Catholic Women Speak (Alban Books, £11.99). This book, edited by the Catholic Women Speak Network, is an anthology of essays on women and family life that explores themes and questions not usually aired in the Church. Contributors include academics such as Janet Martin Soskice, Clare Watkins and Tina Beattie. Subjects discussed include divorce, contraception, interchurch marriage and same-sex orientation. On this last subject, the contribution by Eve Tushnet, a convert from a Jewish background, is especially moving. She writes that “by leading lives of fruitful and creative love we can offer proof that sexual restraint isn’t a death sentence”.
How to Believe by John Cottingham (Bloomsbury, £16.99). Cottingham has written a thoughtful book, analysing the processes that lead someone to become a religious believer. Without being prescriptive as to which religion to follow, he shows how belief engages all the resources of mind and heart: reason, emotion and openness to the transcendent. Chapters include reflections on the dimensions of reality, belief in a secular age, the sacred, and religion and art. Worth reading
by anyone not satisfied with a reductively rational account of existence, or a possible gift for an atheist friend.
Louis and Zélie Martin by Rev Paulinus Redmond (Gracewing, £12.99). This classic book about the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux was first published in 1995. Now, coinciding with their canonisation in October, it has been reissued and is well worth re-reading. Written in the form of 43 personal letters to Thérèse, it provides a detailed account of her life and of her wider family circle, including her sisters’ lives and her parents’ background. With many black and white photographs of people and places connected to Thérèse, this beautifully imagined “biography” should be treasured as part of Thérèsian literature.
Frontiers of Possession by Tamar Herzog (Harvard, £25). The creation of borders and boundaries during the early modern period involved an impressive cast of characters, from popes to lawyers to haphazard adventurers. In this book, subtitled Spain and Portugal in Europe and the Americas, Herzog traces the process on both sides of the Atlantic, stressing that small local events could be as important as grand international treaties. The legality of decisions was sometimes uncertain and both violent and peaceful methods were deployed. The consequences, not least in the realm of Christian missionary activity, resonated well into the 18th century.
How the Jesuits Survived the Suppression by Marek Inglot SJ (St Joseph’s, £35). The 1773 suppression brought an end to Jesuit corporate existence around the globe. Oddly enough, however, there was to be a pocket of survival in the Russian empire of Catherine the Great and her successors. Marek Inglot’s work, skilfully edited and translated by Daniel Schlafly, tells the fascinating story of how Russia became a beacon of hope for ex-Jesuits and played a major role in the lead up to global restoration of the order in 1814.