New and Notables – March 2014

Welcome back to this recurring feature at The Catholic Book Blogger. As a book reviewer I get access to early or hot off the presses books from many Catholic publishers. My goal is to share a few titles each post that have either just released or are soon to be released. These are books I am looking forward to reading and think you might be too.

Reclaiming Francis: How the Saint and the Pope are Renewing the Church by Charles M. Murphy

Release Date: Available Now

From the Publisher Ave Maria Press:

As Pope Francis continues to call for the rebuilding of the Church, Msgr. Charles M. Murphy, author of The Spirituality of Fasting and Eucharistic Adoration, offers a timely look at what today’s Church can learn from St. Francis of Assisi about evangelization and renewal.

When Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Francis, a renewed sense of hope and energy swept through the Church. In this timely book, Msgr. Charles M. Murphy examines the correlations between the two Francises and shows why St. Francis is an ideal model for today. Just as in St. Francis’s time, today’s Church can only be rebuilt and reinforced by a spiritual renewal that comes from within itself, a vision that Pope Francis carries forward in the New Evangelization. Pope Paul VI, the first modern pope to focus on evangelization, once said, “People today listen more to witnesses than to teachers.” Pope Francis knows that St. Francis is just such a witness and Murphy enlivens them both for his readers.

Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brant Pitre

Release Date: Available Now

From the Publisher Image Books

In Jesus the Bridegroom, Brant Pitre once again taps into the wells of Jewish Scripture and tradition, and unlocks the secrets of what is arguably the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith: the cross of Christ. In this thrilling exploration, Pitre shows how the suffering and death of Jesus was far more than a tragic Roman execution. Instead, the Passion of Christ was the fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecies of a wedding, when the God of the universe would wed himself to humankind in an everlasting nuptial covenant. 

To be sure, most Christians are familiar with the apostle Paul’s teaching that Christ is the ‘Bridegroom’ and the Church is the ‘Bride’. But what does this really mean? And what would ever possess Paul to compare the death of Christ to the love of a husband for his wife? If you would have been at the Crucifixion, with Jesus hanging there dying, is that how you would have described it? How could a first-century Jew like Paul, who knew how brutal Roman crucifixions were, have ever compared the execution of Jesus to a wedding? And why does he refer to this as the “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32)? 

As Pitre shows, the key to unlocking this mystery can be found by going back to Jewish Scripture and tradition and seeing the entire history of salvation, from Mount Sinai to Mount Calvary, as a divine love story between Creator and creature, between God and Israel, between Christ and his bride—a story that comes to its climax on the wood of a Roman cross. 

In the pages of Jesus the Bridegroom, dozens of familiar passages in the Bible—the Exodus, the Song of Songs, the Wedding at Cana, the Woman at the Well, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and even the Second Coming at the End of Time—are suddenly transformed before our eyes. Indeed, when seen in the light of Jewish Scripture and tradition, the life of Christ is nothing less than the greatest love story ever told. 

Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job
by Kerry Weber

Release Date: Available Now

From the Publisher Loyola Press:

When Jesus asked us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and visit the imprisoned, he didn’t mean it literally, right? Kerry Weber, a modern, young, single woman in New York City sets out to see if she can practice the Corporal Works of Mercy in an authentic, personal, meaningful manner while maintaining a full, robust, regular life.

Weber, a lay Catholic, explores the Works of Mercy in the real world, with a gut-level honesty and transparency that people of urban, country, and suburban locales alike can relate to. Mercy in the City is for anyone who is struggling to live in a meaningful, merciful way amid the pressures of “real life.

For those who feel they are already overscheduled and too busy, for those who assume that they are not “religious enough” to practice the Works of Mercy, for those who worry that they are alone in their efforts to live an authentic life, Mercy in the City proves that by living as people for others, we learn to connect as people of faith.

The Protestant’s Dilemma: How the Reformation’s Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism
by Devin Rose

Release Date: Available Now

From the Publisher Catholic Answers:

What if Protestantism were true?

What if the Reformers really were heroes, the Bible the sole rule of faith, and Christ’s Church just an invisible collection of loosely united believers?

As an Evangelical, Devin Rose used to believe all of it. Then one day the nagging questions began. He noticed things about Protestant belief and practice that didn’t add up. He began following the logic of Protestant claims to places he never expected it to go—leading to conclusions no Christians would ever admit to holding.

In The Protestant’s Dilemma, Rose examines over thirty of those conclusions, showing with solid evidence, compelling reason, and gentle humor how the major tenets of Protestantism—if honestly pursued to their furthest extent— wind up in dead ends of absurdity.

The only escape? Catholic truth, which Rose patiently unpacks. In each instance, he shows how Catholicism solves the Protestant’s dilemma through the witness of Scripture, Christian history, and the authority with which Christ himself undeniably vested his Church.

The Protestant’s Dilemma is the perfect book to give non-Catholics trying to work through their own nagging doubts, or for Catholics looking for a fresh way to deepen their understanding of the Faith.

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Father James Martin

Release Date: Available Now

From the Publisher Harper Collins:

A gifted storyteller and spiritual director, Father James Martin, SJ, invites readers to experience the stories of the Gospels in a completely new, vivid, and exciting way to gain a deeper understanding of Jesus. Moving sequentially through the Gospels, considering not only familiar passages but also the “hidden life” of Jesus, the book offers a bold retelling of the life of Christ, faithful to the Christian tradition, while meditating on parts of the narrative that have often escaped notice. 

Martin provides personal stories from his own life, the most up-to-date biblical scholarship, and powerful anecdotes from beloved spiritual teachers, and brings the reader along on his own real-life travels through the Holy Land. 

Combining the fascinating insights of historical Jesus studies with profound spiritual reflections about the Christ of faith, Martin re-creates the world of first-century Galilee and Judea to usher us into Jesus’s life and times and reveal how Jesus speaks to us today. Jesus: A Pilgrimage is an invitation to know Jesus as Father Martin knows him: Messiah and Savior, as well as friend and brother.

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