Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

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"Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion," by Gregory Boyle was recommended by Rich Harter, now Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as a St. Dominic Book Club selection years ago. It remains one of my favorite books.

Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world, since 1988. In "Tattoos on the Heart", he describes his experience working in the ghetto through a series of moving parables inspired by faith.

Shared with humor and generosity of heart, he offers a window into how the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally is possible. We learn different lessons from each character: how to feel worthy of God's love, the importance of being present to others and in being known, and that patience with others, has it rewards.

It's a book about redemption, compassion, and the power of unconditional love. Highly recommended for those who are looking to go deeper into the Works of Mercy.

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

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The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming," by Henri Nouwen was a Book Club selection that made an impact on many in our group. Each of the story's characters were revealed in such a way that you come to identify with each of them individually; the father, the older son, and the returning son. The book opened up this parable for me in ways never before explored.

"A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.

In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt's depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son's return, the father's restoration of sonship, the elder son's vengefulness, and the father's compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes a powerful drama of the parable in a rich, captivating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times.

"The Return of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful book, as beautiful in the simple clarity of its wisdom as in the terrible beauty of the transformation to which it calls us." --New Oxford Review

in Prayer

Our Father: Reflections on the Lord's Prayer

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Father. Without saying this word, without taking it to heart, we cannot pray.

To whom do I pray? Almighty God? Too far away. I cannot feel that he is near. Even Jesus did not refer to God as “the Almighty God.”

To whom do I pray? The cosmic God? That is fashionable these days, praying to the cosmic God. But that is nothing but a polytheistic idea of who God is, typified by a lite culture.

To whom do we pray? No, not am Almighty God or a cosmic God, but a… Father. We have to pray to the Father! It is a powerful word, “father.”

We have to pray to the one who has begotten us, the one who has given us life. He has given life to everyone of course, but “everyone” is too anonymous. He has given life to you. He has given life to me.

He is also the one who accompanies us on our journey. He knows our whole lives, the good and the not-so-good.

If we do not begin our prayer with this word, spoken not with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray as Christians.