BOOK REVIEW: A Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium

Modern Sinners Guide FRONT COVERAward winning journalist Angelo Stagnaro offers a version of the Venerable Louis de Granada’s The Sinner’s Guide, for the internet age. Introducing himself as an experienced yet repentant sinner, he explains the foundations of Catholicism’s harmartiology (theology of sin), a theology that takes sin seriously as an offence against life, love and logic, an insult to God and his creation, as something to be avoided at all costs. Stagnaro does not mince words in this book: “There is no way to earn Heaven, but a million ways to merit Hell” (p. 40). God’s gracious mercy is stressed but never taken for granted and he never soft-pedals on matters such as Original Sin which commonly bewilders and alienates moderns. Careful explanations of Purgatory and Indulgences, of Vincible and Invincible Ignorance are provided. The reader is treated to a comprehensive overview of the Catholic context on sin before getting down to sin’s detailed branches. Continue reading here.

Advertisements
BOOK REVIEW: A Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium

NEW: ICONS AS RESISTANCE – CHALLENGING THE NEW ICONOCLASM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

ICONS AS RESISTANCE Front Cover GoodHope and Life Press (HLP) is pleased to announce the release of the book Icons as Resistance: Challenging the New Iconoclasm in the Catholic Church by Maltese-American author and HLP founder Marcelle Bartolo-Abela. This book documents a series of engaging conversations about the role that icons have in the Church at large and the role they can play at present in the Roman Catholic Church itself. These conversations were held between the author and a group of traditional Catholics earlier this year.

The Western Catholic Church is fast losing her centuries-old sense of the uncreated beauty of God, as manifested through the created beauty of sacred art, by buying into postmodern minimalism for new churches. This loss is occurring despite the Church’s longstanding tradition as Patroness of the Arts and the 1999 call of Saint John Paul II for the urgent need to return to “epiphanies of beauty” in Catholic churches worldwide. In the meantime, icons and iconographic frescos that populate Orthodox churches remain much sought after by believers and non-believers alike for their timeless beauty and inescapable sense of the transcendent. Will the People of God be able to resist the new iconoclasm characterized by facelessness in the Western Church through the triumphant and hidden power of icons?

Icons as Resistance: Challenging the New Iconoclasm in the Catholic Church is available in ebook edition only from Amazon and directly from the publishers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marcelle Bartolo-Abela is a Maltese-American consultant on the interface of multiculturalism, psychology, spirituality, and the political sphere. A first-generation immigrant to America, she served as a mental health clinician in hospital, community, private practice settings in the Northeast US and Malta. She has lectured on psychology and psychotherapy to psychiatry residents and graduate students in the US, UK, and Malta. She also served as consultant to faculty and program managers on the combined provision of multicultural psychology and spirituality services. In addition, Bartolo-Abela has provided advocacy and consultation on the issues of free speech rights in relation to criminalization discourses in the legislative agenda First Malta Then the World.

Bartolo-Abela is the author of nine books on the Catholic Faith and spirituality including Deification of Man in Christianity, The Icon of the Divine Heart of God the Father, and Who Are You? What is Your Faith? America’s 21st Century Alt-Right and Catholic Social Doctrine. This last book has received support from Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Bartolo-Abela holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Springfield College, the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methodologies in the Social Sciences from Middlesex University, and the Certificate in Catholic Social Doctrine for Professionals from The Catholic University of America. Bartolo-Abela is a mid-level apprentice in Russian-Byzantine iconography. Her icons can be found in churches and private collections in the US, Italy, and Malta.

NEW: ICONS AS RESISTANCE – CHALLENGING THE NEW ICONOCLASM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

NEWS: Hope and Life Press welcomes Filipino-American psychologist B. J. Gonzalvo

bjgonzalvo headshotHope and Life Press (HLP) is proud to welcome B. J. Gonzalvo, Ph.D., a Catholic Filipino-American organizational psychologist and veteran. Gonzalvo comes on board with his book Leadership Development Training With the Saints, which is scheduled to be released by HLP in early 2018, in paperback and ebook editions.

Gonzalvo is currently the manager of a human capital analytics program with a large HR agency and has experience serving various organizations including government, military and nonprofit. Gonzalvo served in the US Navy as a logistics specialist and in the Air Force Reserves as a psychology technician. In the late 1990s, he was deployed to Southwest Asia as part of Operation Northern Watch. He was also a research fellow at the United States (US) Department of Defense in Arlington, Virginia.

Giving back to the communities that have supported him throughout the years means a lot to Gonzalvo.  He volunteers as a management consultant at 501 Commons, a nonprofit organization that helps to boost the capacity of other nonprofits, and has researched leadership for them and analyzed a volunteer engagement study. Gonzalvo also volunteers for various Filipino organizations and events, in particular those held by the Filipino American National Historical Society, as his racial and ethnic heritage is a source of pride and gives him a sense of belonging.

The Catholic Faith and music are two of Gonzalvo’s most closely-held passions. These lead him to also volunteer as a musician for the Couples for Christ community and other church groups. In addition, he serves as a catechist at his local parish.

​Gonzalvo was born and raised in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines. He moved to Seattle, WA, with his parents and younger brother when he was 15 years old. Gonzalvo spent a total of six agonizing years in high school (three years in the Philippines, three years in the US) and “don’t ask me why!”  He then graduated one semester early from Mount Rainier High School, Des Moines, WA.

With little-to-no specific direction in life and zero savings for college tuition despite working 50 hours a week at McDonalds and Taco Bell, the military because Gonzalvo’s number one career option, especially since he already had two uncles who were also in the military. He travelled to several places and met many interesting people. More importantly, he learned discipline and gained an amazing work experience that allowed him to concurrently serve in the US and earn his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington, the Master’s, and his Ph.D., in Psychology from Walden University.

Gonzalvo is the author of Lessons in Leadership From the Saints: Called to Holiness, Called to Lead (Westbow Press). He is alos a member of the American Psychological Association. Gonzalvo contributes to Northwest Catholic and writes regularly for Mind & Spirit Magazine, which integrates psychology and the Catholic Faith. His latest book Leadership Development Training With the Saints (Hope & Life Press) will be released early next year. He is also working on another book titled Varieties of Filipino American Catholic Experience. Gonzalvo lives with his wife and two children outside of Seattle, WA, and considers himself blessed to be able to do many fun things, including his most favored activity of spending time with his growing family.

NEWS: Hope and Life Press welcomes Filipino-American psychologist B. J. Gonzalvo

NEW: PURSUING HOLINESS IN TODAY’S WORLD by Angelo Stagnaro

pursuing holiness in today's world FRONT COVER

Hope and Life Press is pleased to announce the release of the book Pursuing Holiness in Today’s World by the National Catholic Register’s award-winning editorialist Angelo Stagnaro. The book has been granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur by the Diocese of Brooklyn. Pursuing Holiness in Today’s World addresses the nature of good and evil, the nature of goodness and humility, and how to become holy in our present times. It includes sections on the relationship between love, life and logic, and the foundations of Christianity. An in-depth look is taken at why pain and suffering exist, what sins are and are not, temptations and how to avoid them, as well as the nature of indulgences and how to gain them. A chapter is devoted to the art and science of making a good confession, with different and thorough examinations of conscience based on the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Pursuing Holiness in Today’s World is available in paperback and ebook edition from Amazon, directly from the publishers, and from major bookstores. It can also be found at the Vatican libraries.

EARLY REVIEW

“One chapter tremendously useful in this book is The Art and Science of a Good Confession. The great truth of our Faith is that we can be completely forgiven if we make a good confession. Preparing for confession is essential for spiritual growth and health, and the exercises provided here, along with the encouragement to trust in God’s forgiveness, is a sign that God’s mercy is an essential part of the message” Maria McFadden Maffucci, Editor, Human Life Review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

angelo-stagnaroAngelo Stagnaro is an award-winning journalist with the UN, newspapers and international wire services in the United States of America (US), Europe and Australia. He is the Catholic News Service’s chief correspondent in New York City, the principal liaison for the Holy See, and an editorialist for the National Catholic Register. His major articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Catholic Herald, National Catholic Reporter, America Magazine, and The Tablet among others. Stagnaro is the author of several books on Catholic spirituality including How to Pray the Dominican Way, The Pro-Life Apologetics Manual, The Christian Book of the Dead, and The Catechist’s Magic Kit. A professional stage mentalist and one of the world’s experts on cold reading, he is also the author of eight seminal works on stage magic and cold reading that have been translated into multiple languages. Stagnaro graduated from SUNY-Albany and Kansai Gaikokugo Daigaku with specializations in the Ethnology of Religion, Comparative Asian Religions and Physical Anthropology. He also pursued theological studies at the University of Notre Dame. Stagnaro is a professed member of the Secular Franciscans and has served as RCIA catechist in New York and Singapore.

NEW: PURSUING HOLINESS IN TODAY’S WORLD by Angelo Stagnaro

EARLY REVIEW #2: A Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium by Angelo Stagnaro

Modern Sinners Guide FRONT COVERAngelo Stagnaro has taken on a hugely ambitious task in his 450+ page book titled A Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium. Yet, the breadth of undertaking makes sense when you see that it is a modern understanding and reworking of Venerable Louis of Granada’s original ‘A Sinner’s Guide.’

Venerable Louis de Granada was an influential and beloved Dominican preacher and writer of the 16th century. His Sinner’s Guide is a classic Catholic spiritual work; written for the common man, yet a major influence on some of our greatest saints like Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Charles Borromeo.

Stagnaro has indeed followed in formidable footsteps and does so admirably. Most important for the reader, the length of the book should cause no anxiety. It is not a cover-to-cover read, but a true guidebook, a valuable directory of sin – what sin is, what kinds of sins there are, how they are manifested in our times and how we can work to avoid them. And despite the guilt-inducing subject matter, A Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium is quite an engaging and even enjoyable read as Stagnaro writes with compassion, humility – “my expertise in writing this book is that I have been, and still am, a spectacular sinner,” he says – and refreshing flashes of humor. The book is timely. In an age that has forgotten that sin is an objective thing – as Stagnaro says, “atheists and other secularists deride the term” – nonetheless, “living without values is a sure ticket to self-destruction.”

The Modern Sinner’s Guide outlines the seven deadly sins and then explores the sins pertaining to each of the Ten Commandments, but with some interesting modern developments. For example, under the deadly sin of anger, Stagnaro talks about the nature of anger and hatred, with subsections on gossip and Schadenfreude. To describe the latter, Stagnaro makes use of current cultural references (as he does throughout), in this case, the popular animated series The Simpsons:

In one Simpsons episode, Lisa, angry at her brother, Bart, managed to feel a modicum of pity for his lowly state. She said, “It’s amazing how I can feel sorry for you and hate you at the same time . . . the Germans probably have a word for it.” The Germans, being master wordsmiths, actually do have a word for it: Haßliebe (pronounced: hassliebe). This may not be as well-known to Americans, but another German word is much more popular in English. Once learning of it, one becomes instantly ashamed and worried that they themselves might be guilty of it: Schadenfreude. This is the shameful joy we experience when we delight at the misfortunes of others. When we think about the emotional and spiritual damage we do to ourselves when we enjoy another’s hardship, it is clear that this is completely unacceptable. One of the worst aspects of Schadenfreude is that the emotions it engenders in the soul can turn to even worse sins such as envy and anger. After all, bad feelings become bad thoughts and bad thoughts become bad actions.

The section based on the Fifth Commandment (You shall not kill) is in itself a stand-alone primer on the sins of the culture of death. The discussions are interesting and sometimes unexpectedly thorough. For example, in the section on suicide, after the sin itself is described, we have an explanation of instances of indirect suicide, which can be “heroic self-sacrifice:” Stagnaro points to Saints Damien of Molokai, Maximillian Kolbe and Edith Stein. But he also points out when indirect suicide can be “other than altruistic,” like purposefully refusing to leave a burning building or provoking an armed soldier or police officer into using lethal force (suicide by cop).

What really stands out in this part of the book is the section on abortion as Stagnaro names and refutes (often with many outside sources) 119 top pro-abortion myths. There is so much good, logical information here that I can imagine it could be used to both educate and arm Catholics on how to advocate for the lives of the unborn. Here is one myth, #37, the refutation of which gets hardly enough notice: “Pro-abortionists are law-abiding, compassionate, peace-loving, nonviolent people . . . unlike Christians.” Stagnaro refutes this, in the passage that follows, writing specifically about abortion providers and whether this myth describes them:

Putting aside the 43 million children killed as a result of the legalization of abortion, which can hardly be considered compassionate, peace-loving and nonviolent, the number of abortion providers who are violent felons is staggering, in particular considering how few there are. The Abortion Crime Report, published by California Right to Life offers a list of newspaper articles about abortionists who have been convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, torture, kidnapping, rape, theft, medical fraud, stalking, death threats, bombing, reporting falsely reporting bomb threats (and falsely blaming pro-lifers), sex crimes, conspiracy, drug crimes, property crimes, medical crimes and stalking among dozens of other crimes. The report of pro-abortion violence lists 2297 incidents of pro-abortion violence and illegal activities. The source for much of the information came from the Medical Board of California, which is responsible for licensing and bringing disciplinary action against state physicians. To this number, we should add the 347 women killed by legal abortions since 1973.                                             

In another contemporary twist, Stagnaro identifies the new seven deadly sins, which include environmental pollution, eugenics, drug trafficking and consumption. There are thought-provoking discussions on some of our modern age’s most contentious and problematic issues.

A brief review cannot comment on the majority of a work such as this, but one more section I will highlight as tremendously useful is The Art and Science of a Good Confession. Because after all the talk of what sins exist and how they can destroy, the great truth of our faith is that we can be completely forgiven – if we make a good confession. Preparing for a good confession is an essential tool for spiritual growth and health, and the exercises provided here, along with the encouragement to trust in God’s forgiveness, is a sign that God’s mercy is an essential part of the message of The Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium.

– Maria McFadden Maffucci, Editor, Human Life Review.

 

 

 

EARLY REVIEW #2: A Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium by Angelo Stagnaro

OUT SOON: The Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium with Imprimatur

The 500-page 7″ x 10″ reference work on hamartiology titled The Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium by award-winning NCR editorialist Angelo Stagnaro, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from the Archdiocese of New York. Based on the original sinner’s guide by Ven. Louis Granada. The Modern Sinner’s Guide will be available in paperback and ebook editions from Amazon, directly from ourselves at Hope & Life Press, and major booksellers. It will also be available at the Vatican libraries including the Gregoriana, the Angelorum, and the Pontifical College of North America.

OUT SOON: The Modern Sinner’s Guide for the Third Millennium with Imprimatur

NEWS: Christmas release of new Cookbook for Catholics

Christmas_lights

Hope and Life Press is thrilled to announce the forthcoming release during the Christmas season of the first edition of the book Forty Italian Rustic Dishes: A Christmas Cookbook for Catholics by National Catholic Register award-winning editorialist and Holy See liaison Angelo Stagnaro, OSF. This is the second volume in Stagnaro’s series of Cookbooks for Catholics and the first in our new line. The book, which will be available in both paperback and ebook editions, has been granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur by the Diocese of Brooklyn.

NEWS: Christmas release of new Cookbook for Catholics

OUT THIS MONTH: The Pro-Life Apologetics Manual

Stagnaro Abortion Book Poster

Image

OUT SOON: The Pro-Life Apologetics Manual by Angelo Stagnaro

OUT SOON: The Pro-Life Apologetics Manual by Angelo Stagnaro

REVIEWS: Another 5* for Judging Angels

Nude Angel

This book is quite a ride! In reading “Judging Angels,” one finds not so much a suspense/mystery novel as — well, spiritual suspense, I suppose. If science fiction can include beings on other planets, then spiritual suspense can include beings in other planes. There’s more than a touch of “The Twilight Zone” in the deliberate–but never slow–pulling aside of the veil, but there’s none of the preachiness that sometimes came with the show. It’s never heavy-handed and the characters are far more realistic in their individual struggles with their faith than are usually portrayed. There’s a distinct lack of religious tropes — there’s no fanatic, no absolute-denier-turned-convert, no almost-became-a-priest — none of the somewhat cartoonish types seen in most books with ostensibly Catholic characters. There is one small, non-religious trope — a kid has talents that are unexpected and helps save the day. It’s a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent story with very little in the way of overused dialogue or plot lines.

What there IS a lot of is well-developed characters and action that follows naturally from their flaws and strengths, both emotional and spiritual. The reactions moving the action along feel authentic, with the characters struggling (sometimes not so much) to rise above their psychological and spiritual injuries.

I can’t remember being so caught up by a story in a long time. The book moves fast; as other reviewers have said, it’s a page-turner. I had committed to reading it during my morning and afternoon train commute, but I broke down and read it over the weekend. The main character, George Able, catches the reader’s attention right off and does not let go. And it isn’t just George; in physics, there is a phenomenon known as the Venturi Effect, in which a fluid is compressed into a narrow space (a tube) and must speed up in order to relieve the pressure. Once the liquid speeds up enough, the pressure drops and forms a vacuum. Each character that comes into George’s life speeds things up that much more in a sort of literary Venturi Effect resulting from the increase in suspense regarding each one’s role and even identity. As in the Venturi Effect, the only way to relieve the pressure (i.e., suspense) is to read faster; and then the reader is caught in the vacuum. But what a ride!

(Source: Amazon)

REVIEWS: Another 5* for Judging Angels