On My Bookshelf: Into Your Hands, Father

My boss’s Christmas present this year was the small book Into Your Hands,  Father. She mentioned it was recommended by our archbishop, something he gifted to pastors and lay coordinators. It was the best bishop-sourced suggestion since this book. I may have a mixed opinion of bishops as administrators and forward-thinkers, but when one of them advocates a spiritual book, it’s worth a serious consideration.

Wilfrid Stinissen is a Carmelite. That’s a bit farther out in orbit for me than Jesuits or Benedictines. But I did enjoy a week-long retreat under the mantle of Our Lady of Mount Carmel once. The taste of this author’s writing was familiar.

Barely passing a hundred pages, it took me months to get through and digest this book. The first of three chapters, Accepting God’s Will, was the richest for me.

It is said that human memory is largely fiction, a post-trauma or post-celebration interpretation of concrete events. That may be true. I don’t see that as a problem, and I don’t think Fr Stinissen would either.

We not only have the ability to form and shape our present and future, we also have power over our past. When we see our past in the light of the Holy Spirit, with the eyes of God, it is created anew. What we pray for in the Psalms comes true: “Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil” (Ps 90:15). We receive a completely new past. The best moment for this transformation of our past is, of course, at the Eucharist. Do we really mean it when we say, Say but the word and I shall be healed?” He comes to us to heal all wounds, to transform all sorrow into joy. Do we show him our wounds? We pray, “In your wounds, you hide me.” “By his wounds you have been healed”, we read in the first letter of Peter (2:24). The more we come into contact wityh these wounds, the more all our wounds heal. In the Eucharist, the Lord comes to us wounded and sacrificed. That is the right moment to pray, “Jesus, heal these wounds.”

An example of the richness I found in this book. I recognized the line from the “anima Christi.” It’s a line I often amended in my own prayer, “In your wounds, not mine …” So I found an interior question, do I get beyond the moment of devotion or liturgy before the reception of Communion? Am I focused on my “worthiness” in the sense of being free from serious sin? Am I more attentive to the song being sung? Perhaps I can take the opportunity, even occasionally, to pray in response to “the Body of Christ,” or “the Blood of Christ,” and utter, “Jesus, heal these wounds.”

Only two other chapters: Obeying God’s Will and Being God’s Instrument. The latter is perhaps important for a Church that sometimes busies itself with doing God’s work, rather than being an instrument in God’s hands. If the distinction there seems trivial, I’d recommend consulting the book. If you know the classic Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr Stinissen’s writing will be familiar. If so, or not, I still recommend this little volume. You wiull likely spend more time with it than a book five or ten times as long.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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