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Book Review

Austin SSF, Nicholas Alan SSF, and Tristam SSF (Editors)
A Sense of the Divine

A Franciscan Reader for the Christian Year
ISBN 1-85311-381-6
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2001, £18.99

(price at publication of review)

For more details, click here.

Reviewed January 2003; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2002

This book commends itself immediately by the attractiveness of its presentation - a hardback cover in Franciscan brown with gold lettering and a clearly laid-out text. It would make an ideal gift for a Franciscan friend.

The stories of Francis and Clare are told through their own writings and those of their contemporaries and later followers, so that we follow them from their youth through to their conversion and dedicated service, to their death and canonisation. Everything that pertains to their life is here - the founding of the Order, community relationships, dealings with the authorities, personal suffering. Here, too, are the great principles they lived by and taught - poverty, chastity and obedience; prayer, study and work; humility, love and joy.

What makes this Franciscan book different from others we may have read is the writings are grouped together thematically to coincide with the seasons of the Christian year. For example, the writings for the Christmas period focus on the incarnation; those for Lent cover the traditional penitential themes, leading to concentration on the cross in Passiontide. Seasonal readings may be replaced by those given in an extensive supplement for Holy Days. it's helpful that lesser-known contributors are introduced with a thumbnail sketch.

Insofar as this book incorporates a wide range of material from original source documents, it may well enlarge the reader's knowledge of Francis and Franciscanism. But the overriding purpose of the book is that is be used for devotional reading in the context of daily prayer and lectio divina. the editors advise that, 'In order to enter this world of the early Franciscans a modern reader will need to come to the texts with humility and willingness to hear, a kind of obedience to the word in which we encounter the Lord.' What they have produced has in it the potential for rekindling 'a sense of the divine' in those who are committed to following Christ after the example of St. Francis.

Evelyn Hughes TSSF

 

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