Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review The Mystery of the Cross

I usually read books that I see referenced in a book review that look particularly interesting or very often I will read a book based on a recommendation from a friend. However, when I saw the cover of this book I said to myself, "wow, now THIS BOOK looks interesting." And boy was I right! I honestly bought this book because of its gorgeous cover art. Well, that's not totally true, I did flip through some chapters and read the description on the back. But I am glad that I bought it because this book will be a handy reference for sermons, teaching, and catechesis in the parish. I already told many of my friends, "you have to read this book."

The Mystery of the Cross is by Judith Couchman, a journalist and author of over 40 books on spirituality, prayer, vocation, and women's spirituality. Judith is also an art historian and teaches at a college, she wears many hats so to speak. I wanted to learn more about Judith so I went to her website. Not only is Judith a scholar of art and writer but she also leads writing workshops too! I downloaded some of her essays which are in PDF format for future reading.

The Mystery of the Cross includes 40 short reflective chapters on various aspects of the cross. Each chapter begins with a verse from scripture, a drawing or a photograph of an image of a different type of cross, and then her reflections. The book is peppered with personal anecdotes and stories of her own life too. The Mystery of the Cross includes historical information about how the cross has been portrayed throughout history, art history and how the cross is depicted in various Eastern and Western Christian art forms, as well as theological reflections on the use of the cross in liturgy, worship, and personal devotion. The book also includes some primary source material from early Christianity.

Judith has a very fine writing style. As I was reading I felt that the author was well versed in her field of expertise and wanted to share this information with her readership. Her tone is not preaching or apologetic, but informative.

As I said earlier this book will be read again and again. I am grateful for Judith's work in bringing her knowledge of theology and art history together in this fine volume.