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Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Papal Visit of John Paul II to Ireland

Veritas Publications, 2019
ISBN 9781847308948
pp. 128 • €9.99/stg£8.99

‘Young People of Ireland, I love you’ remains one of the most-quoted sentences of Pope John Paul II, as part of his address to the crowd of three hundred thousand people gathered in Galway, forty years ago.

     This book is a comprehensive commemorative volume, containing the homilies, addresses and greetings of Pope John Paul during the historic visit. It gives a day-by-day account of the itinerary of the Holy Father, starting with his arrival at Dublin Airport. Numbers are given regarding the attendance at each venue, including congregation, celebrants, communicants, choirs and stewards and, interestingly, the number of births and deaths at each venue! There are also social commentaries regarding each of the venues, thus providing a context for the homilies and addresses.

     Even for those who were not at any of the gatherings, there is a real sense not only of the messages Pope John Paul II brought with him, but also an appreciation of the man behind the words and gestures. From the outset, he conveyed a sense of joy to be with us in Ireland, as evidenced in statements such as: ‘I am very happy to walk among you – in the footsteps of St Patrick … Christ before me, Christ behind me … Christ in the heart of every man who speaks of me.’

     The Visit of a Saint is beautifully presented on high-quality silk-coated paper. It would make a precious gift for an appreciative reader; it is also a source of inspirational preaching from an era where the Gospel was not only welcomed but celebrated by the majority of Irish citizens.

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On Communications and the Digital World

Veritas Publications, 2019
ISBN 9781847308962
pp. 96 • €4.99/stg£4.60

This small book – small in terms of physical size and number of pages, but not in terms of teaching – is an example of how the papacy has changed since Pope Francis was elected. As a regular user of Twitter, he capitalises on social media as a potential means of evangelisation. ‘By means of the Internet,’ Pope Francis says, ‘the Christian message can reach ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).’ He acknowledges the potential for good in the internet, and sees it as a gift, to be used with caution and sensitivity. But Pope Francis also warns of the blurring of realities between the ‘real’ world and the ‘virtual’ world, and cautions readers to be aware of how this may impact on personal lives, familial communication and moral world leadership.

     He suggests that ‘It is not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply ‘connected’; connections need to grow into true encounters.’

     There area seven chapters in the book, each of them corresponding to an address by the Pope at a gathering relating to communications in the digital world. Each chapter is comprised of the associated speech, followed by a reflection.

     This book is ideal for parents and teachers, especially as it provides a nuanced, balanced presentation of the merits and challenges of this new way of being connected in the world. A thought-provoking read.

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Praying Through Tough Times

Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds

Msssenger Publications, 2019

This is a special book of conversations. Writing in a lectio divina format, the authors consider different life scenarios, in which people may experience themselves to be ‘in a mess.’ An overview or story is told at the beginning of each chapter, followed by a relevant mediation, some scriptural references, and an associated action. Throughout the book are beautiful photographs, largely of aspects of nature. These pictures serve as a stimulus for reflection; they remind the reader of our place in the world, and that we are also in the palm of God’s hand, irrespective of whatever chaos is going on in our lives.

     Conversations are written on subjects such as ‘Speaking as one friend to another,’ ‘Trust that God communicates directly with you,’ ‘Praying with difficult situations,’ and ‘Do you love messy me?’ The conversations cover topics such as fear, difficulty and loss, as well as friendship and love. Suggestions are also provided as how best to pray in various circumstances.

     I recommend this book for anyone who wishes to enter into an authentic relationship with God, ready to express vulnerability and open to accept a tender spiritual embrace. This book will provide comfort for those of us who are either acutely or chronically uncomfortable, by presenting words of wisdom from scripture and associated actions to make inner peace with ourselves and God.

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