Brief Book Reviews

Gerard Sheehy, Ralph Brown, et al. The Canon Law, Letter & Spirit: A practical Guide to the Code of Canon Law. Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1995. [262.93/C16/1995].

By the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Pope Paul VI required that "the new Code must prove to be an instrument most finely adapted to the life of the Church," and Pope John Paul II described the Code as "the final document of the Second Vatican Council." For 12 years work has been proceeding on this commentary. It represents a collaborative effort to expert contributors from Britain, Ireland, and Canada to provide a new venture into commentaries on the Code of Canon Law. It is intended to provide a combination of practical guide and academic investigation, in order to meet pastoral needs. This volume includes a new and substantially revised version of the translation published in 1983 which has been approved by 8 Bishops’ Conferences. An important resource for pastors, teachers and students in seminaries, and those working in diocesan administration. Includes a comprehensive subject index, with a number of concordances comparing the old and new Canon.


Paul Davies. The Mind of God: Science and the Search for Ultimate Meaning. London: Penguin Book, 1992. [113/D28/1992].

Explore the origins and evolution of the universe, the nature of life and consciousness, the possibilities of other universe, and much more. Davies is concerned, also, with what we can come to know on the mind of God as we grapple to understand nature’s secrets. "We, who are the children of the universe-animated-stardust can nevertheless reflect on the nature of that same universe, even to the extent of glimpsing the rules on which it runs." Davies enjoys an international reputation as professor of mathematical physics and has written several books including God and the New Physics. More accessible and less daunting than the books by Stephen Hawking, yet no less fascinating.


Vitaliano R. Gorospe, SJ. Banahaw: Conversation with a Pilgrim to the Power Mountain. Makati: Bookmark, Inc., 1992. [Fil/248.2/G68/1992].

This is not a book on mountain climbing. This is not a tourist guide. This is a tale of one man’s pilgrimage to a mountain that has attracted searchers and sensitive souls over the countries. Mount Banahaw, the triple peaked extinct volcano, straddling the Southern Tagalog provinces of Laguna and Quezon, was a refuge for insurrectos (rebels) fleeing from Spanish oppression. It was a religious center which pilgrims visited and where religious groups set up their dasalan (places for worship) and central (headquarters). Traditionally regarded in academic circles as peripheral to the main stream of Philippine life, the Banahaw groups have in fact a wide reach, some claiming membership all over the Philippines.

This is one person’s attempt to make sense of the allure and power of this sacred and mysterious mountain, from a Filipino Christian perspective. This book is a product of many pilgrimages over the past six years. In this book are short comments and reflections on the meaning of Mount Banahaw for the new breed of Filipino pilgrims - urbanized, educated, professional and cosmopolitan. These short comments are written by leading authorities as well as by students and educated professionals who have spent weekends with the author on this Power Mountain.


Andre Vauchez. The Laity in the Middle Ages: Religious Beliefs and Devotional Practices. Edited by Daniel E. Bornstien, translated by Margery J. Schneider. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993. [262.15/ V46/ 1993].

In these lively and incisive essays, Andre Vauchez, a leading French historian of medieval religious life, explores the religious beliefs and devotional practices of laypeople in medieval Europe.

Vauchez’s previous books established him as an authority on medieval sanctity. In The Laity in Medieval Ages he turns his attention to the various forms of devotion that flourished on the fringes of officially recognized sanctity. The recurrent theme is the struggle, never entirely successful, of the Christian laity to carve out for themselves a religious role that would confer spiritual dignity on the circumstances and concerns of their daily lives.

This volume grapples with some of the most important and most difficult issues in medieval history: the nature of popular devotion, the role of religion in civic life, the sociology of religious attitudes and practices, and the relationship between the intersecting spheres of lay and clerical culture. The essays that examine how spiritual ideals of chastity shaped the social practice of marriage and how the intimate experiences of female visionaries and mystics impinged on the formal structure of the Church are a noteworthy addition to the rapidly growing body of literature on women in the Middle Ages.


Michael Downey, ed. The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press (A Michael Glazier Book), 1993. [Ref/ 248.03/ D75/ 1993].

This reference is an able companion to, and not just a repetition of, other major dictionary in (Christian) Spirituality published previously. As the editor introduces, this dictionary is a companion volume to a couple of other two dictionaries published by the Liturgical Press/ Michael Glazier, Inc. (The New Dictionary of Theology, Ed. by J. Komonchak, et al., and The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, Ed. by Peter Fink, S.J.). The contributors are from the English-speaking world, the majority of which are from America. Credits to this scholarly work is evident in its aim, that is, "a collaborative attempt in English to take stock of the remarkable developments in Church and world since the council, but with a specific focus on the reform and renewal of Catholic Spirituality that the council set in motion."

Though this reference has its eyes on Catholic readership, it tries to be more integral in approach: it bears in mind contemporary advances in ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, other disciplines (e.g. psychology, history, sociology, etc.), and a holistic approach to spirituality. The later one is expressed in emphasizing that spirituality is concerned with the human person in relation to God, it preserves the dynamic and concrete character of this relationship, eyeing on the development and growth of the individual in his/ her life and Christian faith.

Reviews made by Kenneth Masong


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