I stepped aside this year from professional public policy work at the state level. Dear to me as that vocation was (and is), it was time to take a break from the noise. During this time of transition I happened upon Robert Cardinal Sarah’s book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Ignatius Press). The Guinean prelate’s name was familiar to me from news coverage and some of his social media work, but I had not known of the book before coming across a review of it.
Cardinal Sarah argues for silence as something to be cultivated as an indispensable condition for encounters with the sacred. The book is in the form of a conversation between the Cardinal and journalist Nicolas Diat. Each paragraph can be the inspiration for a period of contemplation. I’m finding it timely and challenging in the best ways.
Another book found via a review (h/t Wall Street Journal for this one): The Border by Erika Fatland (Simon and Schuster). I’m only one chapter in, and I’m hooked. The subtitle sums it up: “A Journey Around Russia Through North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and the Northeast Passage.” There’s history, of course. There’s a travelogue of sorts, but that’s not how to classify this book. The author’s encounters with people are at the heart of her work. I’m eager to follow her on the rest of her journey.
I rescued Upon This Granite from a neglected shelf recently. It’s a history of the Diocese of Manchester (New Hampshire), my home diocese, published in 1998 (Peter E. Randall Publisher, Portsmouth NH). It was a labor of love by a diocesan priest, Rev. Msgr. Wilfred Paradis, and it’s as close to an “official” history as can be found. It’s no tell-all. I’m finding it a good guide to the history of various parishes, particularly the ones founded by and for Catholics of specific ethnic or language groups. I like thinking how those communities have changed over the years, adding to our little state’s cultural texture.