by Mark Hart
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
This book will help many Catholics find their way home! Hart’s clarity of thought will wipe out many self-help books. It is essential reading not only for contemporary Catholics but for all involved in youth ministry, training and formation. The author’s humorous and hard-hitting reflections drive home the fact that God isn’t calling the reader to be a good person, someone who merely obeys the rules, but a new person in Jesus Christ. The author states: “If you say that Jesus is not God, there is no reason for us to talk anymore. After all, there is money to be made, commitment-less sex to be had and people waiting to be stepped on. If Jesus isn’t God, then the Bible is a sham, our creed is a myth, salvation a joke and the Church an empire of mine control.
If one says that Jesus is God, however, things change. Pur perspective changes. Our approach changes. Everything changes the minute that we confess and profess that Jesus is Lord. Only in Jesus does pain and suffering have a purpose. Only in God is our future filled with hope and peace. In the next nine chapters we are going to take a look at the modern spiritual journey. The theme are common: fear, sex, guilt, family, marriage, joy, suffering, school, work and how you might need to change in one or several of these areas in order to encounter God more fully. Many people are reluctant to change. But refusing to do so is not consistent with the Christian calling. In an effort to make a more hands on practical look at our lives and what might be inhibiting our growth, we are going to focus on three things that might need to change within ourselves: our perspective, our approach, our self-offering. How is this twenty-first century generation, out generation, supposed to relate to Jesus Christ and the teaching of His Church on earth? Do you say that you love God? Loving the Lord and allowing Him to be the Lord of your life are two very different things.
Take three days, as Saul did, and participate in activities that could help you mature in your understanding of God. Get out to nature and go for a hike.Head to the tallest building you can find and take in the view. Rather than hitting that snooze button, set the alarm earlier and welcome the sunrise only with God and coffee to keep you company. If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something to change the world around you. You might think that a ‘transformation’ is a lifetime away, but it’s not. Conversions become everyday experiences. With each conversion comes an opportunity to finally stop the merry-go-round like that you control and get in line for that roller coaster that He controls. Your transformation doesn’t have to begin with an emergency landing, the blare of an ambulance siren or the cocking of a trigger. It can begin with the opening of your eyes and heart to God’s presence in the midst of class, work, rush hour or even a seemingly drab uninteresting Sunday Mass during Ordinary time. Make it a point several times a day, to stop what you are doing and ‘find’ God around you. Pick a moment, such as when you look at your watch, and make that a “God moment”. Notice his presence in the obvious things like family pictures on your desk, or the not-so-obvious things like the mess of dishes in the sink-yet another day that He provided food and drink. As you practice these little exercises, you’ll see God’s generosity more clearly and know His presence more deeply. Your change in perspective will contribute to your inner transformation. Even with the proper perspective, however, the work is just beginning. The next thing that often needs to change Is your approach. This is a great book for all youth ministers, parents and others to read dealing with young adults. Get a copy and give a copy!