A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Notes to a Friend, by Joy Cowley; Chosen, by Liz Maluschnig

Joy CowleyNotes to a Friend

by Joy Cowley

Reviewed by Fr Brian O’Connell s.m.

Pleroma Press 2013, 104 pages, RRP $15.00; eBook RRP $12.50

This handy little volume, which fits easily into a purse, arose from a perceived need of a group of pilgrims. The author, who conducts retreats, noticed an increasing number of people turning up who had no church experience at all, and lacked the biblical language and ‘church-speak’ which was common in Western societies until recently. All they brought was a hunger, seeking ‘a map for my journey’.

The author has grouped her short letters around nine themes: devotion, simplicity, discipline, service, surrender, trials, courage, growth, healing and prayer. This ensures that a wide range of topics can be briefly canvassed. The language is not overtly theological, but is personal and conversational, always tending to the ‘simple language of the heart’.

This book would make an admirable gift to a friend searching for meaning or just hungry for relationship with their spiritual self. These letters are full of depth but with a light touch, and accompanied by warm encouragement for the journey.
From the section on Devotion:

Dear Friend,
Your heart is leaning
towards something so sweet
you can almost taste it.

You don’t know what it is.
You want more of it
but you don’t know how
to satisfy that hunger.

This secret, my friend,
is hidden inside you,
inside all creation.

We too, don’t know how
to describe it with the mind,
but we know it as our true reality,
the eternal source of our being,
and we call it God. (p.6)   

Available from Pleroma:


or Freephone: 0508 988 988 (within NZ only)



by Liz Maluschnig, photos by Melanie G. Mason

Reviewed by Michael Fitzsimons

Delightful Books, 40 pages, RRP $24.95

It is no easy task to write with insight and truth about the complexities of an intimate relationship.

Much of what’s written falls into the sentimental basket, untroubled by the realities of flesh and blood relationships. At the other end of the spectrum lies an analytical exploration of intimate, ever-changing relationships using the toolkit of psychology. These books are often a rewarding, if somewhat daunting, read.

Chosen is something different. It uses a poetic approach to capture both the excitement of an intimate relationship, and the emotional realities once the honeymoon is over.

In accessible poetic language, it restates the marriage dream. It’s always good to be reminded of the ideal, especially as life goes on – the journey out of oneself, the joy of togetherness, the healing and transforming power of love.

For me the freshness of this 40-page book lies in its acknowledgement of the realities which marriage doesn’t rescue us from – vulnerability, fear, indifference, withdrawal. It’s a mature acknowledgement that the business of opening the heart requires courage and lasts a lifetime. For people of faith the book is underpinned by the deep intuition that, whatever our circumstances, we are never alone.

“To know that I am never alone
the Eternal One is dancing in and through me
God then becomes a verb, a process, a relationship
Expressed in and through all my loving connections.”

Liz Maluschnig draws on her experience as a counsellor, parent, writer and spiritual director to write about marriage with simplicity and insight. The many full-page photographs by Christchurch resident Melanie Mason complement the words well with images conveying relationship in its many moods. Chosen would make a great anniversary gift for your partner or family and friends.

Available from Pleroma:


or Freephone: 0508 988 988

(within NZ only)


Tagged as: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.