Book review: The Way of Serenity
by Father Jonathan Morris
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Repeated by millions worldwide, this simple prayer has transformative power. Father Morris first began to contemplate its healing power when he found himself sitting in an open Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and hearing it shared aloud. Says Morris, “It was the purest and most genuine act of self-abandonment to God’s will I had ever witnessed. Their prayer wasn’t especially pretty, or clean; it was real, and gritty. It was the opposite of religious showmanship; it was intimate, existential, and wholly indifferent to any outsider’s praise or reproach. It was prayer, plain and simple.”
So he broke the simple prayer into its three parts and wrote a three-part book. It is a Catholic perspective, but without heavy-handed religion; just inspirational encouragement and practice suggestions to develop our serenity, courage, and wisdom. You can guess the first suggestion we should put into practice: Pray this little prayer every day.
Serenity arises partly from knowing that we have done all we can and the rest is up to God. The “problem of evil” can be daunting. Why are their earthquakes, floods, birth defects, terrible diseases and calamities if God loves us? The only satisfying explanation is that God is able to turn evil on its head and bring good out of it.
Courage, too, arises from faith in God. Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus’s parables have to do with getting out and doing something–and how displeased he seems when we fail to act? Doing good is, in essence, the meaning of Christianity. Our purpose is to change the world around us, and the first to change must be us.
But the hardest part of the prayer may be the last part. The wisdom to know what to change and what to accept. Morris encourages us to listen to the whispers of God.
This is a book that can make a difference, one day at a time.
Harper One, © 2014, 231 pages