Simplicity linked with mystical depth
A ROCKING HORSE CATHOLIC, by Caryll Houselander (Sheed & Ward, 10s. 6d.), CARYLL HOUSELANDER (who died in 1952) was a remarkable person. Whether one likes her writings or not she remains remarkable as a person and hence essentially interesting. Those writings have been acclaimed as combining simplicity with a mystical depth-no small achievement; e.g., she not only succeeds in re-creating the incidents of the Passion with unusual intensity and depth, but also in showing us the Passion as reflected in all human suffering" (Dom Gregory Murray).
THE present brief book (148 pages) is autobiographical: "A Rocking-Horse Catholic"-as contrasted with a "born" or with a "cradle" Catholic-she was received into the Catholic Church at the age of six. But "two attempts were made to baptise me during the first few hours of my life". She traces her highly chequered life from childhood: at home, in school, convent, London art school and in various trying jobs, through a period out of the Church to her reconciliation; in the course of which narrative emerges a multitude of varied pictures, many dramatic, some horrible, others startlingly spiritual.
Her nervous-in fact neurotictemperament must be allowed for in what appear to be undue sensitiveness and exaggeration; but the style throughout is so direct and essentially simple as to make the record very easy and attractive reading. The book will appeal through sheer human interest; grave or comparatively gay, it grips by reason of stark sincerity.
THE TRAPP FAMILY ON WHEELS, by Maria Augusta Trapp, with Ruth T. Murdoch (Geoffrey Bles, 16s.). AGOOD straightforward story is usually enjoyed by everybody; here is one which will appeal widely. Many will be acquainted with "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers"; the present book gives us the story of their world tour-starting (in 1950) from the United States, proceeding to New Mexico, South America, Salzburg, Germany, Italy. Sweden, Rome, then to their native Austria, where they stayed in their old home which had once been invaded by the Nazi but is now inhabited by a religious order; thence to U.S. and Hawaii and the leper colony of Molokai.
The record bristles with vivid pictures of places, persons and events; in New Zealand, for instance, it must have been singularly impressive to hear "the grandchildren of some of the most ferocious cannibals of the South Seas" (the Maoris) join in the singing of Bach chorales.
The story of their marvellous art of religious song and music is told in simple and very human style which makes easy and delightful reading.
Eight photographic illustrations, including their priest-director, enhance the interest; one of them pictures rehearsal in a bus-where evidently one was not forbidden to "sing, dance, or play upon any musical instrument".
LIVE YOUR VOCATION, by Paolo Provera, C.M., translated by ReV. Thomas F. Murray, M.A. (Campion Press, London and Dublin, 15s,).
THERE is no shortage of spiritual treatises for religiousthey keep pouring from the press; many of them translations, many redundant, with now and then an original one. The only difference in many cases is a difference of style.
The style of the present book is clear and fairly easy, though heavily loaded with the Latin manner. which has little appeal for many English readers; but there is plenty of good matter in it. '1 he Vincentian author is widely acclaimed on the Continent.
In this book he covers in twenty
chapters the usual basic topics and some less usual, e.g. "The Greatest Enemy" (self-love); "Superiors" (mainly the duties of subjects to superiors, though one might wish there were more concerning the duties of superiors to subjects); "Zeal" (essentially a comprehensive enthusiasm for God's will in everything).
The greatest enemy is "self-love". 'The only spiritual progress which a soul suffering from self-love can make will be measured by its effort against this secret enemy." This, of course, applies to all of us -whether secular, regulars, or