Publisher's Letter - January 2019

Robert Ellsberg

On the day after Christmas we lost a good friend, Sister Wendy Beckett, who died at the age of 88 at the Carmelite monastery in Quidenham, England, where she lived as a hermit. Sister Wendy became an unlikely television sensation when the BBC discovered her and put her in front of a camera to talk about art. But this was merely a sideline to her primary vocation as a contemplative. As she told me, the art programs were her way of talking about God to a largely secular audience. Most of the time her viewers probably didn’t realize she was talking about God at all. But for Sister Wendy, everything true and beautiful had the capacity to enlarge our souls and turn our hearts to our Creator.

We published four books by Sister Wendy, including Spiritual Letters, Sister Wendy’s Bible Treasury, and two books on icons, Encounters with God and Real Presence. All of them are marked by her brilliance, her deep living faith, and her infectious capacity for joy. After many years of correspondence, it was a delight for me to meet Sister Wendy when I gave a retreat at Quidenham last year. How I will miss her.

We are happy to celebrate the life of another friend and author, Jon Sobrino, who turned 80 just after Christmas. Sobrino, a Jesuit priest and theologian from El Salvador, was among the earliest exponents of liberation theology, emerging from Latin America in the 1970s. In his many books with Orbis, he has written about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the experience of the suffering poor, and how these realities illuminate one another. But among his most poignant writings are those occasioned by martyrdom—not in the abstract, but in the death of friends and colleagues: in a word, the church of El Salvador. That includes not only Archbishop Oscar Romero, but Sobrino’s entire Jesuit community at the University of Central America, murdered in 1989.

It is a fitting time to publish Jon Sobrino: Spiritual Writings, edited by Robert Lassalle-Klein for our Modern Spiritual Masters Series. It is especially meaningful to publish this book in the year of Romero’s canonization. Sobrino crystalizes the theology that Romero lived, reminding us what it means to proclaim Good News to the Poor in a world of conflict and injustice. Not just a theologian, Jon Sobrino is one of the great confessors and witnesses to the gospel. We thank him for his life and his tremendous gifts.

We are also happy to continue our publication of the Morning Homilies of Pope Francis. Volume 5 in this series is now available. For those who can’t attend his morning liturgies at Santa Martha, this is the next best thing.

We begin a new year by acknowledging old friends who have accompanied us on our journey. That includes all who read this. May we all recognize in each experience of the good, the true, and the beautiful a lure that leads to their Source.


Robert Ellsberg

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