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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Winter Past: The Spirit of Hope

by Father John O'Brien, OFM

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism

The author presents the alternative world of the Spirit.  By reflecting on the Holy Spirit we allow the Spirit to enter our lives.  St. Paul says: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity. Faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22). This is the world we seek. Paul and his life show us that we are called, especially sinners. None of us are perfect. Yet we are the beloved of God. With sincere seeking we can enter this world of the Spirit. We have our struggles, questions and weaknesses. Yet this is the very place where we meet God.


In Chapter 2 the author speaks of St. Therese of Lisieux: “She had faith and confidence that God worked through all things that happened in her life.” St. Therese helps us understand the message of St. James: ”Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadow.”(James 1:17) Throughout the rest of the chapter, O’Brien gives us examples in literature and in Scripture about the process of prayer. In Chapter 4 the author discuss the spirituality of Paul the Apostle. He states: ”Spirituality is a word derived from Spirit.

In Paul we see his thinking about being led by the Spirit. We have met Paul at different times for now we look at him in his own right. For Paul to be fed by the Spirit and to be in Christ are one and the same thing.  Christ and the Spirit are inseparable. They work together.” He then gives us insight into the conversion of Paul and Paul and the Spirit. In Chapter 5 O’Brien gives us some background on Charles de Foucault who was canonized by Pope Francis on the 15th of May2022. He was an apostle to the poor and was devoted to living the “hidden life” of Jesus, that is, the ordinary life of poor men and women. Je was devoted to interreligious dialogue.

His life was one marked by transformation: he served as a soldier, then as an explorer, then he had a conversion experience and he became a monk. Finally he became a hermit in the desert spending most of his time serving the Tuarge people of Algeria. He looked after and the outcasts in his hermitage. He witness to his faith through his quiet example, living with deep prayer. He was friend and “brother” to all. In Chapter 7 the author presents Leonard Cohen who was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist.

He commonly explored faith and morality, isolation and depression, social and political conflicts, and love, desire regret and loss. He began his career as a poet and novelist in the 1950s and early 1960s. His music career did not begin until 1967. He was disappointed with his lack of success as an author and he entered the folk circuit as a singer-songwriter. He was familiar with Andy Warhol’s “Factory” crowd. Judy Collins recorded his song “Suzanne” and this was a hit for her.

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