February 1, 2019

Guest Column / Susan Israel

Faith-based book club guides participants to holiness and truth

Susan Israel(Editor’s note: Book clubs that focus on spiritual reading and discussion can help participants grow in faith. Susan Israel, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, shares the impact that reading and discussing faith-based works have had on her and the members of the group she is part of, the BMV Book Club.)

The BMV Book Club evolved under unique circumstances, when a friend was loaned a verified-authentic relic of the Blessed Mother. The club, which meets monthly except during the summer months, named itself after the markings on the relic, “Blessed Mary Virgin.”

During the meetings, ideas and questions are shared, and members offer their favorite quotes or inspirational pages.

Books are selected based on purposeful recommendations from ongoing spiritual themes. One book, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, was a suggestion from Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, the pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, who has led a gathering.

The Screwtape Letters was an inspirational book for club member Molly Evans. “After reading this, I can see how, today, the evil one is deceiving his way into many entities of our culture,” she said. “It’s just as timely today as it was when Lewis wrote it.

“One of the most inspirational books we’ve read, for me, was He Leadeth Me” by Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek, she added. “This author brought a clear understanding about redemptive suffering.”

The most inspirational book I have read to date was The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul. What I loved about it was reading the bold text recorded by St. Faustina as the words of Jesus spoken and heard during her life.

Teresa Schutzman, who started the book club, noted, “Being with women who seek holiness and truth is a huge blessing. Having a book for a basis of spiritual discussion and as a common resource assists all of us to prepare for book club.”

Book club member Beth Wehlage agreed, noting, “I think it is a beautiful way to share our faith and make small communities of like-minded, faithful people.”

Wehlage added, “Our Church and its future could be in trouble. The younger generation isn’t coming to Mass. The mainstream media and especially social media are relentless in disparaging our faith and our morality.”

Like others, Evans said the book club “has helped me create a faith-filled, loving community of like-valued, like-moraled people.”

In his 2003 encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (“Church of the Eucharist”), St. John Paul II affirmed that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.

“We draw strength from the Eucharist and from each other in the book club during troubled times,” Schutzman said. “It is good to affirm each other in our loyalty to the traditions and the doctrines of the Catholic faith.

“We are living in troubled times. Being with my sisters in Christ is extremely valuable. Standing up for Jesus Christ socially and even within our families can be trying.

“When we read, study and pray as a group, it affirms what we know is truth and light,” Schutzman added, even though some books have opinions or views the group finds contrary to the faith. “Recognizing these opinions generates discussion and challenges us to discuss the true teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church.” †

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