If you’re like me, you have a set of snippets from favourite You-Tube videos that you watch to cheer you up and inspire you.
One that puts me in a good mood is American Catholic author and radio host Jennifer Fulwiler’s conversion story, where at 17 minutes in she shares the moment that she came to offer her first prayer.
Until that moment, Jennifer had been a life-long atheist, and the catalyst for causing her to question if God did in fact exist was the overwhelmingly strong love she had for her first born son, Donnell.
When she was holding her newborn, transfixed by the fluttering of his eyelashes and possessed of a great love for her infant, she challenged herself as to whether the love she felt was merely the result of chemical reactions in her brain. Deciding that her love for her son was more than ordinary human love, she became aware that her maternal love had a higher ‘Source’, and reaching out to that ‘Source’, Jen said, “I don’t know Who You are, I don’t know What You are, but if You’re out there, holler at me.”
This first prayer set in motion a chain of events that led to her converting from atheism to Catholicism, which would be the subject of her memoir, Something Other Than God, where she shared her revelation that through her love for her children, she began to fathom that God loved her as His child.
Now Jennifer has edited a book entitled, The Our Father, Word by Word, which is a collection of essays by various Catholic writers. Not done with the profit margin in mind, Jennifer is giving away the book for free.
Each essay is dedicated to a word of the Lord’s Prayer and seeks to elevate the reader to greater holiness. Underestimating the e-book, before reading it I asked myself how an author would wring a meaty treatise out of a word such as ‘into’, as in “lead us not into temptation”. I was pleasantly surprised and not a little humbled by the piece devoted to ‘into’ which is written by Jennifer.
In a gutsy way, Jennifer details the importance of not getting ‘into’ near occasions of sin by showing that sin makes us less loving towards others: “During my conversion, I discovered that sin — objective right and wrong — does exist, and I saw just how damaging our sins are to ourselves, to others, and to God…And so, this idea of avoiding near occasions of sin was a great revelation. I found that there is hope for overcoming those bad things we do that keep us from being loving — and it all starts with not getting into situations where we’ll be tempted to do them.”
If Jennifer’s realisation that her love for her son had its source ultimately in God and caused her to offer her first prayer, now her awareness of the effects of sin as an impediment to love inform an important theme of this book on the Pater Noster.
Indeed, the ways in which we distance ourselves from God’s love are an integral theme of Jennifer’s writings. But the discovery of God’s love is the beating heart of Jennifer’s Faith life, her memoir Something Other Than God and now this dynamic e-book, written out of a desire to love and honour Our Lord and to bring others to love Him.