By DOM PETER DAMIEN
The Bow in the Clouds, by Daniel Bet :igen. S.J. (Burns & Oates, 21s ).
Pins XII and Technology, compiled by the Rev. Leo J. Haigerty (B. Herder Book Co. Ltd. and Bruce Publishing Company, 3)s.).
The Theology of Christian Perfection, by Antonio Royo, O.P. and Jordan Aumann, 0.P. (B. Herder Book Co. and Priory Press, £5).
Grace, by Robert W. Gleason, S.J. (Sheed & Ward Stag Books, 10s. 6d.).
AN'S COVENANT WITH GOD " says the sub-title of The Bow in the Clouds. There must have been a good many books with one or other of these titles, but not many better. I come to this conclusion after very nearly laying the book aside in disgust during the first chapter.
It was only my incurable habit of flicking over pages that saved me from making this mistake, for one flick revealed this: " Certainly it is good to learn so early in the Christian era, and from so unimpeachable a source (Luke and John), that Christianity has blessed the best instincts in man. Every man, it would seem, has at one time or another sensed that the material world is something more than a datum or a phenomenon. or even a good servant. The universe is all of these, but it is also something infinitely more mysterious."
There is much more in the
same excellent vein, a deep, wide view of theology and life, making the dry bones live. Father Berrigan. for instance, finds more in Origcn than near-heresy, he is sensitive to overtones in Christian writers which so many people miss.
It is all the more surprising then that in that puzzling first chapter the author would appear to ignore most of the recent developments in Catholic thought with regard to the early chapters of Genesis. Sometimes he writes like an Augustine, but it is more unAugustine-like to ignore the burning topics of the day. It is rather as if Saint Thomas Aquinas tried. to write the Summa without thinking about Averroes.
" Pius X11 and Technology" is a collection of excerpts from 'public statements by the late Pope relating to all manner of developments in modern science and technology. One was always astonished at the wide and intelligent interests of this man. It is more surprising still to find that his pronouncements on this one topic add up to a weighty and consistent body of work.
Here is a book that can help those who are haunted by the contemporary Angst-the place of insignificant man in the ever vaster, more terrifying world that is constantly being revealed to him. It is a message of optimism and hope which imposes itself because the writer obviously knew what he was talking about.
It is not possible to give here an adequate account of "The Theology of Christian Perfection ". It is an adaptation into the English language of a large, comprehensive work by a Spanish theologian which deals with almost every aspect of what may be termed generally as the life of prayer and mystical phenomena. It is didactic. instructive and entertaining in the best sense of the word. A hook equally valuable for reading or reference.
In "Grace " Father Gleason offers a full but concise account of the subject that takes up such an important part of theology. He writes for the serious student, clerical or lay with the intention of providing information rather than new theories, but with his alert, original mind. he can't help making it interesting.