Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holding on to Hope.

Before reviewing this book, I have to make a full disclosure: I have not actively done the exercises in it. I have read it, but not done it. And this is definitely a book that was written to be worked through, to be actively engaged. Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, is the author of Surviving Depression and now brings us Holding on to Hope: The Journey Beyond Darkness. She intends this book as a sort of sequel or "something more" than her first. Holding onto Hope is for those who have survived depression and now are at a place in their lives when they are ready to be healed.

First, the good news. Sr. Kathryn's use of Scripture and her obvious love for the prophets and patriarchs is beautiful. Her choice of texts and some of her more personal stories are touching and really can give comfort and hope.

But the over-riding vocabulary of the book smacks often of contemporary psycho-babble. It is "therapy speak," with lots of dream-symbolism, discerning our "true feelings," and self-limitation and self-conceiving. I don't think it ever crosses the line and stands against the faith, but the packaging of her otherwise much-needed message of hope just turns me off.

The exercises provided by co-author Sr. Helene Cote, PM, are kind of silly. I'm not a licensed "inner healer," and these guided meditations may provide some real peace to some people. But I'd rather stick to a more traditional Scriptural meditation that does not include unScriptural "guided imagining."

On a happier note, it looks like Sr. Helene had nothing to do with Surviving Depression, so I might give that a gander. I also found an interesting recourse on Christian cognitive therapy over at Eighth Day Books; it looks a little more promising. I'll stick to Scripture and the Fathers for now.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company, and the reviewer received a free copy of the text in exchange for her opinion. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Holding on to Hope. They also have great resources on and copies of icons.

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