Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace

Article excerpt

Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace. By Nora Gallagher. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 217 pp. $23.00 (cloth).

"Discernment" is a vital yet difficult topic for most Christians to address whether personally, spiritually, theologically, socially, or institutionally. Nora Gallagher accomplishes this mission and much more. This memoir, the account of a few searching years in her life, makes compelling reading for those interested in religious vocation as well as for those longing for deeper meaning and purpose in their own lives.

In this continuation of her spiritual journey, first chronicled in Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, Gallagher relentlessly pursues the signs of a "call." Along the way she follows a path which is much deeper than that typically described by ecclesial authorities as the discernment "process" for ordination, although this too is a direction she explores. She faces the complex and subtly interwoven threads of growing and loving relationship with God, with her husband, and with the church. She steps tenderly yet powerfully through tough and ordinary times. She excels at the glimpsed epiphanies of everyday living. The supposedly more harrowing moments oi institutional decision-making are poised on a balanced plumb line of discernment.

Those acquainted with vocational struggles in the church will find themselves reviewing their own experience. Good friends and relatives, seminarians, and experienced pastors alike will discover wisdom in this volume for their own reflection. …