Book Review: Prayer the Key to Salvation

I love this book! I have a feeling it will be one of the books on my shelf that I continually go back to re-read and will gain new insights from it each time. Father Mueller makes it quite clear that our salvation depends upon our prayer life.

We cannot be saved unless we fulfill the will of God… we are unable to do God’s will unless we are assisted by Divine grace… we obtain this grace by prayer alone; that consequently we must pray in order to be saved.

Father Mueller makes you feel overwhelmed… the intensity, the length, and the frequency of the interior lives of the Saints is indeed tremendous! Father Mueller does not let up; we are all called to that same intensity of prayer and deep interior life that the Saints lived out and he points this out with no apology. It comes to the point where you feel like you should put the book away and give up because you are already so far behind! But then– one of my favorite parts of this book– Father Mueller builds you up:

Softly, my friend; have a little patience! Rome was not built in one day. The saints did not acquire the spirit of prayer all at once; the practice of prayer was not natural to them either, at first; but they persevered in it in spite of every obstacle, and were at last raised to a high degree of contemplation.

Father Mueller then follows up with plenty of examples from the lives of the Saints, and practical tips for slowly acquiring the means of achieving such progress in prayer.

The book is divided into several sections, and not all of them need to be read in order. Father Mueller first speaks of the necessity of prayer both in general and then for specific groups of people (sinners, the just, seminarians), the efficacy of prayer, the conditions of prayer, how to acquire a spirit of prayer, the praises of prayer, the practice of meditation, and then closes the book with a prayer to be said every day to obtain the graces necessary for salvation. Also included towards the end is St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Conversing Continually and Familiarly with God”.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Advertisements

Book Review: Queen Mother

Edward Sri’s Queen Mother is part of the Letter & Spirit Project run by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (founded by Scott Hahn). Thus, it focuses almost exclusively on the Sacred Scriptures. Though there have been criticisms regarding the lack of recourse to Sacred Tradition, I don’t think this is ultimately detrimental, nor am I surprised since the goal of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is biblical theology (hence the name). It does not deny or negate the importance of evidence from Sacred Tradition, or the Magisterium, but simply seeks to draw out a deeper understanding of the biblical evidence of certain themes and doctrines of the Catholic faith.

Dr. Sri’s book is an examination of the Theology of the Queenship of Mary from a solidly biblical perspective. This theology of Mary’s Queenship is important as it explains and identifies her role as Queen of Heaven and Advocate. Mary’s role in God’s plan of Salvation was not limited to her earthly life, and this book provides biblical evidence for Mary’s role in Heaven. She is the prime intercessor to her Son, the King of Heaven, and the spiritual Mother of the Church.

The book is divided into four parts: an introduction, evidence from the Old Testament, evidence from the New Testament, and then summary conclusions. It is a relatively small book, only about 100 pages, but the back half of the book is filled with copious notes, references, and a great bibliography for those inclined to deeper study of Marian doctrines.

I think Dr. Sri’s book will also be of value to those practicing apologetics. The Marian doctrines of the Church, and especially the acknowledging of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Mother of the Church, have always been a concern of Protestants. Dr. Sri’s Queen Mother presents a biblical view of Mary that should provide an excellent response for apologists defending the biblical view of Mary.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of Queen Mother for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Prophetic words

How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – flung from one extreme to another… Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine”, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.

~Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
18 April 2005

What strikes me most from this homily of [Pope Benedict XVI’s] (before they elected him to be the next successor of St. Peter after Pope John Paul II), are two parts. The first, is his remark that “today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of Church is often labeled as fundamentalism”. We are being attacked on all fronts today. Now, even by our own (i.e., fellow Catholics), we are being criticized for holding fast to the Faith of the Church. Fidelity is a bullseye on our back rather than a badge of honor.

The second idea that strikes me is the picture of relativism: being tossed about by the waves, flung from one extreme to another… all dictated by one’s own desires (whether understood consciously or not). In the immediate realm of things (of life), relativism is the easy answer. It lets us agree quietly with everyone about everything. Relativism loves tolerance. And as the ever quotable GK Chesterton reminds us: “tolerance is the virtue of a man with no convictions”.

This is the attack on the Church by Satan… Relativism. Indifference. If he can just get people to be apathetic enough, he can win the world… and we just won’t care. In fact, we probably wouldn’t even notice.

 

Corpus Christi

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
Amen.

V. Panem de caelo praestitisti eis. Alleluia
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem. Alleluia

Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

Amen.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

Amen.

V. Thou hast given them bread from heaven Alleluia
R. Having within it all sweetness Alleluia

Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.

Amen.

“Every Consecrated Host is made to burn Itself up with love in a human heart,”

~St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars

“It is not possible to “eat” the Risen One, present under the sign of bread, as if it were a simple piece of bread. To eat this Bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of “eating”, is truly an encounter between two persons, it is allowing our lives to be penetrated by the life of the One who is the Lord, of the One who is my Creator and Redeemer.

The purpose of this communion, of this partaking, is the assimilation of my life with his, my transformation and conformation into he who is living Love. Therefore, this communion implies adoration, it implies the will to follow Christ, to follow the One who goes ahead of us. Adoration and procession thereby make up a single gesture of communion; they answer his mandate: “Take and eat”.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI, Corpus Christi homily 26 May 2005

“In today’s celebration of the Eucharist, the Son of God has also been given to us. Those who have received Holy Communion, in a special way, carry the Risen Lord within themselves. Just as Mary bore him in her womb — a defenceless little child, totally dependent on the love of his Mother — so Jesus Christ, under the species of bread, has entrusted himself to us, dear brothers and sisters. Let us love this Jesus who gives himself so completely into our hands! Let us love him as Mary loved him! And let us bring him to others, just as Mary brought him to Elizabeth as the source of joyful exultation! The Virgin gave the Word of God a human body, and thus enabled him to come into the world as a man. Let us give our own bodies to the Lord, and let them become ever more fully instruments of God’s love, temples of the Holy Spirit! Let us bring Sunday, and its immense gift, into the world!”

~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 9 September 2007

“In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.”

~St. John Chrysostom, Catechesis

“If Christ did not want to dismiss the Jews without food in the desert for fear that they would collapse on the way, it was to teach us that it is dangerous to try to get to heaven without the Bread of Heaven.”

~St. Jerome

“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”

~St. Maximilian Kolbe

“By a beautiful paradox of Divine love, God makes His Cross the very means of our salvation and our life. We have slain Him; we have nailed Him there and crucified Him; but the Love in His eternal heart could not be extinguished. He willed to give us the very life we slew; to give us the very Food we destroyed; to nourish us with the very Bread we buried, and the very Blood we poured forth. He made our very crime into a happy fault; He turned a Crucifixion into a Redemption; a Consecration into a Communion; a death into Life Everlasting,”

~Bishop Fulton Sheen, This is the Mass

“The Blessed Eucharist means nothing to a man who thinks other people can get along without It. The Blessed Eucharist means nothing to a communicant who thinks he needs It but someone else does not. The Blessed Eucharist means nothing to a communicant who offers any charity ahead of this Charity of the Bread of Life.”

~Father Leonard Feeney, Bread of Life

Good reads for the feast of Corpus Christi:
The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure by Fr. Michael Muller, CSSR
Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz
God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (/Pope Benedict XVI)

June: Dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine!

June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the liturgical Feast of the Sacred Heart falls on June 11th this year (next Friday!).

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is characterized by two elements: consecration and reparation. We consecrate ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and enthrone Him there as King and resolve to serve Him. And we make reparation to His Sacred Heart for all of the indifferences and ingratitudes He suffers daily.

A great (unofficial) prayer for this month I offer to my readers comes from the martyrdom of St. John Houghton, who, upon having his heart ripped out of his chest and seeing it in the hands of his executioner cried out to the Lord, “O Sweet Jesus, what will you do with my heart?”. Though there are several ways a person could interpret this,  I once heard a priest give a beautiful homily on the martyrdom of St. John Houghton and his final words as an offering of his death to Christ. We should strive to offer this month (and really every day of our lives) our hearts to the loving Lord, and upon offering them, ask Him boldly what He would have us do and then follow His holy Will… “O Sweet Jesus, what will you do with my heart?”

Good reads on the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
The Encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII “Haurietis Aquas”
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr. John Croiset
Love, Peace, and Joy: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus According to St. Gertrude by Fr. Andre Prevot