Catholic Book Spotlight

Book Review by Mary Hilmes
Mary Hilmes is a stay-at-home mother of five in Missouri.  She loves to read!

Priests for the Third Millennium
by Bishop Timothy M. Dolan
Our Sunday Visitor
334 Pages



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Thanks to the urging of a good friend, I got past the title of this book and actually read it. It only took three or four pages before I was hooked. Compiled at the request of his superiors, Bishop Dolan has put together a collection of his conferences given while he was rector at the North American College in Rome. The most important thing to note is that this book is not written just for priests! All you need to do is substitute “practicing Catholic” or “mom” or “dad” and you will see that most of the practices and habits he suggests would be helpful to anyone, not just priests.

The book is written in two sections. The first section, titled “Living the Christian Life”, devotes one chapter each to a discussion of a particular virtue. Bishop Dolan goes beyond the basic faith, hope and love, including such topics as obedience, patience, courtesy, simplicity and even joy. He begins with a scripture reference, and then details his objective, usually with a story. Next, he goes on to explain what the virtue is, giving reasons and benefits for practicing the virtue. Following that, he uses many concrete examples of how to practice the virtue. At the end of each chapter, he closes with a prayer.

The second section, titled “Living the Priestly Life”, is written in the same way. It is much shorter than the first section and some may not find it as pertinent. I still found it interesting and helpful, especially in terms of understanding what is expected of priests, and what they are being taught. There is a chapter on Celibacy and Chastity, with some blunt discussion of sexual temptations, vices and habits. His comments and examples are brief, and to the point. He does not dwell on the discussion, but offers encouragement and advice for anyone feeling himself so tempted.

Bishop Dolan is an excellent speaker (from personal experience) and this comes across in his writing. His examples are filled with many personal and often humorous anecdotes and he is not beyond poking fun at himself. Besides the beautiful prayers in each chapter, there are many pertinent and thought-provoking quotes. The quotes he uses are diverse, and come not only from scripture, but from the saints, writing of the popes, popular authors and even Ben Franklin.

In days when much discussion including the word “priest” is negative, this book is a wonderful difference. It is positive, encouraging and offers hope for priests, as well as anyone who will strive to follow his advice. The format makes it ideal to take along for a visit to the chapel or to read in small sections. I don’t have enough thumbs to give it the praise I feel it deserves.

Mary Hilmes is a stay-at-home mother of five in Missouri.  She loves to read!

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