What a delight to speak with Elizabeth Lev about her phenomenal book “How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art!” This book is a feast for your mind and heart. It is filled with Church history and illuminated by a cast of extraordinary characters and beautiful images. Professor Lev is a master storyteller who never disappoints! It will be difficult for anyone who begins to enter its pages to put this book down. This work reflects the best in Catholic cultural apologetics. Along with the podcast, check out the absorbing TED talk Liz gave on the story of Sistine Chapel embedded in this post! Give yourself treat, don’t wait, get a copy of the book for yourself and plan on gifting it to many of your friends!
“In a series of finely crafted and absorbing essays, Elizabeth Lev actually demonstrates how, at a crucial moment in the Church’s history, artists used paintbrush and chisel to proclaim the Gospel. This book will be extremely helpful for catechists, teachers, preachers, and I daresay, for artists themselves. ” Bishop Robert Barron
“Liz Lev so brilliantly connects art and faith that you will experience every painting, statue and church in a deeper, emotionally powerful and spiritually fulfilling way.” Newt Gingrich
“A treat for the eye and the soul.” Peggy Noonan
Wall Street Journal
A big “THANK YOU” to Ignatius Press for this excellent 2nd edition of the classic “Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?: With a Short Discourse on Hell” by Catholic theologian Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar. The newer edition contains an outstanding forward by Fr. Robert Barron. The conversation with Mark Brumley sheds even greater light on why this is such an important work. Mark also corrects the misrepresentations that have been put forward about it’s contents in recent years, including the false characterization of von Balthasar as an advocate of “universalism”. An exceptional work! Once again, a great discussion with Mark Brumley.
“Truly deep theological questions can rarely be answered with a simple yes or no. Rather, they are approached by the careful theologian, who circles around them, making distinctions, bringing essential aspects to light. The issue of who and how many will be saved is surely one of the thorniest theological puzzles in the Catholic tradition, and I don’t know any theologian-classical or contemporary-who performs the nimble task of bringing out the complexity and profiles of this issue better than Hans Urs von Balthasar. In this short but rich text, you will hear of grace, punishment, mercy, the awful self-absorption of sin-but above all of hope.” – Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Why is it essential for the Christian to truly “know” Jesus as the “Christ”? Why is a relationship with Jesus Christ paramount for the spiritual life? What is it be an authentic disciple of Christ? These questions are just a few that are answered by master apologist and president of Ignatius Press, Mark Brumley as we discuss the phenomenal book by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. Class A catechesis and rich source of spiritual reading, not only for Catholics, but for the entire Body of Christ. Highly Recommended!
An inspiring and practical work by a great churchman about the eternal importance of the Christian faith, and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and how it is crucial for our everyday life.
“Catechesis is something different from a theological discourse. Catechesis is actually a way, and we are invited to set out on such a catechetical way. For catechesis is very closely connected with the mission of Jesus himself. It is actually the direct translation of his mission, which he gave to the apostles at the end of his life: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.’ “
In our conversation with Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., we enter into “God So Loved the World: Clues to Our Transcendent Destiny from the Revelation of Jesus“, which is the third installment of his “Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence” series. Not only is Fr. Spitzer a brilliant theologian, but he has the heart of caring pastor who understands the needs of the questing minds of so many lost and wandering souls. With an extraordinary grasp of philosophy, theology and cosmology, he is able to take complicated concepts and mix them with joy, beauty, and a grace-filled enthusiasm without doing damage to the subject matter. In this volume, he addresses “What is LOVE”, “Who is LOVE”, and maybe in an even deeper way, “The why of LOVE”. Of course we know, “God is Love”, but God as a Father? God as a Son? God as Holy Spirit? How is the mind to grasp such penetrating Truth? And more importantly, how is the heart to perceive this eternal divine mystery?
We were able to meet with Fr. Spitzer for this discussion at his offices located at the Magis Center in Garden Grove, CA.
In this volume the brilliant Fr. Spitzer probes in detail the major question that if an intelligent Creator God – manifest in logical proofs, scientific evidence, and near death experiences – who is the source of our desire for the sacred, and the transcendental desires for truth, love, goodness, and beauty, would want to reveal himself to us personally and ultimately.
He then shows this is reasonable not only in light of our interior experience of a transcendent Reality, but also that a completely intelligent Reality is completely positive–implying its possession of a completely positive virtue – namely “love”, defined as agape.
This leads to the question whether God might be unconditionally loving, and if he is, whether he would want to make a personal appearance to us in a perfect act of empathy – face to face. After examining the rational evidence for this, he reviews all world religions to see if there is one that reveals such a God – an unconditionally loving God who would want to be with us in perfect empathy. This leads us to the extraordinary claim of Jesus Christ who taught that God is “Abba”, the unconditionally loving Father.
Jesus’ claims go further, saying that He is also unconditional love, and that his mission is to give us that love through an act of complete self-sacrifice. He also claims to be the exclusive Son of the Father, sent by God to save the world, and the one who possesses divine power and authority. The rest of the book does an in-depth examination of the evidence for Jesus’ unconditional love of sinners, his teachings, his miracles, and his rising from the dead. As well as the evidence for Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit that enabled his disciples to perform miracles in his name, and evidence for the presence of the Holy Spirit today.
It’s great to be joined once again by Mark Brumley, this time to discuss “Knowing God: God and the Human Condition” (previously titled God and the Human Mind) authored by the great Catholic writer, teacher, and publisher Frank Sheed. Written in 1966 during the time of the Second Vatican Council, Sheed addresses the most challenging questions the human mind can pose about God, without presenting answers in dry academic way. Instead, because of his gifted writing style, he engages the reader with a desire to discover “mystery” in all its forms.
“This book is vintage Sheed: clear, commonsensical, and convincing. This is the Sheed of the two masterpieces of apologetics Theology and Sanity and Society and Sanity. But this is also a new Sheed: older and wiser, more practical and human–the post-Vatican II Sheed. I mean this in all the good senses, the John Paul II senses: he is sensitive to the dangers of “the good old days”: verbalism, “dead orthodoxy,” rationalism, deism, what Sheed calls “theometry” instead of theology: an abstract, formal theological geometry that only wants to define terms and win debating points. Instead, this book is a kind of theological midrash, a deepening, a spelunking in the caves of the deepest mysteries with the clear light of honest words–honest with heart as well as head. It unites dogmatic theology with lived religion. It is precisely the breath of fresh air that Pope John XXIII opened the windows for, and in terms the layman can clearly grasp. —– Peter Kreeft, Author, Because God is Real
Once again, Dr. Rodney Stark, the author of the best-selling “The Rise of Christianity” brings clarity to history with his book “Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History“! A professor of social science and co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, Dr. Stark is a master of research and source analysis. With his eagle’s eye, he assess the landscape of history and systematically debunks anti-Catholic “myths” one after another. Whether he is untying the knot of the “Spanish Inquisition” or placing in proper perspective the motivation and actions of the Church in the various Crusades, he never fails to place before his readers an engaging presentation of the “truth”. He remains one of our all-time favorite guests and authors…take a listen!
Rodney Stark gives the last acceptable prejudice a sound thrashing and clears up a lot of confused history along the way. Give this fine book to anyone you know who’s been subjected to ‘social studies.’” —George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
“Growing up Catholic in the United States is to hear a constant stream of stuff that, one’s experience shows, is just not true. Still I have always trusted that some unbiased non-Catholic scholar would one day look at the evidence (even its simple logic) again. Little did I imagine that this expected dispassionate historian would be so deeply informed, lucid, thorough, and blunt. Rodney Stark has done justice to neglected historical truth, and I am deeply grateful for his steady toughmindedness. His aim was to honor the truth, so now it remains for historians to look again, face his challenges, and come refreshed to their own verdicts.” —Michael Novak, winner of the Templeton Prize (1994), author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
“A majestically argued, gorgeously written, and essential book by one of the truly indispensable minds of our time. Bearing False Witness is one more gift to history from Rodney Stark. It should in turn be given to and read by students and professors everywhere, whatever their beliefs.” —Mary Eberstadt, author of How the West Really Lost God and It’s Dangerous to Believe
It is always a delight to talk with Fr. Robert Spitzer! His sure brilliance, combined with his infectious joy and good humor, is so engaging that any topic he leads us on becomes an adventure. With “Cosmic Origins”, a soon to be released DVD, Fr. Spitzer and a group of physicists and academic heavyweights exploring modern scientific theories about how the universe came to exist. I would call this a “mathematical apologetic”, which is so beautifully points to the greater “purpose” of our creator, that I couldn’t help but smile through the entire presentation. Stunning, wonderful…and so much fun!
To learn more about this film and how you can arrange screenings for your parish or group go here Cosmic Origins explains what we know about the beginning and nature of the universe, as well as its transcendent implications in clear, easy-to-understand terms. The 49-minute film weaves together a compelling narrative from academics and credentialed scientists pointing toward a very Catholic understanding of how the universe came to exist.
“The Souls Upward Yearning: : Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason (Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence)” has become one of my favorite books of all-time! Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. once again offers an incredible work that “feeds” not only the mind but also the heart. As a matter of fact, the beauty of this book, on the transcendental nature of our souls, is that it begins with the experience of the heart and then moves us to the head (which is an important flip from how we typically travel the beginnings of the spiritual journey).
In part one of our conversation, we discuss how contemporary evidence indicates how we are built by God, invited by God, from the very beginning of our creation, to receive God. Fr. Spitzer, in this particular episode, sites the work of Carl Jung (psychiatrist) and Mircea Eliade (historian of religion) along with many other experts in their fields to make the case for the beauty of the transcendent soul.
Now why is this topic so vitally important today? Because the loss of transcendence is negatively affecting our entire society. It has robbed us of our happiness, dignity, ideals, virtues, and a sense of our eternal destiny. We were created for greater things and we must believe in that fundamental truth and we must help others to come to that understanding as well! This is a classic work, in its truest sense, of Christian apologetics! Absolutely not to be missed!
“Father Spitzer displays a broad range of arguments in favor of the reality and the compelling importance of the transcendent dimension of our existence on the basis of religious literature, our interior awareness of transcendent reality, the cosmic struggle between good and evil, metaphysics, our natural desire to experience perfect goodness, love and beauty, the evidence of near-death experiences, and contemporary science, especially astrophysics.” —
How can the Crusades be considered “glorious”? That was the first question that popped up in my mind when I saw “The Glory of the Crusades” come across my desk. As I found myself caught up in the history unfolding inside the pages of this incredible book, I found that author Steve Weidenkopf approached this subject in an incredibly balanced, engaging and thoughtful way. By far one of the best books I have ever read on the subject. Steve is a lecturer of Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and the creator and author of Epic: A Journey through Church History, an adult faith-formation program on the 2,000-year history of the Church. Meticulous researched (just check out the end notes), with little hint of any political agenda, Steve lets history stand on its own solid clear footing. Thank you Catholic Answers for this outstanding book!
The Glory of the Crusades is valuable not only as history but also as a scholarly debunking of centuries of Protestant and Enlightenment distortion of the facts about the West s struggles against militant Islam. –Rev. C. John McCloskey Research fellow, Faith and Reason Institute
This excellent book employs decades of scholarly research to show average readers what medieval historians have long known that popular culture s image of the Crusades has nothing at all to do with the events themselves. Catholics who cringe at the mention of the Crusades will find in this work a surprising and inspiring story of faith. –Thomas F. Madden Director, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Saint Louis University
Objection 1: It seems this doctrine is not a matter of argument. For Ambrose says (De Fide 1): “Put arguments aside where faith is sought.” But in this doctrine, faith especially is sought: “But these things are written that you may believe” (Jn. 20:31). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.
Objection 2: Further, if it is a matter of argument, the argument is either from authority or from reason. If it is from authority, it seems unbefitting its dignity, for the proof from authority is the weakest form of proof. But if it is from reason, this is unbefitting its end, because, according to Gregory (Hom. 26), “faith has no merit in those things of which human reason brings its own experience.” Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.
On the contrary, The Scripture says that a bishop should “embrace that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9).
I answer that, As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15). However, it is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections—if he has any—against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.