Catholic Stories for Children: Sunday Football / Best Friends Forever by Anne Joachim (Amazon, £2.99 each). These two booklets, written as First Holy Communion material, introduce children to Catholic prayers, doctrine and devotions in a simple format, suitable for parents and catechists or for children to read themselves. Using ordinary situations that children can understand, such as football clashing with Sunday Mass or exclusive friendships that ignore others, the author shows how integral faith is to daily life and the choices we make. The rosary and the prayers used with it are presented in a way that can be easily grasped by young readers.
Justice as a Virtue by Jean Porter (Eerdmans, £26.99). Is our sense of justice derived from social institutions and the obligations they impose: is it essentially a theoretical construct? Or is justice rooted in a sense of personal virtue, “a praiseworthy disposition of the will”? For Jean Porter, the latter notion is preferable and she finds an ally in Thomas Aquinas, for whom the life of fairness, and any larger sense of natural law, was based on virtue. Porter gamely inserts Aquinas’s musings into contemporary debate, reminding us of a neglected duty in our role as rational agents.
What was from the Beginning by Prosper Grech OSA (Gracewing, £9.99). Prosper Grech, former lecturer at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, discusses the subject of orthodoxy and heresy in the early Church. He describes how the Church in the first centuries resolved its theological and structural problems so as to identify itself as the Catholic Church. The author explains the criteria used by the early Christians to distinguish what they considered to be the right faith from contemporary erroneous doctrines such as Gnosticism and Arianism. Only 125 pages, his book is a lucid and scholarly exposition.
A South Downs Year by Jon Edgar (Hesworth Press, £10). Edgar, a sculptor and creator of the Slindon Stone, has written a journal that describes the 15 months (October 2014-February 2016) of his project, showing how the creative process was subtly influenced by this ancient corner of West Sussex. Some 1,350 people collaborated in the carving in one way or another. Memories of Hilaire Belloc, who loved the area, Cardinal Manning and others, alongside old maps, woodcuts, writings and photographs of the woodlands, fields and footpaths that surround the area combine to make an absorbing memorial to a unique artistic venture.
Prince Arthur by Sean Cunningham (Amberley, £12). Dying young, in 1502, did not help the historical reputation of Henry VII’s eldest son. Arthur, though, is a fascinating figure whose short life tells us a great deal about the objectives of the Tudor dynasty and how fragile it was during the early decades. Cunningham has pursued every feasible archival lead in order to produce this spirited, rounded portrait of a figure who, one has to suspect, might have brought less glamour but also a little less chaos to the realm’s top job than his pre-eminent brother, Henry VIII.
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