Our Inspiring Books initiative is putting put us back in touch with some people who were on placement with us while training at Westcott House in Cambridge. Two women priests working in London give us two quite different and inspiring choices:
Jennie Hogan was on placement at St C’s well over ten years ago. Jennie is now Chaplain and Faith Advisor at Goodenough College, in London. Jennie writes:
I have decided to suggest Anthony De Mello’s book, Sadhana – A way to God. First published in 1978 it is still in print! It is a book of prayer exercises which uses both eastern prayer practices and the instruction of Saint Ignatius who was the founder of the Roman Catholic Jesuit Order of monks and nuns.
Sadhana is a slim book with simple prayer instructions and suggestions on prayer, the first being learning to be still by focusing on the breath. The exercises also include imagining meeting Jesus. Other suggestions invite us to use our imagination a little more when we pray.
I came across this book well over ten years ago by chance. I go on annual retreats where I spend a week in silence and (attempt!) prayerful contemplation. I always take this book with me. I used to be snobbish about books like this, presuming that it would be ‘touchy-feely’. Instead, I find that there both a seriousness and a gentleness in the tone of the instructions for each exercise. It is for beginners and those who have spent years praying.
Anthony De Mello was a Roman Catholic priest and a monk from India. This book was very popular when it was published but caused some shockwaves because it uses Buddhist prayer techniques. Now it is viewed as something of a classic.
As a University Chaplain I often meet students who are keen to learn how to be still how to stop the inner chatter, and how to let their hearts be touched by holiness. I lend this book out regularly. It is the kind of book to dip into, perhaps to have on a desk or bedside table. I hope that, if you do choose to read it will breathe) new life into your prayer. Don’t be put off by the bland front cover!
Mae Christie was on placement here more recently than Jennie. She has recently been appointed Parish Priest of All Saints, Tooting.
Mae’s choice is The End we start from by Megan Hunter. In its review the Guardian wrote: The End We Start From is an effective, unusual and ambitious debut, which keeps the reader pinned to the page. The Independent reviewer wrote: the beating heart of this tender and tremendous story is without doubt Hunter’s portrait of early motherhood, an all-encompassing world of its own.
The book I’d like to recommend is The End We Start From by Megan Hunter. It is written by a friend of mine from Cambridge and is a beautiful exploration of themes of motherhood, survival and the nature of love. It’s set in the UK following an apocalyptic flood, focussed around a mother and her new born child. Really beautiful and quite a short read.
Thank you to Jennie and Mae for their contributions, and we wish them well in their respective ministries.
This post is the third in our series in which different people share their Inspiring Books, for the first, the choices of two University Librarians, click here. and for the second, the choice of two students, click here.