Friday, August 22, 2014

Many are Called and First Comes Love (Image Books)

Many are Called is a recent (2010) and lesser known book by Scott Hahn. Perhaps, it is because the tagline is "Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood," and many people pass it over because they believe it is a book for priests, not for a lay person like them. WRONG! While, this book is definitely an excellent read for priests and seminarians, there is value in it for the laity as well.

The book starts off explaining what real masculinity is. Dr. Hahn then contrasts this to counterfeit masculinity or machismo, which is what our culture likes to push down the throats of our young men. The second chapter reviews the essentials of priesthood. It is more than a job or a ministry. It is a vocation. It leaves an indelible mark on your soul, so that a priest is a priest forever. A priest also receives the power to turn bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (Eucharist) and the power to forgive sins (Confession). He receives these gifts because he is acting in place of Christ here on earth. The next nine chapters discuss roles of a priest, such as Father, Mediator, Bridegroom, etc.

Perhaps, the most troubling chapters to me were the one on priest as Father and the one on priest as Celibate Father. Both of these chapters take a very Roman Rite viewpoint. It assumes that priests must be unmarried, except in rare circumstances. However, if you look at the Eastern Rite churches (in full communion with the pope) married priests are allowed and quite common. However, there is no such thing as a married bishop. This Western focus aside, I found this to be a very informative book. Priests today have a very thankless "job," and are under a lot of undue scrutiny and criticism. If you would like to understand the vocation of priesthood better, read this book. Then, buy a copy for your parish priest(s) and seminarian(s).

First Comes Love is a book about family, but not family in the way that the world thinks of it. Instead, it focuses on the Trinity and the Church. If we look at the Gospels, we can see that Jesus used familial terms a lot. He even went so far as to say that his family wasn't his mother, brothers, and sisters, but those who do the will of God. Dr. Hahn touches on this theme and more in this book.

The book starts off with a personal love story from Dr. Hahn. He talks about how he met his future wife Kimberly, and it was basically love at first sight. He compares the love he felt to the love Adam must have felt for Eve, and explains that man is made for woman and vice versa. He then continues his personal story of love begetting more love with the pregnancy of their first child. However, something went wrong with the labor, and she had to have an emergency C-Section. It was a success and both mom and baby were okay, but it definitely made Dr. Hahn look at his wife in a new and more beautiful way.

The rest of the book explains who God is and what the Church is. God is Family, Covenant, and Love. God also became man for us. He also explains Trinitarian theology in simple terms, and how the Catholic Church is like a home and family. My favorite section was actually the appendix, which discusses the Holy Spirit. St. Maximilian Kolbe said, The Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception." It was also interesting to read about the concept of bridal-maternity of the Holy Spirit. However, this doesn't mean we should refer to God as "mother" or that the Godhead has gender at all. "God created the human forms of physical gender and sexuality to be created reflections of the purely immaterial relations unique to each member of the Trinity." That's a lot to grasp, but makes sense the more you reflect on it. If you are looking to better understand the role of family in the Trinity and the Church, then this is the book for you.

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