Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Let Us Be What We Are

by Rev. Dr. Clarence J. Enzler
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2012

“Let Us Be What We Are: The Joys and Challenges of Living the Little Way” by Rev. Dr. Clarence J. Enzler was originally published in 1978 and has been recently reissued by the Christian Classics division of Ave Maria Press. Enzler (1910 – 1976) held a doctorate from the Catholic University of America, worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, served as a feature editor with the precursor to the Catholic News Service. He also was ordained a deacon in the Archdiocese of Washington, loved his wife and thirteen children, and wrote several books. Enzler was truly a man who lived life to the fullest.

Enzler had a great devotion to St. Therese and wanted to emulate her Little Way to God. This particular book features two parts. The first part tells of Enzler’s efforts to unite his suffering through prostate surgery with the sufferings of Jesus. He discusses his life-long struggles with spiritual pride – how he would rather not share the secrets of his spiritual life but that he has felt called to do so – how there is always the danger of thinking only of oneself and enjoying the attention being given to you. He writes, “Help me to imitate Therese and like her to glory in being inconspicuous, small, and overlooked. . . . Help me to take no pride in any homily I may preach, any words I may write, any achievement I may accomplish. Let me realize, Lord, that all success comes from You and give all glory to You.” In this section, he also begins to share how he developed his relationship with Jesus from the time he was young. Sadly, this portion of the manuscript is left unfinished due to his death.

The second part is complete and the stronger section of the book. It is the portion which gives the book its title. “Let us be completely what we are” is a quote from St. Francis de Sales. By the same token, Enzler emphasizes the uniqueness of each one of us. In keeping with the teaching of St. Therese, he shares how each of us is called to be a saint, but in our own way. He offers the example of St. Francis Xavier and St. Therese. These two saints lived radically different lives, but both are considered patrons of the missions and are models of holiness.

“All that God asks is that we take the coin of His gifts and turn them into a token of love to give back to Him. . .We must understand that each of us in the Mystical Body has a place of his own and for each of us, God has a plan of His own. . . We must strive to be the saint God wants us to be, not the saint we want to be.” We each must want to be a saint and then do our best to love God and love our neighbor. We must heed God’s wishes for us as we live out our daily lives. He also offers one of the best explanations I have ever seen on the balance between human free will and God’s omniscience.

“Let Us Be What We Are” is a good reminder to make the most of our lives by living them in harmony with God. Only in following Him can we live fully and be the people God created us to be. 

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