Francis [Phelan] cleanses himself. Intrinsic to the redemption is grace. As a child I always loved the word "grace," a result perhaps of the fact that every female of my acquaintance with that name was either gentle and sweet or seemed to like me. It requires the constant assistance of grace. In the words of the old Baltimore Catechism , actual grace is "the supernatural help of God which is given human beings to enlighten our minds and strengthen our will to do good and to avoid evil.
Father Ernest Burner, the plump protagonist of J. When the archbishop dashes his hopes, reassigning him once more as a curate with the admonition that "I trust that in your new assignment you will find not peace but a sword," Father Burner is abjectly unaware of being given divine assistance for the enlightenment and sanctification necessary "to do good and to avoid evil.
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But is this no a beginning rather than an end? Is it filled with grace? Yes, there are miracles of grace; not every instance of grace is hard to recognize or embrace. Some pray and receive—but not all; perhaps not even most. The mystery is unsolvable. It has no satisfactory answer in our temporal space, in this vale of tears, in a post-Auschwitz world where we know that there is no floor to human suffering, no point where God intervenes and says enough.
We can only search. We can only wonder why it is no longer a holy well, why Paula Spencer, a woman of common innocence, has been driven into a place of such profound physical and psychological suffering, and the faith she was raised in seems incapable of offering solace. Alone among the great monotheistic faiths, Catholicism is a lover rather than a breaker of icons.
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It assumed the art and artistic impulses of paganism in their classical and folk forms. It made goddesses into saints, pagan feasts into religious holidays, the Pantheon into the church of All Saints, pre-Christian holy sites into places of Christian pilgrimage. Certainly, there were always two forces at odds in Catholicism, immersion in the world and renunciation of it, appreciation of the flesh and aversion to it, the embrace of the immediate and the flight from it.
Whereas the generations that followed recoiled, so that by the eighteenth century, the Circumcision of Christ, once the opening act of the Redemption, had become merely bad taste. I agree with Steinberg. Although it was the progenitor of Western art, the bridge between the classical and postclassical art, the patron of some of the greatest art and architecture in human history, the Catholic Church is now a largely irrelevant player in the field of visual creativity.
Just consider the churches constructed in this century or the decorations within. The Catholic celebration of the Incarnation—full and unqualified—grounds the church. It is the basis of Catholic insistence on the Real Presence. It is the reason, I think, why there is so little Catholic writing on the Second Coming and the last days. The publishing sensation of the last decade has been the Left Behind series of eschatological novels, which have sold nearly 50 million copies detailing a right-wing Christian fantasy about the end of the world, the Rapture and the battle of Armageddon.
In contrast to this trend, when I scanned a list sent me by a friend of some eighty titles he uses in a course on the Catholic novel, I was unable to recognize any apocalyptic sagas. Truly Catholic novels embrace the utter carnality—the all-inclusiveness—of the Incarnation.
In my view, truly Catholic novels are immersed in the always untidy, often sordid world. Two of my favorite New York novels—which are, I think, profoundly Catholic novels—represent this immersion in the fullness of the Word made flesh.
Both are about music. Mambo Kings is a passionate, eloquent account of the workings of the communion of saints and sinners , sin, suffering and redemption, grace and the Incarnation. Catholics may write novels devoid of their faith, while non-Catholics may, in their novels, confront questions of faith.
To the extent that a writer succeeds in turning words into beauty, into language that is true to the human experience and acknowledges the presence—or even the possibility—of what "we see now through a glass, darkly, but one day face to face"—he or she, Catholic or not, offers a suitable prayer. It is one, I believe, that will be found worthy. Please email comments to letters commonwealmagazine. The Catholic Novel. Fact or fiction? By Peter Quinn. So rather than mediocre it was a blend of really bad and somewhat good. I should add that the writing style was quite good, and the entire story was unique, it just wasn't a great fit for me.
View all 7 comments. May 26, Mike rated it did not like it.
This novel deals with the sort-of-return of Jesus Christ to early's New York. He turns out to be a metaphysical, time-travelling alien, but also is the sort of son of sort of god. Put quite frankly, it's a mess. There was enough material here for a short story, maybe a novella. Unfortunately, the author has decided to pad it out with what one hopes is all of his research on the topic, and leaves us with ! I like the Christ as time-travelling alien angle; don't get me wrong. But I didn't really need every detail of the crucifixion retold in this context. Nor did I need a whole spiritual framework spelled out.
It was all a bit much. I can only assume the author was trying for something with the impact of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Instead we get something as laughably incoherent as Scientology. I guess this book might've blown my mind as a 12 year old. But as an adult, it mostly just bored me.
Fair warning, the book is littered with subtly racist comments "[Shirigawa] gave me a slant-eyed look" and cheap 70s sexuality where every woman is viewed as a potential conquest. My recommendation is just to avoid this book and to pray that Hollywood never decides to make a movie of it. View 2 comments. Re-reading a book that was a favourite over thirty years ago. And, to be honest, it was pretty disappointing.
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Who would have thought that a book set in 80s Manhattan would have dated so badly. All that smoking. And Leo's horrible attitude to women. The sci-fi stuff didn't resonate with me as much as it did in the 80s either. But I still enjoyed the reinvention of religion.
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And the ending is still great. I spotted one absolute howler though. When they're talking about the conception of Jesus, Leo s Re-reading a book that was a favourite over thirty years ago.
The Catholic Novel
When they're talking about the conception of Jesus, Leo says "That's the Immaculate Conception, right? Giving it three stars, largely for nostalgia's sake. Nov 26, Amanda Adlem rated it it was amazing. Read this in the 80s Dec 09, Clivemichael rated it liked it Shelves: theology , social-comment , science-fiction , library-ebook. Entertaining, somewhat preachy, interesting concept.
Well written although not all the characters get developed. I enjoyed it but the rants were occasionally teduious. Certainly provacative, scholarly and well researched. I have mixed feelings about it. Sep 01, Tracey added it. This is a great novel for provoking thought on Christianity, especially enjoyed by those who feel anti church for whatever reason. Nothing to serious just a fun light read. Nov 20, Glynn Lavender rated it it was amazing. Interesting read, not for the religious faithful. Neil Johnson rated it liked it Jun 01, Russellji rated it it was amazing May 13, Noel Waldron rated it really liked it Nov 20, David rated it it was amazing Oct 22, Ishan rated it it was amazing Nov 11, Paul Gallon rated it it was amazing Mar 15, Learethus rated it really liked it Jan 16, Pinto Khan rated it really liked it Dec 28, Nobody Important rated it really liked it Aug 06, Chele rated it liked it Jan 13, Richard Timms rated it really liked it Aug 13, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.
Conversing with John, Karl ascertains that it is 28 A. He also ascertains that John is fomenting armed rebellion in Jerusalem as against Roman rule, with the rebellion being planned to occur during the next Passover. John asks Karl to baptize him — in a staged ceremony — to restore the then-flagging morale of the Essenes because the Essenes already regard Karl as an otherworldly prophet sent by Adonai. As the staged baptism begins, Karl suffers a migraine and collapses into John, and then spontaneously asks John to baptize him instead, reversing the roles that they had planned to play.
Largely unconscious of the remainder of whatever ritual was being played out at the riverside, Karl runs off into the desert under the influence of the headache. Wandering dazed through the blazing, barren hills — and shredding his clothes and skin against the brambles—he hallucinates recollections of arguments with Monica , his lover, shouting his ripostes aloud to the desert. In this damaged and altered state, he stumbles from town to town in the region, seeking — and eventually finding — Nazareth. Identifying himself as a prophet, he is introduced to Joseph, Mary and Jesus, who are, respectively, a poor carpenter, his wife, and their blind, hunchbacked idiot son.