Thursday 14 April 2016

Real Mercy - Jacques Philippe

Real Mercy
Mary, Forgiveness and Trust
Jacques Philippe
ISBN 9781594172472

It has been a few years since I have read a book by Father Jacques Philippe. It is my loss. Everything I have read by him has been excellent, even reading some different translations of his earlier books. I typically write two types of reviews, the first is short and sweet and just my own impressions, the second is to quote extensively from the source and give readers a great sampling to hook them. This is that second type. My first read through I highlighted over 25 passages and made notes. This book is an amazing resource for the year of mercy, or for anyone looking for growth in their spiritual life. This book is a compilation of three talks given in December of 2015. It also has two appendixes to go deeper on quotes from St. Faustina and St. Thérèse De Lisieux.

The chapters in this book are:
Mercy and The Mother Of God
Mercy and Forgiveness In The Family
Mercy and Trust In St. Thérèse Of Lisieux
Appendix I Quotations On Divine Mercy from St. Faustina
Appendix Ii Quotations from St. Thérèse De Lisieux

From the introduction we are told: "Because of our freedom we must not only recognize God's mercy but accept it. Fr. Philippe focuses on acceptance (or trust), because we so often lack humility, self forgiveness, and self-abandonment to his love, the portals to the flow of God's endless mercy." And the rest of the book builds upon those themes. It goes on to say: "This book is a gift. We are invited by the Lord to explore the depths of his mercy through the wisdom and keen spiritual sense of Fr. Philippe. Let us all accept Jesus's look of merciful tenderness as he "opens us up to a path of life."" And that is our task in reading this book to experience God, experience his mercy and through that to learn to extend and grow in mercy towards ourselves and outwards to others. Now let us get into the main body of the text.

And now to Father Philippe in his own words. "God in his mercy will forgive our sins and won't remember any of our faults. The greatest knowledge of God is the knowledge of his mercy." We need to learn to accept God's forgiveness, I once heard a talk where we were told the devil get's two victories, the first when we sin and the second when we do not accept God's forgiveness. Hopefully this book can be a tool to help your grow in knowing that mercy of God and experiencing it. That though also applies to our next quote: "We see in the Gospel that the mercy of God is the greatest mystery and the most beautiful treasure. However, we have a difficult time accepting it. It's not easy to welcome the mercy of God. We see it in the Gospel, and we see it in our daily lives. We have a hard time receiving the mercy of God because we really have very little trust in God's forgiveness." This is one of the greatest lessons in this book. Again Father Philippe declares: "We don't really believe in this reality of the forgiveness of God, and so we don't always fully welcome it. God forgives us, but we can't forgive ourselves." He reiterates this thought a number of times through the book.

Father Philippe also reminds us to accept that we fail but in doing so, to move closer to get through repentance. He says: "Sometimes it's good that we rejoice when we have accomplished great things. But in the moments where we feel our poverty, we should also rejoice, because the good news is for the poor." And from that we are suppose to live in a spirit of thanks. "There is a little secret in the spiritual life: The more the heart gives thanks, the more God gives, even when life isn't perfect, even when we don't have everything we need or want. The more we thank God, the more our heart is open to receive even more of his mercy and his gifts." God does want the best for us. He promises that he has plans for us to restore us.

There is a long section on Mercy in family life or community living. He declares: "When we live in a family, we live together under the same roof. We have very
close relationships; we are physically close. We can both support one another and love one another. We can teach our children. The family is a place of great graces; it is the fundamental unit of the Church." And he reminds us that living in community, living in family and loving the world is only achieved through accepting God's help: "I realize how much I need God's help because alone, I am not able to love. I am not able to count on my own strength. I have to count on the grace of God, on the Holy Spirit who comes to aid my weakness." We must rely on the spirit to work in and through us.

Speaking on forgiveness Father Philippe reminds us that forgiveness is about both the receiver and the giver; he states: "Forgiveness is not always easy; it is one of the most unselfish acts of love. Forgiveness can also be one of the greatest acts of freedom - the freedom to love even the one who has done you wrong." He goes on to say: "When I forgive someone, it is an act of hope. Through forgiving them, I have hope in the path that this person will take. I have hope for this person's progress, this person's conversion. I believe that this person, too, will meet Christ and his or her heart will be transformed." That is what we receive from God and what we have been commanded to do.

Another great reminder is that "We are not free in regards to the past when we have not forgiven. We can't receive the graces of the present moment, all the blessings God wants to give us. We can't receive them because we are attached to our past by this refusal of forgiveness." Again this reiterates how forgiveness is as much for us as it is for the offender. And another is "What sometimes blocks us from receiving mercy from God is our lack of trust, but it is also our lack of humility. We are not poor of heart. We want to save ourselves rather than welcome everything as a gift from God." We must learn to acknowledge and grow in the experience of living in God's mercy.

This book was an amazing read. I have already recommended it to a number of friends. With every book by Father Jacques Philippe that I read I find that I grow, I am challenged and I am drawn closer to God. His writing style is engaging and encouraging, it is like getting advice from an uncle or grandfather who only wants the best for you. The quote that hit me most is "Always have trust in God, but with humility and poverty of heart." If we can try and do that we will grow in mercy, for others and for ourselves and that is the key message that Father Philippe is encouraging us to do though this great little volume.

This book was an amazing little read. I will likely give away many copies over the next while. And I can say it is one of the best spiritual books I have read this year.

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

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:

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