by Michael Buckley, S.J,
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight. PhD
In the Afterword of Father Cameli’s book Church, Faith, Future , Cardinal Cupich refers to the book, What Do You Seek? This book makes the point that the secular divide so thoughtfully analyzed by Cameli came from theologians who presented their work without faith in order to engage non-religious believers. It left the reader believing that the message without the faith of the Gospel message was the message. This is certainly not true for Father Buckley’s book as we realize how intrinsically invested he is in the Gospel message and he calls us all to be there with him. This is a great way to be part of the movement to Renew My Church.
Although this book is certainly based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, it is different in its scope. The scope focuses more specifically on the spiritual and psychological aspects of participating in the exercises with the Gospel messages as the essence of the message. It calls the questions of spirituality at a level that one is drawn to the deeper question of totally being called by Christ to love, know and serve Him through the Gospel messages. Buckley gives us examples of how we are called by Christ in literature, philosophy, music, art and all the disciplines. If we make Christ the focal point of our lives we see the ‘transformation of intelligence and affectivity is the work of the Spirit of Christ-poured forth into one’s heart so that one would recognize him, know him and become like him”. (p.67)
In Chapter 7, The Sacred Signs and Gifts of Others, Buckley helps us to understand the wedding feast of Cana in a way that both broadens and deepens our past understanding. The statement, “They have no wine” becomes the call of Pope Francis to respond to the marginalized. Buckley gives us a list of those marginalized and finishes this section with this statement: ”The Church becomes more the church as the pain of the human race comes more and more into its consciousness and into its effective action, its experience and understanding and affectivity – as the condition of human beings gets a stronger purchase on the lives of Christians”.
Throughout the text Buckley refers to John Cardinal Newman in reference to his struggle with faith and our struggle today with faith. Could a God so full of love leave us to figure out how to help those in need? Could a God who loves us allow war, violence and pestilence? “When the Christian asks about the reality of God, the question must come out of the Christian’s longing---longing for meaning, longing for truth, longing for holiness—and the Christian is answered with the life and presence of Jesus”.(p. 98) It is our job as the community of believers to support and encourage those who are in community with us. We as His disciples make real the community by the way we interact with one another and honor the variety of gifts He has given us to use in service to one another.
In the next section, Buckley helps us to understand not only the importance but also the joy of suffering. Our human suffering often brings us to a place where we empathize with other believers or understand how this suffering brought us to a new understanding of the grace of God in our lives. Buckley helps us to realize that the presence of God during physical and emotional suffering propels us into the kindness and compassion of Christ. As we reach to help those who are suffering in our community or suffering ourselves than we make His Church stronger and more in tune with the mystical body of Christ.
This is a book that can be read on many levels. Father Buckley provides us with a plethora of questions that assist us in our Ignatian spirituality and basically our love for Christ and His Gospel teachings. Father Buckley incorporates the writings of the scholars and the understanding of what is going on today. It is a tenderly wonderful exploration of spirituality in regard to Christ and His Gospel messages. It helps us to understand the hiccup between the secular society and the divine that we all long for without dismissing our culture. The acknowledgement of the presence of God in Buckley’s life is certainly evident through his words. It is a wonderful book in tiny pieces and in its totality.