Thursday, April 4, 2013

Catholic Thursday: Reflections on the Christian Life

Today in Stuart's Study I am going to share with you a book that I read during Lent. It is titled Reflections on the Christian Life and is written by Anthony Esolen. I must admit that I had never heard of Mr. Esolen before reading this book. However, once I started reading the book, his name kept popping up on different websites I visit. Most notably, I discovered he was a translator of Dante's Divine Comedy and has several DVD courses out discussing the Divine Comedy. That's pretty awesome in and of itself.

"Reflections on the Christian Life" spans eighteen chapters. In these chapters, Mr. Esolen walks us through different parts of Jesus' life as recorded in Sacred Scripture. The reader is then called to examine his life through this lens. From the Nativity and His Presentation in the Temple to His Passion and Resurrection, we are called to see the meaning of all the major moments of Jesus' life and how our life relates to His.

The book is also littered with both historical and literary references used in comparison to the life Jesus lived. We see the pride of Cicero in stark contrast to the humility of Jesus. We also see Augustus Caesar's claim to be the prince of peace, when in reality, Jesus is the true Prince of Peace. Mr. Esolen also makes the book personal though by adding his own stories of both his past and his family. It is always appreciated when an author can relate his own personal life to his work, because sometimes we can just feel so distant from the likes of Cicero, Shakespeare, and Dante.

The chapter that hit me between the eyes was titled, "The Hidden Life." It talks about how we want big things for ourselves and great things for our children, but we should be focusing on the small things. Mr. Esolen explains that Christianity is not made up of only the big things like writing a lot of important spiritual works or talking at fancy places, but Christianity is in the small things as well. This was humbling to read, as I have to admit that I strive for the grand and fancy things. I'm ashamed to admit it but it's part of what drove me to start my blog in the first place. I wanted to make a difference on a large scale and be known for making a difference. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a difference, I need to be more humble and not seek glory.

This book was an excellent Lenten read for me, but I feel one could read it any time during the Church Year and still grow from it. If you want to understand your life through the lens of Christ's life, you would do well to read this book, because your life doesn't make sense without God. "Reflections on the Christian Life" merits a 5 star, simply because I can't give it more stars. I look forward to future releases from Sophia Institute Press as all their books I have reviewed so far have been scholarly and well-written.

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