CATHOLICS by Brian Moore
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This takes place on the little island of Muck, Kerry, Ireland, where there are only four families left, and a monastery -- a small order of ""fishermen and farmers of sorts"" who perpetuate the simple life, putting up blackberries, baking soda bread, and observing the old ways, indeed the old faith. A desolate stretch of sea and sky ""immense, hurried,"" with an ""obbligato of gull cries overhead"" and the ""winds whipped like penny tops, spinning the long grasses this way and that."" Kinsella, a priest in ecumenical mufti, is sent there to rebuke its Abbot who has been continuing to hold Latin Mass and hear private confessions in spite of Vatican IV. Indeed Muck Island has earned considerable unwanted publicity (television) and become an unsuspected attraction for pilgrims from all over. For the most part Moore's novel, novella really, deals with yesterday's orthodoxy which has become today's heresy and the Abbot maintains ""People don't want this ecumenical tolerance. They want certainties."" But at the close, the equivocal, conjectural close where the Abbot seems to have made his obeisance to the new face-lifted Catholicism, what will he say to his monks? ""Can you tell us, now? The man is gone."" Surely there can be none of those worldlier certainties for a small book such as this beyond the conviction of its firm message and that Brian Moore is one of those few writers with a God-given talent. So light a candle and count your blessings -- a book like this.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1973
ISBN: 0829423338
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston