Jacques PhilippeSometimes you have to face your own misery to begin to cry out to God".

The priest and author of spirituality was the speaker at the Omnes Forum "Do we need God?" held on Friday, November 24 in the Aula Magna of the Villanova University in Madrid.

Maria José Atienza-November 24, 2023-Reading time: 5 minutes
Jacques Philippe

Photo: Jacques Philippe ©Jose Luis Pindado

Jacques Philippe shared the evening of November 24 with more than two hundred people at the Omnes Forum "Do we need God?".

At the meeting, held at the Universidad Villanueva de Madrid and sponsored by Fundación Carf and Banco Sabadell, Philippe reflected on the absence of God which means the disappearance of hope and mercy or the need for a filial relationship with God for a full life of man today.

The Forum, which will be available on the Omnes YouTube channel in the near future and will be the focus of the Experiences section of the December 2023 print issue of Omnes, has raised enormous expectations.

Jacques Philippe is the author of numerous books on the spiritual life, including titles such as "Interior Freedom", "Time for God" and "The Spiritual Fatherhood of the Priest", among others.

Jacques Philippe
Image of the attendees to the Omnes Forum with Jacques Philippe at Villanueva University in Madrid ©J.L. Pindado

In our world there is an alternating paradox of an evident secularization and the rise of new spiritualities. Do you think it is easier to reach God through this "spiritualism" or, on the contrary, is it more confusing?

-There are many possible paths. I think there are people who are in atheism who may feel a vacuum because, somehow, man cannot do without spirituality. And maybe that emptiness will lead you to faith.

I have also known people who have gone through the new spiritualities first, because they were looking for meaning or there was something wrong in their life that they wanted to remedy and they touched here and there, and ended up ending up in the Church. I have met several like that. I don't have statistics, but I think that's how it is!

It is beautiful to see how different people's paths are: someone from a totally atheist family who becomes a believer or someone who is a Buddhist "to the last hair" who ends up meeting Christ....

There is talk of a world in crisis, a Church in crisis, a humanism in crisis, and reasons for hope?

-Yes, I think so. Because God is faithful. Sometimes man can abandon Him - which is what is happening today - but God does not abandon man. I believe that God will find a way to manifest Himself and draw hearts to Himself. He will find a way to propose Himself to all men.

It is not only the historical and sociological mechanisms, which of course have their importance and their part of truth, but deep down I believe that there is a design of God on man and on the universe. That is what gives me hope.

How can one, in a society marked by "noise" and deadlines, achieve the inner silence necessary to listen to God today?

Jacques Philippe at the Omnes Forum ©J. L. Pindado

-Today there are many people who also want something else, who want to return to nature, who feel the need for silence. A life that is not frenetic, but calmer, let's say. And we see it in all the newspapers.

Putting this into practice is not easy, because one cannot completely isolate oneself from the world. I think the most important thing is to find spaces in our heart. Some spaces of silence, of openness to God, peace. But this supposes to cut. We have to know how to cut off the cell phone, the television and take some time for recollection, even if it is in a little corner of your bedroom.

This is what Jesus says: "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you". It is clear. When we can bring people to the Gospel, to prayer, seeking Christ, it leads to a change in our life.

You are the author of a book on the spiritual paternity of the priest. In general, has our society, even in the Church, lost the concept of paternity?

-Yes and no. I think the subject is quite complex. It is true that nowadays there is a rejection of fatherhood, a rejection of God, fatherhood is accused of being abusive, the criticism against the "patriarchal society", the father is the "enemy to be beaten".

There are certain legitimate motives in this perhaps because the way authority is exercised in the world, and also in the Church at times has not been correct: it has not been respectful of human freedom, it has had too much power, too much influence on people who were not conducive to freedom that there is a reaction may be normal, the problem is that it is excessive.

In the face of this, it is necessary to remember what true fatherhood is. To return to the mystery of divine paternity and also, we need men who are the image of that divine paternity: humble, respectful, who lead to freedom and help people to be themselves and not to be someone who suffocates. It is necessary to turn to God, to promote true models of paternity and to find the sense of filiation.

In other words, I believe that there is a certain human pride that proclaims "I don't need anyone, I don't want to depend on anyone, I can save myself...". In addition to the above, we find then this human pride that is contrary to a filial attitude, of trust, of availability. All these are things that we must rectify.

I believe that it can be very helpful to return to the Gospel, to rediscover the fatherhood of God, not as man conceives it and projects it onto God, but God as he is, as he reveals himself in the parable of the Prodigal Son, for example. To rediscover the true image of God in the Gospel and also to recover a childlike, trusting heart. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our heart. The Holy Spirit who makes us say, "Go!Abba, Father!"who awakens trust in us, who heals us of fears and suspicions, who allows us to truly open ourselves to God.

I believe that the most profound solutions are of a spiritual order. There are things that can be done on a psychological and social level, some changes in society in the Church... But the basic issue is to reencounter the mystery of the living God and to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. A new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the world, a new Pentecost, where we find ourselves now in a certain way.

The Church is not a human institution, it is God communicating.

Jacques Philippe. Spirituality author

Do you really believe that we are in an outpouring of the Spirit when, for many, the Church is mortally wounded?

-The Church has always been in crisis. It has never been a stable institution. It almost died a hundred times. But the Church is not a human institution, it is God communicating himself. The mystery of Christ communicating himself to the world.

The Church always has to purify and reform itself and I believe that this is what is happening. There is suffering, there is questioning, but I believe that we also see the Holy Spirit at work who does not abandon his Church.

I see many signs of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the last few years there have been very important spiritual renewals: the Charismatic Renewaland also a Marian renewal, so many people to whom it comes Medjugorjefor example. Perhaps it is not a mass phenomenon, but there are many places where the presence of the Spirit can be experienced, where there is a renewal of hearts and healing of the wounds of the spirit.

I believe that this reality will be amplified. Perhaps through suffering, sometimes it is necessary to hit rock bottom in order to get back up again. Sometimes, people have to face their own misery, their own radical impotence, so that they begin to cry out to God.

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