Lozano deals with obstacles to spiritual development in our culture. We distract ourselves from inner emptiness through television, the Internet, other communication novelties and constant activities, and are therefore oblivious to the wonder of reality calling us to reflection and transformation.
The author suggests that Christians can be traumatized by unexpected changes or crises because of having established an illusion of control over their lives. Contrary to Jesus’ teachings, we place our hope for security in military power, economic growth and success. Lozano quotes a recent study showing that children’s names are chosen to “look good on their resumes,” showing that careers are valued above family and relationships.
In addition, we imagine God as a comfortable force to “pull out on Sundays.” God becomes a sponsor of the American dream and the church a club, according to Lozano. If we pay our dues of going to church, donating money and making a faith commitment, we feel we are “covered.” God will bless us with better jobs, careers, incomes and houses. The divine thus becomes manageable and controllable as a help to self-improvement.
Lozano’s book shows that spiritual deepening requires us to be humble, present to mystery, aware of the sky, the stars and of God reflected in the majesty of the universe. Second, we must “know and accept our entire humanity in all its goodness and all its destructive tendencies” in order to know God. Third, we need to learn not to “play silly little social games” but to relate to one another at deeper levels. These attitudes provide spiritual meanings for us in times of uncertainty and crisis.
Most importantly, Lozano offers insights into suffering. Change may be painful and threatening, but to change is to live human life. It is through accepted failure, loss and suffering that transformation comes. The cross is an “image not of comfort but of hope,” and Christianity is not about answers, he says, but about the revelation of the presence of God with us in the midst of all disappointment and heartbreak.
Poust’s book, “Walking Together,” focuses on the importance of spiritual friends who share deep longings, strengthen one another and pray together. The author, through personal, historical and biblical stories, gives examples of this type of profound and lasting connections that gives hope and meaning to life.
Saintly friendships include John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila; Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal; and Therese of Lisieux and her sisters. Poust shows that spiritual friendships are possible between persons of different cultures, religions and genders. Selections for reflection and meditation follow each chapter.
“Safely Through the Storm” is a collection of 120 quotations from saints and Catholic writers on suffering, hope and trust in God. Quotations include inspirational material such as this from Pope John Paul II: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son,” and this from Fr. Henri Nouwen: “The good news … (is) not that God came to take our suffering away but that God wanted to become part of it.”
Herbeck, the editor, includes a section of brief biographies of those quoted, as well as bibliographic information. The intent of the book is to offer comfort to those suffering disappointment, pain or loss.
Sr. Mona Castelazo, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has taught English for many years in Los Angeles. She is the author of “Under the Skyflower Tree: Reflections of a Nun-Entity.”