Saturday 21 July 2018

Living Fruitfully Joy Learning from the Saints - Mgr Paul Grogan

Living Fruitfully Joy Learning from the Saints
Mgr Paul Grogan
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784691912
eISBN 9781784694500

Currently there are five books in the Living Fruitfully series on the fruit of the spirit from the Catholic Truth Society, and this is the last I have read. I might have left it to last because I might need it most. I have been praying for a few years to learn to live more joy. This is an excellent read in a wonderful series. The description of this book is:

"Joy comes to us from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This title in the Living Fruitfully series reflects on the theological foundations for this understanding of the Holy Spirit as the answer to our thirst for joy and looks at the life in the Spirit which makes Christian joy possible. 

By drawing on examples of several saints like St Bonaventure, St Margaret Mary Alacoque and St Paul, the author then helps us to consider three ways in which we can experience such joy: through remaining close to Jesus in prayer; through speaking of Jesus to others; and through following Jesus according to our personal vocations."

I hold a Religious Studies degree with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought. I could have used this booklet as a resource during my university career. I would have drawn from it for several essays. The chapters in this volume are:

The 'Knock-On' Effect
Life in the Spirit
Closeness to Jesus
Speaking of Jesus to Others
Listening to Jesus
     Appendix 1: Examen
     Appendix 2: Prayer

Monsignor Grogan states:

"If we are to be joyful, it stands to reason that we have to know what we are being joyful about. Our faith tells us that God has saved humanity through the death and Resurrection of his Son. It also tells us that God is with us now in his holy Church. In other words, faith helps us to see both God's actions in the past and God's actions in the present. Through the virtue of faith we know that our joy is well-founded. We grow in this virtue through our sharing in the life of the Church, which is the herald and the guardian of our faith. Through participating in the sacraments our faith comes alive. Through our fellowship with other Christians our faith becomes stronger."

And the saints that we journey with in this volume are:

St Bernard of Clairvaux
St Ralph Sherwin
St Bonaventure
St Margaret Mary Alacoque
Blessed John Henry Newman
St Philip Neri
St Philip at St Girolamo
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
St Thérèse of Lisieux
St Rafael Arnáiz Barón
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

There are some incredible examples of living joy in this book. A few of the saints examined I am familiar with, a few were new to me. But the examples are so varied that I am sure you will find one or two that you feel an affinity for, and learn from those specific examples. The conclusion of the book starts with these words:

"Many of our contemporaries perceive deep down that we were created for happiness. Yet they disconsolately imagine that real, lasting permanent joy is something that will forever elude them. It is not surprising, therefore, that a good number of our fellow citizens reject the Christian faith almost out of hand. They do not want to get their hopes up for fear of being disappointed.

The Christian faith does not offer something that will solve all our problems. It takes human suffering very seriously. At the same time, it refuses to allow that suffering to snuff out the joy which is an essential part of discipleship. As Pope Francis writes with proper apostolic boldness in The Joy of the Gospel: "I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust…""

This book can easily be read in a single sitting. But I have a feeling that at least for me it will be a book revisited again and again. It is a book that any Christian would benefit from reading. It is a book based upon the truth. The Examen and Selection of prayers at the end of the book are great resources. And there are a few prayers throughout the text. Monsignor Grogan's writing style is very engaging. As soon as I finished this book i picked up one of his books on Mercy to add to my reading pile. I am very impressed with this book and with the 5 in the series. I can only hope CTS chooses to continue the series.  

An excellent resource from CTS that I give my highest recommendation. A great series and excellent book.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan
For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the Living Fruitfully Series:
Self-Control - Fr John S. Hogan
Chastity - Fr John McKeever
Joy - Mgr Paul Grogan
Generosity - Fr John S. Hogan
Patience - Christopher Mc Camley

Books by Mgr Paul Grogan:
Living Fruitfully Joy Learning From the Saints

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