The Crusades Controversy: Puting Old Myths to Rest

Feeling Cornered

Has anybody ever asked you about the Crusades and what you thought of them? Chances are, somebody has. I myself was confronted with this question some years ago and to be honest, I froze. I felt embarrassed since I had no idea what to say in response.

Certainly the topic of the Crusades is not something most ordinary people have  devoted much thought and study to. It’s not one of those events in history that lots of people are losing sleep over. And yet, some of us wish we’d been better equipped to answer questions about it!

30 Minutes Is All You Need

Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. He has written several scholarly works on the history of the Crusades and the impact they’ve had in our modern world.

Thomas Madden
Thomas Madden

His most recent work on the topic is a very short and accessible 50 page booklet called The Crusades Controversy.

In six short, but by no means simplistic, chapters, Madden has managed to provide us with enough information to clear away the most common misconceptions and distortions many people still hold about the Crusades.

Two portions of the booklet deserve lengthy quotations.

“the Crusades….were a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslim armies had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point Christianity as a faith and a culture either defended itself or was subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.”

“The eighteenth century saw the rise of the Enlightenment with its strict emphasis on rational thought, religious tolerance, and anticlericalism. In an intellectual atmosphere like that the medieval Crusades did not fare well…the Crusades were described as a bizarre manifestation of medieval barbarism in which thousands of the deceived and the foolish marched through rivers of blood in a pitiful attempt to save their souls. In his famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88), Edward Gibbon insisted that nothing good at all came out of the Crusades, except perhaps Europe’s exposure to more sophisticated Eastern cultures.”

These two quotes are among the many excellent take-away points of the booklet.

Now you can answer the questions!

I highly recommend Madden’s little booklet The Crusades Controversy. It’s a superb and easy to digest introduction to a topic around which there is much misinformation and even disinformation!.

At 50 pages, you can read it easily in one sitting. I can’t think of a better way to give yourself a sound basic knowledge on this intriguing topic. Enjoy your reading and help set the record straight!

From Humdrum to Holy: Walking with Jesus to Mount Zion

Man’s supernatural end

The Catholic Church teaches that: “By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (CCC 221).

Through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, our participation in this eternal exchange is possible. Man has been created by love and for love.

Here on earth our lives as Christians consist in the image of Jesus being reproduced in us by means of the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts which empowers us to love God and neighbor and in so doing fulfill the law of Christ.

Enter Fr. Ed Broom, O.M.V.

A priest for more than 30 years dedicated to giving the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Broom knows well what it takes to live out the Christian faith by following in the footsteps of Jesus.

In his recent book titled From Humdrum to Holy, Fr. Broom has put together a comprehensive yet eminently practical plan of action to grow in holiness and therefore closer to Jesus.

At 24 chapters and a little over 120 pages, it is comprehensive in its scope of topics and short enough to be read in one sitting.

One of the book’s most powerful points is its first chapter which focuses on the question of our existence: “why are we here in this world?“.

Fr. Broom’s answer is St. Ignatius’: “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

This constitutes a strong foundation that keeps everything in the book firmly grounded in the reality of our daily lives and the choices we make.

Chapters 4 and 17 build on that foundation by reminding us of the importance of self-knowledge and the possibility of falling into mortal sin and dying in that state. Far from being fear-mongering, such exhortations help us not forget that our choices have eternal consequences and that this life is an arena of combat in which a lot is at stake.

Take heart and step into the fray

The remaining chapters present us with a rich treasure trove of steps and actions we can take to start living holy lives and walk more closely with our Lord.

Everything from morning prayer to daily Scripture reading, spiritual reading, learning about the Faith, daily examination of conscience, prayers of dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, invocation of angels and saints, more frequent reception of the sacraments with adequate preparation and many others are presented so they can be immediately applied in your life.

In sum, Fr. Broom has provided us with a fine resource we can constantly go back to for encouragement and sound advice on how we can better live the fundamental vocation of all Christians; the universal call to holiness. It is my hope and prayer that this book will strengthen your resolve and furnish you with the tools and means to do the will of our Father in heaven.