Hammer & Fire is a guide to Christian prayer and contemplation. In simple but evocative prose, the author — a contemplative monk, retreat master, and spiritual director — guides the reader towards a deeper prayer life, and a closer union with God.
Fr. Raphael describes his approach in the book’s Introduction:
“The human personality is not fulfilled by the inauthentic, the false, the incomplete. On the contrary, these are the sources of dissatisfaction, frustration, warping of the mind and heart, anxiety, depression, neuroses, impulse and personality disorders.... To become fully human and alive, to be integrated and mature, to be effective in our service and undertakings, we need to be transformed into Jesus Christ through a transforming union, through which we become truly ourselves. This book is about that transforming union.”
About Fr. Raphael Simon
Fr. Raphael Simon received his M.D. at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). He did psychiatric internships at Bellevue Hospital and Brooklyn State Hospital in New York City, and was psychiatrist at an institution for delinquent boys, Lincoln Hall, Lincolndale, New York.
He became a priest in the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance and a monk of Saint Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts. He gave retreats to the monks of his Order in the United States and Ireland and was a retreat master and spiritual director for monks, priests and lay people. The story of his conversion from Judaism is told in his book The Glory of Thy People.
Fr. Raphael died on November 12, 2006, in the infirmary of St. Joseph Abbey. He was 97 years old.
Praise for Hammer & Fire
“It seems that God raises up, for each era, a spiritual master to write a guidebook for those who desire to make progress in the spiritual life.
Past eras have had Thomas à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, St. Teresa of Avila’s Way of Perfection, and St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life.
Today we have Fr. Raphael Simon’s Hammer & Fire, whose author, a Jewish psychiatrist turned Trappist monk, integrates the wisdom of past spiritual classics, his own experience as a contemplative monk, and a deep knowledge of contemporary psychology, to produce a spiritual guide uniquely suited to our time.
This eminently practical guide is an invaluable resource for the man or woman of today who is seeking to find the one true happiness in this life — union with God.”
—Roy Schoeman, author Salvation is from the Jews
“Hammer & Fire is an accessible and inspiring guide to the riches of the Catholic faith. Those who have had the good fortune of having known Fr. Raphael as a spiritual director will appreciate that now many others can experience the clear, simple, and beautiful wisdom of his guidance. A son of Abraham and a psychiatrist, by God’s grace Fr. Raphael became a most faithful monk and son of the Church. I highly recommend this excellent and very orthodox book.”
—Fr. Matthew Lamb
Chairman and Professor
Department of Theology
Ave Maria University
“With its message of God’s fatherly love and affection, Hammer & Fire is a blessing for every reader. The author’s compassionate advice for those who suffer emotional ills addresses the necessary integration of the spiritual and psychological dimensions of the human person. As a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of emotional-spiritual afflictions from a Catholic perspective, I highly recommend this timeless work.”
—Suzanne M. Baars, M.A., In His Image Christian Counseling
“In its discussion of sin, virtues, happiness, and prayer we return to basic Catholic teachings which are the underpinnings of mental health. As such, this classic may be even more relevant today than when it was first published.”
—Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic
“I am a priest for 44 years.
This book should be used in seminaries.
It filled all the empty places in my life.”
—g.e. (New Jersey)
“Great - Brilliant - Excellent. Zaccheus Press may be small, but brother it’s tip-top.”
—B.J.M. (Queens, NY)
“Those interested in deepening their prayer life might benefit from picking up Hammer and Fire by Fr. Raphael Simon. In addition to the normal tips and hints one might receive in the course of reading about prayer, there is a depth of understanding about the various trials and tribulations of the person beginning to walk in the way of deeper prayer... A book worth reading and re-reading.”
—Steven Riddle, Flos Carmeli weblog
“Remarkable book, great scholarship, and wonderful insights.”
—T.D. (Kansas City, MO)
“Excellent, especially for anyone for whom spiritual direction is inaccessible.”
—R.H. (Alton, IL)
“Just the kind of book I love, the book I hoped it would be.”
—A.D. (Reading, PA)
“This is one of the best books on spirituality I have ever read, and I have read dozens of good ones.”
“Very well written and easy to follow. I like its numerous biblical references.”
—G.S. (Corpus Christi, TX)
“Fantastic book. I was looking for a good spiritual book to add depth and direction to my prayer life. This book was great. I am sure I will refer to it and re-read it many times.”
“Fr. Raphael was a personal friend and mentor, and I rejoice to see his work presented so perfectly. If all Zaccheus productions are on or near the level of Hammer & Fire, they are to be commended highly.”
—P.S. (Boston, MA)
“Incomparable spiritual fare — profound. Readers are in for a spiritual delight!”
—P.G.R.S. (Boston, MA)
“This book was very well done — the type was excellent! The cover was wonderful! Everything very tasteful! If all your books are published as well as this one, may you have many successful years in business and a faithful reading clientele.”
—S.M.W. (Northern Virginia)