This beautifully designed book will help readers celebrate Catholicism throughout the years, across daily practice and milestones. The Catholic Catalogue is a field guide, a list of far ranging topics, that should aid any Catholic, whether steeped in the tradition or just discovering spirituality for the first time, to understand the daily acts that make up a Catholic life. And like the most useful field guides, it is divided into user-friendly sections and covers such topics as the veneration of relics, blessing your house, discovering a vocation, raising teenagers, getting a Catholic tattoo, planting a Mary garden, finding a spiritual director, and exploring your own way in the tradition.
With more than 75 inspiring chapters, this book promises to be a resource that individuals and families will turn to again and again, helping to make room in their busy lives for mystery and meaning, awe and joy.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
MELISSA MUSICK is a columnist for National Catholic Reporter and Celebration. She is the author of eight books on religion and spirituality. Her essays have appeared in First Things, Commonweal, GIA, Notre Dame Magazine, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Give Us This Day. She studied at Grinnell College and St. Thomas Seminary, and was a college chaplain for nine years.
Read an Excerpt
What We Keep: The Veneration of Holy Relics
And so we afterwards took up his bones which are now more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place.
--From an eyewitness account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, AD 155
Catholicism is all about what we keep: communion with God and the saints, communion with one another, communion with our beloved dead. In the Church, there is a way of keeping this communion that is centered on the veneration of relics. The word “relic” is from a Latin word, reliquiae, which means remains. First-class relics are the material remains of the bodies of canonized and beatified saints. A relic of this sort might be a piece of one of the saint’s bones, though, in some cases, the entire body of a saint is preserved. Second-class relics are objects, such as a piece of clothing that touched the saints’ bodies, or instruments used by the saints during their lifetime. An example of this is the writing desk at which St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote The Story of a Soul. Third-class relics are objects, such as a piece of cloth, that have touched a first-class relic.
Venerating relics is part of the rich devotional life of the Church. Relics, like icons, are doorways into the divine. And, like icons, they can seem odd to Westerners, until we learn more about the ancient practice. As we reflect on the holy life of the saint whose relic we honor, we are drawn closer into the Christ to whom the saints have given their lives. The idea of relics may be new to you, and keeping relics may be a new practice, but it is grounded in simple human needs.
You may have a picture of a dead parent or grandparent or child or close friend. You may keep the picture in a special place in your house or in a locket you wear close to your heart. My husband carries his late father’s wallet. I carry my late mother’s billfold. These are daily objects for daily use, so we are prompted to remember our loved ones daily. You want to remember a person who was, and is, important to you, who taught you how to live, who showed you the pathways of faith. This is not worship, but it is right respect and honor.
Our very recent ancestors in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries commonly kept locks of hair. Christians found comfort in the soft hair and its assurance that the dead who once lived in this world will live forever in Christ. They are hidden from our sight, but we cherish the reminders of their mortal and eternal lives.
We venerate, or honor, relics, but we don’t worship them. We worship God alone. Theologians distinguish these two truths using the Greek words latria and dulia. Latria refers to the worship owed to God, and only God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dulia refers to the veneration, or honor, we owe to the saints. You probably know the word “venerate” best from the Good Friday liturgy, when we are invited to come forward during the service to kiss or kneel before the cross. We do not worship the cross; we worship the One who hung upon it. But we do honor the cross as the instrument of our salvation.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
Relics have been venerated from the earliest days of the Church. The first documented case of Christians gathering the remains of a martyred saint and keeping those remains for veneration comes from the middle of the second century and the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, who was burned at the stake in AD 155.
Polycarp was consecrated a bishop by the apostle John, who died around the turn of the second century. Polycarp was beloved of his people and revered as a living link to the apostles. An eyewitness to Polycarp’s death recorded what he saw and heard for his fellow Christians. The writer describes Polycarp as the flames consume him:
The fire took on the shape of a hollow chamber, like a ship’s sail when the wind fills it, and formed a wall round about the martyr’s figure; and there he was in the centre of it, not like a human being in flames but like a loaf baking in the oven, or like a gold or silver ingot being refined in a furnace. And we became aware of a delicious fragrance, like the odour of incense or other precious gums. As the bones and ashes grew cool enough to be gathered up, the faithful took them and laid them in a suitable place.
The writer describes the saint’s remains as “more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold.”
Polycarp’s martyrdom marks the earliest known account of the harvesting and keeping of relics for veneration, but it may not be the earliest instance of such devotional practices. Recall the story of St. Veronica, whose name is related to the Latin phrase vera icona, that is, true icon, or true image. Catholics are familiar with the story of Veronica wiping Jesus’s bruised and bleeding face as he walked to the cross. Though this story is not recounted in Scripture, it has long been held as worthy of remembrance by the faithful and is part of the Stations of the Cross. Until 1600, the cloth, or “Veronica’s Veil,” was kept inside the old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
When the new St. Peter’s was constructed under Pope Julius II, the cloth was lost, or, at least, it was considered lost. It turns out that for hundreds of years the cloth has been kept in a Capuchin church in Manoppello, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The cloth measures 17 by 24 centimeters, and it bears the life-sized image of a human face. The cloth is finely woven and the face is finely featured. But scientists doing microscopic examinations of the image can find no trace of paint. Indeed, the fabric is byssus, a costly fabric made from weaving the threads a certain kind of sea mussel, a bivalve mollusk, makes, found on the ocean floor. The threads must be harvested from the sea during the month of May. There is at least one known living byssus weaver, a woman from the island of Sant’Antioco. She has seen the cloth in Manoppello and agrees that it is indeed byssus. She agrees that the cloth, though it can be dyed, will not hold paint.
The image seen on the cloth is that of a bearded man whose right cheek is swollen. His beard is partially ripped out. Fresh wounds can be seen on his forehead and lips. His nose appears to be broken. He looks like a man who has been beaten. The pupils of his eyes are black, and, though no scientist has found traces of paint, it does appear that the cloth around the eyes has been scorched, as if something or someone had heated the threads to a high temperature. Scholars who have studied both this cloth and the Shroud of Turin say the image on one matches the image on the other. It is the same man.
John described Jesus’s empty tomb in his Gospel. He writes of Peter and “the other disciple,” running to the tomb after hearing Mary Magdalene’s startling news that she had found it empty. The “other disciple” arrives first but does not go in. He waits for Peter. But the “other disciple” does look into the tomb and sees “the burial cloths there.” (Note the use of the plural.) John writes,
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place (john 20:6-7).
The Vatican takes no official position on the relic and its authenticity, but the Capuchins and citizens of Manoppello believe the cloth in their village church is “the cloth that had covered his head.” They do not worship this cloth, and if it were found to be unrelated to Christ’s death and burial, it would not shake their faith in Christ. Still, they venerate the cloth as a link to Christ, and the Church encourages the veneration as a reminder of Christ’s suffering. Pope Benedict XVI visited the shrine and prayed there in September of 2006.
In the stories of relics kept and venerated throughout the ages it is important to note what is kept. Property is not venerated. Currency is not venerated. Gold and jewels are not venerated. What is venerated is some link, some connection to a saint. The value lies not in the relic itself, but in the holiness of the one to whom it belonged in life, and often the relic is kept in a central place where the whole community can see and appreciate it.
Some find the harvesting and keeping of relics by the Church distasteful, but think about what we often strive to keep after a loved one dies: money and houses and jewelry. Heirs fight over such things. Families are torn apart by squabbles over inheritance. Is it more distasteful to keep the fingernail of a saint than to keep Mom’s money market account?
What we choose to keep tells us what matters to us. Consider what you have that reminds you of the dead. Why does it remind you of that person, and how do you use that object in your life? I still have my grandmother’s pancake griddle. I’ve used it regularly for almost forty years, and I always think of her when I take it down from its hook. Though my grandmother is not a canonized saint, she taught me what it means to follow Christ. I am reminded of her teaching whenever I use a tool she used and respected. Maybe you have kept something that should be given away, either to a family member or to someone in the community who has need of it. We live in an age of hoarding, of getting and keeping long past our ability to store or use or enjoy an item. As we reflect on relics, perhaps we should clean out some closets and give away what belongs to another, keeping only those things that bring goodness into every aspect of our lives.
Excerpted from "The Catholic Catalogue"
Copyright © 2016 Melissa Musick.
Excerpted by permission of The Crown Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Smells and Bells
1 What We Keep: The Veneration of Holy Relics-MM 3
2 Holy Water and the Sign of the Cross-AK 8
3 Palls, Vestments, Linens, and Habits-MM 13
4 Holy Oils and Incense-MM 20
5 Making and Praying With Candles-AK 24
6 Medals and Scapulars-MM 28
7 Making and Blessing a Home, Hospitality, and Christ Rooms-MM 32
8 Sacred Space and Church Architecture-AK 38
9 Processions -MM 44
10 How to Do Eucharistic Adoration-AK 48
11 Daily Prayer and Christian Meditation-AK 52
12 Table Prayers-AK 59
Part 2 Seasons of the Church Year
Ordering Time 66
13 The Day: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night Prayer-MM 67
14 The Week Keeping Friday, Saturday, and Sunday-MM 74
15 The Month: Time Punctuated By Holy Days-MM 79
16 The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe-MM 84
17 The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary-MM 87
18 Making and Praying the Advent Wreath-AK 90
19 The Crèche-MM 96
20 Decorating the Christmas Tree-MM 101
21 The Feast of St. Nicholas-MM 106
22 St. Lucy's Day-MM 111
23 Kristkindls-MM 115
24 Christmas Legends-MM 120
23 St Stephen and the Companions of Christ-MM 125
26 Celebrating the New Year-MM 131
27 Blessing a Home, Making Window Stars, and Keeping the Feast of Epiphany-AK and MM 134
Winter Ordinary Time 139
28 Ordinary Time-Mm 140
29 The Feast of the Chair of St Peter-MM 143
30 February Holy Days and Celebrations: Candlemas, St. Blaise, and Valentine's Day-MM 147
31 How to Carnival-MM 153
32 Keeping Lent-AK 159
33 Palm Sunday and Making Palm Sunday Crosses-MM 166
34 Holy Week: Keeping Triduum-MM 171
35 How to Make A Confession-MM 177
36 Stations of the Cross-MM 182
37 Celebrating Easter-MM 187
38 Easter Eggs, Crafts, and Legends-AK 191
39 Easter Sunday-MM 196
40 Divine Mercy Sunday-AK 200
41 Walpurgis Night-MM 205
42 Praying with Mary and Intercessory Prayer-AK 208
43 The Feast of St Joseph and St Joseph the Worker-AK 216
44 Pentecost-MM 222
Summer Ordinary Time 227
45 How to Plant a Mary Garden-MM 228
46 St. John's Day Fires-MM 233
47 The Feast of Corpus Christi-AK 237
48 The Feast of the Assumption of Mary-MM 241
49 The Feast of STS. Peter and Paul-MM 245
50 Praying With St. Ignatius Loyola-AK 249
51 The Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal and the Fourth of July-MM 253
Autumn Ordinary Time 258
52 The Feast of the Archangels-MM 259
53 The Feast of All Saints-MM 264
54 The Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux-AK 267
55 Dia De Los Muertos and All Souls' Day-AK 271
56 Martinmas and Lantern Walks-AK 276
57 The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi-AK 280
58 The Feast of Mary's Presentation in the Temple-MM 288
59 The Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist-MM 291
60 Two Marian Feasts in September-MM 295
Part 3 Seasons of Life
Childhood to Adolescence 300
61 How to Name a ChiLd-MM 301
62 Baptism, Godparents, and Celebrations-MM 305
63 Daily Bread Recipe and Learning About the Bread of Life-AK 310
64 How to Bless a Child-AK 314
65 How to Celebrate a Name Day-MM 317
66 First Communion and First Communion Gifts-Mm 321
67 First Reconciliation-MM 326
68 The Sacrament of Confirmation and Confirmation Gifts-MM and AK 331
Young Adulthood 337
69 Finding a Parish-AK 338
70 How to Make a Retreat-MM 342
71 Finding a Spiritual Director and Discerning a Vocation-AK 347
72 Sant'egidio, Lay Groups, Service, and Social Justice-AK 352
73 Catholic Tattoos-AK 356
74 The Sacrament of Marriage-AK 361
75 Consecrated Virginity-AK 366
76 Making a Home ALTAR, Shrine, or Prayer Corner-AK 371
77 Catholic Road Trips and Pilgrimages-AK and MM 378
78 Domestic, Priestly, and Apostolic Blessings-MM 383
79 Catholic Social Teaching-AK 389
80 Sickness and Suffering-MM 395
81 The Sacrament of the Sick and Viaticum-MM 400
82 The Funeral Liturgy: Wake, Funeral, and Committal-MM 406
Permission Credit 417
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've long found Melissa Nussbaum's and Anna Keating's writings filled with valuable insights. Now this wonderful book is on my Nook and I am thoroughly fascinated. Even as a "cradle Catholic" who went to Catholic schools, I'm learning a lot. I wish I'd had this "field guide" when my children were younger, as it would have made it even easier to share our beautiful faith in interesting ways. No need to start at the beginning or read it cover-to-cover at one time, as there are seasonal treats to dip into as the year progresses. Thank you, Melissa & Anna! - Barbara Crane