Author: Fr Jacques Philippe
Publisher: Scepter Publishing, PB $20.95
One of the books I have most frequently recommended to customers looking for a spiritual book is Fr Jacques Philippe’s Searching for and Maintaining Peace. Fr Philippe has written a lot of books since then, all of them worthwhile, but this one seems to have something special that appeals to nearly everyone. You might think from the title that this is a self-help book about anger management. Anger certainly does rob us of inner peace, but so do other things, as many of us have discovered over the last few months. Fr Philippe guides the reader through the obstacles that lie in the way of achieving the inner peace we need so that God can act in us.
His special skill lies in his ability to communicate profound spiritual truths with clarity and brevity. If you look at some of the on-line reviews of his books, you will see that he is often read and praised by people who don’t normally read these kinds of books, but that he also has fans among theologians and well-read and educated people. The other two titles of his which stand out are Interior Freedom (which takes faith, hope and charity as the basis for the spiritual life) and The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St Thérèse of Lisieux (St Thérèse is a perfect example of Fr Philippe’s programme of simplicity and trust in God). The Way of Trust and Love comprises six talks given by Fr Philippe at a retreat in which he tried to explain St Therese’s way of life, but it isn’t structured as a retreat per se, more like an introduction to her spirituality.
Fr Philippe is now publishing a series of books which offer a little private guided retreat for the reader, making his spiritual guidance even more accessible. Each one contains nine days of spiritual meditations which can take as little as ten minutes a day. The traditional novena of prayer in which prayers are offered (usually for a special intention) for nine days is the framework for this guide to spiritual growth. As well as prayers, each day contains a meditation by Fr Philippe, and finishes with an example of what he has been talking about from a saint or holy person (‘Light from a Faithful Witness’, and a little piece of Scripture to reflect on (‘meditate on the Word’). There is also a daily ‘Grace Request’, as well as a prayer to Mary. Another of these mini-retreats he recently published is Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer.
We need peace of heart more than ever in these tumultuous times, and Fr Philippe’s books are a wonderful resource for those of us who want to achieve it.