. Polycarp of Smyrna’s epistle and the account of his martyrdom, I had been semi-familiar with his story and when he lived. But I gained some important insights on his impact as a Father of the Church after doing this reading. The book I have linked to above includes both his epistle and the account of his martyrdom by Evarestus (along with several other early Christian writings). It also provides brief biographical information on the saint, which we have due to various other early Church writings.

Polycarp’s Connection to Christ

The first thing that I found fascinating was his direct connection to the original 12 Apostles, specifically the Apostle John. We know from Irenaeus’ writings that Polycarp (who wasn’t martyred until the age of 86) was a disciple of the Apostle John and handed down the teachings of the Apostles to several generations throughout his long life. In fact, St. John the Apostle himself appointed Polycarp to his position as Bishop of Smyrna. Think about that: Jesus –> John –> Polycarp — he’s one person removed from direct communication and relationship with Christ on earth!

Polycarp’s Pastoral Words

His epistle reminds me of many of the letters of the New Testament with its pastoral style and apostolic exhortations. He clearly lived his life ready to give it up for Christ, and he encouraged his flock of believers in the same mindset. After all, early Christians basically lived their daily lives with the realization that they would most likely die at any time for their faith. Polycarp’s epistle describes St. Ignatius and other Christian prisoners on their way to be martyred in Rome: “For those chains they were wearing were the badges of saints; the diadems of men truely chosen by God and our Lord.”  Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for “Writings of an Early Church Father””