Early Fall Reading


The Beach Teacher Scriptural Lessons from the Shore, Alexander J. Basile, (St. Pauls, 2015) 103 pages; $8.95. ISBN978-0-8189-1383-9. Reviewed by Eileen T. Warner M.A.P.M.

My Brother’s Keeper — A Novel about the Family of Jesus. B. Kassel, (2016). Portland, OR: BookBaby. PP. 388. B.P. $5.99 (eBook Edition) Ann Arbor, MI: Ave Maria Radio. PP. 393. B.P. $24.94 (Print Edition. Reviewed by Fr. Michael Orsi.

Retrieving Apologetics. Glenn B. Siniscalchi. (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016) 287 pages; $33.00 paperback. Reviewed By Dennis Feltwell, Ph.D.

Mother of Mercy: A Month with Mary, Sr. Marie-Paul Farran (Staten Island: St. Paul Books, 2015); translated from the Italian by Arthur Palisada and Michael Goonan. Reviewed by Fr. Edward Looney, STB, M.Div.

The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B. Translated from the French by Michael J. Miller. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015 {2013}, $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-58617-939-7.
Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire by R.J. Snell Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015, $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-62138-126-6.
Both books reviewed by Ken Colston.


The Beach Teacher Scriptural Lessons from the Shore, Alexander J. Basile, (St. Pauls, 2015) 103 pages; $8.95. ISBN978-0-8189-1383-9

Reviewed by Eileen T. Warner M.A.P.M

It is evident from perusing the chapters of this book that the author is indeed a teacher. Each chapter serves to explore a life–lesson that incorporates the author’s perspective on various situations and dynamics that are common to family life, and life in general. As is alluded to in the preface, Alex Basile sets out to bring people into a deeper awareness of the Jesuit ideal of finding God in all things. Basile uses his lifelong experiences of growing up on Rockaway beach as the jumping off point for identifying the diverse ways in which we can recognize God’s presence in our daily lives, including through even the simple experiences of a day at the beach.

At first glance at the cover of the book, one might expect a more reflective, meditative work based on the nature images of the ocean and the shore that are depicted. While the author begins each chapter with an experience from his years of spending family time at Rockaway beach, he quickly segues from that experience into his treatise on particular topics based on those examples as he offers a life lesson on a particular topic. This is not a theological work as much as a reflective discourse on topics that are relevant to most families. Each chapter is only six or seven pages in length, so there is not a lot of depth with each subject but more of a perusal of the topic.

It is evident that Basile has been profoundly shaped by his Catholic upbringing based on the way in which he weaves examples from lives of the saints, with religious quotes as he develops his thesis for each lesson. Each of the fifteen chapters can stand on its own as each addresses a different life lesson, or teachable moment example. Each chapter ends with questions that can be used for personal reflection, or for group discussion. Basile augments his chapter discussions with quotations that range from the saints of the church to contemporary authors such as C.S Lewis, and historical figures like Thomas Jefferson. He also incorporates traditional devotional prayers of the Church, including the Angelus, as well as more contemporary reflections such as “Footprints in the Sand.

While the title indicates that this is a scripturally based work (the subtitle reads “Scriptural lessons from the Shore”) the author does not move into a theological or meditative reflection on scripture passages; instead, he uses scripture passages to connect personal experiences with his wisdom from years of teaching. A more Ignatian approach might have been to use the chapters to encourage the reader to go deeper and explore for themselves how God would speak in these experiences. Basile instead offers his own insight into these topics.

It is difficult to identify the ideal audience for this work as the lessons generally apply to the lives of teenagers or family, while some chapters would apply more to parenting. It is most certainly a family-oriented work. While Basile has a unique approach to connecting his experiences to life-lessons, his style of writing was at times disarming as he has a tendency to talk in absolutes at some points. This reader was also troubled by his frequent use of “we” and his tendency to use “should” throughout the book, which seemed to infer that the reader was to feel a sense of inclusion in his statements, or a sense that the reader “should” be living by or adhering to his viewpoint.

A word of caution would be that some of Basile’s phrasing could be confusing for a discerning reader. For example his sentence “All we need to do is to look for Christ in order for him to be present” (p. 101) is problematic because it is our Catholic understanding that God is present in all things, regardless of whether we look for him. He also states that “The omniscient nature of God permits him to dwell in all things” (p.101). Again his choice of words does not reflect what he may be trying to say regarding the true nature of God’s existence.

Chapter 10 came closest to the hopes of this reader to be drawn into the imagery of the beach, and its ability to serve as a time for reflection in helping one recognize God’s presence. Basile refers to how one’s time can be used at the shore for meditation over such questions as “Why has God put me here?” “What is my vocation in this life?” “How am I supposed to influence the people around me?” (p.72) He asserts that like the ocean, because it is always there, one can often take it for granted, and thus fail to recognize, the beauty of this life and its worth.

In his last chapter (ch. 15), Basile pulls together what this reviewer found most significant about this work. I could readily connect with his ability to help his audience recognize the sacramentality of many of the images of nature found at the shore, including his references to the waves, and the majesty of God, that can draw an individual into an appreciation of the omnipresence of God.

This is a very straightforward read, and can be read as individual chapters, which makes it convenient for setting it down, at times, and being able to pick it back up, and start independently with a new chapter. Basile’s discussion questions at the end of each chapter are framed in such a way that they seem to be designed more for a group study than for individual reflection, although they could be valuable for either purpose.

This book would be helpful for a beginner who seeks to become more astute at recognizing God in the midst of everyday occurrences. Basile offers some solid reflections on where American society is at, and encourages readers to live a life that is grounded in God’s plan. He offers an invitation to reconnect with one’s Catholic upbringing, and encourages readers to develop a personal prayer life.

After reading this work, it would be hard for one to spend the day at the beach, or watch a sunset or sunrise, and not, somehow, feel drawn into a deeper awareness of God in all things!

Eileen T. Warner M.A.P.M. is the Director of Mission, and serves on the Formation Faculty of Christ the King Seminary. She has worked for the Diocese of Buffalo, served as director of ministries at the parish level, and has taught theology at both Canisius College and the seminary.


Kassel, B. (2016). My Brother’s Keeper — A Novel about the Family of Jesus. Portland, OR: BookBaby. PP. 388. B.P. $5.99 (eBook Edition)Ann Arbor, MI: Ave Maria Radio. PP. 393. B.P. $24.94 (Print Edition)

Reviewed by Fr. Michael Orsi

My Brother’s Keeper is an inspirational novel of a type that used to be broadly popular: a Bible-based narrative that expands on the Gospels to tell an engaging story about a character whose life is touched by Christ. Classics such as Ben Hur and The Robe are examples of this genre of religious storytelling that was once at the heart of the literary mainstream.

In our cynical, materialist age, such works have largely fallen out of fashion. Even the Christian publishing houses tend to shy away from Bible fiction, preferring instead to offer contemporary or historical tales that center on moral conflicts, along with those innumerable series of so-called “Christian romances.” And when secular publishers touch on the Bible these days, we’re mainly treated to gnostic conspiracies or wild speculations about Jesus’ “secret wife.”

Catholic author Bill Kassel is attempting to swim against the fashionable tide with a tale that’s remarkably orthodox but that offers an unconventional perspective on Jesus and his family. He accomplishes this through a deft blending of canonical and non-canonical elements, spiced with historical research, and a good deal of imaginative supposition.

His story is premised on two ancient pious traditions: (1) that Joseph was a widower with children when he married a much younger Mary, and (2) that Mary herself had been raised in the Temple at Jerusalem as a sort of Jewish proto-“nun.” These ideas are not Kassel’s inventions, but rather are rooted in the Apocryphal Gospels (such as the Protoevangelium of James), early Christian writings that are largely overlooked in the Western Church today.

The plot of My Brother’s Keeper gets nudged into motion when Joseph is asked to take a teenage Mary as his wife because she is approaching her “impurity” (the onset of menstruation), which will require her to leave the Temple. Mary’s mother, Anna, is dead, and her father, Joachim, is nearing death himself, so the girl needs a home and husbandly protection. The twist is that this arrangement must allow Mary to preserve the celibacy she has chosen for herself.

Thus, Kassel both sets the stage for all kinds of domestic complications within Joseph’s extended household, and advances a neat rationale for the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity which even Protestants might accept. Through such clever literary contrivances, My Brother’s Keeper tries to fill many of the gaps in the Gospels, and answer questions that have challenged the Christian imagination over millennia.

The book’s anchor is James, described in the Bible as “the brother of the Lord,” and in Kassel’s telling the youngest of Joseph’s children. James dreams of becoming a Doctor of the Law. He pursues his goal under the tutelage of Hillel, the most renowned sage of First-Century Judaism, and Gamaliel, Hillel’s grandson (who is recognized as an important leader of the Sanhedrin in The Acts of the Apostle).

As James rises to scholarly prominence, Joseph, on his deathbed, exacts a promise from him to protect Jesus, whom Joseph believes to be the Messiah. James doesn’t share his father’s certainty about Jesus and his spiritual pedigree, but he nevertheless agrees to do what he can—in essence becoming his brother’s keeper. Later in the book, when Jesus’ ministry has begun stirring controversy, James cultivates a friendship with Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, in an effort to make good on the promise to his late father, and assure that Jesus isn’t railroaded by corrupt religious authorities.

Pilate is only one of the Biblical figures who show up in this book, and are revealed in unexpected ways. Joseph of Arimathea and Saul of Tarsus are two others who play surprising roles in James’ life, and add density to the plot. Numerous made-up characters enrich the story as well. In fact, one of the book’s strengths is the variety of perspectives on Jesus, illustrated as people grapple with their questions about this strange prophet from Nazareth.

Looking back 2,000 years, and knowing how things turned out, we sometimes wonder why anyone, at the time, would have missed Jesus’ true nature. But it wasn’t necessarily clear, then, who Jesus was, or what he was up to. The book captures those ambiguous circumstances, maintaining an appropriate atmosphere of tension and uncertainty throughout, until Christ’s post-resurrection appearance to James (mentioned in the Bible) near the end of the story.

Kassel demonstrates a deep appreciation for the Jewishness of Jesus, and for the Old Testament roots of Christianity, evident in his research into the laws and customs of Judaism. His command of the period’s history, the local geography, and especially the political conflicts of Roman-occupied Palestine, make this work instructive as well as entertaining. And it allows the author to avoid either over-romanticizing life in Jesus’ day, or blaming the Jews, as a people, for Christ’s death.

My Brother’s Keeper can be viewed as part of a literary genre concerning Jesus that goes back to at least the second century A.D. But it achieves a contemporary plausibility, to which modern readers can relate, by emphasizing the human dimension of the story over its miraculous aspects. This is a highly engaging work of fiction that can be readily employed in religious education programs for both adults and teenagers—though some care should be taken with young people. Kassel doesn’t soft-pedal the violence of the period. His portrayal of crucifixion is particularly vivid. It makes one appreciate what Christ suffered, but it could be a bit unsettling.

Perhaps if My Brother’s Keeper gains a sufficient following, it might help to bring quality religious novels back into popularity among the general readership. My one concern is that 1,000 years from now, when it’s discovered in cyber-space, it may attain the notoriety of the ancient Apocryphal Gospels, and engender a sequel to The DaVinci Code.

(The eBook edition of My Brother’s Keeper is available in all digital reader formats from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other online eBook retailers. Printed books can be obtained through Ave Maria Radio’s online store at: www.AveMariaRadio.net.)

Rev. Michael P. Orsi is a chaplain and research fellow in law and religion at the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida.


Retrieving Apologetics. Glenn B. Siniscalchi. (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016) 287 pages; $33.00 paperback.

Reviewed By Dennis Feltwell, Ph.D.

Siniscalchi offers a timely study of the apologetic aspects of the New Evangelization. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has described it, the New Evangelization helps the Church to “re-propose the Gospel” to lukewarm, ebbing, or otherwise less-than-committed Catholics. At the same time, Vatican II has empowered the laity to share the Gospel by engaging the modern world through holy living, interreligious dialogue, and social justice. Against this backdrop, apologetics represents the “flip side” to evangelization. This interdependent relationship between the two is also Siniscalchi’s point of departure.

After a helpful orientation by way of the text’s Introduction, Siniscalchi opens with an insightful, stalwart defense of apologetics’ legitimacy. In the first two chapters, he traces the recent history of apologetics from the conciliar documents of Vatican II, to the papal writings from St. John XXIII, through Pope Francis. The “take-home” message of this collective corpus is that defending the faith requires both an effulgent faith, and Christ-like charity. Taking a page from Gaudium et Spes (para. 28), Siniscalchi insists apologetics respects the distinction between error itself, which must be redressed, and the person in error, who always retains his or her dignity. His third chapter closes Part One with a solid argument against postmodern relativism. On the postmodern account, all truth claims are rhetorical, and thereby reduced to the realm of opinion. Siniscalchi’s clear and charitable rebuttal demonstrates the reasonableness of Catholic belief over the postmodern rejection of universal, objective truth.

From there, Siniscalchi employs a classical, step-by-step apologetic method, which moves from philosophical proofs for God’s existence (Part Two) to God’s ultimate self-revelation in Jesus Christ (Part Three). Part Two begins with a chapter which, his title claims, is about retrieving the teaching from Vatican I’s Dei Filius, which argued that God’s existence can be known to all by the natural light of human reason. However, he does not seem to spend any time with the document; he only mentions it as bookends to the chapter’s introduction and conclusion. Instead, he devotes the bulk of this and the next two chapters to Aquinas’ five arguments for God’s existence. Nevertheless, Siniscalchi offers a superb philosophical analysis of each one. In so doing, he underwrites a strong defense of Thomistic metaphysics against purely rational inquiries about nature and morality. His “fine tuning” of Aquinas’ Fifth Way, which closes Part Two, deals nicely with thorny issues that arise from the problems of the Angelic Doctor’s design argument in light of modern science.

Part Three represents the “crown jewels” of Siniscalchi’s classical apologetic strategy. Beginning with the modern “quest for the historical Jesus,” he shows the implicit Christology already at work in a development of the Gospels that is rooted in Jesus’ divine self-understanding, and exemplified by his miraculous works. Siniscalchi proposes sound reasons for faith in Jesus’ bodily resurrection over the final two chapters in this section, where he addresses varying accounts of the resurrection from the Gospels, and several objections to the historicity of those narratives. Collectively, the strength of his analysis facilitates both personal faith in, and apologetic backing for, the resurrection.

The remaining chapters deal with the relevance of apologetics for Christian life and interreligious dialogue. In this portion, Siniscalchi departs somewhat from his classical approach to an experiential method. Drawing from diverse, contrasting evidence like the great saints of the Church, and Her past participation in violence, Siniscalchi shows that the Church is holy not because of its members, but its Head, who is Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s call to holiness, and our redemption from violence, are the very reasons for the incarnation. Thus, as his final chapters demonstrate, only through Jesus can humans find such grace and peace. Because God’s existence is not on par—ontologically or morally—with human existence, we should neither expect to comprehend the problem of evil, nor attempt to blame God for it. By the same token, our God wills that all should be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Whether or not the redeemed are actually aware of this universal, Trinitarian, and saving love, is quite beside the point.

Editorially, Siniscalchi’s prose presents well, with clear footnoting of his research, and sufficient margin space for annotation. While he lists a helpful, extensive bibliography (totaling 12 pages) for suggested further reading, it would have been even more useful to provide an alphabetical subject index for specific preaching topics. Still, Siniscalchi offers a worthy, relevant defense of contemporary apologetics. His readers will find fruitful material to encourage greater love among the committed faithful, and to sow the Gospel’s seeds in the lukewarm believer, and honest seeker.

Dennis Feltwell, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Humanities; Pasco-Hernando State College (Wesley Chapel, FL), and Catechist, Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church (Tampa, FL)


Mother of Mercy: A Month with Mary, Sr. Marie-Paul Farran (Staten Island: St. Paul Books, 2015); translated from the Italian by Arthur Palisada and Michael Goonan

Reviewed by Fr. Edward Looney, STB, M.Div

Sr. Marie-Paul Farran’s Mother of Mercy: A Month with Mary is a straightforward daily devotional, ideal for Marian Months (May and October).  The book, in its daily format, provides a journey through scripture and Marian writings, offering a Marian reflection and prayer.

Each of the 31 days focuses on a specific Marian title, and uses scripture, a quote from a Father or significant thinker, and then a prayer.  The beauty of the titles is two-fold.  First, it introduces readers to varied and unknown titles of Mary.  The first fifteen reflections direct the reader to the Old Testament typological references of Mary, thereby making it an invaluable resource to naming those biblical citations.  The last fifteen pages turn to the New Testament, and these reflections provide excellent teaching into the Marian dogmas of the Church (e.g. perpetual virginity of Mary, motherhood of God).

While the meditations provide an excellent resource of quotes from the Patristic and Middle Ages, it must be noted that there are writings from contemporary thinkers, including Kierkegaard and Claudel.  Additionally, a quote from Martin Luther, tilts the book to an ecumenical bend.  Many of the orations for each day come out of the Byzantinum liturgical tradition.  Such reflections and prayers introduce readers to a side of Marian devotion unseen to many.  This, however, presents a challenge given the nuance of Eastern Mariological thought.  The Eastern Mysticism displayed in the book bodes well with the iconography found on each page, which according to the bibliographic page are icons written by the author herself, from her Benedictine Monastery of Notre Dame du Calvaire in Jerusalem.

Overall, this small, 31-day devotional, can and should be added to one’s Marian repertoire.  It would make for an excellent devotional during the Month of May.  If there was one shortfall of the text, I would suggest that it’s the lack of citations for the quotes provided. The text gives an attribution to the author, but as a researcher, I would have appreciated a full bibliographic citation so I could go directly to the source for further inquiry.  Nevertheless, this short devotional book will lead one on a Marian pilgrimage through both scripture, and the lives of holy people, and foster a greater devotion to the Mother of God, who is, the Mother of Mercy.

Fr. Edward Looney, STB, M.Div was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin on June 6, 2015. A member of the Mariological Society of America, Fr. Looney publishes regularly on Marian topics, including the approved 1859 Wisconsin apparition. His latest devotional book is <i>A Rosary Litany</i>. To learn more, visit http://www.arosarylitany.com or his personal website http://www.edwardlooney.com. You can also follow Fr. Edward on: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud.


The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B. Translated from the French by Michael J. Miller. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015 {2013}, $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-58617-939-7.


Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire by R.J. Snell Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015, $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-62138-126-6

Both books reviewed by Ken Colston.

After five centuries of neglect by moral theology, “acedia” made a publishing comeback in 2015. Two short, crisp books on this forgotten, but ubiquitous, deadly sin, offer differences in approach but are equally wise and well-written—one written by a Benedictine abbot, and the other by a lay professor of philosophy—providing sapiential ressourcement and aggiornamento. If books can save souls, these two abound in that potential.

Abbot Nault blames William of Occam for burying acedia. The Benedictine’s account of the Franciscan’s disservice to moral theology centers on the latter’s decisive break with the Aristotelian-Thomistic analysis of human action and freedom. Whereas Thomas followed Aristotle in defining freedom as “freedom for virtue,” which requires training in good habits built on naturally good inclinations, Occam defined freedom as “liberty of indifference,” denied the attraction of the good, and turned morality into a blind following of God’s arbitrary commands rather than an observance of the natural law necessary for human flourishing. Consequently, acedia disappeared as a serious spiritual sin, and became a species of distraction or melancholy. Indeed, although Nault does not go this far explicitly, this historical account would explain why acedia, to the extent that it survives at all in contemporary thought, is now described principally as depression, a medical condition beyond the will, and treatable with chemicals.

The early desert fathers, however, if they considered acedia (Gr. “carelessness”) as a demonic temptation, nevertheless offered five spiritual remedies, some of them surprising, none of them requiring a medical prescription. Evagrius of Pontus, the monastic pioneer analyst of acedia, proposed tears: “When we come up against the demon of acedia, then with tears let us divide the soul, and have one part offer consolation, and the other receive consolation.” Why should the “good cry” of proverbial common sense work? Tears show care for the need of salvation. Second, Anthony of Egypt recommended work and prayer, telling the story of observing an angel of the Lord sitting and working, then standing up to pray, then sitting again to make a plait of palm leaves, then standing up again to pray, until acedia is cured through ora et labora. Third, Evagrius and John Cassian presented the “antirhettic method,” using Scripture to contradict the devil as Christ confounded Satan in the desert, dashing wicked thoughts with a Biblical verse, as the children of Babylon were dashed on the rock in Psalm 137. Fourth, Benedict formulized Evagrius’s solution of memento mori as part of the Rule: “keep death daily before one’s eyes.” Fifth, sheer willful obedience or fidelity to one’s vow to remain in one’s cell (one’s vocation) at all costs, above all temptations, appears in an anonymous saying: “If you are hungry, eat; if you want to sleep, sleep; but do not leave your cell.”

The fathers described, rather than defined, acedia. It was manifested by interior instability, hypochondria and gluttony, aversion to manual work, neglect in observing the rule, and general discouragement—in Evagrius’s words, “sloth,” “listlessness,” “great fatigue,” “mad and childish with doleful and passionate tears.” These are the effects of the “noonday devil,” the Septuagint’s daemon mesembrinos of Psalm 90:6 (preserved in the Douai-Rheims translation).

Nault turns to Thomas Aquinas for the masterful definitions of acedia: “sorrow for spiritual good” (tristitia de bono divino) and “disgust with activity” (taedium operandi). He follows Cassian (mistakenly thinking he is following Gregory) in discussing the “daughters of acedia,” or what we might today call symptoms: despair (fastidium or disgust of godly things and a feeling of unworthiness), faintheartedness, torpor, rancor, malice, uneasiness of mind, curiosity, loquacity, restlessness of the body, and instability. It is through the ample, succinct detail here that we see the accuracy and depth of Thomistic psychology, for many of these “symptoms” would appear in a modern textbook entry on clinical depression. Thomas’s solution, however, would certainly not, for it is no less than the Incarnation itself:

The desire to enjoy anything is caused by love of that thing. Therefore, man, tending to perfect beatitude, needed inducement to divine love. Nothing, of course, so induces us to love {some}one as the experience of his love for us. But God’s love for men could be demonstrated to man in no way more effective than this: He willed to be united to man in person, for it is proper to love to unite the lover with the beloved as far as possible.

Acedia, however, is a growing cold in beatitude; God’s love warms him back up.

Thus, in the search for beatitude, a man would grow cold, held back by desperation {acedia}. But the fact that God was willing to unite human nature to himself personally, points out to men with greatest clarity that man can be united to God by intellect, and see God immediately.

Not chemicals, but the sacraments, therefore, and sacramentals, devotions, and works of charity, all which we might call the aftershocks of the earthquake Incarnation, are the divinely infused “love-aids” that serve as the “definitive remedy” to the mortal sin of acedia and lead to “joyful perseverance.”

R.J. Snell takes another kind of surprising snapshot of acedia: the character of Judge Holden in Cormac McCarthy’s unsettling western novel, Blood Meridian. This anarchic, chilling, reality-hating incarnation of the Nietzchean sovereign will standing “naked” before creation to become “properly suzerain of the earth” studies the natural world as a mad scientist in the grip of curiositas, sodomizes boys and murders them, and makes a pet of a disabled man before abandoning him in the desert. Snell telescopes out “sloth” to see its potential grounding for cruelty and terror, for it “rejects the burden of order” and delivers a “bleached-out” freedom for “violence against all being.” When you “rob the world of its story,” you replace it with a horror novel.

Snell also returns to Evagrius and Aquinas, but for the wide scope and sheer terror of acedia he ranges across and dives into authors more contemporary such as Rowan Williams, Charles Taylor, Wendell Berry, John Paul II, and Abbot Nault himself to rediscover the inherent meaning in creation that sloth denies. Heidegger reveals the modern’s “third kind of boredom: being bored by boredom itself.” A re-enchanted world, therefore, will return the joy to work and Sabbath, deliver healthy structure to freedom, and find “freshness deep down things.” At ground zero, “sloth is a failure of love.”

The monk and the professor, writing their essays separately, but almost in collaboration and in series, similarly conclude by proposing a small-is-beautiful “new evangelization against acedia” that would grow patiently in the two vocations of Catholic life: the religious community and the family, little ways “reaching out to greatness” by “staying in the cell,” remaining faithful to the gospel as stubborn, joy-filled mustard seeds rather than as rebellious mobs screaming for sweeping reform. Neither author could be less political, but no politician ever proposed anything more momentous and salvific.

Kenneth Colston’s articles have appeared recently in First Things, The New Criterion, New Oxford Review, and LOGOS: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture.

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