THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE BIBLE
by Peter Stravinskas
(Ignatius Press, 1996, 134pp, $23.90. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Father Peter Stravinskas is incardinated in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and is a distinguished scholar, author and apologist for the Catholic faith. In over 30 years of active priesthood, he has written hundreds of articles for Catholic newspapers and journals, in addition to 20 books of which The Catholic Church and the Bible is one.
He is an apologist, i.e., a writer who explains and defends the teachings of the Church in an intellectually satisfying way in the public arena. In a 2005 journal interview with Ignatius Insight, Father Peter remarked that he had been a seminarian during the late 1960s in the wake of Vatican II and the upheavals which gripped the Church in the United States following the release of Humanae Vitae (1968).
In his words, "lunacy" gripped the Theology Department in Seton Hall Seminary and many students found themselves using apologetics against their professors to defend the Catholic Faith! Father honed his skills in a tough school.
This book is directed at Catholic tertiary students and those who minister to them. However, the work can be read usefully by all those interested in the "hot button" issues it canvasses:
* The Catholic understanding of the Bible.
* God's Word and its purpose in the Church.
* A Biblical theology of the Mass and the place of the Bible in the Sacred Liturgy.
* A Question and Answer section which deals with pertinent and popular inquiries made by both Catholics and non-Catholics on these issues.
There is an Appendix, "Seven Principles essential to Fundamentalism", which states the critical differences between Catholicism and Protestant Fundamentalist teachings. This meets a need more obvious on US campuses where militant Protestants tend to be more active than in Australia and where some ill-instructed Catholics are drawn to the evangelical churches.
The most useful material deals with the Biblical basis of the Mass in which the central canon of the Eucharist is enshrined in a Liturgy of the Word which owes much to the Jewish synagogue service. The earliest Christians were Jews! The Jewish use of time, candles, incense and readings from the Old (as well as the New) Testament in the Mass reflect this fact.
This middle section on the Mass texts, cross-referenced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Scripture is, in itself, worth the modest cost of the book. I recommend it to you.
Dr Barry Coldrey CFC formerly taught in Christian Brothers colleges for many years, is actively involved in youth ministry and has written and lectured extensively.