God at the heart of our lives

As the prior of the Fraternité des Veilleurs, Daniel has written numbers of circular letters, many of which are reproduced here, spanning a period from 1991 to 2001. The letters are first of all charming and are pleasant to read from a purely literary point of view; at some points there is even a certain amount of jocularity which finds its way out in some inventive language as Daniel imagines himself visiting the home of his reader. A particular highlight is a meditation under an apple tree which speaks and imparts to Daniel a wonderful marriage sermon.  Each short letter is refreshing spiritually as well, with a number of new angles and hints which are deepened in other books. We learn something of the author’s experience in pastoral ministry, particularly pastoral visitation, before, surprisingly, in the middle of the book we find ourselves involved in something of a narrative of how Daniel left ministry in a local parish, firstly for a monastic interlude with hopes of forming a new community, and then to his life of comparative solitude more in the style of a hermit, one who, however, receives numerous visitors. As he describes this process we witness Daniel’s biblical understanding ripen into true contemplation, and it is the evident expansion of his sympathies as he settles into the more secluded life that lends the book a strong fascination.