‘God of Surprises’ by Gerard W. Hughes | Review

To believe, as a Christian is not primarily to assent to propositions of the Christian creed: primarily, to believe is to entrust our whole being to God. (G.W. Hughes 1985)

Demanding words for spiritual seekers

Just as any book is read different people will arrive at differing conclusions as to how the book affected them. Words or passages will become highlighted and at times will ‘demand’ to be read again. They can assist us on our spiritual journey and help to ‘unblock’ the clutter that gets in the way of coming closer to God.

One of the books that personally helped to launch my Spiritual awareness is Gerard W. Hughes’, God of Surprises (Darton, Longman and Todd. First published in London: 1985). Also the author of In Search of a Way, Hughes’ book assists in helping the reader to deepen their relationship with God, and with each other. It is, as Joyce Huggett writes “the bridge on which the God Of Surprises and I have met and deepened our relationship with one another.” This outstanding book is one that I thank God for. I had previously been wandering about all over the place. Now I had a guide that helped me to discover the treasure within. In experiencing His great Love, it assisted me by helping to give meaning to the Graces I received and reassured me in describing the experiences of others, especially when I had become unsure of myself. Whilst I am reluctant to describe specifics, for you will receive Graces particular to you, it helped me to rediscover myself, helped me to rediscover God who had been patiently waiting all this time, but importantly for me, it helped me rediscover myself in the Light and Love of God.

Most of the Bibles published in this century have been more attuned to politics rather than enhancing our understanding of our journey to God. The ‘homosexual’ word inserted in so many is a particular example of this. It gives me great joy to tell you of two publications that have omitted this word in the light of recent discoveries and new research. They are the New American Catholic Bible, 1995, and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV, 1989) Bible published by the Catholic Truth Society. Also, if you find the Bible too daunting to read, there is The One Year Bible (New Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition, 1993) which divides the Bible into daily readings so that over a year the whole Bible will have been read. I personally prefer Catholic editions as they have the 8 books that are usually omitted in other publications. Read Tobbit should you choose to buy one. The NRSV also includes books from the Greek and Slavonic Bibles.

As I feel that I am being called to the Healing Ministry of Prayer, I have tried to read as many books on the subject as I can. As with any publication some books are written for those who are already practicing their particular subject. The trouble is that these books can be too technical or are merely a platform for opinions and self-flattery. Nevertheless, you have to start somewhere. One book that stands out amongst the rest is Praying for Healing The Challenge, 1989 by Benedict Heron, a monk from the Benedictine Monastery of Christ the King in North London (UK). It is a straight talking, no nonsense, practical help for those who feel they are called to this ministry. The only block on God we have is ourselves. This book opens up the way for prayer and clearly expresses the Love of God for his people and explains how we, as His people, are called to be channels of His Love.

Finally, I have been introduced to the Divine Office. These are the prayers of the Church divided into seven section throughout the day. Most of us are too busy to do all seven so it is recommended to do the Morning Prayer and to seal this with the Evening Prayer later in the day. I would also recommend the night prayer as it has a time for examination of conscience. This is not a period of self-condemnation, but rather asking the Holy Spirit to show you where God has been with you during the day and how you have listened to that call. It is a wonderful time to be close to God and is a gentle learning process of responding to His Love. The Divine Office comes in three small volumes. It can appear to be a bit intimidating at first as there is a lot of going back and forward. However, don’t get bogged down with this. There are guides on how to use them or you can ask someone to show you. Either way, its is well worth persevering. Just as we fill our diaries with appointments, it is also important to provide personal time with God. The Golden Rule is of course is to ‘Pray as you can, and not as you can’t.’ The Divine Office can help in prayer and an important section is the intercessory prayer said just before the Our Father. This is a great time to me transparent and permeable before God: we express our concerns for others and ourselves, and allow God to touch us with His Healing Love.