October/November/December 2019

Contemplating the Camino - An Ignatian Guide

Brendan McManus SJ
ISBN: 978-1788120784
Messenger Publications 2019. Booklet 64 pp £4.50
Pastoral Review bookshop £4.05

This little book is an excellent introduction to the spiritual, mental and physical challenges one might face on the Camino de Santiago. Focusing on the walk itself, Brendan McManus SJ teaches the reader that the journey is just as, if not potentially more, important than the destination.

McManus, a Jesuit priest, is clearly an experienced walker, and appears to have undertaken several times what many people might hope to do once in their whole life. However, this book serves as an important guide for anyone – be they a seasoned Camino walker or a first-timer. As someone who has walked a section of the Camino, I can honestly say that I wish I had read this before I walked it, and I know that it will come in handy should I walk it again.

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From Hero to Servant to Mystic: Navigating the Deeper Waters of Priestly Spirituality

Fr Scott P. Detisch
ISBN: 978-0814644706
Liturgical Press 2019. Paperback 168 pp £12.99
Pastoral Review bookshop £11.70

Fr Detisch draws on his extensive experience of offering spiritual direction to seminarians and priests in offering his thoughts and reflections on the spiritual formation for clergy and seminarians.
He offers a depth of insight into how seminarians and priests proceed through various stages of development which is not too dissimilar to Jungian archetypes. In the book’s introduction he offers a wonderful vignette of a childhood memory which sets the tone for the rest of the book, i.e. that it is sometimes in the storms of life that Christ speaks to us most clearly. Fr Detisch also presents us with the challenge to see these storms as occasions of reaching to further depth in our spiritual life.

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Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II

Stephen Bullivant
ISBN 978-0198837947
Oxford University Press 2019. Hardback 336 pp £25.00
Pastoral Review bookshop £22.50

This informative and well-written book tells us about Catholic lapsation in Britain and the US from the 1960s to the present day. It covers both the disaffiliates themselves and the process of disaffiliation. In both respects the author offers a detailed and fascinating account which can be framed in different ways.

First it reflects a particular moment in the history and development of the Catholic Church. The starting point is the Second Vatican Council, which opened in 1962. An important question follows from this. Was the Council the primary reason for the disaffiliation that followed? Or were the subsequent attempts to draw back from the liberalising reforms set in motion by the Council a more likely explanation?

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New Wineskins: Eucharist in Today’s Context

Frank O’Loughlin
ISBN 978-0-648360124
Coventry Press, Australia 2019. Paperback 88 pp $14.95 (available from Amazon)

This is a very short introduction to how we Catholics understand the Eucharist coming from an Australian theologian and an Australian publisher. What makes this book stand out from so many similar ‘short introductions’ is its starting point: our existence in a ‘secular age’. Unlike virtually all previous generations we cannot assume that ‘the things of God’ – such as the need to worship – are simply a part of life. For every individual today the assertion ‘I believe in God’ is a choice, one an individual must make, and one which is incomprehensible to many in our society. Religion is just ‘old school stuff, more trouble than it’s worth’.

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The Abiding Presence: A Theological ­Commentary on Exodus

Mark Scarlata
ISBN: 978-0334055044
SCM Press 2018. Paperback 260 pp £19.99
Pastoral Review bookshop £18.00

Dr Mark Scarlata of St Mellitus theological college in London offers a thoughtful and highly readable commentary on the Book of Exodus, concentrating on ‘the final form of the text and the theological meaning of the story as it has been handed down to us’. He reads Exodus as Christian Scripture, but his emphasis is primarily on Exodus within its OT context. He sees the book as being about Divine Presence, indeed as being ‘the most developed account of the Divine Presence in the entire Old Testament.’ ‘From his perceived absence during the slavery in Egypt, to Moses’ encounter at the burning bush, to the theophany at Sinai and the filling of the tabernacle with his glory, the book of Exodus is about a God who comes down to deliver his people so that he might continually abide in their midst.’ The notion of this Presence is central to the OT and ‘is taken up in the New Testament in the incarnation of Christ and in the birth of the Church’. Each chapter of the commentary ends with a section on the New Testament.

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The Confessions of X: (A Novel)

Suzanne M. Wolfe
ISBN: 978-0718039615
Thomas Nelson (Tennessee, US) 2016.
Paperback 304 pp $15.99 (available from Amazon)

One of the exciting things which has been happening in recent years in the world of academic theology is an outburst, seemingly inexhaustible, of new books about St Augustine or new editions of his work. This is partly the result of the vastness of his surviving works, much of which still awaits good translation into English or good critical study.

But there is one big gap in our understanding of the Bishop of Hippo: the unnamed woman (referred to by him as Una, ‘the one’) with whom he had a relationship before his conversion, the mother of his son Adeodatus. The English writer Suzanne Wolfe, now based in Seattle, has tried to fill this gap with a novel about her. In a note at the back of the book she explains that she was inspired to do it by studying the Confessions at her convent school in Manchester and being told by a nun that the saint’s concubine was ‘lost to history’.

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Why the Irish Church Deserves to Die

Joe McDonald
ISBN: 978-17820183396
Columba Press 2017. Hardback 109 pp £10.99
Pastoral Review bookshop £9.90

The state of the Church in Ireland is of concern not only there, but for Catholics in the UK and the rest of Europe. In the UK we are bound closely to Irish parishes, Irish Religious Orders, Irish education and Irish families. So this provocative book is important. In the UK a book by the Canadian priest Fr James Mallon, Divine Renovation, has been enormously influential; it would be interesting to know whether in Ireland Why the Irish Church Deserves to Die has had a similar effect. This book, and the author, have attracted considerable controversy since it was written in 2017 in the months before Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland for the World Day of Families.

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Michael A. Hayes 1957 - 2017


Michael A. Hayes 1957 - 2017

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Rev. Professor Michael Hayes editor of the Pastoral Review.

Many friends and readers of the Pastoral Review and The Tablet will have been shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Michael Hayes early on Easter Saturday.   Read More


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