I think it was Bill Cosby who said that when he and his wife were first
married, they devoured every book they could find on child psychology and how
to be better parents. After their first child, he found the books usefulů.to
spank them with. It's the adage that self help books on how to be better
parents are written by folks without kids.
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
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
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
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
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,
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.