After a year of being in seemingly perpetual lockdown, things may seem frightening as we begin to re-emerge from our little safety bubbles. For those of us who are hypochondriacs or just plain scared of what could happen after more than a year of uncertainty, we may need some spiritual help in navigating our reentry into the world.
Are you in the “I don’t feel ready to do this” camp? If so, here is why you need to read Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe.
We are reminded of the one thing we forgot during the pandemic
Many of us may want to try to exert some sort of control over things after feeling so powerless during the pandemic. This book reminds us that we need to let go of our desire to do everything ourselves and to grow in our trust of the Lord. I think that’s one of the hardest things to do, especially in the culture that we live in and after everything we’ve been through.
We are told that we need to be independent and do everything by ourselves because we can’t trust anyone. While being autonomous isn’t necessarily a bad thing, some of us will usually interpret that (whether we do it consciously or not) as not even inviting God into our lives and our decisions. As we are reminded throughout this book, without God, we cannot do a single thing. We need him to help guide us, especially during our times of trials. Without His help, we can get ourselves into some sticky situations that could’ve been avoided if we had only asked for his help. Just like the secular world says that there’s no shame in asking for mental health help, Fr. Jacques reminds us that there’s also no shame in asking God for any sort of help you may need.
We are reminded of what we don’t actually need
While we already know this deep down, we sometimes forget that our peace will not come from this world. How many times a day do we hear that we’ll only be happy if only we own this or do that? It’s so easy to fall into that mentality that we won’t be happy or at peace unless we obtain that one thing that seems elusive and the answer to all our problems. But when we do finally obtain it, how long does that sense of happiness last? I don’t know about you but it’s usually incredibly fleeting and then I’m onto something else that seems even more important and fulfilling. We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts and no earthly thing can fill it.
It lists what fears we have and what we can do about them
This book breaks down our most common fears and what we can do about them. Some of the topics include: peace and spiritual combat, our difficulty believing in Providence, the fear of suffering, the problem with patience, and the faults and shortcomings of others.
One of the best parts of the advice given is that it’s not only rooted in reality (instead of idealistic goals that can set us up for personal disappointment), but it also does it in a way that is encouraging. Yes, we may continue to fall once in a while but it doesn’t mean we have to give up completely. We get real-life examples from the lives of Saints who went through the very things we struggle with. And, of course, we get relevant Scripture passages in every chapter.
The advice is clear
While the content is incredibly rich and packs a punch in such a short book, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. If you believe yourself to be a “newbie” when it comes to spiritual reading or theology, you’ll still get a lot out of it. Fr. Jacques explains things very simply and clearly but doesn’t dumb things down. Instead he presents the content in a way that is both thought-provoking and easy to remember.
Of course, this book isn’t a substitute for a good spiritual director. They are invaluable during our most spiritually ardent times. Still, it can help, especially if you don’t have access to an SD. I went through a period of time in which I couldn’t find a spiritual director because they were all so busy and spread thin at the time. For those who are in the same boat, this book could help bring some much needed spiritual advice and even some consolations during these (and future) times of uncertainty.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your hands on a copy of this book and read it. You won’t be sorry!
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