Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has written Faith Finding a Voice (Bloomsbury, 352pp, £12.99), a reflective book that mixes his public role as a homilist, preaching on important occasions, alongside more personal thoughts on what has shaped his own journey of faith. This includes reading the medieval German mystic Meister Eckhart, John Henry Newman on The Idea of a University, the diary of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz, and meditating on The Nativity with Saints altarpiece by the Early Renaissance painter Pietro Orioli.
This eclectic approach to the spiritual life gives the cardinal’s book an attractive readability. Divided into four parts: “The Lure of God”; “Education for Life”; “Religious Dialogue and the Hope for Humanity” and, lastly, various homilies, the author reveals the teacher he says he would have become if he had not been ordained a priest. His style is clear, deliberate and informative, and aimed at ordinary Catholics who want to go deeper into their faith but need a guiding hand.
Nichols reminds us that early memories of faith are of seminal importance. Referring to his mother teaching him at a young age to make the Sign of the Cross, he comments: “Although unknown to me at the time, my mother’s daily act of love, devotion and understanding opened a treasure house of spiritual grace which will remain with me throughout my life.”
Forty Reasons I Am a Catholic (Sophia Institute Press, 144pp, £11.99), by Peter Kreeft, an American academic and prolific author on Catholic subjects, is a mixture of humorous remarks that only slightly conceal his more serious purpose: to persuade readers of the saving wisdom and truth of the Catholic faith.
His book is admirably short, based on Kreeft’s conviction that readers’ concentration span is limited and that brevity is the soul of evangelisation. Each chapter is barely two pages and one of them is only a few lines long. Chapter headings include: “For the Same Reason GK Chesterton Gives: To Get my Sins Forgiven”; “Because of the Personality of the Church’s Saints”; “For the Reason Walker Percy Gave: What Else is There?”; “Because only the Church Can Whup the Devil”. I could go on, but this gives a flavour of the author’s idiosyncratic approach.
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