June 13, 2017

Book Review - "That Nothing May be Lost"

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer *
Official book cover: That Nothing May be Lost / Credit: Ignatius Press
Official book cover: That Nothing May be Lost / Credit: Ignatius Press

Father Paul Scalia has compiled a series of his essays in a book, That Nothing May be Lost, that help Catholics answer the question: “What does it mean to think like a Catholic?”

The answer he offers is not a series of doctrinal points to memorize, but reflections on the Church’s teachings – that “‘saving doctrine’ that brings health and peace to the soul.”

Included as an appendix to the book is Father Scalia’s homily at the funeral Mass of his father, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Father Scalia’s homily perfectly encompasses the “worldview” of Catholics, particularly on our own certain finality. 

His remarks began: “We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more; a man loved by many, scorned by others; a man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”

Facing the death of his dad, Father Scalia focused attention where it always should be – on God.

Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, in a beautiful forward to That Nothing May be Lost, writes: “[t]he story of salvation is the story of a family of vocation lay, priestly, and religious – each needing and supporting the other on the pilgrim way to heaven. The wonderful book of essays and thoughts you now have in your hands is part diary and part guide on the road we all share.”

That Nothing May be Lost is not a “beach read” to be quickly finished over the weekend. Instead, like all good spiritual reading, it should be on the nightstand or in the briefcase, backpack or purse and opened up in those stolen moments of silence during a noisy and hectic day when just 10 to 15 minutes or so of reading and reflection can direct thoughts and actions toward heaven.  

The book’s title refers to Christ’s instruction to His disciples after the crowds had their fill at the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish: “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” Taking to heart the Church’s call to her priests to care for both the Catholic faith and the souls of her children, Father Scalia contributes to the Church’s tradition of handing down the faith “whole and entire for the salvation of souls.” In so doing, the hope is that nothing and no one may be lost. 
 
Father Scalia asked other Catholics to introduce each of the chapters of his book. Those chosen include a veritable “all-star team” of contemporary Catholic authors and leaders. Their introductions are brief, sincere and reflect humility as well as a deep love of God and His Church. 
   
Each of the book’s nine chapters include the introductory essay and several short essays written by Father Scalia that address the following elements of faith: “The Lord: knowing and loving Jesus of Nazareth”; “The Church: knowing and loving the body of Christ”; “Paradoxes of faith: the tension and balance of Catholic teaching”; “The sacraments: Christ’s life placed within us”; “The Virgin Mary: the beauty and the power of the Mother of God”; “The saints: the mortal masterpieces of God’s grace”; “Prayer: in conversation with God”; “The life of grace: Christ within us”; and, “Feasts: the pattern and rhythm of the Christian life.” Some of the essays comment on specific liturgical feasts, the sacraments, and the Catholic devotion to Mary, while others tackle the centrality of paradox in Catholic thought, the purpose and importance of prayer, and the role of grace in our lives – the trust in God that transforms.

Father Scalia remarked of his dad during the funeral Mass homily the following: “He was a practicing Catholic – practicing in the sense that he hadn’t perfected it yet. Or, rather, that Christ was not yet perfected in him. And only those in whom Christ is brought to perfection can enter heaven.” As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” That Nothing May be Lost is a great resource for people of faith – both Catholic and non-Catholic – in the great struggle towards perfection.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation. Her legal career has been dedicated to civil rights advocacy.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.

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