The wisdom of feelings
Messenger Publications have just published two books on the wisdom of affectivity as readers begin to transition from late spring to early summer. One author, a Flemish Jesuit and internet pastor, provides a step-by-step process to a better understanding of themselves and the choices they are called to make. Another author, an international speaker, draws on his own experiences and leading experts to offer a resource that will help bring comfort and consolation to those who have lost a loved one.
Trust Your Feelings: Learning how to make choices with Ignatius of Loyola » by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ addresses the Jesuit wisdom of decision-making in a concrete and practical approach. St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, is considered by many to be an expert in discernment and his systematic approach balances heart, intelligence and will. The Flemish Jesuit uses the basis of Ignatian discernment to explain and illustrate with specific examples how the process and practice of discernment can help people learn to trust their own feelings in order to make informed, reflective decisions.
Fr Sintobin refers to a scenario in discerning the role of the heart. He writes:
“Laura often feels lonely. Recently, she installed the dating app Tinder on her smartphone. Her friends assure Laura that it will change her life. Laura now has one-night stands from time to time… When her one-night stand leaves her in the morning, she feels miserable. Afterwards, it takes her several days to regain her equilibrium.”
Although based on Catholic theology, Trust Your Feelings is written for a broad audience, with the discernment process applicable to those of all faiths and none. The book opens with a general overview of the practice and goes on to demonstrate how discernment can be used in everyday life, with 10 emotionally charged situations such as the example above.
The author appeals to readers who are used to navigating pages on the internet with short, snappy reflections and modern, black and white graphics throughout the book. It briefly discusses discernment in a community setting and concludes with a reflection on discernment as a way of life.
To Bring Comfort and Consolation: Bereavement Ministry » by Paddy Shannon provides a reservoir of information, background, reflections, readings and prayers to assist in the preparation of a dignified funeral liturgy. It draws on Christian traditions, rituals and practices around bereavement that has real meaning for the bereaved family. The five sections of the book cover the human experience of grief; the liturgy of mourning; grief in the scriptures; suggested reading, reflections and prayers; and a selection of prose, poems and prayers.
Referring to numbness as a phase of grief, Paddy Shannon states:
“That numbing of the senses experienced when a death occurs, even when expected, is often hard to put into words. In some ways I describe it as nature’s anaesthetic.
“It enables us to cope with some of the practicalities that inevitably have to be faced. Indeed, sometimes people say how well the bereaved person coped, how strong they were, when often it was numbness rather than strength that saw them through.”
According to The Irish Catholic, “The book is rich in advice, in extracts, and readings, many of which will be new or unfamiliar. This is the kind of book which every parish, and every community, can learn from”.
The author has brought together material and resources for those involved in bereavement ministry to assist them in providing spiritual support and ceremonies for mourners today. He demonstrates how Church liturgies and scripture readings can have a deep relevance and bring comfort in the contemporary world.