Monday, April 6, 2015

Letter to Families and Catechesi Tradendae (Sophia Institute Press)

When I look back at Pope John Paul's papacy and think of the legacy he left, it is a bit overwhelming. The man was pope for 26 years. He visited many countries, touched the lives of many, and inspired a generation of Catholics. We think of his smiling face, the way he suffered at the end of his life, but we tend to forget about his legacy of words. Perhaps, that is because Pope Benedict XVI succeeded him and left us a legacy of books. However, Pope John Paul II, in addition to giving us Theology of the Body, he also delivered countless homilies, wrote fourteen encyclicals, and was also responsible for numerous exhortations and letters. Sophia Institute Press has recently published two of his works - Letter to Families and Catechesi Tradendae.

Letter to Families was a letter Pope John Paul II penned in 1994 addressed to families in the Year of the Family. He also considered it great preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000. After an introduction, in which he explained how the family is a domestic church, he launches into Part One: The Civilization of Love. Here he discusses the role of man and woman, the covenant of marriage, parenthood, and family. Part Two: The Bridegroom is With You talks about the wedding at Cana, the mystery of marriage, and the Annunciation being the beginning of the "fairest love" of all.

The book is short, but powerful. There is an foreword by Archbishop Charles Chaput and study questions at the end to aid you if you are reading this on your own or with a small group. It is also a very affordable price, so what's not to love? If you are looking for a book to give to a newly married couple or a couple who has been married for twenty years, they would both benefit from reading this saint's words. Highly recommended!

The other work of Pope John Paul II, which Sophia Institute Press is responsible for publishing is Catechesi Tradendae or On Catechesis in Our Time. This Apostolic Exhortation was issued exactly one year after his papacy started on October 16, 1979. Part One focuses on Jesus, who is the one, true Teacher. Part Two talks about the history of catechesis, how it started with the Apostles and is still the Church's mission today. Part Three gets down to the more nitty-gritty of catechesis like the aim of it and the need for it to be systematic. Part Four discusses Scripture and Tradition and also focuses on the Creed as an important source of doctrine and tool for catechesis. Part Five emphasizes the need for everyone to be catechized, which is very important to remember, as we tend to only focus on children generally. Part Six and Seven focus on ways to catechize. Part Eight reminds us to be joyful with this task, and Part Nine addresses each group of the Church (from bishops to parents) reminding each one that they too have a part in catechizing the world. This seems like a thick text to read, but it is only about 120 pages.

As a parent and a catechist, this book definitely spoke to me. A lot of people don't realize it, but it can be very discouraging to be a catechist. You see the children you teach once a week, if you're lucky. Most of their parents do little to no catechesis in the home, and you just pray the children walk away at the end of the year remembering some parts of the faith they didn't know before. This book helped remind me of why I became a catechist and re-energized me in a way. With a foreword by Bishop Kevin Vonn and study questions at the end, this is a book for everyone, because everyone is called to be a catechist, either in the home or the world.

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