Recent Books in Brief

Recent Books in Brief
Smile of Joy: Mary of Nazareth

by Thomas Casey SJ (Messenger Publications, €7.95)

Fr Casey is currently Dean of Philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. But this book is a very personal and very human one. Using some of the familiar incidents in the Gospels that feature Mary of Nazareth he hopes he says to ‘reintroduce’ his readers to her and her role.

The secret is his emphasis on the image of a mother smiling on her child, and her child smiling back. “Mary’s example teaches us that genuine joy comes from being united with the source of all true joy: God.”

Her open smile reflects Mary’s inner joy, and in his 12 chapters Fr Casey suggests how this joy can be shared by all. There are days when the world as a whole seems deprived of joy, denied a happy smile. This book is to be recommended for reminding us of some essential things: that there is happiness to be found through the figure of Mary.


The Story of St Francis

by Bill Murphy & Barbara Croatto, illustrated by Barbara Croatto (Veritas, €4.99)

Since the Pope took (perhaps to the surprise of many) the name of Francis, there has been a reawakened interest in the saint himself. Not that Francis was ever forgotten, but this little book aimed at children perhaps between eight and 12, presents him to a generation who may be less familiar with his story simply due to the noise and bustle of modern life.

The theme of the book, brief as it is, is one of kindness to all living things, human and animal, from the poor of the city to wild wolf of Gubbio. The author notes that the book hopes to teach children “to follow Francis by carrying out small acts of kindness everyday to help our friends, our family and the natural world”. This in a very small way epitomises what the Pope himself feels and thinks about his task.


Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest

by Michele Howe (Hendrickson Publishers £11.99)

This book is a companion volume to the author’s previous book, Empty nest: What’s Next, one for readers of the third age. This one is focused on practical suggestions for preparing children for their role in the world,  for embracing the changes of life with faith and grace.

Of course, coming from North American author some of what she says does not apply to us here in Europe. But her general principles and advice certainly do.

Of course, one of the problems some families have is not an ‘empty nest’, but a two family nest, from grandparents down to grandchildren. In coping with everyday practical problems advice is always useful, for it gives some perspective to what is happening, when all too often the pressure of everyday activities leaves no room for us to think at all.

Michele Howe shows us all how to get the most out of life without wrecking ourselves with emotional and social stress.

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