June 15, 2018

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

My final column trying to teach aspects of Catholicism

John F. FinkThis is my 1,695th column in The Criterion—five issues short of 34 years, 50 issues in each year, beginning with the July 20, 1984 issue.

I’ve decided that it should be my final column.

As I wrote in last week’s column, I have now worked continuously for the Catholic press for 70 years. I’m 86 now, so maybe I should retire before people think I’m completely senile.

I thank the editors who have allowed me to continue to write the column after I stepped down as editor at the end of 1996. I’ve always said, only half-jokingly, that I left that job so I’d no longer have to go to meetings, keep a budget or have personnel problems. All I’ve had to do is read and write, which is what I most enjoy doing.

I also appreciate the fact that the editors have kept me on the editorial committee, so I could continue to express a Catholic opinion about the affairs of the Church and the world. That meant that I didn’t have to do that in this column. Rather, I tried to use the column to teach various aspects of Catholicism.

Many of the columns, especially at the beginning, were about the saints as we honored them in the Church’s calendar. Later, I wrote about the doctors of the Church, all 33 of them. (Today there are 36 with the addition of SS. John of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen and Gregory of Narek.) I wrote about the American saints, and those on the road to canonization, and I did a series on married saints. All of those series eventually became books.

The history of the Catholic Church was a frequent theme. I turned two different series into books, one of them being 100 Important Events in Catholic History and the other How Could This Church Survive?

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament were covered pretty thoroughly. I wrote a series of 17 columns just on the Psalms, and 41 columns on women in the Bible. I wrote another 31 columns that became my book Introducing the Old Testament.

Obviously, I wrote a lot about Jesus, including a series of columns that presented him as the evangelists did. That became my book Jesus in the Gospels, telling the story of Jesus in just 205 pages. Having visited the Holy Land 10 times, including for three months of study in 1997, I also wrote a lot about the Holy Land.

A series of 43 columns became my book Mere Catholicism: What the Catholic Church Teaches and Practices.

It was based on C. S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity, which taught the basic truths of Christianity. I did the same with Catholicism, putting the Church’s basic teachings in only 98 pages—much shorter than the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

As noted, many of my 17 published books began as series of columns here. Some of the books are out of print, but those that aren’t are available from Amazon.

It was a great privilege to be able to write this column. Thank you for reading it. †

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