Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Notices of new Carmelite books (4) PHILIP HARVEY

Damien Peile, the Provincial Delegate for The Carmelite Family, issues a Monthly News via email.  These bulletins include my own notices or brief reviews of books of interest to readers in Carmelite spirituality and history. Here are two more. Philip Harvey.

The Carmelite Order is unusual in having a Rule composed not by a founder or member of the Order, but by Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, early in the 13th century. The Library has several translations of the Rule, including one by the previous librarian, Paul Chandler. The cultural and political world of the eastern Mediterranean during this time of crusades is a constant presence in the Carmelite historical imagination. Mount Carmel is central, but so too is Mount Zion. The Library is dedicated to collecting works that inform us of that period of religious ferment.

‘Jerusalem, 1000-1400 : every people under heaven’ (Yale University Press, 2016, ISBN 9781588395986) is the magnificent folio-size catalogue of an ambitious exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/jerusalem    Patrons and artists from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions alike focused their attention on the Holy City, endowing and enriching its sacred buildings and creating luxury goods for its residents. The results are here to enjoy at your leisure. Essays and discussions on more than 200 works of medieval art describe in fascinating detail the material world which would have been instantly familiar to the earliest Carmelites.

-          Philip Harvey (May 2019)     

Michelle Jones lives and works in the Porongurup Range in southern Western Australia. She is also a consecrated woman affiliated with the Carmelite Monastery of Quidenham in Norfolk, England. Her book on one of the contemplative nuns of that community has just been published: ‘The gospel mysticism of Ruth Burrows : going to God with empty hands’ (Washington, D.C., ICS Publications, 2018, ISBN 978-1-939272-51-5) It is the first full-scale study of Sister Rachel of Quidenham, i.e. Ruth Burrows, a woman described by Ronald Rolheiser as “one of the renowned spiritual writers of our time.”

Rolhesier says elsewhere in the book’s Foreword, “She challenges us to live a mystically driven life.” He answers his own question: “Can we be practising mystics? Yes, and Ruth Burrows tells us how … Mysticism is being touched by God at a level that is deeper than what we can understand, articulate, imagine, or even affectively feel.” The book follows her growing understanding of spiritual life before talking in depth about what she calls “the Yes of Jesus Crucified”. Michelle Jones opens up new ways of reading and understanding her subjects, which are Sister Rachel and the spiritual life itself.

-          Philip Harvey (February 2019)

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