Paul Simmons

by Luis Colomer. Translated from the Spanish by Palmer L. Rockey.
(164 pp, HB. St Anthony Guild Press. RRP $16.50. Available from Freedom Publishing.)

Originally published in the 1950s, this book has the characteristic structure of works of this period, having two parts: the church's relationship with the visible world, and the church's relationship with the invisible (spiritual) world.

The discussion of the natural environment is rather quaintly titled, "The Church and the Lower Creatures". If one goes beyond the title, it is a useful discussion of the fact that all creation is part of God's providence, and is entitled to respect and honour.

The author discusses the fact that the church often blesses material things, and is so doing, recognises their intrinsic value, and honours them as part of creation. The discussion of the beauty of the natural world is brief and, by modern standards, inadequate.

However, the author's description of man in God's plan for creation is far stronger, emphasising mankind's unique position in creation, and the existence of an immortal sole which is meant to enjoy the perfect happiness of the beatific vision of God in heaven.

The link between the material and the spiritual reality of man is explored, as is the need for the Church to care for both dimensions of human existence. There is a very interesting and useful discussion of the fact that through baptism, all Christians are, in fact "members of the Church as a supernatural visible society" which gives them the opportunity to enjoy the fullness of salvation.

 It emphasises the responsibility of the Church, and the Christian community, to work for the rehabilitation of human dignity from oppression and poverty.

It has very powerful criticisms of "the unjust use of power and the cold egoism of those who exploit the poorer classes."

It argues that the Church "cannot enter into the life of the wealthy as a class, or the social actions of those possessing power", which is perhaps too wide a rejection of those who have privilege, and must share it with others.

It recognises the natural order, particularly the family, as essential to God's plan for mankind, and for the Church's work to evangelise the world. It emphasises the importance of parents as the primary educators of children, and the rights and responsibilities of parents to their children and the church for their development.

There are many other insights in this book which make it interesting to read – although this reviewer found its style somewhat archaic.

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