How an Elderly Nun Brought Hope, Purpose and Joy to a Young Man at a Crossroads in Life

by Tony Rossi

(originally published at “Christopher Closeup” on Patheos.com)

At the age of 31, John Schlimm was at a crossroads. He had spent his 20s working in public relations for the White House, and then, for country music stars in Nashville. From a worldly perspective, he had it made. Yet, he felt restless and empty, as if there was something deeper that needed to be fulfilled in his life.

That quest for meaning led him to leave his job and return to his hometown of St. Marys, Pennsylvania. It was the place where his family’s brewery (Straub Brewery) is located, where he knew the names of all his neighbors, and where he had happy memories of being taught by the nuns at St. Mary’s Church elementary and middle schools and Elk County Catholic High School.

On the advice of a friend, Schlimm visited a small ceramics shop on the grounds of St. Joseph Monastery, which was home to the Benedictine Sisters of Elk County. As he walked through the door, he felt impressed by “this incredibly humble and simple space, filled with the most amazing colors and positive energy.”

Then, Schlimm saw her – the woman who changed his life and inspired his memoir “Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life’s Greatest Questions.

The “her” in question was 87-year-old Sister Augustine, who single-handedly ran the ceramics shop and created all its pieces of art. Schlimm noticed a palpable joy in her personality, which was ironic since he used to work with people who had the world at their fingertips yet struggled to find happiness. In contrast, here was a cloistered, elderly nun working by herself in an out-of-the-way ceramics shop who was totally happy and content.

Schlimm sensed that she might be able to guide him toward that deeper fulfillment for which he was looking, so he began visiting Sister Augustine frequently and engaging in hours-long conversations with her about life and faith and all the ways that ceramics can be a metaphor for life.

Click here to continue reading.

 

 


BLOG TOUR: Broken Gods, May 28 – June 4, 2015

We invite you to join us for a blog tour featuring Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart by Dr. Gregory Popcak (May 28 – June 4). This virtual book tour will feature honest reviews from Catholic bloggers, interviews with author Gregory Popcak, and a chance to win a copy of Broken Gods.

We’re grateful to our blogging friends for sharing their thoughts and hosting stops on the tour. We encourage you to visit their sites (links below) and read their reviews.

 

 

Blog Tour Schedule

5/28 — The Catholic Book Blogger (review)

5/29 — The Catholic Book Blogger (giveaway)

5/31 — Seasons of Grace (review)

6/1 — The Catholic Book Blogger (author Q&A)

6/2 — Amazing Catechists (review)

6/3 — The Browning Version (review)

6/4 — Simple Mama – (video interview with Dr. Popcak)

6/5 — Reading Catholic (review)

 

About the Book:

In Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, Dr. Gregory Popcak unveils the incredible vision that God has for each of our lives and provides the tools and resources we need to discover our ultimate destiny. Using the seven longings of the human heart as a foundation, Dr. Popcak demonstrates how the seven deadly sins, the seven divine longings, and the seven heavenly virtues relate to one another.  Although it may seem contradictory, Dr. Popcak show us how our deepest desires, and even our darkest desires, can work together to reveal God’s plan for transformation in our lives. Readers will discover, step-by-step, how to transform the weakest, most broken and even shameful parts of themselves into the engine of their perfection.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Gregory Popcak, the founder and director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, is the author of over 20 books and programs and an internationally recognized expert in Catholic pastoral counseling. He has degrees in psychology and theology, as well as a master’s degree in clinical social work and a Ph.D. in human services. He is the host of More2Life Radio, heard on over forty stations around the country. Dr. Popcak’s blog, Faith on the Couch, can be found at Patheos.com. He is an in-demand guest on both Catholic and secular radio and television programs and his work has been featured in the LA Times, The Washington Post,  Fox News, U.S. News & World Report, NPR’s Here & Now, OSV Newsweekly, and many other media outlets. Visit him online at www.CatholicCounselors.com.

 

 


NEWS: Two Image Titles Take First Place in Association of Catholic Publishers “Excellence in Publishing Awards”

The Association of Catholic Publishers (ACP) has announced the winners of the 2015 Excellence in Publishing Awards. We’re honored to announce that two books published by Image have been selected as first place winners in their respective categories.

My Battle Against Hitler by Dietrich von Hildebrand, presented by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby, took first place in the Biography category. Sacred Fire by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser took first place in the Prayer and Spirituality category. Sacred Fire was also chosen as “Book of the Year.” The “Book of the Year” is selected from among the first-place finishers.

 

My Battle Against Hitler

1st place Biography

My Battle Against Hitler, the memoirs and essays of Dietrich von Hildebrand published for the first time in English, offers a glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the 20th century’s most important Catholic thinkers and the Nazi’s public “enemy number one” in Vienna.

Von Hildebrand, a German-Catholic philosopher and theologian, was a vocal opponent of Hitler and Nazism from the onset of the political movement in the early 1920s.

 

Sacred Fire 

1st place Prayer and Spirituality & “Book of the Year”

In Sacred Fire, beloved author Ronald Rolheiser continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in this highly anticipated sequel to the contemporary classic, The Holy Longing.

With his trademark faculty and thoughtfulness, Rolheiser moves beyond the foundational aspects of The Holy Longing, by offering readers a deeper vision for Christian maturity as he seeks to answer the question: “How can we live less self-centered, more mature lives?”

 

The goal of the ACP Excellence in Publishing Awards is to recognize the best in Catholic publishing. Click here to learn more.

 


INTERVIEW: Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D.

Q. How did you come up with the concept for Broken Gods?

Christians often talk about how we’re “broken” and how we need to be saved but that doesn’t

resonate with a lot of people. They think Christians mean that people are terrible, horrible,

no‐good, very bad creatures and that God wants us to sit around all day in our awfulness feeling

awful about ourselves. But that’s not it at all!  Human beings are wonderful creatures! God, himself, pronounced us, “very good” (Gen 1:30) at the beginning of time.

And yet, as good as we are, we were made for so much more. We were made to be gods‐‐perfect, immortal, utterly confident in who we were, where we were going, and how we were going to get there. Our First Parent’s sin ripped all of that away from us and we became, in a sense, broken gods–separated, lost in the cosmos, alone, naked and ashamed.  But God never gave up on his original plan for us and he continues to work through all time and space to complete in us a work so wonderful we can’t even begin to imagine it.  He intends to restore the divine light within us and make us the gods we were always meant to be.

 

Q. In the book you make the claim that God truly intends to make each and every one of us a god. Those are bold words! Where do they originate? And what do they mean for Christians today?

They are bold words, so bold they would be blasphemous if they weren’t spoken by Jesus himself in the Gospel of John (Jn 10:34).  In fact, the idea that God intends to make us gods is a central doctrine of Christianity that was universally accepted by 1st Century Christians, by the Church Fathers, and even the Protestant reformers. The concept theologians refer to as “divinization” is mostly lost to Christians today but more than a moldy theological concept, it has profound, practical implications. In fact, it recasts our entire understanding of our Christian faith!

Many people believe that being Christian is about trying to be good, and since they feel like they can be good on their own‐‐or at least good enough‐‐they don’t feel they really need God. But that has never been the Christian view. Christians do not believe we need God to make us good. We need God to make us gods! Only by developing the kind of relationship with God that allows him to transform our deepest and even darkest desires into the engines of our ultimate perfection can we hope to achieve the destiny for which we were created; to be gods who can live with God and be loved by God for all eternity.

 

Q. One of the things that you talk about in the book is the idea that sometimes our darkest desires can reveal God’s plan for transformation in our lives. Without giving away the entire book, can you give us a glimpse into how this works?

Hidden behind our deepest and even darkest desires are seven basic, human longings; namely, the ache for abundance, dignity, justice, peace, trust, well‐being, and authentic love. Everything we do‐‐even the stupid, offensive, and destructive things‐‐represents our feeble attempts to satisfy one or several of these unconscious longings.

When we act in ways that disappoint or hurt ourselves and others, we become consumed with guilt, anger, self‐criticism and sometimes hopelessness that things can ever get any better for us. God wishes to deliver us from this pain. He longs to show us, step‐by‐step, how to authentically satisfy these deepest longings woven into the fabric of our soul. When we let God teach us how to meet these longings according to his plan, he not only frees us from fear and want and leads us to abundance in this life, he ultimately transforms us into gods who, through his grace, can achieve perfection, immortality, and ultimate love in the next.

 

Q. Who is the target audience for your book?

This book is for people who experience an ache in their hearts that tells them that they were made for “more” but struggle to know what that longing really means much less how they can begin to satisfy it. Readers will encounter powerful insights and surprisingly practical tips to help them uncover the spiritual pathways that lead to ultimate fulfillment, unconquerable love, and unimaginable joy.

 

 

Q. What do you hope readers will take away from Broken Gods?

I want readers to discover the joy of knowing that all the people in their lives who told them that they should sit down, be quiet, and stop dreaming are wrong. In fact, our biggest dreams cannot begin compare to the shocking, even scandalous abundance God imagines for us. It is my hope that Broken Gods will reawaken readers’ spiritual imaginations so they can begin to see and experience the amazing transformation God intends to bring to pass in their hearts and in their lives.

 

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Broken Gods isn’t just another self-help book. It reveals the stunning truth that God wants to satisfy every longing of our hearts in ways that both lead to total fulfillment in this life and ultimate fulfillment in the next. In Broken Gods, readers will find a treasure map that leads to hope for weary hearts, joy for troubled times, and strength to live every part of their lives more abundantly.

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Dr. Gregory Popcak, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.

 



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