Monday, June 24, 2013

The Catholic Company Book Review: He and I

by Gabrielle Bossis
translated and condensed by Evelyn M. Brown

This book contains the journal entries of Ms. Bossis, a Frenchwoman who purportedly heard the voice of Jesus speaking to her repeatedly over the course of many years. Her voice usually gives little more than a place or time ("Holy Hour"), with the words of Jesus filling pages.

The book carries an Imprimatur (1969), indicating there is nothing within it that contradicts the faith, but it is a personal revelation and therefore no Catholic is required to believe either that Jesus spoke to Ms. Bossis or that these were His words. The more I thought about it, the more I became open to the possibility that Jesus really did speak to Ms. Bossis.

In the Preface, the translator writes:
If we can admit that Christ does speak in the soul, can we deny the possibility of a voice or at least of the impression of a voice? Gabrielle herself had doubts. The reply to one of them reveals her own suspicions: "And if these words do come from your own human nature, didn't I create that nature?"
If I believe one of the goals of prayer is to become still enough to hear the voice of God in our souls (and I do), then I should be pleased to read the results of one woman's dedicated prayer life. Ms. Bossis was not a contemplative nun; she was a woman out in the world, struggling through the war and keeping busy each day but always turning to Christ and carving time out of her schedule for regular Holy hours, hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
"When you tidy your house, think that it is Mine and you will make it more beautiful. When you prepare your meals think that it is to honor Me. And when you rest your body, think that it is My body, My friend; and this is the reality, since all that you have is first Mine, isn't it?" (October 24, 1940)
In the journal entries are repeated encouragements and professions of great Love. The voice of Jesus guides Gabrielle Bossis in her daily life.
"The all-important thing is that you mean to imitate Me. You see you must continually purify your intention. Hold it up to Me like a little sanctuary lamp. Oh, this love-will to always please Me, to keep Me company, to comfort Me!
"Just now you offered Me one of the first violets saying, 'Perhaps no one has thought of giving you any today.' It was just a trifle, yet it was much to Me, for I am kept in the background on earth. I, the King of Heaven!" (March 16, 1944)
One of the amazing things apparent in the book is Ms. Bossis's continued struggles. Even a woman who hears the voice of Jesus still finds herself distracted at Mass or grumpy with her neighbors. Regular prayer can help us identify those areas in which we struggle and, hopefully, improve them, but it is a difficult journey.

This is my favorite quote in the entire book:
"If you want to gain strength to make a sacrifice, don't look at the sacrifice. Look at My joy." (February 14, 1947)
 When contemplating the response to Lui et moi, as published during her lifetime, the voice says:
"Do you know what we're doing in writing these pages? We're removing the false idea that this intimate life of the soul is possible only for the religious in the cloister. In reality My secret and tender love is for every human being living in the world. there is not one who does not have a mysterious yearning for it. And how true it is that each one wants to see someone live My love so that he may discover the means of reaching Me." (January 12, 1950)
As she lay ill, near the end of her life:
"So be filled with joy at the thought of approaching it, as you were in the airplane when you asked, 'Shall we be arriving soon?' And someone said, 'Keep on looking at the horizon and you'll be able to tell when the plane is about to land.' And if some of your dear ones were waiting for you, your heart leapt with joy. My child, the one who is waiting for you is your Creator and Savior. Go gaily to meet Him as if you were going to a festival. Lovingly prepare your 'going away' costume, the one ornamented with the jewels you have received from Him. And besides this, borrow the radiant colors--your heavenly mother's and your beloved's raiment. You must take the habit of adorning yourself in them every day. They are holding them out to you because they want to see their own beauty in you. Give them your humble smile, the smile of a child happy to be going home." (March 16, 1950)
What a beautiful way to envision death and our union with God.

More than anything, I was attracted to the relationship Ms. Bossis developed with our Lord and Jesus. The hours she spent in adoration allowed her to hear a voice, a voice that encouraged her to do even more for the Lord. The specific words Ms. Bossis recorded were spoken to her, to her spirit and relationships (though she was directed to publish them). I was encouraged in my own prayer life, eager to begin to develop the kind of inner peace and stillness that allows Jesus and the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I've always felt this is an area in which I fail repeatedly and was pleased to feel so encouraged by reading this book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on He and I. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.



2 comments:

  1. I think this one may have been on my "short list" last time I made a request. I am really enjoying the CC review program.

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    Replies
    1. Monica, as of this morning, there were still copies available. I requested another one on prayer.

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