By Fr. GERARD MEATH O.P.
What the Spirit Says to the Church by Fr. Hubert Richards (Geoffrey Chapman. 12s (d).
FASILY the most.impressive recent Scriptural book, Fr. Richard's work is a key to St.
John's Apocalypse. His cornplete grasp of his subject and fluent style sweep the reader up and absorb all his faculties in a new and strange world.
So far as I know this is the first time since Fr. Martindale wrote (and incidentally Fr.
Richards pays great tribute to Martindale) that the intricacies
and obscurities of the Apocalypse have been unravelled and made attractive to the English reader.
The introduction gives an account of apocalypses in gen eral (and it will be a surprise to most people to learn that they were general); and then St.
John's Apocalypse in particular, its historical background, author, structure and date.
It cannot be too strongly urged that despite the subject matter and despite the deep learning this is a book for the general reader who is willing to savour his Christian life.
One passage from the last part of the book gives something of
the fine quality: "At a superficial
reading (The Apocalypse of St. John) seems to say no more than so many other apocalypses have
said, that victory is near. But a deeper analysis of the book in dicates that its message is the entirely new one—that victory is so near that it has arrived.
"The death and resurrection of Christ is valid for all time, because it is a victory that is irreversible, and therefore always present. And the Church's vic tory is constantly being achieved through the same process, not in spite of persecution but precisely because of it.
"Seven times over the Apocalypse shows contemporary events
—wars. famines, persecution—
merging imperceptibly into Christ's final victory. Why this close link between the two?
Because the two are inseparable. The persecuted Christian must
be convinced, not that he will soon win, but that he is now winning. The opposition he experiences from the world, and his struggle with it, is his victory."
Not only is the lesson of the Apocalypse applicable to all times but the publication of Fr. Richards's book is most relevant to 1967.