Expressions of the Catholic Faith: A Guide to the Teachings and Practice of Catholic Church

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For many practicing Catholics, the meanings behind the prayers we repeat, the rules we follow, and the rituals we perform have been lost or forgotten since we learned about them in parochial school or catechism class. In EXPRESSIONS OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH, renowned scholar and religion columnist Kevin Orlin Johnson answers the most frequently asked questions on Catholic faith, worship, culture, and customs.

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Overview

For many practicing Catholics, the meanings behind the prayers we repeat, the rules we follow, and the rituals we perform have been lost or forgotten since we learned about them in parochial school or catechism class. In EXPRESSIONS OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH, renowned scholar and religion columnist Kevin Orlin Johnson answers the most frequently asked questions on Catholic faith, worship, culture, and customs.

For the 58 million Catholics in the U.S.--and all those interested in the faith--this guide presents fascinating explanations of common Catholic beliefs and practices. From the evolution of the Mass to the reasons why the Catholic Bible differs from the Protestant Bible, here is an illuminating guide to the history and workings of Catholicism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Johnson's title may lead readers to expect a volume that explains Catholicism's unique rites, symbols and beliefs to believers of other traditions. Not so. The book is, instead, an apologia for many Catholic traditions-the denial of ordinations to women, a celibate clergy, etc.-and addresses the reform issues that currently fracture the Catholic Church. Protestants, in fact, may be offended by Johnson's frequent reference to them as ``separated Christians,'' a pre-Vatican II term that implies that Catholicism bears no responsibility for Christian disunity. Johnson offers lucid-and downright chatty-explanations of a dizzying array of customs and beliefs, ably demonstrating why diocesan newspapers across the country have picked up his column, ``Sign of Faith.'' This volume will likely appeal most to those same readers. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Art historian Johnson here spews out numerous facts and even more numerous-and suspect-opinions on Catholic faith, worship, culture, and customs. Unfortunately, he either over- or underexplains his information, shifting between the interests of Catholics and curious non-Catholics and satisfying neither. Even marginally informed readers will feel compelled to question his sweeping generalizations. On style of worship, for example: If you come from Italy, Ireland, or Spain, you prefer the visual; from England, northern Germany, or Scandinavia, you prefer words and music. On priestly celibacy: "There's never been much call to allow priests of the Latin Rite to marry." Equally irritating are countless non sequiturs, sloppy editing, and an idiosyncratic bibliography in which a German text is recommended with the qualifier "Only kidding." Misleading, contradictory, inappropriately irreverent, and not recommended.-Nancy M. Laskowski, MHC Correctional Facility Lib., Jessup, Md.
Gary Young
The range of Johnson's content could have been extravagantly insufficient. Most theologians would not have attempted such a juxtaposition of sublime theology and simple devotionsat least in the space of approximately 300 pages. But this little Catholic encyclopedia reminds us that the average reader has questions and interests that academics may overlook. It also reminds us that Catholicism is a mixed bag of intellect and imagination, of doctrines and practices, of personalities and popes. For example, Johnson manages to fit the visions of St. Catherine Laboure, a simple French sister, into his context. Johnson is an art historian, and it is interesting to have that kind of perspective when describing Catholicism; his principal headings (faith, worship, culture, customs) keep the ark orderly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345381163
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/4/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: Substance and Image: How to Tell Religion from Culture
Pt. 1 Faith
1 Faith of Our Fathers: What the Church Has to Work With 3
2 Feed My Sheep: How the Church Makes Laws 12
3 Chapter and Verse: The Hard-Fought Genesis of the New Testament 20
4 That Old-Time Religion: Why the Church Still Guards the Old Testament 28
5 The Church's Family Albums: Other Good Books Besides the Bible 36
6 The Cycle of Redemption: Purgatory, Etc 43
Pt. 2 Worship
7 In Memory of Me: A Short Guide to the Meaning and Structure of the Mass 57
8 Outward Signs: Decoding Symbols of Scripture and the Sacraments 69
9 The Sun of Justice: The Calendar as the Image of Christ's Life 78
10 Until We Meet Again: The Ceremonies of the Christian Funeral 85
11 The Stations of the Cross: The Logic of Their Development 91
12 The Rosary: A Garden of Christian Images 96
Pt. 3 Culture
13 The Rite Stuff: The Many Faces of the Universal Church 105
14 The Pope: What He Does and Why It Matters 110
15 Priests, Bishops, and Deacons: The Church's General Staff 120
16 A People Set Apart: The Laity in the Modern World 130
17 A Different Order of Life: Monks, Nuns, and the Rules That Guide Them 137
18 Saints: How You Get to Be One 144
19 Fatima, Lourdes, and Elsewhere: The Story of Apparitions 150
20 Wondering About Signs: Does the Madonna Really Weep Through Images? 157
Pt. 4 Customs
21 How Beautiful Thy Dwelling Place: The Basic Forms of Churches 167
22 Priestly Vestments: Their Origins and Meanings 178
23 Like Unto Pure Gold: The Meaning of the Precious Metal in the Service of the Church 186
24 The Vatican: A Holy City 194
25 Relics: The Church Remembers 203
26 The Sign of the Cross: The Surprising Story of Christianity's Best-Known Symbol 208
27 Sacramentals: Souvenirs of Sanctity 213
28 Water: Holy and Plain 218
29 The Odor of Sanctity: Making Sense of Incense 223
30 Let There Be Light: Candles in Prayer and Liturgy 228
31 A Star Out of Jacob: Why Nativity Sets Look That Way 233
32 Our Lady's Cloak: The Color of the Sky in Christian Art 237
33 The Miraculous Medal: The History of an Extraordinary Sacramental 241
34 Unceasingly Chant: Music in the Life of the Church 247
35 The Numbers Game: Symbols You Can Always Count On 254
Postscript: If You'd Like to Know More 267
Index 277
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