August 13, 2014

My Precious Devotion (Trusting God with St. Therese)

Since I relaunched this blog, I've been primarily working on building our beliefs logically from basic definitions, to arguments, and on up. I'm particular devoted to learning and teaching the faith this way. But is that how God started? No. He didn't propose and argue. He offered Himself . He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He got on first-name basis with Moses. He sent his only son, that whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.  He has offered--and continues to offer--Himself personally.

What does God ask? He asks what anyone offering themselves asks, what anyone seeking a personal relationship asks.  He asks us to trust Him, and because He is God, we can trust Him completely.

Is there anything wrong with arguing logically for God? Of course not. God wants our heads, but he wants our hearts more. One may know God intellectually but reject Him. If one loves God an follows Him, he will be saved regardless of how much or how little theology he knows.

In her book, Trusting God with St. Therese, Connie Rossini points out so well how "(o)ur precious devotions can become a hindrance, preventing us from being humble." That's true about devotions to a particular prayer or saint or spirituality. It's true, as well, of apologetics and catechesis.

Apologists are criticized on this point sometimes. I think, for example, of Dr. William Lane Craig, who has been publicly criticized for admitting that he believes in God because of an internal movement of the Spirit--not because of his own apologetics. Yet that is perfectly consistent with the God we believe in. God wants our trust. He wants us to let Him in. To adapt a line from Trusting God with St. Therese, we may win over minds with our arguments, but He must win over our hearts.

If we become convinced that our line of reasoning is the only way to truly understand, or that our way of teaching is the single best, we may find ourselves led into sin. In chapter 5 of Trusting God, we consider the Pharisees' strict observances and self-righteousness. "We might take optional devotions, spiritualities, or traditions and judge others by whether they follow them."  Trust in God must extend to trusting His will and work in the lives of others. If they learn or pray or understand in a different way, there may be nothing wrong.

Likewise, we must extend that trust to trust in God's work in ourselves. We can create our own "optional" practices that become anything but. The author discusses St. Therese's discoveries, by God's grace, as well as her own; they give us examples of how others have received the grace of God to let "good" things go whenever they become hindrances. "It was still a burden," she writes of her own experience, "But I could carry it now without resentment because Jesus carried it with me."  That is the trust St. Therese found and the trust Connie Rossini encourages in her book.

She has many tales to share, both from St. Therese's life and her own, and along the way, much wisdom from the great little saint that is surprisingly, and sometimes awfully, timely. I encourage you to read Trusting God with St. Therese with an open heart.

I'm a teacher at heart, so the inclusion of review questions and activities particularly endears the book to me. These, however, aren't the typical (and much less useful) "did you do the reading?" questions. These questions and activities bring the point of each chapter home to your own life, and I recommend slowly working through them as you go.

You can get a free chapter by subscribing at, and read her free e-book 5 Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life

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1 comment:

Connie Rossini said...

Thanks, Joe! I was once an apologist too, and I know the dangers of it. Even holy activities can become a hindrance if we cling to them instead of to God.

If readers wish to buy my book, the Kindle edition is just $3.99 here: The paperback retails for $15.95 and is slightly discounted at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble:

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