Mike Aquilina

Mothers’ Day

Saturday May 12th 2012, 3:34 pm

My book Mothers of the Church: The Witness of Early Christian Women, co-authored with my friend Christopher Bailey, has been getting some great press. Here are the two most recent notices.

Brian Caulfield interviewed me for the Knights of Columbus’s Fathers for Good site. He led off with the rather provocative question: “You did a book on the Fathers of the Church, and now on Mothers. Is there real substance to the lives of early Christian women?” He got my Irish up. It turned into a great conversation.

Kathleen Manning reviewed the book in the pages of U.S. Catholic magazine.

I’ve also been doing a lot of radio on this topic. Nothing I’ve done has drawn so many callers. When you think about the great women of the early Church — Thecla, Perpetua, Agnes, Macrina, Marcella, Paula, Eustochium, Monica, Olympias — it’s easy to see why.

All you holy women, pray for us.

All of Aquinas on the Bible

Wednesday April 11th 2012, 11:47 am

Hear ye! Lovers of St. Thomas Aquinas … translators of Latin … serious students of Sacred Scripture … Our friends at Logos Software are launching a huge project: to bring out all the Angelic Doctor’s Bible commentaries in a Latin-English edition. This is a worthy endeavor that YOU can promote by pre-ordering your copy — or by signing on as a translator. Check it out.

Sense Nonsense — and You!

Friday March 23rd 2012, 2:26 pm

You’d love my friend Francisco Garcia-Julve. He’s a philosopher from Spain who married a woman from Pittsburgh and retired here. Francisco’s a polymath, with advanced degrees in psychology, linguistics, and physics (to name only a few). He just published his first book in English, Sense Nonsense. In it, Francisco poses provocative questions about God, free will, secularity, and right and wrong. He does it in the form of aphorisms, and his are as memorable as those of his philosophical predecessors, Pascal and La Rochefoucauld and Nietzsche. Of those three, I suppose he’s most like Pascal, since Francisco, too, is a Catholic and a scientist.

Anyway, I love this book. Sense-Nonsense makes readers re-consider their most basic categories for understanding the human condition, human behavior, and human destiny. For many people, “to think” is to move from unexamined assumptions to inevitable conclusions without ever asking why — without ever knowing how to ask.

Francisco asks the hard questions and proposes exhilarating approaches to new answers. Like Pascal, he packs his ideas into paradoxical aphorisms that provoke a reconsideration — and re-valuation — of even the most ordinary things.

It’s a book for a culture whose standard ideas have proven dismally wrong in practice. It’s a book whose time is now.

Check it out on Amazon. It’s available as paper or as electrons. (I own both.) You can also check out the website my Beloved Son created for the book.

UPDATE: Here’s a thoughtful review of the book at Aliens in This World.

New Book on Early Christian Art

Saturday March 03rd 2012, 9:44 pm

Some years back I collaborated with the Czech artist Lea Ravotti on the book Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols. Readers of that book might be interested in this title just out by Anastasia Lazaridou: Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd-7th Century AD.

If you don’t know Signs and Mysteries, though, do check it out, if only for Lea’s artwork! (If I hadn’t given up punning for Lent, I would have said czech it out. Isn’t that prague-ress? … Oh, there I go again, back to Ash Wednesday.)

Soul Train: The Syriac Edition

Sunday February 26th 2012, 8:00 pm

BMCR reviews To Train His Soul in Books: Syriac Asceticism in Early Christianity, edited by Robin Darling Young and Monica Blanchard. This is going right to my wish list.

To Train His Soul in Books is a volume of essays written in honor of Sidney H. Griffith. Most scholars of late antiquity have encountered at least one arm of Griffith’s scholarship. He is well-known for his translations and exposition of Syriac texts, which have given Syriac Christianity the attention it deserves to stand alongside Greek and Latin Christianities. Specifically, within this field, he has contributed ground-breaking scholarship on Ephrem the Syrian and on Syriac asceticism. Griffith is known too for his studies in Arabic Christianity and Christian-Muslim dialogue from the ancient to the contemporary period. The reach of his scholarship has been as wide as it has been deep…

The essays in the volume represent extensions of Griffith’s work on Ephrem the Syrian and on subsequent traditions of Syriac-speaking Christianity. Like the scholarship of Griffith himself, some essays make available new translations of Syriac texts. In chapter one, Joseph P. Amar provides readers with an English translation of the Vespers liturgy for the feast of the Announcement to the Bearer of God, Mary. The translation is accompanied by a nice discussion of intercalated psalmody in the liturgical tradition of the Syriac Maronite church. In chapter two, Francisco Javier Martínez translates into Spanish three of Ephrem’s Hymns On Virginity, introducing his translations with a discussion of extant manuscripts and of the hymns’ relation to Syriac ascetic and liturgical traditions. Finally, in chapter nine, Monica Blanchard translates into English selections from a yet-to-be-published Syriac manuscript by East Syrian monk Beh Isho’ Kamulaya, selections in which the author focuses on “purity of heart.”

Once Upon a Time …

Tuesday February 21st 2012, 9:07 am

The Emperor Julian (“the Apostate”), in his drive to re-paganize the empire, tried to weaken Christian opposition by dividing it, setting one faction against another. He restored heretical bishops who had been deposed, so that major cities would have two competing bishops. He offered prominent Catholics high positions, so that he could neutralize them while claiming their support. Meanwhile, he made the requirements for schoolteachers so stringently pagan that no Christian could fulfill them. Banished from the public square, Christianity could be minimized as a cultural force. According to a recent biographer, Julian “marginalised Christianity to the point where it could potentially have vanished within a generation or two, and without the need for physical coercion.” Said Julian: “If they want to learn literature, they have Luke and Mark: Let them go back to their churches and expound on them.” Julian wished to remove Christians from public discourse – drive them into a cultural ghetto.

The Last Pagan

Monday February 06th 2012, 11:22 pm

Adrian Murdoch has been posting short videos on each of the Roman emperors, and he’s finally come to Julian. Adrian is author of The Last Pagan, which I reviewed for Touchstone Magazine. We share a fascination for the old Apostate.

For the Priests You Know

Saturday February 04th 2012, 10:03 pm

Father Michael Giesler has given me many occasions to blog on his scholarship in patristics (here and here), biblical theology — and especially his fiction. Father Michael is the author of a trilogy of page-turner novels set in the second century (with cameo appearances by Justin Martyr).

Now he applies his priestly wisdom in a new book aimed at the clergy: Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests. It’s the ideal gift to give the priests you love — and you surely love many of them. So buy by the crate!

Tomorrow on EWTN

Sunday January 15th 2012, 9:35 pm

Tomorrow — Monday, Jan. 16 — I’m on EWTN’s “Women of Grace” with Johnnette Benkovic, talking about “Suffering, Sorrow, and God’s Plan.” Our conversation focuses on my book Why Me? When Bad Things Happen. The show airs 11 a.m. EST and re-airs that evening at 11:30 EST.

Next day (Tuesday), my songwriting partner, Dion, talks with Johnnette about “The Day the Music Died.” Hope to see you there!

Feed Your Reader

Monday January 09th 2012, 8:15 pm

A new site is hosting dozens of free Catholic books, including works by the Ambrose, Augustine, and other Fathers.

From the Mailbag

Friday January 06th 2012, 9:59 pm

Got a nice note yesterday about my book The Fathers of the Church.

I had major abdominal surgery last week and am starting my recovery with Scott Hahn’s St. Matthew commentary and your The Fathers of the Church.

And…wow…wow…that is how I need to start!

Your book is phenomenal, and I am not even to page 50 yet!

So much of my faith and past studies are coming together now!

This is such a gift…I cannot thank you enough for all of your hard work in learning and creating this valuable information on our Church … the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church!

It keeps me typing!


Thursday January 05th 2012, 11:43 pm

Among my favorite Christmas presents was a copy of James Papandrea’s The Wedding of the Lamb: A Historical Approach to the Book of Revelation. It’s my bedtime reading, and I’m loving it. Jim teaches patristics at Garrett (Northwestern) in Chicago, and it shows. This is the most intensely patristic read of the Apocalypse you’ll find.

Now comes word that his new book is out: Novatian of Rome and the Culmination of Pre-Nicene Orthodoxy (a Princeton Theological Monograph). It’s already on my wish list. How about yours?

Dr. Papandrea and I are the lineup for the third annual “Patristipalooza” — an all-day festival of the Fathers at St. Lambert Parish in Skokie, Illinois. Mark your calendar now: Saturday, October 13, 2012. And watch this blog for more details.

Free and E and Little

Wednesday September 28th 2011, 11:04 pm

An Australian blogger is offering you several chances to win a free e-dition of the book A Little Way of Homeschooling, a collection that includes essays by Yours Truly and Mine Truly (my wife, Terri).

Blessed the Barron

Monday August 22nd 2011, 6:16 pm

The long-awaited book Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith is out and buyable!

When Father Barron is talking, I can’t stop listening. Whatever he writes, I can’t put down unfinished. He loves the people he addresses. He writes about what matters to us. To read him is to be loved in word after word. In these pages, heart speaks to heart.

Don’t miss it!

Little Way of Homeschooling

Friday August 19th 2011, 6:18 pm

Stratford Caldecott has posted his thoughts on A Little Way of Homeschooling, a book to which my wife and I contributed essays. Stratford’s done it not once, but twice: here and here. I’m quite fond of the book.