Saintly Feasts. Food for Saints and Scholars

Authors: Martina Maher & Colette Scully with Dries van den Akker SJ
ISBN: 978-1 7881-2027-2
Messenger Publications 2019. Paperback £17.95.

It goes without saying that feasting is as much part of the life of faith as fasting. And there is no good meal without a dedicated cook. And many foods, whether it be specific ingredients or particular dishes, have associations with the saints. Some of these associations are more tentative than others, but they help to fuel the imagination, as does a new cookery book.

This colourful new book, written by two dedicated cooks, offers both. Martina Maher and Colette Scully have been cooking Sunday lunches for the Jesuit Novitiate in Birmingham for many years. They take pride in finding new recipes to delight both residents and visitors and finding an interesting twist to add to an old favourite. The book is by no means the first of its kind or the only one on the market, but it shares the joy of a meal well prepared, ingredients cherished and good food being so much more than sustenance.

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Angels. A Visible and Invisible History

Author: Peter Stanford
ISBN: 978-1-4736-2208-1
Hodder & Stoughton 2019. Hardback £20.00.
Pastoral Review bookshop £18.00

Angels are part of the Christian imagination. Who could imagine Western art without them? Think of Fra Angelico’s Virgin of the Annunciation, Raphael’s cherubs in San Sisto in Piacenza, or even the Pre-Raphaelites – angels are everywhere. And where would theology be without the ‘angelic doctor’, Thomas Aquinas, who thought them so important that he made angelology a core part of the theological curriculum – in fact, they were one of the few things he and Bonaventure could agree on.

Closer to home, there is of course the guardian angel, central to the prayers of many a Catholic childhood, or the one played by an eager child in last year’s nativity play.

And angels are not just part of the Christian story, there at the beginning, at the annunciation, and at the end, moving away the stone after the resurrection. In Islam, the angel Jibr’il plays a key part in the revelation to Mohammed.

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Love in Action. Catholic Social Teaching for Every Church

Author: Simon Cuff
ISBN 978-0-334-05793-2
SCM Press 2019. Paperback, 216 pp. £15.99.
Pastoral Review bookshop price £14.40

Last year in this journal we reviewed Archbishop Justin Welby’s book about the future of this country, Reimagining Britain1 in which the Anglican Primate unapologetically draws on Catholic Social Teaching. This growing endorsement of the theological tradition by all Christians (without simply describing it as ‘Christian social ethics’ or the like) is a significant new development. It is encouraging for Catholics teaching in the field, since even now there is so much ignorance of social teaching even among clergy. Some of the best material about Catholic Social Teaching is from other Christians.

Such would be a new book by Fr Simon Cuff, who teaches at St Mellitus College, a large non- residential ministry programme for the Anglican and Free churches. The book is laid out around various principles of social teaching, drawing extensively on basic sources and also focusing on key specific issues. Two issues which Cuff draws attention to, which the Anglican and Catholic Churches respectively have prioritised, are high interest ‘loan sharks’ and human trafficking and slavery. In an introductory chapter Cuff also makes extensive use of certain key figures in the tradition such as St Thomas Aquinas, Henry Manning, Joseph Cardijn and Dorothy Day.

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Saint Oscar Romero. Pastor, Prophet, Martyr

Author: Kerry Walters
ISBN: 978-1-63253-265-7
Franciscan Media 2018. Paperback 192 pp. £11.95. Pastoral Review bookshop price £10.80

The canonisation of Oscar Romero in October 2018 has brought, as one would expect, a good new crop of studies. While there remains a gap for a new and full-scale biography, the smaller books which are appearing are of a good quality. Professor Kerry Walters, formerly of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, has produced an accessible and lively new biography.

Among well known sources and earlier works Walters draws on the 2015 study by Roberto Morozzo della Rocca1 which is important because it is said to have influenced Pope Benedict XVI, part of the process by which barriers to Romero’s beatification were gradually removed. Another feature of Walters’ book is that the passage of time and the fact that Romero is giving biographers and commentators more freedom when looking at some of the tensions in the story – both within Romero’s own life and personality, and within the Church. To be blunt: nobody has to prove now that he was a good and loyal Catholic, since he’s been made a saint.

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Ethical Questions in Healthcare ­Chaplaincy

Author: Pia Matthews
ISBN 978-1-78592-421-7
Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2018. Paperback 192 pp £19.99. Pastoral Review bookshop price £18.00

The title of this book is very precise – the emphasis is on questions not answers, and the focus is the working hospital chaplain, not a sixth-former or degree student. This defined purpose means that one can be very specific on whether the book achieves its purpose and the judgement of this reviewer - who is a chaplain in a large hospital two days a week - is that it does.

Matthews lays out the field of values pertaining to various types of ethical questions common in healthcare chaplaincy, along with at least one vivid case study illustrating the tensions round the relevant question. The questions include dignity of the human person, consent, confidentiality, beginning of life, end of life, and particular questions in respect of babies, children and young adults.
There are also chapters on loss, bereavement and conscientious objection.

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