Tuesday 5 November 2019

The Church and the Roman Empire - Mike Aquilina - Reclaiming Catholic History Series Book 2

The Church and the Roman Empire (301–490): 
Constantine, Councils, and the Fall of Rome 
Reclaiming Catholic History Series Book 2
Mike Aquilina
Ave Maria Press
ISBN 9781594717895
eISBN 9781594717901

This is the first book published in a new series, Reclaiming Catholic History, though it is the second book in the series. The series is being edited by Mike Aquilina and this first published volume is by him as well. About this series we are told:

“The history of the Catholic Church is often clouded by myth, misinformation, and missing pieces. Today there is a renewed interest in recovering the true history of the Church, correcting the record in the wake of centuries of half-truths and noble lies. Books in the Reclaiming Catholic History series, edited by Mike Aquilina and written by leading authors and historians, bring Church history to life, debunking the myths one era at a time.”

And if the others are nearly as good we are in for 7 excellent volumes. I could hardly put this book down. I spent the better part of 25 years in university, bouncing around schools, and disciplines. I did religious studies courses at both Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and at The University of Waterloo. I graduated with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought. I know this series is being written for a general readership, but I would have loved to have had this book as part of required or recommended reading for a first-year course. The book ends with these words form Mike:

“Since this book is aimed at a nonacademic audience, I’ve tried to keep my citations very simple. The original translations can easily be found at the sites mentioned above. I hope many readers will be inspired to pursue the texts and read the original translations in context.”

But I really believe it would be an excellent course book. But it is written in such a way that any Catholic, any Christian or anyone interested in the history could pick it up and read it with ease. It is not just easy to read it is very engaging. I know much of the history but Aquilina brought it to life in a new way. I was surprised a few times, and laughed more than once. 

The sections in the book are:

The Underground
The Revolution
The Empire Christianized
Pope Constantius
The Counterrevolution
The Christian Empire and Beyond
A Tale of Two Bishops
An Age of Titans
Decline and Fall
A Lamp in the Twilight
The End

But each chapter also has two extra sections, Up Close and Personal and You Be The Judge. These sections can appear anywhere in the chapter. The first tends to focus on people, and the second on myths or opinions. 

The book was educational, entertaining, and very enjoyable. It is one of those books I would love to put in the hands of friends and family. And with Mike as the editor of the series I am sure the subsequent volumes will be just as good. It was a wonderful read, and I am already waiting in eager anticipation for the next volume in the series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books in the Reclaiming Catholic History Series:
The Early Church - James L. Papandrea
The Church and the Roman Empire - Mike Aquilina
The Church and the Dark Ages
The Church and the Middle Ages
The Church and the Reformation
The Church and the Age of Enlightenment
The Church Facing the Modern Era

Books by Mike Aquilina:
A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God
A Year With The Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living
Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts
Companion Guide to Pope Benedict's 'The Fathers' 
Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will
Fire of God's Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist
Good Pope, Bad Pope: Their Lives, Our Lessons 
Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life
Ministers & Martyrs: The Ultimate Catholic Guide to the Apostolic Age
Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: With St. Thomas Aquinas
Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You
Sharing Christ's Priesthood: A Bible Study for Catholics
Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
Sweet Gridlock: Selected Love Poems 
Terms and Conditions: Assorted Poems
The Apostles and Their Times
The Church and the Roman Empire
The Fathers of the Church Bible
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers
The Mass of the Early Christians
The Resilient Church: The Glory, the Shame, & the Hope for Tomorrow
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church
The Way of the Fathers: Praying With the Early Christians
The Witness of Early Christian Women: Mothers of the Church
Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers
Why Me? When Bad Things Happen
Yours Is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes Our World

Books co-written by Mike Aquilina:
A Pocket Catechism for Kids - Fr. Kris Stubna
Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth - Dion DiMucci
Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady through the Ages - Fr. Frederick Gruber
Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians - Scott Hahn
Praying the Psalms the Early Christians - Christopher Bailey
Saint Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer - Mark W. Sullivan
Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again - James Papandrea
Something More Pastoral: The Mission of Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl - Ann Rodgers
Take Five: Meditations John Henry Newman - Fr. Juan Velez
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Fr. Kris Stubna
Take Five: On the Job Meditations With St. Ignatius - Fr. Kris Stubna
Talking to Youth About Sexuality: A Parents' Guide - Fr. Kris Stubna
The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today - John Michael Talbot
The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Doubter's Novena: Nine Steps to Trust the Apostle Thomas - Christopher Bailey
The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence - Christopher Bailey
The Great Life: Essays on Doctrine and Holiness in Honor of Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap. - Kenneth Ogorek
The Holy Land: A Guide for Pilgrims - Fr. Dave Halaiko
The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions - Regis J. Flaherty
The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The World's First Christmas: Jubilee 2000 - Regis J. Flaherty
Weapons of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Father John Hugo - David Scott
What Catholics Believe: A Pocket Catechism - Fr. Kris Stubna

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