The Art of Lent. A Painting a Day from Ash Wednesday to Easter

art of lentAuthor: Sister Wendy Beckett
ISBN: 978-0-281-07855-4
Year: 2017
Price: £6.99
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Publisher: SPCK

The Way of the Carmelites.  A Prayer Journey Through Lent

Author: James McCaffrey
ISBN: 978-0-281-07529-4
Year: 2017
Price: £8.99
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Publisher: SPCK

These two books offer an artistic and a spiritual guidance through Lent. The first book is a wonderful selection of famous paintings illustrating different states through which we go and which we attain during Lent such as silence, contemplation, peace, joy, confidence, and love. It is fascinating how much deep spiritual meaning Sister Wendy draws out of each painting. This beautiful book will lead one into a peaceful and prayerful state through contemplation of the beauty of art.

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Mysticism in the Golden Age of Spain, 1500- 1650.

mysticismMysticism in the Golden Age of Spain, 1500- 1650. (The Presence of God, Volume 6, A History of Western Christian Mysticism)

Author: Bernard McGinn
ISBN: 9780824500900
Date: 2017
Price: £72.50
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Publisher: Herder and Herder: Crossroad

We live in a Golden Age of writing on Christian mysticism. McGinn's own monumental and era-defining study now sails triumphantly into Spain's own Golden Age and his galleon delivers us a wealth of riches to admire. From its origins in the 'Spiritual Exercises' of Abbot García de Cisneros in the fastnesses of the Abbey of Montserrat in Catalonia to the quarrelsome but brilliant Fray Luis de Léon - the professor of Hebrew at Salamanca University arrested for his controversial

translation of the Song of Songs - the book takes us on an incredible and dazzling journey through this incomparable era of mystical writing.

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Feast or Famine? How the Gospel challenges austerity

feast or famineEditor: Simon Barrow
ISBN: 978-0-232-53261-6
Date: 2017
Price: £5.99
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Keeping Lent and Easter

Author: Leigh Hatts
ISBN:  978-0-232-53337-8
Date: 2017
Price: £9.99
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Both books published by Darton, Longman and Todd 

Last year I reviewed a collection of essays edited by Virginia Moffatt1, mostly written by people linked to the think-tank Ekklesia. Its director, Simon Barrow, has now brought out an excellent Lent course. This is designed to cover five weeks, comprising for each week Bible readings, prayers, a reflection by a particular writer, together with discussion and action points. Often Lent courses and Lent books are rather 'safe', seldom designed to shock or cause controversy. What is refreshing about this course is that it isn't safe. It focuses on a key controversial issue in contemporary Britain, austerity. Since the word has strong religious overtones, some people might think that Christians will view positively this characteristic of recent government economic policy.  This course challenges such a view and explores the inadequacy of policies which rest on falsehood. So Barrow writes in the introduction to the course: 'The biggest lie of and about austerity is that 'there's not enough money'. That is untrue. We live in a world, gifted by God, as Christians say, which has more than enough resources to sustain us - if we look after it, share it, and care for one another well. In fact it is not austerity but generosity which makes the world go round, and when we realise this we can genuinely begin to live well and to deconstruct the myths around the idea that the problem we face is a shortage which can only be addressed by cutting back.' (pp. 21-22).

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Laudato Si': An Irish Response

laudato siEditor: Sean McDonagh
ISBN: 978-1-84730-749-1
Date: 2017
Price: 14.99 euros
Publisher: Veritas

Irish President Michael D. Higgins in the 2018 annual address to the Diplomatic Corps of Ireland began by looking forward to the potential visit of Pope Francis. In particular, he praised his 'very necessary reminders of our shared obligations not only to humanity but to biodiversity on our planet'. (Diplomatic Corps 2018 New Year's Greeting Ceremony, 24 January 2018)

They were not just platitudes offered to a distinguished audience, for he immediately went on to make reference to time spent in the days before with the contributors of Laudato Si': An Irish Response. Dr Peadair Kirby, author of one of the chapters, related, on the Columban Missionary website, that during the hour-long meeting, the President 'kept referring back to sections he had underlined in the text, showing the extent of his engagement with it. It was a memorable and intellectually nourishing encounter.'

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