Sacred Space: For Lent 2017 by The Irish Jesuits (Messenger Publications, £2.50). Sacred Space, the internationally renowned online prayer site, has produced this very useful book to guide readers in their prayers during Lent. With specially selected passages for every day of the Lenten period, as well as commentary and prompts to meditation, this book invites readers to contemplate God during this time of abstinence and fasting. The selections of Scripture are pithy and timely, and the conversation points useful and illuminating. A perfect companion to the season.
The Wiley Companion to Christian Mysticism edited by Julia Lamm (Wiley Blackwell, £33). Christian mysticism, writes Lamm, is “more a story than it is an identifiable, single phenomenon”. Sensitive to the problems of definition, this impressively wide-ranging volume provides excellent coverage of major and minor figures, ample theoretical background and useful thematic overviews. From the enduring role of mysticism in the formation of the Christian monastic tradition to topics such as the intersection of spirituality and neuroscience, this compendium is rewarding throughout.
Around the Table by R Scott Hurd (Ave Maria Press, £10.99). R Scott Hurd, an acclaimed Catholic speaker and award-winning author, plunges into his personal fascination with the Eucharist in this treasure trove of a book. Incorporating Church traditions, Scripture and meticulous research, the author tries to tell the story of the Eucharist as experienced by 14 biblical characters – including Peter, Mark and Thomas – witnesses who were present at the Last Supper. Using a second-person narrative point of view, Scott Hurd unravels the meaning of the Eucharist and its eternal significance with pith and vigour.
The Turin Shroud and the Mystery of Faith by Andrew Willie (Vine Press, £8.99). For Andrew Willie, the claims of carbon dating surrounding the Turin Shroud are “suspect”. All the contaminants and uncertainties make judgment impossible, so the artefact’s authenticity is not undermined. He does not come close to overturning any scientific apple carts and adds little to an old debate, but his book is a work of sincere devotion and its main purpose seems to be the inspiration of devotion – either via private meditation or group discussion. This is all, he concludes, an “area where things cannot be fully explained” and his sense of the Shroud’s symbolic power is acute.
Between Death and Resurrection by Stephen Yates (Bloomsbury, £74). Yates prefers a conventional understanding of our posthumous trajectories: that the soul heads off on interesting paths immediately and that reunion with the body occurs at the end of time and the consummation of all things. He devotes considerable space, however, to other ideas that have gained traction in recent decades: of a timeless eternity after death in which resurrection has already, so to speak, happened; or of a posthumous sphere in which some manner of embodiment has occurred but in which the Last Judgment is yet to happen.
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