Before starting to write this column I looked at two books written by Sister Ave Clark, O.P.: “A Heart of Courage: The Ordinary and Extraordinary Becoming Holy”. The second book, which is Sister’s sixth book, was co-authored with her brother Joseph M. Clark. I was delighted to see recently that the book was advertised in both The Tablet and the Jesuit magazine, America.
Each year as Thanksgiving arrives, I try to think of the countless blessings for which I should be grateful. Of course, because they are countless, it is impossible to do more than remember some blessings that stand out in my memory.
During the pandemic, all sorts of memories came back to me, some wonderful, some very sad. I received at least one important insight into myself. Often I am in high gear, involved with many projects, pressured to keep a number of commitments, trying to meet various deadlines. What I have discovered about myself is that I easily tend to be impatient. And I mean easily.
As I arrive at the end of the series based on Learning to Pray by James Martin, S.J., I think, indeed I hope, that Father Martin’s insights will stay with me for a long time.
Throughout his book, “Learning to Pray” (New York: HarperOne, 2021, pp. 386, $27.99), Father James Martin stresses the important role that sacred scripture can play as we approach God in prayer. This should not come as a surprise to Catholics since we believe that scripture is the inspired word of God.
The truth that we must die to self must frighten me. Though through faith I can handle my emotional reaction, it strikes me that I should examine my reaction, reflect on it to see if I can understand it better, and perhaps use it to grow.
Reflecting back on my experience of my years of teaching philosophy, especially teaching about the mystery of the human person, I am very aware of how much my views of what it means to be a human person have changed. Lately because of what I am reading and teaching I am very aware of how much my view of freedom has changed.
The late Father Andrew Greeley frequently expressed in print his view that beauty can draw us toward God. It can act like a sacrament revealing God to us and drawing us closer to the Infinite Beauty who God is. I never disagreed with Andy’s insight but I don’t think I ever gave it as much thought as I should have.
Anyone who has ever read St. John’s gospel probably recalls that the gospel has some beautiful statements about love. What I found so exciting about N.T. Wright’s reflections on love in his book Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World (HarperOne, 2020, pp. 198, $27.99) is Wright’s insistence that John’s gospel not only contains some beautiful insights into love but that the entire gospel is about love, God’s love for creation and our love for God and other persons.
During the pandemic, I decided to try to get my room in some order — putting books into bookcases according to some pattern, getting clippings from newspapers and Catholic periodicals off the floor and into my filing cabinet.