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The Great Catholic Reformers: From Gregory the Great to Dorothy Day Hardcover – October 8, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Pr (October 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809105799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809105793
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,750,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By F. Altman on June 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Anderson, an esteemed professor of Church History at the largest Catholic seminary in the United States, regularly exhorted his students/priests-to-be to understand the great difference between "reformation" - we're all in need of it - and what I would call "deformation." It seems to me that it is one thing to work to amend the shortcomings of each generation - for each has them - but it is quite another to take it upon oneself to deform the Church by stepping outside of it and causing schism and division. Jesus Himself warned of such wolves in sheeps' clothing and prayed for unity among the flock. So did St. Paul.

This scholarly review of those true Reformers throughout the ages also is enjoyable to read in that the Reformers themselves are presented in thier own flawed humanity. Yet each Reformer lived as an examplar of humility and Gospel meekness, even as they suffered to correct issues they faced in their day.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I could give to Dr. Anderson would be that he never gave anyone a free pass when it came to caring for the flock. His love for God, the Church and the Faithful would not allow for it.

Thus, if you are looking for a book that presents a sugar-coated view of the ills that have befallen the historical Catholic Church, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a book that demonstrates how Almighty God, our Father, raises up Saints at all times who with His Grace strive to overcome those ills, this is it. It clearly demonstrates that Jesus wasn't kidding when He said to Peter: "You are Rock, and upon you I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Galahad on July 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book won a 2008 Catholic Press Association Award. It has gotten very good critical reviews as well.The Catholic Press Association wrote:

This book is firmly anchored in the orthodox tradition of the Church. Anderson understands his formidable subjects well, and through a style of writing that invites the reader to respectfully consider each of these great Catholic reformers, he blends a real understanding of the human condition, social mores, and an appreciation for the role of spirituality, critique, and Church discipline. He never loses sight of the use of the method that he proposes for his presentation, a four-step method proposed and championed by the Dominican theologian Yves Congar. The method serves the topic well and the book makes a useful and necessary contribution to furthering the necessary dialogue for reform.(The Catholic Journalist, June 2008)

John O'Malley, the distinguished Church historian wrote:

This book makes use of history for an upfront agenda. "I want to encourage every Catholic," the author writes, "to take up the difficult task of reform. My hope is that people will find a model to inspire them that will suit their own temperaments and spiritual dispositions." My guard immediately went up. Hist-orians fear such agendas as contamination, even though it is a rare (and usually dull) history book that does not have one. The Great Catholic Reformers, though, is so engagingly written and so crammed with interesting information that despite my wariness, I plowed through it to the end. Moreover, as I read on, I found myself ever more in sympathy with the practical points for today that C. Colt Anderson, who teaches at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., makes through his 10 "reformers." (For the full review see America, November 5, 2007)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blair Kaiser on March 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If Dr. Anderson is telling us anything, it is this: that we, the people of God, must always expect some spikey individuals to come along and remind us of some basics -- of who and what we are, that is, "Jesus people" and what is, therefore, expected of each of us. When I noted that his cast of characters -- reformers all, each in their own way -- was overbalanced toward the clerics among us, I asked myself, "If I were writing a similar work, what non-clerical reformers would I include in my lineup?" The very fact that I couldn't think of many laymen and laywomen who were genuine reformers underlines one of the great weaknesses of our Church: for a thousand years at least, it has not been a people's Church but a clerical Church, a Church in which it seems that all our heroes and heroines have to be priests and nuns with one mission in life: to "save souls." In my opinion, this is an unreal, pious, other-worldly agenda that could divert us from the mission that Jesus envisioned: to bring on a kingdom of justice and peace in this life here on earth. This is no radical view, or, if you insist it is, then it is the radical view espoused by Jesus himself, who taught us to pray "Thy kingdom come on earth." (For a fuller account of what is called "reign of God theology," see N.T. Wright: "Surprised by Hope.")

Highlight of this book: Prof. Anderson's chapter on Cardinal Newman, perhaps the first Catholic writer to underline the importance to us all of history -- "the great teacher," according to Pope John XXIII. In doing so, writes Prof. Anderson, Newman inspired that whole generation of scholars and theologians who led the Fathers of Vatican II down a creative new path.

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER, author of "Cardinal Mahony: A Novel."
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The Great Catholic Reformers: From Gregory the Great to Dorothy Day
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