There are precious moments in life when we are deeply touched, and our hearts awaken to the mystery of God present in us and in our world. Close contact with nature can lead us into this experience, but so too can music, poetry, art, friendship and especially prayer. Any of these can touch our hearts and help us to engage with mystery. So many things in life can do this. Since life is a tabernacle of the living God, we can get a glimpse of the mystery of God through the most ordinary experiences of life.
In Going the Hearts Way, we are invited to open our hearts to the presence of God in the world of nature, in ordinary daily living, and in the depths of the human heart. Spending some quiet time in personal prayer helps us to do this. In the silence and stillness, the Spirit leads us to an experience of the loving God who is present in our hearts and lives. This is an experience that satisfies the deepest desire of the human heart.
Going the Hearts Way is a practical book of Reflections for personal prayer. The forty two Reflections begin with the authors thoughts on the theme presented, followed by a Scripture passage, Psalm or Hymn. The focus is on a loving God with us at the heart of life, a loving God who comes to us and saves us in Christ our Saviour.
Jim O’Connell is a Mill Hill Missionary. He spent twelve years in Kenya, where he was involved in Formation and Retreat Work. Prior to that, he was on the staff of the Mill Hill Colleges in London and Holland and he had a six year term as Regional Superior of Mill Hill in Ireland. Since 2007 he is the Editor of the Mill Hill magazine ‘St. Joseph’s Advocate,’ and resides at Mill Hill Missionaries, Waterford Road, Kilkenny. In 2009 Columba Press published his first book of Reflections: Going the Heart’s Way.
The recent deaths of two young fathers in my parish who between them had six small children brought an anguished response from one parishioner: ‘Father; what’s the meaning of this?’ with the strong inference that there could be no reasonable explanation for such tragedies. In his latest book Going the Heart’s Way, Mill Hill Father Jim O’Connell reflects on such mysteries with prayerful insight and contemplates the struggles with which ordinary people and believers grapple throughout our lives.
He also addresses the bewildering pace of change we now experience in an illuminating story from Africa about a group of people who left their local village singing to undertake a task only to grow silent as they left their own familiar territory. When asked about the silence one responded ‘We are waiting till our souls catch up.’ The author suggests similarly that we need lots of ‘breathers’ in order to nourish our souls and our vision.
Based on his own many years experience as a missionary, his engagement with God in prayer and rooted in the colourful and vivid memories of his Kerry childhood Fr Jim draws the reader deeply into his own conversation with the Divine through the use of a wealth of resources including prayer, scripture passages, psalms and hymns and many vibrant images of different kinds. In his preface, Fr Jim’s mentor Daniel O’Leary claims that ‘there is an inner authority about these reflections,’ and describes the volume as a ‘blessed book’. I suspect that most of its readers will feel similarly.
- Fr Paul Clayton-LeaClogherhead, Co Louth