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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Free Hearts - Alexandre Havard - Understanding Your Deepest Motivations

Free Hearts: 
Understanding Your Deepest Motivations
Anthony T. Salvia (Translator)
ISBN 9781594173950
eISBN 9781594173967
ASIN B08XY5V1Y7


I have read a few books now from the pen of Alexandre Havard and I believe th is the second translated by Anthony T. Salvia. His books move me and they challenge me. They are well worth the time and effort to read. The description of this volume is:

“Beauty, greatness, love, freedom, mercy, and suffering expand the heart, purify it, and make it burn with love and desire.

In the words of Alexandre Havard, “A free heart says ‘yes’ to transcendent values, to the divine inspirations and impulses in the depths of our being.”

For our hearts to be free, we must transform our interior selves. Alexandre Havard shows us the way.

His important new book will help you achieve the optimal balance between the heart, the mind, and the will, heal your heart when it is troubled and has been wounded, and enable your most noble aspirations to grow in strength and maturity.”

And the chapters are:

Preface
From the Author
1 The Heart: Source and Center
2 The Spirituality of the Heart 
3 The Rationalist
4 The Religious Voluntarist
5 The Macho Voluntarist
6 The Ideological Voluntarist
7 The Conventional Voluntarist
8 The Voluptuous Sentimentalist
9 The Insane Sentimentalist 
10 The Cowardly Sentimentalist
11 Desiccated Hearts
12 Wounded Hearts
13 Beauty
14 Greatness
15 Love
16 Freedom
17 Mercy
18 Suffering
Conclusion

I have been on a streak lately with some excellent reads. And this is one of the best of those. This is not a long volume but it is packed full of wisdom. Some of the passages that I highlight during my first read through are:

“The human being possesses three centers of freedom and responsibility: reason, the will and the heart. Reason and the will are exclusively spiritual faculties. The heart is spiritual and physical at the same time.”

“A person without a heart does not exist, nor one whose heart is empty, because it cannot be empty. It is always full. It holds the good (vision, drive) and the evil (blindness, impotence), and if the good decreases, the bad increases.”

“Before the West discovered Aristotle, it was St. Augustine—author of the Confessions—who provided intellectual guidance. For him, the heart is a faculty both physical and spiritual, even if he refuses to grant it a value on par with reason and the will.”

“Be that as it may, the West has emphasized the mind and the will in the life of man, whereas the East has paid greater attention to the heart. The West often accuses the East of sentimentalism, and the East often reproaches the West for its rationalism and voluntarism. Both approaches are false if they do not take into account this elementary fact: the heart, the mind, and the will can only function together.”

“One can only practice the good with a pure heart, an enlightened intelligence, and a strong will.”

“Our virtues ennoble our emotions, our vices corrupt them.”

“As Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote: “A person can develop all the spiritual richness to which he is called only if he is penetrated, imbibed by the values which he perceives and only if his heart is stirred and inflamed by these values and responds to them with the fire of joy, enthusiasm and love.””

“Freedom is the quality of a heart accustomed to saying “yes” to transcendent values. The “yes” demands the humility which predisposes us to be attentive to the calls of beauty, truth, and the good. The proud person resists being moved by transcendent values because nothing in this world exceeds himself. He thinks he should do the moving. Pride is the greatest obstacle to the education of the heart.”

“Strengthen your will. Do not renounce the good on the pretext that it could be a source of conflict. Learn to manage conflicts with sincerity and firmness.”

“The experience of beauty, greatness, love, freedom, mercy, and suffering expands and exalts our heart. It purifies it and makes it burn.”

“A humble heart is always listening. It is open and receptive. It is full of gratitude. It is happy.”

As can be seen from those sampling of quotes this book is pack full of wisdom. It is easily accessible. It is great for the scholar, hobbyist, or a general audience. Anyone wanting to grow in the virtues, grow spiritually, and really grow in understanding themselves and others this is the book for you. 

Another excellent read from the masterful pen of Alexandre Havard.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Alexandre Havard:
Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence
Created for Greatness: The Power of Magnanimity








Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Scriptures of Mercy - Father Adrian Graffy - The Love of God in the Old Testament

Scriptures of Mercy:
The Love of God in the Old Testament
Year of Mercy
Father Adrian Graffy 
ISBN 9781784691288
eISBN 9781784693084
ASIN B071WVZF9Q
CTS Booklet SC121


This is the third volume in the Year of Mercy Series that I have read. I believe there are 8 volumes in this series and that 6 of them are available as eBooks. I picked all the eBooks up as soon as I finished the first one. Over the last several years, I have read over 200 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This is the fifth book I have read by father Adrian Graffy. It will not be my last. The description of the booklet is:

“Twelve famous Old Testament passages draw out the boundless mercy of God, thus revealing his true nature and challenging popular misconceptions about God and the Bible. From Adam and Eve, Joseph, the Exodus, Jonah, King David, and many others, to the cries of the Prophets, we are acquainted with this mercy time and time again. Pope Francis calls us to return to the scriptures and to divine mercy. This text is especially helpful to those who have limited knowledge of the scriptures and open up for them just how prominent the reality of God’s mercy is in the scriptures.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Introduction
In the Beginning - the Mercy of God
Esau Embraces his Brother Jacob
Joseph Pardons his Brothers
God Sets the People Free
God the Merciful
David Pleads for Forgiveness
The Parental Compassion of God
A Call to Repentance
Jonah Struggles with God’s Mercy
The Eternal Covenant of God’s Mercy
Remember the Mercy of God
God, Lover of Life

With each booklet I read in this series I appreciate it more. This booklet, like the other two I have read in the series, can easily be read over a large mug of coffee or tea. But they are also books that could be returned to again and again. The ‘Year of Mercy’ might be well behind us, but its message is still an important one. In our lives and in the impact we can and should have upon the world around us. And this volume examining the 12 examples of Mercy from the Old testament is a wonderful read. I highlighted a few passages during my first reading of this volume, they are:

“The twelve readings in this booklet provide a wide variety of Old Testament passages which speak of God’s mercy, and the way this mercy is lived out by human beings. There are many other texts which might have been included. God’s mercy begins from the very beginning, and, as Psalm 136 (135) says, “it endures for ever”.”

“The opening chapters of the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, are unique. They address fundamental questions. Through these ancient stories we learn about the goodness of God, the beauty of God’s creation, the place of human beings in it, and so much more. After two stories about God bringing the creation into existence, the man and his wife are in a garden. Everything is provided for their needs. Furthermore, they are given the uniquely human gift of free choice. The story teaches us that human beings can make the wrong choices, that we can choose what is not good, and that such choices have consequences.”

“• How often have you experienced goodness coming from an unexpected source? 
• Is there anyone you can surprise by offering them mercy, just as Esau did to Jacob?”

“As the story of the chosen people continues we are faced with another family crisis. Jacob has a favourite son called Joseph, son of his beloved wife Rachel, and he loves Joseph more than all his other sons. This Joseph is the recipient of the amazing coat with long sleeves. His brothers are jealous and kidnap Joseph, selling him into slavery in Egypt. When famine hits Canaan their homeland, the brothers go to Egypt to beg for food. They encounter a powerful government official who has charge of the food stores. He treats them with kindness. This official is none other than Joseph.”

And the one that had the biggest impact on me was:

“The mercy of God needs collaborators, and can be very persuasive when human beings are slow to respond to God’s call.”

Reading this volume I saw several of these OT events in a different light. Some I had previously thought of as God’s provision, but looking at them through the term of mercy I see them in a new light. And I know this will have an impact on my future readings in both the old and new testaments. 

This book is another excellent read in a great series. The Year of Mercy may be past, but we can all grow in our knowledge of Mercy and of living it out. This book and the series will help us do just that. This book was originally published in 2016 and the eBook released in 2017. It is an great little booklet. And I look forward to reading the others in the Year of Mercy Series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Year of Mercy Books:
Corporal Work of Mercy – Richard Atherton
Mercy Works – Mark P. Shea
Rich in Mercy – Pope Saint John Paul II
Spiritual Works of Mercy – Paul Grogan
The Joy of Mercy – Pope Francis

Books by Father Adrian Graffy:
A Manual of Hebrew Poetics
Alive and Active: The Old Testament Beyond 2000
Trustworthy and True: The Gospels Beyond 2000
Twelve Steps to the Love of God










Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Cold Caller - Edwin Torr - Dead Means Dead Book 2.5

Cold Caller
Dead Means Dead Book 2.5
Obolus Books
ASIN B075MHNNMM


I have now read 7 of the 8 books available in the Dead Means Dead series, in under 3 weeks. And a total of 10 others under one of his other pen names. This is a very entertaining series, and this novella is an excellent offering. Torr is one of three names this author publishes under, to the best of my knowledge. But who is he really? I have read all of his adult crime novels published as J.E. Mayhew. I have read one of his Young Adult collections of short stories as Jon Mayhew. And now I have read seven under this pen name of Edwin Torr. Reaching out to the author before reading book one I believe there are 8 stories published under this name and in this series. There are three novels and 5 novella’s or short stories to date. After finishing this I only have 1 novel to go. And since it has been a few years, there are no indications there will be more stories in this series, at least anytime soon. 

This really is a very fun story in what in an immensely entertaining series. While reading this series, I cannot help but think about Cedar Sanderson’s The Groundskeeper Raking Up the Dead and Zombie Death Extreme Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator by Karina Fabian all three authors approaches are very differently the stories are somewhat similar and just as enjoyable and memorable. And yes I have stated that with each review! 

As I have said this story is incredibly entertaining. The main stories in this series focus on a young man named Tom Coffin; he is a Specialist Funeral Director. His job is to put the undead back in the ground. Coffin’s mode of transport is a car called Persephone, a Jaguar XJ hearse a 1995 model, a vehicle that looks like the offspring of a family station wagon and the Popemobile. The description of this book is:

““It’s my ex-boyfriend. He keeps phoning me and telling me that he wants to get back with me and we should be together. I keep explaining that he’s dead and it wouldn’t work but…”

Tom Coffin just wants to curl up and nurse his rotten cold but an undead stalker and a lost zombie dog won’t let him. But where is the cold caller? And why is he making threatening phone calls to some very heavy-duty villains? Villains that become interested in Coffin and make a bad day worse. Another intriguing and fast-paced short adventure from the Dead Means Dead series.”  

I honestly cannot put these books down. It is only an immense effort and great will power that has prevented me from reading these books straight through. I typically alternate one fiction and then a non-fiction. And it was not easy to pause between these stories. And I have recommended these books to over a dozen friends already, even during a lockdown and social distancing. 

Tom Coffin is an amazing character, and honestly one I am sorry to know has a limited run. As a Specialist Funeral Director, he deals with the odd, strange, and unusual. So a zombie dog, sorry Litch, Tom does not like the ‘Z’ word. And a dead guy making phone calls and sending inappropriate pics. Throw in a hypochondriac pet owner, a bit of a mob boss, and a disturbing discover and you have an excellent read. 

Tom at his best, this is another great awesome read in a wonderful series!  

Books as J.E. Mayhew:
DCI William Blake Series:
7.0 No Time For Sorrow

Books as Jon Mayhew:
Deathmire
Death Road
The Spybrarian
Have a Go 
Dark Tide 
Death Wheels 

Monster Odyssey Series:
1.0 The Eye of Neptune
2.0 The Wrath of the Lizard Lord
3.0 The Curse of the Ice Serpent
4.0 The Venom of the Scorpion

Mortlock Series:
1.0 Mortlock
2.0 The Demon Collector
3.0 The Bonehill Curse

Collins Big Cat Series:
The Merchant of Venice: Band 16/Sapphire
Hamlet: Band 18/Pearl
Romeo and Juliet: Band 18/Pearl
Macbeth: Band 18/Pearl

Contributed to:
Beyond the Book: A Collection of Short Stories
Storycraft: How To Teach Creative Writing
Criminal Shorts: UK Crime Book Club Anthology
Make Doves Not War - Forward

Books as Edwin Torr:
Dead Means Dead Series
1.0 Demons - 2017
1.3 Cotton Candy - 2017
1.9 Remurdered - 2017
2.0 Angel Hunter - 2017
2.5 Cold Caller - 2017
3.0 Jigsaw Girl - 2018









Monday, 26 July 2021

Mercy The Greatest Gift - Barbara Reed Mason - Meeting the Love of Christ

Mercy The Greatest Gift
Meeting the Love of Christ
Year of Mercy
Barbara Reed Mason
ISBN 9781784690939
eISBN 9781784693305
ASIN B072XRXQZQ
CTS Booklet SP47


This is the second volume in the Year of Mercy Series that I have read. I believe there are 8 volumes in this series and that 6 of them are available as eBooks. I picked all the eBooks up as soon as I finished the first one. Over the last several years, I have read over 200 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This is the first book I have read by Barbara and I believe her only title from the CTS. But back to this book. The description of the booklet is:

“Pope Francis's call for a Holy Year of Mercy began with a call to spiritual conversion in each of us. What are the spiritual and tangible aspects of mercy? Many Christians today can be unaware that we can keep the supernatural life within us vigorous by engaging with the spiritual works of mercy. This is not a matter of just being good to others only, but of our own salvation. Saint John Paul II said that the greatest gift of mercy is bringing people to savour Christ’s love.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Introduction
Instruct the Ignorant
Counsel the Doubtful
Admonish Sinners
Bear Wrongs Patiently
Forgive Offenses Willingly
Comfort the Afflicted
Pray for the Living and the Dead

This booklet, like the other 2 I have read in the series, can easily be read over a large mug of coffee or tea. But it is also a book that could be returned to again and again. The ‘Year of Mercy’ might be well behind us, but its message is still an important one. In our lives and in the impact we can and should have upon the world around us. I highlighted several passages during my first reading of this volume, some of them are:

“Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee beginning on 8th December 2015 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and ending on 20th November 2016 (Feast of Christ the King). He wants this Jubilee to be a Holy Year of Mercy, one that “begins with a spiritual conversion”. 1 For that reason, spiritual conversion is the aim of this pamphlet, and we will use the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy to help unlock the process of conversion.”

“Human beings are more than bodies with rational souls. We are body, soul and spirit, as Pope Benedict XVI explained: ‘May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’( 1 Th 5: 23). We are, therefore, spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities of our material condition, while at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome him within us.””

“The Spiritual Works of Mercy serve this fundamental reality and underpin the Corporal Works of Mercy. They are: 

Instruct the ignorant 
Counsel the doubtful 
Admonish sinners 
Bear wrongs patiently 
Forgive offences willingly 
Comfort the afflicted 
Pray for the living and the dead.”

“You and I can learn a lot about an historical person by reading and studying his or her life. We might become so knowledgeable that we are able to deliver an articulate lecture about that person. We might even hold that person in great esteem. But none of those things can compare to actually meeting that person and establishing a relationship with him or her. It is the same with God.”

“We can also encounter the Lord in personal and community prayer; therefore, neglecting prayer - both private and communal - prevents this possibility. And of course, we meet the Lord in the sacraments - but again, only if we are open to that encounter and if we are ‘well-disposed’. Jesus is always present in the sacraments, but are we present to him?”

“One often gets the impression that some of the baptised believe not only that they can live their Christian life in their own power, but that they can ‘earn’ their salvation by their good deeds! Of course we must perform good works - we are required to do so - but it is only the grace of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit that gives us new life in him: …”

“Those who experience this new life in the Spirit are able to “instruct the ignorant” because they rely not on their human resources alone, but on the spiritual gifts and graces freely given by God to those who believe. Let us have a look at some of these spiritual gifts.”

“Prayer! Never forget prayer. Never! No one, no one realises when we pray on the bus, on the road: we pray in the silence of our heart. Let us take advantage of these moments to pray, pray that the Spirit give us the gift of counsel.”

“How should we admonish sinners? First of all with a motive of love; and secondly, with an acute awareness of our own sinfulness, which includes gratitude to the Lord for rescuing us and restoring us to himself out of sheer mercy. And thirdly, praying first for the gift of counsel for ourselves!”

“Clearly our vocation to live as children of God and disciples of Jesus is supernatural: it requires grace.”

“What is meant by “the afflicted”: anyone who is any pain, suffering or distress. We are asked to comfort the sorrowful! But remember this is a spiritual work of mercy, not merely temporary relief. By a spiritual work we do not mean offering pious platitudes. God’s comfort is a reality.”

“This is the final Spiritual Work of Mercy, which may seem to be the least practical or ‘hands on’ of all the spiritual works. But it is a work of mercy that can be done by anyone of any age, whether healthy or ill, mobile or immobile, and as Pope Francis said, we can pray always and anywhere. It is probably the most humble of all the works: no one knows you are praying except God, and the answers to the prayers can only be attributed to him.”

This book is an excellent read in what is proving to be a wonderful series. The Year of Mercy may be past, but we can all grow in our knowledge of Mercy and of living it out. This book and the series will help us do just that.

This is an excellent little read, and for another great read in the series. This book was originally published in 2015 and the eBook released in 2017. It is an great little booklet. And I look forward to reading the others in the Year of Mercy Series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Year of Mercy Books:
Corporal Work of Mercy – Richard Atherton
Mercy Works – Mark P. Shea
Rich in Mercy – Pope Saint John Paul II
Spiritual Works of Mercy – Paul Grogan
The Joy of Mercy – Pope Francis










Sunday, 25 July 2021

Saint Ignatius of Loyola A Convert's Story - Patrick Corkery SJ

Saint Ignatius of Loyola: A Convert's Story
Patrick Corkery SJ
ISBN 9781788123273
eISBN 9781788123310
ASIN B098PGPZWJ


I believe this is the first book published by Patrick Corkery SJ. He made is first vows in 2017 and this volume was published in the Spring of 2021. My son picked Saint Ignatius as his confirmation saint 2 years ago. And since that time we have read a few books together about the saint. With covid related delays to confirmation we have now had the opportunity to give this one a read as well. As soon as I saw it I put it on my wish list, and I was thankful to see an eBook edition released. This was the first book from Messenger Publications that I have read, but it will not be the last. The longer description of this book is:

“Change is an essential part of life. How we meet that change is where it can get interesting. When a person goes through a conversion experience, there is an automatic assumption that they have it all figured out immediately, and they know exactly what God wants them to do. This is not the case. We only have to look at St. Paul. While his conversion was dramatic, Paul tells us in his letters that he had to spend considerable time in the wilderness pondering what had happened to him, and figuring out what exactly God wanted him to do. The same is true of St. Ignatius of Loyola. 

St. Ignatius had a dramatic conversion which shattered not only his leg but all his previous dreams and aspirations. Such a change was not easy to get his head around, and he was forced to enter into his own period in the wilderness. This time of reflection not only brought him closer to God, but it also gave him a greater insight into himself. In this booklet, you will be able to witness the transformation which took place in the life of Ignatius from a vainglorious young man obsessed with his own success, to one who put the service of God and other people before anything else.

This transformation, while dramatic, was not immediate. It took time and reflection and took him across various locations. In all of his travels, Ignatius was focused on one thing, what was God calling him to do? Ignatius conversion will allow the reader to get a perspective on how Ignatius faced the challenges which transformed his life, and hopefully, the reader may be able to make time in their own life to explore things which brought about changes in their life and see how God was operating within this change.”    

The shorter description sometimes appears as just the first of the three paragraphs above. The chapters in this volume are:

Introduction
1: Ignatius’s World (1491–1521)
2: The Battle of Pamplona (May 1521)
3: Ignatius Returns to Loyola (June 1521)
4: A Time of Change (June 1521–February 1522)
5: The Monastery of Montserrat (March 1522)
6: Ignatius at Manresa (25 March 1522–February 1523)
7: Interlude in Italy (March 1523–July 1523)
8: Ignatius in the Holy Land (September 1523–October 1523)
9: Return to Spain and then to Paris (March 1524–28)
10: Three Lessons from Ignatius

Most chapter’s ends with a section called ‘Time to Reflect’. These sections contain either 2 or three questions to reflect upon. Only the chapter 9 does not have a set. A sample from the chapter ‘A Time of Change’ is:

Time to Reflect

A great deal has now happened in the life of Ignatius, so pause and take some time to reflect on what you have read:

1. What have you learned about discernment from what you’ve read so far? Can you think of discernments in your own life and what tactics you used to make a decision?

2. Our Lady plays an essential part in the story of Ignatius. Take some time to read John 2:1–11. Mary points the way to Jesus, how do you see Mary doing the same in the life of Ignatius? Perhaps Mary has helped you draw closer to Jesus too?

3. At this point in the story, what are your thoughts regarding Ignatius? Take some time to think about how you feel about him. Do you find that you like him or does thinking about him create feelings of frustration?”

This book begins with these words:

“When the canonisation of Ignatius was being considered, a Roman beggar was consulted. It’s unlikely that he was popular with the great and good of Roman society, but the beggar was someone Ignatius has made an impression on. He described Ignatius as ‘the small Spaniard with a limp who smiled a lot’. I think St Ignatius is often obscured by the image of the ‘soldier saint’. While this image has merit, it misses the warmth that was very much part of Ignatius’s life and character.

On the 500th anniversary of his ‘accident’ at Pamplona, perhaps now is an appropriate time to revisit Ignatius’s life and to reimagine him through the eyes of the Roman beggar. In this booklet, I hope to show you that other ‘smiling’ side to Ignatius. It is a side that many readers may not know.”

And that is what we get in this volume, is a new look at Ignatius. Or an attempt to open our eyes to see Ignatius afresh. Even having read a few other volumes about Ignatius recently. And having read about him and the exercises off and on over the last 35-40 years, I found this a great little volume. It is well worth the time and effort to pick up and give a read. The book ends with these words:

By making space for something new, Ignatius began to contemplate things beyond his standard frame of reference. He began to consider the possibility that God loved him and wanted to be in a relationship with him. By opening his mind to this, Ignatius was able to make sense of things and see that he was called to a greater form of service than anything he had previously envisioned. The more Ignatius moved into contemplation, the less relevant his previous enjoyments came to be. In their place he discovered real fulfilment and contentment.

And learning about him might help you do the same. The back of this book highlighted 4 other Messenger Booklets. A few of them grabbed my interest. On the website are currently 21 books in the Messenger Booklet series and several are now on my wish list. This was a great read and introduction to the Messenger Booklets. 

(Note: There are two covers for this book, one in Europe and a different one in North America.)

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan

Books about Saint Ignatius:
Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius - Michael E. Gaitley
Probing the Depths: Ignatian Lessons and Meditations Arranged According to the Liturgical Year - John Paul Thomas

(Note: There are two covers for this book, one in Europe and a different one in North America.)








Saturday, 24 July 2021

Freemasonry and the Christian Faith - Father Ashley Beck - CTS Explanations

Freemasonry and the Christian Faith
Fr. Ashley Beck
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823428
eISBN 9781784694548
ASIN B074KDZSMR
CTS Booklet EX16


This is the first volume from Father Beck that I have read, but it will not be the last. This is the fifth volume that I have read in the CTS Explanations series. In the last few years I have read over 200 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. Based on the CTS number EX21 and the list at the back of the book there are at least 21 books in this series. Some have eBooks, some are out of print, and a few are still available both in print and digitally. This is a fascinating series, it tackles some hard questions. And they give clear and concise summary of Catholic Teachings on those topics. The description on the back of this book is:

“Freemasons celebrate 300 years since their foundation in England in 1717. Today still, despite the Catholic Church’s prohibition, some Catholics in apparent good faith become masons, even on the advice of senior clergy. Evidence suggests freemasonry remains strong in some Anglican churches and cathedrals. This updated edition looks at what Freemasonry is and what the Catholic Church teaches about it. It examines the place of freemasonry within contemporary British society.

The convincing theological arguments against becoming a freemason are set out in a measured and balanced manner, supported by excellent research and extensive endnotes.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Introduction
What is Freemasonry?
Catholic Teaching about Freemasonry
Freemasonry and Catholic Social Teaching
Freemasonry, History and Society
Freemasonry and other Christian Churches
What to do if you are a Catholic and a Freemason
Endnotes

The beginning of the introduction states:

“Some years ago I was approached by a man who had been invited to become a Freemason. He wanted to know whether as a Catholic he was permitted to do so. I had not been a priest for very long and was not sure of the answer, although I found it out quickly; this booklet is an attempt to give a clear answer to the question and to explain some of the reasons for that answer.”

And further on:

“Many Catholics, including the present writer, have good friends and family members who are Masons and it is not the purpose of this booklet to impugn the individual moral character of the majority of Masons. Rather, it is an examination of the system of Freemasonry: what it claims to believe, and how it operates.”

This book focuses on Freemasonry specifically in England, Scotland and Wales. Part of the reason for that is it is Father Beck’s intended audience. He tells us:

“God is referred to in Masonic literature, rituals and prayers as ‘The Great Architect Of The Universe’ (traditionally abbreviated in Masonic rituals to ‘T.G.A.O.T.U’), or (in the ‘Second degree’) the ‘Grand Geometrician’, or ‘The Most High’. … non-English Freemasonry has often been characterised by militant atheism and opposition to Christianity and to the Catholic Church in particular.”

As someone in North America much of the specifics of this book are not as relevant. But one of the passages that struck me most is:

“This makes Freemasonry rather like Pelagianism, the 5th century heresy which taught that humanity could achieve perfection through good works; it is also a form of the earlier 2nd century heresy of Gnosticism, in which people were taught that they could attain salvation through acquiring secret knowledge, gnosis.”

This was an excellent book to read. It provides a clear and concise summary of Freemasonry specifically in the British Isles. And it provides the overview of Catholic teachings on secret societies and specifically the Free Masons. It provides sound advice. It is written with care and concern for those who might already be members but unaware that it is not allowed. 

A great read in a wonderful series. I love the succinct summaries and teachings in this book and the series. Another excellent read from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Ashley Beck:
Dorothy Day – CTS Biographies
Oscar Romero: Martyr for Faith
Thomas Merton

Books in the CTS Explanations Series:
Marriage Annulment in the Catholic Church
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Does the Church oppress Women?
Organ Transplant – and the definition of Death
Abortion
Be Yourself An Explanation of Humility - William Lawson SJ
Gene Therapy – and Human Genetic Engineering
Prenatal tests
Gift of life and Love
Islam
Euthanasia
Infertility
Homosexuality
Cloning and Stem Cell Research
Contraception and Chastity
Freemasonry and the Christian Faith
Intelligent Life in the Universe
Spirits, Mediums & The Afterlife