A few weeks ago, we watched a CBS 60 Minutes Presents segment about a project run by the USC Shoah Foundation. They record intensely detailed interviews with Holocaust survivors; using artificial intelligence, they are then able to use these interviews to provide viewers with an interactive experience. This will allow future generations to speak to survivors of the Holocaust as if they were meeting with them in real-time, hearing their stories and asking them questions. All this is part of an effort to “never forget,” even long after the survivors have died.
We’ve all heard some variation of the famous aphorism often attributed to Winston Churchill: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Regardless of the wording, the principle remains true. Looking at the world around us, we see many examples of history repeating itself, for good or ill. The Ukrainians’ obstinate dedication to fighting for their independence against the invading Russian army is in some ways similar to the birth of the United States, while the legislative attempts to restrict voting access in some states are worryingly similar to earlier episodes of social repression.
Long before the above aphorism became a well-known proverb, remembrance has been at the heart of the Christian Faith. At the Last Supper, Jesus called us to celebrate the Eucharist in remembrance of him. In obedience to this command, Christians throughout the centuries have encountered Christ himself through the re-presentation of his sacrifice.
The eight resources featured in this week’s CatholicsRead list can help us to learn from our Catholic history. By returning to our roots, we will be able to fully live out the calling we have received through our reception of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Four of the titles start at the very beginning—the Bible.
If you want a weekly reflection with a focus on the Sunday Scriptures, Echoes: Sunday Scriptures Heard amidst Culture and Life Year C from GIA Publications is for you. These reflections on the relationship between daily life and God’s word flow from our shared faith in the Incarnation. The coming of God’s eternal Word was not a one-time occurrence; rather, this word continues to echo in our own lives.
Stephen Binz and Twenty-Third Publications offer the Threshold Bible Study: New Covenant Worship: Hebrews, a thirty-day guide to daily reading, meditation, and prayer. Written to demonstrate how Jesus perfects the priesthood, rituals, and sacrifices of ancient Israel, Hebrews presents him both as the one priest and as the perfect sacrifice of the new covenant.
Of course, the Bible itself is a way we remember the great story of our faith. The Divine Mercy Catholic Bible and The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume II, both from Ascension, are worth adding to your library. The Divine Mercy Catholic Bible, which was developed in collaboration with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, includes additional materials to explain Divine Mercy and “Mercy Minutes” throughout—a welcome addition to any Bibles you may already own. The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume II, takes you through days 121-243 of the award-winning podcast, The Bible in a Year, by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Two titles from Paulist Press explore the rich Catholic tradition of prayers and devotions. Robert Wicks’s Prayers for Uncertain Times is a collection of prayers, both previously published and new, that offer hope, encouragement, and direction in these volatile days. Rethinking Catholic Devotions, by Jim Clarke, explores popular devotionalism in the U.S. Catholic Church. It also includes a brief history of how devotions arose and discusses ways in which we might rethink them for the 21st century.
What better way to learn from history than to read two excellent books on Catholicism’s history, both distant and recent past?
Ave Maria Press recently published The Church and the Age of Reformations, by Joseph T. Stuart and Barbara A. Stuart, which highlights the watershed events of a confusing period in history. It provides a broader—and deeper—context for an era that included the Council of Trent, the rise of humanism, and the impact of the printing press. It also includes profiles of important figures from these tumultuous centuries—including Thomas More, Teresa of Ávila, Ignatius of Loyola, and Francis de Sales—and shows that the saints demonstrated the virtues of true reform—charity, unity, patience, and tradition.
Walking with Ignatius, from Loyola Press, introduces us to Fr. Arturo Sosa, who was elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus in 2016, in conversation with Darío Menor. Along with his observations on the Society of Jesus, the Church, and the world today, Fr. Sosa offers suggestions for reflection and prayer, either alone or in a community.
By calling to mind our own history, we can revitalize our Faith and ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten.
Discuss this article!
Keep the conversation going in our SmartCatholics Group! You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.