Nov 19, 2010
Book written by: Archbishop Jose H. Gomez
Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2009), 233 pages, Hardback, $12.95 ISBN: 1592766803
Archbishop Jose Gomez, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles, has written a brilliant and inspiring book, “Men of Brave Heart,” about the role of the virtue of courage in the life of priests.
He places his discussion within the context how the virtue of courage was understood in Greek and Roman culture and how that understanding was transformed by the coming of Christianity. He points out that Christianity brought about a new and persuasive approach to virtue training and acquisition.
Seminary professors and moral theologians will appreciate how Archbishop Gomez supplies extensive explanations of the role of the “infused” theological and cardinal virtues as God’s gifts, designed to produce in us the essentials of the life of holiness while at the same time purifying and perfecting the acquired natural virtues.
But this book can be read not only by priests and seminarians and formation directors. It will be helpful for anyone seeking to grow in virtue.
I especially liked the quotes the archbishop selected from St. Thomas Aquinas to support his eight themes about courage. One salient quote is this: “The acquired virtues ready one for civil life, but the infused virtues for a spiritual life, which comes only from grace as a result of the virtuous one’s membership in the Church.”
In general, Archbishop Gomez’ extensive treatment of St. Thomas treats him much more as a spiritual director than as an analytic philosopher or theologian, thereby making the great Church doctor more accessible to his readers.
Archbishop Gomez’s themes range from martyrdom, empowerment by Christ, letting go of fear. He insists that the traditional virtues — the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude — are the missing links in contemporary Catholic spiritual writings. His book is an urgent call to a return to the virtues. And it is a call he makes to those in families raising their children, in schools forming students, in seminaries forming future priests, and in convents shaping the future women religious of our country.