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Church History : A Complete History of the Catholic Church to the Present Day Paperback – January 1, 1930
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Top customer reviews
Don't expect much about the 20th century; you need a good 50-100 years in the rearview mirror to get any worthwhile perspective.
The great Catholic historian, Hilaire Belloc, averred that "Europe is the Faith; and the Faith is Europe." On completing Father Laux's very important study, I can expand even on Belloc's proposition: Western Civilization is the Faith. And the Faith is best represented in Holy Church, the Mystical Body of Church. Father John's book is the history of Holy Church, and, therefore, it is truly the history of our civilization, writ large for all to see.
The book is beautifully written, and thoroughly documented. Father Laux deals skillfully and, yes, even lovingly, with all of the great epics of Holy Church, from her very beginnings at Pentacost to the Age of the Martyrs, the Arian deception, the Schism with the East, the Great Western Schism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the horror of the French Revolution, and on into modern times. The books ends in the early forties, during the pontificate of Pius XII and the terrible times of the second world war. All told, it is a story of glory and tragedy. Indeed, it is the story of our world.
Father Laux ends by invoking the memory of the Pharisee who, in cautioning his compatriots relative to persecution of the early Church warned them that if this thing is of God, then whatever they strive to do to suppress it will be in vain. This Thing is the Mystical Body of Christ. And, as dark as things may seem from time to time, the gates of Hell shall surely not prevail against it.
We are deeply grateful to Father Laux for this wonderful and very important book. And we are equally grateful to the wonderful folks at TAN books of Rockford, Illinois for making available in this beautiful format.
As I said, this is just my opinion.
Father Laux begins his study with the early Church. His materials are obviously selections from the Bible, but he also makes use of other documents that help explain the development of the early Catholic Church. Father Laux mentions that St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107 AD)was one of the first to use the term "Catholic Church." Readers should note that St. Ignatius of Antioch was a contemporary of St. John who is credited with writing the Gospel of John and Revelations or the Apocalypse. In other words the earliest Christians referred to themselves as Catholics and belonging to the Catholic (Universal Church). If this causes apoplexy among Protestants who define their religion by Catholic bashing, that is too bad because the sources are there.
Father Laux gives an interesting account of the survivial of the Catholic Church even as the central authority of the Roman Empire disintegrated. This is an important part of the history of the Catholic Church simply because the Catholic authroities maintained a disciplined organization which united Europeans when nothing else would. There were obvious exceptions to this trend, but the fact is that the Catholic Church united European men and women when there was political chaos during the Dark Ages (c. 500-750).
Father Laux's treatment of the monks and nuns is important. Father Laux presents a clear and incisive history of these forgotten heroes and heroines. The monks and nuns of the so-called dark ages preserved learning and Western Civilization. Father Laux cites these people for their devotion and tireless efforts. Readers should note that monks and nuns hand copied books including the Bible. They taught men how to drain swamps, clear land, farm, rotate crops, etc. The monastic schools and the schools organized for nuns were the only ones that existed until the development of the cathedral schools and universities which were developed later.
Father Laux did a credible job regarding the power struggles between the European secular rulers and Catholic authorities. For example readers should consult his explanation of the power struggle between the German ruler Henry IV (1056-1106)vs. Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085). These struggles were crucial for the survial of the Catholic Church if the Catholic authorities were to have credibility both as religious men and women and as the Universal Church rather than a national church with limited vision and narrow scope.
Father Laux does an outstanding job in detailing the history of the Catholic universities and the great philosophical achievement of the Scholastic scholars. One should note Father Laux's appreciation of St. Thomas Aguinas (1225-1274). Those who make the blunder that the Catholic authroities tried to keep men and women ignorant cannot explain that if this were so, then why the Catholic authorities promote universities to educate larger numbers of people.
Father Laux shows surprising objectivity in assessing the Renaissance Catholic Church and then explaining the Reformation. For example, he gives an honest and charitible view of Savanrola (1452-1498). Father Laux is clear that while Savanarola was executied for heresy, Savanarola exectuion was political. In other words, Father Laux praises a supposed heretic who was probably a decent man.
Father Laux's graphic descriptions of the events during the Reformation are specific and honest. Father Laux does not conceal some of the problems and corruption within the Catholic Church during the 15th and 16th centuries. Yet, Father Laux also gives high praise to the Counter Reformation and especially the work of the Jesuits. Readers should read FAther Laux's description of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) and St. Francis Xavier (1509-1552). Part of the Counter Reformation included the significant work that Catholic missionaries did in the Americans beginning in the 16th century.
Father Laux has good details regarding the modern Catholic Church(modern to the publication date of the book). He explains the gradual loss of the land belonging to the Papal States. He deals with the challenge of "Modernity." Father Laux's assessments of modern Popes and dignatarie are worth reading.
While no one could write a complete history of the Catholic Church without producing something close to a five foot book shelf, Father Laux's book is a very good start. He is suprisingly honest and writes well. Father Laux refers readers to other sources. A good companion volume is Thomas Woods book titled HOW THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BUILT WESTERN CIVILIZATION. Father Laux's CHURCH HISTORY is well worth reading.
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