Papal teaching on vital topics of today
GUIDE FOR LIVING : an approved selection of letters and addresses of His Holiness Pope Pius XII, arranged by Maurice Quinlan (Evans Brothers, London, 18s.). THIS book of pronouncements by the Pope who was perhaps the most untiring in instructing the faithful-our late Holy Father Pius MI-contains authoritative teaching in five great departments; they have been selected and classified by the veteran Catholic journalist who was for seven years news editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD, previously editor and news editor of the " Universe ", and a votuminous writer on matters pertaining to the Holy See.
It is the second book of its kind to appear in the past year; it is about a third shorter than Michael Chinigo's hook (reviewed in this column last August) but is seven shillings less in price. It covers many of the same points; it has an informative 16-page introduction concerning life and character of Pius XII In the course of his introduction Mr. Maurice Quiplan gives us some intimate and memorable glimpses; e.g., the Pope's meticulous care in his choice of words; the message received over the telephone by the racing cyclist who had first been informed that he was too late, for an audience: "Get on your bicycle and ride as hard as you can. The Holy Father is waiting for you."
"THE basis of selection," writes
Mr. Quinlan, "has been directed towards a practical understanding of the problems that beset men, women, and children, and a reaffirmation of the teaching Our Lord gave to Peter and the Apostles."
Thus in the five sections ("The Family," "War and Peace," "The Church and Science," "Letters for Laymen," "The Road to Christ") we have pronouncements on such eminently practical points as painless childbirth, mother and child (much publicised and often misunderstood in the general press), nuclear warfare (containing some clear-cut directives), automation, television, wealth and poverty, and the "new morality."
I am sorry that a general index was not added; it would have helped towards quick reference on various points. The occasion and the date of each pronouncement are given at the head of each extract; and in some cases an explanatory note-as in -Tragedy in China".
LOVE AMONG THE SAINTS: the letters of Blessed Jordan of Saxony to Blessed Diana of Andalo, translated by Kathleen Pond (Bloomsbury Publishing Co., London, 12s. 6d.).
THESE letters take us back to
the atmosphere of the 13th century: hence their particular interest. Blessed Jordan of Saxony was Master General of the Dominicans following St. Dominic; he died (by shipwreck) on February 13, 1236, after visiting the holy places in Palestine; the short account of his death appears in the -Lives of the Brethren of the Order of Preachers". edited by Fr. Bede Jarrett, OP., 1955.
He wrote these letters to Blessed Diana (the co-foundress of the Dominican convent of St. Agnes at Bologna) during his constant travelling from province to province. He was also the author of a short life of St. Dominic, who thought very highly of him; he also wrote a few lesser norks. A full biography of Blessed Jordan . by Marguerite Aron-"St. Dominic's Successor"-was published by Blackfriars Publications in 1954.
THE letters are all extremely
brief, to some extent biographical, and breathe deep spiritual fervour and advice. They provide an example-several centuries earlier-of that deep spiritual friendship between saints which we see between much more generally known saints-e.g., St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, and St. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac.
A preliminary note is given for each letter, embodying information based on the work of Marguerite Aron. who aiso made a translation of the "Letters" in 1924. One of the texts used by her-that of F. J. J. 13erthier in 189I-is the text used by Kathleen Pond in making the present translation.
An appendix gives portions of letters by Blessed Jordan concerning the death of Henry, Prior of Cologne, an event which had touched Jordan deeply: but these letters were not written to Bleised Diana.
This brief book of 100 pages will chiefly interest students of Dominican history; for them it provides much out-of-the-way information, in addition to the general interest of the mediaeval letters themselves.
The lay apostolate
WHAT IS CATHOLIC ACTION? by Jeremiah Newman (M. H. Gill, Dublin, 15s.).
THE term "Catholic Action" appears to have first been used by Pope St. Pius X. It re
ceived its classical definition from Pope Pius XI in 1927, when, in an address to the young women's section of Italian Catholic Action, he defined it as "the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the Church's Hierarchy".
A definition, he insisted, which was "delivered after due thought, deliberately, indeed, and one may say not without divine inspiration". These are very strong words. from the highest authority; and most reading Catholics, and all students, are familiar with this definition.
This thorough and up-to-date book provides a complete survey of the lay apostolate and of Catholic Action: the lay apostolate-its meaning and importance; the general nature of Catholic Action; aims and organisation; and finally other forms of the organised lay apostolate (this includes temporal action of Christian inspiration and a special note on political action). In his conclusion Professor Newman makes the following point:
EVERY layman has an obliga
tion to take part in this work. He can do so in various wayspersonal, familial (in the family), or by joining an organisation.
This book comes to us with a high commendation from Bishop Suenens, auxiliary bishop of Malines, who writes in his preface: "You have treated it [Catholic Action] with finesse and nuance.... You have touched also on all the essential and vital questions."
There is already much Catholic Action-both in the wide and in the restricted sense. To all engaged in either, this comprehensive treatise will be welcome and valuable; to all sincere and thoughtful Catholics it will give direction and encouragement.