Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Catholic Priest: The Image of Christ

Hi everyone! Just recently received an email from the author of a world-renowned book, Mr. Steen Heidemann, entitled The Catholic Priest; The Image of Christ asking me if I would be so kind as to write a small book review to promote his book on the website that I currently work on A Place to Explore Your Calling to be a Catholic Priest. I told him that I would. So here is my final review, on the wonderful masterpiece that surely will influence vocations to the Catholic priesthood for years to come. This review can also be found on our website under the news page. God Bless!

As a means of honoring the priesthood, Pope Benedict XVI declared last year to be the “Year of the Priest” but these heroic men need more than just one year of honor, and Steen Heidemann who worked tirelessly for eight years, has produced a timeless source of honor for priests with his masterpiece, The Catholic Priest; Image of Christ which reflects the true beauty of the Catholic Priesthood. Mr. Heidemann took an interest in presenting the faith and the priesthood in current art with alternatives to what is termed ‘contemporary or financial art’. According to Mr. Heidemann, “Works, to quote the Holy Father, do not copy previous centuries, but are made in a continuation with the past. The ordination picture here by American artist Neilson Carlin is an example.”

This 319 page book printed in six different languages (English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish) is filled to the brim with the most stunning and inspirational pictures of the Catholic Priest in the different aspects of his life. Each of the works of our period shown by Christian artists in this book, reveal a continuation with the past rather than-a- simple echo of it. For those who are contemplating a vocation to the priestly life, this book truly will inspire you in your discernment.

As I read through the book, I was amazed by the many breathtaking images which portray how wonderful and beautiful it is to be able to work in the name of Christ, bringing others closer and closer to Him. While reading and admiring the beautiful artwork, it really struck me that in each painting, it is evident that Christ is depicted in each priestly image.

As a priest, men are called by God to be just like Christ, to be Christ himself. The term for this is to become an “alter Christus”. We men are called to love people, to care for them, counsel them, pray with them and for them, just as Christ did. This is the image that this book successfully portrays through the use of many beautiful portraits of the priesthood.

According to the author, the book is arranged with “the first and principle part of a sermon by the Holy Father given in Poland and texts by Cardinal Medina and the Institute of Christ the King, the main collaborators on this book. This describes not only what the priest does, but moreover who he is. This is then followed by several chapters on the holiness and charity of the priest, and after two inspiring texts on the Mass, and one on the priest as a monk, several examples are given such as St Bernard, St Jean-Marie Vianney, along with outstanding priests like St Maximillian Kolbe and Bl. Ivan Ziatyk, one who died at the hands of Nazism and the other during the insane years of Stalin in Ukraine. Finally, the question of what is a vocation is answered just before the conclusion written by Cardinals Canizares and Burke.”

Every picture depicts the Catholic priest giving his entire being to Christ during the different stages in his life, as well as in the lives of the people he serves. Each picture is so masterfully depicted that is hard for me to pick a favorite. I will hold all of these paintings, produced by artists from all over the world, close to my heart, as they inspire me to discern my own vocation, and draw me into a deeper respect and love for the priesthood.

Receiving this book was so wonderful and I will always treasure it, and turn to it again and again. I encourage any one who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood to purchase this book. I promise you will enjoy it as much as I did. This book would make a wonderful ordination or anniversary gift for a special priest in your life. It may also be useful instrument in teaching the Catechism to children and young adults. Owning The Catholic Priest; The Image of Christ and perusing the many fine works of art depicted within would make one feel that every year should be the year of the priest.

The Catholic Priest; The Image of Christ is printed in Italy by Grafiche Flaminia, a company run by priests, and is available for purchase online through the following points below-

English: US+ Canada: Ignatius Press with Liamar:

Rest of the English speaking world: Gracewing:

French: L’Oeuvre:

Italian: Cantagalli:

Soon to be released in Spanish, Portuguese and German.

This review is (c) John Bender 2011 and may not be reproduced or duplicated without prior permission