Friday, June 6, 2014

Living in the Father's Embrace and Holy Spirit, Make Your Home in Me (The Word Among Us Press)

I'm always on Amazon looking ahead at future publications and awaiting the latest books to come out. With so many being published every year though, I am bound to overlook some out of carelessness. Thankfully, my marketing contacts look out for me and suggest books that I might have overlooked. That book I overlooked is Living in the Father's Embrace by: Fr. George Montague. Fr. Montague is a contributor to the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series. Today, I will be reviewing this book as well as his book Holy Spirit, Make Your Home in Me, just in time for Pentecost.

Living in the Father's Embrace is a 130-page book that contains twenty chapters on the love of God. Each chapter is written with stories that reflect the overall message of the given chapter. Some of these stories are about other people, like Chapter 1, which recounts the reunion of POW Lt. Robert Stirm and his family. Others are personal in nature and reflect on the relationship Fr. Montague had with his father and how it affected his view of God the Father. At the end of each chapter is a prayer and three reflection questions that invite us to ponder the love of God.

It would be too easy, but true nonetheless to say that Chapter 2 related to me pretty accurately. In this chapter, Fr. Montague discusses the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He astutely points out that we can be both sons, the one who is in need of forgiveness and the one who refuses to forgive, at different points in our lives. The part of the elder son is the saddest of the two though, because in choosing not to forgive, he is made a prisoner in his own heart. The chapter which really tugged at my heartstrings was Chapter 5. In this chapter, a mother recounted the children's forgiveness and love of God the Father her children felt after the biological father sexually abused the daughter and abandoned both daughter and son. This chapter was hard to read, but it showed the beauty of children and their willingness to forgive and open their hearts to love again, by God's grace of course.

So many of us claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus, but we tend to ignore God the Father. We either see Him as inapproachable or only reach out to Him when we are in desperate need of assistance. Fr. Montague challenges us in this book to witness the love shared between God the Father and God the Son, aka the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we are invited to experience the love God the Father and all the Trinity have for each of us. He also invites us to build a personal relationship with God the Father. Though it may not be easy, especially for those who have been hurt by biological Fathers, it is a sweet love that is full of mercy and forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit is the most neglected and forgotten member of the Blessed Trinity. We turn to God the Father when we are in desperate need of help (even though we should turn to Him more), and Jesus is our go-to Person with whom we all claim a personal relationship. Yet, the Holy Spirit gets no love. We think about Him briefly when children are baptized and confirmed and on the Feast of Pentecost, but other than that He's ignored. Fr. Montague looks to correct this in his book Holy Spirit, Make Your Home in Me. Using the Bible as his guideline, Fr. Montague hopes to lead us to know the Holy Spirit more and experience an outpouring of the Gift of the Spirit.

Each chapter is a homily or meditation, which focus on some key attribute or description of the Holy Spirit, like Dove or Fire. A chapter I found to be particularly illuminating was the one entitled Paraclete. In this chapter, Fr. Montague illuminates the idea that "paraclete" implies personhood. Jesus said that One was coming after Him who was like Him. We don't often think of the Holy Spirit as a person, just some "spirit," but He is just as much a Person in the Trinity as God the Father and Jesus. I also enjoyed the chapters which discussed the gifts of the Spirit, particularly the third chapter on this topic. In this chapter, Fr. Montague explains the different types of gifts, which are word gifts and service gifts. He elaborates on what these gifts are, and how to tell if one is doing a job or a ministry.

This was an interesting book and not exactly what I was expecting when I requested this book. It is clear that Fr. Montague has a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit and relies on Him constantly in His ministry of priesthood. Because of this strong relationship, Fr. Montague feels compelled to tell us all about the Holy Spirit in the hope that we too will develop an active and strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. So if you would like to know how to make the Holy Spirit more active in your life, I recommend this book to you.

These books were provided to me for free by The Word Among Us Press. If you found them helpful, click here and/or here, and hit Yes!