Hopeful words for the road forward

It ought to be said straight off that this is an excellent little book, which should prove to be both enlightening and heartening to those who read it.

Donagh O’Shea OP is the director of the Dominican Retreat House in Tallaght. He the author of other books, such as Take Nothng for the Journey and Go Down to the Potter’s House (Dominican Publications, €12.99), so he has already well-tried presentation skills as a writer.

This book, however, is rather like a long conversation with a wise and experienced and well informed counsellor.

Under different headings such as God, Church and Spiritualty, it answers queries, doubts, and even deep fears put to the author as it might be over a weekend in Tallaght.

It is the sort of book one can take up and read a section or two of, and come away feeling a great deal better about the world and the people in it. Not that Fr O’Shea is not gently critical, as can be seen in his comments about the use of Latin and those who think of themselves as traditionalists.

He is realistic about what it means to live a Christian life today, this very day, not some day in the past, not some potential day in the future. But what he aims at it not to score of people or making debating pints. What he wants to do, he says, is to encourage conversation, those exchanges, perhaps easier over those weekends in Tallaght than in out in the real work-a-day world, which are what are vital to the community today.

He concludes this wise book with an observation from W. H. Auden that we have to learn love one another or die:

“I don’t think we can expect very much from governments – certainly not the reform of a people’s morals. It is when governments claim the high moral ground that we have to be particularly suspicious of them.

As a Church we should look in this mirror. It is by living a Christian life of love, rather than by requiring it of others, that we stand any chance of improving the world around us.”

Easily taken up or carried around, this is a post-Easter book par excellence, and encouragement to all of us whatever our misgivings about things as they are, to go forward on the road with a good heart, undiscouraged.