Book Review – Achieving Peace of Heart by Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J.



Achieving Peace of Heart
This is a wonderful book and one we have read more than once. It is one of our favorites. Here is an excellent review from Amazon:

Attain spiritual and emotional calm amid suffering, anxiety, or daily trials.

Celebrated Jesuit provides a detailed plan for every kind of challenge to internal peace. Fr. Narciso Irala, SJ, summarized the keys to a productive spiritual life:

1. Understand how to cope with, and then conquer, your own imperfections;

2. See that difficulties posed by life— sometimes by family and friends— can cause flawed responses (often that no one except you can identify);

3. These can generally be overcome by “re-training” your mind, your feelings, and your will.

The great, late Jesuit devotes entire chapters to learning:

  • How to rest
  • How to think freely, without fear and anxiety
  • How to put your will to use when “corners” of it have not been active enough
  • How to fully control feelings
  • How to be happy
  • How to “choose an ideal”
  • How to train the sexual instinctFr. Irala, whose book appeared in several languages 50 years ago and was a staple for Catholic pastors of souls and counselors, provides hundreds of specific guidelines for countless commonplace personal issues encountered, at one stage of life or another, by most of us. Examples:
  • Four causes of persistent distraction
  • Moving from imperfect mastery of flaws to real control
  • Ascertaining your maximum concentration period (essential for planning to conquer other internal troubles, if any)
  • How to banish little obsessions
  • Aids to insomnia (if caused by anxiety)
  • How to identify, then diminish the intensity of a foolish idea or emotion
  • How to keep from any possible episodes of letting the mind wander fruitlessly
  • Truly “resting while asleep”
  • The best use of memory
  • Common mistakes of those seeking fuller internal control
  • “Eliminating the annoyance of noise”
  • False “feelings of fatigue”
  • “Mental wandering” and its role in harming prayer life
  • On the other hand, why it takes “practice” to pray well
  • Why genuine and useful self-criticism can be brief
  • Practical exercises of the mind that strengthen the ability to focus
  • Combating scruples: a detailed plan
  • Measuring “the intensity” of your ideas
  • Practicing “singleness of thought”
  • Why and how to combat pessimism
  • The importance of “fostering joy”
  • The art of affective prayer (and the satisfying benefits)
  • The long arm of the inferiority complex and how to vanquish it
  • All about social discomfort and its cure
  • Eight positive, practical rules of life

A masterful guide, to give us support and comfort:

“In the first place, this book is for those who are fatigued from excessive work, worries or sufferings. Possibly they may have lost control of their thoughts and so will not know how to rest or sleep peacefully; or they may be unable to control their fears or sadness. The first part of the book is intended especially for this group. Secondly, we are writing for those who are healthy of mind but wish greater efficiency in studies or business, greater energy and constancy in carrying out plans, greater control of feelings or instincts, more joy, satisfaction and interior happiness. These will find useful and practical advice…. Further, it is for educators and directors of souls who meet up with problem cases regarding study or virtue.”
“If something makes too much of an impression on us we can be sure that we give it a greater importance than it has. This will depend on our bodily weakness, previous education, or lack of rational reaction against the feeling or instinct. But if we go to the very bottom of an emotional disturbance we shall find in it a departure from reality. This can happen in three ways….”
“Do away with useless confidences which are born of emotionalism or impulse. Never recount to any person you meet…what you suffer or fear, desire or plan. This might give you some momentary consolation but the sad ideas will impress you more in the telling and make you more their slave. If you tell them to your friends you make them sad, if to your enemies you make them glad.“

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Many more book suggestions available on My Book List!


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