Always Learning

God’s Message: for All of Us

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk 12:30).

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the LORD are sure,
making wise the simple;

the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.

Ps. 19:7-9

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Ps. 19:7-9

St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most brilliant writers of all time, asked St. Bonaventure about which books were the sources of his great wisdom. Bonaventure answered that he had very few books, but, pointing to the crucifix, said, “this is the principal one from which I draw all I teach, and all I write.” His point was not that people need hardly any books as long as they have crucifixes; he was, after all, a great writer, who thereby became, like St. Thomas, a doctor of the Church. Rather, Jesus’ sacrifice that unites us with the Father, and bridges our life to a heavenly future, teaches the most complex and important lesson, which both unites countless truths of the faith and helps communicate them to the faithful who seek with humility and holiness. Thomas Aquinas, regarded by the Church as the greatest of the Doctors of the Church, went on to demonstrate that some do indeed need to study and apply many books, in the light of the same Jesus crucified and risen, to grow in knowledge and to continue the Lord’s missionary work. Whether one has few books or many, all are called to keep learning from the inexhaustible wisdom of Christ using the gifts that they have, in accordance with the needs of their situations.

Germain Grisez well addresses an example of a situation that most parents find themselves in (to skip this and go straight to our links to some recommended resources, please click here):

Question 2: What should parents do when a child questions a truth of faith?

Our son, Bob, goes to a Catholic high school…Bob never before raised objections to what he learned in religion class and what we taught him ourselves. But now we are up against this ex-priest’s influence. We tried to explain the doctrine of original sin to Bob, and he did think about it. But he raised some questions we do not know how to answer…How can a sin be inherited? Why wouldn’t God have prevented the first man from sinning? Wouldn’t it be unfair for God to punish everybody, including babies, for something done by some cave man long ago? Isn’t death really natural, since all living things in the world eventually die?…We do not know what to tell our son about all these things. Also, we are not sure how important they are…

The reply could be along the following lines:

…Your son’s questions are a good sign insofar as they indicate that he is earnest enough about religious truth to take such matters seriously…That Bob discusses these questions with you is a sign that you have built a sound relationship…

When young people experience difficulties and crises of faith, their parents have a special opportunity and responsibility to help them resolve their problems and encourage them to reaffirm their faith with a clearer, more self-conscious commitment. You also should realize that being unable to provide satisfactory answers to your son’s questions challenges you to clarify and strengthen your own faith. In doing that, you will become able to help Bob. Do not let this matter rest, as if it were acceptable to doubt truths of faith or his questions were unimportant. At the same time, do not assume he is sinning against faith…

[Y]ou should talk with Bob much as you would with an adult friend, seeking to clarify the points at issue so that he will see the truth for himself and accept it as his own: “The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power” (DH 1)…Thus, with prayer for that grace, patient inquiry, and discussion, you and Bob should work together to preserve and strengthen his faith and yours.

…[S]how him how to use sources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to look for solutions to difficulties about matters of faith in sacred Scripture

The story about original sin… that you have summarized includes the claim that people experience irresistible temptations. Whether the idea that some temptations are irresistible came from the father of Bob’s friend or somewhere else, do not let it go unchallenged. Since succumbing to something truly irresistible would be guiltless, this claim, especially in the context of the statement that “immaturity leads people to give in to their natural impulses,” is bound to be seductive for someone experiencing powerful and not-yet-mastered desires, as your son might well be at his age. The claim also is incoherent. An irresistible impulse simply would not be a temptation, and someone undergoing such an impulse would have an experience, not of giving in to it, but of simply undergoing it, as one experiences falling asleep despite trying in vain to stay awake during a boring class, homily, or entertainment. You ought to explain this point to Bob, and in any case you should be trying to help him understand and deal with his temptations, not least his sexual desires.1 As part of this effort, assure him that he can resist and master temptation by using all available means, including prayer and the sacraments…

As you rightly say, the truths about the Trinity, the redemptive Incarnation, and the calling of human persons to become God’s children are more fundamental than those about original sin and Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which are subordinate. Still, one should believe all these truths with the same faith, since God has revealed all of them…As the liver and kidneys are vital organs, though less important than the heart and brain, even these subordinate doctrines are essential to the living body of faith, so that faithful Catholics will believe them along with everything in Scripture or tradition that the Church teaches as belonging to God’s revelation…

Your son has asked several interesting questions bearing on the authentic doctrines of original sin…

First, how can a sin be inherited? Part of the answer is that the Church does not teach that our first parents’ sinful choice is inherited, but only that part of the state of sin resulting from that act is handed on, together with the consequences of that sinful condition (see CCC, 404–5…)…[T]hey passed on human nature deprived of grace, and weakened in its natural capacities…

Second, why wouldn’t God have prevented the first man from sinning? Though God did not intend that sin and could have prevented it, he allowed it to be committed so that he could draw forth something better, as St. Thomas explains (see S.t., 3, q. 1, a. 3, ad 3; cf. CCC, 412). The exultant proclamation sung at the Easter Vigil explains:

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

The first man’s sin is not called a “happy fault” and a “necessary sin” as if in itself a sin could be either fortunate or inevitable, but because it turned out to be to humankind’s advantage: Adam’s wrongdoing posed a question to God the Father that evoked his supremely loving answer: his Word made man, given in sacrifice, and raised to glory.3 Likewise, following Jesus through suffering and struggle to glory—as Mary, the martyrs, and all the saints did—becomes possible only in a world fallen and redeemed. And just as Jesus’ wounds remained in him after he rose from the dead (see Lk 24.39–40; Jn 20.20, 27), so he remains the man he became in laying down his life for us, and so his followers will remain the splendid characters they become by playing their own parts in the drama of salvation. For this entire drama, as it takes place in this world, is but the prologue for an unending performance, the heavenly marriage feast, in which every person, having come to be himself or herself, will play his or her unique role.

Third, wouldn’t it be unfair for God to punish everybody, including babies, for something done by some cave man long ago? To see why not, one must take into account the difference between human and divine punishments. Human punishments for crimes are chosen from among various possibilities and imposed on criminals, and if one imagines that God similarly chooses and imposes punishments for sins, the punishment of original sin will seem unfair. But God’s punishments for sins are their inevitable bad consequences considered insofar as he permits them in dealing appropriately with the sins (see CCC, 1472). In the case of original sin, the consequences are indeed horrible, yet, as explained in answer to the second question, God permits them because they make possible great goods—ultimately the goods of salvation and everlasting life through Christ Jesus (see Rom 5.12–21). Still, though these goods might explain why God allows people who did not commit original sin to suffer its consequences, the consequences would not count as a punishment if those suffering them did not somehow share in the sin. But, as explained in answer to the first question, all of us do share in original sin simply by coming to be as members of fallen humankind.

Fourth, isn’t death really natural, since all living things in the world eventually die? Death is natural in two senses. In the world as it is, death is naturally inevitable; and human persons, insofar as they are bodily, are in principle susceptible to death. As the destruction of the bodily person, however, death is a great evil and hardly appropriate for persons created in God’s image and called to communion with him. So, following indications in sacred Scripture, the Church teaches that humans would have been preserved from bodily death if they had not sinned (see GS 18; CMP, 346–48).

For the complete question and answer, see www.twotlj.org/G-3-V-3.html. In fact, the whole book is available for free online reading.

Catholic Schools Near St. Peter Parish

St. Peter Parish is very pleased to be part of the faith life of the students, teachers, and staff of St. Timothy School, St. Peter School, St. Luke’s School, and Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School. We host Masses, retreats given by their chaplains and/or the Archdiocesan Youth team, Christmas pageants, Stations of the Cross, sacramental preparation, noontime prayers, Blanket exercises, and drama/improv. Members of our “Golden Greeters” team and Knights of Columbus also do some volunteer work at the schools. We hope that every student knows and feels that our parish loves them and welcomes them here. And we love to see how wonderfully God works for, in, and through children and youth.

To get more information and/or enroll in one of these schools, please see the websites or phone:

St. Timothy 306-791-7395.

St. Peter306-791-7380.

St. Luke306-791-7248.

Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School306-791-7240.

For more information about Regina’s Catholic Schools, please see rcsd.ca.

Our parish also invites older children and youth to our weekly painting classes, offered by our Parish Council Youth representative, who happens to be a very good painter. This class is not limited to the schools closest to us.

Our art program, and other services that we like to offer that use our rooms downstairs are sadly postponed until the pandemic poses less of a danger, and health restrictions are eased.

Catholic Resources for Reading, Listening and Watching

Most items can be purchased locally at Burns-Hanley Church Supplies, 2727 – 13th Ave., Regina, 306-522-6636.
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. in October.

  

Some books below have links to online versions. Clicking on the links will normally open the resource in a new browser tab.

Most of the following reading is suitable for high school students and adults. For resources for children (and further resources for teens and adults), please see our Archdiocese’s Catechetical Resources page.

Book

Comments

The Bible (single volume editions).
Catholic translations into current English include New Revised Standard Version, Revised Standard Version 2, New Jerusalem Bible, or New American Bible, revised (not the same as the New American Standard Bible).

Versions with generally very good explanatory aids for different ages:
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, the Catholic Youth Bible (NRSVCE or NAB2), the Navarre Bible New Testament. Also esteemed: The Ancient Faith Study Bible (though it is missing the seven deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament).

“Inspired by the Divine Spirit, the Sacred Writers composed those books, which God, in His paternal charity towards the human race, deigned to bestow on them in order ‘to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice: that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work’ (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This heaven-sent treasure Holy Church considers as the most precious source of doctrine on faith and morals.” (Pope Pius XII, On Promoting Biblical Studies, par. 1.)

Of the books that make up the Bible, those written before Christ were first composed mostly in Hebrew (some Aramaic and Greek); those after Him in Greek that itself was often a translation from Aramaic. Since they were written in different human languages, cultures, situations and times than ours, and the thoughts of God are deep, misunderstandings sometimes occur, despite translator teams’ best efforts. Therefore it is recommended to consult good footnotes, commentaries, the Catechism (below), and the insights of saints.

The New Revised Standard Version and the New American Bible are free to read online.

The Bible with Commentary (Series):
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Old and New Testaments, The Navarre Bible Old and New Testaments, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series (New Testament only for now, from Baker).

Honorary mention goes to the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series, and to Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ, which works fairly well as a commentary on the Gospels as a whole. There are many fantastic commentaries on individual books of the Bible, some of which may appear in this list in the future.

We recommend commentaries that have a solid interdisciplinary grounding, which are also carefully, duly theological. These are the sort that will come to grips with the religious nature of the Biblical books’ message.

Modern Catholic Dictionary, by Fr. John Hardon.

If you don’t know what “paschal” means, who “apostles” were, or which “eschatological” things might be trying to sneak up on you, but the Bible, Mass, church bulletins, and these readings use such terms, don’t worry! The Mass, our website, and these readings, are meant for everyone.

Fr. Hardon’s is no longer the most modern dictionary, but close enough, and it’s free to search and browse online. If you wish to check a second dictionary, a smaller one is also available. Some newer fantastic dictionaries that are more specialized are available in print, such as Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary. All these treats are “best if used before the ‘second coming.'”

Free from All Error: Authorship, Inerrancy, Historicity of Scripture, Church Teaching, and Modern Scripture Scholars, by Fr. William Most.

The question of the Bible’s inerrancy overlaps with that of the meaning of many of the Bible’s messages.

“Charges of error refer primarily to three fields today, matters of science, of religion, or of history. We will take up each of these in detail, putting off the matters of history until after our chapter on literary genre,” ch. 7. This book is freely readable online.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This is the most complete and official summary of the Catholic Christian Faith. Available online at www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM.

Papal letters to the faithful and to the world on various subjects of special current importance

These are available in print and online at www.vatican.va. Of special interest are those on The Redeemer of Peoples (esp. on human worth), On the Splendor of Truth, On The Gospel of Life (addressing abortion, euthanasia, etc.), On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, and another primarily on ethics in economics by Pope St. John Paul II; Peace on Earth by Pope St. John XXIII, On the Development of Peoples and Of Human Life (reproductive ethics) by Pope Paul VI; and On the Care of Our Common Home, On the Joy of Love in the Family, and On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World by Pope Francis.

The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius, by Henry Bettenson.

The earliest writings here are from bishops who were instructed directly by some of the first Apostles. This is a great place to begin a study of the earliest articulations of the Catholic faith outside of the Bible.

Full texts translated into slightly archaic English are available at www.newadvent.org/fathers. See there especially St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Justin Martyr, and the Didache.

City of God, books 11-14 and 19-22 by St. Augustine, translated by William Babcock.

Books 1-10 are concerned with varieties of Roman Paganism and its attack on Christianity, which no longer really concerns us. Books 11-22 are a defence and exposition of Catholic Christianity. Books 15-18, which mostly summarize Old Testament history, are generally good, but contain some historical misunderstandings and fewer insights. The rest are a must-read. A slightly archaic English translation is freely available online.

Confessions of St. Augustine, translated by Henry Chadwick.

Summa Theologiae (a.k.a. Summa Theologica) by St. Thomas Aquinas. A complete translation into current English is not yet available, but the next best thing is Peter Kreeft’s annotated translation, Summa of the Summa. Consider getting Aquinas: a Beginner’s Guide by Edward Feser to help.

This is probably the most famous and respected Catholic writing outside the Bible. St. Thomas said it was written for beginners, which seems to have meant beginners in theology who have, nevertheless, studied a significant amount of Aristotle. Knowledge of Aristotelian terminology is assumed, which makes some parts of this work difficult to understand. But much is not so difficult, and well worth the effort. An older translation is available online.

Commentaries by St. Thomas Aquinas on various books of the Bible.

St. Thomas may have had the disadvantage of not being able to read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew, but his penetrating intellect makes his commentaries on the Latin Vulgate version well worth the read. Free to read online.

Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. by Kieran Kavanaugh et. al.

Like St. Thomas, St. John of the Cross gained great insights into Sacred Scripture without, however, having the benefit of the Greek and Hebrew that we have. He therefore gets less attention than he deserves. He is known especially for his study of the process whereby God purges impurities from the soul in a series of painful “dark nights,” times when God seems to withold His gladdening light from the soul that needs to be purified. Online translations of his main works appear to be available for viewing and editing at WikiSource. (No guarantees on that version.)

Story of a Soul, by St. Therese of Lisieux, tr. Fr. John Clarke.

This is the autobiography of an amazing saint who, not thinking herself to be on the same level as intellectual giants of Catholicism, followed “the little way” that God set out for her. She was well chosen to become a patron saint of missionaries. No online version is available, to our knowledge.

Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, from Marian Press.

This is another amazing autobiography, full of disclosures of Jesus’ revelations on the topic of divine mercy.

Theology and Sanity, by Frank Sheed, revised edition.

“Of Sheed’s many books, this is my favorite, not just because it includes the clearest explanation fof the Trinity ever put on paper, but because it proves that only the Catholic view of reality can satisfy our mental hunger.” -Karl Keating (from back cover).

Various works of Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen is a very profound yet very readable spiritual writer. His works are too many to list here. Please see henrinouwen.org for book lists, daily meditations, and more.

Five Proofs of the Existence of God by Edward Feser and Twenty Arguments for God’s Existence by Peter Kreeft.

Of these books on this most important topic, Feser’s is the more in depth and is more closely connected with philosophy of science. Kreeft’s has more arguments, is suited to quicker study (and perhaps use), and is free to be read online.

Various works by Scott Hahn, Edward Sri, and Karl Keating.

Again too many too list – books, videos, and more, discussing sacraments, the Lord’s Passion, and a wide variety of topics about which we Catholics need to learn how to make a defence. Please see www.scotthahn.com, edwardsri.com, and karlkeating.com.

Detective novels by G.K. Chesterton and Michael O’Brien.

Chesterton’s Fr. Brown mysteries, freely available online, (scroll down to the fiction category) and O’Brien’s Fr. Elijah (not free) bring to bear the wisdom of Catholicism in fantastic reads.

How Far Can We Go?: A Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating by Leah Perrault and Brett Salkeld.

“What does the Church say about sex and dating?…If they do hear something from people in the Church, much of what is being said is misguided, impractical or both. This embarrassment-free presentation, designed to take seriously the concerns and social realities of today’s teens and young adults, sets out a Catholic approach to dating and sexual relationships in simple, direct language. This short, entertaining and very helpful book is the result of extensive workshops with teenagers in both school and parish settings.” (From the Amazon.ca book description.)

Brett Salkeld is Regina Archdiocese’s theologian. Leah Perrault is a Catholic speaker and writer from Saskatoon.

Building the Domestic Church / Knights of Columbus Catholic Information Service, many booklets, on topics relating to prayer, faith, parenting, and being a man of God.

Since its founding, the Knights of Columbus has been involved in evangelization. In 1948, the Knights started Catholic Information Service (CIS) in response to blatant anti-Catholic bias in other religious media in order to educate non-Catholics about the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church. Booklets are available at the church (no cost, but voluntary donations are accepted) and also online.

FORMED.ORG, an online library of Catholic videos, audio, books, etc.

FORMED provides the very best Catholic content from more than 60 organizations to help parishes, families and individuals explore their faith anywhere. Supporting thousands of movies, children’s programs, ebooks, audio, parish programs and studies direct to your browser, mobile or connected device.” St. Peter Parish isn’t subscribed to formed, but other nearby parishes are. If you are a member not only of St. Peter but also of St. Cecilia, Holy Rosary, Holy Child, and probably other Regina parishes, see them about getting access to all that FORMED has to offer.

For those who wish to study to enhance their ability to serve in a Catholic lay ministry in Regina, the Archdiocese offers a lay formation program. Please see the Serving Together section of our website for further details.