Jennifer Nowell, Catholic Central Bookshop
If you, like me, have seen the name Fr Michael Gaitley mentioned a lot in Catholic circles lately, you might be wondering why he is getting so much publicity. Fr Gaitley is a member of the religious order the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, as well as being the formation director of the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy. He has written a number of books on spirituality, and not surprisingly, concentrates on Marian spirituality and also the Divine Mercy devotion.
The first book of his that caught my eye was Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, mostly because so many customers were asking for it when it first came out in 2010, and so many continue to buy it even today.
It starts with the idea that not everyone (or even many people) have the time or money to do a thirty-day Ignatian retreat, but that it is still possible to grow in holiness, Ignatian-style, with the help of this book.
Fr Gaitley's assurances that even the weakest sinner can progress in holiness are very reassuring to the timid or uncertain reader. He sets out the ways that you can adapt his program to use over an intense weekend ‘retreat’, or at daily Holy Hours over a few weeks, or even over months. The program is simple, and set out in sections which assist you to make a foundation (more or less our commitment to a serious attempt to pursue holiness via ‘consoling the heart of Jesus’); how to overcome the obstacles to doing this; and then how to keep up the program.
More than half the book is spiritual resources to help with our journey, including lots of practical advice, much of it straight from St Ignatius, and also lots of relevant sections from St Faustina’s Diary, for spiritual reading.
Fr Gaitley’s latest title is 33 Days to Greater Glory, and this one is based on the Gospel of John. Don’t be put off by the subtitle containing the word ‘consecration’; although the book is written in the format of daily readings in preparation of a personal consecration to God the Father via Jesus, it can just be read as a devotional deep-dive into John’s Gospel.
You can see Fr Gaitley’s Ignatian inclinations coming out here, in the way his Scriptural meditations help us to visualize the Gospel scenes, but also ponder the implications for our own lives. This book also contains a nine-day novena to St Joseph and the complete text of John’s Gospel.
Fr Gaitley’s other works include 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy (with a similar format to the Greater Glory book, and a particular emphasis on understanding Divine Mercy, with the assistance of St Therese of Lisieux’s spirituality); and 33 Days to Morning Glory (a book of preparation for Marian consecration, by way of the works of St Louis de Montfort, St Maximilian Kolbe, St Teresa of Calcutta and St John Paul II).
All these books act as a powerful spiritual boost, especially useful for beginners in the spiritual life, helping to bring us back to the essentials of our faith and live it day by day.
33 Days to Greater Glory: A Total Consecration to the Father through Jesus Based on the Gospel of John
Fr Michael E Gaitley MIC
Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola
Fr Michael E Gaitley MIC