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Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The Narrow Gate - Deacon Edward Kleinguetl

The Narrow Gate
Deacon Edward Kleinguetl
Outskirts Press
ISBN 9781977251596
ASIN B09TWW8CHM


I picked up this volume because it was part of Father Mark Goring’s School of Reading. He had sent me a physical copy, but with my dyslexia I really prefer the eBooks so I gave it away and grabbed the Kindle edition. Prior to Father Mark having mentioned Deacon Edward Kleinguetl in several of his daily videos I had not heard of him. I am very thank full this volume fell into my hands, and plan on reading a number of other by Deacon Kleinguetl. The description of this volume is:

“We have been in the midst of a spiritual pandemic, the long-term effects of which are hopelessness and delusion. With so many competing messages, many are confused as to what is required for salvation—if they even desire it at all.

There is Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose so that we could be free from sin and death. God desires salvation and the abundant life for all. However, to gain eternal life, we must strive to enter through the narrow gate and, as Jesus said, those who will find it are few (Cf. Matt. 7:14).

This retreat is intended to examine the narrow way, keeping a focus on two important questions: Do we desire life with God in eternity and is our faith important?

Now, more than ever, it is time to return to the Lord, to reignite the fire within, to be filled with his deifying grace, and reclaim the dignified life he intends for us. To enter through the narrow gate, we must realign our lives with the way God intended us to live. The choice is entirely ours.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Conferences:
     The Way
     Preparing the Way
     Remaining on the Narrow Way
     Rendering an Account
     Accepting the Invitation
Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Other Resources Available

Once I started reading this volume I could hardly put it down. I highlighted numerous passages while reading it the first time through. Some of them were:

“Let us begin with two questions. First: What do I truly desire in life? Consider the evidence: What do I prioritize? Where do I spend my time? With whom do I associate? What is my North Star that drives me day-in and day-out? When we examine our lives, we will recognize what we truly desire in this life. As Christians, we need to consider whether our divinely intended purpose—internal blessedness with God in the life to come—is a priority and where it fits with everything else in our lives.”

“Second: Is my faith important to me? Consider, again, the evidence: Where does my faith fit among my priorities? How much time do I dedicate to it? Do I give my divinely created purpose much thought daily? Have I drifted from the path, maybe too far to the right or to the left? Is there a fire in my heart for Jesus Christ? Or, has my heart grown cold? Am I simply going through the motions?”

“All of us are called to holiness, which is the life God intended for each of us. Periodically, it is important to recalibrate on the spiritual journey—to see where we are and determine the direction we intend to go.”

“The Devil has a great marketing team; he knows that we want quick fixes and an easier path in a society of convenience, instant access to information, and immediate gratification. We become less patient, resist struggles or inconveniences, and increasingly focus on ourselves.”

“This is eternal life described by Jesus and recorded in Sacred Scripture. So, what in this life can compare with an offer of superabundance? The short answer is: nothing, because every time we try to find something other than God to fill our longing, we generally come up empty. Why do people not prioritize this amazing offer? There are likely myriad answers.”

“One cannot fill infinite longing with finite things. Many have tried, yet the result is always the same: we come up empty. The proverbial definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Accordingly, we must try something different. If something other than God is not producing the result we want, perhaps it is time to reconsider God’s offer of salvation.”

“St. Gregory Palamas identifies three points on the spiritual journey. The starting point is the grace received in Baptism. The end point is the perfection that will result at the Resurrection of the Dead, that for which we hope. The third is the stage between these two points, which St. Gregory calls the intermediate stage, life according to Christ’s gospel “by which the God-fearing person is nourished, grows and is renewed, making progress day by day in the knowledge of God, righteousness, and sanctification.””

“Instructions for Personal Reflection Each of us comes into this retreat at a different point on the spiritual journey. As we assess where we are, we strive to recommit ourselves to the Art of Spiritual Life. Accordingly, at the end of each conference, we will provide a short reflection to be read, alone and in silence. Based on the discussion in the conference and this reflection, consider some questions that might help each of us assess our individual situation.”

“What do I truly desire in life? Consider the evidence: What do I prioritize? Where do I spend my time? What friends do I associate with? What is my North Star that drives me day-in and day-out? Is my faith important to me? Consider the evidence: Where does my faith fit in with my priorities? How much time do I dedicate to it? Do I think daily about my divinely created purpose? Have I drifted from the path? Is there a fire in my heart for Jesus Christ? Or, has my heart grown cold? Am I simply going through the motions?”

“Whether we have lost the baptismal zeal in our hearts or find ourselves lost on the intermediate stage toward our destiny, repentance generally is the reset we need to recalibrate.”

“Thus, repentance is our starting point and a prerequisite to progress in the spiritual life. We desire to return to the Lord, to live a life pleasing to him.”

“Accordingly, the spiritual practice of repentance could be illustrated by these four steps: Examination > Confession > Communion > Sober Vigilance (Watchfulness)”

When we examine our actions, what do we observe? What are the root causes of our sins? Is the music we listen to God-pleasing or do the lyrics spew garbage? Are the TV shows we watch God-pleasing, or do they glamorize sin? Do our friends increase our zeal for God, or keep us bound to earth or sinful behaviors? Is what we read God-pleasing; does it encourage growth in the spiritual life, or is it steeped in the ways of the world? These are just a few examples—we likely do not even realize the full extent of our vulnerabilities.”

“A spirit of repentance is foundational for growth in the spiritual life. We are all called to holiness; however, our human nature is weak. Our immersive culture encourages and sometimes tacitly endorses behavior contrary to the teachings of Jesus.”

“We discussed Repentance as a way of life having four specific practices: (1) Examination, (2) Sacramental Confession, (3) Holy Communion, and (4) Vigilance. Which of these practices have I cultivated? Which do I need to cultivate further? Why?”

“Through carelessness, we can easily be swept away with the crowd on the wide road leading to destruction. Herein, we see the importance of daily examination of conscience and confession of thoughts—not becoming complacent.”

“Our fallen human nature is enslaved to sin, and we are not always aware to what extent until it manifests itself in pride, anger, impatience, jealousy, judgment, ingratitude, lustful thoughts, or a variety of other negative stirrings in our heart.”

““Keep them busy with the nonessentials of life and invest unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered. “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince them to work six or seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their families fragment, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.”

“Note that Fesch’s conversion was not immediate. When he was first imprisoned, he sent the prison chaplain away. But the chaplain did not give up, and during the first year, Jacques rediscovered his faith, becoming a devout Catholic and bitterly regretting his crime.”

I hope that those quotes will give you a sampling and feel for this excellent volume. The last quote really struck me as I thought about some friends and family I have been praying for over years and even decades. 

This is one of those books I could see myself picking up and rereading again and again. It is a great book for reading at any time of the year, but I could see it having greater impact over advent or lent. This is a volume I can easily recommend. I am certain all who read it will be blessed and challenged. It has the strength to become a spiritual classic!

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

Read as part of  Father Mark Goring's School or Reading for info click here.

Books by Edward Kleinguetl:
Choosing Life in Christ A Vocation to Holiness
Encounter: Experiencing the Divine Presence
Encounter: Experiencing the Risen Jesus
Encounter: Experiencing the Risen Jesus, Fulfilling Our Deepest
Into the Desert
Journey: Striving for Our Destiny
Mine Know Me
The Fruit of Prayer
The Fruit of Silence
The Meeting Point



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