Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: Living the Mysteries

Welcome back to Stuart's Study and my Monday book review brought to you by Our Sunday Visitor. The Feast of Epiphany was yesterday, which means we are rapidly approaching Ordinary Time. After the Baptism of Jesus is celebrated, we will officially be there. Like I always tell my students in Catholic Religious Education, Ordinary Time's color is green because we are supposed to use this super long season as a time for spiritual growth.

How do you plan on growing this season? Are you sticking to your New Year's resolutions/goals, or have you already fallen off the wagon? Proverbs 24:16 tells us "Though the just fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble from only one mishap." So don't lose heart, if you have fallen. Pick yourself up, and try again. I offer these words, because the book I am reviewing today is called Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians by Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina. 

Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina should need no introduction, especially if you have read any of my other reviews. Both have written thousands of pages on Catholic doctrine and devotion. This book is intended to be read after Easter as it is a series of reflections or devotions over 50 days. However, one would benefit from reading it at any point in the Church's calendar, as we are all unfinished Christians.

Upon reading the first few pages of this book, the reader is informed that the content of the book is taken from ancient Church Fathers. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical at first as I thought it would be a ton of St. Augustine, as he is THE Church Father for Western Catholicism. And while he is one of the eight Church Fathers that the authors drew from, they also did a magnificent job of using some Eastern Church Fathers as well, including St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa (St. Basil's brother), and the theological heavyweight in the East, St. John Chrysostom.

Each day ends with three steps to help make the lesson stick. You pray about it, try and commit one of the key lines in the sermon to heart, and then there is a practical application for your daily life. It is tough to say which one is my favorite week, as each proved useful and worth reading. However, if I had to pick one, I think I would pick St. Clement of Alexandria's week "On Illumination." Throughout this week, one learns about "The Power of Prayer" and "How to Live Like a Christian." The messages on both of these days were powerful and inspiring. 

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars, but I wish I could give it more. If you want to know more of what the early Church taught and would like to read more from the Church Fathers, this is a good starter book for you. I know Easter is still several months away, but this is my recommendation to you for Easter reading. I look forward to reading through it again during the Easter season at a slower pace and trying to gain more from this rich and beautiful book.