All great love is union and communion. The love of God is a personal joy as invigorating to the inner man as youth and life abounding. It is a holy communion with that Love who grows not old, the love God bestows and which we sense reaches its fulness in the Holy Eucharist. And in this love it is God who does the wooing, God who takes the initiative. All deep friendship found down the years of life, especially when enkindled by a mutual love of God and joy in His service, forms an alliance, it is a sort of covenant between men because first a union with Christ.
On 18 February 1943 three students at the University of Munich were convicted of high treason and executed by guillotine. Hans Scholl (25), Sophie Scholl (21) and Christoph Probst (24) had been members of the White Rose resistance group which between 1942 and 1943 produced and distributed leaflets calling for resistance to Nazism and an end to the Second World War. A further series of trials followed as other members of the group were rounded up. The final White Rose leaflet was smuggled out of Germany and intercepted by Allied forces, with the result that, in the autumn of 1943, millions of copies were dropped over Germany by Allied aircraft. The sacrifice of these young people, a story which is well known in Germany if not in the UK, is remarkable. Even more extraordinary is that Hans and Sophie had been enthusiastic members of the Hitler Youth, indeed defying their anti-fascist father by doing so.
When I saw the title of this book, I imagined it would be a breezy and ‘popular’ treatment of its subject – easy reading, in fact. The reality was slightly different. William J. Slattery is himself a priest and, it is clear, something of a scholar as well. His work was conceived while he was pursuing higher studies in Rome, and the book comes fully equipped with a full range of scholarly apparatus, including a ‘select bibliography’ of some six closely-typed pages. Not quite the ‘easy reading’ I had imagined, then – but a very rewarding read for all that.
One reviewer describes this book as a gem, and it is certainly no exaggeration to describe it in this way, as the Bishop of Oakland, California, does. Moreover, he goes on to say something particularly important and significant: ‘It will make you want to pray.’ I can think of no higher recommendation for a book, especially as prayer is the only way we can find that vital and unique increase in our human love. To want to pray more involves the vital first step we need to take in order to continue this important journey.
In just over thirty minutes, Frs Marcus Holden and Andrew Pinsent give a good overview of grace, without which we could not live our lives as Christians. Beginning with a clear definition of grace as sharing in the divine life, the “talking heads” style is broken up with images of the modern world and of sacred art. The DVD explains that it seems impossible to share in God’s divine life but that grace enables us to enter into the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Throughout the DVD, we are shown how grace is received and its impact on Christian life. Finally the presentation turns to Our Blessed Lady as the one creature who is Full of Grace and as such, she shows us what grace means.