Choosing Catholic Publishers and Books

December 28, 2007

Following up on yesterday’s post about the anti-holiness kids book published by Paulist Press, I thought it might be helpful to go through the various publishers we deal with to help you make decisions as individual readers and also as Catholic store owners when you are trying to choose titles to carry.

This is very important to us because of our Good Faith Guarantee.

Basically, we divide our publishers into five groups:

  1. Pope Benedict’s Library. These publishers make a point of carrying books that promote and defend the Faith. You can pretty much order any book from them without worry that the content is questionably Catholic. These books are also distinguished by their substantial content – no fluff here.
  2. The University of Steubenville Library – Very good books for the most part with a few fluffy titles and possible a stray questionable title in the mix. Ninety-five percent of the time you can buy from them without a worry.
  3. The Parish Library – You can find some very good stuff here, you can find some very bad stuff here. It all depends on who the librarian was.
  4. The Matthew Fox Circle of Energy Reading Room – Don’t buy anything from this publisher unless you find it on our site. They don’t have any problem publishing heresy with a few stray orthodox titles that somehow got mixed in.
  5. The Marcus Aurelius Library – These are books from publishers that aren’t Catholic and the books may not necessarily be specifically Catholic but have a Catholic world view.

Before I actually provide the list, please be aware that we aren’t the arbiters of orthodoxy, we just go by what the Church teaches and make our own judgments based on that. If you happen to be a publisher and think you are being unfairly categorized please contact us so we can update our list. This list isn’t meant to be a blanket condemnation of any publishers either. There are always a few good books available from any of these companies and by buying those books you will encourage them to produce more good titles.

I have moved the list over to our bookstore so it can be kept current there.
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Publishers Killing the Faith – Example 45,300

December 27, 2007

We were accidentally mis-shipped a book last week from Paulist Press. The book is entitled “Elizabeth, Who is NOT a Saint”. The front cover features a picture of a little girl chewing gum while wearing an angel costume with one of the wings broken off.

The book tells how the girl isn’t a little saint like other kids because she crawls under tables at restaurants, tells her aunt she doesn’t like her food, spits in her mom’s ear, cuts her dresses and bounces on beds.

Her grandmother has a talk with her to tell her that she has a strong spirit and that these things aren’t the proper use of that spirit. The story ends with Elizabeth saying

“I’m glad I have a strong spirit inside me, even if it does mean getting myself into real trouble sometimes.

Because now I can be just Elizabeth, who will never EVER be a little saint… or a big one, either.”

Does anyone notice anything wrong with this story?

How about some Catholic childrens’ books from Catholic publishers instead?

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Some Thoughts on the “New Springtime”

December 13, 2007

I have frequently heard Catholics snidely comment that the “new springtime” of the Church that Pope John Paul II repeatedly mentioned is a heck of a lot more like winter than Spring – seminaries are empty, Catholics don’t go to Church, churches are gutted far worse than anything the Protestants ever did, etc. How can this possibly be a new springtime?

Here is the answer. Spring is when new life STARTS to grow. It isn’t when everything is in full bloom and ready to harvest. The Church has a saying that “The blood of the martyrs are the seeds of the Church“. More than any time in the past 100 years it is quite clear that the period right before and for at least thirty years following Vatican II were a new Winter of the Church. Orthodox Catholics were pushed out, Churches were destroyed, sacred music and liturgy were made a mockery of and good seminaries were shut down while most of the remaining ones rotted the Church’s foundation.

But during this time, the blood of martyrs was planted. For the most part the martyrs didn’t experience physical death but every grandma who was told to quit praying the rosary during adoration, every seminarian who was thrown out for being rigid, every defender of the Faith who was mocked and ostracized in his parish experienced a “soft martyrdom”. Many of those people abandoned the Church in despair but there were saints among them who stayed. Saints who stayed and faded into the background but never quit praying for the revival of the Church. These are the people who just wouldn’t learn that there was a new spirit in the Church that didn’t have a place for Catechesis, chant, beauty or truth. These are the seminarians that endured years of heretical teaching in seminaries because they knew they had vocations and weren’t going to let the school shrink have the last word.

The fruits of the planting are starting to bud now. And like early spring, it is sometimes hard to spot the tulip bulb poking up through the snow or the new growth on the bare trees. But it is there. Here’s proof:

  • Pope Benedict. His election can only be attributed to the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Can anyone explain how he could get elected so quickly after his very blunt homilies at John Paul II’s funeral and the Mass opening the conclave?
  • Seminaries in America are reporting classes larger than any since before Vatican II. The Denver seminary has over 60 seminarians just for Denver. Colorado Springs has eleven seminarians. It’s average before our new bishop arrived was two. Various other diocese have reported a larger number of ordinations than anytime in the past fifty years. The Nashville Dominicans, Fraternity of St. Peter, Society of St. John and many others are overflowing with vocations.
  • Catholic religious education is starting to show signs of orthodoxy again. Faith and Life and the Didache series are the yardstick to measure any other religious ed material against. For decades nothing was even on the same field let alone in the running. The bishops approved text list has an extremely low bar – nothing openly heretical can be in the books. The Faith and Life series was the only series to make the list on first review. the Didache series for high school wasn’t out yet. Now, there are a lot more approved series. Most aren’t very good but at least they aren’t blatantly heretical anymore.
  • The liturgy is experiencing a revival. The Pope’s letter, Sumorum Pontificum is sending ripples throughout the Church with reports almost every day of new Masses being celebrated with reverence, real sacred music and Latin. And who is leading the way in the parishes? The new priests who survived the seminaries during the last decades.
  • Younger Catholics are actually taking their Faith seriously. As much as people rightly complain about John Paul II’s lack of leadership when it came to his bishops, his effect on Catholic youth was incredible and is where the springtime is starting. If you ask many of the young priests and seminarians in Denver when they started thinking about a vocation, it was at World Youth Day in Denver.
  • The Anglican / Episcopal exodus back to the Church.
  • The reunification of several Orthodox churches with Rome. (I’m checking on this. I know that a group came back in 1930 and I was sure I read of a couple of small rites coming back within the last twenty years but I could be hallucinating.)

There are plenty of other signs of the New Springtime. Granted, there are places such as Rochester and Los Angeles and pretty much all of Europe that are still deep in winter and may never come out but at least there are now places you can point to where things are going right. Here are some resources I recommend for getting a more optimistic attitude about the Church.

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Kissing the Face of God Christmas Card In Stock and On Sale

December 12, 2007

Kissing the Face of God Christmas Card This beautiful “Kissing the Face of God” Christmas Card, by well-known American painter Morgan Weistling, features a picture of Mary kissing the face of the Infant Jesus. The inscription in the inside reads: “Wishing you the Love, Peace, and Happiness that the true meaning of Christmas brings.” The size is: 6 3/4 by 4 7/8in. Box of 25 with envelopes.


A Catholic Response to the Golden Compass

December 6, 2007

By now you have probably read plenty of reviews about The Golden Compass from the His Dark Materials trilogy such as these here, here and here. You may have also read that the USCCB (that would be the US Conference of CATHOLIC bishops) film office has given a positive review to the film.

There is now a book available that goes in depth into the books and the philosophy of the author, Philip Pullman. The Pied Piper of Atheism was written by Pete Vere and Sandra Miesel to help parents and other concerned individuals make an informed decision about these books and movies. It should be pretty clear that these films are not the Lord of the Rings and are not suitable viewing for kids.

UPDATE: Here is a collection of links from our local Catholic paper with more resources and a great review of Pullman’s work.


Josh Groban is Getting Noticed

December 1, 2007

Someone mentioned yesterday that Josh Groban had been featured on Good Morning America singing some Christmas songs off his Noel album. We’ve been carrying Josh’s CDs for a couple of years and he has a great voice.


A Simple Guide for Understanding Icons

November 29, 2007

Catholics United for the Faith gave us permission to reprint this handy guide on the history and symbolism of icons.

What are icons? In Eastern Christian heritage, icons are sacred images of Christ, Mary, and the saints, or of events in salvation history such as the Nativity or the Crucifixion. The very word “icon” comes from the Greek word for “image.”

To people unfamiliar with icons, including many Western Christians, icons may initially seem weird, unappealing, or even disturbing. They don’t look quite “right.” Their silence and stillness is demanding, untame, and even terrifying. But with education and experience, people grow to appreciate and love them.

Icons are more than decorative art or educational illustrations. Icons are “theology in color.” An icon is a place to receive grace through faith, a sacramental: Its purpose is to transport us into a transfigured world, to plant that transfigured world within us, to bring us face-to-face with a living presence and change us (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1667-1679).

Iconography is rooted in the Incarnation. St. Paul wrote that Christ “is the image [literally, icon] of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). “In former times,” wrote St. John of Damascus, “God, who is without form or body, could never be depicted. But now when God is seen in the flesh conversing with men, I make an image of the God whom I see” (cf. Catechism, nos. 1159-1162).

Read the rest.

Browse our icons or our whole Eastern Catholicism section.

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