SD10 – Recalling the Responses to Spiritual Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Episode 10  – Fr. Gallagher recalls the pointed responses to desolation found in Rules 5 – 14.  He then shares some personal reflections which demonstrate how helpful the rules helpful in resisting Spiritual Desolation.

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

“The Enemy Claims Power over the Future”

I wrote this next entry after a further surgery, when I could not yet see what lay ahead. The following are notes on a conversation of spiritual direction:

Ed spoke of the fear about the “what-ifs.” This is the taunting of the enemy, meant to discourage you, claiming power over the future. You’ll never return to active ministry, never be able to share community life as before. The enemy wants you to focus on what is dark, and to pull you into the future seen in this way.

The Holy Spirit is helping you to pray in this, and Mary is present to you. Turn quickly to the Lord, ask Mary’s intercession, in such times.

The enemy is all about the negatives, the “nos.” The truth, even on a medical level, is that there is progress, and you are getting stronger. The medical situations are moving ahead. There is real hope, and the Lord with his love is with you. So, be quick to turn away from the negative thoughts. Don’t even open the door! Renounce the lies. Even imagining what might happen is a temptation. Be in the present, be open to his grace today, surrender to his will today. As Ed said this, I realized that this I could do.

Surrender to his Heart as best you can today. The surrender is not a surrender to “the worst” but to his faithful love for you. This is the one you surrender to.

I found it very helpful to talk about this spiritual desolation and receive guidance regarding the enemy’s discouraging tactics (rule 13). This was a nonspiritual vulnerability after a surgery that gave the enemy an opening for spiritual desolation. A common trait of spiritual desolation—the enemy’s claim of power over the future, always seen in a dark light— was also evident that day. Ed’s advice to reject this tactic of the enemy immediately reflected Ignatius’s counsel in rule 12: resist in the very beginning, before the burden can grow. Ed was right, too, that objectively things were improving on the medical level. In the nonspiritual and spiritual desolation, I found it hard to see that on my own, and it was encouraging to hear Ed and recognize the truth of what he said.

You can find this book here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD9 “Pre-Event” Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Episode 9  – Fr. Gallagher offers insights on a form of Spiritual Desolation he terms as “Pre-Event” Desolation.  He uses this description to define a type of desolation that can affect someone who, for example, is about to enter into a retreat or pilgrimage, or some type of spiritual or ministry based undertaking.

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

It is liberating to know that spiritual desolation is an ordinary experience in the spiritual life, that every disciple of the Lord for two thousand years—including the canonized saints—has undergone this experience, that there is no shame in experiencing spiritual desolation, that times of spiritual desolation are normal in a well-lived spiritual life (SpirEx 6), and that, therefore, we are not the only ones. Experiencing spiritual desolation is simply part of what it means to live the spiritual life in a fallen, redeemed, and loved world. What does matter is to live the discerning life: to be aware of spiritual desolation when it is present, to name it for the lie of the enemy that it is, and to reject it. The principle focus of these fourteen rules is to help us do precisely that.

You can find this book here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

BTP- L14 – Letter 335 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/Dr. Anthony Lilles podcast

Dr. Lilles continues the spiritual explorations of the Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. In this episode we discuss letter 335.  In this special letter, shortly before her death, Elizabeth sends this letter to a friend Sister Marie-Odile.  This is a very poignant letter and conversation.

L 335
To Sister Marie-Odile

[October 28, 1906]
Our God is a consuming Fire

Before flying away to Heaven, dear little Sister Marie-Odile, I want to send you a little note from my soul, for I am anxious for you to know that in the Father’s House I will pray especially for you. I am keeping a rendez-vous with you in the Furnace of love; my eternity will be spent there, and you can begin it already here on earth. Dear Sister, I will be jealous for the beauty of your soul, for, as you know, my little heart loves you very much, and when one loves, one desires the best for the beloved. I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself. Dear little sister of my soul, it seems to me I now see everything in God’s light, and if I started my life over again, oh, I would wish not to waste one instant! He does not allow us, His brides in Carmel, to devote ourselves to anything but love, but the divine, and if by chance, in the radiance of His Light, I see you leave that sole occupation, I will come very quickly to call you to order; you would want that, wouldn’t you?

Pray for me, help me prepare for the wedding feast of the Lamb. Death entails a great deal of suffering, and I am counting on you to help me. In return, I will come to help you at your death. My Master urges me on, He speaks to me of nothing but the eternity of love. It is so grave, so serious; I wish to live each moment fully. A Dieu, I don’t have the strength or the permission to write at length, but you know Saint Paul’s words: “Our conversation is in Heaven.” Beloved little sister, let us live by love so we may die of love and glorify the God Who is all Love.

“Laudem gloriae,”
October 28, 1906.

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 360-361). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.

Special thanks to Miriam Gutierrez for her readings of St. Elizabeth’s letters

For other episodes in the series visit
The Discerning Hearts “The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity” with Dr. Anthony Lilles’

Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.
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ST-Luke-4 – Mary, the New Ark of the New Covenant – The Gospel of St. Luke – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 4 – Mary the New Tent of the Meeting and Mary the New Ark of a New Covenant 

In this episode we look at Papal Infallibility and how it relates to Mary.  Beginning with our first Pope, Peter, there has been an unbroken succession of apostolic authority.  A dogma is declared infallible only when three criteria are met:  the pronouncement must be made by the lawful successor of Peter; the subject matter must be in the area of faith and morals; the pope must speak ex-cathedra, that is from the office and seat of Peter.  Papal infallibility has been invoked for only two dogmas of the Church:  the immaculate conception of Mary (Pius IX in 1854) and the bodily assumption of Mary (Pius XII in 1950).

We return to Luke 1 and the story of the Annunciation to Mary. When the angel declares to Mary that she will conceive and bear a son, she wonders how this could be since she had no relations with a man.  John Paull II explains her response by saying that Mary had the intention of forever being a virgin.  The angel replies by saying that Mary will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.  The Greek for overshadow is “episkiasei.”  This word is used only one other time in the New Testament in Matthew 17 when at the Transfiguration the when Jesus and the apostles were Moses and Elijah were overshadowed by a cloud from which the voice of God could be heard.  “Episkiasei” implies the divine true presence of God, and in the Old Testament, this word is only used in reference to the tent of the meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tabernacle, where the true presence of God was kept.  The Ark of the Covenant was powerful and could not be touched without dire consequences.   Just as the old Ark of the Covenant could not be touched, neither could the new Ark of the Covenant, Mary.  Mary was perpetually a virgin.  Like the Ark of the Covenant, Mary housed the true presence of God in her Womb.

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to:  www.seekingtruth.net

DC2 St. Hilary of Poitiers – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson Podcast

Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses the life, times and work of  St. Hilary of Poitiers

Born: 310 AD,
Died: May 2, 367 AD

For more on St. Hilary of Poitiers and his teachings

Hilary of Poitiers
– On the Councils, or the Faith of the Easterns
– On the Trinity
– Homilies on the Psalms

From Vatican.va, an excerpt from the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI  General Audience 2007:

To sum up the essentials of his doctrine, I would like to say that Hilary found the starting point for his theological reflection in baptismal faith. In De Trinitate, Hilary writes: Jesus St.-Hilary-1“has commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 28: 19), that is, in the confession of the Author, of the Only-Begotten One and of the Gift. The Author of all things is one alone, for one alone is God the Father, from whom all things proceed. And one alone is Our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist (cf. I Cor 8: 6), and one alone is the Spirit (cf. Eph 4: 4), a gift in all…. In nothing can be found to be lacking so great a fullness, in which the immensity in the Eternal One, the revelation in the Image, joy in the Gift, converge in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit” (De Trinitate 2, 1). God the Father, being wholly love, is able to communicate his divinity to his Son in its fullness. I find particularly beautiful the following formula of St Hilary: “God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others” (ibid., 9, 61).

For this reason the Son is fully God without any gaps or diminishment. “The One who comes from the perfect is perfect because he has all, he has given all” (ibid., 2, 8). Humanity finds salvation in Christ alone, Son of God and Son of man. In assuming our human nature, he has united himself with every man, “he has become the flesh of us all” (Tractatus super Psalmos 54, 9); “he took on himself the nature of all flesh and through it became true life, he has in himself the root of every vine shoot” (ibid., 51, 16). For this very reason the way to Christ is open to all – because he has drawn all into his being as a man -, even if personal conversion is always required: “Through the relationship with his flesh, access to Christ is open to all, on condition that they divest themselves of their former self (cf. Eph 4: 22), nailing it to the Cross (cf. Col 2: 14); provided we give up our former way of life and convert in order to be buried with him in his baptism, in view of life (cf. Col1: 12; Rom 6: 4)” (ibid., 91, 9).

Fidelity to God is a gift of his grace. Therefore, St Hilary asks, at the end of his Treatise on the Trinity, to be able to remain ever faithful to the baptismal faith. It is a feature of this book: reflection is transformed into prayer and prayer returns to reflection. The whole book is a dialogue with God.
I would like to end today’s Catechesis with one of these prayers, which thus becomes our prayer:
“Obtain, O Lord”, St Hilary recites with inspiration, “that I may keep ever faithful to what I have professed in the symbol of my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. That I may worship you, our Father, and with you, your Son; that I may deserve your Holy Spirit, who proceeds from you through your Only Begotten Son… Amen” (De Trinitate 12, 57).

For more visit Vatican.va

Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and senior contributor to EWTN News. For the past 20 years, he has been active in the area of Catholic social communications and education, including writing, editing, and teaching on a variety of topics related to Church history, the papacy, the saints, and Catholic culture. He is faculty chair at Catholic Distance University, a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and the author or co-author of over 50 books including The Encyclopedia of Catholic History, The Pope Encyclopedia, We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, The Saints Encyclopedia and best-selling biographies of St. Damien of Molokai and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Holy Family Sunday – Honoring Mother and Father – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff Podcast

Holy Family Sunday – Honoring Mother and Father

Msgr. Esseff discusses  honoring our parents (especially when it’s hard) – The reality of our society and the challenge – The wounds and the need for healing

Reading 1 SIR 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  He was ordained on May 30, 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA.  Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to St. Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.  

 

“The Fourth Sunday of Advent” – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff Podcast

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2018 – Love and Humility

Gospel LK 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  He was ordained on May 30, 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA.  Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to St. Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.  

 

HM-4 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker Podcast

Adrian-WalkerEpisode 4 – “A Handmaid of the Lord – Mary/Joseph, Mary/John” – “A Handmaid of the Lord”: The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we reflect on various aspects of Adrienne’s insight on the Mother of God as described in her book “A Handmaid of the Lord”. In part two of our conversation on the work, Dr. Walker reflects on the meaning of the “Mary and Joseph”and “Mary and John” relationships.  We explore Adrienne’s meditations and how she presents vocation and the “religious state” through the lens of Mary.

Mary and Joseph’s life together was wholly bound to the earthly way of life—the form human existence has had ever since man was driven out of Paradise. Their life was mutual service in housekeeping, breadwinning and everything involved in the toilsome and harsh scraping out of a life. But even this common labor had its focus in the divine Child, who threw open everything earthly and drew it into the eddy of his mission. Out of this breaking open there arose much later the new form of community between Mary and John, in which everything previous is translated into the supernatural and the spiritual. Now the whole fruitfulness of the community lies in the spirit; the fruit is therefore no longer visible and measurable. The material element certainly continues to exist in some way even in this community, but so secondarily that it is now only a prerequisite of the new community, not an essential component. Thus John, in his care for the Mother, is not to be regarded as Joseph’s successor. Mary has, of course, remained the same; she walks a straight path along which her assent develops. But community with John does not mean for her the continuation of the same task. The first time her assent had been used to fulfill a call to marriage; the second time it is shaped to the fulfillment of a call to the “religious life”.

von Speyr, Adrienne (2012-03-09). Handmaid of the Lord (Kindle Locations 1706-1730). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

For more episodes in this series visit Dr. Adrian Walker’s Discerning Hearts page

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth,” as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar,” a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.

 Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press

 

DC1 St. Athanasius of Alexandria – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom w/ Dr. Matthew Bunson Podcast

Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses the life, times and work of  St. Athanasius of Alexandria

Born: 296 AD, Alexandria, Egypt
Died: May 2, 373 AD, Alexandria, Egypt

For more on St. Athanasius of Alexandria and his teachings

Athanasius 

From Vatican.va, an excerpt from the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI  General Audience 2007:

Athanasius was undoubtedly one of the most important and revered early Church Fathers. But this great Saint was above all the impassioned theologian of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Word of God who – as the Prologue of the fourth Gospel says – “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1: 14).

For this very reason Athanasius was also the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy, which at that time threatened faith in Christ, reduced to a creature “halfway” between God and man, according to a recurring tendency in history which we also see manifested today in various forms.

In all likelihood Athanasius was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in about the year 300 A.D. He received a good education before becoming a deacon and secretary to the Bishop of Alexandria, the great Egyptian metropolis. As a close collaborator of his Bishop, the young cleric took part with him in the Council of Nicaea, the first Ecumenical Council, convoked by the Emperor Constantine in May 325 A.D. to ensure Church unity. The Nicene Fathers were thus able to address various issues and primarily the serious problem that had arisen a few years earlier from the preaching of the Alexandrian priest, Arius.

With his theory, Arius threatened authentic faith in Christ, declaring that the Logos was not a true God but a created God, a creature “halfway” between God and man who hence remained for ever inaccessible to us. The Bishops gathered in Nicaea responded by developing and establishing the “Symbol of faith” [“Creed”] which, completed later at the First Council of Constantinople, has endured in the traditions of various Christian denominations and in the liturgy as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

In this fundamental text – which expresses the faith of the undivided Church and which we also recite today, every Sunday, in the Eucharistic celebration – the Greek term homooúsiosis featured, in Latin consubstantialis: it means that the Son, the Logos, is “of the same substance” as the Father, he is God of God, he is his substance. Thus, the full divinity of the Son, which was denied by the Arians, was brought into the limelight.

For more visit Vatican.va

Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and senior contributor to EWTN News. For the past 20 years, he has been active in the area of Catholic social communications and education, including writing, editing, and teaching on a variety of topics related to Church history, the papacy, the saints and Catholic culture. He is faculty chair at Catholic Distance University, a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and the author or co-author of over 50 books including The Encyclopedia of Catholic History, The Pope Encyclopedia, We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, The Saints Encyclopedia and best-selling biographies of St. Damien of Molokai and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

IP-Special – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. – “God So Loved the World” on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor Podcast

EXPANDED SPECIAL EDITION

In our conversation with Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., we enter into “God So Loved the World: Clues to Our Transcendent Fr.-Robert-SpitzerDestiny from the Revelation of Jesus“, which is the third installment of his “Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence” series. Not only is Fr. Spitzer a brilliant theologian, but he has the heart of caring pastor who understands the needs of the questing minds of so many lost and wandering souls.  With an extraordinary grasp of philosophy, theology and cosmology, he is able to take complicated concepts and mix them with joy, beauty, and a grace-filled enthusiasm without doing damage to the subject matter.  In this volume, he addresses “What is LOVE”, “Who is LOVE”, and maybe in an even deeper way, “The why of LOVE”.  Of course we know, “God is Love”, but God as a Father?  God as a Son?  God as Holy Spirit?  How is the mind to grasp such penetrating Truth?  And more importantly, how is the heart to perceive this eternal divine mystery?

We were able to meet with Fr. Spitzer for this discussion at his offices located at the Magis Center in Garden Grove, CA.

God So Loved the WorldYou can find the book here

From the book description:

In this volume the brilliant Fr. Spitzer probes in detail the major question that if an intelligent Creator God – manifest in logical proofs, scientific evidence, and near death experiences – who is the source of our desire for the sacred, and the transcendental desires for truth, love, goodness, and beauty, would want to reveal himself to us personally and ultimately.

He then shows this is reasonable not only in light of our interior experience of a transcendent Reality, but also that a completely intelligent Reality is completely positive–implying its possession of a completely positive virtue – namely “love”, defined as agape.

This leads to the question whether God might be unconditionally loving, and if he is, whether he would want to make a personal appearance to us in a perfect act of empathy – face to face. After examining the rational evidence for this, he reviews all world religions to see if there is one that reveals such a God – an unconditionally loving God who would want to be with us in perfect empathy. This leads us to the extraordinary claim of Jesus Christ who taught that God is “Abba”, the unconditionally loving Father.

Jesus’ claims go further, saying that He is also unconditional love, and that his mission is to give us that love through an act of complete self-sacrifice. He also claims to be the exclusive Son of the Father, sent by God to save the world, and the one who possesses divine power and authority. The rest of the book does an in-depth examination of the evidence for Jesus’ unconditional love of sinners, his teachings, his miracles, and his rising from the dead. As well as the evidence for Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit that enabled his disciples to perform miracles in his name, and evidence for the presence of the Holy Spirit today.