Saturday, December 2, 2006

Book Review: Priest - Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today

I have been reading the book, "Priest - Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today" by Michael S. Rose. I got the book within the first few weeks of arriving at Assumption Grotto, in May of 2005, after learning through web searches that the pastor of Assumption Grotto, Fr. Eduard Perrone, was one of those ten priests potrayed (scroll down in this link to "Hello, Good Men" for a preview of the section on Fr. Perrone at Catholic Answers). Of course, I read that part right out of the shoot, but became engrossed with something else before I could read about the other priests until now.

Folks, I have been unable to put this book down. Each profile I've read so far has had so many twists and turns that it makes a good novel look like a Sunday ride out in the cornfields. Yet, the number of pages on each priest is not that long. The book is less than 200 pages long, but packs more punch than lengthy series.

These are what role models look like. Jesus Christ did not go with the flow and neither do these guys. They go against the grain, which is precisely what Our Lord did. For those who think they want to be priests, you can explore the various ways such a vocation can be filled through this book. Each has shunned the very things valued by the world in order to bring others to sanctity.

While it is great reading for anyone serious about the faith, in my humble opinion, any male considering the priesthood should place this short book at the top of his long list of outstanding reading. In fact, I'm going to say that it should have the same placement for males or females considering religious life. All of these are very orthodox Catholic priests who have done, and are doing, extraordinary things in the Church. Thus far, I have only read 3.5 of the profiles and I can tell you that they are highly contrasting and complementing of each other in their own way. Yet, they share several things in common that I can see: Solid Catholic doctrinal orthodoxy, very strong prayer-life, and sacrifice.

These men will show you as one priest in the book said, "The priesthood is not for wimps" (you'll have to read the book to learn which one). So far, each has had to deal with dissidence and progressivism in some way and they reveal the time-tested secrets to surviving in a Church where secularism and relativism is found among many clerics and religious. In fact, some have left religious orders that had gotten far too loose for more orthodox ventures - one starting his own religious order with a more pure version of the original charism. They are the few, the proud, and the true examples of the priesthood today.

While the profiles take you through some very disheartening segments in each of their lives, in the end, like the Resurrection, there is triumph! It shows the joy that can come with seemingly impossible tasks when the Holy Spirit is allowed to pilot the priestly soul.

The book opens with the profile of a man who wanted to be a priest from the time he made his first Communion. However, by the time he got to ordination he hit a spiritual lowpoint after years of progressivism in the seminary watered down his understanding of the faith. His example shows how subtle and stealthy the loosening of doctrine and short-changing one's prayer-life can have devastating results. It was his shift to a very strong prayer life with Marian and Eucharistic devotion, and to orthodoxy (which many label as "rigid") along with a spirit of poverty which pulled him out of that abyss and into pure holiness. From there his accomplishments were dizzying. I could not believe one man could do so much.

The unbelievable has been repeated with each priests I've read about thus far. In the coming weeks, I am going to do an ongoing review of of this book by accumulating resources on the web pertaining to each of the men. We'll call this project, "Priest Profiles". I will gradually link all of those from this book into this post. Those who have read the book can continue discussions in the appropriate posts as they appear, or in this one.

I have given the link to Amazon above, and as you can see, there are used ones available for about half the price. Or, you can support the Grotto Gift Shop by purchasing one there if you live local.