Monday, 12 March 2018

St. Robert Bellarmine - Shaun McAfee

St. Robert Bellarmine
Shaun McAfee
Proving Press
Enroute Books and Media
ISBN 9781633370807

After I finished reading Reform Yourself! How to Pray, Find Peace, and Grow in Faith with the Saints of the Counter-Reformation, I immediately picked up this book to read. I loved that book and I loved this one. I did not even read what the book was about. Shaun wrote it and I wanted to read it. And because I got the eBook I was able to start reading right away. The description of this book is:
"St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was a prolific author of the Counter Reformation and great defender of the Catholic Church. This book tells the story of the great saint who went from obscure title to become one of the most famous saints of his time."
But this book is more than just a biography it was also written as a history of a specific parish for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska. The sections in this book are:

St. Robert Bellarmine Parish History and Timeline
St. Robert Bellarmine: Saint and Doctor
Die as You Were Living: Bellarmine's Teaching on a Proper Death
Prayer to St. Robert Bellarmine
Special Thanks

And the prayer to St. Robert Bellarmine is:

V. The Lord loved him, and adorned him, alleluia.
R. He clothed him with a robe of glory, alleluia.
O Doctor right excellent, O light of Holy Church, O blessed Robert, lover of the divine law, entreat for us the Son of God. Alleluia.
Let us pray.
O God, who didst adorn blessed Robert, thy Bishop and Doctor, with marvelous learning and virtue to expose the deceptions of error and to defend the rights of the Apostolic See, grant by his merits and intercession, that love for the truth may increase in us, and the souls that do wander may return to the unity of thy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
V. Right dear in the sight of the Lord, alleluia.
R. Is the death of his saints, alleluia.

This book is a slim volume coming in at just under 100 pages. But it is also a wonderful little book. Even though I am unlikely to visit the specific parish, reading its history was fascinating. And reading about Saint Robert Bellarmine was inspiring. And reading about his teaching was challenging. After reading this book I will be reading more about and by Saint Bellarmine, but also keeping an eye out for anything that comes from the pen of Shaun McAfee. And to be honest I am likely to go back and reread this little volume again, and in a few years with my children, especially my son who has been saying for a few years that he wants to be a priest.

The dedication to study, of both Saint Bellarmine and Shaun challenge me to become even more focused and determined in my own studies. Shaun states of the saint:

"To continue his devotion to study, he rigorously took up the study of Hebrew in order to gain better insight into the original meaning of Old Testament Scripture. This was an impressive undertaking. First, Bellarmine did not have the time to learn, study, and apply his findings. What's more, he lived in the sixteenth century! This would be a hard enough undertaking with the Internet, or for the generations before us, with lexicons, dictionaries, catalogs, and so forth. Bellarmine completed all of this with a high standard and a high dose of independent judgment, remarking once that the Scripture master St. Jerome's interpretation of the first word of the Bible was "non valde probabilis," "not very likely." His determination for scholarship was meticulous."
And on his works, he states:
"Among the literary and academic saints are those whose work has been so important that these saints have been elevated to Doctors of the Church. They receive this recognition for their particular contribution to the study of theology and doctrine. Robert Bellarmine, for his exceptional defense of Catholic theology and doctrine during the Counter-Reformation and for his continued devotion to academic and spiritual works, was named Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. St. Robert's works are vast, but his works that are most popular today were completed at the end of his life and were less academic and more devotional in substance and style. One need not read very far into these works to find that Bellarmine is a master of eloquence and communication. His stirring words reveal a man truly versed in the literary arts."
As stated this is a wonderful little volume. I recommend it for the last two sections of the book alone. But the whole book is excellently written. The only thing I wish was that it has more photos of the church to go with the first chapter. And I give it my highest recommendation.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Shaun McAfee:
Reform Yourself! How to Pray, Find Peace, and Grow in Faith with the Saints of the Counter-Reformation
Filling Our Father's House: What Converts Can Teach Us About Evangelization
St. Robert Bellarmine

Contributed to:
Surprised By Life: 10 Converts Explain How Catholic Teachings On Life Led Them To The Church

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