This is the last book written by the popular Jesuit priest and writer on prayer and spirituality Father William Barry. James Martin, SJ, who recently dedicated his New York Times best-seller, Learning to Pray, to Barry, writes in this book’s foreword: “It is fair to say that Bill Barry is one of the main reasons for the growth in spiritual direction, the popularity of Ignatian spirituality, and the spread of individually directed retreats, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.”

William Barry, SJ, died at 90, just after he handed this manuscript to his publisher.

He begins by saying, “I want to help readers — you, that is — to know/love God better to have a more fulfilling and productive life.” It is a life-giving premise, and one that he upholds beautifully and practically.

Knowing and loving God is accomplished by a mutuality of friendship, the give and take that we learn when we love, dream, challenge, and journey with another person. That is what Barry wants readers to encounter with God, with whom he describes having that kind of relationship.

Chapters address the plot-like nature of life, how life is messed up by human sin and frailty, and the role of Jesus in the world to turn things around, but not in the way of a superhero. Most importantly, in a final chapter, Barry describes how “We Are Key Characters in a Divine Plot,” offering both inspiring and practical applications. See the excerpt accompanying this review.