Why Rome? That's the question Dr. Taylor Marshall focuses on in his newest book, titled The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity (Saint John Press, 2012.)
Even to someone reading the New Testament for the first time, it's evident that most major events take place in Jerusalem. The city was home to the great Temple, the hub of Jewish life and worship. Jerusalem was also where Jesus died and rose from the dead, making it the holiest site for Christians.
So then why did Rome, not Jerusalem, quickly emerge as the center of Christianity? Was it simply a coincidence or is there some deeper significance? Did Christ intentionally choose Rome as the home-base for his Church?
Taylor recently sat down with me to discuss these questions and more, including whether Paul was a Catholic, why the Church fathers remain relevant, and his favorite books on the origins of Catholicism.
Watch or download our interview below:
1:16 - How is Judaism key to understanding Catholicism?
2:33 - What signs point you to St. Paul's Catholic identity?
4:57 - What clues show that St. Paul was a Catholic priest?
6:11 - Why is the city of Rome so important to Catholicism?
9:46 - What draws you to blog about the Church Fathers?
11:58 - What books would you recommend on the origins of Catholicism?
Q: What signs point you to St. Paul's Catholic identity?
I remember the first time I read the Canons of the Council of Trent [and saw] how often Paul was cited. I thought, it's so strange that the Protestants, Luther and Calvin, all claimed Paul as their own. And then here in the Council of Trent, the Fathers of the Council quote Paul back to them.
As a Protestant I studied a lot [of material] from a theologian named N.T. Wright and he was making arguments that the Protestant consensus was not exactly airtight when it comes to the Bible. He was showing passages where the righteousness of Christ wasn't just imputed, it was infused. Of course this sounds a lot like the Council of Trent and raised a lot of questions.
So I went on a quest where I went through almost every major Catholic topic and looked at what Paul says, not only [about] salvation, but the sacraments, the Eucharist, matrimony, holy orders, priestly celibacy, monasticism, and even sexual issues such as homosexuality, divorce, contraception, and abortion. And I showed that on every single point St. Paul agrees with the Catholic Church.
Taylor's Recommended Books
Here are the three books Taylor recommends at the end of our interview:
- The Apostolic Fathers (Baker Academic, 2007)
- Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words by Rod Bennett
- The Russian Church And The Papacy by Vladimir Soloviev (only $2 at Catholic.com!!)
Be sure to follow Taylor's blog, Canterbury Tales and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. And pick up a copy of Taylor's newest book, Dr. Taylor Marshall focuses on in his newest book, titled The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity:
What are your favorite books on Church history?
As soon as the world learned that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope on March 13, publishers scrambled to produce new books on his life. However, Dr. Matthew Bunson, senior correspondent for Our Sunday Visitor, was already ahead of the game. During the interregnum period between popes, he was busy writing about Pope Benedict's abdication and the forthcoming conclave. After Bergoglio was elected, Matthew quickly turned to his past research on Bergoglio, much of it coming during the 2005 conclave when Bergoglio was widely believed to be the papal runner-up.
On April 5, after three weeks of intense work, Matthew successfully released the first original English-language biography of the new pope. Simply titled Pope Francis, the new book offers background on the Pope's upbringing, snippets from his homilies and writings, and clues to what we can expect from his pontificate.
Matthew recently sat down with me to discuss many of these topics and to introduce the simple and humble head of the Church.
Watch or download our interview below:
1:14 - What should we know about Cardinal Bergoglio's early life?
3:27 - What was Cardinal Bergoglio like as a priest and a bishop?
4:49 - What will the Pope's Jesuit identity mean for his papacy?
6:54 - What direction do you see Pope Francis taking the Church?
9:40 - Who is your favorite saint and why?
Q: What direction will Pope Francis take the Church?
Well, I've said since his election that we know where we're going with him. All we need to do is just hear the name he chose on the night of his election....We know he chose the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. That tells us where we're going.
There are two things about St. Francis of Assisi that people really need to focus on. First, of course, is his love of the poor, which is really a reflection of his love for Christ....The other thing is [St. Francis'] role in bringing about a profound spiritual reform in the Church. And I think that's something that Pope Francis is going to be pushing very aggressively.
Be sure to follow Matthew at the OSV Daily Take Blog and pick up your copy of Pope Francis.
What has been your favorite Pope Francis moment so far?
Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Sr. Maria Suso, O.P., a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the order is one of fastest growing in the country. They began in 1997 with just four sisters and now (humbly) boast more than 115 women.
Two years ago, Oprah Winfrey featured the sisters on her show and they captivated viewers with their bubbling, contagious joy. Just a few weeks ago, they returned to the airwaves to compete in the "The American Bible Challenge", a popular new trivia series. In the first episode, the sisters squared off against two teams and emerged victorious, launching them into the semi-final round tonight at 9:00pm ET/8:00pm CT on the Game Show Network. I've seen a sneak peak of tonight's episode and let me tell you: you don't want to miss it. If the sisters win tonight, they move on to the finals where they could win a $100,000 prize.
Sr. Maria Suso is one of the three sisters competing on the show and also a dear friend from back in college, where even then she was known for her joy and holiness. After the sisters' early victory in "The American Bible Challenge", we sat down to discuss her experiences on the show, the relationship between Catholics and the Bible, and how we all can acquire more joy.
Watch or download our interview below:
2:01 - What was the most challenging part of the trivia show?
2:33 - How did being a religious sister prepare you for the game show?
3:37 - How do shows like this change the misperception that Catholics don't know the Bible?
5:31 - Why is joy so important to the spiritual life?
6:54 - How can we find joy?
8:23 - How did you hone those spoon-flipping skills?
Q: How did being a religious sister prepare you for the game show?
Well, our daily life as sisters is very much a preparation for this kind of activity, as unusual as it might be. When we wake up in the morning we start right away with the Office of Readings, which is part of the Liturgy of the Hours, which Catholics all over the world pray everyday, especially priests and religious. That has long passages of Scripture that we really dive into.
Throughout the day we also pray the Psalms and other parts of Scripture, and of course have daily Mass. We also have a half-hour of meditation every morning, and most of the sisters will frequently use Scripture for that meditation.
Check out the Sisters of Mary website, SistersOfMary.org and be sure to like their excellent Facebook page.
Did you catch the sisters on the "American Bible Challenge"?
Today's interview is a little unusual. First, it took place about a year ago, so I've waited awhile to post it. Second, I was actually the person being interviewed. Nevertheless, since it was such a great conversation with one of the Church's most fascinating leaders, I thought I'd share it here.
Back in November 2011, I had the pleasure of chatting with Cardinal Timothy Dolan. He invited me onto his weekly radio show, then called "A Conversation with the Archbishop and now called "Conversation with Cardinal Dolan", and along with co-host Fr. Dave Dwyer we had a blast. Cardinal Dolan was just as warm, funny, and gracious as he comes across in his preaching and writing.
At the time, my book on the Church and new media just came out, for which Cardinal Dolan wrote the Afterword. So we discussed the book, including the reasons why Catholics are generally hesitant toward new media, how we can begin to change that picture, and shining examples we can turn to for inspiration.
1:07 - Summary of The Church and New Media book
1:28 - The Incarnation as the ultimate communication
3:00 - Does the Church need to communicate better?
4:00 - Is the Church lagging behind with new media?
6:27 - Fr. Barron's YouTube evangelism
7:52 - The digital Areopagus
8:26 - How can Church leaders get help with new media?
10:00 - With this digital revolution, are Catholic newspapers dead?
11:57 - Stories from Brandon's blog
12:46 - What are some recommended Catholic blogs?
13:44 - Negative effects of new media
14:30 - Cardinal Dolan's online Lenten video
15:16 - Virtual tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral
15:46 - New media giving the Church a human face
16:17 - Pope Benedict's digital example
17:05 - Other recommended Catholic websites
18:26 - If Jesus walked the earth today, would he use new media?
Cardinal Dolan: What I praise with the technological revolution within the Church is the full activity of our laypeople. This is an area where our laypeople, and our young people, are leading and showing us the way. We bishops marvel at the blogs and websites of committed, educated laypeople. Is that correct, Brandon? Do you think I'm on to something?
Brandon Vogt: You are, you hit the nail on the head. And that's precisely why these tools are such great gifts from God. When you look at the demographics of the Church, the most distant demographic has long been the young adults. They're the ones least likely to come to Mass, and least likely to participate in the sacraments, yet these are also those who are most active in these new media realms. So it seems in a certain sense that, believing in the Providence of God, that he has dropped these tools to us at this particular time in history to act as a bridge between the Church and those who are most distant from her.
Cardinal Dolan: I don't know if you'd agree or not, Brandon, but I've heard it said that the Catholic Church was one of the first religions to get into the newspapers. Rare would be the diocese that didn't have a newspaper, and if I understand correctly as a historian, that really got started back with St. Francis de Sales, who to this day is the patron of the Catholic press. But although we made tremendous strides with newspapers, when television and radio came, we didn't keep up. Yeah, we had some stars like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, but in general we didn't keep up and the great progress we made with newspapers did not continue. Some people today are even saying the days of newspapers are over. Would dioceses be better off getting rid of their diocesan newspaper and investing heavily in these other technologies? What do you think?
Brandon Vogt: I don't think the days of print and newspapers are over. You know, some people are even pronouncing the death of the book which, as a bibliophile, terrifies me. I don't think the days are over, but I think the solution is more both/and rather than either/or. What I like to encourage dioceses to do is dedicate one full-time staff person to online ministry. It needs to be separate from your communications and public relations departments, which are typically more reactive. Online ministry is more proactive and conducive to conversation, engagement, and community. A great place to look for somebody like that is the Catholic colleges. Or look to a young graduate who is probably savvy with these skills and who could really help a diocese or a parish.
Check out Cardinal Dolan's blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age and be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Why should the Church use new media?