Religion Booknotes

Firmly I Believe and Truly
The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England
Edited by John Saward, John Morrill, and Michael Tomko
Oxford University Press, $65, 832 pp.


The parameters of Firmly I Believe and Truly, an anthology of English Catholic spiritual texts, are strict. The book includes nothing written before the introduction of printing into England by William Caxton (died 1492). Every text was written by an author who was Catholic when he or she wrote it: if the author was a convert, none of their pre-conversion writings is included. Thus we get nothing written by Newman before 1845. And the “English” in “English spiritual texts” is geographical as well as linguistic: the texts were all written by authors who, whatever their origins, wrote in England (and not Scotland, say, or Ireland). The only flexible term in the book’s subtitle is “spirituality,” which is understood by the editors to include texts on liturgy, church life, and theology.

This is a perfect book for browsing. You look for favorite authors to see which of their works has been chosen; along the way, you discover new authors, or authors you’d forgotten. Those of a certain age might look for important writers of the...

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About the Author

Lawrence Cunningham is John O'Brien professor of Theology (Emeritus) at the University of Notre Dame.