Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beautiful Lessons

The Apostles Illustrated Edition by Pope Benedict XVI

Kansas Dad was thrilled when this was offered by The Catholic Company for review. It's a stunningly beautiful book with sixty full-page or even dual-page illustrations. They're absolutely gorgeous. Gazing at them, I wanted desperately to travel back to Rome and Florence so I could wander those museums and churches again. (As we add children and animals to our family, such a trip slips further into the future, but you never know.)

Pope Benedict's insights are worthy of such beauty. I personally appreciated the early chapters which examined the role of Tradition in the Church. It's very difficult sometimes to properly explain Tradition to those of Bible churches and it should not be surprising that the Pope does a marvelous job.

For each Apostle, the Pope describes their Biblical presence, quotes their books and shows us how their lives and words can be realized and present in our lives. I particularly liked the chapter on Thomas the Twin. Thomas teaches us "the most important thing is never to distance oneself from Jesus."

Thus, Christian life is defined as a life with Jesus Christ, a life to spend together with him...What takes place between the Apostle and his Christians must obviously apply first of all to the relationship between Christians and Jesus himself: dying together, living together, being in his Heart as he is in ours.

When Thomas asks, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" (Jn 14:5), he shows us we must feel free to question Jesus when we don't understand something. Also, "his words provide Jesus with the opportunity to pronounce his famous definition: "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6). "

Every time we hear or read these words, we can stand beside Thomas in spirit and imagine that the Lord is also speaking to us, just as he spoke to him.

Of course, he discusses Thomas's declaration that he will not believe in the resurrection until he places his finger in the wounds.

Basically, from these words emerges the conviction that Jesus can now be recognized by his wounds rather than by his face. Thomas holds that the signs that confirm Jesus' identity are now above all his wounds, in which he reveals to us how much he loved us. In this the Apostle is not mistaken.

We even have a lovely summary:

The Apostle Thomas' case is important to us for at least three reasons: first, because it comforts us in our insecurity; second, because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him.

This is by far my favorite book so far from The Catholic Company's reviewer program. I highly recommend it and intend to read it again myself, perhaps every Easter season, as the liturgical readings focus on the Apostles.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. I have not received any payment for this review, but I did receive a free copy of the book The Apostles Illustrated Edition.

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