Over the past few weeks, I have been inundated with activities related to book and dvd reviews. The most striking book that has been in my review pile is one by the new Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, Men of Brave Heart.

Archbishop Gomez in this work traces the historical and scriptural developments of Catholic priesthood through the perspective that Catholic priesthood is a vocation that takes the priest on a variety of journeys in his ministry.

In addition to the scriptural and historical references to the priesthood, Archbishop Gomez recalls true examples of priestly experiences gleaned from many fellow priests as illustrative of the great complexity of the vocational call to priesthood and how it is essential to the life and the future of the Catholic Church.

The book is extremely personal as the Archbishop recounts experiences in ministry that have transpired over his own priestly and episcopal ministries. However the most important point of the entire book is the real concentration devoted to understanding the balance between the sacred and secular aspects that require a Catholic priest’s commitment to personal and spiritual balance at all times.

Elements considered in Archbishop Gomez’s book are many, especially the everyday joys and celebrations that are incumbent to the Catholic priest. Additionally, the sorrows and stressful circumstances that present themselves to our Catholic clergy are highlighted as well, the stresses of ministry, the physical and psychological effects of priestly service and the demands of priestly celibacy.

Archbishop Gomez provides a remarkable unfolding of historical facts and scriptural references that support the premise that priests need to constantly, “Be invigorated, inspired and renewed!” through their sacramental ministry. His book also very clearly shows the critical role the Catholic priest plays in transmitting those same principles to faithful Catholic believers on a daily basis through their sacred ministry, sometimes dismissed as antiquated and out of sync in modern society. If anything, this book will indicate to readers of all levels the real need in the Catholic Church to support and provide for men to rise up and celebrate the vocation towards Catholic priesthood.

The title, Men of Brave Heart, illustrates clearly the fortitude necessary to aspire to Catholic priesthood in an increasingly secular world.  Most notably, the call to braveness for the Catholic priest is one that demands the total appreciation and understanding of the nature of a priestly vocation by the faithful, who are touched daily by the priest’s daily obligations to sacramental and secular obligations. In this Year of the Priest, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, this book should be read by every Catholic to achieve a prayerful and practical appreciation of the life and ministry of their local Catholic parish priests.

With secular media attention often noting negative points regarding our Catholic clergy, this book is a refreshing recollection of the spiritual and eternal aspirations our Catholic priests attempt to share with the faithful and profaned on a regular basis as their task that builds up the Body of Christ. Discerning Catholics and non-Catholics alike should read this book to appreciate and understand the intensely difficult task the priest often encounters in their daily activities, as well as the great joy and consolations they bring to all peoples that ask for a Catholic priest’s spiritual guidance in their lives.

The book is published by Our Sunday Visitor and is available at their website: http://www.osv.com
The price is $21.95

Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist writing on Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology. He writes frequently at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com & http://nothing-left-unsaid.blogspot.com . Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences at http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com   He has contributed works to Catholic News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, Dublin, the British Broadcasting Company, London and the Philadelphia Bulletin, Catholic Exchange, Pewsitter.com, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business Journal,CatholicMom.com. & Catholic.net Comments are always welcome at hjmn4566@gmail.com.


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