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The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church [Hardcover]

James-Charles Noonan Jr.
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2012
Revised and updated for the 21st century: the legendary resource on the universality, spirituality, and grandeur of the post-Vatican II Catholic Church. Filled with detailed information that will fascinate any Catholic (What is a zucchetto and who wears one? Why do cardinals have their title in the middle of their names? How do the Knights of Malta serve in the modern Church?), it's also an indispensable reference for scholars, journalists, and anyone in business or government who has practical dealings with the Church.

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From the Author

James-Charles Noonan, Jr. is a specialist in diplomatic, social, business, and Church protocol, and a consultant for many international organizations, including numerous official bodies of the Roman Catholic Church. He is recognized worldwide as an expert on Church protocol and ceremonial.

About the Author

James-Charles Noonan, Jr. is a specialist in diplomatic, social, business, and Church protocol, and a consultant for many international organizations, including numerous official bodies of the Roman Catholic Church. He is recognized worldwide as an expert on Church protocol and ceremonial.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2.0 out of 5 stars Roman Tradition, Lite July 19 2001
This book is a disappointment to the serious scholar of the ceremonial traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. While the sections on current etiquette and papal knighthoods are rather handy (at least if you're planning to have dinner with an Archbishop anytime soon), the large section on clerical dress is inaccurate beyond belief, particularly when it is realized that the author had been a seminarian who studied in Rome. Besides a lack of knowledge of pre-Vatican II usages, there is a certain tone of disdain or impatience taken toward them that this reviewer, an experienced Master of Ceremonies at two churches that offer the traditional Latin Mass with full approval from Rome, does not consider to be a very "catholic" attitude in any sense. Much more useful, fully accurate information on Catholic clerical dress, insignia, and ceremonial will be found in the classic and easily-found (though out-of-print) manuals of Nainfa and McCloud, and the rare (but well worth it) "Ius Pontificalium" of Mgr Nabuco. To sum up, this item will be an expensive, pretentious, mostly misinformative waste of money for the average reader who wants to know more about the externals of Catholic worship and protocol.
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"The Church Visible" is not about Catholic theology or doctrine, but it does concern an area of no less fascination and interest: the ceremonial life, protocol, and ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. Although late 20th century Catholics might tend to think of the Church as a purely spiritual entity, for nearly 1500 years it was also a political powerhouse and the source of almost all of the culture and customs of Western Europe. "The Church Visible" examines the present-day incarnation of the Church in her external life: ceremonies, traditions, vestments, insignia, protocol, and temporal and spiritual governance.
The book is divided into five sections: the Vatican itself, papal honors including orders of knighthood, Church protocol, vestments and insignia, and a brief history of the papacy. A glossary, a name and subject index, and a variety of appendixes including several Church documents are included. Several impressive Catholic figures also have brief forewords including John Cardinal Krol, John Cardinal O'Connor, and Archbishop John P. Foley.
Noonan has done a wonderful job of answering those niggling questions that never seem to be answered in the standard Catholic Q and A books, such as the reason why cardinals have their title placed in the middle of their name and how exactly a papal election is performed. For the latter, the author leads the reader step by step through the protocol that follows the death of a pope, citing examples from recent history, and then to the elections process and then enthronement of a new pope. He even includes sample liturgies and ceremony programs that have been used in the past. The chapter on the College of Cardinals is especially a gem.
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Although I am not Roman Catholic (Old Catholics reject the doctrines of papal infallibility and papal universal jurisdiction, among others), Noonan's book was a welcome addition to my collection.
The author's research was meticulous, and his sources well-documented. There is so much useful information that I hardly know where to start! Do you have questions about the day-to-day operation of the Vatican as a city-state? It's in here. Wondering how to address the papal nuncio, should you meet him at the airport? It's in here. Ever wonder about the pope's coat of arms? It's in here. And a *whole* lot more! Be aware, though, that this is not a theology reference; Noonan occasionally states official Roman dogma, and leaves it at that. If you are not Roman Catholic (or if you're not up on all the latest dogmatic dirt), a good, basic introduction to Roman Catholic beliefs would be a perfect partner to this book.
Anyone who needs to know *anything* about protocol and etiquette in the Roman Catholic Church (and that would include all clergy, many involved laity, and anyone outside the Roman church who deals with Roman prelates [or the Vatican directly]) *must* have this book. Anyone else with even a passing interest in the history or customs of the Roman church will find hours worth of enjoyable reading. I have yet to find any information here that was not clear and fun to read, yet thorough and well-documented.
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"As a liturgist and master of ceromonies for more than 8 years, I have found this book to be the easy-to-use, complete guide for the answer to the common question of `why?,` asked by so many of the Catholic faithful. This book provides a history, current guidelines, photographs/sketches, and examples for almost every aspect of Roman Catholic ceremony and protocol. From dinner party seating arrangements, to vestments and clerical garb, to the and burial of prelates to the Papal household: this book has it all.
"I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is remotely interested in Holy Mother, the Church. If nothing else, the photographs are worth the cost of the book alone. For me, it is a cherished book in my library; although, it is rarely on the shelf -- most often on my desk."
Rudy Reyes, Jr., Ss. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church, Diocese of Corpus Christi, USA
4 May 1998, Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis, religious
Present Assignment: St. Mary's University, Archdiocese of San Antonio, USA
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