Sunday, October 05, 2008

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Jacques Philippe

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Jacques Philippe

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is really interesting to see how God works. I have been a Catholic actively trying to live my faith for more than two decades. This book has helped me more profoundly than any book I've read in the last ten years.

What is a mystery to me is why the message of this book has not sunk into me sooner than it did. It is not as though it is presenting something that is new or alien to the Gospel. But it must have taken all this time for me to get to a point where I could hear and receive it.

The title accurately describes the contents. Fr. Philippe has written a treatise on both the importance of peace of heart and how to maintain it.

I have a strong tendency towards navel-gazing and scrupulosity. I have spent a lot of time over the years feeling bad about my sins and failings, or worrying about what future sins and failings I may stumble into. I trust Jesus very much, but I don't trust myself. I know that way too often that I fail to carry through with my good intentions and firm resolutions. And that awareness has meant that I can never really relax with God. For if I am not vigilant, then I might fall into sin and ultimately fall away from Jesus.

What this book has helped me to see is that the anxiety I would feel about my own weakness is not what God wants. What I had viewed as devotion and careful attention to righteousness has been largely a prideful dependence upon my own goodness.

We need to trust God completely, even when we sin. We need to just ask for forgiveness, and then move on. God knows and loves us. Really. REALLY. We need to abandon ourselves into His loving care.

It is funny in a sense: People who accuse Catholics of practicing "works righteousness" should read this book. Fr. Philippe makes it incredibly clear how we can do NOTHING without God, and only as a result of His grace. We have to be so abandoned to God that we don't even worry about how good or bad we are. We simply keep turning to God, trusting Him, loving him, and looking to Him "both to will and to work" in us. The grace of faith, the ability to ask for God's forgiveness is a pure gift. Nothing we do makes God give it to us---He just does.

I am doing a horrible job is summarizing this book. But I want to stress the change this book has already made in my life. Although far from having perfect peace all of the time, I am much happier, much more peaceful than I used to be. I wish I had come across this work 20 years ago.

View all my reviews.