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Running Into the Arms of God: Patrcick Hannon CSC... Available in Australia from John Garratt Publishing RRP $26.95 - PLUS 10% discount to Online Catholics readers until 31/8/06. For details call John Garratt Publishing & Bookroom toll-free 1300 650 878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Patrick Hannon CSC
ISBN 0-87946-292-2 pb 128 pages
Reviewed by Terry Monagle, writer and speaker
Patrick Hannon has the hunger and humility to look for God everywhere, and what’s more he finds what he is looking for as well as and of us are likely to. In these stories he is trying to show us what he has found.
He is immersed in life, moves in it with a prayerful openness. He reads the scriptures that happen around him. He moves into theological exegesis of the stories. When he does, I stand receptive, listening to the explication. Since the narrative has gripped me I am open to be opened by his exegesis because I have become convinced by the groundedness and honesty of his narratives.
He recounts how he took a group of teenage male American students to a rock 7 miles off the Dingle Peninsula in the west of Ireland. Most of the boys grumbled and hoped there would be a McDonalds Restaurant on the top of the isolated rocky island. However one of the boys, found himself in the 1400 year old abandoned monastery which exemplifies the beehive stone constructions.
He told Hannon later: ‘I was in the room that was the monks’ chapel. I don’t know what it was, but something just came over me. I realized I had gotten really far away from God, that I had chosen to walk away from him. I don’t even remember the last time I’ve been to Sunday Mass. Father, right there in the chapel, I just started to cry. The distance just seemed too great. And so I prayed to God and said: ‘Find me’. I don’t know what happened, but I felt something deep inside, like God actually heard me’.
Hannon suggests that his collection of non-fiction stories can all be distilled down to this to a simple prayer of heartfelt hunger: Find me.
To establish his theological perspective he quotes Irish writer Patrick Kavanangh who said in his poem The Great Hunger, that God is in the bits and pieces of Everyday, a kiss here and a laugh and tears.
Hannon refers to those ‘crazy Irish monks’ on Skellig Island. They chose such privation and prayed in those rocks eight times, the office, every single day they lived there. There are eight sections in the book each chosen to match one of those eight prayers.
So we get a section called Lauds: Five in the Morning/Praise. And the three stories attached to it are Making Donuts, Brothers, The City Prays.
And so on through the prayers of the Divine Office till the day and the book finishes with Compline: Nine in the Evening/Completion. And the attached stories are Whittling the Legs Down, One Pitcher, One Batter, One Second in Kane County Illinois, and The Last Word.
The stories are enmeshed in family, on the streets, in friendship, in church. They are concerned will all those moments of accidental profound communion with which our paths are strewn, if we are open to their happening.
The assured and measured profundity of Hannon’s writing is reinforced in a concluding paragraph where he explores the notion of prayer as metaphor.
‘Prayer is a powerful, mysterious thing; it connects and reconnects the human with the divine and the divine with the human. It transcends time and space. Words to explain it or describe it must always in the end fail, for in the end words always get in the way. And so- quietly, silently, hopefully, - we cling to the faithful notion that God is there somewhere, listening to us and speaking to us. And so pray we do, pray we must – mostly without uttering a single solitary syllable. Aiming a flashlight in the dark, a secret garden, a private chat room with God, surgery, scoring a touchdown in football, building a fire – when you look at it that way, apparently all we do in life is pray. God will have it no other way.’
Hannon writes from within this mystery.
His stories enable to stand with him looking into those things illuminated by his torch.
And what’s more this is quite an attractive book. The soft blue print is generously spaced. It’s nice to hold and flick the pages.
Reviewed by Terry Monagle
John Garratt Bookroom
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