Whenever I get something from Baronius Press a review is almost superfluous. They bring us spiritual classics in a high quality binding and every book I have read of their has been to my good.
Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan is no exception to this rule.
A classic high school text which was used to teach for more than four decades the Faith to generations of English speaking Catholics around the world. Unique in presenting the Faith in a clear, persuasive and understandable manner. Since its demise in 1962 after selling nearly 500,000 copies, no other textbook in English has repeated Sheehan’s successful presentation of the Faith. The new Baronius edition has been updated by Fr. Peter Joseph, of Wagga Wagga, Australia, and is fully endorsed by Cardinal Archbishop Pell.
I am not one to think that everything was better before, something St. Augustine also spoke against, but this textbook is hard to imagine as being adopted in the decades after and including the sixties. Textbooks of this latter period are often and deservingly mocked for their watered down content and total lack of apologetics content. Things are certainly getting better in this direction, though the Jesus coloring book textbooks are not yet gone from the scene either.
“Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine” is a wonderful mixture of presenting theology, philosophy, and apologetics. This is a rather in-depth book of 650 some large pages and each and everyone of them worthwhile. It presents a very full explanation of the faith that starts with belief in God and presents some of the well known ways of knowing God with explanations and examples in Archbishop Sheehan’s unique hand. I’ve read all of these proofs before and they are put rather well here.
In many ways this is much like a Catechism on Catholic Doctrine that takes more time with each area to help explain the faith and to answer common objections along the way. This textbook is not watered down in any way and in fact I think if you placed this book on a felt banner they would mutually annihilate each other. This book which I would assume targeted at the high school audience does not assume the audience to be dummies unable to go deeper into the subject. It pulls no punches and accurately presents the faith and then helps the student to not only understand the faith, but how to defend it.
What I found amazing is that since this book was edited by Fr. Peter Joseph to include the Second Vatican Council, magisterial documents, etc; it was able to do so as if this content was always part of the text. There was no feeling of this being spliced in. This updated information fit write in to the deeper presentation of the faith as the rest of the book contains. There were many things I loved about this book and the clearness of the definitions was very good. For example the chapters on Actual Grace and Sanctifying Grace were very clear. Simply this was not only an informative read, but a joy to read.
I would highly recommend this for private reading, a school setting, and certainly a home school setting. This is pure theological and doctrinal goodness with solid apologetics to boot.