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Remembering Fr. Edward Hays (1931-2016)

April 4, 2016

Fr. Edward Hays, beloved author of more than thirty books, gifted storyteller, and imaginative artist died on April 3 at St. Luke's Hospice Care in Kansas City, Missouri. Hays and Thomas Turkle founded Forest of Peace Publishing in 1979, a publishing effort that grew out of and supported the work of the Shantivanam House of Prayer in Easton, Kansas. (Shantivanam is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “forest of peace.”) With Fr. Hays as its principle author, the company established a national reputation for its innovative books on prayer and spirituality.

During the 1980s and ’90s Hays was very popular with Spiritual Book Associates members and his books were often chosen as main selections of the club. When Hays and Turkle decided to leave the publishing business, they approached Ave Maria Press because of the good working relationship between the two companies. In 2003, with the acquisition of Forest of Peace, Ave reissued many of Hays’s books, including bestsellers such as Prayers for the Domestic Church (first published in 1979) and Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim (first published in 1989). Ave continued to publish Fr. Hays’s work under this imprint with books such as Chasing Joy and The Passionate Troubadour (a life of St. Francis of Assisi). His final work, A Book of Wonders, was a collection of daily meditations published in 2009. Here is the reflection for April 3, the day of his entrance into eternal life. It speaks well of the quality of his life as a “one-person divine visitation.”

A Mirabilary

We are wonderstruck when we’re caught off guard by some amazing or surprising thing or person. Unlike being lightning-struck—which is lethal—being wonderstruck is life-giving and spirit-arousing. If God is the Wonder of Wonders, then to witness any wonder is to have a divine visitation. These are more common than is believed. Admiration is to wonder, to be awed when people act heroically, selflessly, or generously. Normally, we have low expectations of our fellow humans. The unexpectedness of such behaviors are visitations of wonder. We capture this by calling them a “bolt out of the blue,” linking them to lightning. Become a bolt out of the blue yourself by being a mirabilary, an uncommon synonym for wonderworker. Today, surreptitiously plot to be a mirabilary by being a one-person divine visitation. In unexpected places and times, act in a surprisingly unselfish, noble, or heroic way.

We at Ave Maria Press who had the joy of working with Fr. Ed will always be grateful for the incomparable ways that he touched us with a spirit of holiness and joy. 

About Edward M. Hays

Father Edward M. Hays is the author of more than thirty books on contemporary spirituality. He was the co-founder and moving spirit of Forest of Peace Publishing and founding director of Shantivanam, a Midwest center for contemplative prayer. He has served as a chaplain of the state penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas, parish priest, and spiritual director. Hays has spent extended periods of pilgrimage in the Near East, the Holy Land, and India and remains a prolific writer and painter. Fr. Hays died in 2016.

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