April 2004


April 2004

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this Issue
A God so ancient and so new
The Editor

History and the Spirit in Acts
Ian Boxall

During the Easter season the Church reads the Acts of the Apostles. This year we provide a commentary by Ian Boxall,who teaches New Testament in the University of Oxford. He shows how the Holy Spirit is powerfully present in early Christian history, a period of radical change. ‘For Luke, the Spirit leads; at times it may be God’s people who have trouble catching up with God's action.’

Why study church history?
Eamon Duffy

Why study church history? Eamon Duffy, who is Professor of the History of Christianity and President of Magdalene College in the University of Cambridge, shows how the study of history can liberate us from false notions of tradition. ‘What looks now like an immemorial aspect of truth may be in fact a quite recent and apparently accidental development.’

John McDade SJ

Newman showed how the Spirit inspired the prophetic dimension in the Church through popular culture. John McDade, a Jesuit theologian who is Principal of Heythrop College in the University of London, sees the need in our society for that prophetic witness to work through ‘orthodox spiritual values and virtues lived out in the context of ordinary life, shaping attitudes and habits, spreading ways of living the gospel authentically that convey teaching put into action’.

Bishop Butler: a voice for change
Arthur Wells

Bishop Butler OSB (1902-1986), a great and largely neglected figure of English Catholicism, made a major contribution to Vatican II. Arthur Wells, a retired engineer now researching and writing on Butler, draws on generous assistance from Downside Abbey and on unpublished family material to help us to understand how the Spirit worked in this bishop-theologian to bring about changes in the Church.

And on the Second Day?
Patrick Sherry

How does the meaning of Holy Saturday shape our spiritual lives? Patrick Sherry, who is Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at Lancaster University, shows how it can help us to appreciate ‘Jesus’ solidarity with us in the depths of human suffering and in death and his all-embracing love’.

How to run a successful parish confirmation programme
Stephen Gomez

Dr Stephen Gomez is author of Survival Guide for Confirmation and In The Spirit and is a lay member of Clifton Diocese Catechist Formation team with many years’ experience running confirmation programmes and retreats and advising parishes on confirmation. He is a university lecturer and won a National Teaching Fellowship award in 2003.

How to read in church
Deborah Jones

Within the liturgy, the word of God is heard causing the hearts of the listening community ‘to burn within us as he talked to us... and explained the Scriptures to us’ (Luke 24:32). But this depends on the word being communicated effectively. In this ‘How to’ article, readers are given advice by Deborah Jones, our Assistant Editor, who was for many years engaged in helping people in various lay ministries in the Diocese of East Anglia.

Preaching and teaching the Word
Bridget Tighe FMDM

Bridget Tighe is a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood and Principal of the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, a college for Catholic women and member of the Cambridge Theological Federation. Here she offers some reflections on the lectionary readings for the Sundays and Holy Days of May.

Postscript: Is the Spirit at work?
Michael Phelan


The Passion and Death of Jesus
Henry Wansbrough OS
Darton, Longman & Todd, £9.95
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Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn: journal of a dying seminarian
Andrew Robinson
Alive Publishing, £5.99
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You Shall Be Holy: spiritual basics
Tony Philpot
Kevin Mayhew, £7.50
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A Deep but Dazzling Darkness: an anthology of personal experiences of God
, edited by Lucy Lethbridge and Selina O’Grady
Darton, Longman and Todd, £10.95
Tablet Bookshop Price: £ Tel: 01420 592 974