Monday 22 March 2010

Called to Life - Jacques Philippe

Called to Life
Jacques Philippe
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594170690

Rev. Jacques Philippe is a priest of the Community of the Beatitudes. He was ordained in 1985 and preaches retreats in France and around the world. He has written several books, most now available in English translations from Scepter Publishers. I was first introduced to Fr. Philippe's books about 4 years ago while on retreat. That first book of his I read, Time With God is available in a few different translations. I have now read them all. I find his writing sublime and soothing to the spirit. His words are often gentle and persuasive and yet always stir up a desire for spiritual growth and improvement. His books, though to some extent
read like self-help books that are a dime a dozen in bookstores today, have a much greater depth and more lasting impact. This may be due in part to his years as a spiritual director, and his life and devotion to learning as a priest, but for the largest part from his examples it is obvious that he lives it. These truths have become evident to him and as such he reveals what God the father through the Holy Spirit has taught him. The other thing that attracts me to his writings is that he does not have an exclusively Roman Catholic focus; he knows his books can be of use to others, and because of his breadth of learning he draws upon many non-catholic examples, including Etty Hillesum and from Coptic or orthodox traditions.

This book Called to Life is his latest to be made available in English. I just finished reading it while on retreat and found that it spoke to exactly where I am at. Rather than rave about how great his book is I will leave you with numerous quotes that impacted me upon reading the book this first time.

"I shall insist that any call from God is a call to life. Our first vocation is to live, and a call cannot be from God unless it leads us to live in a more intense and beautiful way, engaging human life as it is with more confidence, in all aspects: physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual." p.4

"To be called is fundamental to the human condition." p.5

"I take my stand in the Christian camp, but I believe the following reflections have something to say to any person of good will." p.6
"Openness to God's calls frees us from pride. It sweeps aside the attitude of self-sufficiency, the pretence that one is the sole master of one's life. In its place comes dependency, availability to another, humility and confident submission." p.12

"Every authentic vocation is a calling to live ever more fully." p.24

"Live! I want you to Live! Here is the first and the most fundamental call to us from God." p.26

"We are called to undertake self-improvement, to open ourselves to the work of grace, to have such confidence of God that we no longer need to calculate or be on guard, but can be capable of love in all circumstances. Thus God's word draws us little by little from our human wisdom to the Wisdom of God." p.38

"The only remedy for this wound to human consciousness is the sense of our filiation, the discovery of our divine parentage." p.52

"Reading Scripture is taking a risk: that we will be asked to reorder our lives or told things we don't want to hear. We do not work on the Bible. It works on us." p.54

"Any understanding of the word should be reasonable - not narrowly rationalistic, but open to mystery, enlightened by faith, and in harmony with the teaching of the Church." p.55
"A good definition of freedom is: the capacity to live each situation positively, not being crushed, but of finding the way of belief and a more authentic life. This is the glorious freedom of the children of God that Christ acquired for us by his death and resurrection." p.58

"I have often observed that people in difficult situations who come to terms with their inability to understand everything and begin to ask what God wants of them here and now receive enlightenment little by little." p.61

"In problematic circumstances, progress lies in hearing the calls that are being addressed to us. 'Shema Israel, Listen Israel!' One must pass from 'What do I want from life?' to 'What does life want from me?' or, sometimes from 'What do I expect from those around me?' to 'What do those around me expect of me?' Whatever the words this conversion is always necessary and always fruitful." p.63

"But despite the vast diversity, the calls we receive are always in the end invitations to believe, hope or love." p.66
"And sometimes the priority has to be self-love: consenting to one's fragility and frailty, accepting oneself, ceasing to blame oneself. We must be attentive to the Spirit's call and discern his priorities at each particular point in our lives." p.73

His writings remind me of C.S. Lewis's spiritual works - they are short, concise and very penetrating. I can only hope that the sample of quotes above intrigues you enough to pick up this book and see where Fr. Philippe can take you on your spiritual journey.

Other Books By Fr. Jacques Philippe
From Scepter:

Called to Life
Time For God
Interior Freedom
In the School of the Holy Spirit
The Way of Trust and Love - A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux
Thirsting for Prayer
Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust

Fire and Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God
The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes
Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer
Nine Days to Welcome Peace
Priestly Fatherhood

St Paul's Alba House:
Searching for and Maintaining Peace
Discerning Your Vocation: A Catholic Guide for Young Adults (Forward)

Pauline Books and Media:

Time For God

Time For God
I Choose to be Free: the Power of Faith Hope & Charity (a different edition of Interior Freedom)

Books Contributed To:

(These are all his books I have been able to find in English; if you know of any others or how to get them, let me know please.)

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