Friday 23 September 2022

In His Zone 7 Principles for Thriving in Solitude - Father Mark Goring

In His Zone: 
7 Principles for Thriving in Solitude
ISBN 9781533115904

This is the fourth volume I have read by Father Mark Going, and I have read at least that number from his Saint Mark’s School or Reading. This book is different than the others I have read by Father Mark, but like all the others it is an excellent read. 

The description of the book is:

“As disciples of Jesus our hearts are meant to burn with love unceasingly. Solitude is a wonderful place to learn how to kindle this fire into flame. It can then become a constant source of delight within us. This warmth is unique and does not compare with any other stirrings the heart can experience. The Holy Fire that comes from the Spirit is distinctive. When it comes we perceive that it comes from an inexhaustible source. We go to solitude to be still so that the Holy Spirit will come to us and make His home in us. We go to solitude to learn to enjoy the delight of this Holy Fire; to be in His Zone. So, Father Mark decided to camp on a raft for eight days as he wanted to see if these seven principles for thriving in solitude were as effective as he thought them to be.”

The description on the back of the book is:

“In His Zone:

I decided I would put myself in a situation of more radical solitude…

I would build a raft.

I would spend eight days on this raft with only a few basic items.

The raft would be on a secluded lake in the woods where I would be sure to not have any human contact…

I wanted to see if these principles were as effective as I thought them to be.”

The Chapters in this book are:

Why I'm Here
The Raft
His Zone
1 Solitude will try to kick you out
2 The First Demon to pitch his 
     tent next to you when you enter 
     solitude is the Demon of Laziness 
3 Ora et Labora
4 Beware of the Demon of Busyness
5 Beware of the Noonday Demon
6 Keep the Rhythm and the
     Rhythm will Keep You.
7 Eat Well 
What Happened
Retreat Notes
About the Author

I read this book over a few days while the children were all away and I was off work. I enjoyed the volume over several coffees and teas. It was amazing to read about Father Mark’s experiences and lessons from his time in solitude. I highlighted many passages while reading this volume. Some of them are:

“This book is written for those who are planning on building a raft, putting it on a secluded lake and then sitting on it for a few days. I'm really hoping this will be a best seller.”

“And finally some would see eight days alone on a raft as a spiritual quest. A way of cutting oneself off from the world and its distractions in order to be alone with God-to literally leave the earth for a while. To seek the Lord's Presence and to hear His voice.”

“When I was newly ordained I bought myself a piece of land in the bush and built myself a little cabin. I wanted to have a place where I could recharge my batteries and enjoy a little solitude. Having a cabin in the woods was something I dreamed of since I was a young teenager. As a teenager I was inspired by the saints who spent time in solitude.”

“During the years of wrestling with the challenges of solitude I have discovered and learned to rely upon seven principles. These principles are mostly my own articulation of things repeatedly taught by the contemplative tradition of the Church, especially from the Desert Fathers.”

“I decided I would put myself in a situation of more radical solitude where I would not be able to depend on the familiarity and comfort of my cabin. I would build a raft. I would spend eight days on this raft with only a few basic items. The raft would be on a secluded lake in the woods where I would be sure to not have any human contact. The goal would be to not only survive but to thrive.”

“One concept I want to define before I get into the seven principles is something I call "His Zone." To be in His Zone is the goal of solitude. To be in His Zone is to experience supernatural peace. This peace is not the type of peace that the world offers us but a peace that this world does not know. This peace is not something we can produce on our own but is received and infused. It is a gift from God that cannot be acquired through any human effort. We cannot make God give us this supernatural peace but we can dispose ourselves to it.”

“The following are the Seven principles I followed in order to be in His Zone on 11iy raft. These principles consist of 4 warnings and 3 pieces of practical advice.
The first principle is a warning.”

“The first principle is simply a reality check: being alone and in silence is just plain hard. If you decide to enter into solitude, prepare for resistance.”

“There are many things in life that look really easy but when we try them we realize how hard they are. The first time I tried surfing I thought it would be easy. "How fun it will be to play in those beautiful blue waves", I thought. Those waves almost killed me! Solitude is the same. She is more powerful and less tame than we might perceive.”

“When people imagine what kind of demons must attack those who are in solitude, most would think of lust or pride or maybe gluttony. The fact is that laziness is the first and most constant temptation in solitude.”

“It is not uncommon for someone who spends an extended time in solitude to enter into a mild but chronic depression.

The writings of the Desert Fathers are filled with warnings about lethargy, despondency, melancholy, indolence, acedia and other forms of gloominess.”


If I could only use two words to describe how to thrive ill solitude they would be: keep busy. If I could only use one it would be: pray!”

“Man was made to work. Meaningful work brings joy to the heart. When one enters into solitude, one needs to be ready to not only pray, but also to work.”

“The value and importance of a rhythm is not limited to life in a monastery or a hermitage. I believe that every Christian should have a rhythm of life that helps him to live for God. We should constantly be fine tuning our daily routine so that our life is lived with a beautiful rhythm that resonates with the uniqueness of who we are. A well tuned rhythm and a good routine makes being in His Zone so much easier.”

“And so those are the seven principles that I relied upon to thrive on my little raft I was prepared for the resistance Lady Solitude would surely offer. 1 knew that the Demon of Laziness would be my constant companion. The Demon of Busyness would surely have lots of projects to distract me with. And of course the Noonday Demon could be trusted to make his daily visit.”

I hope those few quotes will give you a feel for this book. And inspire you to pick it up and give it a read. I loved this book. I just wish this and the other books by Father Mark Goring were available electronically. Especially with my dual form of dyslexia, eBooks are far more accessible, as the page color, font, and even font spacing can be changed to make reading easier. My son saw me reading this and he has asked to read it next. I highly recommend this little volume.

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

Books by Father Mark Goring:
72 Crew: Manual 1st Edition

Journal's by Father Mark:
40 Days Freedom Walk Journal: Volume II St. Mark
40 Days Freedom Walk Journal: Volume III St. Luke Workman Edition
40 Days Freedom Walk Journal: Volume IV St. John Life is Good Edition
I Love Journal

Notebooks by Father Mark:
Disciple Notebook: Discipleship. Living in the Spirit. Evangelization 2018
Disciple Notebook: Discipleship. Living in the Spirit. Evangelization 2019
Sparkly Star Notebook

Non-English Editions:
San Jose el Protector: Una Preparacion de Nueve Dias para Consagrarse a San Jose
Duc Thanh Giuse Dang Bao Tro: Chin Ngay Chuan Bi de Dang Minh Cho Duc Thanh Giuse

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