Note: There be a special announcement in this here post.
+JMJ+ My New Year’s resolution is to get it together. Physically and spiritually. I’ve had it with the way I am. I want to get some things done and I’m tired of messing around and getting nowhere. So for 2022 I’m going to learn to do this Catholic thing right and I’m inviting you to learn along with me.
+JMJ+ I was watching a video (linked below) by Dr. Brant Pitre about the parable of the vine and branches in John 15, how we have to abide in the vine if we are to have any life in us, if we are to bear fruit, and if God is to work in us the way He wants to. Those who do not remain in the vine are cut off, and then wither and die since they have cut themselves off from the source of life, and they are cast into the fire and burned. It’s a familiar parable, I’ve heard it countless times. You probably have, too. But this time I noticed something different and I want to share with you.
Dr. Brant Pitre kicks off my new series, Books I Want Right Now. Dr. Pitre has become one of my favorite Catholic author-speaker-teachers and his new book is due out in August 2019,* Paul, a New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology. (Links at the end of this post.)
Protestants have tended to think of Paul as a proto-Protestant, because he rebuked Peter once, though they tend to ignore the fact that he submitted to Peter before he set out to preach. He allowed himself to be sent, in other words, by the Church which, yes, was already in existence before he was sent to preach and before he began to write probably the earliest of the New Testament writings. And because they misinterpret things he wrote about faith, grace and works. Paul was (and, as he is a saint and alive in Christ, is) Catholic and as far from being a Protestant as it is possible to be.**
Contrary to what many non-Catholic Christians charge, we do not honor Mary at the expense of Jesus. We do not give her too much honor thereby taking away from the honor due her Son, as if it were some zero sum game with only so much honor to go around. “Oh, no, I’ve given too much honor to Mary, now I don’t have enough left to give Jesus, oh, no!”
As Eve played an essential role in our downfall, Mary played an essential role in our redemption. And she still does. How, you ask? Consider these parallels. First, concerning Eve, then Mary as the New Eve, some points from the second chapter of Brant Pitre’s book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary.
I waited as long as I could. I had an unreasonable hope that Verbum would release an edition of Brant Pitre’s new book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary, quick, fast, and in a hurry. But they hand-tag their books and that takes time, and I don’t even know if they have any plans to do this one, so I’ll just have to get a Verbum edition later if one becomes available. Because I gave in and bought the ebook. (Downloadable books, ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found thee! Well, not at last because I found thee years ago, and now I have that Etta James song stuck in my head.) ;)
Back to the book. Looking at the table of contents, we’ve got:
Birth of the Messiah (and I don’t mean that Fr. Raymond Brown* book),
Peace be to you! Hope you had a very merry Christmas! Advent, Christmas, New Year’s, all passed me by, and the Jubilee of Mercy began, and I watched it all fly past as if I were Douglas Adams watching deadlines go whoosh. I’ve put off writing this, my 500th post for Catholic Heart and Mind because I wanted to write something Big and Important, something Significant. I’ve also been struggling to get back to reading and writing about Laudato Si’, but, to be honest, I’m feeling some real resistance to it. I’ll get over it and get back to it, eventually, or force myself to do it, but I haven’t yet. (I’ve also been really low on energy. The sarcoidosis has taken a toll the last couple of years, and reading and listening and taking a few notes is about all I’ve been good for. My dogs are exceedingly frustrated with me, I’ve been such a bore.) The result is that, for the longest, I haven’t written anything. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Funny how that works. Tonight I decided to go ahead and write a post instead of The Post and get on with it.
Just in case you’ve been burning with curiosity about what I’ve been doing with all this time on my hands–since I certainly haven’t been blogging–I’ll tell you: I’ve been delving into my theology studies and it’s been fascinating and inspiring. Been listening to a college level course by Dr. Brant Pitre, The Apostle Paul: Unlocking the Mysteries of His Theology, on MP3. It’s available on CD, too, but I’m the impatient type so I usually download these things so I can start digging in right away. The course is seventeen sessions, each one runs about an hour or more. I’m only on session thirteen right now, but most of the previous talks I’ve listened to two or three times.
In addition to the MP3 course on the Apostle Paul: Unlocking the Mysteries of His Theology, by Dr. Brant Pitre, I managed to get hold of three books he recommended:
The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, by Albert Schweitzer (used, paper),
The Theology of Saint Paul, 2 volumes, by Fernand Prat, S.J. (used, hardback), and
The Angels and Their Mission, by Jean Cardinal Daniélou, S.J. (digital, Google Play, only because the Kindle sample I downloaded wasn’t working, and I was too impatient to take the time to deal with it).
And after watching a couple of videos (more about that later) featuring Dr. Michael S. Heiser and his work, I’ve decided to also read two of his books (for now):
Supernatural: What the Bible teaches about the unseen world–and why it matters, with study guide (Kindle, Logos/Verbum format).
The more I study about the angels, the more fascinated I become. Heiser is writing from a non-Catholic point of view, and I don’t know yet whether or not he includes the Church Fathers in his sources, but I still find his work very interesting. Danielou’s book certainly covers the Fathers; I’m not sure what all Prat or Schweitzer cover, but I’m hoping that Prat gets into the Fathers, at least a little. I’ll share more as I learn more.
Well, that’s more than enough about what I’ve been doing. Thanks for reading. May God bless you and yours in this new year!
Of all the things I’d hoped to do during Lent, I’ve managed only to prove to myself that I am even weaker than I already knew. But, lucky for you, I have also spent some time listening to an audio course in Spiritual Theology taught by Dr. Brant Pitre. It’s available in DVD, CD or MP3 formats. (I bought the MP3 set so I could download it immediately and have been listening to it on my iPhone in GoodReader.)
One of the earliest purchases I made after becoming attracted to the Catholic Church in the ’90s was Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s marvelous two-volume work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life. This was the first Christian work of its kind I had ever seen and I’m so glad I got it then in a clothbound edition. I have read and re-read Volume One, and have read Volume Two through at least once.
Why do I mention Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s book? Because Dr. Pitre uses it in his course! How exciting! For me, it is. (Stop looking at me like that. I know I’m a nerd. And you do, too, if you’ve even glanced at this site before. So there.) And that’s not all. Dr. Pitre uses several others that either I had in print or Kindle format, in my Verbum library or found online in PDF or other downloadable eBook formats for free. And, before you ask, of course I’ll give you links. Kind of me, yes? (Okay, my aforementioned weakness has engendered not quite enough humility in me. Yet.)
Sources used in the course include those in the list below. I’ve listed Kindle and print formats; eBook refers to various formats available mostly through the Internet Archive for free. On the course page there’s a link to a PDF outline of the course (scroll down). I strongly recommend that you download the outline even if only as a guide for your own study. What an amazing amount of teaching and work Dr. Pitre has put together for us! Btw, this is not a complete list. But if you get the free PDFs, Fr. Dubay’s Fire Within, and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s books listed (PDFs or Kindle), then I reckon you’ll be fine. I also reckon you already have a good and well-worn Catholic Bible and, of course, a much dog-eared copy of the Catechism. (You do, don’t you?)
Notes *The RSV is available in two different Catholic editions, the RSV-CE (Catholic Edition) and the RSV-SCE (Second Catholic Edition or RSV-2CE, 2nd Catholic Edition, I’ve seen it both ways). I use both because I like the SCE but the CE is available in interlinear format in my Verbum software. Can I read the interlinear Biblical Hebrew or Greek? Heck, no. But I like to explore and learn so I do use it. A little. I hope to learn to use it more as time goes on.
Another form of the RSV for Catholics is the Ignatius Study Bible RSV-SCE, but is only complete through the New Testament as of this writing. You can buy the NT in separate booklets or the whole NT in paperback, hardback or leatherbound. (Several books of the Old Testament are available now in booklet format, but I don’t know when the entire OT study edition will be available.) This is such a great study help because it’s the work of Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.