Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Matthew Kelly

Last Sunday while I was at STA I found that someone had left a copy of Rediscovering Catholicism, by Matthew Kelly, on one of the back tables. I assume it was free for the taking, but I did not do so. I did take a look at it to see if it was the same Matthew Kelly who claimed to receive private revelations from God the Father more than 15 years ago. There certainly is a physical resemblance, and both were born in Australia. Research on the internet indicates that he is the one and the same.

A quick glance at the book's contents didn't reveal any obvious problems. It does appear to be a treatment of the message of Christianity and Catholic spirituality intended for a popular audience. (Regarding his private revelations, I remember 6 or 7 years ago reading something that listed various errors in the messages and thus claimed the revelations were false. There may be a copy of his book still at home somewhere, but I don't plan on looking into the matter in the near future.) If the basic and most important pastoral lesson that the Vatican II Council Fathers wanted to get across was the universal call to holiness (Lumen Gentium V), it was because many of the faithful were ignorant then of their vocation, and many are ignorant today. Hence there is a need for workers in the vineyard, those who can teach the Faith and explain how what we Catholics often take for granted, the sacramental system, bishops, and other gifts from Christ, lead to happiness [and salvation]. Books can be useful aids but they cannot replace human teachers.

Perhaps it can be said that with respect to the renewal of evangelization and catechesis, it is not a question of how to make Christianity 'new' or 'fresh' but of how to prepare others for the Gospel message so that they can see that the answer to their existential crises is Jesus Christ.

Is it justified to be suspicious of someone who feels called to preach the Gospel, but not in an already established role as a cleric or a religious who has been authorized to preach? (Was there not a problem with some lay people taking it upon themselves to preach during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? Is my impression that many of them were associated with various [heretical] movements correct?) The laity do participate in the teaching mission of the Church, receiving authority from the bishop to act as catechists and so on. But it must be emphasized that they, and even religious who have been authorized to preach, are subject to some Church authority--if not to the local bishop then to the Roman Pontiff.

I would have to look at the book more carefully to decide if it would be worth recommending, but even if it is solidly orthodox, it doesn't seem to be the kind of book I would add to the library.

Apparently you can request a free copy of the book here. (You just need to pay for shipping.)

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