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One of the best books on Priest for non-Priests
on August 29, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI declared 2009 to be the "Year of the Priest", and in honor of that proclamation, author Scott Hahn looked to the ministerial priesthood for his newest book, "Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood" (Doubleday, 160 pages, paperback). Most books on the priesthood are written by priests or primarily for priests, so Hahn's book is refreshing by being neither. Writing as a layman, Hahn offers a unique perspective on the priesthood, examining as an outsider looking in. He writes not just for priests, but for anyone curious about the priesthood, one of Catholicism's defining but least understood elements.
"Many Are Called" includes twelve chapters, each exploring a different role that priests play. Some of the roles are obvious, like Mediator and Teacher, while others may be less familiar, like Warrior, Bridegroom, and Brother. The book opens up the priesthood through these introspections, unfolding it like a flower to expose its depths. When a priest celebrates Mass or administers Confession, he is doing much more than distributing bread or making someone feel less guilty. He allows Jesus to enter us, plunging Christ's body and forgiveness from the spiritual realm into our material world. From the view of eternity, priests are the most influential, powerful, and courageous people on Earth. Throughout the book, Hahn uses Church Fathers, chunks of Scripture, and official Church teachings to dig below the surface of reveal the true glory of this ancient vocation.
A small (7.5" x 5") short book (160 widely-spaced pages), "Many Are Called" could probably be condensed to about 120 pages in a normal-sized book. While Hahn's book can be read in one or two sittings, it leaves the impression that more could have been said. "Many Are Called" really just introduces these priestly roles, encouraging deeper exploration elsewhere. Also, as the book focuses exclusively on the ministerial priesthood, it would have been nice to investigate how these priestly roles translate to the "common priesthood" of all Catholics.
With so much anger and calumny directed toward priests today, we sorely need resources that rediscover the beauty and allure of the priesthood. Despite its brevity, Hahn's book does just that. "Many Are Called" is a book the Church needs right now, one that should be given to all young men considering the priesthood, along with anyone curious about the roles of Catholic priests.