Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: Three Persons, One God

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

How has your Advent been? Hopefully, a it's been a time or prayer, contrition, and preparation for the beautiful feast of Christmas. I can't believe that we're are already anticipating Gaudate (Joy) Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent.

On Monday (12/17) we also begin the O Antiphons during evening prayer. The hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is based on these fervent prayers of the Jewish people asking God to come to them. These beautiful prayers address Jesus by one of His Old Testament titles including O Wisdom, O Lord, and O King of Nations. But, who is this God they to whom they cry out or us for that matter? In Mark 8, Jesus asks the Apostles, “But who do you say that I am?" Every believer had an image of our God that comes to mind, or at the very least a sight, sound, or feeling that leads to thoughts of the divine. Of course if we understood God, as St. Augustine wrote, "it would not be God." Despite our inability to understand, we can know God in His love, mercy, and His Son.

In her book, Three Persons, One God: Growing in Relationship With Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, author Allison Gingras helps the reader answer that question and lead them to a deeper relationship and understanding of our Triune God. She writes; The God of our faith has revealed himself as HE WHO IS; and he has made himself known as "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34:6). God's very being is Truth and Love.

The book is full of references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and gives a scripturally supported introduction to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit complete with chronological bible references for the reader to look up. Besides being a primer on Trinity, someone new to reading scripture gets hands on practice in looking up bible verses.

 The first three chapters are more instructional in style and have more classroom type feel. That may be a manifestation of Allison's years of homeschooling her children. I can see the value however, especially for the person who wants to learn more about their faith but last studied in CCD class. The format also makes it suitable for a group study or RCIA class with a journaling section in each chapter. Although, unlike a purely academic work, it's never condescending to the reader and the author is quick to admit her own shortcomings at times.

If the former read like a textbook though, the last three chapters feel more like a love story and that is where the book truly shines. I know Allison personally and she knows how to tell a story and capture an audience. It is the personal stories and experiences that keep the reader engaged. I would have liked every chapter to read that way.
Chapters 4-6 focus more on our personal relationship with God and how we perceive him. One of my favorite examples is Allison's image of God sitting with her on the couch watching television like she did as a child with her own dad. This illustrates how the all-powerful God of the Universe can still love and relate to us on an intimate level and be a real part of our lives. As with the first, three there are bible verses to explore and all chapters have open ended questions for journaling. My only addition to the book would have been a seventh chapter to bring everything full circle and wrap everything together.I finished Chapter 6 and was left wanting for more, which may just be the author's intent. It's also a good way to market a sequel.

I always read everything with a healthy dose of skepticism, even when the author is a friend. I can honestly say I enjoyed the book (not the journaling) and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about God, to brush up on some catechetical basics, or to just better understand the treasure that is our Catholic faith. Allison's book is available on Amazon and through her website

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Sword Shall Pierce Your Heart

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day? (Ps.13:3)

There's no escaping the images, commentary, and discussion of today's tragedy in Newtown, CT. It is unimmaginable as a parent the horror that the victim's families must be experiencing. As I sit with my two youngest watching Curious George and the older three making some attempt to play nicely downstairs, I thank God that thery are here with me at this moment and how blessed we are to be entrusted with their care and all the moments we share, no matter how challenging it can be at times.

In this Advent season, we think of Mary as an expectant mother, carrying this miraculous child, feeling him kick, and pondering what the future would hold. Could she have know what Simeon's prophecy would entail and that she would one day hold her son's lifeless and nearly unrecognizable body after His crucifixion? No one should have to endure the death of a child, even if that "child" is an adult. But Mary can be our model of grace in suffering and someone to whom we can turn in our moments of grief. While I'm certain the pain never goes away, it is comforting to know that we can turn someone who know our pain and through the sarcrafice of her Son, we are confident that we have the opportunity to share in His Ressurection.

So, please pray for the victims, their families, and all those involved in today horrific tragedy. May God bring them peace and comfort in their loss and the hope that some day they will be reunited in Heaven.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon them.