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Judged by external criteria religious life in the western world appears to be in decline. Few if any candidates are joining, the age profile continues to increase, houses are being closed and religious are handing over positions of responsibility to the laity. We are living through a period of numerical decline and some have even questioned whether religious life itself can survive. Fr Michael Cunningham is an optimist. He believes that the Holy Spirit is at the root of this crisis. He sees all spirituality expressed through the paschal mystery, the rhythm of life and death which is the only pattern left to us by Jesus. He argues that the crisis in religious life today is just another form of the deeper crisis which affects our postmodern world which has lost the sacred pattern of meaning. His own journey as a Salesian priest, teaching in a comprehensive school, then bearing the burden of provincial leadership, has led him to the awareness that God is present in all aspects of our human experience, good and bad. He explains how by accepting ourselves, and learning to love others, we are drawn into a love of the enchanted yet flawed world in which we live. Though this book is primarily for Religious, it will help all of us make sense of the challenges facing us today. Michael is a reluctant author, it was not easy to persuade him to write this book.

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