Recent books in brief

Recent books in brief
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament for the 21 Century

By Richard Tobin CSsR (Redemptorist Communications,€5/£4.50)

This is a little prayer book for private meditations. In his introduction, Fr Tobin writes about the nature of the Eucharist, adding that ”keeping the bread of communion in the tabernacle is a reverent prolonging of the Mass, to give us more time for adoration, thanksgiving and further prayer. The practise has been going on in the Church for hundreds of years. It has been the occasion of countless souls coming to God and being drawn into deep union with him. ‘Like an eternal noontide,’ wrote the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, ‘the Eucharist goes on forever.” Fr Tobin provides for four weeks of daily visits, each with a reflection followed by a prayer. Both his reflections and his prayers are insightful and accessible. But he emphasises that the point of these visits is not to carry out a set task, but to reach an interlude of encounter with the Divine, ”face to face”, beyond words.

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How the Light Gets in

By Mary McEvoy (Hachette Ireland, €8.99/£9.99)

Many readers will fondly recall actress Mary McEvoy as ‘Biddy Byrne’ in Glenroe. In this book she reveals that behind the faµade of the successful and popular actress lay dark caverns of depression. There can hardly be a family in the country that has not in some way been affected by the burden of depression and the events it brings with it. She deals with the roots of her own difficulties in her childhood, but the heart of the book lies in her rejection of the ideal person notions often promoted by lifestyle gurus. Instead she focuses on a kind of ”least you can do” method, taking not one day at a time, but one minute at a time, coping not with the unchangeable past or some unseen future, but the actual moment she lives in. We are not here to be physically perfect, but to be perfectly human. This is a courageous book, not just in its disclosures, but in its sense of the positive. One of the chapters deals with her sense of religion and her movement from the Catholicism of her childhood to her current Buddhist-influenced outlook. She speaks her mind about the question of clerical abuse. But the institution she talks of were made up of individuals and leaders (as Tony Humphreys reviewed below suggests) and the issues that arise from abuse have to do with matters of individual responsibility that we so often shirk. Here too we cannot change the past, or know the future, but must deal with moment by moment.


Leadership with Consciousness

By Tony Humphreys (Atrium / Attic Press, €14.95/£13.50)

Enda Kenny’s comments that people here went mad with greed aroused a lot of specious headlines. Many of us don’t want to think that we are in any way to blame by our own actions for the worldwide recession. Blame the banks, blame the last government, blame the present government, blame the Germans: anyone but us.

Tony Humphreys, however, takes a different view. The institutions we want to blame are the creations of the individuals and their leaders. It is the modern corrupted nature of leadership and individual consciousness he quizzes in his new book. He claims that we need quite literarily to change our minds, to develop (or restore) the proper consciousness of respect for human values. ”Responsibility always lies with individuals,” he claims. And it is as individuals we must change. This is a remodelling of an essential Christian message cast in the language of modern psychotherapy. Many will gain valuable insights into themselves and the nature of our leaders from this book.