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The Heart of Hope, Michael Downey, # 43075

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By Michael Downey

“Absorb this book and your heart will surely be awakened to the Spirit of Hope.”
Peter Phan
Professor of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University

When Michael Downey accompanied a recently ordained, former seminary student to Vietnam in 2004 to celebrate Tet, the lunar New Year, he was carrying a deep tiredness. His heart was heavy. But he discovered that his heart could fall in love again, more deeply than ever. “Not with another,” he reports, “but with a people and a land.”

Traveling through Vietnam, his 35-year-old mental pictures of war with a cruel and godless enemy—reinforced by newspapers and TV reports during his teens—were replaced by fragrant flowers, bustling open-air markets, leisurely chats over spicy meals, and festive home altars for ancestor veneration.

Above all, Dr. Downey was struck by the Vietnamese way of life-ing—the sheer aliveness pulsating in the hearts of these golden people who have suffered prolonged civil wars and domination by foreign powers.

The first part of the book provides a profoundly moving account of the author’s personal transformation brought on by his encounter with “the other,” the people and the land of Vietnam.

In part two, he reflects on images that emerged from his experience in Vietnam—images that embody the essence of the Christian spiritual life: Humility, reverence, connectedness, contemplation, gratitude, faith, forgiveness, prayer, suffering and, most of all, hope.

“A penetrating gaze into the very heart and soul of a people branded by suffering…yet buoyed up by unwavering hope.”
--Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Phan Minh Man, Archbishop of Saigon

“This book is like an iconostasis, one of those shimmering golden screens decorated with icons that you see in Eastern Orthodox churches. At the center is the story of my journey to Vietnam. The eleven image reflections in part two of the book spring from that center. Each reflection can stand on its own, just as each of the panels of an iconostasis can stand by itself, telling its own story. But as the different icons of an iconostasis bring your eye back to the center, each reflection brings you back to the heart of the book. It’s as if the various dimensions of the spiritual life “shimmer” from the image reflections springing from and inviting you back into the mystery at the center.”
-–Dr. Michael Downey

Michael Downey is the Cardinal’s Theologian for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Professor of Systematic Theology and Spirituality and St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo. With a Master of Arts in special education as well as theology he was the first layperson to receive the Ph.D. in theology from The Catholic University of America.

Dr. Downey has lectured in the United States, Canada, France, Ireland, Britain, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. He is the founding North American editor of Spirituality of the award-winning New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality. Author or editor of more than 20 books, his essays, articles and book chapters number in the dozens. His recent publications include Hope Begins Where Hope Begins (1998), which received a Catholic Press Association Award; Altogether Gift: A Trinitarian Spirituality (2000); and The Cathedral: At the Heart of Los Angeles (2003).

As an Irish Catholic schoolboy in urban Philadelphia, Michael Downey dreamed of being a missionary in a far-off place like Vietna

Hardcover / 192 pages / Dimensions: 5” x 7 1/4”
The Heart of Hope, Michael Downey, # 43075

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