I am not blogging or writing much today because I like to take Fridays as a ‘down day’ to read and study and prepare for the weekend. I couldn’t put down one of the books I was sent for review. Patricia Treece’s God Will Provide by Paraclete Press.
Patricia is well known for her books on saints–especially modern saints. She writes in a brisk, cosy and economical style and her great enthusiasm for her subject comes through clearly. The book is subtitled, Now God’s Bounty Opened to Saints–and 9 Ways it can be Open for You Too. Patricia encourages us to live more by reliance on God’s providence in our lives. She refers to numerous miraculous stories from the lives of the saints showing how time and again, through a multitude of ways God provides when we try to live in loving obedience and sacrifice.
Too often in my experience the Catholic expression of this sort of life is, on the one hand, very gloomy, and on the other hand, supposed to be only for nuns, priests, monks and sisters. The typical narrative is along these lines, “You may find yourself poor and in terrible health. The thing to do is to suffer in silence and offer it up and hope for the best.” The other impression is, “Nuns and monks live on air and water. They trust God to provide–but then again their needs aren’t very great so that’s pretty easy for God.” The unspoken assumption is that all the other Catholics are meant to be out there making as much money and saving as much and living their lives according to the standards of the world.
Treece does us the great service of showing that the life of faith is possible for “ordinary” Christians. Furthermore, she shows us that this life can be joyful, exciting and dynamic in God’s service. This was one of the benefits I received being brought up in an Evangelical Christian home. We had heroes like the German pastor George Muller who gave up everything and relied totally on divine providence to run his orphanages in Bristol, England. We heard stories of missionaries who were provided for miraculously and who lived the lives of miracles daily. These were joyful and exciting tales which made the reliance on divine providence possible.
Of course Catholics had these stories too, but somehow they didn’t seem possible for ordinary folk. Treece combines stories of God’s providence with excellent advice on how we are to live if we rely on divine providence. Practical tips for ‘re-tooling’ our minds and our expectations are given–good advice on financial management–practical advice on relationships and how to combine prudence with extravagance for God. All of it is bundled up in a lively and inspiring style.
Treece has clearly lived this way for many years and learned to rely on God’s providence. I and my family have done so intermittently, but whenever we have stepped out done something daring for God we have been rewarded with great returns of grace.
If you buy one book on the spiritual life this year. This should be the one. Highly. Very highly recommended!