Fr Paul Clayton-Lea
A TRAVELLER PASSING THROUGH
Reflections from the Holy Land
Veritas Publications, 2022
pp. 214 • €12.99/stg£11.70
Those who have travelled to the Holy Land on pilgrimage for the first time regularly testify to the transformative experience it can become afterwards. Reading or listening to the scriptures takes on a completely new dimension and people relive the pilgrimage as images formerly from distant times and places take on a new and vivid life in their imagination. There is a spiritual intensity to the visit that leaves a mark on those who have journeyed in the footsteps of Jesus through Galilee, the desert, or the city of Jerusalem. There is also an absorption of something of the energy that still lingers there in those places where his voice once rang out to across the lake waters or sloping hillsides or in the small villages and towns where miracles galvanized the people to follow him in their thousands in search of hope and healing.
Ruth Patterson’s latest publication A Traveller Passing Through is however not so much a description of a pilgrim’s physical and outward journey to the Holy Places but an inner one. Unusually perhaps Ruth begins her reflective journey in Caesarea Maritima, on the Mediterranean coastline once home to Pontius Pilate and prison for St Paul for two years. Here the mosaic floors of King Herod’s palace may still be seen on the shore just above the waterline where old earthquakes have left them as well as a nearby stadium displaying teams of horses with chariots who still exercise there and an ancient amphitheatre that now hosts pop musicians as well as timeless classical dramas. Ruth’s physical journey took place in 2018 but for her the journey continues which is part of the reason her reflections are written in the present tense. Describing the sites she visited during the pilgrimage as now printed indelibly on her mind she refers to them as places of encounter and invites the reader to enjoy a similar experience as we engage with the reflections. The reflections are not in any particular order, not even the order in which she visited the places but each in turn she revealed spoke or whispered to her or caught her unawares. Delving deep into figures from the Gospel and the landscape they inhabited she shares the depth of her experience through words and images in her customary warm and gentle style that lends itself to meditation and reflection.
For those who have visited the Holy Land this profound series of reflections can only enhance the experience. For those who have yet to make the journey or would like to but are unable Ruth Patterson has gifted
SACRED SPACE THE PRAYERBOOK 2023
Messenger Publications, 2022
pp. 414 • €14.95
In 2022, Sacred Space, founded by the Irish Jesuits in 1999 has become a global community with millions visiting www.sacredspace.ie in seventeen different languages each year to pray online daily. Featuring daily Scripture readings, points for reflection, weekly meditations and structured prayer it primarily helps those who access it online or in this new book form which collates the material and resources of the website in one volume in order to read the Bible with fresh eyes. It is an unmatched resource for the Church on a synodal journey through its facilitation of a daily ‘loving encounter with God.’ The stimulating and incisive prayers and reflections are written by members of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus and the result is a diverse yet cohesive collection of material which is perfectly suited for individual or group use.
OCCASIONAL PRAYERS FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR
Messenger Publications, 2022
pp. 80 • €12.95
Those who have been school managers or chairs of school boards of management often search for a helpful resource to introduce meetings with a prayer. Teachers and school chaplains also seek out suitable and prayerful words and reflections for unexpected school or class gatherings. They need search no longer thanks to the publication of Occasional Prayers for the School Year by Grainne Delaney who has been chaplain in a Jesuit school for over 20 years. The prayers for each month of the academic year reflects the needs of staff and students at key moments like exam time and Transition Year as well as catering for the main liturgical themes of Advent, and Lent as well as Our Lady, saints days such as St Brigid and St Patrick, the passing seasons and times of sickness and death. A useful, single source for all who are regularly or occasionally called to preside for a ceremony or event in school.