Rebuilding Confirmation by Christopher Wesley (Ave Maria Press, £9.99). The author, who has spent 12 years in youth ministry in Maryland, has created a new type of Confirmation programme, using mentors and small faith groups to help Catholic teenagers grow and mature in their faith. Too often, Confirmation is seen as the Sacrament of departure from the Church. In this important book, Wesley shows how such a fatalistic attitude can be turned around. As he writes, “Preparing disciples to go into the world and set it on fire … is worth it.” This is a vital aid for all parish catechists involved in youth faith formation.
Disarming Beauty by Julián Carrón (Notre Dame Press, £22). Subtitled Essays on Faith, Truth and Freedom, this is a thought-provoking collection of meditations by Fr Julian Carrón, who became the leader of the global ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation after the death of its founder. Here he explores subjects as diverse as politics, mystery and reality. Fr Carrón’s aim is to understand the Gospel message both in light of tradition and for contemporary society. He dissects current ills and proposes a new way of thinking about how the Church can deal with modernity.
Paranoid Narcissism! by Miguel Cullen (Odilo Press & Alteria Art, £20). Catholic Herald arts editor Cullen has published his second volume of poetry in a handsome edition which is, in itself, as much a work of art as the poems contained within. This is modern poetry, imbued with the sound and rhythm of the classics but, at the same time, aware and reacting to the nuances of modern life – its ironies, pleasures and toils. Written in compact yet lyrical lines, Cullen sometimes brings to mind Robert Lowell’s History poems. A beautifully produced collection, garlanded with striking artwork.
The Rosminian Mission by John Michael Hill IC (Gracewing, £20). The author, a member of the Rosminian order, has already written a well-researched and sympathetic biography of its founder, Antonio Rosmini. He now provides a detailed history of the wide influence of the order after its beginnings in England. Accurately subtitled “Sowers of the Second Spring”, the book includes the foundation of Ratcliffe College, the first Rosminian parishes and the work of Fr Luigi Gentili in organising parish missions. These were highly effective, reflecting Rosmini’s teaching that “charity has to be spiritual and intellectual as well as physical”.
Mona Lisa by Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti (OUP, £25). This fascinating book has meticulously traced the people related to the Renaissance painter and polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, and how he came to paint the most famous portrait of all time. Stating that they are “deliberately asserting the documentary detail of real lives in the face of a legendary picture,” the two authors take the reader on a trail of wills, property deals and marital alliances in 15th-century Florence, in search of the creator of a portrait that assumes the guise of a “universal picture”. A compelling piece of scholarship.
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