December 22, 2013

Book Review: In the School of the Holy Spirit

In the School of the Holy Spirit by Fr. Jacques Philippe is only 90 pages, small pages at that, but don't let its size fool you. This is a powerful work on a subject easily overlooked.

The author asserts that holiness in our lives is the work of the Holy Spirit and "The task is beyond our power". This might seem obvious to any Christian, but Jacques Philippe goes further, asking two questions of vital importance; how can we foster inspirations of the Holy Spirit and how we can know for sure that the inspiration comes from God (and not from our own mind or from the devil)? The latter is what the Early Desert Fathers called "discernment."

Several broad precepts are given for fostering divine inspirations, including obedience to small movements of the Spirit as a means to greater and more numerous inspirations.

"'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy." (Mt 21:25 NAB)

Knowing that an inspiration comes from God is something that I struggle with and the author's wisdom in this regard makes the book well worth the $9.95 cover price.

"We should not... take it as a systematic rule for discerning God's will the principal that in any given situation, what he asks of us will always be what is most difficult."

The author addresses these questions while recognizing our own individuality and hence, God's way of working with us on a very personal level. The book does not present a formula, but rather a set of guidelines we can use in our daily lives to help us help the Holy Spirit affect our call to holiness.

Summary: The Holy Spirit is our means to holiness. Fostering the Holy Spirit's work in our lives and the ability to discern God's call is the subject of In the School of the Holy Spirit by Jacques Philippe. Short, to the point and well worth reading. This is one of my top ten favorite spiritual books of all time.


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