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Book review: Popular authors help God get our attention

By Sister Jean Peerenboom, OSF

Everyday Encounters with God: What Our Experiences Teach Us About the Divine by Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, and Bert Ghezzi (The Word Among Us Press, $12.95).

God can be found in some of the most unlikely places, such as Harry Potter books and Sports Illustrated, say authors Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, and Bert Ghezzi.

That just proves that God is all around us, all the time. Are you listening?

In Everyday Encounters with God, the two hope that their own witness “will open you to the numerous and diverse ways God is trying to get your attention.”

“Too often people are preoccupied with mastering techniques of contemplative prayer. We need to be occupied with listening to God and not simply listening to ourselves. Paying attention to God’s voice is the essence of contemplation,” Groeschel writes in the introduction.

The brief book is a collection of reflections about how we find God, written alternatively by each of the authors. Each is followed by a question for personal reflection. The reflections are grouped into five sections that are followed by questions that can be used for group discussion.

Groupings fall under the headings of “All Around Us,” “A Look in the Mirror,” “Everyday Experiences,” “Real Presence” and “Communication with God.”

So, where do we find God?

The Franciscan Groeschel starts with nature. No matter where you are, there must be something naturally made that inspires and proves God’s presence. Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and author, survived a Nazi concentration camp by seeing God in the sky and clouds, Groeschel says.

Others who have been witnesses are saints and people around us today. Some of those places may seem a bit unlikely or odd to readers. Groeschel cited two books that showed him something about God. The first was an obvious choice: Mother Teresa’s Come Be My Light.

The second gave me pause: the seventh volume of the Harry Potter series. “In that book Harry freely lays down his life in order to do battle with a diabolical enemy who is trying to take over the world. When I put the book down, I felt I had learned that God wants me always to freely choose to do the right thing, no matter the cost,” he said.

The reflections show us how to see God in everything and anything: creation, art and architecture, our longings, our parents, friends and lovers, random acts of kindness, by living in the now, through forgiveness, Scripture, prayer, obedience to God and in our own experiences.

Groeschel is the founder of the community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. He is an author of many books and has a weekly program on Eternal Word Network (EWTN). Ghezzi is an author and frequently appears on Catholic TV and radio networks.

The book is short – just 144 pages without the notes – and an easy read. It is good, solid theology presented in a way that can touch everyone’s life. It is a way to see God through fresh eyes.

Sister Jean Peerenboom is the former religion/books editor from the Green Bay Press Gazette. Sister Jean is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. She writes a monthly book review for the Holy Cross Family Blogspot.

To read all of Sister Jean Peerenboom's book reviews, click here.

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