In Already There: Letting God Find You author Fr. Mark Mossa suggests that sometimes the very thing we spend life searching for is right in our own backyards all along. This theme does not only apply to the movie The Wizard of Oz and several 80’s pop songs about falling in love with your best friend, it also relates to man’s quest to find the point of his existence. For some people, the search to find meaning becomes a spiritual quest. I fall into that group, so that’s why this book interested me.
The first great thing about this book is the writing. Fr. Mossa’s style is contemporary and his language is succinct. His points compliment a best seller I just finished reading that recently was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. While reading Eat, Pray, Love, I don’t know how many times I said aloud to the wall and my cat, Mr. Norman Whiskers:
“Why doesn’t this lady just try finding God where she already is in life? You don’t have to travel to three countries and divorce your husband to become a more spiritual person!”
Fr. Mossa’s first point reiterates my feelings.
“One of the first challenges of the spiritual life,” he writes, "is to appreciate where we are, even if it’s not where we want to be.”
The author tells the reader to stop focusing on events that lead to bitterness, such as injustices we have suffered and failures or mistakes we have made. Instead, consider the idea that God placed you right where you in life for a good reason.
I could not help pausing when I read this part to wonder how this message would sound to someone who has just suffered through horrific tragedy. Take, for example, the recent story of the doctor who was left a childless widow after a brutal home invasion led to the death of his wife and daughters. If I was told such a thing, my first instinct, in that man’s shoes, would be to punch the messenger in the teeth.
But then I have to consider the story of Job in the Old Testament. Now, here is a guy who has been given a raw deal and yet, he does just what Fr. Mossa says. He doesn’t throw out his religious beliefs, but rather, he prays more fervently for justice. Although he doesn’t understand why God has placed him in such a tragic position, he accepts his lot with prayerful patience.
When I look at my own life and I consider the times I have felt like I was far from God, it has been over issues that were much less drastic. There is a Christian message here that is not very attractive to modern society. It is the idea that suffering leads to strength and goodness. God is everywhere, even where we don’t want to be.
As adults, one of the things we have to do in order to grow more spiritual is come to terms with the imperfect relationships we have. To illustrate this idea, Fr. Mossa refers to the New Testament story of The Prodigal Son.
“Contending with our past, and our family’s part in it, is an ongoing process. A common experience in adulthood, and a healthy one, is coming to the realization that not everyone does things the way you did when you were growing up.”
I can really relate to this idea. Most of my marriage conflicts stem from the difference in the way my husband and I were brought up. Both of us had loving sets of parents, but we just experienced life differently. As a result, the way we deal with others and act as parents is different. Being married requires constant adjustment, understanding and kindness from both people involved. I recently asked a couple who were married 60 years what their secret to a long, happy marriage was, and the wife said:
“It’s not 50-50, it’s 90-90. You both have to give more than what you believe is fair.”
That's an interesting concept. I think it’s safe to guess that every marriage is an invitation to know God more deeply through the sacrifice one makes to one’s spouse and vice-versa.
The part where Fr. Mossa discusses the times he drifted away from his Catholic faith interested me very much.
“Rote religious practices, while good in themselves, can be an obstacle to allowing God to get through to us,” he writes.
Fr. Mossa explains that religion has to have meaning for it to help us grow spiritually. For example, one should go to church not because it is what is expected, but instead because it satisfies a need to be close to God.
My favorite part of this book is the section where Fr. Mossa suggests that in order to stop feeling restless one must accept the idea that he/she is unfinished (like a never-ending art project) and will always remain that way in this life. Viewing life this way takes some pressure off a person, somehow.
Already There: Letting God Find You gave me so much to think about. It’s not a book you can finish in one sitting, by any means, even though it is a short read. It is packed with so much wisdom and enlightening ideas. I’ve already read several of the chapters over again.
This book review was done for The Catholic Company as part of the book reviewer program. For more information about Already There: Letting God Find You by Fr. Mark Mossa or other great Catholic books, visit The Catholic Company online. Also be sure to check out their great selection of Mary statues.