ONE of the primary needs of our time is a full study of comparative mysticism in the light of Thomist theology. The prolegomena have been provided by Professor Massignon and by Professor Zaehner. The classic problem is that of Persian mysticism.
The mystical experience of the Persian Sufis are patently the same as those referred to by St. Theresa and described in full, though in such varying terms by St. John of the Cross, Eckhart. "I auler. Ruyshroeck, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, and .Angelus Silesius.
For a Thomist the implications of this fact are revolutionary for such mystical experiences are supernatural and therefore part of the life of grace and presuppose the gifts of the Holy Ghost. But all grace comes to us through Christ. Therefore the non-Christian mystic must have been incorporated in Christ unknowingly.
Father Cyprian Rice's study on the "Persian Sufis" is a magnificent contribution to the problem. He is an orientalist of distinction. He first studied Persian mysticism at Cambridge under Professor Nicholson "the master of those who know", Later he worked and studied at Teheran and at Shiraz.
He writes of Sufism. the Persian mystical movement, with a loving sympathy. To one less erudite it must appear that what he is describing are the true ideals of Catholic religious life and the experiences of St. John of the Cross.
In The Church and God's People Fr. Hanssler investigates "the possibility of action on the part of God's people in the world". In the first four chapters he sets out a theology of the Church insisting upon its character as a community of disciples showing forth by their personal obedience the continuing authority of Christ in the world.
He is severe against any eschewlogical suggestion that Christ's intention was to realise the Kingdom of God. and that in fact the Church came into existence only because of the failure to achieve this: and severe too against excessive insistence on thinking of the Church as the mystical body (which he takes in a .rather spiritualist sense) to the exclusion of other more institutional aspects. instead he insists that Christ founded the Church. and he loses no opportunity to emphasise the Church's Claim as authoritative, the power of God in the world.
Consequentily in the second half of the hook. he will brook no suggestion that in assessing the laity's role. adult though this must
THE PERSIAN SL EIS, by. Cyprian R ice, O.P. (Allen & Unwin, 15s.).
THE CHURCH AND GOD'S PEOPLE, by Bernhard Hanssler (Helicon. 18s.).
THE MYSTERY OF LOVE. by II. Daniel-Rops and others (Scepter Books. 7s. 6d.).
THE ORDEAL OF WONDER, by E. R. Morgan (0.U.P. 25s.).
LIFE OF UNION WITH MARY, by E. Neubert, S.M. (Burns Oates, 25s.).
be, we should lose sight of the hierarchic character of the priesthood: the function of the laity is to be (preferably in organised 'cadves') a Christian leaven in society, in cultural activities,
within the State which is to be corrfronted by the truth of Christ.
The book is rather heavy reading because of its Germanic manner, which the translator has not entirely succeeded in overcoming. And the second half tends to disintegrate into short notes under separate headings (though sometimes the notes are sugges tive enough). C.R.
In The Mystery of Love, M. Daniel-Raps argues, in the first essay, that Christian love, given a practical determination to make a success of marriage. can overcome human incompatibility and make something very worthwhile of even the most unpromising of marriages, such as that of the saint, King Louis IX and Marguerite.
It is the absence of this holy tenacity that is the cause of so many divorces today.
M. Thibon shows how the indissolubility of marriage is a valuable protection to particular marriages and an essential safeguard to a fundamental social institution. The contemporary tendency to subordinate the social function of marriage to the personal relationships of husband and wife is one reason why people find it aifficult to accept the Church's teaching on divorce. It is a pity' the author did not develop further his linking of the indissolubility of marriage with the indissolubility between Christ and his Church.
The two essays by PBre Riquet and M. Madaule insist that successful marriage requires genuine companionship to accompany emotion. careful thought. prayer and determination going hand in hand with love, and that only when human love is sub
ordinate to the love of God can it become eternally worthwhile. In all this book should be of great help to couples seeking a mature Christian understanding of human love. I.C.
T"'thoughts on healing' which comprise The Ordeal of Wonder arc intended for all those who are engaged in the ministry of healing, both spiritual and bodily.adil sy.we submit ourselves to the ordeal of wonder that we shall come together: to wonder, because there is so much that we cannot understand—nrunia :exeunt in mysterium, to the ordeal of wonder, because the attempt to understand the truth that is beyond us demands discipline. humility, the denial of self, and the research that is akin to contemplation."
We can learn much from this mature book, the fruit of a lifetime's experience and wide reading. The author is abreast of present-day discussions about the role of Anoiting, and the last chapter on prayer and healing is particularly impressive.
"People may differ about the proper use of sacramental means of healing but need have no hesitation about the power of prayer".
'CIONSECR A-110N to Mary' • s•-.4 has been practised since the late Middle Ages (p. 24). This explains a great deal. For those bred in a more ancient tradition will opt for a devotion to Our Lady grounded in the Scriptures, thought out in theology and practised according to sober tradition.
But in the Life of Union with 'Mary we go piecemeal and in great detail from 'Ordinary Union with Mary' to Union of thought, of will, of sentiments, of general activity, during spiritual exercises etc, etc, and recall seriatim the presence of our Lady at every moment of our daily life and prayer, and indeed in the highest mystical state.
Yet there is a true devotion to our Lady which rests on something other than the ability, to pin-point her presence and role at every eve conscious instant.
Still, there are some useful citations, and some pages of good sense, as in the admirable chapter on 'Haste. the great obstacle', for even in the things of God more haste may mean less speed.
A book for some, not for eaothrtehr.s; for there are many mansions even in the church on R.B.