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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

Welcome to my own personal exploration of life through reading the great books of the world.

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Location: Spokane, Washington, United States

"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

What Does God Want?

I hate making decisions. Well, that's not exactly true. I hate making bad decisions. Why can't God just reach down from heaven, place a huge index finger on the newspaper and say, "THAT ONE...PICK THE ONE WITH CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING"? He told Mother Teresa to found an order of nuns to serve the poorest of the poor, why can't he tell us what he wants us to do with our lives?

Well, it turns out he does tell us. It's just that he uses God-speak, that mysterious language that we mortals have to decipher. And one of the best ways to decipher God-speak is to follow the advice given by Fr. Michael Scanlon in his little book, What Does God Want? A Practical Guide to Making Decisions. It's amazing how much practical wisdom Fr. Scanlon can pack into 127 pages.

Fr. Scanlon describes five "tests" to help us prayerfully discern what God might want in any decision we have to make:
  1. Does it conform to God's will?
  2. Does it encourage conversion?
  3. Is it consistent with how God has guided us in the past?
  4. What confirms it?
  5. Do I have conviction about it?
Each chapter develops these questions with examples and practical advice. Fr. Scanlon also provides decision-making worksheets in the back of the book to encourage people to write down their thoughts before making a decision.

The book is also useful for parents, teachers, counselors, and other professionals in positions of leadership. My eighth grade students are at the stage of life where they are just beginning to experience serious decisions: Which high school should I go to? Should I continue in ballet or skiing? Am I being called to the priesthood? When students come to me for advice it can be difficult to avoid jumping in with my own opinionated solutions, rather than letting the students work through the problem themselves. What Does God Want? gives me a good place to start in offering advice. In fact, chapter nine gives specific suggestions for how to help others make decisions.

If you've got some major decisions to make, or if you're the Dear Abby of your family, What Does God Want? is definitely worth owning. It'll help you see the invisible finger of God.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:26 AM

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