We Wait in Joyful Hope

Author: Brian Mullin
Director: Lisa Cagnacci, featuring Maggie McCarthy, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Deirdra Morris and James Tucker
Theatre503, London SW11
The text of the play, with notes, is published by Bloomsbury (ISBN 978-1-3500-1148-9)

This play has been on for a short period at a fringe theatre (above a pub) in south London, but the complete text has also been published, with details of the performance. Brian Mullin is a talented young Irish playwright who has been based in London since 2009 and this play is based on experiences of an aunt of his, who was a nun in New York in the 1970s.

It is set in Elizabeth House, similar to a Catholic Worker community: we are shown a very powerful statue of the Visitation, damaged when the house is broken into. Originally established by an order of Franciscan sisters, thirty years on there is only one left, Bernadette (known as Bernie), played very powerfully by Maggie McCarthy. The house provides accommodation for poor women; the only one we encounter is a sassy sixteen year old, Felicia.

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What is the Religious Life? From the Gospels to Aquinas

Author: Aidan Nichols OP
ISBN: 978-0852448861
Date: 2015
Price: £6.99
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Publisher: Gracewing

A very interesting book, well worth reading, which explores the development and meaning of religious life from the Gospels to the Middle Ages. The style is easy to read, yet this does not take away from the thorough historical knowledge the author reveals.
Initially the author studies two trends in the apostolic and the post-apostolic period: dedicated virginity lived out in simplicity of life; and the community of goods in a context of shared prayer. He then moves on to the desert experience of monks in Egypt.  In their sayings there is a reflection on the value of monasticism as intercession on behalf of the Church.  A similar movement in Palestine had very international origins, unlike Egypt where the monks were mostly locals. The Holy Places attracted pilgrims from all over Christendom, many of whom remained monks.

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On Augustine

Author: Rowan Williams
ISBN: 978-1-4729-2527-5
Date: 2016
Price: £25.00
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Publisher: Bloomsbury

Generations of Oxford theology students have studied St Augustine through three texts: Confessions book X, City of God book XIX, and De Doctrina Christiana (‘On Christian Education’). Oliver O’Donovan, Andrew Louth, Anthony Meredith and Rowan Williams are among those who have taught the paper and the last of these has published a collection of essays, many of which originated in his seminars in the 1980s. Augustinian research in this country has blossomed in this period and at the end of each essay Williams seamlessly adds a comprehensive survey of recent literature.

The first six essays in the collection are about the three texts referred to above. The first looks at the idea of the self in the Confessions; Williams warns against imposing a modern blueprint on the work but shows how it can appeal to people of varying beliefs:

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The Woman, the Hour, and the Garden A study of Imagery in the Gospel of John

Author: Addison Hodges Hart
ISBN: 978-0802873392
Date: 2016
Price: £9.99
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Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

This book has a double aim: on the one hand, it suggests a spiritual way of interpreting the Gospel of John; on the other hand, it invites the readers to ‘ruminate’ anew the meanings that one deduces from this way of reading the gospel.

Hart grounded his book on a very clear basis: the Gospel of John was never intended to be like the other Gospels. It did not simply want to tell the story of Jesus’ life, rather it was meant as a ‘spiritual’ gospel. This gospel speaks by means of allegories and symbols, thus one has to read between lines to grasp the truth in it. Furthermore, Hart is convinced that the author/authors always intended to write an allegorical gospel.

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John Henry Newman. A Portrait in Letters

Editor: Roderick Strange
ISBN:  978-0-19-960414-2
Date: 2015
Price: £30.00
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Publisher: Oxford University Press

The beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in September 2010 was the highlight of Pope  Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain. In the years since then he has become an increasingly important figure in the spiritual and intellectual life of England (not just in the Catholic Church) and naturally more material is being published to enlarge our picture of him. Professor Rod Strange, author of an important earlier study of Newman (John Henry Newman A Mind Alive [DLT 2008]), has edited a masterful selection of Newman’s letters, taken from the thirty-two volumes published between 1961 and 2008.

This book is a tremendous fruit of the herculean task of going through this vast amount of correspondence. Monsignor Strange points out in his introduction, in itself a brilliant path into discovering Newman, that letter-writing was a fundamental aspect of the theologian’s life from childhood until his last years.

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