Hope Amid Heartbreak
BOOK PICK: ‘Trustful Surrender: Stories of Grace Amidst Crisis’
Stories of Grace Amidst Crisis
By Debbie Georgianni and Jerry Usher
EWTN Publishing, 2020
128 pages, $14.95
To order: ewtnrc.com or (800) 854-6316
An older brother’s stumble into pornography leads to a life of apostasy, sexual sins and broken relationships. A woman falls in love with the man of her dreams, but he’s not Catholic, and he ridicules her faith. Or — every faithful Catholic parent’s worst nightmare — a son or daughter walks away from the Church.
In this anthology of personal anecdotes, EWTN radio personalities Debbie Georgianni and Jerry Usher, hosts of the Take 2 radio program, pass the microphone to their listeners, who describe these and other heartbreaking scenarios. How do you cope when your husband or wife commits adultery? What do you do when you’re the only practicing Catholic left in your family? Is there hope for people who, after growing up with divorced parents, see their own marriages end in divorce?
For many of the contributors, a loved one’s fall from grace was a wake-up call to learn the Catholic faith deeply and defend and explain her teachings. One woman, whose brother left the Catholic Church and joined a Pentecostal congregation, recalls the day she finally accepted an invitation to attend a service with her brother:
“Once it was over, the congregation met in the church dining hall. A man holding a Bible came up to me and started haranguing me for my Catholic Faith. He pointed out verses that disproved Mary’s perpetual virginity, and then, using biblical numerology, he told me that Satan resided within the Catholic Church. … I was hurt, but beneath my anger was a growing awareness that I didn’t know my Faith. I didn’t know enough about the Bible or theology to defend the Church …”
After devoting herself to study, prayer and fasting, she is now fully equipped to answer anti-Catholic polemics. Plus, she has grown in love for God, faithfulness to the Church, and confidence in God’s merciful plan for her brother.
“My brother is not lost,” she writes. “God will bring him home when the time is right.”
Most striking about this book is how messy the contributors’ lives are and how brutally honest they are about their own shortcomings. One woman, whose marriage survived two adulterous affairs, poignantly wrote, “Our marriage is not a Hallmark movie. Love is damaged and hard-won. It’s something precious, but not fragile, something that has been nailed to a cross and made holy.”
Some of the stories describe literal death-bed conversions: One contributor, long-estranged from a father who had been away from the faith for decades, saw his father receive the last rites “and [take] his last breath while holding a rosary. With such gentleness, our Heavenly Father … welcomed my dad back into His good graces at the very hour of his death.”
If you have a friend or loved one who is now a “former Catholic” filling the stadium seats of a Protestant megachurch or swelling the ranks of the “nones,” take heart. God is sovereign, he is good, he desires the salvation of every soul he created, and your friend or loved one is still in his heart and in his hands. The story may yet have a happy ending.
As one mother put it, “What a story it will be when my prodigal daughter comes home.”
Clare Walker writes from Westmont, Illinois.