Joy in the Good: Rekindling an Inner Fire by Joachim Hartmann SJ and Annette Clara Unkelhäußer (Messenger Publication, €12.95 / £11.20)
On first picking up this book I was taken by a sentence in the blurb: “We overlook the rich and complementary relationship between silence and communication. In silence we can rediscover the gift of communication…”
I work much of the day in silence. I cannot have the radio on or music playing. I need the silence to say what I have to say.
This notion goes to the heart of this book. The authors intend it to introduce to a wide readership in these islands the retreat style developed in Germany by Fr Franz Jalic SJ back in the 1980s through the Haus Gries in Bavaria based on continuous silence and group prayers, with one-to-one encounters between retreatants and their retreat guide. This follows out the observation of St Ignatius that the essence of a living relationship is “the mutual communication between two people”.
In the preface the authors instance the events on the road to Emmaus. The two disciples had been discussing the terrible events of the previous days, the stranger they met asked them when he joined them on the road what they had been talking about. By talking it all over with the stranger they gradually came to a new insight through their own words. The fire of their faith was rekindled.
This epiphany runs all through this book. but it makes along the way an important distinction between “contemplation” and “meditation”. This derives from looking, or gazing. It has less to do with texts or other materials, but lives in simplicity and silence. In effect, allowing the silence to speak. This is one book where a great deal of the true interest would be lost by quotes: it is a book that simply must be read to be truly appreciated.
There is then a lot packed into these pages. At the end there is mention of two books for further reading, and the website address of Haus Gries in Germany is also given. However, though there are no contacts in Ireland, nearby, only a short sea voyage (how very symbolic) in North Wales there are two contacts, one in Old Colwyn, an attractive place to reach at journey’s end, a type of Emmaus indeed to contemplate, enquiries: @houseofprayer.org.uk