Brief Reviews of Two Catholic Books

Here comes that promised review of The King’s Good Servant but God’s First by James Monti in addition to St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s The Glories of Mary, which I happened to obtain free from the traditional Catholic organization, America Needs Fatima.  On occasion, their e-mails and newsletters kindly offer free books, religious medals, and even blessed rosaries in the hopes of strengthening the Catholic faith in America.  (Since I have not been able to donate for a while, I owe this force for good some advertising for all the free stuff they’ve sent me and will send me.)  At any rate, Monti’s biography of St. Thomas More sticks closely to historical facts and the Christian polemics raging at that time.  On the other hand, de Liguori’s work focuses on the passages of patristics, medieval saints, later writers, and miraculous stories associated with St. Mary in order to stir up one’s devotion.  As such, I can recommend the former to any studious individual (I myself could barely put the book down), while The Glories of Mary has devout Catholics as its target.

Annunciation

The goal of increasing devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary holds such value that one who propagates her devotion is certainly saved.  Also, all the saints attest to the necessity of being devoted to the Mother of God.  So, The Glories of Mary is quite a necessary book, though it did not stir my devotion as much as The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude.  The best part of St. Alphonsus’s book lies in the many examples of St. Mary saving sinners from final damnation–even those sinners whose devotion to St. Mary was very slight or even those who just managed to call on her just prior to death.  One is reminded of the devil in Dante’s Purgatorio complaining about the many sinners St. Mary snatches from his hands.

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Two Small Spiritual Books

A couple of days from the Feast of Divine Mercy appears apropos for writing a couple of reviews on spiritual books, which I distinguish from theological works by their focus on devotion rather than discerning doctrinal truths.  Don’t forget to obtain a plenary indulgence this Sunday!  (It’s not often that I get a chance to link back to the third post I ever wrote.)  After all, the more mercy we receive from God the more our confidence in God and generosity to others grows.  The less mercy we obtain, the less time we spend in prayer and the fewer our occasions of receiving the sacraments–especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the less confidence we place in God.  I have come across a few people who claim that they cannot enter a Church lest it burn down!  I know that they jested, but it does reveal a lack of confidence if nothing else!  Instead of being struck dumbfounded on these occasions, would that I had told them that their sins were the only things which would burn up upon entering a Church!

Divine Mercy

But, the spirit of confidence in God’s mercy imbues both St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s How to Converse with God and St. Francis de Sales’ The Art of Loving God.  De Sales wrote during the Counter-Reformation, while de Liguori wrote during the 18th century; but, de Liguori’s works have the savor of the Counter-Reformation, especially Prayer: the Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection.  Unlike the aforementioned book and St. Francis’ masterpiece, A Treatise on the Love of God, the two books in question are both very short.  De Liguori’s book is the size of a Lenten devotional one might pick up from church.  De Sales’ The Art of Loving God fits easily into a jacket pocket.

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Medieval Otaku’s Third Anniversary

On this Easter, both this site and myself age one year.  This is the only time I can recollect my birthday has falling on Easter.  Does this coincidence mean that Medieval Otaku will gain a fresh breath of life?  That I shall set a new and vigorous posting schedule for my third year as a blogger?  No, I’ll probably continue writing on random themes which usually touch upon the Middle Ages, Catholicism, or anime as my dear readers are accustomed.  Thank you to all my dear readers who have enjoyed reading these posts over the past year.  As I always say, you need to struggle through many mediocre posts before finding the few gems which fall Deo iuvante.  Let me give you the low down on the posts you shall be seeing on here in the near future.

Samurai Hat

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Advice on Prayer: Introduction

Well, dear readers, I’d like to give a little introduction to the series of articles which will be posted here.  For a little while, my thoughts dwelt on why so many people either fall away from the Faith or become lukewarm.  In the modern world, things like fear of man (aka human respect), being brought up in a religiously ambivalent environment, and either having a poor religious education or being seduced by secular ideologies tend to be some of the most prominent culprits.  But, greatly influenced by St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s The Great Means of Salvation, the greatest error of those who have fallen away is that they did not persevere in prayer.  Of course, you might be better served by reading that wonderful work; but I must warn you that, besides encouraging the Faithful to pray, this book is a work of Counter Reformation apologetics, including many arguments against the Martin Luther’s and John Calvin’s theologies.  If you would be put off by all those arguments to which St. Alphonsus adds the backing of several Fathers of the Church, stick with my series of articles.  Despite being written from a Catholic perspective, they should prove useful to all Christians and even other Monotheists.  My articles wish to show:

1) The Necessity of Prayer

2) How Not to Pray

3) What to Pray

4) Troubleshooting, or How to Overcome Certain Obstacles in Prayer

Feel free to pick and choose from the advice I give.  For example, however much I should wish it, Protestants are not going to pray to saints.  (Though, might I encourage you to speak to your guardian angel sometimes?  God did provide them with the mission of watching over us, and they deserve some acknowledgement!)  Also, I might just plain be in error on some points, so listen to the advice of someone older and wiser if possible.

Devout persons, people who barely practice religion, those in a state of doubt, and those who would like to believe form my target audience.  For those who are happily atheists, agnostics, and apathiests, please do read the first article then consider whether you arrived at your respective conclusions rightly.  If yes, read no further.  If no, read on.  And comments about how I could improve my arguments will be greatly appreciated.  But, the main thrust of them will be that people are saved sola gratia, “by grace alone,” and that “Prayer is the key which opens the Heart of God” (Padre Pio).  I hope that you enjoy these articles!