A few days ago, I wrote a blog on Roger’s first book, The Gentle Traditionalist. I did so because several people had referred to me as Anna O’Neil, the heroine of the book. And I wanted to clarify the similarities and differences between Anna and myself.
Whilst doing so, I wrote about the art of fiction, whereby one creates and uses characters to deliver a message and also how those characters often have attributes which reflect oneself, or those close to us.
This is most certainly the case with Roger’s book, hence my being likened to Anna. Yet, that blog, whilst complete in itself, did not say all I wanted about The Gentle Traditionalist.
So here, I continue with my perusals, looking at the way in which The Gentle Traditionalist was written and how it emerged. But in order to begin, I must retrace many, many steps.
Over several years, Roger was writing a book, which first burst upon him, when we were living in France. It grew and grew into a large tome, which is now very soon to be published by Angelico Press!
The title of this tome is Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, the very same as our website. It is named such, because, in France, Roger and I visited, repeatedly, Paray-le-Monial.
Paray-le-Monial is a small French town with a huge history. For it was there, that the Sacred Heart of Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in the seventeenth century.
And through her spiritual direction, with St. Claude La Columbiere, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus would spread from Paray-le-Monial, throughout the entire Catholic world. Roger’s and my life was transformed by our numerous pilgrimages to that incredibly special and holy place.
But, let us turn back towards The Gentle Traditionalist. So, whilst Roger spent six years writing this first lengthy, deep and insightful book, The Gentle Traditionalist was born in only ten short weeks!
It is a book very much dedicated to Ireland, where we have been living these past few years – and where we also lived before going to France.
It is, in fact, in great part, a response to deep concern about what has happened to Ireland in a very short time.
For on returning to Ireland in 2013, our hearts pierced by what has happened to the faith, in just the few years since we had left in 2006!
When one thinks of how the Irish people suffered in the past, never relenting in their staunch adherence to the faith, it has been heartbreaking to witness how easily the faith has now been cast aside.
And instead, the faith has been replaced by the insidious, sweeping beliefs of either the New Secular Religion (as the Gentle Traditionalist himself put it) or New Age-ism. Those very beliefs are what Roger and I have watched rip through America and England, like a steely blade, cutting away at the Christian roots of the west.
Thus, on our return to Ireland, we were heartbroken to see the very same ideology now permeating the Emerald Isle, which until very recently had prided herself in being distinctly different from England.
And so, with a pierced heart and after years of study and thinking, plus the research poured into his big book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, Roger gave birth to The Gentle Traditionalist, a much shorter one.
In fact, Roger had long held the idea of the book and the themes within it, but was lacking the format.
Then, in 2015, he and I made a trip on our Wedding Anniversary – which is actually St. Valentine’s Day. (As those of you who know the book know, St. Valentine plays a part in this story. But I won’t spoil it for those who have yet to read it!)
On that particular day Roger was inspired. Creative sparks began to burst forth, providing him with the necessary format for the book. And thus, as I say, The Gentle Traditionalist emerged in ten short weeks.
Whilst one could say, certain ideas have been taken from Roger’s big book, Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, The Gentle Traditionalist is most certainly something entirely its own.
It is a serious response to the plight of Ireland and the global erosion of Christianity. Yet it is written in a quirky, rollicking, humorous and most appealing style.
And the book draws on Roger’s extensive experience within the New Age, as well as his upbringing in both America and England. In both countries, he acutely witnessed the inherent blanketing out or obscuration of the Catholic Mystery, resulting, he sees, from their strong Protestant heritage.
It also draws on our travels within France and Spain, which provided us the beautiful, yet stark contrast of cultures and societies formed from a Catholic heritage.
As Roger put his ideas into words and The Gentle Traditionalist came into shape, I would hear his laughter echoing around the house. I, too, was occasionally consulted in the writing, suggesting small touches here and there.
So that laughter would be shared between us, as some of the silly encounters took shape in the book, which often brought tears to our eyes.
And so it became what at least I and others find it to be: a delightful, succinct, funny, profound, yet accessible book.
And when the book was finished, the publishers were greatly impressed and thought it would be better to publish Roger’s second book, first. (This also meant he had close to another two years to polish his big book – so it has taken eight years in all.)
Now, in this sad time, where basic articles of the Catholic faith, such as marriage and the morality of family life are being undermined, The Gentle Traditionalist neatly and intelligently articulates Christian morality.
Thus, the book could well be used, as a much needed form of catechesis. In fact, I know of people who are using it this way.
Recently, in fact, an American Catholic film company has expressed interest in filming it and an option has been signed for it. This does not necessarily mean the movie will be made, as funding must first be found.
But it does mean that the company is serious in that they were willing to option it and pay money for that. Let us hope they are successful with their endeavours.
And as we are now in Advent, I hasten to suggest that The Gentle Traditionalist would make a very good Christmas present, particularly for your secular friends! Also, it could help those fallen away from the faith, as well as anyone struggling to find meaning in life, or even a good argument! (All in the most gentle manner, humanly possible, of course!)