By LORAINE V. MURRAY-Book Reviewer | Published February 16, 2015
THE CATHOLIC PASSION: Rediscovering the Power and the Beauty of the Faith; by David Scott; Loyola Press, 2005; 265 pp.; hardback; $19.99.
Catholicism can be confusing to outsiders because Catholics share elaborate rituals, traditions and a vast history. No wonder many folks feel baffled when they confront media stereotypes of Catholicism.
Fortunately, David Scott has written a compelling book that debunks the stereotypes and shows the stunning power of Catholicism as it is cherished in the lives of everyday people.
It is perfectly titled “The Catholic Passion.”
“This is a book about Catholics,” Scott explains in his preface, “Who we are, what we believe, and why we believe and do the things we do.”
This is an eminently readable book for adult-education groups, whether the participants are lifelong Catholics, longing to deepen their faith, or non-Catholics, setting out on the path of conversion.
The book opens with a lyrical description of the Incarnation, written in terms that breathe new life into the story we’ve heard since childhood. Scott emphasizes that the Incarnation is a chapter in the ongoing story of God’s love for mankind.
“In his divine-human person, Jesus showed us the depths of the communion that God desires with the human family.”
The book shimmers with examples of men and women who were so awed by the love story of the Incarnation that they completely changed their lives.
There was Charles Foucauld who walked 125 miles to Nazareth to live the same obscure life that Jesus had lived during the many years that preceded His ministry.
“Charles’ search for Jesus of Nazareth was the most Catholic of impulses,” Scott writes.
Other religions encourage the search for God to find peace and transcendence, but what makes Catholicism unique, says Scott, is the belief that “the tables have been turned, that God has come in search of us.”
“We believe God came to Nazareth to share his life with the human family he had created, that he came to reveal a plan of love that includes you and me and every person ever born or yet to be born.”
The story of social activist and writer Dorothy Day shows God’s love beautifully.
“Wounded in action” in the Jazz Age’s sexual revolution, Day was left pregnant and abandoned. After an abortion, she met another man and had a child out of wedlock with him.
In 1927, Day surrendered to God, whom she felt had been pursuing her for years. She became a Catholic, devoting her life to taking care of homeless people in New York City.
Scott emphasizes that God wants each of us to realize the depths of God’s love, and a quote from Dorothy Day says it all:
“I was … far from home and lonely, and I awoke in the night almost on the verge of weeping with a sense of futility, of being unloved and unwanted. And suddenly the thought came to me of my importance as a daughter of God … I felt a sureness of God’s love and … a conviction that one of the greatest injustices … which one can do to God is to … not realize his love.”
The book shapes lyrical descriptions of the seven sacraments and emphasizes that the Catholic approach to the sacraments is linked to the belief that the whole world is imbued with God’s glory.
Which is why ordinary things like bread, wine, water and oil take on a miraculous significance.
It is refreshing to read a book authored by someone who is not afraid to tell it like it is. Scott is quite adamant that Catholicism is not just one religion among many, but, instead, “the world’s sole salvation.”
Other religions of the world, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, contain beauty and truths, but “no matter how sublime the other religions of the world, only the Catholic Church contains all the gifts that God wants to bestow on his children.”
Still, as Scott points out, this fact about the truth of Catholicism does not entitle us to judge who will go to heaven and who will not.
“The church has never identified a single soul who has been damned by God, not even Judas Iscariot.”
In the chapter called “Living as the Image of God,” Scott beautifully explains the Catholic Church’s position on why life is sacred.
Jesus’ attitude toward children was starkly different from the attitudes of the Romans and Greeks of the time, who held that children were inferior and not fully human.
And today, that attitude is revealed in church teachings, which hold that “every child is an image of the eternal Son of God, who came to us an infant in the womb.”
With chapters on prayer, the Mass and the life of the world to come, this book is a real feast for readers hungering for a heartfelt and vivid read.
Scott’s book truly shows us how “God meets us in our sufferings and in our joys, offers His life to us, and tries to teach us this passion of love.”
Lorraine V. Murray is a regular columnist in The Georgia Bulletin and the Atlanta Journal- Constitution and the author of three books on faith and spirituality.