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This Oxford anthology is... not only a major event in publishing, but a rich and welcome resource... The editors have put us in their debt by providing so much to surprise and delight, and deepen our appreciation of a rich inherited tradition (Eamon Duffy, The Tablet)
This volume brings together a large number of inspirational texts ... The putting together of this anthology has obviously been a labour of love. ... Anyone who wants a thumbnail sketch of the inner story of the English Catholic literature would do well to read in their totality the three historicaloverviews which introduce the main sub-divisions of the book. (Aidan Nichols, Catholic Herald)
About the Author
John Saward is Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, and member of the Theology Faculty, University of Oxford.John Morrill is Professor of British and Irish History, University of Cambridge. Michael Tomko is Associate Professor of Literature, Villanova University.
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After seven years of careful research and compilation, the editors have created a book well worth the reading. Unique and comprehensive, this pilgrimage through the centuries details a wealth of both well loved and unknown gems from the Catholic Treasury. The sensitive mixture of the ordinary and the extraordinary; lay, religious and ordained; male and female - contributions - will be appreciated by a conscientious reader. Anyone with an interest in the history of the Catholic Church in England and an appreciation of the sublime will enjoy this anthology. What next? It now needs a sequel...Catholic Spirituality in the 21st Century - after all if we as Catholics, don't take the trouble to record our own history, someone else will.
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This work spans several centuries of deep spiritual reflection - a very rich harvest from 'Mary's Dowry.' A modern St. Augustine might well counsel a hesitant reader: "Take up and read. " Gratefully in the Lord Senex Hibernicus
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Revaluation10 Mar. 2013
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It's often said that history is written by the victors. The victors in the English Reformation were Anglicans and Protestants whose writings dominated English letters from the time of Henry VIII onwards (except during Queen Mary's brief reign, of course). Catholic authors were largely forced underground till emancipation in the nineteenth century, and even once the penal times were over their voices were subject to any number of marginalising influences, some of which continue today. This volume traces that penalised and marginalised lineage, and it causes one seriously to re-evaluate one's view of the last 500 years in English literary history.
In addition to being thought-provoking on that large, historical scale, the volume's contents are stimulating in themselves, with many fine pieces of different sorts. There's a fair amount of ballast, it must be said, and the book would possibly have benefited from omitting some of the weaker examples. On the other hand, perhaps it is salutary to be presented not just with the best of the losers' works, but also with the mediocre and the poor. Again, one comes back to this point that victory and success are not necessarily absolute defining qualities. Faithfulness to the tradition may be more important than winning points for literary excellence, just as it may be more important than winning ecclesiastical power-games.
This is a stimulating, rewarding, and humbling volume.
A treasure trove of English Catholic writings19 Nov. 2014
Holly E. Ordway
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This book is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in learning about England's Catholic heritage and ongoing Catholic spiritual tradition. The book includes excerpts from the writings of English Catholics, from 1483 to 1999, from all walks of life - lay people and religious, men and women, writing on a wide range of topics related to the spiritual life - prayers and poems, debates and devotionals. It is a deeply nourishing book and one that is inspiring in its witness of faithful Catholics in the most difficult of times (through martyrdom and suffering) as well as in hopeful times.
The book may seem a little bit intimidating (it is quite long!) but don't be hesitant! All of the earlier excerpts have had the spelling and punctuation modernized so as to be accessible to the modern reader (without changing anything else: the editors have added explanatory phrases in brackets on occasion). Every author has an introduction that gives an overview of his or her life and work - these are well-written and informative. The selections of texts are well chosen - a few are less polished (in literary terms) than others, but this reflects the fact that the editors have gone beyond the 'usual suspects' to provide Catholic voices who are less well known or perhaps nearly forgotten, but who have much of value to offer us. Overall, the collection is solidly good, and with many gems as well - I discovered quite a few authors whose work I now want to read more of! It is informative and literarily rich, and I also found it to be outstanding as devotional reading. I feel strengthened in my Catholic faith, and more connected to my roots and to the communion of saints.
''Firmly I Believe' can be read, with pleasure and profit, from beginning to end, as I did, or it can be dipped into. Now that I have read it cover to cover, I plan to return to it regularly, as it is eminently re-readable. Highly recommended.