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Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build—and Can Help Rebuild—Western Civilization Hardcover – November 23, 2017
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"Fr. Slattery's book is the final blow to theEnlightenment's version of Western history, in which the Church was nothing butan obstacle to progress. I heartily recommend it."
--Thomas Woods, Ph.D., New York Times best-seller author of ThePolitically Incorrect Guide to American History, and also of Howthe Catholic Church Built Western Civilization
"This book is the excellent fruit of FatherSlattery's years of serious scholarly study of the great men who have madehistory because they loved the Catholic faith and gave witness to it in everyaspect of their lives. His work not only permits us to know them in depth butalso inspires us to follow in their footsteps for the transformation of ourtimes."
--Cardinal Raymond Burke, Author, Hope for the World: To Unite All Things in Christ
"Fr. Slattery'sinsightful depictions of the chaos within the collapsing Roman societyand the brutality of the invading barbarians highlight the awe-inspiring gifts,generosity and courage of those priests of Jesus Christ who invented Westerncivilization. The light of Christ they brought into the darkness of the earlyMiddle Ages became the blazing fire of Christendom, and priests stoked andguided that fire into the modern age."
--Fr. Mitch Pacwa,S.J., Author and Host, EWTN Live
"Fr. Slattery's book on true heroism shows usthat holy courage and love of the people divinely entrusted to them is whatmade countless clerics so pivotal in the contours and changes of the Westernworld."
--Fr. David Meconi,S.J., Professor of Patristics, St. Louis University; Editor, Homiletic& Pastoral Review
"I am happy to recommend Father William Slattery's book... [about]the ethos of heroism and genius that inspirited the builders of Christiancivilization ‒ and that caninspire the builders of another Christian culture in the future whether inAfrica, Asia, Europe or the Americas."
--Cardinal RobertSarah, Author of God or Nothing and ThePower of Silence
"This extraordinary book is an essential read for anyonedesiring to understand where we have come from and where we presently are, whatwe were saved from and what we are in grave danger of losing.
--Michael D. O'Brien, Author, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
"Heroism andGenius will open windows for the general public to unknown vistas ofhistory--and in a delightful way. As one travels through the chapters there is asensation of climbing a mountain and being exposed to ever vaster panoramas ofthrilling landscapes."
--Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, President Emeritus of the PontificalCommittee for Historical Sciences
From the Author
Milestones of the Catholic Struggle to Build a New Civilization,circa a.d. 200-1300
Rescuing from a Burning City
Saga of Centuries: The Conversion of Europe
Birth of a Remarkable Institution: The Parish
The Hair's Breadth
Chapter 8: Clandestine Revolutionaries of Romanticism
Chapter 9: Men with Music, Artistry, and Drama in Their Souls
Chapter 10: Founders of Free-Market Economics
Conclusion: Standing on the Capitoline: Gazing toward Past and
Afterword:May the Long Line Never Be Broken!
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'Heroism and Genius' is, not just a rebuttal of such lies, but presents the actual facts of what happened.
As night fell over Rome, and the west devolved into the chaos brought on by successive waves of barbarian tribes, the church alone kept learning and justice alive. Great men - Ambrose, Augustine, Leo, and Gregory - appeared to guide the church.
As the historian Toynbee wrote, "It is no exaggeration to say that the whole of the...economic development...of the west...can be traced..to St. Benedict" (p 61), and his hard working monks. The monks did not spend their time only in prayer, but they strove to clear lands, drain wetlands, and made great strides in agriculture, including many new inventions. They also saved the written inheritance of Rome by copying ancient books.
The Catholic west was the first society to develop real science, not just a new technological toy here or there, but why? Why didn't the great civilizations of China, India, or Egypt develop science? China had centuries of stable rule, and a true reverence for learning and books. Yet only in the comparatively primitive Catholic Middle Ages did science begin and flourish, not to mention universities and the concept of human rights.
All of which developed because the Catholic church taught that God was reason, and brought the world "into existence sealed with a causal structure" (p 61) which man could study and learn from. The great minds in ancient Greece had been over-theoretical. The hardy, down-to-earth monks sought for practical methods to plow land, store grain, and help the poor nearby.
Irish monks like Columba and Columbanus traveled across Europe, restoring centers of learning in new monasteries. They also spread the Irish form of confession, which was made privately, and with a penance given confidentially. In Ireland, priest confessors were called anam chara (soul friend) or animae carus (beloved of my soul). Isn't that lovely?
The historian Christopher Dawson called 'this seminal epoch of Western civilization the 'Age of the Monks'" (p 90) such as Boniface. Charlemagne and Alcuin in France began "a mass-literacy movement...by teaching children from about seven to seventeen...providing them with manuscripts of the Gospels...and classical authors" (p 73), and they provided the education free of charge, and with daily food free to the children as well. In monastery libraries, such intellectuals as the Venerable Bede "translated the Gospel of Saint John into Old English" (p 88).
Knighthood was a way to "channel the passions of masculinity" (p 153) and the brutal culture of the barbarians and make it holy. "From the tenth to the twelfth centuries, priests relentlessly strove...to create a...Christianizing ideal" (p 154) of a knight. The knight went through a solemn rite of initiation, rich in symbolism and Christian vows, and went out to fight, not just for a lord, but only for holy, just causes. If your overlord demanded you attack unjustly, it was your duty to refuse. Blind obedience found no purchase in knighthood.
I should also mention that this is lavishly illustrated.
What interests my most of all,however, is the hope that the same spiritual energy and devotion can energize modern culture. Here I am much more doubtful. This is because the great scientific and humane accomplishments of the medieval priesthood have passed into the possession and administration of the modern state which has usurped the role of the priesthood to "teach, sanctify, and govern". In large part the Protestant Reformation was responsible for this. By demolishing Catholic unity into warring factions, the state stepped into the gap. The modern state tolerates priests as long as they operate within the four walls of their churches. However, we should forcibly remind ourselves that the main purpose of the priesthood is the salvation of souls. Here is an opening. The state is not concerned with this but to provide people with as much as possible of whatever they want. And what do they want? In one of my earlier books I indicate four values of modern culture:absolute autonomy, consumerism,sexual gratification, and entertainment. These are calculated to lull people into a kind of pacific unity. This has not quite worked out that way because these values are base and unworthy. Here is an opportunity for the Church. But She cannot take it if the "Spirit of Vatican II" continues to prevail which was a compromise with modernity. What has to be done is restore the Traditional Latin Mass (see chapter 6) everywhere
as the Novus Ordo vernacular Mass is a complete disaster. Communities built around the Latin Mass cannot but restore tradition as that liturgy,the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven, will be the anchor that will moor the boat of Peter. Nothing short of that will attract young men to the priesthood and begin the slow return to tradition.