Thursday, July 24, 2008

What are you reading?

I just finished a book by Paul Coutinho, SJ. "How Big Is Your God?" Fr. Paul Coutinho seems to almost have a cult following, he certainly has a fan club. :) He is a wonderful speaker and excerpts from one his talks that are included in this book can be seen on YouTube. Is there anything you can't see on YouTube anymore? I really enjoyed this book, it is an easy read. If you have ever seen or heard Paul Countinho in person you can certainly "hear" him in his book. I can hear the distinct way he says the word "Jesuit" every time I read it. He challenges you but in a gentle way to look outside of your traditional ways of looking at God and your relationship with Him. If you get a chance to attend one of his talks, do. If not read this quick book which also has a short DVD enclosed. A short excerpt from his chapter titled "Do you React or Respond to Life?"

...Situations in themselves do not produce feelings. It is our perception of the situation that makes us feel good or bad. Just as situations cannot make us happy or sad, another person cannot make us feel happy or sad. We choose to be happy or sad. If we seek greater freedom in our lives, we need to be objective and rational about the power of our beliefs versus the power of situations. We control our emotions. When we live in freedom, we choose the way we respond rather than let our automatic destructive reactions get the better of us.

Now you might ask, "Okay, but how do I do this? How do I choose to respond when I am under pressure, when I have been taught to fear or fight, when the situation seems 'bad' to me?" The "PQR formula" can help us live freely in stressful, anxious, or depressing situations. We pause to question how we would like to respond rather than react and live to regret our negative reaction. Let me try to explain what I mean by react: You push; I shove. Without thinking, I shove. This is my reaction. It is immediate and disconnected from my higher Self, the constant "I," and the meaning of my life. My reaction is an imprisoned effect. This is not freedom. By applying the PQR formula, however, I can respond. I pause (find myself in the situation), question (How does this situation relate to the meaning of my life? How do I wish to respond given a world of infinite possibilities?), and then respond (a freely chosen action -- not a reaction). Responding rather than reacting helps us live freely and in greater harmony with our true identity in every situation. It helps us grab hold of the freedom we seek in order to enter into the river of divine life.

Next on the night stand is:

And lest you think that I only read Jesuit authors, over the weekend I read,

a quick mindless entertaining book.

Haven't sewn in a couple days, but I am headed up to the sewing room now. Had breakfast with a friend this morning. I hadn't seen her since I had come home from retreat so we spent a leisurely two hours chatting over breakfast about retreat and what we are stitching on. You know I have to show that pink linen daygown to anyone that will look at it.


  1. Martha...I may have to get that first book that you mentioned. It sounds great!! Thanks for the recommendation. I've been reading a Charles Stanley book and some new Sew Beautiful magazines (back issues) that I picked up recently.

  2. Cindy you will love Paul Coutinho's book.


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