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OP Book Review

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 salvation.

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 chapter.

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

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