LONDON - 16 June 2003 - 425 words
Hodder & Stoughton Price £10.99 in UK
In his book, God in All Things, Gerard Hughes continues his reflections on spirituality by tackling a wide range of problems and questions facing individuals and the body of the Church.
Hughes' central assertion is that there is a split spirituality in evidence in the world. God and the things of God are divided off from everyday life so that huge contradictions emerge. He points to the divisions between Christian denominations and the example of Christians who back nuclear defence policies yet fervently pray for world peace.
The split manifests itself in the doubts, fears and periods of depression people experience the alienation from established Church practices and yet at the same time the widespread trend towards a generalised idea of spirituality. Hughes is critical of the lack of spiritual guidance found in mainstream churches and he strongly advocates the need for ecumenism.
He argues that it is false to confine spirituality to the realm of the wholly divine and non-material. Spirituality is in all things, all aspects of life. He calls God our ultimate identity: the good news is that God is our ultimate identity. We have an astonishing ability to lose sight of this central truth, thus reducing Christianity to a moral code.
A large section of the book is taken up with guidance on how to open up to the Spirit, and allow God to be the God of love and compassion to us and through us. Too much conscious effort can kill prayer. Prayer is about letting the Spirit of God pray in us., He points to the importance of stillness in prayer, to be more sensitive to the reality of God. Stillness in prayer is central to The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, referred to by Hughes.
Hughes encourages the practice of becoming more aware of moods and feelings that can indicate the deepest longings from what he calls the God-directed core of our being,. He stresses the importance of developing discernment in decision making; ,if the core of our being is God-centred, then decisions that are in harmony with our God-centredness will bring peace.
God in All Things provides a balanced and sometimes provocative Spirit-centred approach to developing one's relationship with God and focusing on the reality of what it means to live a Christian life. Hughes asserts that it is through widespread spiritual renewal that the split spirituality in the world must be healed.
Fr Gerry recently launched his own website. The address is: http://www.gerardwhughes.com