This past week I was fortunate enough to receive a great review of my new book Word Without End published by journalist Francis Phillips in the British Catholic Herald. I am passing along a few excerpts from that article and will close with some of the more interesting quotes taken from the book itself such as, “God takes on corruptible flesh so that flesh may one day be freed from corruption.”
Francis Phillips headlined her article, Want to Stop Taking the Mass for Granted? It is a very appropriate tagline, I think, because it mirrors one of the book’s major themes,is to stop and reflect at a deeper level on both the Mass and the Incarnation as revealed in the Eucharistic banquet. Francis writes:
The ‘most real thing in our everyday existence should be the Eucharist’, according to author Francis J Pierson.
It is an unusually clear, thoughtful and persuasive explanation of the three great, interlinked miracles of the Christian faith, the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the Eucharist, and why they are so important.
Pierson emphasises that the Eucharist is the “greatest of all miracles” and that the “most real thing in our everyday existence should be the Eucharist because all other realities stem from this One Reality … We need to rediscover the mystery and wonder of that miraculous Real Presence which abides in every tabernacle.” In a sense, his book provides the reason for the awe and reverence due at Mass.
Behind all the history, theology and general culture that Pierson brings to play in his book is this ultimate reality. He writes: “Enter through a church door and kneel in adoration before the incarnate Word of God, as Catholics do at every Mass, and the mysteries of the universe will suddenly be seen in a new perspective.”
Reading his book makes me feel I will never again take the Mass for granted as, sadly and given human nature, it is so easy to do, and I am curious to know more about the author himself. His book gives little away, apart from the mention of his mother’s lack of a father in her early life and how, despite the loving Catholic home she created, this lack had a lasting emotional impact on her. So I asked Francis Pierson what had inspired him to write it. He tells me: “I think my sense that many Catholics were attending Mass more as a perfunctory obligation, little realising the true depth and impact it really has on our Christian vocation, spurred me on.” He expands: “At the same time it seemed to me that modern man’s understanding of his own humanity was lacking something essential, which is that we possess a spiritual nature tightly wound up with our bodily natures. Through the Incarnation, Christ’s humanity becomes a mirror on our own humanity. The Mass is where our humanity most saliently meets his humanity. In fact, the Incarnate Word of God, through the agency of the Mass, actually integrates, fulfills, and perfects our human existence.”
Pierson believes passionately that Catholics “need to bring faith and reason together again, so that mankind can perceive the unified whole rather than the disparate parts.”
He is clear that intellectual disciplines, including science, are “not meant to be pigeon-holed into separate containers. They are meant to inform and shed light on one another.” He fears this does not happen in the academic world and thinks “the social dysfunction we perceive all around us is a sad consequence of the isolation of knowledge. The Catholic worldview is, by contrast, the universal view because it integrates the different areas of knowledge so seamlessly and beautifully.”
He relates that his own parents were lifelong daily communicants “yet strangely, I think it was my Czech grandmother, whom I never knew, who indirectly influenced me the most. Married to my non-Catholic grandfather and the mother of ten children, she died, aged 47, from TB. Yet her Catholic influence was so pervasive that not only did Grandpa continue raising his children as Catholics, but 23 years after her death, he himself entered the Church at the age of 80.”
Pierson says: “Their story convinces me of the penetrating power of the Catholic faith, for it apparently has the power to convert hearts even from beyond the grave. My grandparents’ lives were a glorious testimonial to me of the truth and potency of the Faith, as transmitted faithfully through my parents.”
Finally, I ask Pierson for his views on the West today. He replies soberly: “Faith and culture have diverged. The culture has pulled away from its Christian roots. Science has, in effect, emancipated itself from any objective truth and government funding of the academies has effectively politicised education to the point that independent critical thinking is being neutralised if not fully suppressed.”
He concludes: “This divorce of faith from science has led mankind to the brink of self-annihilation. Only God can accomplish what is impossible for man to accomplish and He works today through the Church. Faith must therefore be restored before our world can be restored. If we can re-instil faith in society to buttress reason as it once did, science will experience a golden age. We already have the tools. All that is lacking is faith in God’s own Incarnate Word.”
Interestingly enough, this wonderful article was posted on the same day as the UK voted to leave the Eureopean Union. You can read the full article (from which I have only excerpted) at http://www.catholicherald.co.uk
Finally, as a teaser for the book itself, I am closing with a few succinct aphorism to be found within. If you are curious to read more, Word Without End is now available in Catholic bookstores in Denver, Lincoln, and Omaha. You can also go to my web page piersonworks.com to order it on line. So consider these thoughtful gems:
“The question, “What is real” is ultimately a search for God.”
“The Power of Love in fact defeats man’s love of power, and the cross is the supreme manifestation of that reality.”
“A miracle is not an event which compels us to believe but rather invites us to believe.”
“The truly superstitious are not those who believe but those who fear belief.”
“It is as if our race has decided, by virtue of discovering its relative insignificance, that it now has the right and duty to take over the controls from God.”
“Faith is not a comfortable point of arrival but a process of growth which stretches us, sometimes uncomfortably, as growing pains often do.”
“God became a man so that men might be like gods.”
“The question is not whether the (natural) wonders of creation can lead us to contemplate God, but whether they lead us far enough.”
“Love is what binds the family perfectly. God is the perfect family because God is perfect love.”
“God takes on corruptible flesh so that flesh may one day be freed from corruption.”
“In Holy Communion God whispers into our ears the things that he wants us, and only us, to hear. At that moment we stand on the threshold of heaven because heaven is in us, bodily.”
May God bless you,
Fran Pierson +a.m.d.g.