The Jesuit theologian Gerald O'Collins has authored or co-authored over seventy books. He taught for more than thirty years at that flagship of theology, the Gregorian University in Rome. His students have become professors in universities, colleges and seminaries around the world.
A number of his books have become standard texts used by Anglicans and Protestants, as well as Catholics. Many of his books have been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and other foreign languages.
So what is he doing by publishing Moments of Grace - thirty-three chapters that shape prayer which draws on the four Gospels, the letters of Paul, and other books of the Bible?
O'Collins is convinced that merely academic theology is not enough. He thinks he should play a part, along with other professional theologians, in providing spiritual hearing aids. God speaks to us through the Scriptures. But we don't always listen to God. We need help to let the inspired books become inspiring for us. Moments of Grace aims at breaking open the Scriptures and letting the Holy Spirit speak to us as the living Word of God.
This book opens up ways of listening to the inspired Scriptures. It can make it possible to hear some passage and feel, 'these words have my name on them.'
Pope Gregory the Great said that Sacred Scriptures are like waters in which lambs may walk and elephants can swim. In other words, there is something there for everybody: for little lambs and mighty elephants. Whether we feel like lambs or elephants, we can all relate to the Scriptures and draw from them refreshment and life.
We receive life-giving force by letting the vivid language and images of the Bible confront us and set prayer going. The Word of God continues to be uniquely inspiring and spiritually energizingheart-warming and soul-warming.
O'Collins reminds us of that old blessing which Jewish priests used in the Temple: 'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you' (Numbers 6: 24-25). O'Collins presses on to note how the face of every human being can shine and become radiant. That happened long ago in Bethlehem. The face of a tiny child shone upon his parents and those who came to honour him. It was the Lord making his face shine upon us. The radiant face of the tiny baby in Mary's arms was nothing less than the shining, human face of God.
This is simply one example of how Moments of Gracebrings out the Spirit-filled light and power that the Scriptures embody. The book invites busy people to take time out of their heavy schedules and give themselves to prayer inspired by the Scriptures.
Precisely crafted and vividly illustrated, this book sets prayer going. May it prompt many readers into truly listening to the word of God, taking it to heart, and constantly acting on it.
Gerald O' Collins
Moments of Grace is available to order now £11.99