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Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion [Paperback]

Fr. Gregory Boyle
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 22 2011
“Destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality” ( Los Angeles Times )— Tattoos on the Heart is a series of parables about kinship and redemption from pastor, activist, and renowned speaker, Father Gregory Boyle—now in paperback.

For twenty years, Father Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles—also known as the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he has distilled his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.

From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JC Penney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten-year-old Pipi we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Lulu we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the dark—as Father Boyle phrases it, we can only shine a flashlight on a light switch in a darkened room.

This is a motivating look at how to stay faithful in spite of failure, how to meet the world with a loving heart, and how to conquer shame with boundless, restorative love.

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Product Description


"An astonishing book . . . about suffering and dignity, death and

resurrection, one of my favorite books in years. It is lovely and tough

and tender beyond my ability to describe and left me in tears of both


"One of the bravest, most humane, heartbreaking, brilliant, and hopeful stories I've read in ages. Father Greg, the Gandhi of the Gangs, fills Tattoos with unquenchable soul force and down-to-earth love." —JACK KORNFIELD, AUTHOR OF A PATH WITH HEART

"Father Boyle reminds us all that every single child and youth is a part of God's ?jurisdiction'—and when they know that we are seeing them as God does, they are capable of great things. Father Boyle is a national treasure."


"Sometimes we are allowed to see in our own lifetimes what we were supposed to see in the life and ministry of Jesus. Read, and let your life be changed!"



"Tattoos on the Heart is an astounding book and a remarkable testament. No one brings more triumph and tragedy to the street gang story than Greg Boyle. No one brings more conviction and compassion than Greg Boyle. And no one writes the gang story more beautifully."


"A spiritual masterpiece touching the innermost sanctum of the human soul. Boyle approaches each person as a child of God and fully deserving of love and compassion. His capacity to reach the heart of the most hardened, and to see the best in everyone, inspires. I laughed, wept, and underlined on virtually every page."


"An extraordinary reflection of a life totally committed to reshaping and redirecting the lives of countless young gang members (from L.A.'s gang culture), Greg Boyle's Tattoos on the Heart proves one man with courage is a majority." —MARTIN SHEEN

"Tattoos on the Heart is an honest, raw, and compelling collection from Father Greg Boyle's life and work with gang-involved youth. His commitment should teach us all a lesson in compromise, sharing, learning, loving, and, most important, living life to the fullest." —ANJELICA HUSTON --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Father Gregory Boyle was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology and a Sacred Theology Masters degree from the Jesuit School of Theology. In 1988, Father Boyle began what would become Homeboy Industries, now located in downtown Los Angeles. Fr. Greg received the California Peace Prize, the “Humanitarian of the Year” Award from Bon Appétit; the Caring Institute’s 2007 Most Caring People Award; and received the 2008 Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book Nov. 25 2011
By Linda j
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read thousands of books in my life, including hundreds of spiritual books, and this is right up there with the best. I thought it was going to be a compilation of interesting stories, but it is much more than that. It is a book that operates on many levels. It is story, it is poetry, it is contemplation, and it contains the deepest and yet most practical of wisdom. It is a book that changes perspectives and in this process you will both laugh and cry.

The primary teaching of the spiritual path I've been on for the last 25 years is that God dwells within us, as us. This is not news to Father Greg Boyle. Not only does he see the divine in all, he somehow manages to serve within the heartbreaking reality of people he loves killing other people he loves. And in the midst of this, his heart is still able to expand instead of contracting. He is the rarest of human beings and I am in awe of his gift and the sheer heart and beauty of this book. It is certainly a book to gift to others. No one who reads it, can look at the people pulled into this lifestyle in quite the same way again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've ever read Dec 16 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Greg Boyle's book will make you laugh and it will make you cry. I am not catholic and have never met a gang member in my life. I was not interested in reading this book. But it changed my life. This is a book that opens your heart reminds you of what it means to be truly human.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read Nov. 20 2011
Excellent book (I have since bought 5 more as gifts) with a very good discussion of the divine. My uncle, a former Catholic priest who has a PhD in Education told me after reading the book "I don't think there is a book I know of that describes more eloquently for me the God I try and believe in and especially where to find him."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This peek into the lifework of Gregory Boyle provides honest and honorable insight, and a challenge to sift through personal or faith-based belief systems through story after story about changed lives - theirs, yours and mine as we shift our lenses from judgment. But it's also so much more than that - you'll find G's words resonating in the depth of your own being and circumstances, no matter what they are.
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