“Whisperings of My Soul” by Fr Seán Hyland
I first saw the love of my life across the crowded Dreamland ballroom in Athy, Co Kildare in 1966. Once my gaze met Liz Myron's striking blue eyes, you could say I'd found my first calling.
That vocation as Liz's life partner and her husband continued for more than 40 years.
We experienced great happiness but also terrible sadness together. We lost our beautiful daughter Seana when she was two and then our little boy, Kieran, when he was 10-months-old.
The doctors said their deaths were unrelated, and we were just unlucky, but Liz and I couldn't face losing another child. By age 29 we were childless and, after that, it was just Liz and I against the world.
Back then, I was dark, questioning and furious that God could do this to us. I railed against the injustice of it all.
Meanwhile, my wife bore the loss of our children with grace, serenity and great faith. She knew Seana and Kieran were in heaven, and she never doubted it.
I channelled my aggression into my career, becoming a leader in international start-ups and setting up Hewlett Packard Manufacturing in Ireland. Financially, at least, we were very comfortable.
Emotionally, however, I was not in a good place. Liz reassured me again and again: "Once we have one another, we can deal with whatever life throws at us."
I never lost my faith entirely. I went to Mass every Sunday - but it was more for Liz's sake than mine. It took years; but thanks to Liz's gentle influence I finally began a spiritual journey of healing.
As the anger faded, and I developed a sense of inner peace, the whisperings of my soul grew louder and I accepted there was a great power at work in my life
I retired early. We had grand plans to see the world together. That's when Liz started to feel a slight ache in her side - more of a niggle than a pain.
She thought she might have pulled something while gardening or golfing, but instead, she died of kidney cancer before the end of a terrible year in 2008.
That was the time when my faith was truly tested. I never felt so distraught and lonely in my life.
Liz always said: "Once we have one another, we can deal with whatever life throws at us." But now I didn't have Liz anymore. I turned to Our Lady and Jesus in desperation and begged them for help.
Through God's grace, I was granted gifts of beautiful consolations of faith; instances where Liz, Seana and Kieran were able to reach me and let me know they are safe and watching over me.
Some of these divine gifts were locutions or private revelations.
Some of them came from third parties, such as the message my former boss in Hewlett Packard received from Liz in a dream and felt compelled to tell me though he feared my reaction.
In the end, I had no doubt about eternal life and love, and, in thanksgiving, I vowed to devote my life to God and good works. By that, I meant volunteering for the St Vincent de Paul or Meals on Wheels. I never saw myself as a candidate for the religious life.
But after reading an interview with a mature student at St Patrick's College in Maynooth, I couldn't shake the idea of the priesthood.
Entering the religious life is a challenging prospect when you're in your sixties, and yet I couldn't ignore this second calling. After studying in Rome, I was ordained in my hometown of Portarlington on July 13, 2014.
Last year, I wrote a book called “Whisperings of My Soul” about the heavenly messages which changed my life. I hoped it would bring comfort to people who are troubled and grieving - like I once was.
As a self-published book, I planned to market it through Parish Shops. But then, by providence, Joe Duffy's RTÉ show Liveline interviewed me, as did TV3's Ireland AM and people all over the country began asking for the book.
Ireland's largest religious books distributor, Veritas, offered me a nationwide distribution deal, and “Whisperings” is its number one bestseller since publication eight months ago.
Eason’s came on board, and the flagship RTÉ show, The Late Late invited me on the show this year. Sales of the book and the response to it have been overwhelming.
But when writing the book, my objective was also to reach out to non-believers too.
I'm conscious that as priests we preach to the choir and that we need to reach agnostics and lapsed Catholics - people who don't know or don't care if there's a Divine Creator.
Many believe that with the rise of the secular, the sacred is in decline. Yet, all the empirical data says otherwise. In my book, I write how Census after Census shows that 84% of the global population identify with a religious group. The data begs the question - can 5.8 billion believers be wrong?
I also try to challenge assumptions like: 'Sure, science has proved there's no God.'
The truth is that many eminent scientists recognise the finger-prints of intelligent design as they unlock the mysteries of the universe. Experts in Quantum Physics, Cosmology and Molecular Biology acknowledge a higher power at work.
My fervent desire is to entice non-believers from staring at their screens to gazing into their heart and souls. I want others to find the joy that I did when I opened my life to God.
As a result, I'm launching a website called 'Has Science Discovered God?' in the autumn. The evidence is there to see so that the sub-headline will read, 'The Greatest Story Never Told'.
If I can inspire some people to search for the truth, I'll have achieved what I set out to do.
When I was in trouble, I received the help I needed, and now all I want to do is help others hear the whisperings of their soul too.