The Divine Pity. By Gerald Vann, O.P. (Sliced and Ward, Se. 6d.)
THOMAS CORBISHLEY, SJ.
FEW readers of this page, pro bably, are acquainted with the writings of Fr. Vann, and to them it will be enough to say that in this book we have the author at his best. Those who have not yet read anything by him may be strongly urged to begin their acquaintance by a study of is. We have here all the psychological insight, the spiritual experience, the application to daily life, the descriptive power which we have learned CO expect from his pen. The pattern of the book is simple, but it provides a framework for the analysis and discussion of most aspects of the spiritual life, After an introductory chapter, in which is stated compellingly the attitude required of the soul in search of true Life, the subject-mutter of the • book is divided according to a scheme in which each of seven beatitudes it' linked with a corresponding virtue and an appropriate sacrament. It might seem at first sight that there must necessarily be something artificial in the result of such an arrangement, but the actuality of Fr. Vann's thought and the power of his language are such as to carry the reader along and to woo his assent, should he anywhere be tempted to question the appositeness of any particular collocation. And what an astonishing variety of topics are here marshalled. Whether the subject-matter be one of the basic principles of the spiritual life, such as detachment (" if you see God in all things and all things in God you learn to be reverent and not proudly possessive"), or one of the different forms of prayer ("prayer of piety" and " prayers of sorrow " are treated, no less than the '' prayers of quiet ") whether Fr. Vann is examining our conscience for us or reminding us that '' the cultivation of a sense of hunzour can be one of the forms of piety,' we shall find ourselves Stimulated, Consoled, encouraged, entertained and, at times, jolted out of our self-com placency. But we shall always feel how right the author is. If you are taking your spiritual life seriously you will want 1-0 read this book. If you are not, you certainly ought to read it. And if you haven't begun to think that you have a spiritual life at all, then you, above all, must read it.