By Fr. C. C. Martindale, S.J.
PAULINE MYSTICISM: Christ in the mystical teaching of St. Paul, by A. Wikenhauser, translated by J. Cunningham (Herder -Nelson, 25s.).
BY "mysticism" the author means "that form of spirituality which strives after (or experiences) an immediate contact (or union) of the soul with God" (p. 14).
This does not exclude nonChristian forms of mysticism; though the author in chapter four shows clearly the essential differences between St. Paul's doctrine and "mystery cults" derived from the East, even when modified by Greek ideas. We risk saying that on the whole English Catholics do not take kindly to "mysticism". They are "practical": they realise that they must not deny the Church's doctrines nor wilfully violate her moral laws: probably they do not even read St. Paul-sermons necessarily take scraps from the Gospel as text, usually from the Synoplists, though St. Paul himself cannot supply more "mysticism" than St. John does.
FOR some time, however, we have heard much about the "Mystical Body" of Christ which the Church is; even, we fear that the expression may have become too glibly used. Do we begin with the result, not understanding its origin?
Prof. Wikenhauser drives us backto St. Paul's doctrine of "Christ in me" (Gal. 1:15), and each of the baptised being "in Christ". Christ must not be for us a memory, an example, even a companion only,
We are "incorporate" with Christ and therefore, in Him, with one another: a "mystery" which we van never exhaust by means of thought nor adequately state in words, but a fact the Christian fact. Alas. how far we are from expressing it in act, in friendship, family-life, neighbour
hood, nationally, internationally. Poor, poor Christians we!
In one point we fail to follow the author: he seems to say that only now we are "in Christ"; hereafter shall be "with Christ". True, only hereafter shall we see Him (and ourselves) as He is: but we shall be "with" Him only because we are "in" Him. "Through Him. and with Him, and in Him," says the Missal. But we cannot discuss that here. Thank God for this book.
HEARING CONFESSIONS, by Dom Desmond Schlege 1 (Bloomsbury, 2.s. 6d.).
'THIS little book is meant for 1. young priests hut will suit many of the laity. The application of its advice may be difficult when there is a rush of penitents, save that always the words of absolution should be spoken clearly, and would that they and the beautiful prayers that follow them might be in English, or, at least, fully explained publicly.
The keynote of the book might be St. Benedict's words about hospitality-appareat humanitas: let "humane-ness" shine forth: let the priest remember that he too is a man, and make his human sympathy be felt; and recall how
clouded, half-awakened is most men's mind, how hesitating their will. He will not excuse, but, like Our Lord, will forgive. He may try to shake a penitent, gently, out of a formula, like: "I've sometimes been rather uncharitable"; he knows that unchastity need not be the worst of sins and usually will refrain from questions, though we think that if a psychologically difficult "case" is mentioned, he may wisely suggest that the penitent may be willing to talk the matter over, afterwards, in confidence. Discussion is almost impossible in the confessional, though may be absolutely necessary.
One point of disagreement; it is surely reasonable to ask a penitent how long it is since his last confession; for if he accuses himself of fault "x" 5 times, it makes much difference if the space of time covered is a week or five months, But, above all, souls must not be frightened of the confessional I