Thursday, February 16, 2017

Choosing By Its Cover (A Book Review)

I admit that I selected this book because of its cover, featuring a well-selected detail from the mosaics in Ravenna's baptistry. I think the paperback is out of print from Sophia Institute Press but still has the Kindle edition available:

From that eternal moment when He created time, through each prayer, confession, and consecration in the Church today, the Lord of the Universe has been working toward one principal goal: the salvation of our souls.

Indeed, so great is the dignity of mankind, and so relentless is God’s love for us, that everything He makes and does leads us into eternal communion with Him.

The Mystery and Destiny of the Church, Dominican Sister Rosena Marie explores the reality of God’s loving intervention in creation, and illuminates His millennia-long plan for redeeming it: the plan that we have come to call “Salvation History.” Beginning with mankind’s appearance as the “crowning glory of creation” and subsequent estrangement from the Creator through the Fall, she shows how God has tirelessly prepared the way back to our original destiny. 

By calling Noah, Abraham, Moses — all the patriarchs and their kin — into a covenantal relationship with Him, God begins to re-claim his people, and to make Himself their God once more. He gives them a Law to teach them, Manna to feed them, blood to protect them; He gives them sacrifices to expiate their sins, judges and kings to govern their nations, and prophets to chastise and call them to repentance. Directing a silent tableau of the whole mystery of salvation, He leads His people through exile, slavery, wandering, and finally, deliverance.

Then at the appointed time, He enters creation Himself, recapitulating and completing the work of previous ages, and ushering in the new Age of the Church. In that Church, the promise made to the Jews is extended to all humanity — where slain lambs once saved Israel, the Lamb once slain now saves all mankind.

Sister Rosena Marie takes the Church’s founding and structure, its sacraments and its teachings, and the evangelistic mission it carries out unto this day, and explains the part they play in God’s plan for our salvation.

That part is the Mystery of the Church.

Its Destiny is our own destiny: death, judgment, the passing of all things, and life eternal with Christ. Let these pages draw you deeper into that mystery, and guide you more surely towards that destiny.

I thought it was interesting that Sister Rosena used a "seven day" pattern to trace Salvation History--not an Eighth Day pattern with the Eighth Day being the last day of that history. As Eighth Day Books has long quoted Jean Danielou's The Bible and the Liturgy:

The number eight was, for ancient Christianity, the symbol of the Resurrection, for it was on the day after the Sabbath, and so the eighth day, that Christ rose from the tomb. Furthermore, the seven days of the week are the image of the time of this world, and the eighth day of life everlasting. Sunday is the liturgical commemoration of the eighth day, at the same time a memorial of the Resurrection and a prophecy of the world to come. . . . 

She divides the "week" of Salvation History 1) from Adam to Noah; 2) from Noah to Abraham; 3) from Abraham to David; 4) from David to Babylon; 5) from Babylon to Christ; 6) from Christ to the end of the time; 7) from the end of time to all eternity. She covers Old Testament and New Testament history, although she does not present an extended analysis of Jesus's life and teachings. She defends the hierarchical structure of the Church and provides an excellent overview of the Sacraments, concentrating on the Holy Eucharist. Sister Rosena offers her opinions on how to reconcile the story of Creation in Genesis with scientific theories of human evolution, and also cites Church teaching, especially Pope Pius XII's Humani Generis. In the last section of the book, she provides an excellent explanation of time and eternity. The book does not have an Imprimatur or Nihil Obstat, which surprised me. Nevertheless, I found it to be a well-written--that is, concise, precise, and thoughtful--and fascinating book.

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