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Issue Date:  August 26, 2005

Answered by Aquinas and canon law

Translated and edited by Jules M. Brady
Alba House, 51 pages, $5.95

Have you ever asked yourself: “Is lack of cheerfulness in a person morally evil?” Well, St. Thomas Aquinas has the answer for you. Jesuit Fr. Jules M. Brady, a retired philosophy professor from Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Mo., has put together Aquinas for Everyone, a brief collection of questions and answers culled from the Summa Theologiae, the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard and other writings of the Angelic Doctor. The little book starts off with a bio of Thomas Aquinas and a short introduction explaining certain principles of the saint’s thought and some issues regarding translation.

The questions are organized under two headings. Look under “Philosophy” to find out his answers to “Does God exist?” “Does evil that arises in the world contradict divine providence?” and “Does a human person seeking knowledge experience an internal conflict?” The “Theology” section includes: “Does happiness require the companionship of friends?” and “Since it is impossible to turn to God without grace, can anyone be held accountable for not turning to God?”

Fr. Brady writes, “The reader should study each selection in this book in the way that an art connoisseur scrutinizes a famous painting.” His book is an engaging introduction to the mind of this brilliant Dominican who spent his life probing the mysteries of God.

By Pete Vere and Michael Trueman
Servant Books, 162 pages, $9.99

Pete Vere and Michael Trueman, authors of Surprised by Canon Law, know that “to many Catholics -- including pastors -- this sacred science remains shrouded in mystery.” Mr. Vere and Mr. Trueman are both canon lawyers and married laymen with families. Their book is meant to address the kinds of questions about canon law that concern ordinary churchgoers.

Each of the 14 chapters in their book covers a different area of church law: marriage and annulment, Catholic schools and universities, diocesan structure, and so on. The frequently asked questions range from the general -- “What is canon law and why is it important?” “Can I attend and be a member of any parish I like?” -- to the specific: “Are parents required to use the name of a saint when giving their child a baptismal name?” (The answer to that one: No, but Canon 855 says that they are not to give a name “foreign to Christian sentiment.”) Other questions deal with how to give catechesis to mentally impaired children and how a deaf person might go to confession when the available priests don’t know sign language. Mr. Vere and Mr. Trueman explain the canons in accessible language, providing a user-friendly look at the laws that govern our church.

-- Antonia Ryan

National Catholic Reporter, August 26, 2005

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