Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Medical Error: Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

According to a Johns Hopkins study by Martin A. Makary and Michael Daniel, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US, with approximately 251,000 deaths annually due to this cause. Here’s the reference:

Makary, M. A. and M. Daniel (2016). “Medical error-the third leading cause of death in the US.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 353: i2139.

Deaths by medical error thus far exceed death by gun (34,000), by motor vehicles (34,000) – and therefore to a great extent by alcohol, by suicide (41,000), and by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD (149,000), and are second only to death by heart disease (611,000) and to cancer (585,000). It is also likely that medical error disproportionately harms the poor.

We should therefore have a walk / run for the cure, ribbons, etc. to reduce medical error!

If our government were aligned to truly better the human condition, we would systematically address medical error, and diseases like sickle cell, which itself confers a likely death sentence on 100,000 US citizens and on 5 million Nigerians! Yet activists by and large ignore sickle cell disease, perhaps because gun violence draws more media and political attention. Anti-gun activism reinforces media viewing and drives political action. But it potentially saves far fewer lives than an effective campaign against medical error, or against smoking.

US Hispanics, who face similar poverty among their ranks, tend to outlive African Americans by six years – probably due to lower smoking rates among Hispanics, according to a 2013 report from the Population Reference Bureau. Anti-smoking activists are still waiting for President Obama, a former(?) smoker, to speak out loudly on this critical public health issue.

Politics, not public health concerns, therefore drives our public health priorities. If our priority was human life, the medical error and other larger public health challenges would be addressed.

Addressing societal ineffectiveness and inefficiency is therefore indeed a social justice issue. This is one point almost universally missed by political and by religious leaders especially. Every time Pope Francis speaks out against modern society’s drive for efficiency, I cringe, thinking of the annual 251,000 US deaths due to medical error, and of the untold number of such unnecessary deaths worldwide.

Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, 2012, Bloombury Press, by Marty Makary MD, ISBN 978-1-60819-838-2, has some good suggestions on reducing medical error.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Garry Wills Erred on St. Edith Stein

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

The purpose of this blog post is to put into the public record that noted author Garry Wills erred significantly in his statement about the martyrdom of St. Edith Stein, on page 55 of his 2000 book Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, when he wrote:

There are no reported indicators to say, “These we are killing as Jews but those as Catholics.”

On page 103-4 of Edith Stein: A biography, by Waltraud Herbstrith,1985, Herbstrith wrote:

“At Amersfoort, the retaliatory nature of the arrests became apparent. Protestant Jews and those of partly Jewish descent were quickly released, but the Catholic Jews remained under arrest, together with approximately a thousand other Jewish prisoners.”

For more background on this controversy, please see my 2009 post, and my second 2010 post on St. Edith Stein. For all of my posts on St. Edith Stein, please see the following link.

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Didache Bible

Friday, April 10th, 2015

The Didache Bible from Ignatius Press is a very useful edition of the Bible for those studying the Catholic Christian faith. When paired with other editions such as the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) and its notes, along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a student of the faith has access to rich sources for learning and reflection for informing the life of faith in Christ.

PS: I should mention that the late Cardinal Francis George, OMI, had a hand in supporting this Didache Bible project.

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Dietrich von Hildebrand’s 1930s Anti-Nazi Essays

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The 20th century philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), best known in the English-speaking world for his writings on human intimacy and personality, aesthetics, ethics, and the liturgy, was also an active and determined opponent of the National Socialist or Nazi movement from its early days in the 1920s.

When Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, von Hildebrand, who had a decade earlier been condemned to death by the first Nazi thugs, left the country, and eventually settled in Vienna, where he led, through his journal Der Christliche Ständestaat (the Christian Corporative State, a concept that drew its inspiration from Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno) and his partnership the soon-to-be-assassinated Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, an intellectual resistance to Nazism and especially to anti-Semitism, until von Hildebrand was again forced to flee Austria as Hitler’s Anschluss absorbed that country in 1938.

The recent publication in English of selections from von Hildebrand’s handwritten memoir as My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich has brought von Hildebrand again into the intellectual and cultural mainstream.

While reviews of My Battle Against Hitler have focused on von Hildebrand’s adventurous fight with and narrow escapes from Nazism, I urge readers to study his 1930s essays collected as a group in this memoir. While it is fun to learn how von Hildebrand and his friends tricked the Nazis into allowing his furniture to be shipped from Munich to Vienna after his flight from Germany, and sobering to read how many were taken in by the Nazis, it is better to read the focused, insightful, and passionate words of von Hildebrand written at the time against the steady advance of anti-Semitism and Nazism.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), once the teenage student paramour of philosopher and later sometime Nazi Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), achieved fame in 1963 with her coining of the phrase “banality of evil” in her Eichmann in Jerusalem. Yet von Hildebrand’s November 10, 1935 Der Christliche Ständestaat essay, translated as “The Danger of Becoming Morally Blunted,” contemporaneously described this blunting process as it was happening decades before Arendt. This essay alone is worth the price of My Battle Against Hitler, since it describes how moral compromise can weaken us all. The power of anti-Semitism as a moral anesthetic that deadens resistance to violent extremism is very much still at work today, whether in the Middle East, in Russia, or in First World cultural elites.

My compliments to John Henry Crosby, Alice von Hildebrand, John F. Crosby, and all those from the Hildebrand Project who spent the decade necessary to bring this book to English-language readers.

I understand that the Hildebrand Project intends to eventually post all the writings of Dietrich von Hildebrand online. I especially look forward to more Der Christliche Ständestaat essays, and especially to an English translation of his Metaphysik der Gemeinschaft: Untersuchungen über Wesen und Wert der Gemeinschaft, or The Metaphysics of Community.

The Hildebrand Project is worthy of our support!

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Review of Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ’s book, The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Here’s my 1999 review of the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ’s (1918-2008) book, The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II, which is still available at libraries and from used booksellers.

Too good a book to be forgotten!

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


On Finally Finishing a Book from My Father Twenty-Five Years Later

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Our family has an established tradition of passing books around as loaners or gifts, and a related running joke about not reading them. Then dangerously, we sometimes do read them!

My late father had a saying that “If you learned one thing” from reading a certain book or attending a course or a certain workshop, it was probably worth it.

I remember, on my father’s side of the family, both my grandfather’s and my father’s enthusiasm about certain classic self-help books in positive mental attitude tradition that I eventually dutifully and substantially read. My grandfather especially liked stories in the Horatio Alger spirit of success after adversity, and also relished various guaranteed cures for arthritis (these I read in my pre-teen years, and have served me in good stead).

Grandpa used the expression, “Go Getter,” to express his approval of a person who took initiative, then with great ceremony, gave his grandchildren a quarter (because we had not as yet learned the proverbial “Value of a Dollar”). If one remained at Grandpa’s side long enough, he would tell his life story, while also explaining the Gold Standard. I recently found what I think was the book by Peter Bernard Kyne from the early 1920s that popularized this expression, Go Getter.

On my mother’s side, my Canadian great-grandmother gave me a book, The Incredible Journey, that she absolutely loved, and I never absolutely finished. Our kids did love the movie, which I watched over and again with them through various Disney movie remakes over several decades. Their great-great grandmother would be very pleased. I suspect our grandchildren will soon watch one of these movies, thereby honoring the memory of their great-great-great grandmother.

In fact, so many were the books passed on to me in my youth that my father presented me the summer gift when I was fourteen of attending an Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course. During this course, I completed Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger in five minutes. (It’s about a man who killed an Arab on a beach, and who thought a lot about the meaning of life, right?) At my peak I was blazing along at thousands of words a minute, although this capacity has faded with the years and with the eyes. But I do recall how sad it was to read an entire comic book in a few seconds. . .

I must admit I used this speed-reading technique from time to time on books my Dad gave to me. In doing so, I performed two “Dad” acts at the same time. Our family does try to kill several birds with one stone whenever possible.

(I’m also reminded that my high school students over thirty years ago referred to Albert Camus as Famous Camus, to rhyme with a notable maker of chocolate chip cookies.)

A few weeks ago, while still recuperating from surgery, I more closely studied a book that my Dad gave to me twenty-five years ago, and to which I gave a quick skim then. This book is the Ratzinger Report (1985), based upon a series of interviews of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger with journalist Vittorio Messori, the first in the now genre of Joseph Ratzinger interview books in English, which continued to currently number four, the latter three–Salt of the Earth (1997), God and the World (2000), and Light of the World (2010)–being with journalist Peter Seewald. A similar kind of record, although comprised of addresses and correspondence, can be found in Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, and Islam (2006), by Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera.

Joseph Ratzinger’s (Benedict XVI’s) interview books, while formal and not aphoristic in structure, provide something of a historic, theological, and cultural counterweight to Martin Luther’s informal and aphoristic Tischreden, or Table Talk, and now outnumber the corpus of Luther’s Tischreden by a page factor of almost four to one.

(Speaking of Luther, I chanced upon a bon mot quoted by the great Luther scholar Jaroslav Pelikan in his book, Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures, in which he quotes the saying, “The Reformation began, so the saying went, when there was a pope on the seven hills of Rome, but now there were seven popes on every dunghill in Germany.”)

I have spent many hours reading (not speed-reading) the writings of Joseph Ratzinger over the past several decades, and can definitely number many more than “one thing” I learned from him. His gentle demeanor belies the prayerful depth and clarity of his insights and summations.

One key insight contained in the Ratzinger Report is an interpretation of the Vatican II concept of “People of God,” which has been popular since the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, and which seems to have dominated the theology of the Church after the Council.

“That’s true [said then Cardinal Ratzinger]. There was and there still is this emphasis, which in the Council texts, however, is balanced with others that complete it, a balance that has been lost with many theologians. Yet, contrary to what the latter think, in this way there is a risk of moving backward rather than forward. Here indeed is even the danger of abandoning the New Testament in order to return to the Old.

‘People of God’ in Scripture, in fact, is a reference to Israel in its relationship of prayer and fidelity to the Lord. But to limit the definition of the Church to that expression [People of God] means not to give understanding to the New Testament understanding of the Church in its fullness. Here ‘People of God’ actually refers always to the Old Testament element of the Church, to her continuity with Israel.

But the Church receives her New Testament character more distinctively in the concept of the ‘Body of Christ’. One is Church and one is a member thereof, not through sociological adherence, but precisely through incorporation in this Body of the Lord through baptism and the Eucharist.

Behind the concept of the Church as the People of God, which has been so exclusively thrust into the foreground today, hide influences of ecclesiologies which de facto revert to the Old Testament; and perhaps also political, partisan, and collectivist influences. In reality, there is no truly New Testament, Catholic concept of Church without a direct and vital relation not only with sociology but first of all with christology. The Church does not exhaust herself in the ‘collective’ of believers: being the ‘Body of Christ’ she is much more than the simple sum of her members.”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, 1985, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, pp. 46-47. Paragraphing above mine.

Then Cardinal Ratzinger’s words on the limitations of the expression “People of God,” and his preference for the simultaneous use of the expression “Body of Christ” along with “People of God,” sum up the fundamental difference between those with a mere political interpretation of Vatican II, as opposed to an integration of the social and the sacramental. I agree with Joseph Ratzinger that the Church is definitely more than the sum of her members, and that using the phrase People of God exclusively without also invoking the Body of Christ is to rely substantially upon pre-Gospel traditions. The People of God and the Body of Christ belong together not only when describing the Church, but when witnessing to Christ as part of His Church. This theology of combining the social with the sacramental is very similar to that of Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, of whom I’ve written previously.

On a different note, one of the theological questions that has returned to me throughout my life is the question of the Fall and of the necessity for Redemption, in other words, What happened after Creation that was so bad that it required Christ to have to suffer, die, and rise to save us?

The question of the Fall is one that Joseph Ratzinger has expressed the wish to write about in retirement because of its critical importance. Here is his answer to a question about the Fall from 1985:

“The biblical narrative of the origins does not relate events in the sense of modern historiography, but rather, it speaks through images. It is a narrative that reveals and hides at the same time. But the underpinning elements are reasonable, and the reality of the dogma must at all events be safeguarded. The Christian would be remiss toward his brethren if he did not proclaim the Christ who first and foremost brings redemption from sin; if he did not proclaim the reality of the alienation (the ‘Fall’) and, at the same time, he did not proclaim that, in order to effect a restoration of our original nature, a help from outside is necessary; if he did not proclaim that the insistence upon self-realization, upon self-salvation does not lead to redemption, but to destruction; finally, if he did not proclaim that, in order to be saved, it is necessary to abandon oneself to Love.”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, 1985, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, pg 81.

The questions of the Fall (What was it?) and of Redemption (Why was Christ’s Death and Resurrection necessary?) remain challenging indeed. But I very much like Cardinal Ratzinger’s point that we must realize that we cannot save ourselves, and that to be saved we must abandon ourselves to Love.

So, although, it’s twenty-five years too late, I thank my late father again for the book (I did thank him back then as well). Had he not given it to me, I would not have encountered the holy wisdom imparted by Pope Emeritus Joseph Ratzinger.

That’s the nice thing about a book as a gift. It patiently waits for one to tolle, lege, to take and to read.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Why Catholic Nerds Rule, Chapter I

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Despite the stereotypical public image of the rock-jawed politician with the Big Hair, we know that it is the nerds who actually rule not only the universities, but seemingly the universe.

And speaking of both universities and the universe, I would like to introduce you to just about my favorite Catholic nerd (I hope he doesn’t mind the appellation, since it is meant as the highest compliment), Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD.

Fr. Spitzer may look like your friendly neighborhood accountant, but don’t let that fool you. He actually is an accountant. Moreover he is a philosopher, a former university president, and an entrepreneur and founder of organizations.

I could go on and on about Fr. Spitzer, but I can sum it all up by saying, his message is the important thing. Do yourself a favor by reading his books, which are extremely clear, well-reasoned, and organized expositions of the Christian, Catholic viewpoint taking into account the latest in science and philosophy.

So far I’ve read large chunks of the following books by Fr. Spitzer:

Ten Universal Principals: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues (San Francisco; Ignatius Press, 2010)

Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom, and the Life Issues (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, October 2000).

New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010)

I’ve been meaning to get to:

Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life: A Practical Guide to Prayer for Active People (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008)

I also can’t wait for his forthcoming books on suffering and on ethics.

For more, please visit the Magis Center.

Here’s Fr. Spitzer on Larry King Live in 2010 responding to Prof. Stephen Hawking on the origins of the universe.

For the EWTN television series and appearances of Fr. Spitzer, please look here.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


David Morrison’s Book, Beyond Gay

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

David Morrison had been a gay activist for several years, and had fought against traditional Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality (CCC 2357-2359) while defending gay rights. For many of Morrison’s years, the Catholic faith was the enemy.

But over time Morrison was drawn to the person of Jesus Christ in a way that he never could have anticipated due to a sense of spiritual emptiness. He wrote:

I remember that when I was still sexually active this apparent dichotomy puzzled me. I knew I loved my partner on a number of different levels. I knew I found him a sexy and passionate bedmate. I knew our sex could reach real heights of emotion and desire. But then, whether passionate or merely sleepy, when the sexual act was done and all that remained was the wiping up afterward, I couldn’t understand whey there seemed to be such a letdown. Why did I feel so empty? Only later did I recognize that I felt so empty because the act had no meaning in the deepest parts of myself. There can be no real communion in same-sex acts, no deepest love, I have come to realize; only the experience of children playing with people they have made into toys.

David Morrison, Beyond Gay, Our Sunday Visitor, 1999, pg. 153, ISBN 0-87973-690-9.

David Morrison’s story is not that of a self-hating gay man who tried to go straight, but of a man like any other with a spiritual hunger that could only be met by Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Morrison followed that hunger for the love of Jesus where it led him, and thereby came to more deeply understand himself and others.

Morrison did not deny his same-sex attraction and did not attempt to be “cured” of it, but grew in spiritual and intellectual understanding and depth as he searched and came to know Jesus, who led him to the Catholic faith.

Morrison took a path that many think they can’t take, that of a life of chastity, which he astutely differentiated from a life of celibacy (CCC 1579-1580). He joined the Catholic group, Courage, and continues to share his story.

Morrison’s journey also included the death of many of his friends from HIV, guidance from a kind Protestant pastor, and the love of a Christian family with small children, whereby Morrison gained the experience of what I call “re-parenting,” the process of gaining insight into one’s own development by parenting or observing the parenting of children over the course of the children’s development.

Morrison’s 1999 book, Beyond Gay, is eloquently and insightfully written. While not matching the consistent heights of St. Augustine’s Confessions, Beyond Gay nevertheless does have similar moments. Beyond Gay is a beautifully-crafted tale of a personal search for Jesus, and how Jesus led the searcher to Catholicism.

Morrison confronted the meaning of the very direct language of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality (CCC 2357-2359), and for Morrison this language paradoxically revealed truths about creation and his own place as part of God’s family, of the Catholic Church, and of the wider human family.

The Catholic teaching on homosexuality is generally a shock, if not an insult, to young, same-sex attracted men or women. Catholic teaching is heard as a big “No” to same-sex sexual intimacy, to same-sex adoption, and to same-sex marriage.

Like many Catholic moral teachings, the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is more often accepted after mature reflection based upon life experience than upon youthful enthusiasm.

But Catholic teaching on human sexuality requires all who seek to live the faith, whether LGBTQ or not, to radically commit to a way of thinking and acting on human sexual practice that is fundamentally different from postmodern hedonism. To live as a faithful Catholic requires much more that praying St. Augustine’s youthful prayer, “Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.”

Courage is not as popular in some cities as is DignityUSA for the very reason that Courage fully accepts Catholic teaching and challenges LGBTQ men and women to live in chastity.

Throughout his book, Morrison confronts the lack of charity and understanding on the part of some Catholics toward LGBTQ persons. But he also confronts those, like the Dignity of the 1980s and 1990s, who sold Catholic teaching rather short.

Many now attack Catholic teaching on sexual life using the arguments of human rights. The Catholic teaching on sexuality is often the road not taken for this reason. But for those who have tried same-sex sexual relationships (or any sexual relationships) and who have felt the same spiritual hunger that Morrison described, Morrison’s book is a good start.

Morrison’s book is also a useful resource for Christian and Catholic parents of LGBTQ children who sometimes are confronted by a well-choreographed intervention at the time their children come out and declare their sexual orientation. In the end, many of these parents do not want their children to be lonely throughout their lives, and see no other alternative for them than the LGBTQ lifestyle in the postmodern mode, and even themselves as parents adopt much of the postmodern LGBTQ ideology. But Morrison directly confronts this question, among many other tough questions, and argues that a life of chastity in Christian community is in the end more spiritually fulfilling even than the alternative of a committed, completely monogamous same-sex relationship without full unity with Christ. Morrison learned that sexual intimacy without intimacy with God is for the Christian a form of slavery.

Morrison came to frame the meaning of his own sexuality within a wider theology and anthropology of all human sexuality, not within the narrow LBGTQ band.

All Catholic Christians are called by Christ to “enter through the Narrow Gate” (Matthew 7:13-14). While this road is narrow, the burden of Jesus is “light” (Matthew 11:28-30). One strong lesson from David Morrison’s book is that this gate should not be entered, this burden should not be undertaken, alone. The love of good Christians, of Courage, of other Catholics, and of people of good will helped David Morrison find a home in the Catholic faith.

To those young LGBTQ young adults who hate the Catholic faith, the story above may not satisfy their hurt and rage, like the young David Morrison’s hurt and rage, at the Church that always seems to say no to them. But by searching for Christ the true God and true Man, and by letting Christ find him, David Morrison reported finding wholeness as a man loved by God in, of all places, the Roman Catholic faith.

For more on what the Catholic faith really teaches on the meaning of sexual intimacy in creation, please see the original lectures given by John Paul II now called the “Theology of the Body,” also available in book form.

Please see my earlier writings on LGBTQ topics.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The Bells of Nagasaki, by the Saint of the Urakami

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

The time of 11:02 AM is of universal significance, for that morning hour on August 9, 1945 marked the solar scorch of plutonium fission churning high to toxic ash the Urakami Cathedral district of the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

Incinerated, irradiated, crushed, and swept away below were tens of thousands, and in those frantic following minutes, Dr. Takashi Nagai (1908-1951), Nagasaki University medical school radiology head–himself a nuclear physicist–gasped to pry himself from the death and debris that pinned him into a likely grave.

Like the passage in Matthew 24:40-41–

Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.

–those blessed to hit the ground at the right instant endured, while those who somehow shielded the pupils of their eyes preserved sight.

Dr. Nagai and his few surviving nurse and physician colleagues worked themselves past stumbling exhaustion in the blurred weeks of triage and death that followed. Some who seemed to have escaped unscathed instead sickened and died in the ensuing months from the short, merciless gamma waves that penetrated their internal organs in the first milliseconds past 11:02 AM.

Survivors witnessed ghastly epiphanies: heads separated from bodies forming a wide ring around the zero ground; an expectant mother split open with her roasted baby a few feet away, still linked by intact umbilical membrane; Nagai’s lovely wife Midori–a descendent of Catholic martyrs–rendered into charred bone; a delusional mother packing her headless child in her arms, walking to nowhere.

The Fat Man plutonium bomb, according to Dr. Nagai, had missed military targets and torched instead the Catholic St. Mary’s cathedral in Nagasaki, a home to Japan’s historic Catholic martyrs. Nagai placed great significance in this, for he as a Catholic convert saw the suffering of the innocent in the place of the military as sacrificial, an offering for eternal peace and life, instead of senseless death marked by retribution. In the compressed weeks that followed Nagasaki’s holocaust, Nagai emerged from a hard chrysalis of wartime determination to enlightened Christian generosity. He later wrote a technical report on atomic rescue and relief. His young son and daughter somehow survived, and tended to him as he–more and more bare and bound to a sick bed–wrote books, framed poems, and composed calligraphic art until he could do nothing more than pray. His sight ranged from science, to philosophy, to poetry, to prayer.

One of Dr. Nagai’s books in particular, The Bells of Nagasaki, passed US military censors to become a best-seller and film in Japan. Dr. Nagai endured in his hut, a place of pilgrimage for even the Japanese Emperor, until he was removed to die at his beloved medical school in 1951, where he had hoped even his carcass would provide insight into the prevention of suffering for others.

Major Oak Entertainment is producing and fundraising for a film following Dr. Nagai’s story, called All that Remains.

For more on the life of Servant of God Dr. Paul Takashi Nagai, please see the book A Song for Nagasaki by Fr. Paul Glynn, SM, and the related posts at the Why I Am Catholic Blog. I especially recommend Dr. Nagai’s Funeral Speech for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb, and also the separate film about Japanese Catholicism, Hill of Redemption.

I pray that nuclear terror may never claim another city.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The Mass Explained to Children, by Dr. Maria Montessori

Monday, December 12th, 2011

While cleaning my office, I came upon a box of books from my late great aunt, Sr. M. Dolores (Alma) Schorsch, OSB, EdD, 1896-1984.

As I reorganized her books, I noticed an original copy of The Mass Explained to Children, by Dr. Maria Montessori, NY, Sheed and Ward, 1933. While the Sheed and Ward edition is out of print, the Kessinger edition and the Roman Catholic Books edition are still available.

What a wonderful book!

I especially recommend Dr. Montessori’s insightful Preface. In this book, despite the pre-Vatican II Mass being described, many parents will find the right words and approach to communicate the mystery of the Mass to their children. How deeply did Dr. Montessori understand and respect the mind of a child, and the theology of the Mass:

Is not the aim of the Mass to make us share in its mysteries, by yielding up the soul to God, in such recollection as is possible only by liberating our minds for a little while from all exterior distractions? This is the very reason why, in the first ages of Christianity, the catechumens were dismissed at the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful. One did not go to this part of Mass for instruction, which is an exterior thing; one went there to be united to Jesus Christ in the most intimate offering of the soul. Instruction in and sharing in the mysteries were seen to be two very different things, and were kept separate.

In actual fact the earliest division of the Mass into two parts was: the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. This should have great significance for us.

Maria Montessori, The Mass Explained to Children, with a Foreword by the Reverend Matthew A. Delaney, NY, Sheed and Ward, 1933, pp. xi-xii.

Here are a few more sample pages. . .

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved