A long chase on the road to Faith
THE FOLLOWING FEET, by Ancilla (Longmans, Ss. 6d.).
"IT was not you that chose -Ame, it was I that chose you." We none of us find much difficulty in accepting this statement in its context, for Our Lord was speaking to his chosen apostles. each of whom he called personally. But in so far as it is rightly applied to each and every one of us, we do find it a little more difficult.
Very wrongly we are more conscious of our own efforts to " be good," " be religious," increase the depth and reality of our spiritual life, than we are of Our Lord's choosing us. calling us, personally, even " chasing " us.
Anything. therefore, that helps us to recognise the ways, the means, the modes, by which Christ calls us and has called us, • is specially valuable.
The Following Feet, named from the well-known stanza in Francis Thompson's Hound of Heaven, tells how a woman in her forties, graduate of two universities, lecturer in a training college for women, convinced liberal. humanist, agnostic, suddenly has a " mystical" experience which. while she is faithful to it, only after thirteen long years leads her into membership of a church-the Anglican Church.
One is inevitably reminded of Simone Weil, not that Ancilla treats of her experience in anything like the same way. She is more concerned with the movements of her own soul, its stripping of pride and self-sufficiency. than she is with the metaphysical aspects which seemed to dominate Simone Weil.
But here, too, is the same slow, painful, yet joyous progress, stepping forward, which in Simone Weil's case had not gone far enough to bring her into the Church before death overtook her.
Here. too, are the same references, the same mile posts, so to speak, The Cloud of Unknowing, Dame Juliana, Brother Lawrence, Thomas ti Kempis: and for the author, the " book's purpose " has been achieved, for this reader affirms that its contents are the commonplaces of the Christian Faith. Nothing here is unusual, original or outside the normal teachings of the Church.
In the church of St. Sehalduskirche, which she was " doings' like any other tourist in Nuremberg in August, 1934. she sat tired on a chair alone. " Precisely what occurred 1 do not know, The first clear impression," she writes. " was of meeting head-on a full charge of some strange Power, and that I must on no account reveal the fact."
This moment, for all its strangeness to the " Good Pagan." described in itself, and in its effects, with clarity, sincerity and skill, is the moment of the realisation of God which is given to so many, perhaps all, of us; when we hardly dare walk on the earth in which the transcendent God is immanent. and which for most of us is neither noted. nor cherished. nor built on. but is left to he dimmed by the routine of religion or turned from in fear of what attention to it might involve us in.
This is a book which both for its intent and its achievement is highly commendable.
RETREAT WITH OUR LADY, by Ch. Polio! (Sands, 5s.).
PAPER covered, about 180 pages, pocket sire. cheap, A Retreat With Our Lady is " meant to be read in a spirit of recollection and prayer." It is a study of the theological and cardinal virtues in themselves, and as they are exemplified in Our Lady. rather than the retreat after the Ignatian model. A charming and moving little book of devotional reading.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS AND LAW (Blackfriars, 2s.).
WELCOME to Aquinas Paper No. 24 in which the first is last and . . .
Though its most recent publication. the late Fr. Vincent McNabb gave this paper to the newly founded Aquinas Society in 1929. Its appearance is not due to recent interest in Fr. McNabb's life: it takes its place in the list of papers on its merits and then leaves some to spare. This now valuable list of papers should now
all be kept in print. And it is to he hoped that Blackfriars will see that they are!
SIENNA AND SOUTHERN TUSCANY. by Edward Hutton (Hollis & Carter, 21s.)
" E DWARD HUTTON is the interpreter of Italy to our generation. His books on the Tuscan hill towns will one day be reverently searched for. At present he is not known to a fraction of those who would be capable of appreciating his charm, his style and his scholarship."
So wrote Johannes Joergensen, the internationally famous Danish author, of Edward Hutton and his work some time ago; so he clearly needs no puff from " Alcuin."
As for looking for some little fault to justify repeating on our own account this high praise, that is easier said than done. In fact it can't be done; even the price, one whole guinea, must he seen as reasonable in view of the size and get up of the hook, and more especially the 33 magnificent, full page plates which serve as illustrations.
Let it rest then at: " Welcome, to Edward Hutton's new book on Italy, Sienna and Southern Tuscany."
oNE of the largest audiences I have seen this year packed the Albert Hall for last Friday's " Prom." True, it was a Beethoven night. and one that included the 7th Symphony, whose drawing power is unequalled, The perform. ance, under Sir Malcolm Sargent, was alive and robust, and there was some beautiful pianissimo playing in the Allegretto, but there was a tendency to roughness in the fast movements, particularly in the lower strings. In the same concert, Frank Martin's violin concerto was played for the first time at a Prom by Henry Hoist. The concerto is one of Martin's major works, certain to take its place in the reper
toire of modern music L. H.