Into His Likeness
Be Transformed as a Disciple of Christ
By Edward Sri
Ignatius Press, 2018
208 pages, $17
Edward Sri uses his own personal history to describe the ideal reader of his book: “I was raised Catholic and had never left the Church. I went to Mass each week and was involved in my parish. ... I wanted to grow in my faith and even participated in some Catholic activities that helped me to do that. Jesus was truly a part of my life. But, if I had to be honest, he wasn’t at the center.”
Many Catholics have been at this point in their faith, wanting to go deeper, but not sure how. It sounds great for a Catholic to say, “I want to put Jesus at the center of my life.”
But what does that actually look like in practice?
Sri’s initial answer is an evocative, old rabbinic saying from the Jewish tradition that says a disciple should walk behind his master so closely that he becomes “covered with the dust of his master’s feet.”
This is a beautiful image, and exactly how one achieves such closeness with Jesus is the subject of Sri’s book.
In Part 1, he covers the initial call to conversion and the difference between knowing about Jesus and truly knowing him. In Part 2, Sri talks about what happens after that initial encounter with Our Lord, how we will experience cycles of up and down, and that God sometimes allows his disciples to struggle.
In Part 3, Sri provides advice for keeping the embers of faith burning after the initial flash of conversion has gone out, namely by frequenting the sacraments, seeking out good Christian fellowship and the cultivation of a deep, inner life.
This third part includes one of the most important and “actionable” chapters in the whole book, entitled “The Battle for Your Mind.” It’s based on Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Sri writes, “Unfortunately, many Christians who go to Mass each Sunday, pray often, and sincerely want to follow Christ are the same people who fill their minds the rest of the week with conversations, books, shows, movies, songs, images, blogs and videos that undermine their faith.”
Strong words, but true. Part of refusing to conform to this world means refusing to consume what the world wants to feed us.
At the end of each chapter, Sri asks evocative questions to launch further reflection.
For example, after the chapter just described, Sri asks, “In what ways does your mind sometimes conform to the standards of this world — its view of love, beauty and success; its pursuit of wealth, comfort, pleasure and the praise of men; its tendency to focus only on visible realities and this present world? What can you do to combat these tendencies and form your mind in the truth so that you see reality more clearly?” If your parish has small faith-sharing groups, Sri’s book would be ideal material for discussion.
This book is also perfect for Catholics at the sacramental turning points of their lives: couples preparing for marriage, parents baptizing their children, confirmation candidates and their parents, high school and college graduates, and people who have completed the RCIA program.
With a light touch and gentle humor, Sri draws them in, like a swim instructor starting off his class in the shallow, wading end of the pool. If they implement what Sri recommends, by the end of the book, they’ll be right where they wanted to be — enjoying a life of close fellowship with Our Lord and with other Catholics, confidently afloat in the deep.
Clare Walker writes from Westmont, Illinois.