Friday, January 3, 2014

Pillar II: Sacraments (Ascension Press)

Welcome back to Stuart's Study and my first review of 2014. On January 1st, I issued a challenge to my readers to use this year to grow closer to God. There are many ways to accomplish this this, including reading the Bible, praying the Rosary, and reading Catholic books. I would also suggest joining a local Catholic study group or forming one if there isn't one close to where you live. Today, I will be reviewing a great study from THE source for Catholic studies, Ascension Press. It is called Pillar II: Sacraments from their Pillars series, which is a series of studies on the Catechism.

In Pillar II: Sacraments, Dr. Sean Innerst picks up where he left off from the previous study, Pillar I: The Creed. The focus of this second installation is on the liturgy and the sacraments. We learn that God created the world for worship. That's not to say that we are supposed to ignore the unfortunate or ignore evangelization; these two things have their place. However, our ultimate purpose as Creation is to love and worship God our Creator. After establishing the primacy of worship, Dr. Innerst then focuses on the significance of the number seven in the history of Israel and its status as a covenantal number. This leads us to an introduction of the Mass and Sacraments as covenant fulfilments, which memorialize Christ's saving work.

Sessions Two and Three focus on Liturgy, both the history and the actual celebration of it. Sessions Four through Eleven are where we dive into the Sacraments individually. Lastly, Session Twelve discusses sacramentals and funerals. It's hard to pick one section that was the most useful or interesting, as each section builds off the other and proves to be edifying. However, if forced to pick a session, I would cheat and pick the two sessions on the Eucharist. The outlines of the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist were illuminating, and the comparison that shows the Jewish Temple fulfilled in the Mass was astounding!

Dr. Innerst is a superb teacher for this series. His mix of knowledge and presentation make it feel like you are receiving instruction from a trusted elder in the Church, like they did in the days of the New Testament. This is an A+ study on the Catechism, but like Pillar I in this series, it is not one you enter into lightly. There will be a lot of reading and a lot of praying with this study. You can choose to halfway participate and just show up for the DVD sessions, but you will not get even half the benefit you would get from doing the readings as well. Now, I have the hard part of waiting for Pillar III to be released! I can't wait to see what Ascension Press has in store for 2014, but I know it will be awesome!

I received this study for free from Ascension Press in exchange for an honest review.

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