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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Hagia Sophia: The Wisdom of God as Offered to the Modern World. A Collection of Essays Volume 1

by Rev. Kenneth M. Dos Santos, MIC

Reviewed by Francis Etheredge Profiles in Catholicism

The Wisdom of God is a brief, but not superficial introduction to an immense subject. The interested reader, having been provoked into wanting more, can really begin to wade into the sea. I am reminded of St. Augustine’s ponderings on the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and a child appearing to him, pouring buckets of sea-water into the sand, by way of indicating what St. Augustine was trying to do.

Kenneth Dos Santos, then, broaches a variety of subjects with more than a passing glance; indeed, incisively, opening up each subject briefly, but deeply, like an incision that takes us into what matters. By way of giving a glimpse of what he says, let us take a triple slice, as it were, out of what he has written.


In the chapter on Marriage, both natural and Sacramental, he says that there is a ‘bond which occurs before the conjugal bond’ (p. 18). In other words, our whole humanity, being male and female, expresses a unity-in-diversity which communicates the mystery of the God who made us. Therefore, in a particular way, Sacramental Marriage reveals the almost hidden significance of the equal dignity of man and woman which, at the same time, unveils the mystery of Christ and His Church as both expressing and opening upon the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.


In the chapter on forgiveness, there is the need to invoke the Holy Spirit’s help in immersing ourselves in the word of God, and in our examination of conscience – all in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (p. 45). Knowing, then, the startling statistics of young people who never go out, the 100,000 who run away each year, in the UK alone, men who die alone, the rise of riven families and the tendencies to violence, various kinds of abuse and symptoms of hopelessness – this sacrament more than ever needs a revitalizing witness. His recommendations for the fullness of preparing well to receive this sacrament are very fully expressed in the Neocatechumenal Rite of the Sacrament of Reconciliation


On Mary, finally, Dos Santos addresses both her Immaculate Conception and humility. By implication, the fullness of grace Mary received at conception founds her desire ‘to be hidden, to be humbled and to be treated as in all respects poor and of no account’ (p. 77, quoting from St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary).


Moreover, there is a way that these chapters are surrounded and enhanced by others on the mercy of God, the priesthood and the Eucharist and the unity of the human race. Thus there is a wider implication that humility is both foundational for the individual to benefit from the gifts of Christ but that also, what is good for the individual is a good for the benefit of the human race as a whole.


Altogether, then, this short book is a dense and rich piece of Christmas cake, addressing as it does, the wealth of sources that constitute the unfolding of our Catholic Faith. This faith is always capable of drawing us ever deeper into communion with God and our neighbour – because it is the Holy Spirit who makes progress in the Church possible for us all (cf. Dei Verbum, 5; Lumen Gentium, 7).


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