March 2023: New Resources
Fr Paul Clayton-Lea
his homeward Journey
The Life and Works of Pope Benedict XVI
Bishop Fintan Monahan
Veritas Publications, 2023
ISBN 978 1 80097 014 4
pp. 70 • €9.99/stg£8.99
The solemn text buried with the late Pope Benedict XVI contained a brief summary of his life and ministry which amounted to just over a thousand words. It was a reminder that even those with such a distinguished and prolific pen as the late Pontiff are destined to become a simple footnote in the history of humankind. Thankfully and without going too deeply into his theology this timely introduction to the life and works of Benedict XVI encourages readers to explore more deeply the rich legacy of writing – over sixty books and three papal encyclicals and numerous other writings – which flowed from a man who while often burdened with crushing responsibilities in an era of unprecedented public exposure never lost his inner joy or serenity in his faith and Catholic traditions.
Bishop Monahan describes how Pope Benedict/Joseph Ratzinger was ‘a skilled writer who wrote in an easy, readable style’. Yet, as the author admits, the late Pope’s work was widely thought to be inaccessible to the general reader and so ‘His Homeward Journey’ sets out to encourage the reader to look beyond the caricature of ‘God’s Rottweiler’ and discover the great gifts of intellect and interpretation which brought him to such a place of influence within the Church for so many years.
The author does not shy away from the divisive nature of Pope Benedict’s tenure as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and later as Pope but points to his well attested qualities of gentleness, understanding and kindness as well as great his courage during the final years of his long life. This all too brief account fulfils its mission of giving the reader a sense of the man and an introduction to his works.
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The Christian Life According to Blessed Columba Marmion
Columba McCann osb
Veritas Publications, 2022
ISBN 978 1 80097 044 1
pp. 134 • €10.99/stg£9.99
I once heard the story that Blessed Columba Marmion had great devotion to the rosary suggesting that when we pray we should always remember the story of David and Goliath and how with one small stone David had crushed an evil enemy. In the same way he said; every bead of Mary’s rosary is a little stone we can use like David to crush the many evils in our world and in our lives. It was a powerful image, indicating something of the communication skills of this 19th century spiritual guide.
When Pope John Paul II beatified Columba Marmion OSB in 2000 he said that Marmion’s treasury of spiritual teaching needed to be rediscovered in our lifetime. In marking the centenary of the inspirational Benedictine’s death with Becoming Human, Becoming Divine, Columba McCann helps unlock that treasury and rediscover that teaching through this rich introduction to Marmion’s life and work.
From his early childhood in Dublin where he had been born in 1858, brought up in a devoutly religious family and schooled by the Jesuits he had been encouraged in the direction of priesthood. Originally ordained for the diocese of Dublin the call to monastic life which he had first experienced on a visit to the Abbey of Montecassino during his studies in Rome remained strong in his heart. At the age of twenty eight he became a novice in the Benedictine Abby of Maredsous in Belgium. Despite his desire for the monastic life as author Columba McCann OSB records, Marmion’s gifts for communication ensured his popularity for talks and retreats. Some of those talks eventually became the bedrock for three spiritual classics for a whole generation: Christ, the Life of the Soul, Christ in his Mysteries and Christ, The Ideal of the Monk.
Over 19 Chapters and 131 pages, the author gently introduces a new generation to the deep spiritual sources of the Christian life enunciated by Blessed Columba in a way that makes the centenary publication suitable both for personal and group study and reflection.
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the parish as oasis
An Introduction to Practical Environmental Care
Kevin Hargaden & Ciara Murphy
Messenger Publications, 2022
ISBN 978 1 78812 576 5
pp. 144 • €14.95/stg£12.95
Described as ‘a practical book’, The Parish as Oasis seeks to combat the climate despair which grips so many of us who perhaps feel that in the face of impending catastrophe there is little that the ordinary person in the pew or pulpit can do to make a significant difference. In a style that is both bracing and engaging the authors, a theologian and a biologist encourage readers to ‘dig in’ to get involved and to maintain themselves in Christian hope rather than optimism. Hope in this context is defined as firm commitment to take actions that contribute to things turning out all right – even if, in the end, they don’t. Full of ideas and initiatives this book seems ideal fodder for groups and individuals unafraid to be that drop in the ocean.
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