Gifted Journey, Search for your meaning, transcend your limitations, partner with God, Dr. Joe Thannickal SDB, Pauline Publications, Mumbai, 2012. Pages: 152. Price: Rs. 100.
KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – At a time when the pathology of meaninglessness seems to afflict us, here is a book containing a psycho-spiritual approach to making meaning based on the life of Jesus.
Gifted Journey a book, by Salesian priest Dr Joe Thannickal president of the Salesian Psychological Association is a “veritable road map to consciousness expansion as we walk the path of life in pursuit of meaning that leads to spiritual growth – our own, as well as of those whose lives we touch in passing” (p.13).
The 152-page book has evolved out of over 30 years of teaching, learning and retreat ministry.
Divided into three parts, the first part entitled “experiences and meaning,” containing four chapters dwells on how meaning in life and spirituality can compliment each other.
The second part has three chapters called “prayer and meaning.” It tells how prayer actually imparts meaning into our lives.
Part three called “meaning and forgiveness” has one chapter showing how “forgiveness transforms experiences of conflict into gifts,” (p.17). It is followed by an epilogue entitled; Christ, the meaning of our lives.
The author warns of the dangers of reductionism and determinism, the two trends in thinking that could pose a threat to the effort to lead a meaningful life (p.27).
Banking heavily on the guru of Man’s Search for Meaning book Victor Frankl, the author does not hesitate to present meaningful encounters from the teachings and parables of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as illustrations from the lives of Don Bosco and Mother Teresa (p. 37f).
The author’s formator persona clarifies the often misconstrued meaning of the formation of candidates to religious life or priesthood. Formation, he says, is not about making candidates repeat what a founder had said or done. It is repeating the founder’s processing of God experience, so that, the new member’s God experience can be similarly processed and integrated into the charism and mission that the founder has handed own,” (p.47).
The author also presents an inclusive and accessible spirituality both for laity and religious, Christian or followers of other faiths by narrating the experience of a Buddhist girl who lost her Catholic boy friend in motorbike accident (p. 50).
The book though evolved from the author’s popular course entitled “Meaningful Living’ offered to clergy and religious inIndia and abroad, could very well serve as stimulant for a three day spiritual retreat even for lay people. Busy professionals could grapple with the unequal equations like: How does one respond with pardon and forgiveness in a highly competitive man eat man world? Or, how is it possible for us to effect the greater from the lesser? (p.147).
The four page epilogue throws new light into “Christ, the meaning of our lives.” A veritable catechesis of redemption through grace, the author points out how Jesus of Nazareth has impacted history with what he said and did expanding the meaning of the fundamental experiences of human life,” (p.145).
The book has two pages of bibliography as well as three pages of subject index.