Friday, 22 July 2011

Redemptorists celebrate 50 years in Chawton

The Hampshire village of Chawton (the village in which Jane Austin spent the last eight years of her life, and in which can be found the Jane Austin’s House Museum) has been the home of the Redemptorists for fifty years.

The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, more commonly known as The Redemptorists, was founded in 1732 by St Alphonsus Liguori in Scala, Italy. As an international Congregation with membership of about 6,000 men, their presence is felt in every corner of the world.

The Redemptorists arrived in Britain in 1843. The London Province today numbers 60 men in nine communities in England and Scotland, their mission region of Zimbabwe has 2 communities and a growing number of students. Following the example of their founder, St Alphonsus, the mission of Redemptorist Publications, like that of ST PAULS, is to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel through publishing books, pamphlets, leaflets and other media. Therefore it was fitting that two years ago we invited them to become the distributor of St Pauls Publications. This has proved to be a partnership which has not only furthered our individual apostolates, but has served to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to more people.

As one of the many guests at the celebration today in Chawton to mark this milestone in their history, ST PAULS would like to congratulate the Redemptorists for all they have achieved and wish them every blessing in the future.

Picture: Denis McBride, CSsR, Publishing Director.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Catholic publishing heritage

The news was announced last week that Continuum, a leading Catholic publisher, has been bought by Bloomsbury, the publisher of the Harry Potter novels.

The Continuum International Publishing Group was established in its current form in 1999, when Continuum Publishing in New York merged with the London-based Cassell’s academic and religious publishing division. Before and since that date, acquisitions had been part of the company’s strategy, and their imprints included T&T Clark (founded in Edinburgh in 1821) and Burns and Oates (founded in 1847).

Burns and Oates was founded by James Burns in 1847 and among its earliest authors was Cardinal Newman. It continued to publish outstanding Roman Catholic thinkers thereafter – G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Hans Küng, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Romano Guardini, Thomas Merton and Frederick Copleston SJ.

Designated ‘Publishers to the Holy See’ by Pope Leo XIII, Burns & Oates has also maintained a strong tradition of publishing official works for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, including The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church and numerous liturgical publications approved for official use in Catholic churches in England, Scotland and Wales. Their list of authors now includes another generation of outstanding Catholic writers such as Timothy Radcliffe OP, Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Cardinal Daneels, Eamon Duffy, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Anselm Grün. Continuum was awarded Independent Publishers' Group Publisher of the Year 2011 and Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year.

Burns and Oates once occupied premises which now house the London bookshop of ST PAULS. Longevity of memory is a wonder thing, which is often seen in visitors to our shop when they make comments such as, "I remember when this was Burns and Oates" or, as one lady said, "It is so nice to see this place is still a Catholic bookshop, it’s much bigger than Burns and Oates ever was." A heritage ST PAULS is proud of, but one which can only be maintained if we have the support of Catholic and other Christian publishers.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Further lack of support to Christian bookshops

Our earlier postings (here and here) regarding the forthcoming Altar Missals reveal how the publisher of these books, the Catholic Truth Society (CTS), is showing an appalling lack of support for Christian bookshops through their unwillingness to supply these books to the trade at a reasonable discount. Evidence of a further lack of support can now be seen with regard to the Missal-related publications they are producing.

The order form sent out to parishes, schools and Religious Orders clearly states that parishes who purchase any of these books (Order of Mass booklet, Mass Card, the people’s edition of the Sunday Missal and Weekday Missal etc.) will get the standard parish discount of 25%; schools will get 10%. To quote their website, "Parish Distributors receive a 25% discount on orders from us, rising to 50% discount for booklets and leaflets ordered at the same time as a display unit".

In his response to the Open Letter issued by Christian bookshops, Fergal Martin, the General Secretary of CTS, referred to these "27 other Missal-related items" stating that they will be available to the trade "at our normal trade discounts". He further stated: "we do hope [these items] will offer good opportunities for retailers to sustain their sales during the next few months, particularly in these difficult economic times." Not only was Fergal’s comment patronising in the extreme (as one retailer put it, we should "be satisfied with crumbs from the Master’s table") but, as CTS is giving parishes 25% on the Missal-related products, it shows no intention on their part to support the trade in any shape or form.

These are indeed "difficult economic times". It was clear from the outset that a great deal of money was to be made from the publication of a new translation of the Missal, but is it not a matter of justice and fairness, let alone a christian obligation, to share this with bookshops? Bookshops are, literally, windows on the High Street for Christian publishers, and co-workers in promoting the Gospel.

A fairer deal is certainly being given to bookshops in Ireland. The introductory offer Veritas (the publisher of the Irish edition) is making to the parishes etc in Ireland is also being made available to bookshops - at almost full trade discount. In America, where, admittedly, the market is much larger, things are different again. At least five different publishers will bringing out an edition of the Missal, all of which will be made available to bookshops on terms acceptable to them.

As one contributor to The Christian Bookshops Blog writes, "Come on CTS, we do not run our shops to become worldly rich, but to serve our Lord. Why are you trying so hard to hurt Christian Booksellers in the UK?" In his Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, Pope Benedict writes: "Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty."

The CTS is not alone in treating Christian bookshops in this way, Methodist Publishing are doing a similar thing with the new Methodist hymn book Singing the Faith. The various editions of the hymn book are being made available to bookshops at the same pre-publication price as to churches, but with no trade discount at all.

Christian retailers have a difficult enough task sustaining their businesses at the best of times, and this month will see the closure of another two bookshops - one in Cheltenham, the other in Chester. Our High Streets, and the Church in general, are much the poorer with the demise of each and every bookshop. In the current economic climate, actions such as those outlined above do nothing to encourage us.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A very successful celebration

Sister Wendy Beckett was guest of honour at a celebration in St Pauls by Westminster Cathedral bookshop on Tuesday 12th July to celebrate the publication on her latest two books.
Sister Wendy Contemplates the Iconic Jesus, published by ST PAULS) is the second in a series of books in which she offers spiritual commentaries on works of art, the first in the series being Saint Paul in Art. Whilst icons are not strictly works of art, they are in fact representations of the divine, "written" under strict guidelines. Her books clearly show that Sister Wendy still has the ability to interpret the sacred in a way that touches the heart and the soul. In his speech at the launch of the book, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster thanked publishers for continuing to make Sister Wendy’s writings available and said of her, "You allow people to take another step towards the Lord."

Here are some more photographs taken during the evening.

Sister Wendy Contemplates the Iconic Jesus can be purchased from all ST PAULS bookshops or clicking  here.

More photographs of the evening can be seen here on Jo-Anne Rowney's flickr.

So as not to miss an advertising opportunity, Sister Wendy revealed the cover of her next book with ST PAULS, The Christ Journey. This book contains pictures of the art work of contemporary artist Greg Tricker, which will be on display for three weeks in Westminster Cathedral from 26th September 2011. The artwork featured in the book is accompanied by Sister Wendy's commentaries.

The photographs featured are courtesy of Br Marco Bulgarelli ssp and Jo-Anne Rowney.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Altar Missals update

Following on from our earlier post about the publisher of the new Altar Missals effectively creating for themselves a monopoly on supply (in that they are giving bookshops only a "non-negotiable" 10% discount - their stated policy), the website of The Book Depository are offering these books to their customers at 25% discount.

As everyone will appreciate, an online retailer does not have the same level of overheads as a high street retailer. Therefore, if the Catholic Truth Society can supply an on-line retailer at a price that enables them to pass on such a huge discount to their customers, why are they not willing to support Christian bookhops in the same way?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The feast of St Benedict

11th of July is the Feast of St Benedict, the founder of western monasticism and co-patron saint of Europe.

Benedict was born c480 in Nursia, Italy. The son of a Roman noble man he had before him a life of academic learning, wealth and privilege but gave this up to live in solitude in Enfide, about 30 miles from Rome. As St Gregory writes, "giving over his books, and forsaking his father’s house and wealth, with a mind only to serve God, he sought for some place where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose; and in this sort he departed [from Rome], instructed with learned ignorance and furnished with unlearned wisdom" (St Gregory, Book II Dialogues). Benedict took his former nurse with him as a servant and they settled with "a company of virtuous men" who were in sympathy with his desire to live a life totally dedicated to God.

Whilst in Enfide, he performed what is now attributed to be his first miracle - he restored an earthenware vessel used for cleaning and separating seed from wheat, which his servant had accidentally broken. The eventual notoriety this brought forced Benedict to leave Enfide to live the life of a hermit in a cave near Subiaco. Romanus, a monk from the monastery above the cave, gave him the monk’s habit and for three years he was the only person with whom Benedict had contact.

Upon the death of the abbot of another monastery the monks persuaded Benedict to become their abbot, but the experiment failed and the monks tried to poison him on two occasions. The first was with drink. but after Benedict prayed over the cup, the cup shattered. The second attempt was with bread. When Benedict prayed over the bread, a raven flew in and took it away. A cup and a raven are symbols that accompany images of St Benedict. The knowledge of these, and other, miracles brought many people to Benedict to seek advice and counsel. It was from these people that he formed and built thirteen monasteries, of which he remained abbot of them all, living himself in one of them. He spent the rest of his life as a monk and formulated his Rule.

Whilst the Rule of St Benedict is clearly addressed to members of the monastic community, it is also directed towards instructing the laity. In his book The Rule of Saint Benedict for Family Life Today, Don Massimo Lapponi expertly applies the Rule to day to day situations in which every family can be drawn closer to God. In his foreword to the book, Cardinal Franc Rodé (Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life) writes,

The author of this book, who, among other things, has the merit of brevity but also knows how to say a lot in a few pages, enables us to see directly how topical is Benedictine wisdom not just for guiding religious communities, but also for giving new life and new hope to the family community. In fact, the institution of the family will not be saved by conferences and discussion groups, and not even by legislative reform – no matter how desirable it may be – but only by promoting a lived model of social life which is an alternative to the one which is now prevalent everywhere. "And it seems to me", our author writes, "that in fact there exists only one model which today can effectively be proposed to families: the Benedictine model that emerges from the Rule and tradition."

As we celebrate the feast of St Benedict, pray for the familles of men and women who live in Benedictine houses throughout the world. Pray too for every family that it may be inspired and challenged by St Benedict.

Picture of St Benedict is a detail of a fresco by Fra Angelico (1437-1446).
The book The Rule of Saint Benedict for Family Life Today is published by ST PAULS and can be purchased here.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

John Paul II: The Path to Sainthood

Following the Beatification of Pope John Paul II, surprisingly few new books have been published to celebrate the event, but John Paul II: The Path to Sainthood by Michael Collins is one of them.

This illustrated book traces the life and legacy of the first ever Pontiff from Poland. It examines the journey which led to his beatification and the road which may yet see him proclaimed St John Paul II.

Fr Michael Collins brings the reader behind the scenes and gives a fascinating insight into the private life of the Pope in the Vatican and introduces the reader to those who knew Karol Wojtyla intimately. Fr Collins points out that some of the great initiatives of John Paul II's pontificate, from strengthening ties with the the Jewish people to the World Youth Days, had already begun when he was a bishop in Poland.

The book is available from all of ST PAULS Bookshops or online here. It is also featured in The Westminster Record (the monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Westminster) as our Book of the Month for July - upon presentation of the voucher from the newspaper to our Westminster shop, you can purchase the book at a discounted price.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Reviews for Sister Wendy's latest book

Reviews for Sister Wendy Beckett’s latest book, Sister Wendy Contemplates the Iconic Jesus, have started to appear in the press.
Jo-Anne Rowney, reviewing the book for The Westminster Record (the monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Westminster) writes:

"Each chapter’s icon is complemented by Sr Wendy’s commentary, giving a narrative to images we would not necessarily think could touch us so deeply."


"’The Iconic Jesus’ inspires you, showing you the life of Christ as you have never seen it before."

Whilst a brief review in the Catholic Herald of 1st July is worth reproducing in full -

"Sister Wendy’s last book, a look at St Paul in art, was a superb addition to both art history and Catholic studies. This, the follow-up, is even better. The inimitable Sister Wendy looks at depictions of Christ’s life in iconography across the centuries.

Choosing the most fascinating examples, her lucid commentaries reflect on both art and spirituality.

This is a wonderful book."

The official launch celebration for the book is to take place in our Westminster Bookshop this month. Although this is by invitation only, if you would like to attend, please contact the shop and speak to Stephen Moseling.