I appreciate the lighthearted and often humorous approach Kreeft has on this topic. Not that one’s eternal salvation is anything to take lightly, but this is an exciting journey, one that leads to eternal bliss and happiness. So, it seems appropriate that we should view the process (life), not as a chore or something we have to struggle through, but a precious gift to be relished, embraced and enjoyed. Kreeft quotes Léon Bloy, who says, ““Life, in the end, has only one tragedy: not to have been a saint.” Amen! For many years, I was comfortable just trying to be a good person. Being a saint…why aim at that improbability! Aim for purgatory, a more realistic target! However, when you set your sights on anything less than being a saint, your journey will be a “chore” and challenges will be seen as obstacles. Sure, I’m likely making a short stop before the pearly gates, but striving to be a saint allows you to live life to the fullest, open to the depths of God’s, grace, self-communication, love and to be the person God created you to be.
To become a saint one needs to take to heart the words of the Our Father, “thy will be done.” Kreeft says that the main obstacle to holiness is selfishness. It is the desire that “my will be done.” We are too often quick to take the pleasure or satisfaction at hand, that is tangible and that we can experience immediately…the fruit of the tree. Kreeft encourages us to allow God to be our guru…our guide. Open to God’s guidance you will come to see that…”every single thing that happens in your life is directly and deliberately designed by God for one end: your own personal, individual, unique good, to perfect your unique self, to bring you to maximum joy” (Ch. 6). Our true happiness comes by embracing God’s will.
In these chapters, Kreeft also addresses the age-old question concerning the existence of evil and suffering if God is all good and all loving. He offers very insightful explanations that we’ll look at in the discussion questions below.
I hope you found the opening chapters of this book to be engaging and motivating. Let’s all set our sights and hearts on being a saint, not someday, but today!
Kreeft calls this book a “festooning” of Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s work, Abandonment to Divine Providence. I love that little book and have read it several times. If you have not read this, do yourself a favor and put it on your short list. You can find this book on Formed.org HERE.
- Kreeft states of himself in Chapter One, “I am myself a totally convinced, ‘eat-everything-Mommy-puts-on-your-plate’ Catholic Christian.” Does that describe you?
- If so, don’t we often want others, especially our family, to be in this category with us? How challenging is it when those close to us do not live up to our expectations?
- If not, what parts of the Catholic Faith do you struggle with?
- In Chapter Three, Kreeft says that the existence of evil is the strongest argument for atheism as they would point to the contradiction of a good and loving God allowing evil. Many people struggle with the existence of evil in the world. Does Kreeft’s explanation satisfy that question or do you still have a difficult time justifying evil? In your own words how would you explain why evil exists?
- Kreeft speaks in Chapter Six about Jesus’ petition at Gethsemane “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” Kreeft says, some things are not possible even for an omnipotent God. Kreeft says, “So it if were possible for God to make us holy and wise by giving us an easier lesson, better gifts, more graces, He certainly would do just that. So if He does not give us the easy way that we would prefer, then it is impossible.” How does this understanding affect how you view God’s presence in your life?
- What new insights have you gained from these first few chapters?
Please feel free to comment on these questions or any other thoughts you’d like to share on these chapters!