Wednesday 25 April 2018

The First Society - Scott Hahn - The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order

The First Society:
The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order
Scott Hahn
Emmaus Road Publishing

ISBN 9781947792548
ISBN 9781947792555
eISBN 9781947792562

Scott Hahn is a masterful writer. With every book I read I have a greater appreciation for his skill, as a wordsmith, for his faith, and for his ability to unpack topics and make them accessible to reader in the general public, or in other works for the staunchest academic. This book is written for the general public, but I hope it will grab hold in the halls of academia and theological schools, and for commentators on our culture. 

In this book Scott Hahn looks at some of the problems in our society and to be honest in our church. He reflects deeply upon biblical truths. He presents some bleak stats on the state of marriage in society and the church. But his focus is not looking back on a golden age, in fact he clearly points out that there have been problems for a while. But it is also not fear mongering. It provides hope, and it provides a blueprint for change. Hahn states: 
"If Catholics would simply live the Sacrament of Matrimony for one generation, we would witness a transformation of society and have a Christian culture."
But first let us jump back a bit. From the introduction Hahn states the purpose of this book:
"The challenge proposed in this book is to bring the superabundance of grace that bubbles forth from the sacramental life of the Church into our families, our communities, our society, and our civilization. The same power that can transform souls can transform the world. It's up to us to bring it to fruition"
And that is clearly the message in this book. We need to revitalize our families through the sacrament of marriage and through that we will be able to change society.  The chapters in this volume are:

No Nostalgia
The First Society
A Marriage-Haunted Society
Marriage Is Impossible
The Perfect Marriage
A Tumultuous History
The Catholic Social Vision
Sex and the Common Good
Apocalypse and Society
The Personal Battle
Redeeming Marriage through Sacrament
Grace Perfects Nature
The Church's Unique Position
A Sacramental Society
Conclusion: Beyond Reach?

The vision for marriage presented in this book is not humanly possible. And that is the point. It is only through the sacramentality of marriage, and living the sacraments that we will transform our own lives, our marriages and our families. And that change that transformation will take work, and we might not even see the results, Hahn states:
"Surely nothing like the social vision laid out in this book will come to pass in our lifetime (barring a miraculous intervention by the Lord Himself). But rather than despair over this, let's sow some seeds-or at least prepare the soil. Let's start to lay a foundation-or at least clear the rubble."
And that might be all we achieve, but the message we will leave, and the impact it can have is worth all the risk. Further on he says:
"The sacramental society is impossible in the same way the first society of marriage is impossible and in the same way sainthood is impossible: all of these are ruled out by our fallen nature and, miraculously, brought within reach through surrender to the will and grace of God. Indeed, the Letter to the Hebrews describes Jesus Christ not just as perfect but as the "perfecter":"
Hahn in this book shows us where we are as a people of faith in a culture that no longer values that faith. But that is not the end of the story. If we respond to Jesus's call we can strive and work for the change that he can complete in us.
"How can we possibly respond with anything but awe at the magnificence of this truth and gratitude for the grace of God and the sacraments of the Church, which make this participation in the divine life possible? And then how, once we have embraced this awe and gratitude, can we do anything other than commit to ordering our lives on the terms of heaven-that is, around the grace-filled and covenantal reality of the sacraments? 
When we do this-and only when we do this-can we begin to invoke, discern, and draw power from the heavenly reality for our work here on earth. Only then can the first society of humanity begin to approach the splendor of the last society of heaven. And only then can we begin to see a more just, more fulfilling, more perfect civilization emerge from the devastation of a culture scoured by secularism"
In the last 22 years since I started keeping track of what I read, I have read 30 books by C.S. Lewis and a dozen by Scott Hahn. And with each book by Hahn that I read I find that I am drawn more and more to his writings, and through those writings my faith is challenged, deepened, rooted, and that it grows. This is a book that every Catholic should read! Western Civilization is in trouble and much like Lewis with his Mere Christianity, and his Screwtape Letters Hahn is speaking truth into the situation and this book is a cornerstone of that truth. And when you combine the message of this work with the one in 'The Fourth Cup' you have the beginning of a very firm foundation indeed! 

If you wish to buy the book directly from The St. Paul Center do so here

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

Books by Scott Hahn:
A Father Who Keeps His Promises
A Pocket Guide to Saint Paul
A Pocket Guide to the Bible
Angels and Saints: A Biblical Friendship with God's Holy Ones
Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins's Case Against God
Catholic for a Reason
Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church
Covenant and Communion
Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization
First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity
Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
Holy Is His Name
Hope for Hard Times
Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything and Still Does
Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises
Letter and Spirit : From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy
Living the Mysteries - A Guide for Unfinished Christians
Lord Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession
Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood
Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace
Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700
Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
Rome Sweet Home
Scripture Matters
Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots
Swear to God : The Promise and Power of the Sacraments
The Creed: Professing the Faith Through the Ages
The Fourth Cup
The First Society

The Kingdom of God As Liturgical Empire
The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
Understanding "Our Father"


Anastasia McGonagle said...

Anastasia fmsl

Anastasia McGonagle said...

Holy Spirit is hard at work.....this is the book which connects past with future.
It is LONG OVERDUE! Prayerful success to Scott Hahn and the Holy Spirit.
Anastasia Mc Gonagle fmsl