THEOLOGY DEVOTION AND UPLIFT
Our Lady's Place in God's Plan. By Fr. Stanislaus Hogan. O.P. (Gill, 7e, 6d.) Mary of Nazareth. By Vincent McNabb, O.P. (Burns Oates, 5s.) The Path of Life. By Canon Peter Green. (Longmans, 3s. 6d.) Reviewed by Fr. THOMAS CORBISHLEY, S.J.
WHEN I received these three books to be reviewed " together " m y first thoughts were not a !together kindly • towards the Editor. Two books by Dominicans and One by an Anglican Canon ; two books very definitely on Our Lady and one, rather mistily, on "the Christian life "; a work of theology, a work of devotion, and a work of, shall we say, " uplift "—to he reviewed " together." However, before protesting, I thought I might as well read the hooks first. And as I finished the third I saw how they did indeed fall into some sort, of pattern.
For if Mary's place in God's plan is all that Fr. Hogan claims; if Mary of Nazareth is, as Fr. McNabb declares, " a divine institution," we naturally ask : How can such a sincere and religious mind as that of Canon Green's produce a book on the Christian life with only one passing allusion to Our Blessed Lady?
And in the answer to that question lies the explanation of the sort of book that the Anglican Rector of St. Philip's has written. It is, may one say, not really a book on the Christian life at all. It is a book on life in general, its difficulties and trials. its sorrows and perplexities, into which religion, the Christian religion, is shown to enter as the great strengthening and consoling force. An that it says is, of course, true and comforting, But, for all its wealth of New Testament quotation, it does not begin to reveal the inner meaning of the Christian life—that life which Christ came that we might have "more abundantly "; that life of grace which, since it comes to us through Christ, who received the gift of life from Mary, cannot be any more thought of in isolation from her.
THAT is the great 'theme of Fr. Hogan's collection of papers. The two chapters on Lourdes are, as it were, hors-d'oeuvre. The chief dish is the chapter from which the book takes its name, in which Fr. Hogan restates the arguments for hailing the Mother of God as " Co-Redemptrix," " Mediatrix ' and similar titles that are becoming more and more common in Catholic devotional and theological literature, In such a work, of course, it is almost impossible to avoid language that the less devout client of Mary may find a little startling, but on the whole Fr. Hogan avoids those excessive expressions common to a certain type of devotional writing. We could wish, however, that the author's enthusiasm had not led him to say, for instance, "The Eternal Father and the Immaculate Mother willed the Sacrifice of the Cross as the means of man's redemption," with its suggestion of some sort of parity between the Fatherhood of God and the Maternity of Mary. However
much we exalt Mary, we cannot forget the infinite abyss separating Creator and creature; and though the author quotes with approval Cajetan's phrase ad fines deitatis attingit, that is not a statement of sober theology, but rather one of rhetorical hyperbole.
But, • in spite of such occasional exaggerations, Fr. Hogan has done a useful work in collecting material to show how the thought of the Church in recent days has developed towards a clearer understanding of Mary's great function in the dispensation of grace.
OF Fr. McNabb's work it is enough to say that it is stamped with all the energy and forthrightness of his temperament. It is a collection of para
graphs, apophthegms, epigram s. fragments, in praise of Mary. If reading in bed were not regarded as a weakness of the flesh, one might recommend it as an excellent bedside book for the month of May.