In his book When Faith Feels Fragile: Help for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering, Father Scott Hurd does every Catholic a great service. We all have to admit that at some point in own faith journeys there have been moments of dryness. Father Hurd gives us a book that will help the readeraccept this but more importantly know how to deal with those periods.
The book is divided into four parts: All About Faith, Churchy Things To Do, Practical Things To Do and Fun Things To Do. Each section is filled with little pearls of wisdom to use along your faith journey. I will share some of the points from each section that I found to be very interesting.
Father Hurd states early in the book his intention. “This book is about accepting God’s offer of faith. Together we’ll discover what faith is and consider ways we can open ourselves to this gift and hold it close to our hearts. It will take effort, that’s for certain. But then then that’s true of anything worthwhile.”
In Part 1, All About The Faith, Father Hurd lays the foundation for what lies ahead. As in much of the book he uses everyday circumstances to make a point. One chapter dealt with the fact that we need to work at our faith to have a strong one. “We’re all busy people, there’s no doubt about that! Our time is precious, as it should be. But to cultivate our life of faith, that it might become a beautiful garden, our precious Lord invites us to spend more of that precious time – with him.” He further goes on in another chapter giving us reassurance and making the point that this can be a long process. “Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are God’s saints.” Father Hurd goes on to explain that we must also not give up, we must perservere. “The life of faith is a journey. We don’t always know where we’re headed; the road ahead may look dark; we may find ourselves without map and compass; doubts arise and we may fear that the whole trip is pointless. If we think that way, we won’t be the first. Take a deep breath, and keep moving on.” Other topics covered include surrendering to God’s plan, encountering God where we least expect him, and eating a heaping helping of humble pile.
In Part 2, Churchy Things to Do, we learn of different actions we can take on our faith journey. It opens with the interesting image of the Church as a hospital. “Instead of writing off the Church as a “haven for hypocrites,” however, it’s far better to embrace it as a “hospital for sinners.” Christ himself is the hospital administrator, and we can find solace and hope in the fact that he is in control. It’s his Church, and he constantly guides, cleanses it, and renews it. We would do well to stay checked in: for the health of our faith, for the health of our soul.” Father Hurd goes on to offer some wonder advice on prayer. “Even a few daily moments of prayer, however, will set the stage for a deeper relationship with God. It will certainly strength when it fells fragile! And we’ll likely find that it will increase our desire to spend even ,more time with God. We’ll also see, perhpas slowly at first, that our lives have begun to change for the better.” He goes on to spend some chapters on reading scripture, receiving the Eucharist and confession. The reading of quality Catholic material is covered as well with a good point made. “We’ll never be able to absorb all there is to know. We can’t get the heavens inside our head wrote G.K. Chesterton, so we can be content to get our heads inside the heavens.”
In Part 3, Practical Thing to Do, Father Hurd points out simple ways in our day to day lives to live out our faith. He touches upon our work, “The bottom line is that while work is meant to be a part of our lives, it is not our reason for living. Jesus Christ is our reason for living. He calls us to work, but he calls us to work in a Christ-like way.” In the chapter Lighten Your Load we are reminded that “in our noisy culture it can be easier to hear the allure of money than it is to hear the usually gentle voice of God. When that happens the “almighty God” gets displace by the “almighty dollar.” That’s why God invites us to lighten our load and live more simply so that our faith may flourish.” Another point Father Hurd makes later in the section is that, “There’s no escaping the fact that our lives are filled with mundane tasks. But they need not be something to simply endure with clenched teeth! Because if we approach such tasks with a joyful heart and do these ordinary things extraordinarily well for God’s glory, they can be true occasions of grace.”
In Part 4, Fun Things to Do, the simple and fun things and life come to the fore front. “So take a hike! Smell the roses. Listen to the wind in the trees. Visit a zoo or a planetarium. Lie in the grass and absorb the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Sit in the sand and gaze at the ocean. Even tune into a nature show on television. And while we’re at it, we can reduce, reuse, and recycle, flip off the lights when we leave the room, and shut off the water when we brush our teeth. All this can nourish our faith and lead us to exclaim: “Our Lord, how awesome in your name through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2)
Father Scott Hurd has done the reader a great service with this book. Presented in a down to earth writing style, it is easy to read and understand. Full of advice in every chapter there are plenty of gems to be unearthed in its pages. What I have quoted above is just the tip of the iceberg with much more for the reader to discover. In today’s fast-paced world it is certainly easy for our faith to feel fragile. This book will certainly help many people with that by steering them back to a solid foundation for their faith journey ahead.
I received a copy of the book for this review from Pauline Books and Media.