Cry of Wonder
Gerard W. Hughes
GERARD HUGHES, a Jesuit priest and ecumenist, belongs to a
remark-able flowering of spiritual wisdom in Britain during the
second part of the 20th century. He stands alongside Michael Mayne
and Eric James in the Church of England, together with Anthony
Bloom and J. Neville Ward from Orthodox and Methodist
We are enriched by publication of the writing of such people,
sages and prophets in their different ways. Each is grounded in
learning and human experience, and each articulates a tenaciously
held Christian faith.
Hughes is, perhaps, best known for God of Surprises,
published in 1985 as an account of his own formation in the
Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, and of how, over time,
that discipline enabled him to be more fully alive. It is
remarkable that a lifelong pilgrimage began with profound
restlessness under the yoke of pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism,
and kept him searching for the God who always exceeded his
Cry of Wonder is part spiritual autobiography, part
manifesto for a renewed and reformed Roman Catholic Church. Some of
the material here will be familiar to those who have enjoyed
Hughes's previous books. The chapters are generally fairly short,
and they conclude, in Ignatian style, with an exercise for the
individual reader to undertake, by way of reflection.
As with any large collection of material, it is not always easy
to follow the threads of an overall theme or argument. In this
collection, Hughes arranges his 22 chapters under three headings:
unity, peace, and holiness.
The section on unity is the longest. It reads as the struggle
for unity of purpose and identity which Hughes was seeking in his
own life as a Christian. The rigidity of his Jesuit formation, and
his immersion in the classical languages of Greek and Latin, mark
his writing style. But in the revisiting of his experiences as a
teacher, chaplain, and spiritual guide, a quest for coherence and
beauty in God's creation is also clearly heard.
The shorter sections on peace and holiness continue in a similar
vein. One senses that by this stage the battleground for
self-understanding has been marked out as an arena in which
surprise and disappointment become familiar encounters.
What I value most about this book is its very Jesuit character.
It calls for an unflinching attention to Jesus Christ, who makes
possible the "putting together [of] our disconnected selves, torn
apart by our conflicting desires, which do violence to ourselves
and to those around us".
As a result, Hughes is, refreshingly, not much interested in the
edifice of the Church as an institution, except in so far as it
provokes and sustains in us the delight of finding God in all
Dr Martin Warner is the Bishop of Chichester.