Timothy P. SchillingFebruary 20, 2006 - 12:16pm0 comments
Belonging to God
by Charles Murphy
Msgr. Charles Murphy has written a readable reflection on Catholic spirituality that speaks directly to American sensibilities. This is mostly good news. It is good news because Murphy’s book shows how wisdom from the Catholic tradition can be made accessible and practical for contemporary spiritual seekers. Murphy, pastor of Holy Martyrs Parish in Falmouth, Maine, and former rector of the North American College in Vatican City, offers a clear and balanced introduction to the spiritual life. Drawing on the insights of St. Francis de Sales and others, he writes for those who do not have a spiritual director, giving special attention to the needs of “beginners.” As one who believes that few of us make it past the beginner stage in spirituality, I welcome this book and expect that many will profit from it. At the same time, I have reservations about some peculiarly American accents informing Murphy’s approach, especially his basically pragmatic and optimistic outlook. The danger in such an outlook, I think, is that one might be led to believe the spiritual life is simpler and less daunting than it usually proves to be.
Murphy’s forte is his anecdotal style and his ability to summarize complex concepts and processes in straightforward language, as when he explains the obscure term mystagogia. “Candidates who are baptized at Easter continue their process of initiation for a time after Easter in a period called...