Saturday, April 16, 2011

Holding on to Hope: The Journey Beyond Darkness

Usually, I read a book once, then move on to the next one, but Holding on to Hope by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, definitely warrants more than one read-through. There are a number of guided meditations on various Scripture passages that the reader is invited to consider, put him/herself into, and listen to what Jesus has to say to you in that particular situation.
In addition to expounding upon the struggles she has faced dealing with mental illness, the author makes practical suggestions for how to structure life in order so healing is most likely to occur. She makes recommendations for different types of imagery and meditations as ways of envisioning ourselves in a Scripture reading, close to Jesus, open to what He would like to tell and show us at this point in our journey with and towards the Lord.
One thing I love about this book is that Hermes is quite candid in her accounts of her struggles with mental illness and how they have impacted her faith. She draws clear connections among the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering she’s endured, and how each has helped her grow closer to Christ. Through her vulnerability and honesty, Hermes shows that God keeps working on us, continues always to draw us closer, and to open us up to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Transformation is approached and discussed as an ongoing process essential to the Christian life. Ongoing metanoia is emphasized as an essential part of growing in God’s love, accepting His mercy and forgiveness, and extending His compassion to others.
Kathryn Hermes never claims to have things all figured out. She shares the failures and triumphs of her continuing journey and imparts the wisdom that she has learned over the years in a way that is humble and clearly coming forth from a woman who is in the trenches—not someone who is waxing philosophic about a difficult period in her life that has long since passed.
It is her openness to ongoing healing, her receptivity to God’s plan being one of ongoing transformation, and her personal experience with bipolar disorder and depression that make this book a comforting companion on the journey towards God that is, at times, shrouded in darkness.
I highly recommend anyone suffering from mental illness and all who care for and about those who are suffering read Holding on to Hope.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Holding on to Hope. They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.
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