Finding God in the Mess


by Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus, S.J.

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


First of all, the title is brilliant (as the Irish say) in that we are often in a mess these days either spiritually, morally, emotionally, or intellectually and the two authors help in assisting us to see that mess in another way. The two authors are from Belfast a rather strife-torn city in Ireland. In the preface, the authors give us the purpose of their book: “People tend not to see the mess and muck of their lives as a sacred place, and yet that is the very place where the action happens.” Deeds and McManus break up their reflections into the mysteries of the Rosary and tell the stories through Mary’s rosary. In their reflection on the joyful mysteries, they speak of the gift of time: some of us will have birthdays this week, some will get sick this week, some will be born and it only takes a minute to say a prayer—there will be 10,800 this week. If you dedicate one hour this week to helping someone you’ll have 167 more hours to play with. They ask at the end of the chapter: “How could I make better use of the time given to me?”


In the next section, the authors ask us to spend a few minutes on those who have said yes to God such as Mary, Jeremiah, Moses, and Peter. In this moment of thoughtful prayer, we have the opportunity to say yes to God’s will for us. Those who said “YES” have often become saints! The reason I purchased a FIAT takes on a whole new meaning when I tell people what the word FIAT means from the Latin. “Be it done to me according to Your word”. I say the word every morning and mean it!


In the section entitled: “Let Your Light Shine”, the authors again give us plenty of material for reflection. They encourage us to let our light shine by singing a song for someone, hugging a friend who is lonely, give money, coffee or food to a homeless brother or sister, smile at a stranger and bid them a good day and other corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In the last part of the section, the authors ask us to reflect on the questions: “How could I radiate more light where I live? What is the darkness I need to resist? What would life be like if I believed that my inner light was transforming?” All wonderful ways to think about how we transform our society.


The section concerning contact related to others, the authors tell the story about a man who is in a local shop. He was asked by the assistant if he wanted to use the ‘contact-less function’ on the debit card machine. The man simply shows his card to the machine, near enough to be read and then the money is taken out of his account. In this way, he doesn’t have to put the card in the machine, no pin number input, no chance for it to be wrong. For the next couple of days, he felt uneasy. Our society and technology move us to a presumption of no contact with each other. Sometimes friendships are found, developed and ended in ‘virtual reality’ without the people actually meeting. In the reflection questions, the authors ask us: “How could we create a “contact-more” society? How could you develop more opportunities to be with, learn from and help others? How could you help those already in a ‘contactless’ world and reach out in love to them wherever and whenever possible?”


From the back cover, the authors state as Jesuits do: “This book helps us to understand and experience that it is the timeout – the ability to look back and understand life events – that brings about deeper and more satisfying living.” This a great book to assist our own movement forward in the kingdom but also a great gift to give our friends that live in a contact-less world.

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