The publishing year is marked by just two seasons: Spring and Fall. In our world they both connote new beginnings. This month (still in the midst of summer) we mark the beginning of our Fall season with three titles. They all share in common the quest for new life that emerges from chaos, suffering, and uncertainty.
In Becoming New: Finding God within Us and in Creation two of the world’s leading spiritual masters meet to exchange reflections on the nature and presence of God. Anselm Grün, a German Benedictine monk and the author of more than 300 books, emphasizes the search for God within, while Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian theologian in the Franciscan tradition, focuses more on God’s presence in the unfolding story of the universe. They converge on the conviction that both dimensions must be brought together in love.
In Marked for Life: A Prison Chaplain’s Story, Nancy Hastings Sehested relates stories from her thirteen years as a state prison chaplain in two high-security prisons for men in North Carolina. Her experience was marked by both misery and miracles, heartbreak and redemption, that changed her life forever. As Fr. Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, observes, “Marked For Life tenderly invites us all to go to the margins, not to make a difference, but so that the folks at the margins might make us different. Sehested’s snapshots of humanity and redemption alter the heart.”
Amy Hereford, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has devoted extensive reflection to the future of religious life in a changing world. Of her new book, Beyond the Crossroads: Religious Life in the 21st Century, Diarmuid O’Murchu writes: “Throughout this thoughtfully written book, the search for authentic community occurs on virtually every page. Evolving from the former institution to what increasingly resembles an ecosystem, religious life in the 21st century has largely outgrown both the motherhouse and the parish-based house in favor of the ‘wildflower meadow,’ a small interdependent group acting as a leaven with expansive possibilities for new forms of collaboration.”
The world around us is filled with signs of chaos, suffering, and uncertainty. May we be attentive to signs of new life.
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