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I’ve been so long in the Cave of Deadlines that my friend Scott Hahn has managed to publish two books since my last blog post! Both will interest readers of this blog.

First up is Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots. Scott’s using the patristic methods of mystagogy to see beyond the Church’s signs and rituals, to the things signified — to see beyond the symbols and glimpse the divine mysteries. He covers not only the sacraments, but also the sacramentals and other customs: holy water, scapulars, medals, icons, the Sign of the Cross, relics, incense, votive candles, feast days and holy seasons, reverence for the tabernacle, devotion to the angels, making a morning offering, saying a rosary, care for the dying, and prayers for the dead. The Fathers come in handy, of course, since they preached and practiced the devotions we love so well. So you’ll hear Sarapion of Egypt and Eusebius on Holy Water, for example, and St. John Chrysostom on almsgiving, and St. Augustine on prayers of aspiration. Though this book is advertised as “Catholic,” I can think of many non-Catholic bloggers who will dig it. Order yours today:  Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots.

Scott’s other recent publication is Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. It’s out this month from Brazos Press/Baker Books (one of the leading Evangelical publishing houses in the United States). I’m heartened to see it recommended and reviewed effusively by Protestant and Catholic scholars alike (see the Amazon page). Benedict is intensely patristic because he is so profoundly biblical. The Fathers are among his favorite biblical scholars, as you already know if you’ve been following his audience talks or if you’ve read his book Jesus of Nazareth. Here’s the publisher’s summary of this great scholarly offering from my favorite scholar:
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s election as Pope Benedict XVI brought a world-class biblical theologian to the papacy. There is an intensely biblical quality to his pastoral teaching and he has demonstrated a keen concern for the authentic interpretation of sacred Scripture. Here a foremost interpreter of Catholic thought and life offers a probing look at Benedict’s biblical theology and provides a clear and concise introduction to his life and work. Bestselling author and theologian Scott Hahn argues that the heart of Benedict’s theology is salvation history and the Bible and shows how Benedict accepts historical criticism but recognizes its limits. The author also explains how Benedict reads the overall narrative of Scripture and how he puts it to work in theology, liturgy, and Christian discipleship.