Rites of Justice, by Megan McKenna, Orbis Books, £8.99.The rituals of the Catholic Church inextricably connect us to the ethics of Jesus, argues Dr McKenna. This book combines a study of the sacraments with storytelling; and it offers some radical suggestions as to new rites which the Church might offer in the future. For example, McKenna suggests a rite "for those who have failed at marriage but wish to live faithfully in the calling of the gospel after a period of penance." The model for this would be the second marriages of Eastern Orthodoxy, where it is acknowledged that this marriage "is not a full sign of thekingdom's presence but is struggling to be born in this couple."
The Moral Dignity of Man, by Peter E. Bristow, Four Courts, Dublin £9.95. Many of today's moral conflicts concerning family values and medical ethics have their basis in different conceptions of man and the nature and purpose of human life. Fr Bristow argues that contemporary utilitarianism and permissive morality are insufficient for dealing with these matters and that only a natural law morality is adequate to the needs and dignity of the human person. He takes a stern line on most issues, arguing that fornication is "a caricature and counterfeit of real love... previous sexual activity leads to incontinence and habits which may well hinder future married love." Fr Bristow is, incidentally, an Opus Dei priest.
George a 20th Century Miniature, by Denis Pethebridge, Minerva Press, Knightsbridge, £7.99. A thoughtful novel written from a Catholic point of view. Written in a gentlyqthilosoph-ical style, it spans the 1920s, the war years and their aftermath.
Quest for the Grail, by Richard Rohr, Crossroad, £8.99.The winner of America's 1995 Catholic Book Award, this book shows how for centuries the Grail legend has invited men to move outside comfortable boundaries towards a much greater calling nothing less than the discovery of their true self. Fr Rohr, a Franciscan from New Mexico, is founder of the Centre for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque and an authority on masculine spirituality.
The Spirit of Solesmes, edited by Sister Mary David Totah OSB, Burns & Oates, £10.95. The Abbey of Solesmes in western France is famous above all for its Gregorian chant and the contribution it has made to the liturgical renewal of this century. This book presents a view of the Christian life as expressed in the writings of 19th century members of the community. As the book's cover puts it: "For those inclined to suspect 19thcentury French spirituality of sentimentality, the strength, relevance, and often humour of these writings will come as an eye-opener." Subjects covered include the life of prayer, the liturgy, —participation in the Church as communion of saints and the mysteries of love and suffering.
Women of Spirit, compiled by Dorothy M Stewart, Lion £6.99. This is a varied anthology of meditations by women from medieval mystics such as Julian of Norwich to modern writers such as Margaret Hebblethwaite and Elizabeth Stuart. Dr Stuart writes: "Healing and salvation only comes after the human experience of alienation, suffering and death. One cannot be completely healed until one has been utterly broken."