Jesus Christ The Way The Truth The Life by David Konstant (Collins £2.50) THIS BOOK of prayers is' possibly one of the most important since Pope John XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council with the hope, which has proved to be prophetic, that the spiritual renewal about to take place within the Church would take the form of a "new Pentecost".
The mighty wind and tongues of fire, the bewilderment, confusion, excitement and fervour, having to a large extent abated, there are not a few who complain that things are now hanging fire, feeling that because nothing visibly momentous is happening, the Church must be gradually settling down in the old rut.
A careful examination of Bishop Konstant's Jesus Christ The Way The Truth The Life will reassure the impatient or disappointed that this is not so, and that the hopes raised in 1962 are being fulfilled, although not maybe in the way many of us expected. Whether we admit it or not, we are most of us still inclined to make the same mistake : c the apostles, who till the las' 'esumed the promised baptism ca the Spirit would take the form of some kind of messianic political coup or at least a sensational experience.
Actually the Spirit was sent in answer to the persevering prayer of the future bishops and the men and women who together were to form the one Church. while the wind and the fiery tongues symbolised not so much devastation and burning as life-giving freshness (opening of windows) and the warmth of intercommunication.
The Vatican II document on the bishops' pastoral office in the Church states that "Christ gave the apostles and their successors the command and the power to teach all nations, to hallow men in the truth, and to feed them." By focusing our attention on the scriptures Bishop Konstant is doing precisely this.
Though it is interesting to note his choice of the three introductory prayers to Jesus under the triple title, Way, Truth, Life — George Herbert. Erasmus and one of the Congress prayers — his meditations are almost entirely based on scripture.
Little by little he leads us through meditation on the word of God to the practical realisation that Jesus is for every disciple, whatever his vocation the Way: here the themes of the prayers are service. leadership, poverty. self-denial, prayer, work, family life etc; all following Christ.
Christ is the Truth: He who sends the Spirit of Truth from the Father, who brings us, as the prayers suggest, the gifts of' faith, humility. foregiveriess, healing, peace, joy, unity; and the Life, to find which Bishop Konstant tells us, we must share in the death of Christ.
Perhaps these last meditations are the most beautiful, leading from consideration of death and resurrection to conversion, patience. suffering, growth, hope and love, through every aspect of the created universe into the freedom of the children of God.
According to the Decree on Revelation it devolves on Bishops "to give the faithful entrusted to them suitable instruction in the right use of the divine books, especially the New Testament and above all the Gospels". Bishop Konstant besides provides practical and simple guidelines for making the best use of' the Bible by re-introducing the traditional scripture-based popular devotions, the Way of the Cross and the Rosary which, though warmly commended by the Council Fathers, have in recent years been for some reason neglected.
He also offers an entirely new meditation on the Beatitudes, and many, young and old will welcome the Morning and Night prayers which implicitly stress the importance of regular times for personal prayer. The book concludes with an examination of conscience by means of which we are invited to see ourselves against St Paul's portrait of love in First Corinthians, which, we are told, "tradition suggests is a description of Jesus himself."
Finally, reflecting yet another Council document, the Decree on the Church, Bishop Konstant helps the faithful "to learn the deepest meaning and value of all creation and how to relate it to the praise of God" by means of many beautiful photographic illustrations.
Sister Miriam OD('