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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Winter Past: The Spirit of Hope

Reviewed by Linda O’Halloran

Biblical quotations run through the chapters of Fr John O'Brien's newest book like water through dry land. Any reader familiar with his writing will know how gifted and skilled is the hand and blessed the heart that serves the reader in this way.

Researched background into the lives of the famous, and studied attention into the documented lives of the saints both provide the reader with ample evidence of how God and in particular the Holy Spirit works through our lives, as through theirs. Hope infuses the book's pages. Many quotations from the writings of St Therese of Lisieux, St Teresa of Avila, St Francis of Assisi and Charles de Foucauld serve to bring a greater understanding of the coping mechanisms that were used by those who were struggling greatly thereby helping us to assess our own situations as they present themselves. Fr John has great empathy towards the suffering world, and a deep desire to ease the plight of others in this valley of tears.

Each chapter could be described as a stand alone one and in that sense it becomes a book that's easy to dip into, yet at the same time there's a rich seam running through it that binds it all together.

The Spirit that drove Jesus into the desert, that inspired and encouraged the saints, is the same one that today is here for us. We are loved and in our littleness God finds room to grow. We can become infused by the same Spirit that gave Our Blessed Mother the strength to keep going, and the saints the resolution to give without counting, and to keep going when there was no sign of gain. The fixed eyes of the Mother and Child on the front cover illustration speak of the fixed eyes of love that continually focus on us through thick and thin, highs and lows, sun and storm.

Fr John's writing convinces a weary world that each of us no matter our situation is loved by God, and the unendingness of that reality serves to strengthen us in our weakest moments, and warm our hearts at the best. 

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