Monday 22 April 2019

Finding God in Times of Stress - Father Antonio Ritaccio - CTS Finding God Series

Finding God in Times of Stress
CTS Finding God Series
Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784696054
CTS Booklet PA59

I have no qualms stating that I love the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. In the last years I have read and reviewed 60, and have over twice that number on my ‘to be read’ list. In fact, every time I go to do research while preparing a review for a CTS book, I end usually finding at least 1 or 2 more I am interested in. And that is how I ended up reading this book. After I finished reading Finding God in Anger and Bitterness by Nick Donnelly I found that there are 7 booklets in this series including this volume published early in 2019. The books to date in the series have been written by either Nick Donnelly or like this book by Father Antonio Ritaccio. 

I previously thought that I dealt with stress pretty well. I have had some hard times in life. Junk when growing up. Laid off twice with no notice, both times from jobs I really enjoyed. And an injury at work and being off work for three years. Typically, I have slept well, and up until the last few years when I wanted to get healthier and lose some weight, I could make it happen. But after reading this book I really believe that everyone could benefit from giving this book a read. I am sure there is a technique or two you will find helpful. My only real regret about this book is that there is no eBook edition. I would love to be able to gift the Kindle edition to several people I know who only read digitally. But even with that being said this is a very valuable little volume, especially in this day and age.

The chapters in this volume are:
Understanding Stress
Out of Control
Leaving it Until the Last Minute
Letting god
Practical Ways to Approach Stress
The Experience of prayer
Useful Resources

The first passage that really hit me was:

“Growing up, many of us even heard words of condemnation and shame: “You’re stupid!”, “You’ll never amount to anything!” “I wish you had never been born!” Negative words like these can form a kind of curse over us. They tend to define the way we see ourselves and the way in which we interact with the world around us. We can feel unwanted, rejected, stupid, ugly, unlovable, ashamed, and so on. At some deep level, we can even see ourselves as orphans. The scars from the painful ways in which people have treated us in the past can compound the way we see ourselves.”

The older I get the more I realize the truth of a passage like this, and the harder I try with my own children. This book will speak to the heart. It does not necessarily have all the answers but does point us in the right direction. One of the sections in the book talks about ways to handle and deal with stress. It gives some great ideas and also some examples of things not to do. It states:

“Finding ways to manage our breathing through Christian prayers and meditation can play a large part in managing the symptoms of stress. Breathing techniques and relaxation exercises, rooted in yoga and new age religions might be tempting for us to try since they are increasingly popular these days. However, the Church warns us to avoid them since they are not rooted in the Church’s rich history handed onto us by Christ. Even if they have a veneer of “spirituality” there is a danger that we can open ourselves up to the spiritual realities of the practices behind them, making us worse off than before. The Church herself has a rich history of Christian meditative prayer that can help us not only to relax, but also to help us open up to the healing love of the Holy Spirit.”

It provides some great examples of Christian meditation and prayer that can help with stress and with inner healing. And it strongly reminds us that part of the healing process is learning to forgive:

“Even though we know we should forgive ourselves and others we can find that we are powerless to change our lives and so we continue to hang on to the causes of stress to the bitter end of exhaustion. We can find ourselves bound by hidden fears and beliefs that we are worthless. These can then lead us to unhealthy habits of sin that add to our levels of stress - overeating, using pornography, masturbation, illicit sex, gambling, procrastination, stealing, spending hours playing online games, taking drugs, drinking and getting drunk etc.”

We need to learn to forgive others and ourselves, so that we can break the cycles. So that we can learn to heal, and maybe even learn to help others heal. There is a prayer for deliverance found in the book that is taken from Neal Lozano’s book Unbound. It is an incredibly moving and powerful prayer. I have set up an outlook reminder so that I can pray this prayer daily until I am living it to the full. The last passage I wish to share with you is:

Renewing our baptism:

As baptised children of God, we need to recognise the power that we have to renounce the influence of evil in our lives. We can refresh the power of our baptism at any moment by first repenting of our sins and renouncing Satan’s influence over us and then accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives and receiving the Father’s blessings.

Renunciation is a fruit of repentance. In repenting of our sins and vices (sinful habits), we are declaring that there is no more place in our lives for the idols that tempt us to turn towards them for our security.”

I do not typically read physically books but received a gift copy of this one. I am very thankful I have read it. And know that I will read it again. The resource section at the end of the book has both Catholic and Non-Catholic resources in the UK for many areas where we might need help after reading this book. Living in Canada I am certain if I reached out to some of them, they would be able to make referrals. This is an amazing little volume and I give it a very solid 5/5 stars. It was a book I read because of other in the series, but I found it was a book I needed to read. And maybe you will find the same if you give it a chance.

Another excellent resource from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Other Books in the Finding God Series:
Finding God in Times of Stress - Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Finding God in Loneliness - Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Finding God in Anxiety and Depression - Fr Antonio Ritaccio

Finding God in Anger and Bitterness - Nick Donnelly
Finding God in Doubt and Disbelief - Nick Donnelly
Finding God in Anger and Bitterness - Nick Donnelly
Finding God When Prayer Doesn't Work - Nick Donnelly
Finding God When a Loved One Loses Faith - Nick Donnelly

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