Friday Book Pick: Fire & Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God
By Jacques Philippe
The Church is just about to celebrate Pentecost and this is a great book to get us ready for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
Pentecost is the dramatic fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made to His Apostles. Can you imagine it? The Apostles and Our Lady are gathered together in the Upper Room. They are talking softly, praying, and waiting, yet they are not quite sure what it is they are waiting for. They are wondering, hoping, and yearning when suddenly, the whole place begins to shake and there is a violent wind—even though they are inside—and then come flames of fire, and they are all filled with the Holy Spirit. This anointing from heaven brought about a transformation in the Apostles that is evidenced on every page of the Acts of the Apostles.
When we celebrate Pentecost, we are remembering this dramatic birth of the Church, and we are also asking for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us afresh. The opening prayer for Pentecost Sunday has these words on the lips of every Catholic priest: “…pour out we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and with the divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers.”
Scanning the table of contents in this anthology of sorts could leave you wondering what this little book is all about. It has three chapters on the Eucharist and several chapters on Saints, it has a chapter dedicated to interior peace and one on true and false freedom, among other seemingly random topics. Furthermore, it seems that the publisher may have grappled with what to call this smorgasbord of spiritual insights, because the book actually dons two subtitles. The cover reads as above, Fire & Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God, but the title page reads, Fire & Light: Eucharistic Love and the Search for Peace. This wonderful little book treats all of these things; it is like a mosaic of the best spiritual wisdom of the extremely popular author and retreat director Fr. Jacques Philippe but, fundamentally it is about receptivity. It is about receiving the Holy Spirit in the abundant and varied ways He gives Himself. As Pentecost approaches, this book by Fr. Jacques Philippe could help us all be ready to receive more.
The word “receive” is the golden thread which ties all the themes in this book together. So often we slip unknowingly into a task-oriented faith. We want to be good Catholics, and we have a pretty good idea what is on the list of obligations to be fulfilled to satisfy the “requirements.” In this book, Fr. Jacques Philippe teaches us how to approach our faith, our prayer life, our sacramental life, all from an interior posture of receptivity—poised to receive the love of God. “To be a Christian is not above all about fulfilling a task, a list of things to do. It is about welcoming, through faith (a faith intertwined with hope and love), the immense gift offered freely to us,” he writes in the introduction.
Fr. Jacques Philippe explains, “Some people feel that to be a Christian means doing a number of things and the more we do, the better Christians we are. This does not reflect the Gospel at all. What is important in the Christian life is not to rush into a multitude of exterior works but to discover and practice the attitudes and behaviors that open us up to the work of the Spirit.”
Father goes on to describe the characteristics that, to him, are the most important for maintaining an interior posture of constant receptivity to the Holy Spirit. There are eight characteristics, and I won’t steal his thunder by spelling them out for you here. But consider picking up this excellent work, or any of the many books by Fr. Jacques Philippe. His books are always concise, easy to read, and convey a depth of insight that can only be the result of much prayer.
Let us be open to receiving all that the Holy Spirit wishes to give. Won’t you pray with me for abundant personal Pentecosts, domestic Pentecosts, and a new worldwide Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit!
A Little Bit About The Community of the Beatitudes | Fr. Jacques Philippe’s Community
Have you heard of this Spirit filled group: Community of the Beatitudes? The Community was founded by two married couples who were deeply impacted by the charismatic renewal. The Community was founded in 1973, in France just after the Second Vatican Council which emphasized the universal call to holiness, and thus, the Community is comprised of a cross section of the whole people of God. They have married couples, consecrated religious men and women, priests, and also consecrated lay people, all of whom are united by a call to live the Gospel according to the charism of the Community of the Beatitudes.
Some of the marks of the Community’s spirituality are dedication to praying for Christian Unity and their commitment to praying for unity with the Jewish people. This is how the website of the Community of the Beatitudes explains this aspect of their charism, “The Community, seized by an eschatological tension in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, longs for a common Passover with Israel and for the glorious manifestation of the Lamb who will establish us in the final and everlasting Shabbat.” They are also dedicated to the contemplative life, Eucharistic adoration and have a strong Marian devotion, “[Mary] is our life’s model and Our Mother who teaches us to live according to the Beatitudes.”
Isn’t it a wonderful encouragement to know that the Holy Spirit is breathing new life into the Church through the variety of Communities He inspires?