Life in Abundance: Attractiveness of the Catholic Way of Life, by Eamon Flanagan CM (Kolbe Publications, €10.00).
This collection of essays and poems contains a large measure of wisdom and useful information.
But this is not all for also at the outset the author provides an excellent reading-list for those who wish to pursue what St Francis de Sales described as The Devout Life.
The list includes spiritual classics from all the ages of the Church. In the early age there was Gregory the Great’s Moralia; in the Middle Ages Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ; in the period of the Renaissance St Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises; in recent times R. Garrigou-Lagrange’s The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life, Eugene Boylan’s This Tremendous Lover and Henry J.M. Nouwen’s Reaching Out.
In two essays ‘Holiness in Young Families’ and ‘Growing up in the Church’ Fr Flanagan discusses how parents could and should be actively engaged in the spiritual formation of their children.
He acknowledges that in the early life of children’s spiritual development this is achieved by seeing rather than by hearing. Thus to that end the importance of having sacred images and pictures in the home. Good example he also emphasises is important at this time and crucial in passing on the Faith to teenagers. Parents who are faithful to the practice of the Faith tend to transmit it to their sons and daughters by a process of osmosis.
Fr Flanagan also suggests that parents might recommend a reading programme for their children which would include the lives of the saints and challenging books such as Michael Paul Gallagher’s Free to Believe. And he emphasises the importance of parents ensuring that their children participate in the usual parish and school programmes for young people.
The essays range across many aspects of the contemplative and religious live. There is an essay on the ‘Call to Holiness’ and one on the ‘Sacramental Life and Prayer’. The author illustrates how the virtues and the Commandments complement each other. He provides insightful reflections on the Fourth and Fifth Commandments and points to the prime duty of every Christian to be a ‘Peace-Maker’.
Eamon Flanagan, a Vincentian now based at St Peter’s Church, Phibsborough in Dublin, dedicates two of his nine poems to priests: St John Vianney, Curé of Ars and Fr James Shryane. The latter was a curate in the author’s home parish at Gurteen in Co. Sligo from 1941-1951. The poem is an ode to Fr Shryane’s selfless dedication to the service of those committed to his care, a storing example of what service means or ought to mean these days.
In the present climate of fake news and clashing opinions, views and ideologies Fr Flanagan is to be thanked for this publication which sets out clearly the teaching of the Catholic Church.