Editors: Gabriel Flynn and Paul D. Murray, with Patricia Kelly
ISBN: 978-0-19-955287-0
Date: 2012
Price: £65.00
Publisher: Oxford University Press

In his great work Catholicism Henri de Lubac had to make this statement to explain why he quoted the early Fathers so much: ‘I seek only to understand them, and to listen to what they have to tell us, since they are our fathers in the faith…’ For most of us, patristic references are the mark of a good lecture and a good essay – it seems almost beyond belief that he should have need to explain himself so, as recently as 1937, and that he was viewed with suspicion because of this. Basically Ressourcement is an explanation of what all that was about and the influence De Lubac and others have had on the life of today’s Church – the history too, of how a man whose books were removed from Jesuit libraries in the early 50s ended his life as an honoured cardinal, as did most of the other leading figures in this movement. The quotation above is from a chapter in the study by John Webster which examines the relationship between the Ressourcement method and contemporary Protestantism, and Karl Barth in particular.

Going back to original sources and authors, particularly the early Fathers: this was the key method of the theologians studied here, principally de Lubac, Yves Congar, Jean Daniélou, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Henri Brouillard, Louis Bouyer and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

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September/October 2012

Editors: Thomas H. Groome and Michael J. Daley
ISBN: 978-1-57075-863-8
Price: £14.99
Year: 2010
Publisher: Orbis Books

At the time of writing this review (January 2012) it is being said that one of President Obama’s most significant achievements may be to have united the disparate factions of Catholicism in the United States against his government’s proposals to enforce access to contraceptives in Catholic hospitals. For many of us on this side of the Atlantic the American Church has often seemed hopelessly polarised and divided between ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’. What is interesting about this book is that, coming from many scholars in the first category, it attempts to look positively at the heritage of Catholicism in the USA from before the Second Vatican Council.

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September/October 2012

Authors: Austen Ivereigh and Kathleen Griffin
ISBN: 978-0-232-52863-3
Price: £7.99
Year: 2011
Publisher: Darton, Longman & Todd

In the months leading up to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain in September 2010 the level of opposition detected in some parts of British society prompted a group of lay Catholics to set up a network of people who could put the Catholic case succinctly in the media, which became known as Catholic Voices. While most commentators would agree that the overall success of the visit could be attributed to the Holy Father’s words and his sense of warmth during the visit, it is also clear that those who prepared the ground in this way in the months beforehand did a good job.

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September/October 2012

Editor: Kim Nataraja
ISBN: 978-1848251083
Date: 2011
Price: £25.00
Publisher: Canterbury Press, Norwich

This book has its origins in talks given by various contributors to a course entitled Roots of Christian Mysticism organised by the editor, Kim Nataraja under the auspices of the World Community for Christian Meditation. Its aim is, ‘to follow the rich stream of Christian mysticism throughout the ages seriously and in depth using certain key spiritual teachers as stepping stones along the way.’ Margaret Lane reminds us in her chapter on St Augustine, that ‘to speak of mysticism in the early centuries is anachronisitic for the word was not coined until the seventeenth century. It tends to be associated with a private inner experience of union with God, one that is not mediated through Christ, scripture or community. This is not something that can be readily identified within Christianity until the twelfth century, when there was a growing interest in private experience.’ (p137)

This volume carefully examines where the origins of Christian mysticism lie, beginning with Laurence Freeman OSB’s exposition of prayer and contemplation in the life of Jesus, and Sts Paul and John, before other authors introduce us to the early church and desert fathers.

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September/October 2012

Authors: Wendy Beckett, Greg Tricker
ISBN: 978-0-85439-822-5
Date: 2011
Price: £45.00
Publisher: St Paul’s

As I write this review, I have in mind the current exhibition of Lucian Freud’s, Portraits, at the National Portrait Gallery. Greg Tricker and Lucian Freud could not be more unlike each other in style and yet they both deal with the human form. Both are compelling for different reasons. Freud’s work has been described as ‘forensic’ in its honesty: oil layered on oil, each fold of skin accounted for, each layer of fat properly apportioned, all observed and painted, you realise, over a perfectly proportioned skeleton. Solid and exposed, nothing remains hidden. Everything is revealed. And it was apparently, an exhausting process psychologically for the model as it was for the painter, not least because from the 1950’s, Freud had decided he had to stand up to paint. In a portrait of Freud you are given to see the inside of a person as much as the outside, from a child’s face to his colossal nudes.

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September/October 2012

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