Chiara Lubich’s Communitarian Way to Holiness by Paloma Cabetas (New City, £5). Paloma Cabetas is co-director of the Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich in Italy in 1943. Taking as her text John 17:11-19, the author shows how deeply the Focolare was rooted in the theology of chapter 17 of St John’s Gospel. As Lubich realised, followers of Jesus are not called so much to individualistic moral and spiritual perfection as to unity in love. This slim book, which includes a brief biography of Lubich, is an excellent introduction to the new movement she inspired.
Sin, Sex and Psychology by PM Webb (available from amazon.co.uk, £8.50). Subtitled “The Catholic Church on the Couch”, chapter titles include “Sin and psychological evolution”, “Paranoia” and “Compulsory celibacy”. Webb asks many searching questions, such as “Why does the Church refuse to accept the necessity for birth control?” and “Why has there been so much child abuse by clergy?” Sigmund Freud, she thinks, might hold the key. A passionate book of strong personal opinions rather than a scholarly or theological work, it raises more questions than it answers.
When Catholic Means Cosmic by David Richo (Paulist Press/Alban Books, £11.99). The author, a former Catholic priest who is now a psychotherapist, has been inspired by the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Raimon Panikkar, Karl Rahner and Hans Küng, as well as “other theologians who contemplate faith from an evolutionary perspective”. Richo believes that “contemporary cosmology fits in with and enriches our sense of Catholic teachings and spirituality”. In an appendix he includes his own “Eucharistic Prayer of the Cosmic Christ” which is addressed to the “Fatherly and motherly God”.
Love Letters in the Sand: The Love Poems of Khalil Gibran (Souvenir Press, £9.99). Khalil Gibran is one of those authors who excite strong feelings – you either love him or wonder what the fuss is about. As someone who has always preferred the philosophy behind Edward Fitzgerald’s free translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, I am of the latter party. Reading these Love Poems, which have been extracted from his better-known work, The Prophet, has not made me change my mind. However, the calligraphy by Lassaad Metoui, introducing the reader to the exotic beauty of Arabic script, is superb.
Transformed by God’s Word by Stephen J Binz (Ave Maria Press / Alban Books, £11.99). In this book, subtitled “Discovering the Power of Lectio and Visio Divina”, the author has included a series of icons alongside his text. Drawn by Ruta and Kaspars Poikans, these stark and stylised illustrations bring his meditations to life in a prayerful way. Going through all the major events in Jesus’s life, the reader is encouraged to use the book’s visual aids in his/her own developing journey of faith. A book to treasure, it will be particularly useful for those who are already familiar with the world of Orthodox iconography.
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