Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Six words turned Susan to the Light

To all of you who helped out Sophia Press with my previous post, thank you. Here is their most recent email. - Patrice

Six words
turned Susan
to the Light

"It was after midnight when I read them," said Susan. "Brian had abandoned us soon after Joan was born. We never saw him again. For months I'd been living on black coffee, cheap cigarettes, loads of valium, and little sleep.

"I'd stay up half the night reading -- Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Sartre -- anything
I thought might give me answers. One night I picked up Dorothy Sayers'
translation of Dante's Inferno. In her introduction, Sayers says that the Inferno
can only be understood as "the drama of the soul's choice" between good and evil.
Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. Death leaves us in that place where,
by our choices, we put ourselves: with God, or far from Him.

"The drama of the soul's choice," Susan said. "Those six words stopped me cold.
As free creatures, we each hold in our hands our own doom . . . or salvation.
In Dante's Inferno -- and in life -- where we are tells us who we are.

"Where was I? Cornered, gaunt, desperate, suicidal -- a prodigal daughter
with an infant child, driven back to a cramped room in my parents' home,
humiliated but not yet humble. In the drama of my own soul's choice,
I had chosen myself . . . and gotten myself.

"The drama of the soul's choice. Those words made sense
of Dante's Inferno; they made sense of my wrecked life; and
they convinced me -- a lifelong skeptic -- that since the Church's
explanation of my plight was convincing, I ought,
for the first time in my life, to consider
Catholicism as an answer."


Elsewhere I've told how those six words led Susan swiftly to the Bible,
and then to St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, G.K. Chesterton,
Cardinal Newman, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux,
St. Maximilian Kolbe, and other great Catholic men and women.
She took instruction from the local priest and began wearing
the Brown Scapular and praying the Rosary daily.

After fifteen years of exemplary life as a Catholic wife and
mother, Susan solemnly offered her life to God
for the return to the Church of a friend. Less than a year
later, just after she turned 40, the friend returned
to the Sacraments and Susan died of cancer.

* * *

I know about this, because, about a year after those six words
sparked her conversion, I married Susan, intertwining the drama
of my life's choices with hers. Soon I was Catholic, too, and together,
for fifteen years (and despite many troubles), we strove to discern
the will of God and then to do it, even as illness gripped her and death rushed in.

* * *

At the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem in Jesus' time, the ill and infirm
gathered daily, waiting for an angel to come down and stir the waters.
The first person who entered the water after the stirring would be healed.

With six words from a book, Susan's soul was stirred -- perhaps by an angel,
maybe by God Himself -- and, spiritually, she was healed. Six words changed
the direction of her life, bringing her into the Church. She drew after her me and
our children, and later helped literally hundreds of thousands of other souls.
For in 1983, a few years before she fell sick, Susan and I founded
Sophia Institute Press as a non-profit press to publish solid Catholic books
like those that first drew her into the Church.

The Temperament God Gave You (book cover)

A Mother's Rule of Life (book cover)

By means of Sophia Institute Press, the six words that stirred Susan's soul blossomed into 120 billion words: since its founding, the Press has published 2 million Catholic books by scores of good Catholic authors including St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Fulton Sheen, St. Robert Bellarmine, Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, and even (to return the favor) a book by Dorothy Sayers.

Before combat, thousands of Catholic soldiers in Iraq pray with our edition of Fulton Sheen's Wartime Prayer Book.

You yourself may have grown closer to Christ through our editions of Angel in the Waters, The Temperament That God Gave You, A Mother's Rule of Life, Finding God's Will For You or one of our other fine books.

Finding God's Will for You (book cover)

Angel in the Waters (book cover)

Now, weak sales
threaten to close us

In recent months, however, slow sales have brought us up short, leaving us with an
empty checkbook and more debt than we can manage. Although my recent fundraising
efforts have been aggressive and mildly successful, this morning we still have over
$30,000 in overdue bills. I've had to let go out of print many of the books we worked
so hard to publish, including the book by Dorothy Sayers.

If this trend continues, we'll just wither away. Therefore, using credit, I'm e-mailing to
250,000 Catholics this tale of the six words that stirred a despairing woman's heart
and brought forth 2 million Catholic books.

With just $1,
you can keep us in existence.

If you give a dollar, and everyone who receives this does, too, our doors will stay
open; our books stay in print; and we'll have enough to publish two million more books! Considering how God used just six words with Susan, imagine how He will be able to
use 120 billion words in another 2 million Catholic books.

So please help -- either with a contribution
at our website (www.sophiainstitute.com/donate.htm)
or by purchasing one or more of our books
there -- for yourself, or as Christmas gifts.
Please forward this email to your friends,
and pray for me -- and for Susan.

Sincerely yours,

John's Barger's signature

John L. Barger, Publisher
Sophia Institute Press


Box 5284,
Manchester, NH
03108 USA

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