Recent books in brief

Recent books in brief
Come Drink at the Fount: Introducing the Carmelite Authors by Edmond Cullinan TOC (Veritas, €12.99/£11.99)

Edmond Cullinan, a native of Dungarvan, and a priest of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, is currently vice-rector of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome.

He is a member of the Third Order of Carmel and is also involved in the Focolare Movement. He is the author of two other books, one on the liturgy in Ireland, another Celtic Spirituality.

Though Celtic spirituality may be for many a vague concept, this new book is very tightly focused on the celebrated spiritual classics that have emerged from the Carmelite tradition, St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence and St Edith Stein.

The book is a product of the isolated days of the pandemic, which the author passed writing up the notes he had made a while ago for a series of “conversations” about the authors in question.

The result is an ideal short introduction to some of the most engaging and illuminating saints who ever lived. Many will have heard of these writers, but have been too daunted by their supposed difficulty to approach them.

This guide, however, will smooth the path for such people, and allow them to share some of the rich heritage, not just of the Carmelites but of Christianity as a whole. A book that can be warmly welcomed and recommended.


Darkness into Light: A Nation’s Response by Joan Freeman (Beehive, €16.99/£14.99)

This moving book relates the story of the movement to found a national walk in May in memory of those who have died by suicide, and to help raise money, some €29 million so far, to support the work of Pieta House, founded by the author Joan Freeman.

The sudden death of a family member or a friend takes its toll on us all, but sudden death by suicide brings other, more lasting inner turmoils. Why did they do it? Could I have done more that would have meant another direction was taken? The aftermath lingers on, memories keep coming back again and again.

This book is a tale of positivity, with contributions by Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar, but more needs to be done, more must be done. Society must learn to embrace everyone, to exclude no-one, to stretch out that hand of care at the right time, which must be today, and not tomorrow, for tomorrow may be too late.


A Better Vision: Understanding, Living and Sharing the Catholic Vision for Human Sexuality by Christopher Hayden (St Paul’s Publishing, €15.00/£13.00)

The whole issue of human sexuality has become these days a very difficult one, in which issues seem to be debated at a high decibel level that seems to overwhelm the quieter fears and uncertainties of individuals. Too many Europeans are happy to adopt the raucous ill manners of American controversy.

In this book Fr Chris Hayden, whose views are well known even to readers of The Irish Times, goes back to basics, to the principles that underlie the teaching of the Catholic Church today. I say today, for things were different in the past, not so much in the 1950s as in the 1450s perhaps. The Church has had to alter the medieval language in which its views were so often expressed and use language readily understandable today.

This is a primer which can be recommended not only to Catholics wishing to gain some principles grounded in the teachings of the Church, based on a specific view of the completeness of the human person. But it can also be recommended to those who feel they have to oppose the Church, as it will provide them with the views they should really be addressing themselves to, and not what they imagine them to have been in the past.

As Fr Hayden is currently serving as Spiritual Director of Ireland’s National Seminary in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, his views are influential in the Catholic sphere and worthy of attention by all.