Friday, February 12, 2010

Never Give Up

The title of this book sounds like something my dad would say. I think he’d also like the picture on the cover of a little fish leaping out of a small fishbowl into a bigger one. Never Give Up: My Life and God’s Mercy by John Janaro delves in to the stark reality of physical and emotional suffering in his own life and talks about how the unconditional love and grace of God have brought him through some very dark periods, giving him glimpses of the Light of the world in the process.
Janaro’s daily life thoughts, prayers, mediations are mixed in with sublime revelations, down-to-earth, pensive prose, questions, and reflections. The poems/prayers I found utterly profound. I don’t usually reread books, but I’m definitely going to go back through this one and spend more time with the poems.
I will admit that it was very uncomfortable to read this book at times because the descriptions of pain hit close to home, elicited memories of loved ones and some of my own suffering. The poignancy of the poetry and prose certainly fit within the realm of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.
I can attest to the pain, frustration, and emotional distress caused by Lyme disease. I was diagnosed with it many years ago after I began developing a number of the symptoms during eighth grade when our family lived in NJ. Fortunately, I had a good pediatrician who was familiar with the illness, and I was given the treatment needed to get rid of it before it progressed too far. Reading about Janaro’s struggle with the illness and its countless symptoms reminded me again to pray for the many people who suffer daily in mind, body, and spirit, with little reprieve. I’m not sure how people do it without having a relationship with God.
Some of the internal monologue and even prayers are disturbingly easy to identify with if you or someone close to you has suffered a lot. The first part of the book is very much focused inward and on pain, then it moves outward to family and God, touching on major elements of the Catholic faith and beliefs along the way.
The only minor confusing aspect of the book is that it does hop around a bit from the microscope on pain and self to the wide angle lens of God’s grace and the vastness of His Kingdom. This microcosm versus macrocosm relationship I believe is best summed up by Janaro’s describing how Jesus Christ’s whole divinity and humanity are present in each Eucharist, every single Host.
This book digs deep into the soul and lifts the heart up high, just like the Lord does.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I receive a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Never Give Up - My Life and God's Mercy.
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