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Posted July 6, 2008

Book: Finding Faith in a Godless World: A Catholic Path To God
Author: Alexander J. Basile
St. Paul. Staten Island. NY. 2008. Pp. 100

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

“How do I know for real if god exists?” “How does a person come to believe in God?” “What if I still continue to have doubts?” These are just a few of the questions we all have asked ourselves at one time or another. The problem today is that society itself no longer supports a positive concrete answer to these concerns. In reply, this book takes the unique approach of finding answers — and ultimately God — through a variety of creative approaches: e.g., a visit to Las Vegas with the French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, examining the empty tomb of Jesus with St. Peter and Mary of Magdala, standing on the Shores of Lake Galilee with Jesus himself, and journeying the yellow brick road to meet the Wizard. In addition, the author has made very creative use of some cornerstone insights from St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, St. Anselm and others in the areas of theology and philosophy to assist the reader in finding answers, from a Roman Catholic perspective, to the above and many other questions regarding the faith. In a relaxed and practical approach, the author addresses anyone and everyone from ages 18 through 80 who is looking to strengthen his or her faith and personal relationship with God.

An Excerpt from the Book:

What makes someone change his life from one of selfishness, to one devoted to God? Conversion can be described as a change of heart. Many people in Church history have had their stories well documented. The story of John Bernadone is one of the most well known. John was born into a rich Italian family. He enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle and proudly wore the fanciest cloths. John’s father traveled to France as part of his business and brought home the finest merchandise. John fell in love with all things French. People started calling John, Francesco, “the little French man.” Francesco was known as a ladies man and a person who loved to party. The lifestyle of the knights attracted him, so he purchased the finest armor and joined the Pope for his fight against the Germans. On his way to battle, Francesco met a raggedly dressed knight. Filled with compassion, Francesco traded armor with him. Francesco started to feel guilty for his indulgence in money and material things. One day he came across a leper on the outskirts of Assisi. At first he was repulsed by the poor man’s sores. Then filled with the compassion of God, he put all the money he had into the outstretched hand of the beggar. As he did so, he kissed the leper’s hand. The conversion of Francesco began here.

One day as Francesco prayed in the small Church of San Damiano near Assisi, he heard the voice of Jesus say to him, “Go and repair my house which you see is falling down.” Francesco moved to San Damiano’s to begin his mission. His father furiously sought to bring his son back home. But Francesco mustered the courage to face his father. As he entered town, the humble, tattered Francesco was mocked and chastised by the locals. Francesco’s father beat and imprisioned him. His mother set him free, and he quickly returned to the church of San Damiano. Mr. Bernadone pursued Francesco and told him that if he did not return home, he would have to renounce his inheritance. He was also to replace the money that he used to help the poor. Francesco willingly gave up his inheritance, but he said that anything given to the poor would remain with the poor. Francesco was summoned to trial to meet with his father and the bishop of Assisi. The bishop told Francesco to restore his father’s money. As Francesco gave his father his money he said, “My clothing is also his!” and he stripped off his garments and stood before the court totally naked. The bishop covered Francesco with his own clock. Mr. Bernadone left the court enraged and embarrassed.

The story is one of the most familiar in the history of the Church. Francesco, better known as St. Francis of Assisi, underwent a total and complete conversion. He went from a life of self-absorbed indulgence to a life of self-denial and abnegation. He had found God. Once known as the ultimate playboy who squandered more money than most people made in a lifetime, he heard the voice of God calling him to greater things. He had lived in the world of extravagance, but found his comfort in the depths of poverty. Once he embraced this other lifestyle, he never turned back. People mocked and beat “the little beggar,” but his never stopped Francesco. He found God walking the streets and helping the poorest of His subjects. Later in life, Francesco suffered in his body the wounds of Christ, known as the stigmata. This greatly weakened him but he found joy in sharing in the suffering of Christ.

We discover God when we abandon selfishness. When our focus shifts to the other person, we wee the world in an entirely different light. St. Francis certainly helped to repair his church. God beckoned Francis beyond the cracked walls of San Damiano. Francis realized that the universal Church needed him to live the Gospel message. “Preach the Gospel and use words only when necessary,” he told his followers. People needed to move into action.

Francis displayed his love for nature, but even more he showed his love for the poor. He preached poverty to the brothers in the Order he had founded. He told them to pattern their lives after Jesus Christ wh made Himself poor for us in this world that we might be enriched hereafter.

Table of Contents:

1. Doubts

2. What makes a world Godless?

3. Obstacles to faith

4. Make a wager

5. Waiting for Santa

6. Off to see the Wizard

7. The witnesses

8. Mass appeal

9. Ask your mother

10. L-O-V-E

11. It’s a wonderful life

12. Money, money, money

13. The cave

14. Saints and sinners

15. The tomb

16. The hand of God

17. Fishers of men

18. Where are you, God?

19. Waiting by the gate

20. Forgive and find him

21. Parting words