Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: Spiritual Freedom

When I think of “freedom”, I think of the Fourth of July … and American democracy vs Eastern Bloc socialism … and the famous covers painted by Norman Rockwell. I don’t, however, think of the gift of freedom openly offered by God to all those created in His image: to every single one of us.

That is, I never thought of total freedom until I read Fr. Dave Pivonka’s latest book, Spiritual Freedom - God's Life-Changing Gift . To be honest, one of the only reasons I even picked up this book is because Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn wrote the foreword (and I’m a BIG fan of the good Cardinal who we knew during our sojourn in Austria, including his confirming Brikhead while we were there). I figured I give the book a chance since the good Cardinal could recommend it.

After reading this lovely volume, I find I would recommend it to anyone even if the good Cardinal hadn’t written the foreword!

Fr. Pivonka, a T.O.R. and a former chaplain for the Franciscan University Austrian program (where my favorite nephew knew him and was impressed with his preaching), writes an amazing book that leads the reader through exactly what God’s gift to us is and how we can each attain this gift.

With wit and truth and his love of God, Fr. Pivonka defines true freedom and its blessings:

  • freedom from our past sins by remembering that God loves us because we are His creation

  • freedom from control because only God is truly and completely in control

  • freedom from worrying about what we’ve done in the past and accepting it and letting God heal us

  • freedom from assuming that we are only human and thus can never be sanctified – we have Jesus’s sacrifice of dying on the cross for every one of us

  • freedom from worrying about suffering -- once we turn it over as a sacrifice (and not, as society would have us believe, a bad thing to be avoided) we can embrace the graces we receive when we turn the pain over to God

  • freedom to ask the Holy Spirit to “ride” with us in everything

  • freedom to hope in the Lord and allow God’s strong arm to wrap us in peace

True and total freedom is the freedom to be fully God’s creation, what we were meant to be before the Fall.

But don't take my word for this; read the book! Fr. Pivonka peppers his work with anecdotes from times in his own life when he has seen true freedom at work. These anecdotes are great stories – some sad, some humorous, some serious – but all told with an eye to further elucidating total freedom. These anecdotes are told in a style where I felt as if Fr. Pivonka was speaking right to me. The last anecdote, about a girl named Hannah, was so beautifully told it not only brought tears to my eyes, but grace and hope to my heart that God is so good to each of us!

What an amazing gift God has given to us all – the gift of freedom. But, Fr. Pivonka (quoting Pope John Paul the Great) quickly points out that “freedom is wounded by sin” so we need to look for “the liberator: Christ” and not try and do it all ourselves. So, the paradox is that freedom means turning to God, really turning to God – and thereby getting true and maximum freedom.

Pretty cool, eh? I definitely recommend this for high school readers and older, especially for those who may be caught up in our secular world and need to be reminded just what true and total freedom really is and not just the Fourth of July kind of freedom.

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This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Spiritual Freedom - God's Life-Changing Gift and learn how to be truly free.

Pivonka, Father Dave T.O.R. – Spiritual Freedom - God's Life-Changing Gift – Servant Books (Cincinnati, OH); 2008. Paperback, 146 pages. ISBN: 978-0-86716-860-0

1 comment:

  1. Mary, you have inspired me to read this book. I especially appreciate the bit about freedom from past sins.