Frosty, Christmas Days

What I love about Christmas is going into hibernation for over a week… I think GK Chesterton got it right when he said,

“People are inundated, blinded, deafened … leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves.”

Times like this are necessary not only to rest, but also to think, give rise to our creativity, reflect on who we are and where we are going. It is really the only time of year my whole family comes together and spends time on frosty, country walks, watching films late into the night, and curling up by the fire to talk or read. I am terrible for having a few books on the go at once, and I wanted to share with you some of what I’m reading at the moment… (all come recommended – click on the title to purchase from Amazon)

Weight of GloryCS Lewis: The Weight of Glory

I am a lifelong fan of CS Lewis… I especially enjoyed The Four Loves a few years back. I have meant to buy this book for a while. It is a collection of essays and sermons that Lewis delivered in Oxford during and shortly after the Second World War. He is therefore dealing with some pretty meaty human topics. It is always a joy to read not only his profound insights, but also how eloquently he expresses them.

Gospel of the Family


The Gospel of the Family – Going Beyond Cardinal Kasper’s Proposal in the Debate on Marriage, Civil Re-Marriage and Communion in the Church (Ignatius Press)

I must say, I can be quite laid-back when it comes to being on top of contemporary issues in the Church (besides catechesis…!). I can’t stand and avoid politics, but admit I should be better at reading up on the theology. My normal course of action (which is pretty okay when you’re too busy to research yourself, right?!) is to ‘research’ the views of someone who is better theologically-formed, completely orthodox, more intelligent and with a good sense of pastoral experience. I glean their thoughts then often appropriate them. How lazy?! This time, between the two Synods, I feel it’s necessary to do some reading of my own. So I picked up this book the other day from Ignatius. It is a response to Cardinal Kasper’s address of the same title, with an introduction by Cardinal Pell. So far, it is very good.

More and more, I am speaking to or hearing of people who think that it is a certainty that the Church’s teaching on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried will be relaxed, and who even, in some cases, are therefore choosing to receive Holy Communion now. If you are a catechist, it is certain that these issues will come up, and we need to be able to respond with great sensitivity to people’s personal issues, while speaking the truth in love.

Beauty for Truth's Sake

Stratford Caldecott: Beauty for Truth’s Sake

Behind this book is the certainty that there is a unity in truth – whatever the discipline – because God is truth. As a catechist, how we present truth in a way that unifies it with what is beautiful and good is something I really believe in. As we hand on the faith, we should do so in a way that integrates the four dimensions of Christian life – teaching (truth), life in Christ (goodness), prayer (beauty) and liturgy (unity). Since my MA dissertation, this has been an underlying guiding principle in everything that I have done as a catechist: planning an RCIA process at the cathedral; leading days for catechist formation; even in introducing Bible Study. An important theme of this book is the need to move away from seeing any education (catechesis too, I would add) as purely functional. If catechesis – which is revealing who God is, and who we are in relation to him – is not beautiful, how can it hope to convey the mystery of God? An important theme of the new evangelisation is to capture people with what is beautiful, and by this, help them move towards the good and the true. Which is why I think this book is an important contribution.

Silas MarnerGeorge Eliot: Silas Marner

Impossible not to add fiction to the mix… Before I left for home, I wanted to pick out a great story I hadn’t read yet and which could be finished over the holidays. This is a great little tale from George Eliot and really hit the spot… Recommended!

In the next few days, we’ll all be heading back to work and everyday life… So, here’s a great thought as we reflect on the past year and look forward to the next…

For all that has been – THANK YOU…

…and for all that is to come – YES!

Happy New Year!

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2 Responses

  1. Fr John P Beirne. PP says:

    Many Thanks for reflection on Christmas and what I love about it. Great to hear you speak on what is beautiful and uplifting in my life as opposed to the mere functionality of our faith which sinks so much.
    Keep up the good work and the communication. Fr John Beirne Aylesbury.

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