Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Review: Monastic Diurnal 7th Edition

A hearty thank you to fellow Catholic Jonny, for sending over this great review of the 7th Edition of the St. Michael's Abbey Monastic Diurnal.  For my review of the previous edition, click here.  

Here is a great little prayer book! My name is Jonny, and I first ran across the Monastic Diurnal on this very blog, while browsing through the Book Review section. I knew at once it would be a great devotional tool for me, so I ordered it right away (through Amazon.) I was so pleased with the book that I decided to write a review to share my thoughts.

First of all, for those who are unfamiliar with the pre-Vatican II Breviary, I might do well to mention a few things. The hours are arranged as follows, Prime (6 am), Lauds (Dawn), Terce (9 am), Sext (12 noon), None (3 pm), Vespers (evening prayer), and Compline (night prayer.) The hours are arranged in a one-week cycle, and the hours are of varying lengths. The longest hour is Lauds, then Vespers, and the rest are pretty short. They consist of Psalms with antiphons, hymns, Bible readings, and canticles. This method of prayer dates back to the early centuries of the Church, but especially refined by St. Benedict in the 6th century. The name “Monastic Diurnal” refers to its use in monasteries as daily prayer. The only hour missing from this book is Matins, which is actually the longest hour of all, traditionally recited at midnight.

This MD is published through a Benedictine Monastery, St. Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, UK. The edition previously reviewed on this blog was the Sixth Edition, copyright 2004, whereas this Seventh Edition is copyright 2011. The first five editions were published between 1948 and 1953, and the seventh is a reprint of the fifth edition, which was granted an imprimatur by the Bishop of St. Cloud, Peter W. Bartholome, Oct. 4th, 1963. This Breviary is authorized under Summorum Pontificum, although the Latin text is what is officially approved. The Monastic Diurnal includes both the Latin (the Vulgate in the case of the Scripture readings) and an English translation thereof.

What really attracted me to the MD was the formal language, as in the Challoner Douay-Rheims Bible, as well as the use of the Vulgate, including the Gallican Psalter. I am by no means proficient in Latin, but this will be an aid for me to learn more. The Scripture readings in English are not quite as literal as the DRC Bible, but that is mostly to make it easier to understand. After praying out loud with my family, I began to appreciate that a lot. Also, I was hoping that the hymns would include music, but since they did not I just had to recite them. I also came to appreciate that as well, in that the English translation is majestic, poetic, and even rhymes. Overall, I must say that the English translation makes an excellent prayer book. This is especially for those who like the traditional prayers… you will be praying “O God, come to my assistance” and “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.”

Now about the book: it is one of the nicest leather-bound books that I own. It has soft Moroccan leather wrapped over two semi-stiff boards. The six ribbon bookmarks are nice but will need a single loop knot at the end to keep them from unraveling. The type is in red and black, and I find it very easy on the eyes, not too cramped or busy. And last but not least, it has a sewn binding. Amazon lists the dimensions as such: 5.9 x 4.1 x 2.1. I measured with a ruler and it looks about right as the measure including the covers. It sits open comfortably in the palm of your hand.

The other great thing about the book is that with all the options for hours, it is easy for one to integrate it into his daily prayer. I am still praying Christian Prayer early in the morning, but now I can also pray Prime (being short as it is) with my wife before I leave early for work. I also look forward to None when I get home from work, and possibly Vespers and Compline depending on our schedule limitations. If you especially like the Vulgate and language of the Douay-Rheims Bible, you will love the Monastic Diurnal from St. Michael’s Abbey Press!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Knox Bible Review: Love at First Opening

This was long overdue.  I finally splurged to get myself a new Knox Bible from Baronius Press.  The catalyst for the purchase was an old pocket New Testament edition that I bought some time ago at a used book store.

This post is not about the translation itself.  For information you can Google it or go here to read from it and about it.

I just received my copy today from Baronius Press today and am completely thrilled.  It is only unboxed for a few hours and I need no more time with it to show you.  This is probably the highest quality book that I have from them.  It is going to last you a long time.  Let's begin.

The book itself is all class.  And by that I mean it is absolutely classic. The boards are thick and covered with genuine leather.  It reminds me of the old TAN Douay-Rheims edition in all the best ways.

This Bible is newly typeset.  Most old copies of the Knox are pretty bad.  The print in them is tiny, the binding lousy and/or beaten up.  This one is not like that.  You are going to enjoy sitting and reading it.  The only complaint I have is that dialog is not in quotations and that can be confusing.  

There are no typical extras in this.  No maps, no concordance, no calendar.  You get just the Knox text and a forward by Scott Hahn.  I hope the extras are added in future editions.

As far as I can tell, there are not a whole lot of decent photos of the book anywhere on the internet.  For your viewing and decision making needs, I present the following:

The ever popular single column setting.  

This photo is interesting.  You can see little bumps and a scar on the gilt edge.  I believe this came from the shrink wrap machine.  The top and bottom of the spine are also slightly bent.  This is a quality control issue at the bindery.  If you have the option and are lucky enough to have a good Catholic bookstore nearby that carries Baronius' editions, go there and pick the best one.

It opened flat immediately after I unboxed it.  The ribbons used here are far superior to the ones used in their Latin-English Breviary.  

Here you go http://www.baroniuspress.com/book.php?wid=56&bid=60#tab=tab-1 .  Worth every penny, shilling, or ruble.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blessed Triduum

I would like to take a minute on this Good Friday to wish all of you a blessed Triduum.  If you have the opportunity to experience the Church's "traditional" liturgy this weekend, I highly recommend you do so.   There really is no proper substitute for it.  The chant is some of the best in the liturgical year.

Also of note - I received an email this morning from a long time reader letting me know he is going to be confirmed tomorrow.  He is a convert and previously was serving as an Anglican priest.  Please keep him and his family in your prayers during this most holy time of year!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI LOTH Photo

I found this photo while doing a Google search and thought I would share it.  Here we see our beloved Pope Emeritus praying the Liturgy of the Hours next to his brother Georg.  This is an old photo, not one of his current hermetical life.  Have a happy Triduum.

Photo credit to this site: http://dioscg.org/wordpress/?place=vatican-city&paged=4

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Popes' Letters to the New Archbishop of Canterbury

The difference between the two letters is striking isn't it?  I don't mean to prop either up or put either down.  Just observing.


Pope Francis today sent a message to the new Archbishop of Canterbury on the occasion of Dr. Justin Welby's enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral. 

Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis' greetings to Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury: 

To the Most Reverend and Right HonourableJustin WelbyArchbishop of Canterbury
"May grace and peace be multiplied to you" (1 Pet 1:2b)
I thank you for the kind words contained in your message to me at my election, and I wish in turn to offer my greetings and best wishes on the occasion of your Enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral.
The pastoral ministry is a call to walk in fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please be assured of my prayers as you take up your new responsibilities, and I ask you to pray for me as I respond to the new call that the Lord has addressed to me.
I look forward to meeting you in the near future, and to continuing the warm fraternal relations that our predecessors enjoyed.

From the Vatican, 18 March 2013

Before his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI sent greetings to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Justin Welby. Below, please find the complete text of Pope Benedict’s greeting to the new Archbishop: 

To the Most Reverend and Right HonourableJustin WelbyArchbishop of Canterbury
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord JesusChrist, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love thatyou have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven(Col 1:3)
With these words of Saint Paul, I greet you joyfully in the name of the Lord Jesus, "whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30), and I offer you my prayerful good wishes on the occasion of your installation as Archbishop of Canterbury.
You take up your office at a time when the Christian faith is being called into question in many parts of the Western world by those who claim that religion is a private matter, with no contribution to offer to public debate. Ministers of the Gospel today have to respond to a widespread deafness to the music of faith, and a general weariness that shuns the demands of discipleship. Yet the hunger for God, even if unrecognized, is ever-present in our society, and the preacher's task, as a messenger of hope, is to speak the truth with love, shedding the light of Christ into the darkness of people's lives. May your apostolate yield a rich harvest and may it open the eyes and ears of many to the life-giving message of the Gospel.
Let us give thanks to God that the bonds of affection between Catholics and Anglicans have become firmly established in recent decades, through dialogue and collaboration, as well as personal meetings between our respective predecessors. It is greatly to be hoped that we will continue to build upon that important legacy. The disappointments that have been encountered and the challenges that remain on our journey towards full communion are well known, but there have also been signs of hope. Recognizing that our unity will arise only as a gift from the Lord, let us entrust ourselves to his Holy Spirit, as we renew our determination to seek genuine unity in faith and to engage more profoundly in common witness and mission.
With sentiments of fraternal regard, I assure you of my prayers as you take up your new responsibilities. Whatever challenges you encounter, may the Lord grant you strength and wisdom, and may the Holy Spirit guide you in all that you undertake in his name.

From the Vatican, 4 February 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Post: Rebinding the Catechism

One of my readers, Corey, sent this wonderful guest post in upon the rebinding of his Catechism.  Please enjoy the photos and his testimony on why it was important for him to rebind this book.  



Matt, thank you for asking me to do a write-up regarding my recent re-bind of my full-size copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hardcover).  Note that I have linked the out-of-print (I think) hardcover version of the CCC.  I'll discuss why shortly.

For the reason that I have had wonderful prior experiences having Leonard's Book Restoration do my prior re-binding work, there was no reason for me to go elsewhere.  I have previously had an RSV-2CE New Testament and Psalms and an RSV-2CE (full Bible) rebound by Leonard's, and I continue to be very pleased.

The specs of this rebind are as follows:
  • Leonard's "18th Century Revivalist Style (Softcover Version)" rebind.
  • Genuine Calf-Skin (my prior Leonard's rebinds were all Goat - a little softer, but the calf feels more durable)
  • Addition of 4, dark-brown, ribbons - a necessity I think for the CCC.
  • Leonard's recommended using the imitation leather end-pages (versus the antique-paper) for durability.  I think Leonard's may start offering leather end pages (I say that only because solicited a survey on that topic on Facebook recently - along with other potential options - leather end pages "won" the survey I believe).
  • I used a somewhat hard to find hardcover, green CCC because it has a "sewn" binding (versus the glued binding of the softcover green CCC).  That cost me about $45 on Amazon.com for a "like new" quality.
  • Price with shipping:  $210 (excluding cost of the CCC)
I am extremely pleased with this product.  I can not say enough about the craftsmanship of Leonard's.  This is real, mom & pop shop, work done by good Christian people up in Indiana.  I have no idea how much time goes into the product, but I'm sure we're talking a number of hours.  That, combined with the quality of the materials, more than justifies the price.  We gave a few NT/Psalms (Ignatius) rebinds from my family to some close priest friends over Christmas and they loved them.  As expected, they have nothing like them.

I was asked "why have the CCC re-bound in not-inexpensive genuine calf-skin by Leonard's?"  The reason is simply this (for me):  After the Bible, the CCC is the most important document in my life.  It is arguably the quintessential document issued by the Catholic Magisterium (the teaching office of the Church).  But as we know well as Catholics, without Sacred Tradition, we (all Christians) have no way of knowing that the Bible, in all its parts, is exactly what it purports to be.  And it is only through the Magisterium that we have the necessarily infallible teaching of what is, and what is not, inspired and actually Sacred Tradition.  The Magisterium is the doctrinal glue.  (If we only rely on what "our heart tells us" is inspired and true, I think we know that the Canon of the New Testament would still be growing today.)

It is true that the CCC is merely a self-professed "compendium," but what a compendium it is!  Our Blessed John Paul the Great provided us the value of the document in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (1992) (Deposit of Faith), where the saint explained (in pertinent part):

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the kingdom!
Therefore, I ask the Church's Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation (cf. Jn 8:32). It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the Catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, lastly, is offered to every individual who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15) and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.

What a wonderful and powerful attestation to the importance of this Magisterial document in the lives of all Christians!  

We have all (hopefully) owned the Catechism for years.  But only recently I acquired a used hardcover copy of the Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The book is amazing. [Matt interjects: the companion IS amazing.  Buy one.]  Every single Bible verse, Church Document, Writing of the Saints, etc. that is reference/paraphrased, but not explicitly quoted, in the CCC is found in the Companion.  Merely reading the CCC reflects how soaked in Scripture is the entirety of Catholic doctrine (contrary to popular belief).  But if the Christian would simply crack open the Companion to the CCC, he or she would be amazed at the hundreds and hundreds of specific scriptural references there are in the CCC.  The CCC is truly a symphony of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.  What a blessing for all Christians.

I highlight the intensely Scriptural nature of the CCC (further highlighted by the Companion) because I think that fact needs to, in turn, be related to our non-Catholic brethren, who simply believe the Catholic Faith is not scriptural, when the opposite is true.  The Catholic Church is "full(est) Gospel."  When the CCC was published it was labeled by some left-leaning theologians in the Church as "fundamentalist" because the Church had the audacity to affirm the historicity of the Gospels, including all miracles and prophecy. That sort of criticism of the CCC should actually tend to make many non-Catholics comfortable with picking up the CCC and reading it knowing that it affirms every letter of the (entire) Bible as inspired and inerrant.

As a Catechist myself at my parish, I owe much of my recent "continuing education" to Dr. Brant Pitre at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, La.  His seminarian and graduate level courses on CD (some DVD) are a gold mine for the faithful.  And they are intensely orthodox.  Dr. Pitre is a Catholic Bible scholar who gets his students to love scripture.  But he also bases all of his classes squarely within the authoritative Magisterial teaching found in the CCC - while frequently venturing outside of the confines of the CCC to the very documents referenced in the CCC footnotes.  For those of us who have ample time in the car (or even just a 15-20 minute ride to and from work), I highly recommend anything by Dr. Pitre.  He will lead you to the Bible every day.

Thank you for your patience reading.  The foregoing is why the Bible and the Catechism both justify such a nice rebind and place of prominence in our house before our children.

And may God Bless Pope Francis and you all.  Pax Christi.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Amazing Bible Binding Video

This is an excellent Bible binding video put together by one of the nicest Bible producers out there.  They are King James only, and so while I am certainly not endorsing that, it is really something to see this happen and learn to appreciate the care put into each Bible.

So who among us Catholics binds Bibles, breviaries, or other books like this?  Pretty much nobody.  Notice the quality gilt edging.  Most companies spray their edges on.  This is a small non-profit company that does this as a ministry, which accounts for the care put in.  It is said that you can put these Bibles up against anything from Cambridge or R.L. Allen.

Its really a shame that to my knowledge, we have nothing like this in the Church.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton