New Old Books!


October 15, 2013 by lucieromarin

Last Sunday, there was a sale of used books after Mass. Unfortunately, the table was out after the early Mass, and the King of the Locusts attends the early Mass, which meant that by the time I and other Locusts arrived (plenty early for Terce, of course) the best of the best had already been carried away.

Even so, we got to work. Do you find that, when you’re hunting through completely disorganised piles of second-hand books, you become gripped with the certitude that somewhere in that pile is the Ultimate Book – the Book You Always Wanted, the Amazing Bargain, the Steal, the Treasure, the Best Thing Ever? Asked to name what it is exactly you’re looking for, you couldn’t say. But you know it’s there. That little glimpse of colour on the spine of a book at the bottom of the pile says, “Pick me! I’m going to be the most beautiful and elegant and thoughtful thing you ever found!” The raggedy half-torn faux-leather thing with the title worn off cries, “Open me! I’m a first edition of a rare collection of the private papers of John Henry Newman!” (They cry this out to me because once it was, so I always listen to that kind of book from now on.) Other things just cry, “I’m a good novel and I only cost $1!” But maybe you need that novel…maybe you really really want to read it…

Well, I gathered my loot, and then, unable to carry it home, stashed it under my stall in the choir room, so that I could carry it home today. This was torture. A giant pile of new old books, and I’d just bought them, and they were mine, and they were out of reach for almost three days. Talk about good training.

Anyway, I have them now, and this is some of what’s on the intellectual menu:

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, by Paul C. Vitz.

Mary was Her Life: Sister Maria Teresa Quevedo, by Sister Mary Pierre, RSM. It doesn’t look to have been written wonderfully well, but I had no idea anyone had written a full-length biography of this young Carmelite – now Venerable, I believe – who died in 1950 at the age of 20. Well, who doesn’t want to know more about people who were holy by the age of 20, so I’m happy for it not to be great literature….

Triumph of Failure, the Biography of Jeanne Marie Chavoin. Biography of a foundress! I’m curious about the part played by failure in her story.

The Philosophy of Being. This dates from 1943 and is full of happy-making sentences like, “Whether Act is Limited by Potency” and “Whether the Distinction between Act and Potency is Real.” No, I’m serious about the happy-making! And the book appears to have been written by actual Thomists, so expect to hear more about this one.

The Life and Work of Mother Louise Margaret. Well, quite frankly, this looks terrible, but it interests me nonetheless. Why? Because when this modern-day mystic’s work on the priesthood was published, one priest commented that he knew for certain that the book could not possibly be the work of a woman!

The Intellectual Life. This is one of those books I mentioned above; a plain and unassuming thing that must be opened to find the treasure inside. It was published in 1947 and looks really, really promising; there’s a chapter about reading, one about memory, one about creative work…and the chapters have nice titles, such as ‘The Moment of Plenitude,’ whatever that means.

‘With Jesus’: The Story of Mary Co-Redemptrix. I don’t know what I was thinking. This is really badly typeset, and the author’s name isn’t anywhere on the cover or spine. Dodgy!

Where God Weeps, by Werenfried van Straaten. He’s a Norbertine priest who raised over $3 billion dollars for the poor by begging, and founded ‘Aid to the Church in Need.’ Well, if I can’t solve any of the world’s problems, at least I can learn something about one of the people who did!

6 thoughts on “New Old Books!

  1. Team Alto says:

    Paul Vitz is always worth reading. Speaking of Thomists, do you know of the work of Dr Lawrence Feingold?

    • lucieromarin says:

      No, your comment was the first I’d heard of him! Have you read ‘The Natural Desire to See God’? I’m on a perennial hunt for works of Thomism that manage to be both precise and readable. It’s pretty difficult. A friend once gave me a sound piece of advice, “Beware of any philosophy book that you can read on the train.” At the same time, you don’t want it to be barely comprehensible, or dry as bones!

      • Team Alto says:

        The books are based on the series of talks he gives to the AHC. I haven’t read the book, but I have listened to the talks, and they are lucid, careful and comprehensive. He’s a very great teacher.

      • lucieromarin says:

        Thanks – I think I’ll listen to some talks. Sounds like they could be just what I’ve been looking for.

  2. Cojuanco says:

    Ah, Aid to the Church in Need – what an on point topic given the struggle of our brothers and sisters in South Asia and the Holy Land!

    • lucieromarin says:

      Yes- and though the stories in the book will have been from the recent past, and there’s still so much suffering in the present, I’m still looking forward to learning about how those recent sufferings were alleviated.

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