A to Z — A Basic Catholic Dictionary by Daniel L. Lowery, Revised and
Edited by Mary M. McGlone (Ligouri: Ligouri Missouri, 2012, supplied by Pleroma Christian Supplies); $16.99. Reviewed by DANIEL J. STOLLENWERK.
1985, while president of Ligouri Publications, Daniel L. Lowery, CSsR, published a basic
Catholic dictionary of nearly 500 terms based on the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
As he himself said in the original foreword, there are times when Catholics need to look up
points of doctrine, liturgy, morality or saints. Having no time to consult, for example, a 15 volume New Catholic Encyclopaedia at the nearest library, the question fades from memory and the opportunity passes.
At such times, a concise dictionary, available in one’s home, would come in handy.
Nearly three decades on, Mary M. McGlone, CSJ, has taken up Lowery’s work, revising and updating it primarily on the basis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Documents of Vatican II.
The book is small, convenient.
At times, however, one wonders about the choice of terms defined.For example there is Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah, but not Ezekiel, Hosea and Amos; Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism,
but not Confucianism, Sikhism and Baha’i.
In her introduction, McGlone points out that she has included the female companions or counterparts of some of the great male saints. There thus appears St Macrina, the sister of
St Basil and St Scholastica, the sister of St Benedict. But missing is St Monica, the mother of St Augustine and St Clare, the counterpart to St Francis.
All of which perhaps points to the inherent defect of the dictionary: It’s a book. By its
nature, a hard copy resource cannot hope to be as complete or accessible as online information.
In 1985 a concise home dictionary made sense. For quick information today one reaches for the keyboard before the bookshelf, for online encyclopaedias or the abundantly resourced Vatican
website itself , before a basic Catholic dictionary.
It’s a shame, really, because the definitions in the book are concise, often containing succinct quotes from the Vatican documents. They quickly get to the heart of thematter. If only such a format were available online.
Dan Stollenwerk is head of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at St Peter’s College, Auckland.