Friday 26 November 2021

Five Smooth Stones - Robert LeBlanc - Facing the Goliath of our Fears

Five Smooth Stones
Facing the Goliath of our Fears
ISBN 9781988165226

This is the first book by Robert LeBlanc that I have read and I believe the first from Justin Press as well. I am familiar with LeBlanc from social media, and during the past 2 years of the pandemic have attended 2 virtual conferences he has put on through Catholic Moment, and his talk during the Immortal Combat conference. His writing style is very engaging. And the book has a lot to offer. The description of the book is:

“Five Smooth Stones: Facing the Goliath of our Fears is a five-part reflection based on the biblical story of David and Goliath. Just as David picked up five smooth stones from the wadi to confront the giant, as we prepare to take on the Goliaths of our fears, we too must put five smooth stones into our own shepherd’s pouch: Humility, Wisdom, Virtue, Courage and the Grace of God. Each chapter examines how these aspects of our Catholic faith build upon each other, emboldening us to face the fears we come across in our daily lives. Each chapter closes with three ‘Points to Ponder’, which call the reader to delve more deeply into their relationship with God.”

Each chapter follows the same format. Biblical verses or quote. The teaching and then three question under the heading ‘Points to Ponder’. We the reader takes the time and some pen and paper, a journal, or a keyboard and online notebook and really wrestles with the questions, I am certain they will benefit much from the reading of the book. A sample set is:

“1. Who/What is your Goliath?
 2. How does your Goliath taunt you?
 3. How do you feel spiritually naked before the Goliath of your fears?”

Or a second example:

“1. How does your pride create fear/anxiety in your life?
 2. What are some fears/challenges in your life right now that you need to step back from and trust God’s plan?
 3. At those problematic momenta in your life have the sacraments (especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist) brought a sense of calmness to your life?”

I can see this as a book that a reader returns to every now and again, either to work through a specific chapter, or the whole volume. It is one of those books that would benefit from a rereading 6 months or a year later, or reviewing it every year maybe during Advent or Lent. It is a great little volume, and provides many tools for your spiritual growth. Some of the passages I highlighted my first time through were:

“We are not asked to have shining armour to overcome Goliath, but simply to know how to choose a few stones, the right ones, with the wisdom and courage of David.”
-St. John Paul II

“Like all stories from salvation history, we need to take a closer look, to go deeper in order to fully understand the story and the lesson that God lovingly wants us to hear.”

“The problem is, just like David in the king’s oversized chain-mail and cumbersome sword, when we put on the armour of the world (self-help strategies, supplements, and mindfulness) we too will find ourselves trying in vain to walk, for (we) are not used to them. (1 Sam 17:39)”

“Trusting that the Lord is at our side, we too can set our jab, square our shoulders and proclaim with conviction to whatever fear or insecurity is dogging us:  I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and with His help, I will strike you down!”

“Like the fictional Hobbit who confronted the dragon and the biblical shepherd boy who slew the giant, the five stones we need in order to confront out fears are: 
The Grace of God”

“Over the years I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut in those kinds of situations, waiting to be asked for advice before giving any, even if it kills me.  Still, I find myself constantly repeating to myself, “God is God, and I am not!”  I especially need to hear this when I’m faced with a particularly difficult task at work, and more importantly, when confronted with my fears.”

“It takes a bigger person to check their ego at the door, to admit that they are frightened and overwhelmed; that they need help.  It takes a bigger person to put their trust in God and not themselves.”

“We need to follow David’s humble example.  We need to come to the realization that to conquer our fears we cannot turn to the armour of the world, that we cannot do it on our own, but that we need to put our trust in the Lord.  In order to slay the giants of our fears, in all humility we need to say:  “Jesus, I trust in You!””

““Only the penitent man will pass.”  We too need to realize this if we are to pass through our fears unscathed.  The acknowledgement of our own imperfections, of our own sinfulness, is the ultimate act of humility.”

“It is only by making a frequent examination of conscience and availing ourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation that our conscience is liberated, freeing us from our fears.”

“Knowing that God is always right is liberating.  Trusting in God’s wisdom as we go about our human lives frees us from our worldly fears.  If we remain in God, we will always have a clear conscience of being right, even while the world is screaming that we are wrong.  Following the wisdom that God has revealed to us, we will have the peace of mind of knowing that we have done what the Father has asked of us.”

“Of all of the St. Augustine quotes that I have come across over the years, however, my own personal favourite remains, “There can be no virtue without temptation!””

“It’s all about the choices we make.  We are constantly at a moral crossroads in our lives, and we must choose which direction we are going to take.  We may ask for help; we may ask for directions; but ultimately the choice is our own; no one can make it for us.  As for choosing the virtuous life, this cannot be done without sacrifice, without turning away from a lie of giving in to our temptations.”

“In the Western World of the twenty-first century, it’s actually harder to lead a virtuous life than one of vice.”

“It is in making small, virtuous steps in our daily lives that we build our confidence to take on the bigger fears, the Goliaths, in our lives.”

This is an excellent read. I highly recommend it. I am certain it will bless the reader. Pick it up and pick up a copy to pass on to a friend or family member, I know you will not be disappointed. I just wish there was an eBook option I know several friends who would pick it up right away.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!  I was interviewed recently on the Pints & Pews Pod Cast, discussing reading Catholic with Robert.

Books by Robert LeBlanc:
Who Do You Say That I Am?

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