Page 5, 12th September 1969

12th September 1969
Page 5
Page 5, 12th September 1969 — The contemporary Church

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The contemporary Church

Prophets and Guardians by Meriol Trevor (Hollis and Carter 30s.) is a seminal book. As the sub-title Renewal and Tradition in the Church suggests, Miss Trevor reflects on the contemporary church during a backward journey through some outstanding happenings of the last four hundred years: Modernism. Ultramontanism and the Syllabus of Errors, Lamennais and L'Avenir, Benedict XIV and Voltaire, Humanists and St Philip Neri in the sixteenth century. Christianity is a history, a fact which we have begun fully to appreciate only since the second world war, so this is a most valid method of observing the Church's attempts to achieve a communion of persons in time. Prophets and guardians are what less fluent theologians call the charismatic and hierarchic elements in the Church, and this book is about some of both. We see them fulfilling their role, and failing when the prophets become false prophets and the guardians fail to endorse authentic movements of the spirit or simply fail to match the patience of God, a tall but not Impossible order. It is quite intpossible to do

justice to this book in a short space. 1 found my marginal scribbles more than usually copious, but when I went back to study them found it impossible to take anything out of context without doing unspeakable damage, so that I was reminded of Maitland's description of history, "A seamless web which we tear when we try to tell a piece of it."

it is not that Miss Trevor gives me new light on Tyrrell or Newman or Philip Neri or Von Hugel. It is not even that she deepens my understanding of the contemporary church with temperate and strong wisdom.

All these things and many more, including a new knowledge of Benedict XIV. But somehow, by an alchemy I cannot identify, she tells part of the seamless web that is Christianity without any tearing. We see the church alive and ongoing, and in a new way recognise our part and place in it.

Gerard Meath, O.P.

Roy Campbell's autobiography is published by Hollis and Carter, and not 'Hiller and Carter' as shown In the misprint on August 29.

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