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Power to the People

If you’re looking for a good guide to the Mass, check out Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People. It’s by Jeff Pinyan, who blogs at The Cross Reference.

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been sleepwalking through the Mass, you need this book. Jeff opens up the mysteries for us and reveals the Mass to be the most exciting moment of our lives — indeed, of all human history. He illuminates every word and gesture, bell and smell. So buy the book and lift up your hearts! Thanks be to God!

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Felix the Cat-holic

BMCR posted a review of Franz Hasenhütl’s Die Heidenrede im “Octavius” des Minucius Felix als Brennpunkt antichristlicher Apologetik: Weltanschauliche und gesellschaftliche Widersprüche zwischen paganer Bildungsoberschicht und Christentum. Though the book is in German, the review is in English, and the discussion will be welcome by anyone who’s a fan (as I am) of Octavius, the second-century dialogue by Minucius Felix.

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Be an Ark, Please

If you read this blog, you know how much I admire the work of Rod Bennett. His book Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words is on just about every short list of recommended reading I’ve ever produced. It’s one of the top-selling titles bought from this blog.

As much as I admire his work, I love the man even more. He’s a real gentleman, delightful conversationalist, and a great dad.

Early this week, Rod sent me a note asking for prayers. The floods in Georgia took the Bennett family’s home and all their belongings. Our mutual friend Mark Shea wrote it up with many more details, which I’ll paste below. With Mark, I’m asking your prayers for Rod and his family. With Mark, I’m also begging you to help the family with money if you can. At least consider buying a case of Rod’s book on the Apostolic Fathers and passing them out to your friends!

Here’s Mark …

I spoke to Rod this morning. He was standing in eight inches of mud on the *third* floor of his house. He is the soul of Christian courage and fidelity in all this, though his voice cracked a couple of times and nearly broke my heart. They have lost *everything*. And they had *just* sunk $30,000 dollars into a renovation (“The roof didn’t leak” he said.) Thanks be to God, they have flood insurance and so should be able to find a new home. But everything they own is gone and they are, like us, basically lower middle class folk. His library he built his whole life is goo. All their kids’ things. All his wife treasured. Everything. Look around your home at all the dear familiar things you take for granted. Now imagine it all taken away. Every stick of it. He is meditating on Job and saying to God, “I’m not going anywhere.” But it’s bitterly hard.

They will stay in their folks’ summer home for the time being. But that’s 150 miles away, which means his wife will have to radically scale back her work hours as a nurse–and that means way less income. Plus, the kids are traumatized and are now suddenly thrust into a strange place far from friends and familiar things.

All of which is to say “They could really use, not just your prayers, but your help.”

As it happens I’ve not done a Tin Cup Rattle this quarter since a) I hate doing them and b) God has been generous to us lately. That means that whatever you might have been thinking of putting toward my tin cup is still burning a hole in your pocket and looking for something to do.

So here’s what I’d like to propose: I would like to urge you to go log on to PayPal and click on the “Send Money” tab. Then enter Rod’s email address ( and be as generous as you can be. Do NOT–I repeat, NOT–send the money to me by clicking on my Paypal button, but instead log onto the site and use the “Send Money” tab to get it directly to Rod. If you can’t do the PayPal thang, then please send as big a check as you can to:

Rod Bennett

640 Parkcrest Pl. NE

Marietta GA 30068

I know you guys. I have very high confidence in your generosity and kindness! Please delve down in to those great big hearts of yours and make God proud. Such generosity will be remembered well at on That Day.

And, as you can, link to this post and get others on board to help a good family in desperate need. Unleash the Power of the Blog!

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Martyr Mysteries

Recently I served as consultant for an animated dramatization of the last days of the second-century North African martyrs Perpetua and Felicity. It’s titled The Story of Saint Perpetua, and it’s the first in a planned series, Catholic Heroes of the Faith.

The animation’s getting rave reviews from folks I respect:

“Well done and quite inspirational! I was very impressed indeed, both with the historical accuracy of the content and with the entertainment value.”  — Rod Bennett, author of Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words

“The scriptwriters did their homework well, and have produced a story with a high degree of historical accuracy. The artwork is also of a consistently high quality. The richness of the colors and the vividness of the character drawings are at times reminiscent of The Prince of Egypt and other Hollywood productions.”  — Carl Sommer, author of We Look for a Kingdom: The Everyday Lives of the Early Christians

Here’s a little news item on the video.

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Lead, Kindiy Light

BMCR reviews Christos Didaskalos. The Christology of Clement of Alexandria, by Oleh Kindiy.

Brilliant, a man deeply cultured, Clement left us one of the warmest voices of the pre-Nicene Church. His portrait of Christ is complex, according to Kindiy, according to the reviewer:

Christ as the New Song is the captivating fish net which attracts non-Christians to Christianity and which retains them as Christians. The first changes of the new Christians in the congregation are also the work of the New Song.

At the next stage, Christ the Pedagogue takes over the responsibility for the newly converted and teaches them how to live as Christians. After that, the Pedagogue teaches the Christians how to read the Bible in a proper way, for example by introducing them to the ideas of different levels of the biblical texts. Further, the Pedagogue teaches Christians about the identity of God, which was hidden from them until then, and also about the identity and destiny of humans. Another part of the Pedagogue’s work is to heal humanity in order to lead humanity back to its original health.

Christ as High Priest brings the advanced Christians who have been taught by the Pedagogue and Teacher to the highest level of knowledge (gnosis). At this level, the Christians will be able to see and contemplate God, and they will consequently be one with God (theosis).

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All Who Labor

In the States, today is Labor Day. On Labor Day, we don’t work. Go figure.

A day celebrating the dignity of labor would have been unthinkable among the ancient pagans. The aim in life was leisure. Cicero and Aristotle both frowned upon the day-to-day grind of the trades.

From the beginning, however, Christians (like the Jews before them) celebrated the work of their hands. They saw it as human participation in the act of creation. The new attitude is there in St. Paul: “We labor, working with our own hands” (1 Cor 4:12). “Work with your hands, as we charged you” (1 Thes 4:11). “For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living” (2 Thes 3:11-12).

The attitude is everywhere in the works of the Fathers. The Didache, written perhaps as early as 48 A.D., exhorts: “If a prophet desires to abide with you, and if he is a tradesman, let him work and eat … See to it that as a Christian he will not live with you idle.”

In the fourth century, The Apostolic Constitutions decreed: “Attend to your employment with all appropriate seriousness, so that you will always have sufficient funds to support both yourselves and those who are needy. In that way, you will not burden the Church of God.”

Christ came to give rest to those who labored and found life burdensome. It is edifying to see that the grave markers in the catacombs and ancient cemeteries bear the symbols of trades the Christian men and women had practiced in life. The pagans noticed the difference in Christian attitude. In the second century, Celsus, the great critic of Christianity, sneered that Christian congregations were made up of “wool–workers, cobblers, laundry–workers, and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels.” Christians were, he added, disciples of “a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and [whose husband was] a carpenter by trade.”

Indeed, we are still today disciples of those ordinary laborers. And that’s one good reason why we can celebrate Labor Day, a thought that never occurred to Aristotle or Cicero or Celsus. Enjoy your day off.

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Tunnel Vision

From Turkey comes news of a documentary film about the tunnels under Hagia Sophia:

Chasing 1,700-year-old secrets hidden beneath Hagia Sophia is no easy feat, but documentary filmmaker Göksel Gülensoy has navigated the labyrinths, ancient and bureaucratic, and will soon release his cinematic chronicle of the subterranean adventure.

Gülensoy’s team of two divers and four spelunkers searched the reservoirs connecting the famous Byzantine building to Topkapı Palace and the Yerebatan Cisterns. The spelunkers tried to find the secret passages said to extend from Tekfur Palace, next to the old city walls, to the islands of the Marmara Sea.

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Reviews Rolling In

Lots of people have been reviewing my books. God bless them.

Three have posted reviews of  Fire of God’s Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist:

This, That, and the Other Thing

Four Blessings Academy

and Karin.

You can find several more reviews of Fire of God’s Love at The Catholic Company.

Someone who goes by the name of catholicmommybrain (I love it) reviewed The Fathers of the Church (Expanded Edition). (There are more reviews here.)
Sometime commenter Joel at The Church of Jesus Christ posted a very thoughtful review of my book Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols.
And St. Peter’s Parish of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, posted an excerpt from my book Love in the Little Things.