Monday 14 June 2021

Finding God in Anxiety and Depression - Father Antonio Ritaccio - CTS Finding God Series

Finding God in Anxiety and Depression
CTS Finding God Series
Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784694579
CTS Booklet PA43

I have read several books in the ‘Finding God Series’ from the Catholic Truth Society. The first book I read in this series was by Deacon Donnelly as well, Finding God When Prayer Doesn't Work. I have also read almost 200 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society over the last several years. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. But this series is very different. All the titles and volumes in this series are about difficulties in life, or in the family, in faith. I have benefitted from all the books I have read from the Catholic Truth Society. I believe that Father Ritzccio has published just three books and they are all in this series. The description of this volume is:

“Anxiety and depression are among the two most common mental health conditions today. Social stigma is still attached to mental health and sufferers can be under pressure to hide their condition. While good medical treatment and care are often necessary, what place does faith have in aiding recovery?

Drawing on Jesus’ own suffering on the cross, the author shows how hope, prayer, forgiveness, closeness to God and an understanding of his plan for our lives can act as powerful lifelines. There is a rich selection of considered, practical tips to aid readers, and a resource section with helpful contacts and recommendations on further reading.”

The chapters in this small volume are:

God has a plan for your life!
Finding hope when faith is weak
When forgiveness is impossible
When we don’t have strength to carry the cross
Clinging to God in Prayer
Useful resources

This book begins with these words:

God has a plan for your life!

Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health conditions in Britain today, yet sufferers can often feel ashamed of what they are going through because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Sometimes sufferers can be misunderstood and judged by others to be morally weak. Comments like “Try harder” or “Pull yourself together” can make things worse. For this reason, some people who live with anxiety, depression or both can be extremely good at hiding their condition. In a few cases, the consequences of pretending that everything is okay can be devastating. The 2004 document Cherishing Life, produced by the Bishops of England and Wales, states:”

When I picked this book up it was only because I really enjoyed the series. I have a friend who calls me a completionist, in that I find authors I like and read everything they published, or that once I start a series I have to finish it. There were a few titles in this series, this one included, that did not directly apply to me. But the series is so well written That I wanted to read them to be able to speak about them to friends, and to review them. But that being said, there was still much that I benefited from in this book. I now want to review all of the books in the CTS Finding God Series. As mentioned, as I was reading it I realized there was a lot I could learn from and apply. I picked it up just to complete the series but have benefitted greatly from reading it. This is a very important title in the collection. I know many people who have struggled with anxiety and or depression. And this volume would be excellent to read with the. 

In one of the passages that hit me most Father Ritaccio declares:

“Another common mistake is to treat prayer as a relaxation technique with the goal of avoiding the cross by “emptying the mind”. Prayer techniques based on New Age spiritualities such as yoga and reiki are increasingly being offered, even in churches and schools. These should be avoided, because they do not flow from the Christian tradition handed down to us from Jesus and his Apostles and therefore can even be harmful to those who are already spiritually vulnerable (see Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the “New Age”, 2002).”

This mirrored much of what I have read previous, for example in, A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness by Susan Brinkmann, and my own experience with yoga. But he doesn’t just tell us what to avoid, he provides several helpful tools. Including information on:

Vocal Prayer
Meditative Prayer
Spiritual Reading
Contemplative Prayer

And many others tools and resources. This is another excellent read in a very important series. And it was one that I really needed. I needed the reminder of several things from this book. I look forward to reading the remaining few books in the ‘Finding God Series’. Now I have several different series from CTS on the go, and over 100 books on my want to read list from the CTS. So many great books so little time. This is an excellent resource that I highly recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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