Holding On To Hope by Sister Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP-A Book Review
I have been a fan of Sister Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, ever since I read her books Surviving Depression and Making Peace with Yourself. Her words in these books brought me comfort and a sense of community in my darkness, helping me to realize that depression can happen to anybody, but it doesn’t have to define who we are or lead to restrictions in our lives.
In Holding on to Hope I found the same sense of comfort and support that I have come to acquaint with Sr. Hermes. The book is set up with sections on images, scripture, reflection questions, contemplative exercises, resting and inner healing exercises (written by Sr. Helene Cote, PM, MTS.) Throughout each chapter, the reader is lead into a spiritual healing experience based on the life of Christ.
Some passages that I found to be especially helpful for me were those that dealt with the realization that God is always present, holding us as we heal, and supporting us in those moments when we fall back into darkness, such as:
“This is the way it is. We cannot escape the waves of consolation and desolation that wash through our souls…we need to be able to dip back into the darkness here and there with graciousness and without fear in order to learn to relax there, where God is also present.” (p. 74)
But perhaps, the most hopeful and helpful section of all was Appendix Two: A Process for Putting on Christ in Seven Stages. This section dealt with the letters of St. Paul that show his transformation as he “put on Christ.” We, too, are called to put on Christ and can accomplish this by following the example of this great saint. I plan to follow Sr. Hermes’ lead here by praying with her hopeful and serene words: “I want only Jesus, not my perfection or security or happiness. Knowing Jesus is more important to me than any of this. To share His sufferings is my greatest joy because I know He will let me share His resurrection.” (p. 142)
As a wife and mother who has fallen in and out of depression many times in the past few years, I found that Sr. Hermes book, Holding on to Hope, will be a great resource for me to use whenever life becomes difficult and despair seems so near. In those dark times, I will reach for this book and hold on to hope.
Many thanks to Sally Feller at Pauline Books and Media for this opportunity to review Holding on to Hope.
Review also found on Catholicmom.com (visit this link to order the book and support Catholicmom.com)