God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World by Francis Cardinal George, OMI. Doubleday Religion (New York, 2011). 221 pp., $22.99.
How to Listen When God is Speaking: A Guide for Modern-Day Catholics by Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ. Word Among Us Press (Frederick, Md., 2011). 172 pp., $12.95.
Cardinal Francis E. George, pre-eminent scholar and archbishop of Chicago, insists that God is still active in the world today as creator and savior, and that he is the primary actor in American society. His God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World begins by giving a Catholic understanding of God, then examines aspects of God’s work in our everyday lives.
Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine in laying the foundation for the existence of a supreme being, Cardinal George takes seriously the biblical tradition that presents a God who speaks and acts and "permits conversation and cooperation between himself and his creatures." He so aptly states that "religion’s challenge to a completely secular worldview is the recognition of how God acts in areas of human experience that are not explicitly sacred: in law, in warfare, in business, in sexuality, in politics."
Cardinal George boldly takes on the pressing issues of our times and provides refreshing insight into the intersection of faith and the public domain. In our country today, the significance of religious faith is often reduced to personal spiritual convictions. Cardinal George, however, argues persuasively that it is God acting through humanity at the root of the fundamental ideals that shape society.
This book is an informative read both for those who already share Cardinal George’s Catholic worldview, as well as those with little to no faith background at all. The profound ideas presented on jurisprudence, personal freedom, warfare and especially the notion of business as a vocation from God will spur interest and challenge the culture norms that minimize the importance of faith and family in today’s society.
Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, in his book, How to Listen When God is Speaking, provides practical and straightforward advice on the often neglected art of listening to God in the providence of one’s daily life. Offering scripturally sound direction and personal reflections from his own journey of faith, Father Pacwa challenges Catholics to listen to God as he reveals himself through Scripture and tradition.
Grounded in the Jesuit practice of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, Father Pacwa begins with an affirmation of what the church believes. When in crises, a person does not fall back on emotion or a spiritual experience, but rather on what they know to be true. It is on the foundation of the church’s teaching that we can have confidence and trust in a God who desires to reveal himself to us.
After guiding the reader through the movements of love, desire, detachment, prayer and praying with Scripture, Father Pacwa instructs the reader on the importance of balancing intellect, emotions and will, with those realities that are good.
He concludes with the challenging task of listening to God in the midst of difficult times, laying bare his own wounds and anguish. "I find it better to listen to God through the midst of the difficulties rather than telling God that there are better ways he could run the universe."
>This is an ideal book for young people, Generation Y and for all who desire to grow close to God who still speaks through Scripture, tradition and in the silence of the heart.
Wright is academic dean of evangelization for the Diocese of Paterson, N.J.