Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review of “The Templars: Knights of Christ” by Regine Pernoud

The notoriety of the Templars has greatly increased in the current century, due to controversy-stirring portrayals by The History Channel and novelists such as Dan Brown (“The DaVinci Code”). Ignatius Press has done the public a great service by publishing this excellent book by Regine Pernoud, translated by Henry Taylor . An expert in medieval history, Pernoud has set out to set the record straight on the purpose and activities of the Templar Knights.

The order of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1119 by Hugh of Payns, a knight from Champagne in eastern France. A group of monk-knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and banded together to protect pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem from Muslim bandits. In 1128 the council at Troyes gave them official recognition and organization under the “Latin Rule”.

Pernoud quotes the Latin Rule in detailing the very strict rules that were followed in the daily life of the Templars, and the way novitiates were received into the order. She goes into their architecture in great detail. The great battles fought by the Templars, and the many men who gave their lives in carrying out their missions, are documented in the chapter ”The Templar Epic”.

The author explains how the Templars acted as the first international bankers, using their treasuries in various locations as credit for Kings and Queens. Their power and control of these great treasuries incited the jealousy of the French crown; Pernoud makes the case that monarchial greed might have been the prime cause of their ultimate downfall.

The Templars were accused of heresy and crimes of indecency; the French inquisitors tortured many into making confessions, and burned at the stake those who maintained their innocence. Most of the Templars were killed and their reputation was sullied for all future generations.

Pernoud makes a powerful argument for the innocence of the Templars, through great detail in documentation and explanations of how mistranslations and misunderstandings were carried through the centuries. The reader is left sharing in the author’s astonishment at the accusations that have been left standing against a group of Christians who gave up everything to defend the faithful.

This book was sent to me as part of the Tiber Review Program by Aquinas and More in exchange for my honest review. For ordering information please click here.

Review of “Sex au Naturel: What it is and Why it’s Good for your Marriage” by Patrick Coffin

Leave it to a well-informed Catholic to be able to write for 134 pages about sex without being “sexy”. Despite the romantic cover, this book is actually a rather technical and philosophical treatise explaining the true meaning and reasoning behind Humanae Vitae and other church documents pertaining to human sexuality and marriage.

“Sex au Naturel: What it is and Why it’s Good for your Marriage” by Patrick Coffin was written primarily for practicing Catholics but all Christians may benefit from it. Whether the reader believes whole-heartedly in the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding sexuality, dissents, or is confused either about what the catechism teaches or how he or she feels about it, this book offers rational clarification. One may disagree at the end, but with a better understanding of many different facets of the issues.

Coffin first explains the basics of the 1968 papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (“On the Regulation of Human Life”) and the world’s reaction to it, in the context of the 1960’s, the introduction of the Pill and the Sexual Revolution, and the Second Vatican Council. Other little known encyclicals are referenced.

The author explains the mistaken view of conscience that powers the movement of dissent against the Church’s sexual ethics. Then he delves into the scriptural basis for these teachings and the logic of natural law that coincides with the same. He explains how Protestant churches originally reached the same conclusions and why they diverged from them.

What does the marital act have to do with the Trinity? This section is mind-blowing in its comparisons of pro-creative sex with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The argument for “Sex au Naturel” from here on gets more and more powerful.

Proceed from there to the explanation of how contraception contradicts natural law. Coffin also goes into how exactly contraception is different, both physically and spiritually, from natural family planning, and how couples who have been sterilized can get a “second chance” in following Catholic teaching in their marriage. He also explains how reproductive technologies go against the grain of Christian teaching when marital love is taken out of procreation.

The appendix includes many informational references on Natural Family Planning, Theology of the Body, Catholic Teaching on Sex and Marriage, Educational Organizations, Sexual Addiction, and Marriage Counseling and Support.

This book is excellent reading for anyone who wants to be better informed about Catholic teaching on sex and marriage. It would be a great complement to marriage preparation classes or marriage counseling sessions.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I was sent the book for free in exchange for my honest review. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Sex au Naturel .

Friday, June 11, 2010

Report of 2010 Memorial Day 5K Run/Walk for the Unborn

Our first annual Memorial Day 5K Run/Walk for the Unborn was a small success. We had a small group in attendance from our church's pro-life group. We hope with more promotion to get a bigger turnout for next year or for the Labor Day event. See my Examiner article for the report and links to sign up your local community for the Labor Day 5K Run/Walk at 9 a.m. Sept 6, 2010.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Where have I been?

“I’m so thankful for friends like you,” I told my friend over coffee the other morning, “I know I can always come back to you.”

When I took up the hat of Softball Director, I had no idea of how many other facets of my life would go by the wayside. Personal paperwork piles up while softball papers get neatly filed. Friendly emails go unanswered while queries from coaches are returned immediately. Writing my daily blog has been replaced by composing dozens of emails that get sent out daily.

I don’t get paid but the perks are priceless. Like having my kids get announced on the field at the Long Island Ducks game, and being involved in the decisions that affect how their season is run.

My husband is so easy-going; he picks up milk and cereal at the start of the day, and the toys in the living room at the end of the day. When I missed a wedding shower, my future sister-in-law acted like no forgiveness was needed. My kids don’t clean their rooms but get their homework done and are always ready to go back to the field.

I say no to most other social activities to give us time as a family. When the kids get home from school, we hop in the pool for a half hour, have dinner together, and then get ready to go to at least one game or practice. We get home, have ice cream, shower, and go to bed. How much room is there for anything else?

This weekend I threw my daughter a sleepover/pool party with 15 guests. Half of the girls were from school and half from softball. This was partly to make up for all the sleepovers and playdates I have had to say no to throughout the year due to our busy schedule. They had a great time and I enjoyed watching them enjoy themselves.

“To everything there is a season”. My father always talks about how our roles in life change from time to time throughout our life span. For a season of several years I was a very involved homeschooler. Now my children are independent learners and thriving in the organized school sphere. Outside of school they are learning things on the field that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I am having the time of my life watching that happen.

“My brain isn’t going anywhere,” I told another writing friend, “My writing is still in there and will come out in due time.”

Thank you for your patience as my posts remain thin during this busy time. I know you are all busy too and I pray you can take a moment to feel blessed for all of those things that you are putting your time and energy into.

Picture is of my family at the Met game at Citi Field on Mother's Day.