Monday, September 14, 2015

Trusting God with St. Therese Book Review

When I decided to try Kindle Unlimited, I looked for good Catholic books to read during my last month of vacation. Starting grad school at the end of this month, I wanted "easy" reads (so nothing too heavy) and thought that Trusting God with St. Therese by Connie Rossini sounded like it would be a good fit. I imagine it wouldn't be too heavy and that I would be able to breeze through it. Boy, was I wrong.

I'll be perfectly honest with you, this book made me uncomfortable... in the best way. Why did it make me uncomfortable? Because it made me look at certain parts of my life (especially spiritual) that I don't like thinking about. I was reading a chapter that touched on death on the day my mother's birthday rolled around and I sat up that night, tearing up about the prospect of my mother dying. I know it's part of life and it will eventually happen but I don't like thinking about it. However, despite the reluctance I felt reading some chapters, it was good for me because it really emphasized how important it is to trust God in all circumstances of life.

I highlighted a lot of things in this book. A LOT. I'm going to take some of these highlights to spiritual direction with me tomorrow because I feel like they'll help me in my spiritual slump. That spiritual dryness I talked about two months ago? It still comes and goes. Thankfully, this book reminded that even great saints, like St. Therese and Bl. Mother Teresa, go through periods of spiritual dryness and that all I have to do it trust God, even when I don't understand what's going on.

Throughout this book I had moments where I said "I've felt/feel/have experienced that!" Connie is so candid about her own experiences (shared in order for us to better understand each chapter's theme) that I felt like someone who understood me and what I went through was talking to. It was a sort of "I've been there and I've been able to come out of it in one piece thanks to God's mercy and grace" pep talk one would get from an older family member / friend.

The book covers every big topic you could think of tackling in your own personal life -- forgiveness, resignation, suffering, love, loss, etc. The two that stuck out the most for me were forgiveness and, of course, lack of trust. As I've been doing for the last couple of years (with the help of my spiritual director), I saw that there were more things that I needed to undo and unlearn from both my childhood and the years following my father's death.

I'll be the first to admit that I picked up a couple of bad habits that have taken time to slowly get out of my system. This book reminded me that occasionally failing didn't mean that I was a hopeless case. Instead I need to focus on God's love and mercy instead of my failure. I need to take the focus off of myself and place it back on God.

I felt closer to St. Therese as well. I connected with her on a different level because I finally felt like she and I are kindred spirits. I've always gravitated towards her and her Little Way but I never understood why. I usually get the sugarcoated version of her life but Connie talked about a side of St. Therese that made her seem more human. Like St. Therese, I was a sensitive child who cried easily whenever someone criticized me. Like St. Therese, I occasionally struggle with scruples, worried that I'm offending God during my moments of weakness instead of remembering His infinite love and mercy. These are just some of the examples that made St. Therese feel more like a sister than a heavenly friend.

Would I recommend this book to everyone? Yes! It doesn't matter if you aren't drawn to the Carmelite spirituality. I myself have been going back and forth between Carmelite and Dominican third orders for years. Even if I do end up going down the Dominican route (or ultimately discern that joining a third order is not part of God's will for me), this is one book that I will want to re-read every couple of years. I don't know Connie (though I think she may be following me on Twitter; have I mentioned how slow I am to follow people back?). She didn't ask me to review her book. While I did get this book free via Kindle Unlimited, I will definitely be purchasing a hard copy for my personal library, it's that good.

And I think that's all I can say without spoiling the book completely. ;)

I'm currently on a two week vacation but I also have some reading and study questions to get through so I should try to get some of that done... after I do some housework and other things. What's a "vacation"? lol.

I hope y'all had a great weekend and that you have a wonderful start of week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


AnneMarie said...

Thanks for sharing this great review! I shall have to add this book to my reading list-I love St. Therese!

Emmy Cecilia said...

I hope you enjoy it, AnneMarie! :D