A Tour deForce on
the Role of the Holy Spirit
A Review of Fire of Love: Encountering the Holy Spirit by Donald J.
Goergen, OP (Paulist
Press, 2006), 226 pages, $19.95, ISBN 0-8091-4408-5.
review by Pat Walter, OP, Aquinas Institute
This book is a tour de force: a complex,
carefully nuanced yet very readable presentation of the role of
the Holy Spirit, developed in continuity with traditions both West
and East, Catholic and Orthodox. Goergen’s treatment of the
theology of the Spirit moves from the depths of the human person
to the future of the cosmos, showing the effects of the presence
of the Spirit internally and externally.
Various chapters address, both synthetically and
creatively, the person of the Spirit as presented in Scripture;
the relationship between the Spirit and Jesus; the Spirit and the
church; the role of the Spirit in the evolution of the cosmos. The
range of authors Goergen engages in developing his thought is fascinating.
Among them are: St. Paul, Eckhart, Tauler, Catherine of Siena, Aquinas,
Teilhard de Chardin, Abhishiktananda, John Paul II, Gregory Palamas
and Symeon the New Theologian.
Goergen’s treatment of the gifts of the Holy
Spirit is at once both traditional and fresh. He does not avoid
dealing with such debated questions as Spirit Christology, the language
used for God, and the relationship between diverse religions and
Beginning his chapter on the quest for the true self
with a discussion of Atman was a bit confusing; it seemed to this
reviewer as though the less familiar was being used to explain the
more familiar. By far the loveliest passages in the book are the
author’s prayers to the Holy Spirit at the end of almost every
Fire of Love would serve well as a basis for prayer
and reflection, in company with Altogether Gift, Michael Downey’s
book on Trinitarian spirituality. It could certainly also be used
as a test for undergraduate or graduate theology courses or for
adult study groups.
Patricia Walter, OP
Aquinas Institute of Theology