Thursday 2 June 2022

My Other Self - Clarence J. Enzler - Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith

My Other Self: 
Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith
ISBN 9780870612480
eISBN 9780870612633

I picked this book up for a couple of reasons. First a few people I trust and respect had mentioned that they greatly enjoyed it. And second, because Enzler’s everyone’s way of the cross is one of my favourite versions and been a mainstay since the late 80’s when it was still called everyman’s way of the cross. This year during lent I was promoting several different Stations and found out that Enzler had a few other volumes available. The preface of this volume states:

“Since the style of this book is somewhat unusual, a few remarks concerning its structure may be helpful. I have, to a great extent, adapted the mode of presentation followed by the author of the Imitation of Christ. Thus, the reader will find Christ speaking to him in intimate conversations, seeking to make him fully aware of what it means to be a Christian, “another Christ,” Christ's “other self.” 

My aim has been to unfold, as fully as I can, the meaning of union with our Lord and all that it involves both for the individual and for society. I have sought to show that the present moment is Christ's moment, the time for each individual to identify himself with the Lord and to act as Christ. If this book realizes this goal, even to the slightest degree, it will have fulfilled my purpose.”

But the book begins with a preface written by Enzler’s children, called Biographical Introduction. It states:

“We write this reflection about our dad from the perspective of being born into a close-knit Catholic family under the guidance of unparalleled parents, Kathleen Crowley Enzler and Clarence J. Enzler. They were married in Washington, DC, in 1937. Mom was a native Washingtonian; Dad, who grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, attended Columbia College and received his doctorate in sociology from Catholic University in the mid-1930s.

Our dad grew up with a speech impediment, a debilitating stutter that kept him from public speaking for many years. He eventually became an excellent speaker and International Toast Master contestant. Seemingly, his impediment spurred him on to develop excellent writing skills. He spent thirty-two years as an Information Specialist/Speechwriter for the Secretary of Agriculture. He was ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1972 and served at St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in the heart of Washington until his untimely death in 1976.
How does a man work overtime for the government; write four books, numerous articles, and a devotional Stations of the Cross; be involved as a leader in his parish (particularly as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, where he visited and took care of the elderly and poor); yet make time to attend Mass every day and spend quality time with each of his thirteen children during each stage of our lives? His legacy is strong and powerful as a deacon here in Washington, as a dedicated civil servant and as a man of kindness and love for all. His real legacy was his devotion to our mom during their thirty-nine-year marriage and his absolute, unconditional love for each of his children.

Dad lived the words of My Other Self and he lived them well. He was a model Christian, an outstanding Catholic, a defender of the faith, a gifted and skilled writer, a fabulous husband and an unparalleled father. But most of all, he was a man of God. The word you are about to read speak of his faith, his union with the Lord and his love for Jesus. Enjoy the spiritual reflections and come to know how one man endeavored to be Christ's other self.”

The chapters in the volume are:

Foreword by Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
Biographical Introduction
The Priestly Prayer of Jesus Christ

1. The Goal of Life
2. Abandonment
3. Be What I Desire
4. Christ in Us

5. Detachment
6. Virtue
7. Prayer
8. Avoidance of Sin
9. The Mass and the Eucharist

10. The Final Goal

I read each of the 10 in a sitting or two and took a few days to reflect on it before moving on. I highlighted a few passages my first time through, they were:

“Believe that I am goodness itself. Believe that I want your happiness far more than you yourself want it. Believe that I can and will give you happiness.”

“Try to realize that I see all your thoughts and emotions, all your troubles and desires. I know you far more intimately than you know yourself. I know you not only as you are, but as you have been, and as you will be; and I know all of this NOW. There is no past or future with me; there is only the eternal now.”

“Abandon your will to mine, and all that happens must speed you along the path to happiness, to holiness, to sainthood. Under my loving care, nothing can harm you. Whatever happens to you by my will is so good that the angels of heaven themselves could not conceive of anything better.”

“This moment is given to me by my Lord that I may show my love for him by uniting my will with his. I could have nothing better than this specific opportunity to serve my Creator in this particular way. This trial, this interruption, this reprimand are permitted by my Lord to strengthen me and to unite me more closely to him. This movie, this game, this program are to relax my mind, to give me joy. All these are sacraments of the present moment, gifts of God's providence. If I use them well they will increase God's life in me.”

“Do not waste these sacraments of the present moment. Order your life to my will as a good musician conforms and orders his playing to the will of the conductor. Submit to my tempo, my beat, my direction. Keep your eyes on me, as the musician keeps his eye on the leader. How else can you know my will? Turn to me often in thought, prayer, and recollection.”

“Do not spend your time in dreaming what you would do if you were someone else or in another state of life. Accept your present situation in all its circumstances. Acceptance, however, does not mean passivity. If you are sick, accept it as my will for the moment; but ordinarily it is not my will that you should do nothing to get well. Do not complain, but take reasonable measures to cure your illness. In the same way, if your present situation is unsatisfactory, accept it willingly, without complaint, for now; but strive to improve it in reasonable, common-sense ways. This is being what I desire. It is doing my will as I would have it done.”

This book was of immense value. There were times it was strange reading it and hearing Jesus speak to us directly. But that is also part of what makes this book so powerful. Because of that style and format the pieces will challenge, encourage and inspire readers. It is an excellent resource for your spiritual toolbox. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Clarence J. Enzler:
Let Us Be What We Are
In the Presence of God
Some Social Aspects Of The Depression

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