In these modern days of the six-minute homilette, some may question the use of translating musty old sermons. Why bother with the past? Yet if we want to be whole Catholics, we need to know what went before us, as well as our present. In these confusing times where some in the Church are trying to erase any reminder of the past, it becomes all the more necessary to be familiar with the Faith as handed down through the centuries, in order to better explain what we believe, and why, especially to the younger generation which is (re)discovering its Catholic inheritance. These sermons can help us in our quest. Written during a time when the Catholic Church was under siege from Protestantism, the sermons are clear examples of Catholic doctrine, which we can use to strengthen our faith in the face of adversity.
The author, Joseph Rivius (1607–1666), was a Premonstratensian canon regular from the abbey of Tongerlo in Belgium. He was a faithful religious, a zealous prior, and a dedicated pastor of several parishes in northern Flanders. After his death his notes were published in 1668 as a book of sermons for the entire year. The 113 sermons follow the usus antiquior of the Missal and comprise sermons for Sundays, feasts, and saint’s days.
Because of the size of Rivius’ original book, the translation has been published in five volumes for ease of reading: Volume I: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany; Volume II: Septuagesima, Lent, Eastertide; Volume III: Pentecost and Time after Pentecost; Volume IV: Sanctoral cycle I; Volume V: Sanctoral cycle II.
Purchase Volume I here: The Christian Year (Vol. 1)
Purchase Volume II here: The Christian Year, (Vol. II)
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Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-990685-31-6 | $23.95 USD | paperback
ISBN: 978-1-990685-32-3 | $30.95 USD | hardcover
(the cover of the book shows an old sketch of the the abbey of Tongerlo)
About the Translator
Fr. Martin Roestenburg, O.Praem., was born in Delft, The Netherlands, in 1957. While still a child his family migrated to Australia, where at 26 years of age he entered the novitiate of the Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as Premonstratensians or Norbertines. He completed his bachelor’s degree in theology at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. After his ordination in 1991, he returned to Rome where he completed a Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St Anselm (Anselmiano). In 2010 he was invited back to Rome to assist at the Norbertine Generalate, where he currently serves as secretary to the Abbot General and as guest master. He is an Australian national. He is the translator of Sister Rose: Her Life & Work and The Mass of Reparation by Arthur Loth (Arouca Press, 2021).
In this year of the 900th Jubilee of the founding of the Canonical Order of Prémontré we are able to know and appreciate the doctrinally and spiritually rich texts of Fr. Joseph Rivius, a Flemish Norbertine from the 17th century. These texts are the fruit of the arduous work of an authentic spiritual renewal of the Church. May these texts inflame priests and lay faithful of our day with the desire to renew the Christian life with the perennially valid doctrinal and liturgical tradition of the Church. — ✠ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana.
These excellent translations by Fr. Roestenburg are a good and timely reminder for us of the constant call to conversion, and with it the hope of salvation, which is timeless and universal. The sermons, and the loving way they have been translated, will inspire preachers to keep at the heart of what they say and do the truth of Jesus Christ; that the mission to preach is about the care of souls for the good of souls. What was preached with passion by a zealous Norbertine pastor four hundred years ago remains the truth for us today. — ✠ Hugh Allan O.Praem., Titular Abbot of Beeleigh Abbey, Prior of St. Philip’s Priory, Chelmsford, Apostolic Administrator of the Falkland Islands and Superior of the Mission sui juris of St. Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.
It is no secret that in our times “the quality of homilies needs to be improved.” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 46) A newly translated collection of hour-long 17th century sermons may not seem the obvious starting point in attending to this urgent duty, but the fidelity and apostolic zeal this Norbertine pastor seeking to protect his flock from “the horrendous blasphemies” of his times and to move their wills and bring them to repentance and conversion of heart has much to teach preachers today.
Not only shall the ministry of bishops, priests and deacons benefit from Joseph Rivius’ dedicated example as a homilist, so too all who open this book will benefit from his orthodoxy, insight and supernatural motivation—for Catholics of the 21st century have many horrendous blasphemies with which also to contend. —Dom Alcuin Reid, Prior, Monastère Saint-Benoît, Brignoles, France.