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There’s More to Life than the Mind (The Lord Book Club)

July 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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The Lord Book Club (Week 3 of 23)

The mind must never allow itself to be misled into seeming ‘comprehension,' into facile sensations or phrases with nothing solid behind them. The whole problem is a mystery, the sacred mystery of the relationship of the triune God to his incarnate Son. We can never penetrate it, and knowledge of the incapacity must dominate our every thought and statement concerning Jesus' life.

The Lord, Part 1, Chapter 5, paragraph 6

I can't tell you how many times a phrase has driven me over the edge of sanity.

OK, I'm exaggerating. But only slightly.

Pause for a minute and think of the most maddening phrase you know, the one that gets under your skin.

And then stop for another minute and think about why it drives you a little crazy.

For me, that one phrase is one that has seemed to be on the tip of everyone's tongue for the last five years. They use it the way my kids use Kleenex, without any real consideration for what the true intention of the phrase is (or that it's a collection of empty words saying nothing).

People use phrases like these without really intending any deep thought. They are, in fact, the very example of facile that Guardini warns us against. They're superficial to a fault and easy to say.

Do we really mean it when we encourage someone to toughen up? To accept where they are? To offer it up?

Do we take our own advice when we're facing parallel situations?

It's all too easy to assume that we understand a situation, even from the inside of it, when, in fact, there is probably at least three sides to it that we don't see.

And just so, we can't ever really understand Jesus.

Not being able to understand something, not knowing how it works or why it's so or what its purpose is, doesn't sit well with me. I want to know. I want to be intellectual and stretch my mental muscles and flex my intelligence.

And yet, in the humbling experience of Christianity, we're called to trust beyond what we can know, to leap beyond where we can see, to lean into something no one can quite explain.

Jesus has much to teach us, it's true, and much of it is almost beyond the mind…and yet very much within the mind. The paradox isn't lost on me, nor the fact that I struggle to explain it.

Reading Guardini this week, I couldn't help but feel like there's a lot of rereading ahead of me…


Reading Assignment:

Chapters 7-10

Discussion Questions:

1. In Chapter 4, Guardini considers that perhaps John the Baptist was unsure about Jesus, that he needed some reassurance as to who Jesus was and what his mission was. When have you been unsure of Jesus' role in your life? How have you gotten through that challenge?

2. Chapter 5 considers Jesus' temptations in the desert and also the nature of fasting. When's the last time you offered “spontaneous self-denial” in thanksgiving? How can you fast with a joyful heart this week?

3. As Jesus calls his disciples (reference Chapter 6), we learn a bit about each of them and their strengths and weaknesses. Jesus is calling you, too. What strengths do you offer him? What weaknesses will he help you overcome?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Shar

    This book definitely takes re-reading! I finished this week’s assignment early and should have taken more time after that to review at least my own highlights.

    I’m finding Msgr. Guardini’s writing style difficult at times. Every so often I’ll put question marks in the margin or just say “I have no idea what that means.” It’s an ethereal style, for sure.

    My biggest takeaway this week was from Chapter 7, on the Kingdom of God. Very challenging and convicting. “What is it that actually has power over us? What rules me? People, mainly….God counts only when people permit him to, when they and their demands leave me time for God…. He reigns only inasmuch as consciousness of his presence is able to force itself upon me.”

    And then the comparison to the tree! “No, God certainly does not dominate my life. Any tree in my path seems to have more power than he, if only because it forces me to walk around it.”

    What a call to change our perspective!

    • LizEst

      When we see Christ in others, we can serve Him there. Practice that and the Lord, and His Kingdom, will eventually be the focus of your life … if we do it for love of Him.

      • Shar

        Yes! And trying to have God on my mind always, so that when I’m not busy it wanders often back to him.

  • The Areopagite

    There is more to life than intellectualization, but there is never more to life than love. And to love that which illumines the intellect and the mind, God himself, could be construed as a “Mental activity,” but it is not. It is the gateway to contemplation, to the approximation in this life of the beatific vision. This is ALL our life.

  • Catherine Kibler

    “It is what it is.” That is a phrase that irritates me. When St. John said, “Behold the lamb of God” it was not JUST what is. He was/is the incomprehensible. Unlike another reader (Shar), I like Msgr. Guardini writing style. Every paragraph is filled with Wisdom that one needs to ponder in the heart.
    I had never been unsure of Jesus’ role in my life. However, my awareness of His presence has grown. I love to read and then to incorporate into my life spiritual readings such as the past two selections in this “club.” Lectio Divina or the Discovery Prayer and the exergies of this book have helped me realize how little I know My Lord. I have a devotion to Divine Infant and adore the Lord on the Cross, but who is Jesus really…it is not just “what is” written. Even the Holy Spirit takes our prayers (groanings) to God through the Jesus.
    A weakness for me is “suffering well.” My health has been poor at times in the last few years and offering it as St. Paul continually did is something I need His help to overcome. I put this “weakness” in Our Blessed Mother’s hands. The apostles are filled with strengths. Even St. Thomas the Apostle should not be remembered for doubting the Lord. Do remember his powerful and true statement: “My Lord and my God!” and before that, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
    There is so much more rereading to do, to not to forget and to resolve to “comprehend” what the Lord graces our hearts with.

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  • Nancy

    Greetings! I have resolved my disqus problems by opening a gmail account! I am so happy to be able to join you now. I have been reading “The Lord” right along with you, and I am greatly appreciating Romano Guardini’s insights into scripture – his exegesis. I’ve invited a group of ladies to join me in reading this book here in Kansas City. We hope to post from time to time. God be with you!

    • LizEst

      … and we are thrilled to have you join us, Nancy. Welcome! We’re sorry the DISQUS system can be frustrating for some (it was for me). But, know that sometimes difficulties increase our resolve in what we do for the Lord. God bless you for your perseverance! And, welcome again!

  • Nancy

    Guardini lifted a veil on the heart of John the Baptist for me in chapter 4. I try to imagine how I would feel if I were in his place and find it very difficult. Jesus, the one who is to come, is out there healing and rescuing and John the Baptist is in prison facing death. He sends word and the response, “Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me,” comes back. For me to get encouragement from this, I have to look all the way to heaven, past everything I treasure in this life – including life itself. I don’t and can’t function this way day to day. That’s okay though, because God doesn’t ask me to.
    My mind skips ahead to chapter 6 and the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus’ hour had not come, but Mary’s request changes things. Jesus is so completely united to the Father and moves with the Spirit. When the time is right, we do, and the time can come at any moment. We must pay attention.
    Jumping back now to John the Baptist, I can see that his time had come. Jesus would not free him from Herod’s prison but from the whole world of sin as long as he is not “scandalized” by Jesus.
    I often wonder how Jesus could know if and when it was time to embrace the cross. Of course, He’s God, so he would know. However, I think he expects this of us as well. Jesus, as a person, prayed a lot. That must be the key to really knowing and really embracing our moments.

  • Kathryn

    Hello just joining and reading The Lord I just started today. Already impressed.

    • LizEst

      Welcome, Kathryn! We are pleased you are joining us. God reward you!

  • Kathryn

    Thank you. I’m having trouble with my picture angle.

    • LizEst

      You’re welcome, Kathryn. …and don’t worry about the angle. We are happy to see the picture. I don’t know how to fix that. The DISQUS system, which is our commenting system, is something we use but don’t control. So, you have to go back to DISQUS to try to resolve that … if you want.

  • Kathryn

    I’ve read ro Chapter VII and feel as though I’m reading the Bible with a lot more clarity. I can feel the growth Jesus is experiencing. Or maybe I am growing

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