Books by Denis McBride

Awakening to Yourself

Awakening to Yourself

In this second volume of Reflecting with Paintings, Denis McBride takes us on another fascinating and challenging journey of imagination. Focusing on ten paintings by artists from a range of times and cultures, we explore the thoughts and feelings of a wide variety of characters, from Joseph the husband of Mary to a lone woman in a New York cafe.

Hear An Introduction


Review form the GoodBookStall website
Father McBride selects another ten paintings, reflecting and meditating on the people in them as he unravels their possible stories, 'talking to them and listening back' (Preface). We are free and encouraged to have our own conversations with the subjects, and with the author.
We have St Joseph's blog (an unforced device), and a sympathetic understanding of what it is to be the Infante Felipe Prospero, so much in style like the Infant of Prague. An example of Father McBride's prose, '...the monumental gloom behind you , the traditional tenebrist background for royalty.' (p. 117), expresses his empathy with the people he meets. We listen to the intimate musings of Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate ('Ponty') and her disappointment that '...he just cannot compete over here with all these professional politicians dressed up in the vestments of priests.' (p. 58).
The reviewer for volume 1 hoped that there would be more information about the artists and the paintings' dates; unfortunately, the publishers have not picked up this request. Nonetheless, this is a highly recommended book.
J.Nicholas Latham

A capacity to touch and to move
Picked up this book at the Southport conference where Father Denis was the keynote speaker. It's impossible to listen to Father Denis without being moved by his passion for the Gospels.

When I read this book I thought that it's impossible to read his writing without being touched and finally changed.
James Rathmond

Review from the Sign and Home Words
The first volume of Denis McBride's choice of paintings and his accompanying meditations, written in an expansive prose-poetry, was a gift of understanding and clear vision. This second volume doesn't disappoint. In fact, its scope seems wider, and his great gift for understanding people whose lives are quite different to his own is still evident - ranging from three sisters in Paris, a Chinese student, a disfigured soldier-turned-professional-assasin, a couple on the balcony of their high-rise flat - and stretched still further. We are invited to ponder these portraits, and through McBride's slow, intentional looking, we have our own powers of vision cleansed and sharpened. We may well find that we awaken to emotions and memories buried in ourselves, or indeed we may find it easier to understand people who are very different to ourselves. Either way, these are ways into effective, genuine prayer. And they are, for good measure, an invitation to see the world and painting afresh - slowly, with love, appreciation, greater precision and gratitude. Which is indeed another way of prayer.

Read this book at your own risk.
Read this book at your own risk. You may find yourself face to face with the Divine.

Volume 2 of Father Denis’ reflections on paintings, Awakening to Yourself, is as innovative and vibrant as Volume 1, yet this book has more of a cultural bent. Father Denis represents culture cognizant of countries and ethnicities along with lifestyles. Encountering scenes from Nazareth, delivered into the present by Joseph’s use of his “blog,” discovering a Chinese painter, a cultural revolutionist, through his utilization of color or lack thereof, glimpsing a woman battling her family culture and confronting another revolutionist in the Assassin, these “voices” penetrate.

The tenderness of the reflection of Joseph cherishing Jesus is set against the reflection of an assassin. When delving into my own life, I prefer to ally with Joseph than the assassin, but these reflections impel me to embrace all of me, all of life. The Assassin is a component of me that I would like to discount or pretend does not exist. I am humbled by variety of characters, that if I were honest, have the ability to touch me and speak to me and compel me to converse with the God who knows me to the core. Jesus knows me and accepts me, even when hiding in a café in New York, in Alabama or in my own city.
Sister Lenore Greene, RSM, USA

Mind boggling!
Was at the Southport Conference this weeked to hear Fr Denis as the keynote speaker - and like 360 other people was enthralled with his wit and wisdom, and his great easiness in communicating the Gospel.

What a time we had together! I took home this book, Awakening to Yourself, and I awoke to bits of myself I didn't know I had. Scary...
Marianne Cummerford

A busload of crazy friends!
Yes, I read Awakening to Yourself as my holiday read and it was like travelling with a busload of crazy friends, who shared their own story openly with you, while inviting you to awaken to yourself.

The sharing is tenderly done and movingly told - such a huge variety of voices from different times and backgrounds and cultures. What holds it all together is the immediacy of their voices and the genuineness of the disclosure.

I wish I had friends as half as genuine as this bunch!
Mark McManus (Belfast)

Superb holiday read!
I took Fr McBride's two books, Reflecting with Paintings Vol 1 and 2, on holiday with me, and what wonderful companions they were for two weeks! I never got bored listening to an Irish grandmother, an Italian artist, a skate-boarding kid, a delicate prince, a tough assassin, a tender prostitute. They engaged me for two whole weeks with their stories and, in the process, enquired about my own.

Really great!
Andrew Cecil Rhodes

Thoughtful and challenging
A couple of years ago Fr Denis gave us a retreat in Paris and he mentioned that he was doing research in the afternoons for a Modigliani painting, walking around Notre Dame Cathedral and the nearby bridges. When I read the story of the soldier – Raymond – I could see the results of his walking and thinking. A bit scary, but it introduces me to the strange mix of good and bad in people, which I found very thoughtful and challenging.

Many thanks, Father Denis, and you are welcome back any time!
Sr Jeanne D'Arc (Paris)

Brilliant imagination!
What a brilliant imagination! I wish I could dream and see like this!

Really looked forward to this book after the first volume, and it did not disappoint. My favourite was Saint Joseph sharing his story on a blog, seeing how he handled all the interruptions in his life. I loved the insight that developed with this human story, and it really made me reflect on the importance of the interruptions in my own life.

Fr McBride has a clever way of getting you to look at someone else, reflect on their story, and suddenly you realise you are thrown back on your own. How gentle and discreet is that? Thanks.
Neil MacDonald

Amazing, yet again.
How did Denis McBride do it again? Thinking Borrowing the Eyes of Others was amazing, I am in awe to find Awakening to Yourself so as well. It has a different feel, but loses none of the poignancy. The Internet blog technique brings Joseph's dreams and dilemmas into the present. Being a US native, I admired the author’s knowledge and fanciful language when describing the crop duster; a scene so familiar to me. Soldering On is more difficult. One must take seriously the imperative to “love one’s enemy” to peruse this reflection. Again, I am touched by how well Denis McBride knows the range and depth of the human experience that intersects with the divine. His choice of art and language adorn the pages in an array of visual and auditory panoramas that as I said before when rating Borrowing, “dazzle my senses.”
Leonora Cecchini