Marian devotion was deemed rather unfashionable in the Western Church for a while in the 1970s, but it never really lost its popular appeal, and today flourishes anew: vast crowds visit Lourdes annually, the Fatima centenary saw pilgrim numbers there soaring – led by the Holy Father - and in England the shrine at Walsingham, restored at the end of the 19th century draws large groups each summer in this second decade of the 21st.
The first instance at which I began to realise that Faith was more than just an after school club particular to my secondary school was when one afternoon, at about age 14, I was hustled into the Faith room with half a dozen other boys from my class, only to discover an assembly line of production set up for the packing and distribution of a magazine, which, rather intriguingly, bore the name and logo of our school society.
To hear some people talk, one would get the impression that the prohibition against artificial contraception came out of the blue. However, even a brief review of history reveals a strong and consistent ban on all such activities from the earliest days of the Church in a direct line, right into the twentieth century, with statements to the same effect by Pope Paul VI’s three immediate predecessors, as well as Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes.
The question arises how far the words of St. John, and the literary cadences of St. John’s Gospel, do reflect directly the words and very expressions of Jesus Christ Himself. One suggests that the correspondence will be very close indeed. It will certainly be ‘substantial’ in the sense of communicating the essential thought of Christ in all its beauty and more than human coherence. I
Let me state at the outset that this is an excellent book, a straightforward and pleasant read, with 26 short chapters of essays, articles, lectures, and book reviews that Barr has written over the past decade or so. Almost all of the pieces are post-2000, and one third of them from 2010 or later.
There is no shortage of books dealing with the Early Church – studies of its saints, its history, its theological and philosophical controversies, schools of thought, the development of its liturgies, and so on – and every year new volumes are added to the shelves.
The Virgin Eye: Towards a Contemplative View of Life is the fruit of a very long gestation. Daniels, a one-time music critic, publicity manager for SCOPE, counsellor, social worker and Jungian psychoanalyst, was prompted to put into writing some lectures he gave in the 1990s on the interface between psychology and spirituality. The book was finally edited by Daniels wife Katherine and published after his death.
Newman’s Tamworth Reading Room is one of his lesser known works, partly, I suspect, because its title doesn’t suggest what it is about, and partly because it is now tucked away in the volume Discussions and Arguments in which Newman brought together a number of his shorter occasional works in the standard edition he produced towards the end of his life. Also, even those people who do know what it is about - education – assume that the much better known Idea of a University will tell them more about Newman’s educational philosophy.