Graham, William C., National Catholic Reporter
It is time again for my annual pilgrimage to Spike's Lake in northern Minnesota. Lakeside by one of the 10,000, I read, splash, write, splash some more. And later this afternoon will jump in the lake as my annual gift to faithful readers who often want to and even do cry out, after reading some review or other, "Oh, go jump in the lake!"
The Vision of the Beloved Disciple: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John, by Marianist Fr. George T. Montague (Alba House, 86 pages, $5.95 paperback), is an insightful look at John's gospel. He notes that the "disciple whom Jesus loved" has no name, and thus we are invited to put our own name there, confident that each of us is that disciple.
Reason is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom and of Total Self-Gift (Alba House, 142 pages, $10.95 paperback) is written by Michele T. Gallagher with a poet's sensibilities and sensitivities. The author, an English professor, employs scripture, poetry and the writings of the Fathers in her exploration. This book is a find and will surely provoke meditation, joy and wonder.
I heard the controversial, retired (but not retiring) Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong recently, suggesting that the biggest threat to the established churches comes not from new, fundamentalist churches, but rather from the largest Christian group, which Spong calls "Christian alumni," those who no longer have anything to do with any institutional church. "We have bored them almost to death," he asserted.
Jesuit Fr. Herbert F. Smith also sees many as having wandered away, and he suggests that part of the problem may be a lack of the devotions that stirred hearts and emotions in days gone by. Those who think he may be onto something might look at his Homilies on the Heart of Jesus and the Apostleship of Prayer (Alba House, 225 pages, $12.95 paperback).
Finding Your Way after Your Spouse Dies, by Marta Felber (Ave Maria, 159 pages, $9.95 paperback), offers the reassurance of a survivor who has traveled the path of loss. These short chapters with scriptural suggestions and short prayers are sure to offer comfort and confidence to those who suffer loss. I sent this one away to a recently widowed colleague.
Celtic Spirituality (Paulist, 550 pages, $29.95 paperback) is the latest volume in the Classics of Western Spirituality series. This collection of texts translated from Latin, Irish and Welsh includes saints' lives, sermons, devotional texts, liturgy (the Hymn at the Lighting of the Paschal Candle is quite beautiful), monastic rules and penitentials (these collections of penances to be imposed for certain sins are very interesting). This is a welcome addition to a fine series.
That All May Be One: Catholic Reflections on Christian Unity (Paulist, 192 pages, $14.95 paperback) is by Blessed Sacrament Fr. Ernest Falardeau, director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Santa Fe, N.M., archdiocese. Drawing on his 30 years of pastoral experience, he looks for healing of the scandal of division and reflects on Christian unity as spirituality, nurtured by the Eucharist and celebrated in the liturgical year. This book is an antidote to the discouragement and disillusionment that some feel since unity has not come completely in the years since the Second Vatican Council.
The Seeker's Guide to Building a Christian Marriage: 11 Essential Skills, by Kathleen Finley (Loyola, 212 pages, $11.95), would be a fine shower, bachelor party or wedding gift, and it deserves the serious attention of those who would make a marriage work. These practical strategies to build self-esteem, personal maturity, family systems, communication and more are readable, interesting and challenging.
Guests of God: Stewards of Divine Creation, by Monica Hellwig, with illustrations by Erica Hellwig Parker, her daughter (Paulist, 127 pages, $9. …