by Timothy M Gallagher, OMV
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
There are many programs for men before Ordination but my worry is how are they helped after Ordination to the Priesthood? (This phenomena is true also in the developmental stages in our society between 28 and on.) These men of the priesthood need continual assistance in knowing/loving/serving God and consistently keeping God close to them. The author has studied, written and taught St. Ignatius of Loyola’s rules for the discernment of spirits. In teaching the rules, Gallagher, found that people responded with excitement and enthusiasm. The rules gave people clarity and the tools they needed to respond to this experience. Discernment is essential for priests: vocational, apostolic, constant, evangelical, ongoing discernment need to be part of their everyday lives. Ignatius’s rules help understand this daily spiritual experience, both joyful and difficult. The rules supply a practical wisdom for noticing, naming and receiving God’s loving action in the day.
Gallagher did not know of any book that applies these rules specifically to diocesan priests. His hope is that this book will help fill this need. Without the wisdom of the rules, the priest is prone to succumb to desolation, with all the consequences that follow. This book is attentive to two things: attention to Ignatius’s own words and their illustration through concrete examples. He uses the example of the mythical “Father Tom” who experiences the typical conditions of a priest. The book is limited to Ignatius’s first set of rules. In it, Gallagher, does not discuss his second set of rules.
The author, Father Timothy Gallaher, was ordained in 1979 as a member if the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreat and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Having obtained his doctorate in 1983 from the Gregorian University, he has taught at the University level, assisted in formation work, and served two terms as provincial in his own community. He has dedicated many years to an extensive international ministry of retreats, spiritual direction and teaching about the spiritual life. He has written under the auspices of the Institute For Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska. The scenarios that are presented are helpful but again not enough. It is a good book with the notion of a network of people that will assist each other through the journey and a healthy, deep and continuous prayer life.