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By Ronald Knox
The main theme of the twenty-one panegyrics collected in Captive Flames, as Ronald Knox writes in his Dedication to Arnold Lunn, is “something which does not alter with our shifting perspectives, does not grow old. The saints do not belong to a period.… They are fixed stars, not subject to any law of impermanence.” Illustrating this dauntless fixity of the Communion of Saints and their meritorious example to earthly wayfarers are sermons on the following “selected saints and Christian heroes”: Cecilia, George, and Gregory the Great; Edward the Confessor and Anselm; Dominic, Edmund of Abingdon, and Albert the Great; Roger Bacon and Henry VI; Joan of Arc, Thomas More, and Ignatius Loyola; Philip Neri and Charles Borromeo; the English, Oxford, and Derby Martyrs; Bernadette, Thérèse, and Francis of Assisi; and G. K. Chesterton.
If a star were confined into a tomb,
Her captive flames must needs burn there;
But when the hand that locked her up gives room,
She’ll shine through all the sphere. (Henry Vaughn)
Without exception, each and every sermon here—like its subject—is a lesson in inspiration and encouragement in faith, hope, and love. Captive Flames is further evidence, if it were needed, of Knox’s prodigious talent for engaging, persuasive, and prayerful preaching.
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Ronald Knox (1888–1957) was an English Catholic priest, theologian, and author, and one of the most prominent twentieth-century converts from Anglicanism to Catholicism. Best known for his contemporary English translation of the Scriptures (the “Knox Bible”), he wrote numerous works of apologetics and collections of sermons, retreat conferences, and lectures, as well as six detective novels.