The study of the vocabulary of the Catholic religion may be taken as a definition of the liberal arts. Origins of Catholic Words is a work of reference organized like a lexicon or encyclopedia. There is an entry for each word of importance having to do with the Catholic Church. Anthony Lo Bello gives the etymology of the word, describes what it means, and then adds whatever further discussion he feels is needed; in some cases this amounts to several pages.
Lo Bello has assembled, over a number of years, lucid and wide-ranging remarks on the etymology and history of the words that occur in the study of the Catholic religion. A true labor of love, this sophisticated, one-of-a-kind dictionary will delight those who take pleasure in learning. Anyone interested in words and language—indeed, in culture, will find something interesting on every page. This is a book one may read and not just consult.
The author has been ecumenical in his choice of authorities. J. B. Bury, Lord Chesterfield, Mandell Creighton, S. R. Driver, Ferdinand Gregorovius, Dr. Johnson, Henry Charles Lea, Bishop Lightfoot, Thomas Babington Macaulay, John Stuart Mill, Henry Hart Milman, Leopold von Ranke, and Bertrand Russell find their places alongside Alban Butler, Denzinger, Ignaz Döllinger the Abbé Duchesne, Adrian Fortescue, Bishop Hefele, Cardinal Gasparri, Msgr. Ronald Knox, Msgr. Horace K. Mann, John Henry Newman, Ludwig von Pastor, Wilfrid Ward, William George Ward, and Evelyn Waugh.
There have been many changes in the Catholic Church since 1962, and one of the goals of this book is to describe what will soon be missing from the memories of all living people. Origins of Catholic Words may, Lo Bello hopes, make its small contribution so that the situation not arise, which would convict Newman of error when he wrote, "What the Catholic Church once has had, she never has lost."
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A reference work, but not of the heavy, scholarly type; lighter, yet full of pertinent information difficult to quickly glean from elsewhere. It is full of learning (and wisdom) digested from many (and varying sources), made easily accessible.
Alexander Andrée, University of Toronto
This fascinating and informative book is a 500-page conversation with a dazzling raconteur who has forgotten very little in life but still forgotten more than you and I will ever know. This is how Samuel Johnson might have passed his years as a Catholic--defining and delighting. Buy yourself this book. The indulgence will be plenary.
Mike Aquilina, author of The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers
In an age of relativism we need Defenders of the Definite, such as Anthony Lo Bello, who define words in a way that defies those speakers who abuse language to confuse the faithful. Here we have clarity, rooted in the roots of the words themselves, and an adventurous voyage into the origins of the language. It is unlike any dictionary you have ever read, or any encyclopedia you are ever likely to read. Fun, feisty, and cuttingly edgy, it is nothing less than the words made fresh.
Joseph Pearce, author of Beauteous Truth: Faith, Reason, Literature and Culture