Editor’s Note: Please welcome guest contributor Sue Smith to our digital home. Wife to Patrick and mother to seven beauties, Sue is an active Catholic in the Des Moines metro area who has a great understanding of the Theology of the Body. No surprise that she was the first person who came to mind to review Christopher West’s new book, Fill These Hearts, for our pages. Thanks, Sue, for your terrific review. In her honor, we have a BIG ol’ giveaway associated with this post. Keep reading for more details! ~ Lisa
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“He who loses himself in his passion is less lost than he who loses his passion.” This quote by St. Augustine hits squarely on the theme of desire that Theology of the Body expert Christopher West addresses in his latest book, “Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing.” But be prepared: this is not your grandmother’s understanding of human sexuality and its connection to our desire for God! West has written a beautiful, life-affirming book on how our desires, especially sexual longing, can be a vehicle for launching us ever closer to God when properly understood and directed.
West takes the reader through a series of chapters on desire, design, and destiny. The theme throughout is that desires, if coupled with God’s design, will help us reach our eternal destiny. West describes our desires as the “rocket boosters that can launch us to eternity” if aimed properly.
West describes three approaches in dealing with desires: 1) the stoic, who puts himself on a starvation diet all in the name of leading a holy life; 2) the addict on a “fast-food diet” who approaches his desires and passions by indulging all of them with no restraint, and 3) the mystic, who “allows himself to feel the deepest depths of human desire and chooses to ‘stay in the pain’ of wanting more than this life has to offer.”
All of us, West argues are called to be mystics. The mystic looks toward the eternal banquet of heaven. West reminds readers, “what’s needed to progress on the journey of the Christian life is depth of desire, not death of desire.”
As the book draws to a close, in a subsection entitled “Love must reach the value of the person,” West quotes Pope John Paul II in what are my favorite lines of the book. “The strength of love emerges most clearly when the beloved person stumbles, when his or her own weaknesses or even sins come out into the open. One who truly loves does not then withdraw his love, but loves all the more, loves in full consciousness of the other’s shortcomings and faults … for the person as such never loses his/her essential value.”
Those familiar with West’s prior books will find many of the same examples, song lyrics, and metaphors. West also incorporates artists, poets, and songwriters from his “Fill These Hearts” live tour event that he recorded a few years ago throughout the book. Those who have seen Christopher West deliver his message in person know that he is a man with both passion and desire.
At 176 pages in length, “Fill These Hearts” is a short book rich in depth of meaning. As West says in the first chapter, “This book is about the atomic energy of our souls!” For someone new to the philosophy of the Theology of the Body, “Fill These Hearts” is a good introduction. For those who have been awaiting another dose of Christopher West’s message and passion, “Fill These Hearts” will definitely do just that … fill your heart!
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Attention central Iowa readers — it’s a giveaway just for you! We appreciate having a large local readership (we’re on this journey together, eh?). So in honor of a local gal writing this review for us and our prize vault getting a little full, not only are we giving away a copy of Fill These Hearts, but we’re throwing in the following:
- A 40-Day Spiritual Workout For Catholics by Bob Rice
- The Catholic Playbook: Lenten Reflections for Singles by Christina Ries
- Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker
- Engaging a New Generation by Frank Mercadante
Holy Mary! Now this is a giveaway! To enter, simply leave a comment below by midnight CDT on Saturday, February 16, 2013. God luck!