Why did I bring this up? Because many of us either want a closer relationship with God, or want to find our way toward Him. So we run off after this book, and that, we attend seminars, retreats, etc. And when it's said and done, we come away discouraged because we're no closer to God. Everyone else seems to be, the author or speaker surely is, but we aren't. It may be that we're either being led down the garden path or looking in all the wrong places.
Someone, I forget who, said we all have a God-shaped hole in us that we long to fill. So, it's natural to want to get closer to him. I remember hearing a southern comedian talk about how he 'found' God. Going here, going there, to this church and that, when one day, Christ caught up to him, tackled him and put His foot on his neck. Whereupon he said, "O Lord, I've found you." Sometimes we try too hard and get discouraged when it doesn't 'take'.
Reading inspirational books, especially the Bible, is a great way to come closer to God. We can read St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. John of the Cross, etc. But if we follow them step for step, we may well not find God as they did. Why? Because each and everyone of them was a different person, with a different personality. St. Peter's calling was different from St. Paul's, which was different from St. Thomas.
St. Peter was called and his faith 'grew' over time. Though he made the profession of faith as to who Christ is, his faith still grew. Slowly, quietly. St. Paul was literally knocked off his high horse. St. Thomas had to be shown Christ's wounds to finally believe.
So, we read the lives of the saints and their writings and come closer to the understanding of God through them. But essentially, it's God Who has to touch us and draw us closer to Him.
So, we can use books to help us come closer to God. But we mustn't get discouraged if what 'worked' for them doesn't work for us. Faith doesn't come like instructions for building a bicycle or magic. There are steps which lead us toward a greater faith. " But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well" (Matthew 6:33).
But books alone may leave us open to many serious errors, and then a loss of faith rather than an increase in it. One may find a book which says that the Holocaust never occurred, that doesn't mean it's proof that it's true. Or just because you find a book on Nazism in the Library of Congress, it doesn't mean the U.S. supported Nazism. Yet, we run into volumes of books in the 'Catholic' press which does precisely that.
Many 'New Age' Catholics, for example, see St. Francis of Assisi as some New Age guru finding God in all creation. (Rather than giving glory to God 'through nature)
Maybe you've heard of a prayer where you quietly enter into yourself, quieting your soul and centering yourself. Centering Prayer. But if you look at what this prayer calls for, you see that it encourages you to block out 'disruptive' thoughts that come into the mind while you center on the 'god' within, yourself. This is nothing more than Hindu mysticism with a Christian veneer, transcendental meditation. Both openly and covertly, many Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi and other 'mystic' ways, have been introduced as Catholic/Christian ways.
Contemplation is replaced with meditation. St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, etc. were 'contemplatives'. They were constantly in thought about God, contemplating Him in every aspect of life. But now, many are encouraged not to contemplate, but meditate. To empty oneself of every thought.
If one reads books such as "She Who Is" or "Women at the Altar", one may think one is getting true Catholic theology and history, after all they quote prominent Catholic theologians and historians. But in reality, you're reading Catholic dissension theology and historical revisionism. It's the 'foot in the door' to lead the faithful away from the Church, away from God. After all, if God is genderless, what's the problem of calling Him Goddess Mother? If women were priests in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, why not now? (The sect which had women priests were the Christian Gnostics, not the Christians.) So, while we look for books and seminars, classes, etc. we must be wary of their sources.
But in all this, there is one place where we can experience God up close and personal. One place where Christ is very real, very present, very much involved with us.
St. Elizabeth Seton, before she became a Catholic, was envious of Catholics because they could literally receive Christ into their hearts, souls and bodies, every day. Not metaphorically but physically. We can begin our journey, as St. Peter did, with His call to us to follow Him. And with His grace, we can grow in faith. Even if we don't receive any 'wiz bang' sign that He is there, we come to 'know' that He is. We become closer to Him, more intimate with Him. Christ gave us the sign posts to follow. Seek first His kingdom, daily pick up your cross, be humble of heart, etc.
But in the Eucharist we see the greatest, most real sign of God's love for us. Maybe this is why many want to lessen or tinker with the Eucharist. Make it more symbolic. St. John Bosco's vision of the great ship showed precisely what would happen when we 'anchor' ourselves in the Eucharist. We are safe, secure, cared for, and loved.
If you wish to know God, know Him in the Eucharist!
Many times, we simply try too hard. It's good to try to get to know God better, but few have known God as a burning bush, or fire from the sky. For most of us, He is simply the soft, subtle breeze, easily overlooked and unrecognized. While we focus on one door for Christ to enter, we miss Him knocking softly at the other door. Or we're so intent on finding Him, we're led off by those who claim to be Him, all the while He was standing right beside us. All we had to do was sit still and see Him.
Death of Saint Godelina, who was strangled to death by her husband during childbirth. The child was born blind, but through Godelina's Heavenly intercession was healed.
Death of Pope Gregory XV, 234th successor of Peter. During his two year reign he encouraged the Irish and assisted the Catholic restoration in France. Greatly interested in the missions, he instituted the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
On this day I ask all of My children to listen well to My Mother's words. She has told many of her little ones that you are living in the time of the Third Secret of Fatima.
Little children, not only does chaos and confusion reign in every corner of the world, but it predominates in My One, Holy Catholic Church.
Oh! Foolish children. All the eyes of the world turn in horror and sorrow at the devastation of an earthquake. How much more grievous is that earthquake within My Church? The voice of My Vicar on earth, Pope John Paul II is the same as My voice. On many matters of doctrine and tradition he, who is My Vicar, has already ruled. But there are far too many of My priests, bishops and consecrated religious who defy his teachings. Their clamorings are joined by the laity who seek changes because they want My Church and My teachings to fit their wants and needs - not My Will.
Thus the Third Secret of Fatima unfolds and daily comes to fulfillment. But I have given to you My Holy Mother to urge and beseech you to pray so that through your prayers these sad days of schism and anarchy might be shortened for the sake of the few faithful remnant.
Oh, My Vicar on earth has proclaimed the vital necessity of proclaiming, living, seeking My Divine Mercy now. All I spoke to My beloved Blessed Faustina is of Me and from Me, but not all has yet been done. My Secretary of Divine Mercy intercedes on behalf of the world, and I solemnly tell you that I seek in a special, unprecedented way to pour out My Divine Mercy upon all the world.
Pray often the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but if at all possible at the hour of three. Beg for Mercy with a humble and contrite heart and it shall all be fulfilled.
Behold I give you signs and wonders both in the heavens and on earth. These signs speak of My Power and My Kingship and of My Victory. Do not fear, for I seek only to bring you into the Refuge of My Sacred Heart. Therefore, be obedient to My Vicar and pray very much for all priests that they may be holy and pure - true shepherds.
Do not listen to the evil traps of satan, for he preys upon false ideas of humanism and freedom. Be humble, obedient children and all that you need shall be given unto you.
The time is at hand. Pray, for I come!
Now you come to the end of a month, and I ask all of the children of My Most Sacred Heart to reflect upon how you have spent this time.
Was it your time, My children? Or Mine? Was your heart renewed, recreated as I desired and asked of each of you?
Little children, you are anxious over many things but your anxiety is a hindrance because you fail to trust in Me! How My Heart is saddened and wounded by your lack of trust in Me.
Now, I solemnly tell all the world, your faith must know no limits. Its crown must be Divine Charity for all the world, for this is why I came and the way I showed you. There is no other way!
These are truly the end times which shall fully reveal the Third Secret of Fatima, and the Triumph of My Holy Mother's Immaculate Heart.
In these days I call each of you by name. I call all to detachment from all worldly things, so that you may walk in union with My Perfect Will. To do this, I have shown you the Way, and My Holy Mother has been among you a long time to bring you back to My Way.
I do solemnly tell you, My children, that as each day passes My Mother's visitations to her messengers and her messages to her little messengers shall cease.
Let this be a sign to My children, My faithful remnant, that as My Mother's mission is fulfilled you are close to the Warning and Great Miracle which must precede Divine Justice.
Woe! Triple woe to all who discount the seriousness of these times and scoff at My Holy Mother, Ever-Virgin, Immaculately conceived.
I do solemnly tell you that while your human, fallible minds cannot conceive of the events yet to be fulfilled, I, Jesus Christ, shall bring all to fulfillment in an instant, and when you least expect it.
Be devoted to Me, your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for I particularly want to be reverenced in the Blessed Sacrament and through devotion to My Divine Mercy. All of Heaven rejoices at My Infinite Mercy, but you do not seek it or want it. Therefore, renew all devotion to Me, and Mercy shall cause many souls to be saved!
I, your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, do solemnly tell you to beg for Mercy and it shall be given in abundance, for I love and cherish each of you.
Pray as I have taught you. Make Me the very center of your life and all else will be given to you.
I come! Therefore, prepare well for I Am King of Kings, and even the mountains shall bow before Me! Will you do less?