Cor Jesu Sacratissimum
By Roger Buck, Angelico Press, £17.50
Roger Buck, a convert to the Church after decades-long association with New Age spirituality, has written a serious work. It is partly an autobiographical reflection on why people are drawn down false spiritual paths, and partly an appeal to Catholics to practise more of the unplumbed riches of their faith.
It is an excellent guide to those who repudiate a materialistic view of life but struggle to free themselves from erroneous notions of “self-realisation” and other phrases of the therapy culture. Such emphasis on the self is, as Buck knows from experience, a way of evading the Person of Christ and his call to conversion. It is turning from truth towards a series of half-truths and false truths which can never provide real solace and nourishment for the soul.
Buck’s underlying message is that the Church, at least in the Western world, is succumbing to secularist forces and that we need to heed his warning before it is too late. If this sounds apocalyptic, Buck would counter that the battle between the forces of good and evil has always been with us – it has only intensified in the modern age.
The author Buck most credits with helping to free him from the seductive coils of secular spirituality is Valentin Tomberg, a Catholic convert, from whose book Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism he quotes at length. He cites the late theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar in support of Tomberg who, he argues, broke the hold of New Age and Eastern esoteric concepts on his own life.
He also quotes from the writings of the late Stratford Caldecott that “Christianity is not a set of … ideas. It is not, like Gnosticism, a doctrine of liberation through enlightenment. It is primarily a means of salvation.”
In the second part, Buck appeals to Catholics to engage in a deeper understanding of the mysteries of their Faith. He believes that “Each of us can make a difference. Many of us have friends, walled off in a secular or ‘holistic’ ideology, who desperately need to see that an alternative exists.”
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