Sunday 11 July 2021

20 Answers: Relics & Sacramentals - Shaun McAfee - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers: Relics & Sacramentals
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Shaun McAfee
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683572398
eISBN 9781683572411
eISBN 9781683572404

This is the sixth volume from the pen of Shawn McAfee that I have read and I have read over 30 in the 20 Answers series. A few years ago I started with the 20 Answers Challenge when there were just 20 books in the series, at the time. I have benefited from each that I have read in the series, and have recommended many to friends and family. And each one has been educational, informative and has encouraged my faith. I have a Religious Studies Degree with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought. I would have loved to have had these books as resources back then. They are great reads, and this is an excellent offering from Shaun McAfee. Part of the description of the volume is:

“Aren’t relics and sacramentals just “Catholic superstition”?

What are some biblical reasons for revering sacred objects and using them in prayer?

How does the Church know that body parts of saints and other holy objects are authentic?

Are there any rules for keeping relics and sacramentals at home, giving them to others, and disposing of them if necessary?

The use of holy objects in worship is one of the best-known hallmarks of Catholicism—and one of the most misunderstood. Whether it’s venerating the corporal remains or personal belongings of saints (relics) or praying with the help of tangible items in liturgy and individual devotion (sacramentals), such practices often puzzle Catholic, Protestant, and nonbeliever alike. 20 Answers: Relics and Sacramentals clears up the misconceptions and shows you how Christianity is truly an incarnational religion that involves the whole person, body and soul, and the physical world that Jesus came to redeem.”

The questions answered in this volume are:

1. What is a sacramental?
2. Is there a biblical or historical basis for sacramentals?
3. What do sacramentals do?
4. What is holy water, and what is it used for?
5. What is a scapular?
6. What are some other everyday sacramentals we encounter as Catholics?
7. What is the sign of the cross?
8. What are some examples of holy medals?
9. Don’t sacramentals like the crucifix break the First Commandment?
10. What is the proper way to treat a sacramental or dispose of it?
11. How can I use sacramentals to grow closer to God?
12. What is a relic?
13. When did the veneration of relics begin?
14. What are the different ways that relics are used in the Church?
15. How do we know that relics are genuine?
16. What are the relics of the Passion?
17. What is the Shroud of Turin?
18. Isn’t it idolatrous to worship relics?
19. Hasn’t the Church abused relics by buying and selling them?
20. How should I treat and protect relics?

The beginning of the introduction to this volume states:

“I recall the first time a non-Catholic friend asked me, “Why is Jesus still hanging on your cross? Shouldn’t the cross be a sign of victory?” The same person told me bluntly, “Your priests bow to and kiss relics, but mine worship God with their whole heart.” 

Catholics have always had to defend sacramentals and relics from attacks on the Church. History tells that pagan kings would use sacred relics as items of mockery if they overthrew a Christian city. In the Middle Ages, con artists would counterfeit saints’ blessed vestments and other relics for profit. The Protestant Reformation attacked many of the Church’s sacraments, eroding people’s respect for and recognition of sacramentals in the process. The modern Church, too, has to defend sacred relics against the “religion” of science, whose adherents dismiss as superstition whatever they can’t measure to their satisfaction in the here and now. 

It doesn’t help that at times, the same people who should have safeguarded the Church’s store of sacred relics instead gravely abused them. Catholics today have to work harder than ever to defend common sacramentals— the crucifix, holy water, pieces of the True Cross, and all the rest.”

Many of the subjects covered in this volume have entire books dedicated to them. For example Holy Water and its Significance for Catholics by Henry Theiler. But this book and this series is not intended as deep theological or spiritual works. They are quick and clean questions and answers on specific topics. And this one covering Relics & Sacramentals is a little more nebulous than some of the other volumes. An yet McAfee has done an excellent job in this book. 

When I was in university, I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, there was a series of booklets by the founder Bill Bright, called Transferable Concepts, and by reading them many times you could almost memorize them and the message so that you could share it. This book and this series is along those lines. You can easily work through this book in a couple of short sessions. And you could work through it a few times. And solidify the teaching in your own mind and heart. And thus be able to answer questions from non-Christians, non-Catholics and even other Catholics. 

I have benefited from all the books in this series that I have read. But to date, other than the volumes on Mary or the Papacy this is now my favourite volume. McAfee has done a wonderful job on these topics. 

Another excellent volume from McAfee and a great read in a wonderful series!

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


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

Inseparable: Five Perspectives on Sex, Life, and Love in Defense of Humanae Vitae 

20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers Bible Prophecy - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Homosexuality - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Reformation - Steve Weidenkopf
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll

20 Answers Bible Difficulties - Jimmy Akin  
20 Answers The Reformation - Steve Weidenkopf
20 Answers Bioethics - Stacy A. Trasancos
20 Answers Conversion - Shaun McAfee
20 Answers Faith and Works - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers: Relics & Sacramentals - Shaun McAfee
20 Answers Anti-Catholic Myths - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers The End Times - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers The Rosary - Tom Nash
20 Answers Seasons & Feasts – Michelle Arnold
20 Answers New Age -  Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Catholic Social Teaching – Mark Brumley
20 Answers Prayer – Hugh Barbour O. Praem and Sebastian Walshe O. Praem
20 Answers Faith & Reason – Christopher Kaczor
20 Answers The New Testament – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Protestantism – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Marriage & Sex – Todd Aglialoro
20 Answers The Early Church – Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Old Testament – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Judaism – Michelle Arnold
20 Answers The Sacraments – Father Mike Driscoll

Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons
What the Saints Never Said - Trent Horn

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