Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Book Recommendation - Peter Kreeft’s Reflections on the Scripture Readings at Mass, Year C

Food for the Soul - Reflections on the Mass Readings Cycle C by Peter Kreeft, published by Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.

This is the first in order of publication (although it is Cycle C) of what will be a complete set of three commentaries by Peter Kreeft on the Scripture readings at Mass - one for each cycle, A, B, and C.

It covers all three readings for every Sunday and major Feast in the year, devoting serious thought to every reading, typically two or three pages for each commentary, and so 8-10 pages per Sunday, with personal insights as well as traditional interpretations of Scripture.

The texts bear the characteristic mark of Kreeft’s writing: precision of thought, and his Chestertonian brand of wit. There is an additional quality that comes through his writing, and although I don’t see this referred to commonly by reviewers of Kreeft’s books, I think this might be what draws so many people to his work so powerfully (and it’s not just Catholics; I know Protestants who enjoy his work as well). This is joy. I do not know Peter Kreeft personally, and I would be curious to know if this quality would be apparent if I met him, but I would say that what has always struck me about his writing at least is that it communicates, through his writing style as much as the content, that it is worth being a Christian because the Faith gives us the possibility of an authentically happy life. For all else that we can say about Christianity, this is the much-neglected truth that would draw all the lost sheep back into the fold if only we could communicate it to them. Kreeft is one that does communicate this.
I received my copy of this book in mid-December, and so, given my attraction to his joyful style, I decided to see how Kreeft dealt with the readings on Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday in Advent in which the emphasis is on rejoicing. (Gaudete, as many of you will know already, is Latin for “Rejoice”, and the first word in the Introit for the day.)
The Old Testament reading is Zephaniah, 3, 14-18, which begins,
Shout for joy O daughter of Zion! Sing joyfully O Israel! Be glad and exult in all your heart O daughter Jerusalem.

The prophet then lists seven promises. Kreeft describes each of these in turn and then concludes with the following:

The seventh promise is that “he will sing joyfully because of you.” We will be his song. Now, we will sing about him; then, he will sing about us. If we now glorify Him, he then will glorify us. The reason he has not shown us a picture of our new self, our heavenly self - the reason he has not told us what it looks like - is probably because if we saw it now, we would either not believe it - not believe that that beautiful creature is us - or else we would be strongly tempted to worship it.

Whatever it is that God has in store for us, it is always better, wiser, more loving, more joyful, more beautiful, and more worthy of song than we can imagine. The best description we have is this, we will be like Jesus.

And, as the writer on sacred art for this column, I would add, if you want to know what Jesus looks like, look at the traditional art of the Church!

Purchase the book here.

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