A Blog of Book Reviews

These book reviews are also featured on my blog, Scorpion Stalking Duck. Here they are distilled out of the rest of the posts, kind of like that scum at the top of a pot full of boiled potatoes. The title of this blog - and the quote above - come from the forward of Hillaire Belloc's book, The Path to Rome.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy

Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy

by John Janaro
Servant Books (January 2010)

The only criticism I have about this book is that Dr. Janaro never revealed how he got the fish to leap from one bowl to another. Other than this one deficiency, I have nothing but praise for this book.

John Janaro has written a meditation on pain and suffering; in this case, he writes about his own struggle with chronic pain. He discusses his own physical problems as well as the mental challenges which often accompany patients with chronic pain. Where other men (like me) would probably have given up under the weight of the physical and mental anguish, John has wrestled with his sorrow in order to make sense of it. In the process, he has given us a book which helps all of those who deal with physical pain and depression. To rephrase a line from his book, I would say that it is good to be John Janaro. Anyone can benefit from reading this book; I showed it to a psychologist friend, and plan on sending one to a person who suffers from chronic depression.

As is mentioned in the title, the concept of God's Mercy runs through the whole book. There are four sections in this book; the first deals with Janaro's background, and how he got to where he is today. The second looks at a typical day in the life of a person with chronic pain. The third and fourth sections are on help for those who are suffering; the third is practical, or worldly help, while the fourth centers on spiritual help. Throughout each section, Janaro has some great insights into dealing with chronic pain and depression - for both the patient and for those who treat them. I shall briefly list the ones which I especially liked:

1. Depression can be transformed into an awareness of our total dependence on God (p. 22).
2. A great quote for our slacker society from Blessed John Henry Newman: "the aim of most men esteemed conscientious and religious...is, to all appearance, not how to please God, but how to please themselves without displeasing Him (p. 49)."
3. The fact that suffering does not necessarily go away when we receive the Grace to endure it.
4. Despite his suffering, Janaro has to acknowledge the Mercy of God at work throughout his life. He writes about four things which have been constant in his life. He might have been writing it about me. You will have to buy the book to find this insight. Sorry.

Janaro ends the book writing about how devotion to the Blessed Mother and prayer - especially before the Blessed Sacrament - can help deal with physical and mental illness. I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it for those who suffer from chronic pain and depression as well as for those who care for them.

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