January 2002By Thomas Ellis

Lead, Radiant Spirit: Our Gospel Quest.  By John Navone. The Liturgical Press. 128 pages. $11.95.

In this work, Navone presents us with serious biblical exploration, though it’s a seriousness that does not hinder its accessibility. To aid our understanding, Navone includes an introduction explaining his terminology, procedure, and philosophical and theological backdrop.

He begins by pointing out the tension we feel when pulled in opposite directions: “As human beings we cannot resolve the basic problem of reconciling desire and limitation, life and death.” Navone examines this theme in the Gospels where we see Christ at one pole, the Pharisees at the other, and the apostles, struggling to overcome their existential tension, in the middle. Each of the four Gospels represents a different aspect of this struggle, and each offers a unique but complementary understanding of the solution. In this exploration Navone finds that the “Universal Call to Conversion” helps lead us to the resolution of the tension of human existence.

The Cry of Jesus Crucified and Forsaken.  By Chiara Lubich. New City Press. 138 pages. $11.95.

The Cry provides a glimpse into the formation, trials, and spirituality of the Focolare (Work of Mary) movement. Each page is filled with intensely spiritual insights about the Forsaken Savior, on whom members of the movement model their lives. The movement not only seeks to understand the Cry, but also to live entirely within the forsakeness of Christ. Their road to official acceptance by the Church brought great hardship, since some observers believed the life of the Focolare too severe or too biblical in focus. These criticisms only brought a greater understanding of the forsakeness of Christ, and with Christ they triumphed as a movement highly praised by the Holy Father and given full acceptance by the Church.

Lubich writes as one so consumed with love that she cannot help but share her joy. Her style is poetic and her message brief, but interwoven with mystery. It is only through uniting ourselves entirely with the Forsaken Christ that suffering finds meaning, and joy becomes possible. I will definitely be reading more Chiara Lubich!

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