Sunday 7 August 2022

Through Wind and Waves - Francis Fernandez - On Being a Spiritual Guide

Through Wind and Waves: 
On Being a Spiritual Guide
Francis Fernandez
ISBN 9781594171666
eISBN 9781594171772

Over the last 30ish years I have been reading Francis Fernandez’s In Conversation With God, I have read it many years. Finding his books in English has not always been easy. And in fact he has far more available in Spanish. One of the hard parts of tracking down his books is they are published under a few different names, especially English translations. I have seen volumes under these names:

Francis Carvajal
Francis Fernandez
Francis Fernandez-Carvajal
Francis Fernandez Carvajal 
Francisco Fernández-Carvajal

And there might be others out there. This volume is only available from Scepter as both a physical book and as an eBook, there is also still a Kindle edition available. A bio of the author on a different volume states:

“Francis Fernandez is the same author of the best selling 7-volume series IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD which has been printed in ten languages with a combined print-run of more than two million copies.”

The description of this book is:

“A guide is a welcome addition on most any journey. So it is with the greatest of all journeys: the journey to God. One of the Church’s most long-standing and fruitful traditions, spiritual direction is an instrument of God’s glory in the world. The act of clearing the way for the Holy Spirit is a delicate yet challenging matter, and one that requires humility, patience, and charity, among other virtues.

Through Wind and Waves: On Being a Spiritual Guide is a guidebook for those undertaking this important work. It offers wisdom for both the supernatural and the practical elements of spiritual direction. It shows that being a spiritual guide is not simply a matter of prayer and meditation, but one of a firm interior life, genuine friendship, and the daily realities of living one’s life for the Lord. That life will be marked by adventure, since every soul is unique and is led by the Spirit to blaze new paths to holiness.

Filled with wisdom from the saints, as well as Jesus’ words in the Gospels, Through Wind and Waves is a valuable resource for those called to lead others into the safe harbor of God’s love.

Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal holds graduate degrees in both History and Canon Law. Ordained in 1964, he is a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.”

I am not really the target audience for this volume, I am not now a Spiritual Director, and when I was while involved in Campus Ministry many years ago, I probably should not have been. However, that being said, I found this an excellent read, as someone who receives spiritual direction. I read this book over a few weeks, often stopping after a section, either in the book, or the extensive appendix. The Appendix is about a third of the volume and each section in it could be read as Spiritual Reading. The chapters, sections and subsections in the volume are:

An Instrument Of The Holy Spirit
     The Humility of Being “Only” an Instrument
     Rejecting Praise
     Humility and High Goals
     Asking for the Gift of Counsel

Personal Sanctity: Care For One’s Own Interior Life
     Saints in Order to Sanctify
     Bringing Souls Frequently to One’s Prayer

Love And Detachment
     Love with Deeds

Respect For Souls
     God Never Repeats Himself
     Personal Interest for Each One

A Father
     An Adult Faith

A Teacher
      “The Gift of Tongues”
     Spiritual Reading

A Doctor
     Arriving in Time
     When the Illness Is Serious
     With a Mother’s Affection
     Knowing the Symptoms

A Friend

The Good Shepherd
     The Mercenary
     Vigilance of the Good Shepherd
     In Search of the Lost Sheep

Formed In Freedom
     Free and Responsible

Showing Prudence

The Human And The Divine
     A Christian Personality
     Developing Human Virtues

What Should Always Be Present
     Struggling for Love: Confidence in God’s Help
     As God’s Children
     Filiation and Fraternity
     Behaving as God’s Children Toward All God’s Sons and Daughters
     Spiritual Childhood

Great Ideals And The Little Things Of Each Day
     Sanctity in Ordinary Work
     Apostolate: The Overflow of Supernatural Life
     Unity of Life

Place, Frequency, Duration
     Order and Duration

The First Conversations

Knowing How To Listen
      “Iuvenes Videntur”

Being Understanding
     Showing Sympathy
     Truth with Charity

Being Patient
     Channels of Grace
     Beginning Again

Knowing People Well

Fostering Simplicity

Teaching Souls To Struggle
     Getting Down to Specifics
     A Positive Outlook
     In This Vineyard

The Place Of The Heart In The Interior Life
     The Passions and Their Influence on the Interior Life
     Guiding the Emotions
     Feelings in Piety
     Lack of Feelings
     The Hour for the Heart
     Guarding the Heart
     A Big Heart

Causes And Remedies
     Correspondence in Little Things: “Grace Calls Out to Grace”

“Retarded” Souls

The Importance Of Sincerity
     A Right Intention
     Facets of Sincerity
     Helping People to Be Sincere


Life Of Faith

Purity, The Entrance Way
     Conjugal Chastity
     Celibacy and Virginity


Mortification: An Encounter With The Cross
     Voluntary and Passive Mortification
     Interior Mortification

Self-Knowledge And Examinations Of Conscience
     Examination of Conscience
     The General Examination
     The Particular Examination

Charity And Apostolate 

The Family

Joys And Sorrows

Love For The Church And The Communion Of Saints
     Love for the Pope and the Hierarchy
     The Communion of Saints

Lukewarmness And Comfort-Seeking
     The Big Enemy: Lukewarmness
     It’s Worthwhile

Humility And Forgetfulness Of Self
     Humility: The Cornerstone

Poverty And Detachment
     Real Poverty

     Finding Our Lord

Health, Sickness, Rest
     An Apostolic Means as Well
     Teaching People to Rest and Sanctify Rest

By Way Of A Conclusion

Those topics will give you an idea of the breadth and depth of topics covered in this volume. Prior to the actual text of this volume is a quote from Pope Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi, No 49:

“Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.”

This book is intended as a guidebook for the guides. It is written for spiritual directors, it provides an excellent outline of spiritual direction and topics that can be covered in that practice. The Writing is as engaging as his In Conversation With God series. It is easy to read an engage with, and yet has a great depth or thought. The final section in the book, By Way Of A Conclusion states:

“I asked a priest who is a good friend of mine, with experience in giving spiritual guidance, to write down what he said to me in a conversation about this book. I think his words can serve as a conclusion to the book, since they provide a sound framework for personal spiritual direction.

Those called to provide spiritual assistance face a great challenge. Theirs is a particularly delicate service, since the only two protagonists in this “business” are God and the person seeking guidance. The spiritual guide has to shun any hint of self-affirmation; in some way, he has to learn to contemplate the interior world of the other person with the reserve, skill, and humility of the professional whose success consists in helping another person to improve while his own role is scarcely noticed.

Finally, since it is a confidential consultation, the expert knows that his knowledge of the chest doesn’t give him any right of ownership, or even the right to reveal that he knows its value or has been entrusted with that task. The only person he can discuss this work with is the owner. If anyone has to decide what should be made known and to whom, it is the owner, not the one consulted, since his role his simply to give advice.

In short, if a faithful friend should be seen as a treasure, how much more so is this true of a guide, someone who can advise us what means to use, someone we can talk with about our ideas and plans, and someone who can assure us that the route we are taking is suited to the goal we seek and that we are truly making progress in the right direction.”

Being a spiritual director is not an easy task. With great responsibility. I have had a spiritual director recommend I not read any books by a specific author, and a few years later on retreat a different director recommend that author. As someone receiving spiritual direction we also have a role to play, in openness, honesty and transparency. And as I have grown older, humble obedience. This volume will serve anyone who is a spiritual director well. It can also be of benefit to those of us who are directed. It is a great volume, and I am thankful I took the time to read and work through it. And it is likely one I will return to again.

An excellent read a book I can easily. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:

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