Book Break: How to Be Holy

How-to-Be-HolyA few weeks ago, my spiritual director did something he’ s never done before: He directed me to read a book. This was not a casual suggestion. He said, “I want you to read it cover-to-cover as soon as possible, so if you are reading something else right now, stop.”

The book was Peter Kreeft’s How to Be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a Saint, which is the popular Catholic writer and philosopher’s take on (“festooning of”) a spiritual classic, Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence. I have not read the latter, but have read just enough Kreeft to know to expect a relatively quick read, light in tone, punny in humor, and practical in content.

The book is as advertised: a guide book on how to become holy, little by little. More specifically, it is a book-length unpacking of Romans 8:28—“We know that all things work for good for those who love God”—and surrendering to His will in our lives. It is packed with encouraging insights as to how the Bible verse above is true and why it matters, and in the spirit of my patron saint, Francis de Sales, it urges patience with our weaknesses and sin, attention to the interior life and God’s love and mercy, and the necessity of always getting back up, turning back to God, and taking another step (however small) toward Him.

Kreeft’s breezy, rapid-fire writing style may be off-putting to some, but don’t let it stop you: It serves the purpose of making deep and more abstract topics accessible to more casual readers and spiritual beginners (which, let’s face it, we all are). Occasionally I thought his language was a bit too casual and imprecise—he seemed to be saying something unintended or “incorrect”—but in those cases the thought also occurred to me that he could be saying precisely what he intended and challenging my own ideas about the topic at hand.

The book was affirming of where I am in my own spiritual journey these days, and gave me lots of food for thought. I recommend it to anyone seeking to follow Jesus.

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