United Kingdom and Ireland

Book Recommendations

July 30, 2023

Summer reading: Vermeer’s Angel

A publisher, an editor, a novelist and an academic comment on a Catholic novel just released.


He survived Hiroshima. He escaped East-Germany. Will he elude the Church?

Deceased art expert Ken Kokura seemingly reappears in Japan, upsetting the plans of priestly diplomats. They fear, lest a ruthless schemer may have stolen his identity. How far will that possible super spy dare to go to subvert Church policy? The answer may be hidden in Vermeer’s celebrated paintings.

Against a Cold War backdrop, friendship, religion, the fine arts, and ideology intertwine. Loyalties are tested, leaving the only alternatives of betrayal or sacrifice. In the Church under attack, the worst infiltration is sin. Safety then will start with repentance.

Vermeer’s Angel is Fr de Malleray’s brilliant debut novel in an intriguing genre that could accurately be called ‘Vatican Noir’. The author’s detailed knowledge of the ecclesiastical backdrop and the artistic foreground make for a convincing ‘high resolution’ world in which ambition, morality, psychology, espionage and high drama intersect.

Pierpaolo Finaldi, Master of the Keys – The Catholic Writers Guild (UK). Pierpaolo Finaldi is also the CEO of The Catholic Truth Society.

A remarkable novel, a tale of Ostpolitik set in expertly orchestrated scenes alternating between the aftermath of Hiroshima and the collapse of Eastern European communism. Ingeniously interweaving the various strands of his fiction with real history, Japanese culture, Vatican diplomacy, Kim Philby’s Soviet spy ring, and a penetrating analysis of art that makes painting come alive, this is not only a culturally sophisticated narrative, but a gripping read, full of human interest.

Robert Asch, St Austin Review.

Writer, literary critic, and scholar, Robert Asch is co-editor of the St Austin Review and of the St Austin Press.

Armand de Malleray’s stunning prose draws the reader into a world of intrigue and uncertainty where nothing is quite as it seems. This is more than just a novel, it is a haunting meditation on the significance of memory, identity, betrayal, guilt and the insatiable human yearning for the Truth.

Fiorella De Maria, author of The Father Gabriel Mysteries

Award-winning novelist De Maria studied Literature in Cambridge and has published nine books with Ignatius Press.

Vermeer’s Angel is a triumph of a novel. It is a startlingly broad canvas that crosses several continents, cultures and decades, unfolding for the reader subtle readings of both artistic masterpieces and men’s souls. It is a novel about the loss of the self, caused by the atomic blast of modernity and the lingering radiation of older ills. It is a novel about memory and about self-betrayal, suffused with a gentle but persistent sense of the need to recover spiritual responsibility in a world of pragmatic compromise.

Brian Sudlow, author of Catholic Literature and Secularisation in France and England (Manchester University Press)

Dr Brian Sudlow teaches at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) and has written extensively about Catholic literature and Catholic thought in France and England.

Published by Arouca Press, 2023.

Vermeer’s Angel is available on the publisher’s website and on Amazon, including for UK customers, whose copy will be printed in the UK and shipped nationwide without custom taxes.

It is also for sale on the Latin Mass Society‘s bookshop.

Size: 23 × 15 × 2.5 cm

390 pages

Paperback £17.50 GBP ; $22.95 USD

See more of Fr de Malleray’s books here.

July 3, 2023

Meditations on the Stabat Mater

Stabat mater dolorosa – “The mournful mother was standing”. This is the opening line of the extraordinary hymn attributed to the 13th-century Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi, which is still a popular Lenten devotion.

In this book Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP meditates upon the Stabat Mater line by line. This is a book to help the reader to walk the road from Lent to Passiontide to Easter – and indeed from life to death to eternal life – in the company of the most Blessed and Sorrowful Mother, who stands at the foot of the Cross of her Son.

“If you truly wish to be transformed by Christ, go to the Cross and contemplate his Passion. If you truly desire to plumb the depths of knowledge of Christ’s Passion, go to his Blessed Mother… If you want to know some of what the Blessed Virgin Mary teaches about her Son’s Passion, read this book.” 

Mother Marilla, OSB, Superior General of the Tyburn Nuns

“This beautiful little book, born of prayer, is just what I need, what every Catholic needs, for the fruitful praying of the Stations of the Cross.”

Fr John Sayward, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford​​​​​​​

“A Desert Father of the fifth Century commenting on a vision he had of Saint Mary, the Mother of God, weeping by the Cross of the Saviour, famously declared, ‘I wish I could always weep like that.’ The medieval meditation, Stabat Mater, responds to this wish of the Christian soul. Who would not feel moved to comfort the sorrowful Mother of our crucified Saviour? Who would not desire to be taught by her the tears of authentic compunction? Father Armand de Malleray’s fine and sober commentary leads us ‘to better appreciate [Mary’s] grief so as to be shaped by it, her sorrowful heart becoming the matrix of our souls as they learn contrition.’ A luminous and profound exposition of one of the most powerful and consoling prayers of the Catholic tradition.”

Dom Xavier Perrin, OSB, Abbot of Quarr, author of The Radiance of Her Face, Angelico Press

“One could be forgiven for thinking, that as ‘She stood’ beneath the Cross, the sufferings endured by the Blessed Virgin Mary, were in actuality, an ‘event’ in themselves. In a most delicate and imperceptible way, Father Armand de Malleray, with adept contemplative precision, offers to us these reflections. His Commentary on the Stabat Mater is not for the faint hearted, it is an invitation offered to us all, of ‘standing with’ Mary on Calvary. Alike to that of the Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary is depicted, comparable with her Son, as a figure pierced to the spot, not by nails, but by a sword of sorrow. This moving Commentary on the Stabat Mater, discloses for us, in a simple, yet most piteous way, at what cost we were redeemed.”

Mother Bernadette of the Heart of Mary OCD, Prioress of the Carmelite Monastery in Birkenhead, England

Near Missed Masses

Ten short -stories based on actual events, by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP

Can priests miss Mass? This little book light-heartedly depicts ten Holy Masses nearly missed by priests due to some opposition. From Kilimanjaro to Loch Ness, from Burma to Paris and more, the ten humorous short stories describe obstacles to the celebration of Holy Mass, thankfully overcome. The ten priests persevered, spurred by the conviction that Holy Mass: 1) honours God, whose extrinsic glory increases each time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered; 2) helps souls through the temporal application of Christ’s saving merits that Holy Mass brings about; 3) fortifies priests, whose ontological raison d’être is to offer the divine Victim on the altar. Leaving aside theological arguments, Near Missed Masses entertainingly illustrates these truths through fiction.

Order: https://aroucapress.com/near-missed-masses

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Praise for Near Missed Masses

In the real world, which is the world that God made, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the power station feeding the life of grace. Without such grace, we die. In this volume of true stories, Fr Armand de Malleray shows us the life-giving power of the Mass in a world darkened with devildom. The light-hearted and humorous tone of the stories makes them easily readable without ignoring the gravity of the topic. — Joseph Pearce, author of biographies of J. R. R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton

The unusual theme that unites a good number of the stories in this compendium is a scenario with which many a freshly-ordained priest will soon become familiar—the battle royal that often ensues in the attempt to secure an altar at which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass may be offered in an atmosphere of recollection and decorum. With tact and good humour, Father de Malleray explores the intra-ecclesial prejudices and neuroses which have given rise to such a state of affairs, and illustrates how perseverance, charity and prayer are the most effective weapons we possess against suspicion and bigotry. An edifying read for both priests and laity, which we should pray will contribute to the healing of self-inflicted wounds which for too long have hampered the Church’s mission of evangelisation. — Fr Julian Large, Provost of the London Oratory

The stories in this collection give us precious evidence of the hidden persistence of the grace of the true priestly vocation in unexpected situations. The ten narratives portray priestly candidates and priests of various ages and cultures. All reveal that secret dialogue in the soul that takes place when grace is at work. Based on my experience in teaching Thomistic philosophy to seminarians for a decade and catechesis to seminarians and priests as well as lay people, I cannot recommend this book highly enough for young Catholic men and for all those who nurture vocations, or who could, but who are not sufficiently alert to the quiet presence of the Holy Spirit in many young souls. — Dr Caroline Farey, Annunciation Catechesis

In Near Missed Masses, Fr de Malleray finds a delightfully playful and imaginative way to reinvent true contemporary stories and drive home a serious point: the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the zeal that we should have to celebrate (as priests) or attend (as layfaithful) this Sacrifice worthily and frequently. In this way, the book functions like the proverbial storeroom containing things both new and old! — Fr Henry Whisenant, Diocese of East Anglia (England)

The Sacred Liturgy as a Sacred Garden

The well-known children’s story The Secret Garden lends itself to a religious and modern interpretation. Like orphaned children in desperate need of spiritual comfort, many Catholics discovered the traditional Latin Mass thanks to the Covid pandemic. Thirsting for Confession, for Eucharistic adoration, or for Holy Communion administered with reverence, they rejoiced when finding all this and more in traditional worship. This book offers an analogy between Frances Hodgson Burnett’s pre-WWI tale for children, and the revelation experienced in the 2020s by a growing number of adults stepping into the grace-filled haven of the traditional Roman liturgy.

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Praise for The Sacred Liturgy as a Secret Garden

A very clever treatment of the novel The Secret Garden. That well-known children’s story should be read twice—firstly, as any reader would read it just for enjoyment, and then again after reading Fr de Malleray’s fascinating hermeneutic of tradition, because the enjoyment and appreciation would be much greater. —Leo Darroch, former President of the International Federation Una Voce

An imaginative essay, whose poetic nature is a timely invitation to rediscover the forgotten riches of the Church’s traditional liturgy. —Fr Simon Henry, BA MA, Director of St Peter’s International College

This essay is intriguing, creative and sufficiently provocative to maintain the reader’s interest. The variety of expression is refreshing. Readers of all ages will enjoy discovering the liturgical treasures that lie hidden in the Secret Garden. —Fr Neil Brett, former head teacher

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Size: 5.25 x 8 inches

100 pages

ISBN: 978-1-990685-23-1 | 10.95 USD

Publisher’s page: https://aroucapress.com/our-books/all-titles/sacred-liturgy-garden

October 4, 2022

How Catholic Art Saved the Faith The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art

by Elizabeth Lev, Sofia Institute

Not long after Martin Luther’s defiance of the Church in 1517, dialogue between Protestants and Catholics broke down, brother turned against brother, and devastating religious wars erupted across Europe. Desperate to restore the peace and recover the unity of Faith, Catholic theologians clarified and reaffirmed Catholic doctrines, but turned as well to another form of evangelisation: the Arts. Convinced that to win over the unlettered, the best place to fight heresy was not in the streets but in stone and on canvas, they enlisted the century’s best artists to create a glorious wave of beautiful works of sacred art — Catholic works of sacred art — to draw people together instead of driving them apart.

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the
Eucharist Unlocking the Secrets of
the Last Supper

by Brant James Pitre, Doubleday Religion, 2011

What was the Passover like at the time of Jesus? What were the Jewish hopes for the Messiah? What was Jesus purpose in instituting the Eucharist during the feast of Passover? And, most important of all, what did Jesus mean when he said, This is my body… This is my blood? To answer these questions, Pitre explores ancient Jewish beliefs about the Passover of the Messiah, the miraculous Manna from heaven, and the mysterious Bread of the Presence. As he shows, these three keys; the Passover, the Manna, and the Bread of the Presence have the power to unlock the original meaning of the Eucharistic words of Jesus. Along the way, Pitre also explains how Jesus united the Last Supper to his death on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The Traditional Mass

by Michael Fiedrowicz, Angelico Press (2020)

Shows the organic process by which the Roman rite was built up from its foundations into a magnificent structure, marked by the accumulated riches of each age through which it passed, and characterized by order, beauty, and piety in its texts, gestures, rubrics, chants, and calendar—ranging from the major elements to the most minute details.

In view of ever deepening interest in the traditional form of the Roman rite of Mass—which, according to Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, demands “due honour for its venerable and ancient usage”—a comprehensive but concise introduction to its history, form, and theology is more than ever desirable.

The Priestly Blessing

by Msgr Rossetti, Ave Maria Press.

A renewed theology of priestly blessing, encouraging brother priests to embrace the habit of blessing people, objects, and events. This provocative and inspirational book shows how the blessing is integral to the identity of priests and crucial to the spiritual wellbeing of all the faithful.

Many priests shy away from blessing people and objects because of a lack of awareness of the rich tradition of Church blessings and a deficit in training for this important pastoral practice.

Rossetti traces the history of blessing in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. He also explores the various types of blessing, such as praise of God, the invocation of special benefit from God, and being consecrated to God.

Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age

by Bishop Athanasius Schneider with Diane Montagna, Angelico Press

Bishop Schneider addresses such topics as widespread doctrinal confusion, the limits of papal authority, the documents of Vatican II, the Society of St. Pius X, antiChristian ideologies and political threats, the third secret of Fatima, the traditional Roman rite, and the Amazon Synod, among many others. Like his fourth-century patron, St. Athanasius the Great, Bishop Schneider says things that others won’t, fearlessly following St. Paul’s advice: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). His insights into the challenges facing Christ’s flock today are essential reading for those who are, or wish to be, alert to the signs of the times.

X-Ray of the Priest in a Field Hospital

by Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP. Arouca Press, 2020; aroucapress.com/books/x-rayof-the-priest

This book identifies sinful hindrances and spiritual resources for a fruitful and rewarding priestly life in the twenty-first century.

“Written with both imagination and rigour, and merits a wide readership” – Fr Aidan Nichols, O.P.
“Fr de Malleray’s reflections on the nature of the priesthood are fascinating and perceptive, and will edify both clerical and lay readers.” Dr Joseph Shaw, PhD, Oxford, Chairman of The Latin Mass Society
“Full of instruction yet easy to read.” – Fr Thomas Crean, O.P.
“I am happy to recommend this robust set of meditations.” – Dr Peter Kwasniewski