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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Image (February 19, 2013)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
The founder and president of Catholics Come Home(r) offers inspiration for Catholics from all walks of life, whether lapsed or practicing, to deepen their faith and draw them closer to Jesus and his church.
In the first three years since its inception, Catholics Come Home(r), a nonprofit multimedia organization dedicated to promoting Catholic evangelization, has created and aired inspiring film messages (or invitations) to millions of people around the world. Now, author Tom Peterson, who spearheads the organization, explains the "how and why" of the Catholic faith--drawing from Scripture, his own struggles, and those of other converts to illuminate the importance of the Catholic faith. His book, accessible for readers from 10-100, offers easy ways you can deepen your faith and in turn spread faith to others.
List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Image (February 19, 2013)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
God’s Extraordinary Plan for You
Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
God has something extraordinary planned for your life.
Let me say that again slowly because it’s really important.
God has something extraordinary planned for your life!
In our fast-paced, highly technological world, this statement might sound a bit lofty, but the lives of mil- lions of souls who have come before us attest to this simple truth:
God has a wonderful plan in store for you.
God wants you to be happy. He wants you to experience His unfailing compassion. He wants you to feel the warmth of mercy and to share His love with others. God wants you to know that you exist for a reason. Discovering God’s plan for your life is rather easy, yet, to be honest, somewhat difﬁcult, too. It starts with saying yes to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to guide you. Living a God-afﬁrming life is ultimately a decision that each of us needs to make. Sometimes it can be a tough decision. Does saying yes to God mean saying no to the secular world? To an extent it does, but let me tell you, the exchange rate is in your favor when you trade in your old life for a new life in Christ! The chaos, noise, and distractions of secular society lure millions of souls away from God. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are heroic role models who exist or have existed in the din of all this craziness, yet have still lived deeply spiritual lives. In fact, their heroic mission in life was to make the lives of those around them more, well, humane.
Let’s look at Mother Teresa as one such heroic example. Mother thrived spiritually even in the squalor and uncertainty of a country where thousands died from malnutrition and hardship every day! She took what some would call the throwaways of life, people few thought of as human, and helped them to regain their human dignity. With trustful surrender to God’s Divine providence, Mother Teresa left the security of the Loreto Sisters convent in India with ﬁve rupees and wearing a sari to accept a life of poverty, living among the poorest Indians. She took up her mission in the slums of Calcutta not knowing where she would make a home or how she would survive. She put total trust in God that since He gave her the mission, He would take care of her. Interestingly, as recent books have indicated, even Mother Teresa struggled with her faith. But you know what? She knew her purpose in life and trusted the Holy Spirit to lead the way. This isn’t to say she didn’t have moments when she may have struggled or doubted, yet she consistently maintained a clear vision of what she had to do: love and serve God and others. Each of us, not just Mother Teresa, is also called to love and serve. It is God’s will for His children.
YOU CAN BECOME A HERO OF THE FA IT H
Mother Teresa, granted, is an extreme example of sacriﬁcial love and service in a vocational calling. You prob- ably know more people unlike her than you do people like her. You probably know people who are indifferent to the spiritual life, who have generally forgotten God and devoted themselves entirely to the pursuit of what they believe to be success and happiness. This is why I wrote this book—to share with you and the people around you proven ways to enter into a deeper relation- ship with God and His Church, and to help bring your relatives and neighbors home to our universal Catholic family as well.
The fundamental core mission of this book is to help you become a lay witness of the New Evangelization. What does this mean? Being a lay witness of the New Evangelization is about breaking out of your nine-to-ﬁve routine in order to live a more heroic Catholic life, a destiny designed not just for priests and nuns, nor intended just for deacons and monks, but for you and me, the ordinary folks in the pews. We must be witnesses who attest to the wonders of being in a covenant relationship with the resurrected Christ, and who live as active members of His family, the Holy Catholic Church. By learning and sharing your Catholic faith, you too can experience the greatest adventure of your life as you give yourself more completely, more passionately, to the will of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It all boils down to doing one thing: surrendering yourself to Divine Providence, trusting that God will provide you with everything you need.
In order to begin on this path, ﬁrst learn your faith; after all, you cannot give what you do not have. The Most Reverend David L. Ricken, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, said, “In order to evangelize, a person must ﬁrst be evangelized. This is really at the heart of the New Evangelization.”
There is more: You must be receptive to being ﬁlled with Christ’s mercy, grace, and love. Once you are immersed in the love of Christ, you can better share His love with others.
The time for us to act is now, since the world keeps moving faster, and more and more of our loved ones are being drawn away from the Catholic faith. Many drift away from God altogether. Atheism and agnosticism are growing at alarming rates. The Church and the world are in dire need of true Christian witnesses, authentic and dedicated heroes of the faith, modern- day saints who will help lead more souls to heaven. You have been called to be one of these hero-saints!
Leon Bloy, a French novelist and fervent convert to Catholicism, once wrote, “There is only one tragedy in the end . . . not to have been a saint.” Our Lord’s greatest desire for you is to become a saint, to be holy. In 2 Timothy 1:9 Saint Paul says, “[God] saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago.”
WHY ME? WHY NOW?
Columbia magazine, a monthly publication published by my brother Knights of the Knights of Columbus, reported that Pope Benedict XVI said: “The greatest crisis facing our world is the absence of God. We all need God.” Our mission, as the body of Christ, is to spread the good news of Jesus to the world.
The need for Christian love in our society is real, and it is serious. Our world is starving for the spiritual. At baptism, the Holy Spirit placed in each of us a type of homing device, a kind of GPS—a God Positioning System—to help us ﬁnd our way back to God, home to His Church. But many people have unplugged their GPS from its power source, by abandoning the Mass and the sacraments. Only one of every four Catholics currently practices their faith regularly and attends weekly Mass. Consequently, many have lost their way and don’t know the route back. We need to help these wandering Catholics and others to ﬁnd their way home.
Since 1965, weekly Mass attendance has plum- meted from 71 percent at its peak to a meager 17 percent in 2008. This pandemic hits home for every faithful practicing Catholic, since we all have very close family members and friends who have drifted away from the sacraments, the Catholic Church, and even from God Himself. We miss these loved ones, we pray for them, and we are deeply concerned for their salvation, as we should be.
While roughly 24 percent of Americans are baptized Catholics, statistics from the Pew Research Center show that only one out of four baptized Catholics practices their faith regularly by going to Sunday Mass. A large percentage never go to Mass, and some may go infrequently, perhaps at Christmas or Easter. So when you study these sobering statistics, you realize that only 6 percent of Americans are practicing Catholics. Ac- cording to Georgetown University’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity, the statistics for Europe are even worse, with churches virtually empty in many countries.
Barna Group research shows that there has been a 92 percent increase in the number of unchurched Americans since 1991. Indifference is escalating, and more people justify being lukewarm in their faith, since so many other people are doing much worse things. Another epidemic is moral relativism, whose adherents point out that people disagree on what is moral, and therefore there is no objective right or wrong, and since no one is right or wrong, they advocate that we should tolerate others’ behavior even if we don’t agree with it. Another growing philosophy is secular human- ism, whose proponents believe that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. Secularism is growing across the world, where souls are falling for the distractions and materialism of this world and giving them priority over God and His teachings. Last but not least, we see agnosticism and atheism growing exponentially.
WE CAN ’T SHARE WHAT WE DON ’T HAVE
Before we can be fruitful in leading people home to Jesus and His Church, we need to grow closer to God ourselves. This is where my spiritual journey and personal story come into play. For most of my life I was a perfunctory Catholic. Sure, I went to Sunday Mass, prayed, and fasted and abstained on the days pre- scribed by the Church. But for me, these were routines for the most part. What was truly important to me were my family, my career, my friends, my goals. Don’t get me wrong, family, work, friends, and goals are all important, and we displease God if we neglect them. Yet Jesus instructs us that the greatest commandment is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). But that is not how I loved God. He existed on the periphery of my life; I barely thought of Him unless I needed some- thing. Those days are over, and part of this book tells the story of how God brought me back into full communion with the Church and transformed my life. My hope is that my story may help you discover God’s plan for your life and, God willing, open an exciting new door for you, one that brings you and those around you deeper into the faith.
Since I accepted God’s invitation to receive His love and mercy, my life was been blessed with a deep purpose and happiness I had never felt before. While my heart experienced a profound conversion, essentially my soul was undergoing a “reversion” home to my Catholic roots, the sacramental graces I received at my baptism, my ﬁrst confession, my ﬁrst holy communion, and my conﬁrmation. The sacramental graces never left me, but the ﬂame of my spiritual pilot light needed to be fanned by the breath of the Holy Spirit. Maybe yours does, too?
CATHOLIC S COME HOME . . . LOTS OF THEM!
Not long after my awakening of faith, the epiphany that led to my reversion, I discovered that God was also calling me to help others on their journey home. With God’s grace, I established an international media evangelization apostolate called Catholics Come Home. Little did I know that in just three years over 125 million viewers would see our new and inspiring television commercials and visit our bilingual websites. And after seeing these evangelization ads we call evangomercials more than 350,000 people would come home to Jesus and His Church!
Why has Catholics Come Home been so effective and attracted so much international attention? Catholics Come Home works because it provides a simple invitation to people, meets them where they are, and gives them an easy way to begin their journey home to Jesus and His Church. I believe that deep down, most people really want to be better people and do more good in the world. Many people want to grow closer to God, to trust in him, but they just don’t know where to begin. We’ve witnessed that many of these regular folks begin their journey back to Jesus and the Church after seeing an inviting television message during their favorite program. When they’ve been asked, “Why did you come home?” the vast majority answer, “Because you invited me!” This is how Catholics Come Home is answering the call of the New Evangelization. Each of us is called by God to spread His good news and bring souls home, as well. After all, this is our prime mission as members of the Church, and our duty as baptized Christians.
As an added outreach to their local Catholics Come Home campaigns, some lay Catholics have formed door-to-door prayer teams. When they’ve gone around their neighborhoods, they’ve said, for example, “I’m from St. Anne’s Catholic parish, and a number of us will be praying at church in front of the Blessed Sacrament for the needs of families in our neighborhood. How can we pray for you and your family?” We’ve heard stories of people who have been brought to tears because someone offered to pray for a spouse who lost a job, a parent with cancer, or a child with a drug addiction. Door-to-door evangelization has been a successful outreach. When Catholics are proud of their faith, understand their faith, and have a close relationship with Christ, our Church blossoms and attracts souls.
A NEW SPRINGTIME OF HOPE
Whether we share our beautiful Catholic faith by broadcasting television evangomercials inviting souls home, or we discuss our faith with relatives, neighbors, friends, or coworkers in person, the Holy Spirit often chooses to work through faithful followers, if we are willing. Are you willing?
When we embrace God and He embraces us back, we become ﬁlled with a passion to share the good news of Jesus with the world. After all, that is the core mission of the body of Christ. It’s why the Church exists. Through our Christian baptism, you and I are com- missioned to evangelize, to proclaim Jesus to the world, and to help others discover the fullness of faith, and for Catholics that means everything that the Catholic Church has to offer.
If the thought of sharing your faith with others makes you anxious, bear with me. You do not have to quit your job or sell your home, give up your family, enter a seminary, or spend the remainder of your mortal life tucked away in a convent. While that may be the courageous path prepared for some saints, it’s typically not the route God has designed for most regular people like you and me who need to live in the world but are re- minded so beautifully in the Gospels that we are not to be of the world. The path to being an apostle of Christ today begins with igniting a spark of passion for your faith, then adding a bit of heroism to your life. It’s about climbing out of the hole of lukewarm mediocrity to live a more vibrant, committed, and passionate faith. It’s about ﬁnding true purpose and meaning for your life. Remember what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 2010 in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini: “We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. . . . It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.”
The surest route to being a more heroic Catholic today is by living God’s will, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide you, using your God-given talents and interests to their fullest potential, and serving those who are struggling with faith. Ultimately these acts of heroism lead to sainthood. Again, don’t be put off by a word that may have intimidating connotations. In fact, all baptized Christians are called to be saints. Granted, few of us will ever be formally canonized by the Church, but re- member that every soul in heaven is a saint. How is that so? By the simple fact that when we go to heaven we are joined to God forever. And that is our goal—eternal salvation with all the blessed in the kingdom of heaven. Becoming a saint starts with being rooted ﬁrmly in the truths of the faith, attending Mass, frequent reception of Jesus in the Eucharist, obeying the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Church, studying Sacred Scripture, and availing yourself of the sacrament of Reconciliation when you sin and fall short.
HOW THIS BOOK WILL HELP
Today there are so many people who are lost and bro- ken. Helping these souls ﬁnd their way back home is not only a duty; it is an act of mercy. It means doing what you can do to bring a soul back into a state of grace. This will not require preaching on street corners or confronting notorious sinners (again, unless God is calling you to this type of work). Instead, I’m hoping this book will help demonstrate how the right word or the right action at the right time can be decisive in helping your relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers ﬁnd their way home. This book also suggests ways to circumvent roadblocks and overcome challenges that lie ahead of you in your apostolic mission to get to heaven and help bring as many people with you as possible. And ﬁnally, in reading through this book you will pick up some valuable tools to help you grow in happiness and fortitude, to help you cross the ﬁnish line with your eyes ﬁrmly ﬁxed on heaven every step of the way.
If this still sounds a bit overly ambitious to you, I understand how you feel. I felt that way, too, at ﬁrst. But over time, I’ve come to believe for myself that with God all things are indeed possible!
DETOURING OFF THE BRIDGE
Imagine that you are viewing a massive and beautiful bridge spanning a cavernous river gorge. On one side of the bridge is a busy city ﬁlled with millions of inhabit- ants, tall buildings, and various noisy commercial and passenger vehicles. On the opposite side of the bridge is a lush, peaceful tropical paradise ﬁlled with fruit trees, ﬂowers, waterfalls, streams, and quaint cottages, but relatively few people.
At some point you realize that while numerous cars are heading toward the bridge from the city, relatively few cars are actually completing their trip over to the other side. Most of the cars are actually getting off at the very last exit before the bridge. In fact, for every twenty-four cars that approach the bridge between the city and the tropical paradise, only six make their way across.
Why not just take the bridge to paradise? Well, this, believe it or not, happens every day. What do I mean? Let me explain.
The Catholic Church serves as our wonderful bridge, a solid support structure, designed by Jesus Himself, to carry us and our families across the deep and tumultuous currents of the world, guiding our journey home to heaven. Yet sadly only a small percentage of travelers are actually staying on this bridge and crossing safely to the other side. Also very few observers are volunteering to help wave the caution ﬂags, in an effort to help direct families safely to their ultimate destination.
It seems as if nearly all of us have friends, close relatives, neighbors, and coworkers who have veered off the Catholic bridge to try other routes. In fact, some have abandoned their faith journey altogether and are heading back to the apparent glitter of the big city. Still others just run out of gas, stalling before crossing over the spiritual bridge, and ending their progress at some point along the way.
Today many families in our world are driving along aimlessly. So many people are searching for God, looking for a retreat from the chaos, but they just don’t know how to escape the urban din. Few souls truly understand that nothing other than God will satisfy their search for happiness.
But this is exactly why we must help, now! In fact, Jesus is calling all of His followers, to assist Him by inviting the multitudes to a better way that will eventually lead more people safely home. You and I are being called to help in this critical rescue mission for souls. And when we serve Jesus in helping these weary travelers with some needed direction, we will discover true purpose and experience real happiness in our own lives too!
ADV EN T U R ES W IT H GOD!
At this point I’d like to brieﬂy tell you a little bit about my life’s journey, which has had its own unique path. To be honest, there was nothing all that extraordinary about my beginnings. My 1960s Midwestern Catholic middle-class upbringing was normal. In fact, it was just plain ordinary, with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who had a stable career working for the U.S. Postal Service. It was not until high school that the talents and interests that would shape my vocation started to become evident. In retrospect, I can see that God blessed me with academic abilities, public speaking skills, a logical business mind, creativity, and ambition. These gifts would prove fruitful in college, in my ﬁrst marketing and advertising jobs out of college, and eventually for our Catholics Come Home apostolate.
Early in my career I met my wife, Tricia, and we married. In the years that followed our family was blessed with three incredible and beautiful daughters. At this point in my life I was just a lukewarm Catholic. My faith was not a high priority, particularly as my career began to advance. The pursuit of wealth, honor, power, and achievement took all of my waking hours, and I gave these things precedence over God. I had a sizable income, a big house, nice cars. Although these comforts were fun for a time, the novelty always faded and I began to covet the next new toy that would bring me some excitement for another month or two.
Looking back, I realize that I nearly sold my soul, forfeiting my peace and investing every waking moment to acquire and maintain all the trappings the world tells us are important. My days became exhausting; slowly I was being enslaved by the desire for a bigger home, a nicer car, and even more personal success. My spiritual pilot light, ignited at baptism and fueled by the sacraments and a solid Catholic education, had nearly been extinguished. The sad fact was that I had no idea what was going on. It was all a slow fade into a strange, almost surreal fuzziness. Have you ever felt this way? If you have, stop for a moment and ask your- self now what secular things or material pursuits may be holding you back from realizing real happiness and a closer spiritual walk with Jesus? At some point we need to realize that these signs of success easily become false idols that replace God in our hearts. And the idols aren’t free; they come at a very hefty cost.
A few of my friends from church saw that my priorities were grossly out of order, so they invited me on a men’s retreat. I had been uplifted by retreats as a teenager, but because of distractions in recent years I hadn’t made attending a retreat a priority. I was kind of ambivalent about my friends’ proposition. My mind was racing with responsibilities at the time, but ﬁnally I decided that at least getting away would be an opportunity to decompress a bit. Maybe I could get some rest.
But something amazing happened on this retreat. Before we continue, let’s look at this word retreat for a moment. Certainly it means going away to pray and commune with God, but militaristically it also means “to ﬂee,” and, probably, without knowing it at the time, I needed to ﬂee from the superﬁciality and chaos of my life. In a moment of pure grace, I reconnected with God. How, you might wonder? Simply put, I ﬁnally shut up and let God talk to me in the quiet of my heart, and what He told me changed my life forever. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, my family began downsizing and simplifying our lives. When I started making room for Jesus in my heart and investing my time in other people, my true calling became evident: to use the talents with which God had blessed me for the good of the Church and the New Evangelization.
Within a few months after my reversion experience on that retreat, by the grace of God, two new media apostolates were born: VirtueMedia, dedicated to promoting the pro-life cause and Catholics Come Home, dedicated to advancing the New Evangelization called for ﬁrst by Pope John Paul II and more recently by Pope Benedict XVI. To some, the glamour and fast-paced world of television production may sound exciting and impressive, but, honestly, both apostolates had humble beginnings. VirtueMedia began in our spare bedroom as a part-time effort ﬁnanced for the ﬁrst few years by my day job. We started by creating two pro-life ads: one to help pregnant women who were abortion-vulnerable, the second to offer hope and healing to women who have had an abortion. Honestly, I knew relatively little about un- planned pregnancies and even less about post-abortion healing. But it seemed God was calling me to use my advertising background to help promote the sanctity of life to society, and to encourage women facing unplanned pregnancies to choose motherhood or adoption for their unborn babies. So I learned what I could, and I learned fast.
VirtueMedia aired its ﬁrst commercials on local Phoenix area television stations. We had no idea what the response would be—or even if we would get a response. About eight months after the ﬁrst ad ran, I held a newborn baby, Baby Jerry, in my arms. Our commercials offer a toll-free number 866-88-Woman and a link to our informational website PregnancyLine.org, both of which connect pregnant women with a choice of local pregnancy centers in their area. These commercials provided the information and resources necessary to convince Baby Jerry’s mother not to have an abortion. Next came Baby Ashlynn, and then many others, thanks be to God.
Over time, as VirtueMedia’s pro-life ads began airing regionally, nationally, and internationally, the lives of many more babies were saved. To our astonishment, when the ads aired nationally on MTV and BET, within one month approximately 22,000 pregnant women responded, asking for help. While we were thrilled by the incredible response to the ads, we were overwhelmed by the realization that so many pregnant women had been considering ending the lives of their babies. It was a reminder to us of the terrible toll of abortion on demand in this country; over 54 mil- lion babies have been aborted since 1973. But all those phone calls from all of those pregnant women were also evidence of God’s mercy at work in the world.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of meeting and developing close friendships with prominent leaders of the pro-life movement. These men and women are the heroes of our day. One in particular, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of Phoenix, taught me that “ it’s hard to form people in virtue, if they are not ﬁrst formed in faith.” Bishop Olmsted’s wise observation inspired the growth of Catholics Come Home, founded in 1997. Nearly a decade prior, Pope John Paul II published Christiﬁdeles Laici, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation in which he urged the lay faithful to participate fully in their vocation to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world, especially through the modern media. Catholics Come Home was our answer to the Holy Father’s call. We did not begin with a formal marketing plan, but we were ﬁlled with enthusiasm about bringing our Catholic faith to the widest possible audience. Our ads spotlight the history, beauty, spirituality, and accomplishments of our Catholic Church. The evangelization commercials, which we call evangomercials, encourage viewers to seek a personal relationship with Jesus, remind them of His Divine Mercy, and teach them that Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it! Our goal was to draw non-Catholics and inactive Catholics home to the Church.
Once again, we saw the Lord guiding us. Led by the Holy Spirit, within the ﬁrst few years after Catholics Come Home ran its ﬁrst messages, over 350,000 souls returned to the Catholic faith, based on reports from partner dioceses. The ads aired from Seattle to Boston, from St. Louis to New Orleans, from Corpus Christi to Sacramento. Within three years, nearly thirty-three archdioceses and dioceses had run these “come home” invitations. In the wake of the ads, many dioceses reported notable increases in Mass attendance, averaging about 10 percent in most dioceses, rising as high as nearly 18 percent in others. When parishes asked returnees, “Why did you come home?” the vast majority answered, “Because you invited me.” How incredible God is! Our contribution was modest, yet God multi- plied it as once He multiplied a handful of loaves and ﬁshes to feed thousands.
Then, on December 16, 2011, for the ﬁrst time in the history of the Catholic Church in America, or of any religion for that matter, Catholics Come Home television commercials began airing on prime-time television on major networks including CBS, NBC, Univision, CNN, USA, TBS, and others. Based on Nielsen ratings, over 125 million people were being invited home, seeing the evangomercials ten times each during the campaign. The evidence of God’s mercy is overwhelming. Without God we can do nothing, but with God all good things are possible! Regular people like us just need to show up with our God-given talents—our “loaves and ﬁshes”—and join our Lord’s team in this vital mission to rescue souls.
You are uniquely blessed with your own set of talents, gifts, charisms, ideas, and inspirations of the Spirit. You are called to serve God in your workplace or school, in your neighborhood, and among your family. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to discern your vocation, to discover how God is calling you to participate in your own personal adventure of the New Evangelization to help Catholics come home.
FULFILLING YOUR HEART’S DEEPEST DESIRE
God desires to fulﬁll the deepest longings of your heart and make your dreams come true. He is always willing and able to help you, no matter what your strengths or shortcomings, how old or young you are, whatever your income or career, regardless of where you live. Our Father truly has a wonderful, action-packed plan and purpose for your life. He will meet you where you are, at the moment you sincerely open your heart to invite Him in. Saint Teresa of Avila tells us, “Since He does not force our will, He takes what we give Him; but He doesn’t give Himself completely until we give ourselves completely.”
So read on and enjoy some incredible stories of God’s love and mercy, and discover a world hidden from the proud and powerful. Along the way you’ll encounter some wisdom that can help you in your daily struggles. Simplify your life, refocus your attention on Jesus, celebrate new beginnings, and RSVP to the greatest family reunion of all time. Together you and I will learn how to serve God and our neighbors more generously. When we do so, our Lord will use us to help heal our wounded culture, advance the New Evangelization, and guide lost, unhappy souls back to the safety of home.
If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.
Pope Ben edict X V I