As a boy, Rev. Joseph Classen stumbled upon a deeper understanding and friendship with his maker through the many hours he spent fishing by a stream or walking through the woods. This connection with God through time spent in outdoors activities led to a vocation as a Roman Catholic priest. His book, Hunting for God, Fishing for the Lord, sheds light on his deep faith and shows readers how nature can be a source of strength and hope for us all.
Anecdotes about Rev. Classen’s adventures seeking game and fishing lead into thoughtful points about the wondrous power and mystery of God shown to us through nature, and the rewards of faith in the journey of life.
“Going back to my winter trout-fishing story, I never would have experienced that day, which was quite possibly the most beautiful day of my life, if I had not had the courage to venture out on that journey and the faith to know that it would be well worth it…I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, but it was my faith in what was ultimately ahead that kept me going.” (203)
Fr. Classen addresses questions about God in the pages of this book, using his sporting experiences to illuminate the tenants of his faith. In a story about temptation, Rev. Classen begins by explaining that his sudden desire to get a turkey that he had been hunting for several hours led to a temptation to use unethical tactics to succeed. Ultimately he played by the rules, and lost the hunt that day, but an important lesson was garnered from that experience. Although no one (except Rev. Classen and the turkey would have know if he decided to use illegal tactics to get the bird), it still would have been wrong. He explained that the word tempt means to be tested, and in our current culture, even if we make every effort to avoid temptation, it still can “come looking for us.” (179) One small failed test of integrity can lead to bigger slips.
“We often hear that the devil is the source of all temptation and evil. Scripture describes the devil as 'a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.' (1Pet. 5:8) That is a perfect description. …And of course, his greatest trick is to make us believe he doesn’t exist at all, that there is nothing to be on guard against.” (179)
Tests are good for us, according to Classen, because they make us stronger spiritually. He compares being tested to training to run a marathon.
“If a runner can’t run a few miles without being out of breath and being on the verge of collapse, then he will never be able to run a marathon. The same thing applies to us spiritually. If we can’t pass those small tests in life, we’ll never be able to pass the big ones.” (181)
The stories in this book are often funny and heart-warming, as the narrator is very human, very ordinary in many respects, and therefore, extremely likable. Rev. Classen touches on several teachings of the Catholic faith, including types of prayer, forgiveness, humility, God's love, carrying crosses, views of God, and more, interweaving them into stories of his adventures as a sportsman. Whether you are a fisherman, hunter or just a gardener, this book will make you smile and you will take away some spiritual wisdom from it.