THE word “mystery” for many people reminds them of television programs or mystery novels in which the goal is to solve the mystery. The Christian mystery is not like that. In the Christian mystery, God draws us into the mystery to be part of it.
This book invites the reader to explore the mysteries of the rosary and the icons. The author, Addison Hodges Hart, is an Anglican priest living in Norway with his iconographer wife, Solrunn Nes, who is Roman Catholic. She provided a beautiful set of 20 Byzantine-style icons to accompany each of the Rosary Mysteries.
The rosary developed in the Middle Ages as an aid to prayer, with its 15 mysteries divided into five groups: the Sorrowful, Joyful and Glorious Mysteries. In 2002, Pope Saint John Paul II added the luminous mysteries: the baptism of Jesus, the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God, the transfiguration and the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
The subtitle of the book is “A contemplative, exegetical and iconographic journey through the mysteries”. Thus, each mystery is illustrated with an icon and is accompanied by a text to provide the reader with biblical, historical, doctrinal and spiritual insights. The author is a former university chaplain, who has already written seven books on scripture, spirituality, interfaith dialogue and doctrine. His commentaries are based on his vast knowledge of Scripture, the Fathers, iconography and his own Christian experience.
It is a devotional book that should be read slowly, almost stopping to reflect on each paragraph, so that the reader may be drawn into the mystery through contemplative prayer and silence. It will be an excellent book for Lent and will provide preachers with plenty of fresh ideas. My only criticism is that the icons haven’t been rendered full-page, which they deserve.
The opening chapters provide a helpful background on the history of the rosary, the role played by Mary, and how to look at icons and allow them to look at us. The rosary and icons have long been cherished by many Christians, including those who are neither Catholic nor Orthodox; and this book makes them readily available to others.
The Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS is a former Bishop of Monmouth.
Silent Rosary: A contemplative, exegetical and iconographic journey through the mysteries
Addison Hodges Hart
Solrunn Nes, iconographer
Waterfall Books €19
Bookstore of the times of the church 19,90 €