This book of spiritual guidance is concerned with the way in which the spiritual life is “a path of paradox,” a deepening yearning for a God who insists on concealing himself. Following St. John of the Cross, Fr. Donald Haggerty writes that this concealment is not a mark of God’s abandonment but a means of purifying and increasing our love: “The flames of the soul’s desire for God are stoked in darkness.”

Haggerty, a former professor at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, offers his wisdom in aphoristic form, or what he calls “provocations.” Based on his contact with the Missionaries of Charity, he emphasizes the need for living a life of deep prayer while immersed in the world. Being a contemplative is not a matter of technique; instead, it means “carrying on a secret, intensifying exchange of self-giving with God.” Indeed, he emphasizes the Eucharist, service to the poor, self-gift, and self-­abandonment more than do other contemporary guides to the interior life. The contemplative life is one of love, beginning with self-donation to God and overflowing into self-donation to those around you.

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