Stratford Caldecott’s latest book, All Things Made New: The Mysteries of the World in Christ, is a serious book about the most serious of things, the mysteries of faith, which all of us should encounter frequently and grasp ever more deeply throughout our journey to Paradise. There we will enjoy an eternity of contemplation according to our state of grace.
This book is not for beginners. It helps immensely if the reader is already well formed in the basics of the faith. You do not have to be a theologian, but it won’t hurt to have the Catechism of the Catholic Church at your side while slowly reading the text.
As the author puts it, “This book continues and complements the exploration that I began in the Seven Sacraments, and the other patterns of seven mysteries that we find in the tradition, going back to the days of creation in Genesis. The present book is also concerned with Scripture, but opens with the last book in the canon, one of the most mysterious books of the Bible, the Book of Revelation also known as the Apocalypse.”
I recently wrote a foreword for the great Catholic novel of the Antichrist and the end times, The Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson, and I wish I’d had Caldecott’s book at my side.
Caldecott, who is editor of the periodical Second Spring and author of several previous books, writes, “The experience of two world wars, the continuing development of modern weapons, and the growth of universal surveillance in response to the threat of terrorism are among the factors pointing towards the possibility that a supreme world ruler of the future might emerge to institute the most impregnable of tyrannies.”
In succeeding chapters the author links the 12 tribes descended from the Patriarch Jacob with the “twelvefold Apostle’s Creed, which is an image in dogma of the Visionary City” that is heaven.
Perhaps the most useful chapter for the reader focuses on the greatest challenge for many of us, prayer. The author writes, “Prayer requires to be nourished, or it will die. We can do that in several ways. Firstly, we must give it time — that is, we offer up (sacrifice) time that might have been spent on more immediately productive tasks by devoting it to prayer….But the most important way to enliven our prayer is by trying to live it.”
There are also intriguing chapters on the Lord’s Prayer and its meaning as it flows from scripture. Caldecott concludes with a fascinating chapter on the Rosary as an aid for contemplation of the mysteries of Christ’s life as seen through Mary’s eyes.
Caldecott also offers thoughts on the Way of the Cross. To journey deeper into the interior life of Blessed John Paul, Blessed John Henry Newman and our present Pontiff, we can profitably meditate on their versions of the Way of the Cross.
This is a challenging book but one that will leave the reader wiser, holier and both ready to practice the faith and eager to share it.
Father C. John McCloskey III is a Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, DC.
ALL THINGS MADE NEW
The Mysteries of the World in Christ
By Stratford Caldecott
Angelico Press, 2011
226 pages, $16.95
To order: angelicopress.com