Posted on

Please Pray

Regular readers of this blog know the work of Father Mark Gruber, OSB, anthropologist and expert on things Coptic. (See my review of Fr. Mark Gruber’s Journey Back to Eden: My Life and Times Among the Desert Fathers.)

Today I’m asking for your prayers for one of Father Mark’s kinsmen, Anthony, who was struck by a train last Thursday. Anthony sustained severe injuries, some of them permanent, and is hospitalized in a shock trauma unit. Please pray for him and for his family.

Posted on

Artful Bargain

My sainted wife keeps the budget in our house, and so she dictates the limits of my book-buying. One of this blog’s regular visitors, who shall remain nameless, lives in similar circumstances. And he reports that the lovely book Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art is now out in paperback with (as he put it) a “wife-friendly price.” I thought you all would want to know.

I discussed the hardcover here.

It would make a great Christmas present for the art lover or patristics nerd in your life.

Posted on

Mills Mulls Signs

My latest book, Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols, is reviewed in this week’s Pittsburgh Catholic by no less a critic than David Mills. As if that’s not cool enough … he actually liked it.

In Signs and Mysteries, Mike Aquilina explains 25 symbols we’ve inherited from our fathers in the early Church, which meant everything — even life and death — to the people who painted them on the walls of their churches, inscribed them on tombs, even scratched them on the walls of public buildings and underground tombs. The symbols they put on lamps and rings and bottles and jugs reminded them of a counter-cultural, life-changing — at times life-endangering — commitment…

The early Christians took their symbols from the Old Testament (like the lamb and the plow), the New Testament (the fish, the anchor, and of course the Cross), or both (the good shepherd, the banquet, and the vine), and even from the pagan culture around them (the ankh, the orant, and the philosopher). They even made up their own (the dolphin, the peacock, and the lighthouse). In every case, they drew wider and deeper meaning from the symbol…

For us modern Christians, these symbols offer “an urgent message . . . from a distant family member.” It’s as if our brothers and sisters, knowing that most of us suffer from spiritual attention deficit disorder, had plastered our homes and churches, and nature itself, with post-it notes reminding us of what Jesus has done and is doing for us. Unfortunately, few of us know enough to read the notes. Signs and Mysteries is an excellent aid in learning to read their messages.

He points out that there’s an interview with the illustrator of Signs and Mysteries, Lea Marie Ravotti, posted here.

Posted on

Join Us in Rome in 2009

Here’s the word from the St. Paul Center:

The Year of St. Paul is about celebrating the life of one of history’s most remarkable figures, one of the Church’s most remarkable saints. It’s about discovering how we, too, can imitate him in giving the Gospel to a culture that desperately needs it. And it’s about asking for his intercession for the Church life and mission today.

From March 14-22, 2009, you’re invited to join Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Mike Aquilina, and Father James Farnan, as they make pilgrimage to Rome in the footsteps of St. Paul. We’ll visit the port in Ostia where he may have entered Rome, the prison where he was held captive, the site of his execution, and the basilica built to house his relics. We’ll visit other holy sites of early Christianity as well—the basilicas built over the first house churches, the catacombs, the arenas of martyrdom, the haunts of St. Clement, St. Ignatius, St. Hippolytus, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Leo. We’ll also visit the Vatican, attend a general audience with the Pope, and browse the cobblestone streets and ruins of ancient Rome.

Father Farnan will offer Mass daily in Rome’s most beautiful churches. We’ll devote time each day to brief seminars, led by our hosts, on St. Paul and the early Church in Rome.

The cost of this eight-day pilgrimage, which roundtrip airfare from New York, lodging, breakfast, dinner, and all entrance fees is $3550 for adults and $3199 for children.

We hope you can join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk in St. Paul’s footsteps during the year of St. Paul.

Click here for the full itinerary.