Finding God in the Mess – Revised edition

April 18, 2023 in Featured News, News

Messenger Publications has published the revised edition of the award-winning book Finding God in the Mess: Meditations for Mindful Living » by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds. This collection of meditations, reflective questions and practical suggestions aim to help readers find peace and meaning in their busy lives. It helps them listen to their own wisdom and make good decisions in an environment often saturated by technology and media. Divided into four parts in line with the mysteries of the Rosary, the book deals with the processes of life, pain, struggle and growth.

Inspired by the spirituality of St Ignatius Loyola, the book helps people to understand and experience that it is the time out – the ability to look back and understand life events – that brings about deeper and more satisfying living. In the preface to the revised edition, the authors write:

“People often create a false division in their lives between the chaotic and challenging and the spiritual, spotless and holy. Many feel they have to be ‘good’, saintly and have everything worked out before they come to God. People tend not to see the mess and muck of their lives as a sacred place, and yet that is the very place where the action happens.”

First place winner of The Catholic Media Association Awards 2021 (Prayer category) and Gold Medal winner in the speciality/journal category of The Independent Publisher Book Awards 2021, Finding God in the Mess is partly a reflective prayer tool and partly a map for negotiating a way through the disarray, confusion and occasional chaos of life.

The meditations contain many insights that help people to ‘find God in the mess’ while the reflection questions encourage them to learn from their own experience.

Referring to the meditation on ‘Freedom to Say Yes’ in the joyful mysteries’ section, the authors write:

“Saying ‘yes’ is a vital part of our relationship with God. As is our freedom to say ‘no’ as well. So many times in my life I look back and see clearly that I said ‘no’ (even if I didn’t understand it as saying ‘no’ to God at the time).

Thank God, I can recall times of saying ‘yes’ too. Saying ‘yes’ to God enables us to be a living presence of love, joy and mercy in this world. Our ‘yes’ always draws us to love and value ourselves, others and the world around us.”

The reflection questions for this meditation include: “What do I need to say ‘no’ to right now? What do I need to say ‘yes’ to right now? How will I know which response God wants from me?”

A new meditation in this revised edition is ‘For Those Who Have Been Abused’ in the sorrowful mysteries’ section. After telling a story of a friend who was moved to pray for victims of abuse on the bank of the River Thames, the authors write:

“Sexual, physical, emotional or psychological abuse – abuse in any form – is never OK.
It is never the fault of the person who has been hurt.
It is never justifiable.
It is never a matter to be covered up to protect individuals, groups or institutions.

The authors encourage readers to reflect on this meditation by asking: “If I have been affected by abuse in my life, is there a step towards healing that I could take today? Are there ways that I can support organisations that help survivors? How do I pray/act in a helpful way with this issue?”

Authors guide readers through a breathing exercise in the ‘Gratitude’ meditation, located in the glorious mysteries’ section. They write:

“On your in-breath, be thankful that you are alive. You might even say, ‘Thank you for my life’.

On your out-breath, be more aware of living life to the fullest. You might even say, ‘Help me to live my life to the fullest’.

You could repeat this breathing/meditating for as long as you want. As you do, be aware of what comes to your mind/heart.”

The reflection questions on gratitude encourage readers to notice what happened in the breathing/praying period, to focus on how they can more easily reach the deeper part of themselves, and how with God’s help they can live more in this place of calm.

These are just a few examples of the thirty meditations in the book. Brendan McManus SJ, who is a photographer, also provides many photos which are designed as a visual meditation. And the authors offer five principles for living in the epilogue that they and others have found helpful in working with the book.

Brendan McManus SJ works as a spiritual director and retreat giver in Belfast. Jim Deeds works as an author, poet, retreat giver and pastoral worker in Ireland and abroad. Other titles they have written together include Discover God Daily: Seven Life-Changing Moments from the Journey of St Ignatius and Deeper Into the Mess: Praying Through Tough Times.

Finding God in the Mess by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications. It is priced at €11.95/£10.95.