FR. DAVID QUINLAN whose own book Teach Yourself about Roman Catholicism is to be published later by the English Universities Press, takes a look at the latest six volumes added to The New Library of Catholic Knowledge (Burns & Oates, 15s. each).
DESIGNED by George
Rainbird Ltd., whose House List includes Architecture, Antiques, Travel, and Wine and Food, these six new volumes (7-12) are abundantly illustrated.
The text is kept to a minimum in some cases and the illustrations do not always conform to it. Hell, for instance, is said to have an immaterial fire : but its illustration shows a cannibal's pot over a wood fire stoked by horned demons. Those inside are being prodded with spears.
One sympathises with Quentin de la Bedoyere's efforts in The Doctrinal Teaching of the Church to teach a subject in which he is inexpert, but not with his decision to unfold it. The book is a series of comments on the Articles of the Creed, offered without proofs.
The Office of a Bishop, Infallibility, the Mystical Body, the General Introduction to the Sacraments are well handled, but Penance gets only thirtythree lines. The Hypostatic Union is merely mentioned, Our Lady's mediatorship omitted, the Priesthood of the Laity unexplained, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit said to be in the form of untreated grace.
Selecting a sample of this selective theology, we read that God's appearances in the Old Testament were by means of angels. Did God not walk with Adam in Eden? If not, was an angel sent to pretend that he was God?
Doubtless the author was thinking of Abraham in the Vale of Mambre, but the Fathers saw his three visitors as foreshadowing the teaching of the Trinity, not as a theophany. The liturgy explains: He saw three and adored one.
No masquerade here. Ten minutes with the Fathers, or with such widely available hooks as Abbot Vonier's The Angels, would have prevented this adventurous speculation.
Christopher Derrick's The Moral and Social Teaching of the Church has a text which is mature. well-reasoned and satisfying. It explains the meaning of morality, the principles of right and wrong. man in relation to his home. his fellows. society and to God the universal Father. Even in the complications of nuclear weapons or family limitation, this commendable hook has vision without fantasy, criticism with respect for its subject.
The Building of Churches by Peter F. Anson and The Art of the Church by Iris Conley (Christian Art) and Peter F. Anson (Liturgical Art) maintain the high standard that we expect of these writers. Excellent illustration has a function in these books, and the texts deftly fit in much information as to art, history, architecture and practical problems.
There is no suggestion that the reader must be avant garde to be a respectable Catholic. Miss Conlay shows me Sutherland has a quality that I missed —but does not look down on me. Mr. Anson shivers with delight in Schwarz's "Eucharistic Room" at Aachen where I shudder lest our parish churches are modelled on it. Yet I know that if anyone can convert me, it is either of these writers.
Fr. Paulinus Milner, 0.P., deserves praise for his 'The Warship of the Church. which starts with liturgy and builds round it a text packed with detail about the Mass. Sacraments and sacramentals. Processions and Blessings, the Sanctification of Time, and Private Devotions. Impending changes may date this careful and inspiring book, but its value will remain for many years. Few books for the general public give the information here set out with clarity and good order.
The anonymous DictionaryIndex is a good idea but, since it is without illustrations. the price is excessive. Entries are meagre in content—and sometimes refer to volumes where the subject is merely named (see Hypostatic Union) or not mentioned (see Mediatrix). Other entries are inaccurate (see Registers Parish), out-of-date (see Henry VI), inadequate (see English Martyrs), or wrong (see Minister for a definition which does not apply to Beverley or York).
If you want pictures, these books are for you. If you want Catholic Knowledge. choose your volume carefully.