Monday, July 21, 2014

Swear to God and Lord, Have Mercy (Image Books)

Swear to God was one of the first books I read as a Catholic. I audiobooked it in fact from Audible. At the time, I didn't grasp the book fully, but I did appreciate it. I have since decided to re-read it, a decade later and see how much more it speaks to me today.

The book begins with Dr. Hahn recounting his first encounter with sacraments in Protestant seminary. In a nutshell, they bored him. He was more interested in the Bible and preaching. Frankly, I could relate with him. To a Protestant, sacraments aren't that interesting or essential to salvation. Having now experienced multiple sacraments within the Church, I have come to realize years after my conversion just how interesting, essential, and crucial to our salvation they really are.

Dr. Hahn then takes the time to explain what a sacrament is, how many there are, what exactly each one is, and where they can be found in Scripture. Next, he devotes several chapters to covenants and covenant theology. In these chapters, he explains what covenants and oaths are, important covenants in the Bible, how covenants were crucial to Creation, how oaths were important to society.

This book is easily understood, because it is written in true Scott Hahn fashion. It is a nice mixture of Scripture, patristics, and personal experience. This is an excellent introduction to the sacraments and the power and importance they have in the lives of Catholics. I highly recommend it for both old and new Catholics. It makes the perfect gift for those in the RCIA program or just those who are showing a little bit of interest in the Catholic faith.

Lord, Have Mercy is Scott Hahn's book on Confession. This too was a book I read as an early Catholic. As a former Protestant, Confession was one of the areas I had the most difficulty with. I don't think it was because of the common Protestant view of, "Why go to a priest, when I can just go straight to God?" No. This was a basic human fear of being judged by another human and how they will look at me after I am done confessing my sins. I don't know why, and I know it doesn't make any sense, but I still have that fear. Why are we afraid of what other people think of us, and not what God thinks of us?

In this book, Scott Hahn details the origins and history of the Sacrament. He explains the covenantal connections related to Confession, and he also explains the best example we have of Confession in the Bible - the Prodigal Son. Re-reading this book years later, I have a new appreciation for chapters 10 through 12. In this chapters, he gives advice on how to make Confession more meaningful and goes so far as to compare it to combat/warfare. Combat and warfare used to be more widely preached, but we have steered away from that now unfortunately. We have to remember though, that Satan is after our souls and everyday we are involved in a cosmic war where we must choose God and good over Satan and evil. The appendices also proved helpful as they walk you through how Confession takes place; prayers you can say before, during, and after; and an examination of Conscience.

This was a very helpful book on Confession and one that I am sure I will visit again, until I finally get over my fear of Confession. However, I think the cure for that will be to go more frequently. If you are struggling with Confession, I recommend this book for you. If you have Protestant friends or family who want to know what the point of Confession is, then recommend this book to them, or read it yourself and you can answer their questions. Anyone could benefit from reading this book though.

These books were provided to me for free by Image Books in exchange for honest reviews. If you found them helpful, please click here and/or here and click Yes!