To Grow in Love by Fr Brian Grogan SJ (Messenger Publications, £11.95). Fr Grogan, Emeritus Professor of Spirituality at Milltown Institute in Dublin, writes about the spirituality of “ageing, dying and glory”. Currently the leader of a community of older Jesuits, he offers consolation to those in old age who are facing increasing physical debility as well as loneliness and anxiety. A deep knowledge of Scripture, allied to Fr Grogan’s own strong faith, makes this book a helpful companion to all at the close of their lives. His final chapter is a moving meditation on what might await the “faithful servant” after death.
Slaves in Paradise by Jesús García (Ignatius Press, £15). Written by a journalist who works for Aid to the Church in Need, this important new study highlights the plight of exploited sugarcane workers in the Dominican Republic, their wretched lives and the British-Spanish priest Fr Christopher Hartley, who was their advocate for more than 20 years. Fr Hartley brought the workers hope and material help as well as the sacraments, as he challenged the powerful local sugar barons and politicians until forced to leave the country. This should be read by anyone who consumes sugar in food and drink.
Finding God in Doubt and Disbelief by Deacon Nick Donnelly (CTS, £2.50). This is a timely booklet on a common experience. We are all tempted to doubt and suffer scepticism from time to time. Donnelly shares his own poignant memories of the early loss of siblings and the miscarriage of his two children, and how his grief led him “to question the existence of God and his providential care”. Using passages from Scripture, as well as the example of famous Christians who struggled with doubt, such as CS Lewis and St Teresa of Calcutta, he advises: “Keep your gaze fixed upon Christ.”
Global Poverty: A Theological Guide by Justin Thacker (SCM Press, £25). Justin Thacker laments the failure of theologians to engage with issues around development and global economic matters in a nuanced way. It’s usually all about cheerleading for or railing against capitalism. Thacker certainly points the way forward, making astute remarks about the limitations of aid as a long-term solution and seeing sense in adjusting existing systems rather than exploding them. His “symphonic account of theology” deploys ideas such as sin, redemption and human dignity where they are always needed: in the muddled real world.
London’s Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City by Stephen Alford (Allen Lane, £20). At the beginning of the 16th century, while other European powers were launching their world-girdling adventures, England was stranded in “utter marginality”. Even on the European scene, the real engine rooms of commerce were places like Antwerp, Venice and Genoa. A hundred years later, everything had changed. Alford provides a stunning portrait of the capital, its mercantile elites, contemporary attitudes to money and foreignness, and the ground-breaking treks to Asia and the Americas.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection