Sunday Night Journal — April 15, 2007
Mark Shea Gets the American Thing Right

Francesca's Books

As some probably know, the person who signs herself simply "Francesca" when commenting here is Dr. Francesca Aran Murphy of King's College, University of Aberdeen. She's the author of several books in the theology-philosophy area, including Art and Intellect in the Philosophy of Etienne Gilson, which I have not read (and may not be qualified to read), and Mary: Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary (that link should take you to a Catholic Truth Society page on which the book appears), which I have read and recommend highly, and not only because I am quoted liberally therein.

The work on Mary, which is a sort of long pamphlet or short book, is one of the best and most helpful things I've read on the Blessed Mother. Whether it's my temperament or the times, I have a definite allergy to a lot of the traditional post-Renaissance devotional language, Marian and other, of saints like Louis de Montfort. I'm sorry, but I can't help it. Francesca's book is refreshingly straightforward and level-headed, but not in the progressive-reactionary mode of all too much post-Vatican-II writing about Mary. (By "progressive-reactionary" I mean the habit of mind which is formed mainly by the progressive reaction against the pre-Vatican-II Church.) There's no sense either of strained piety or of reaction against such strain, but rather an exploration, from a common-sensical point of view, of what Mary's specifically feminine and maternal place in the Church really means for us. For me this approach is paradoxically more mystical.

It doesn't look very easy for people in the US to order from the CTS web site. Francesca tells me they plan to update their web site to remedy this in the fairly near future. I'll try to keep an eye out for that and post a notice here when it happens.

The Gilson book was favorably reviewed in Touchstone some months ago. I was going to quote the review but apparently that issue finally migrated to the recycle bin and left this level of existence, and I can't find the review at Touchstone's web site, either. I do remember that the reviewer (James Kushiner, I think) mentioned that the text was "enlivened by touches of humor," or something to that effect. Fancy that.



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