by Jeanette Flood
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
Loosely based on the beatitudes, Eight Ways of Loving God, by Jeanette Flood brings light to some of the issues we all wonder about. The book is filled with analogies in the hope that they explain the Catholic faith. It is good to know that a foundational understanding of the Catholic faith will help read this book. In our attempt to find lasting happiness we turn to the writer, C.S.Lewis who gives us some thought on why we can never be perfectly satisfied: “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle in our return to God…Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” In summary, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards gave us the popular tune, “I Can’t get no Satisfaction”. Naturally, we keep failing to find satisfaction in created things, because we were created for something more. As St. Augustine says: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O Lord.”
In Chapter 2 the author explains why trust is crucial. Without trust it is very hard to grow in virtue. We can’t overcome our habitual sins without trust in God, and smaller sins can lead to mortal sin. Without trust it’s almost impossible to make it through real suffering with one’s faith intact. Whatever our issues with trust might be, we have to get past them. Trust is necessary for a vibrant spiritual life. We need to keep in mind that when God’s ideas differ from our own, we are not always disappointed even in this life. Sometimes we are delighted. Mary Magdalene waiting to see Jesus on Easter was a stressful time for her. She didn’t recognize the living Jesus when He came up to her. Here was something she did not even dream of asking for. Each of us will experience that joy and thrill someday.
In Chapter 3 the author points to the culture as saturated with the illusion of control. We do have an extraordinary amount of control over our lives compared to times past, but it’s still an illusion. God knows it’s a struggle for us to trust Him in everything; Jesus said, “What father among you, if his son ask for a fish will…give him a serpent or if he asks for an egg gives him a scorpion? The only problem is that it looks like a serpent or scorpion. How does our faith attend to the catechism account of evil? “No quick answer will suffice, only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin, and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of His son, His gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and His call to a blessed life.” The author then gives us some meditative thought on the meaning of suffering, the benefits of suffering, and the building of virtue through discipline. In Chapter 4 and 5 she gives us acts of trust and a deeper appreciation for what trust looks like. She offers us prayers and meditations on trusting God! Chapter 6 and 7 invite us to participate in many forms of prayer.
In Chapter 8, the author affords us a meditation on the Mass. When we come to understand the tremendous gift the Mass is, it’s easy to see that going once a week is the minimum. We usually feed our bodies at least twenty times more often. Don’t our souls deserve more than the paltry nourishment we typically dole out”. The Mass is God’s supreme gift of love and our best chance to please Him with a gift. If we love Him, shouldn’t we concern ourselves with what pleases Him most? If Jesus dropped hints of God’s love language and the Church has discovered what He likes best, all those who know Him will be glad to learn what is tops with Him. Not only is the Mass His chief gift of love to us, it is at the top of His wish list: what He sees as the greatest gift of love to Him.” This section of the text supports ‘face time with God’ and the importance of prayer each day.
In section 3 the author delves into an understanding of the importance of obedience. We usually get the importance of obeying the laws of the Church but the author explains the importance of what obedience means in our particular life. We need to listen to what the Lord is telling us in prayer and obey about doing His will. In section 4, the author deals with the issue that loving God means apologizing for turning away from Him. We admit we were wrong, we pay attention to the hard part and we realize that paying attention to the will of God helps us to be better apostles/ missionary disciples.
This book is an easy read, it is not theologically sophisticated but has something for everyone that reads it. After you read it, pass it on to someone else.