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Articles from the Theological Committee of the Irish Episcopal Conference

Edited by Mary McCaughey

Veritas Publications, 2017
ISBN 9781847307989
pp. 108 • €12.99/stg£11.70

At the end of the Year of Mercy, as this short book points out, Pope Francis stressed that sharing God’s mercy was not just for one year but is ‘the permanent task of the Church and every Christian.’ It is in that spirit that this small collection of articles from the Theological Committee of the Irish Episcopal Conference, assembled and edited by the Committee Secretary Mary McCaughey, keeps alive the precious theme of mercy with its perennial relevance for society and relationships.

     Divided into three parts, Mercy in the Scriptures and in Theological Tradition; Mercy and the Church; and Mercy and the Christian Calling, ten members of the Theological Commission of the Irish Bishop’s Conference, including Patrick Mullins O.Carm, Archbishop Michael Neary, Mary McCaughey, Eamonn Conway and others, develop a comprehensive picture of the origins and implications of mercy through its place in scripture, theology and spirituality.

     The challenge of a constant and active mode of mercy in our lives is highlighted by the fact that, as Patrick Mullins concludes, ‘Loving and being merciful to all people, whoever and wherever they may be, is the distinguishing mark of God’s children.’ In an age of walls and not bridges, where tribal, religious, national, political and sexual identities are retreating behind barriers and glaring with hostility or without compassion towards those outside ‘the group’, the message of mercy, a ‘bending of the heart’ as Eamonn Conway describes it, was never more needful. It may even be humanity’s only hope. 



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John O’Brien ofm, 2017

John O’Brien is a prolific author who draws from a rich, personal well of experience and understanding regarding the turmoil of the human spirit. In his latest publication Loneliness Knows My Name, he brings to bear familiar, trademark gifts of literary, artistic and theological insights upon the topic of loneliness which causes anguish and despair leading some indeed to self-destruction.

     Over seven chapters, with the help of prophets and philosophers, poets and musicians, he explores loneliness and how it has been expressed by artists and filmmakers and interpreted by theologians. At the heart of his thesis is the person of Jesus and his experience of abandonment and the God who pierces through loneliness in silence and prayer to draw us into love. Using a rare and eclectic selection of sources from musician Eric Clapton to St John of the Cross and film director Martin Scorsese to the prophet Jeremiah to name but a few, he succeeds in illustrating how it is through struggling with our weaknesses that we grow. In the concluding pages he quotes the late songwriter Leonard Cohen in support of his view:

‘There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.’ (Anthem, 1992)

A gentle and affirming guide for the perplexed.


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Maura Hyland

Veritas Publications, 2017
ISBN 9781847307804
pp. 40 • €3.99/stg£3.60

There is a legendary story about a child being taken to church on Sunday for the first time and staring in wonder at the red-lit sanctuary lamp over the altar only to say loudly a few minutes into Mass; ‘Daddy, when it turns green can we go?’ While no doubt an apocryphal tale, it illustrates the challenges of understanding faced by children being brought to Mass less frequently and therefore increasingly approaching the experience with little familiarity of the ceremony, its meaning and component parts.

Thankfully, help is at hand in the form of We Go to Mass by Maura Hyland whose background in child-centred education and communicating skills with the young needs little introduction. In this pocket-sized, attractively illustrated booklet of 40 pages, she takes a child’s eye view and explains the liturgy from beginning to end with helpful short questions and suggestions as the Mass proceeds. Parents and grandparents and those conducting liturgies with children may well find this resource not only useful but conducive also to adult reflection on the mystery of faith and the beauty of the Mass.


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