Friends in the Lord, Exploring Consecrated Discipleship is one book that deserves unhurried and meditative reading.
The author, Father Thomas Feeley, CSC, has a long experience directing retreats for many religious communities in North America, Europe and the Near East, and is currently vice-postulator for the cause of Father Patrick Peyton, CSC. He is also the director of evangelization for the Family Rosary in Albany, New York.
A summary in the back cover reads: “What does it mean to be friends with Jesus? In this volume, Fr Thomas Feeley explores the life of discipleship from a perspective of friendship, both with the Lord and with others. Friends carry one another’s burden and offer support in difficult times. It is in this context that consecrated life is viewed through the lens of love. Everything then takes on a new dimension: from the vows, to life in community, to ministry.”
Friends in the Lord is woven around the idea of holiness, a word which appears repeatedly, from the beginning to the end, and the means that make it possible: prayer, Scripture, Sacraments. Hence, even if it is written with the consecrated life in mind, it likewise makes good spiritual reading for diocesan priests, as well as for lay people engaged in different kinds of apostolate.
Father Feeley bases his discussion solidly on the Sacred Scripture. At the end of each chapter, he includes a portion for reflection, also Scripture-based, and a short guide to examination of conscience.
The first four chapters of the book dwell on charity, the next two on holiness. Chapter 7 speaks about the role of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the struggle for holiness. Father Feeley then speaks about the ideals of poverty, chastity, and obedience from chapters 8 to 15. Always viewing these vows from the supernatural viewpoint, the author does not hide the difficulties that one finds in living these virtues, and offers ways of facing and overcoming obstacles.
Readers will also find inspiring and practical ideas on prayer in Chapters 16 and 17. The author highlights the key role of the Holy Eucharist in one’s life, the love of which leads to apostolic zeal (Chapter 19). Chapter 20 is a reminder of the key motive for apostolic work: God’s glory. The next chapter is a reminder of the prize that our Lord has set aside for those who abide in his friendship. The book is crowned with the chapter on the Blessed Virgin, our Mother.
Friends in the Lord is available at the Saint Paul’s Bookshop near the Cathedral.