Book Break: Impact of God

This spring, Fr. Richards tasked the parish staff with reading Fr. Iain Matthew's book, The Impact of God: Soundings From St. John of the Cross. This request was a blessing in disguise. It's a blessing, because the book, ultimately, is a beautiful and thought-provoking exploration of the Spanish mystic's theology of nada and todo (nothing and all), his approach to prayer, his call to love and union with God. It was in disguise, because by most accounts, St. John of the Cross is not an easy read:

It's a difficult book to review, given the challenge of the topic, so instead I will share three key concepts that stuck out to me and to which my thoughts have returned many times in the weeks since I started it. If these entice you, pick up the book and savor it, a bit at a time.
The flexibility is fundamental because it alone does justice to the dignity of each person, a 'most beautiful and finely wrought image of God'. It does justice too to the laws of growth. ... John says that humanity, and each person, was wedded to Christ when he died on the cross, a wedding made ours at our baptism. But all that happens 'at God's pace, and so all at once'. It has to become ours at our pace, ' and so, little by little' (Matthews, p. 15).
I will admit that I also found Fr. Matthew's writing challenging, at first. He weaves quotes from the saint's poetry, prose, and letters in freely with his interpretations and explanations, creating a poetic account that does not read like literary or theological analysis. Ultimately, this too is a blessing, because a book that could have been an academic exercise turns into a personal invitation to explore the mystic's works further and to strive for a deeper prayer life. Once you trust that the author knows St. John of the Cross well enough to write with authority, the book reads like a mini-retreat -- and I'm sure I will read it again.

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