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Ryan, Patrick J., S.J., When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Scriptural Reflections for Lent, Paulist Press, NJ, 2004, pp. 185.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (the words are taken from a hymn of Isaac Watts in the early 18th century) offers a short reflection on the scripture readings used in the liturgy for each day of Lent, both Old and New Testament. The texts are cited but not included, so the reader needs to keep the Bible in one hand and this book in the other. I have not found that to be a drawback; in fact, the slower pace becomes an asset in keeping my mind on the entire process.

Patrick Ryan, S.J., was familiar to me from his weekly homilies in “The Word” column of America magazine some years back. He has a doctorate in comparative religion from Harvard University and spent many years teaching in Africa. At the moment he is in Fordham. None of this impressive resume however, betrays the real depth of his knowledge of scripture, nor of his lively wit and skillful turn of phrase. Two years in a row, I have had the pleasure of reading his The Coming of Our God, a similar book which takes the reader through Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Each time, I have finished with a sigh, grateful for the richness he shared with me, but longing for a continuation; “Please sir, I want some more.” Well here is the “some more,” and I am looking forward eagerly to the opportunity for the deepening experience which this work provides. When, I wonder, will he give us one on the fifty days of Easter?

Maureen F. McDermott