St. John Paul II inspires new guidebook on God, dating, friendship and purpose

This sounds like a wonderful resource for teens and young adults and also to parents to give them hope that in this day and age, it is possible to encourage this wholesome path.

A new book aimed at helping young Catholics find meaning and purpose takes its inspiration from Pope St. John Paull II, according to the authors.

“He loved young people and met them where they were at; but he wasn’t afraid to share the hard truths with them — he even knew that deep down, they wanted to be challenged,” one of the authors, Andrew Swafford, told Our Sunday Visitor.

The late pontiff, he added, “was convinced (as we are) that when we water down the Gospel for young people to make it more ‘palatable’ for them, we actually rob them of their chance to be morally heroic.”

This thinking permeates the book that Andrew wrote with his wife, Sarah, called “Gift and Grit: How Heroic Virtue Can Change Your Life and Relationship.” Readers can purchase the book published by Ascension Press just in time for St. John Paul II’s birthday, May 18.

“‘Gift and Grit’ is basically the fruit of our ministering for over 15 years together, witnessing firsthand (especially with college students) how they’re struggling and seeing what has really helped them in going all in with the Lord,” Andrew explained.

The husband-and-wife team greet readers with a frank, conversational tone that an older sibling might use as they share insight and advice. The two accompany their audience on a voyage exploring the meaning of life and the importance of relationships — with God, with friends, and with dates or significant others.

Along the way, the guidebook of sorts tackles questions from “Where Do We Find Meaning?” and “Can Men and Women Be Friends?” to “What Does Sex Have to Do with the Spiritual Life?

“‘Gift and Grit,’ in many ways, is about finding the truth of what our lives are really all about, and then tapping into authentic resources to live this out with freedom, purpose, and passion,” Andrew described.

Andrew touched on the terms in the book’s title: Gift and grit.

“As Cardinal Ratzinger once noted, real meaning is received — as gift; meaning that is merely ‘self-made’ is always hollow and unstable in the end,” he quoted the future Pope Benedict XVI. “The real meaning of our lives is received as a gift from the Lord and our ultimate purpose is to become a gift in return, to God and others.”

Grit, he said, empowers gift.

“To do this well takes grit — but not merely in a secular, stoic fashion,” he said. “Supernatural grit enables us to offer our lives in love, even when it becomes inconvenient and less glamorous than we had initially thought it would be.”

Living with gift and grit changes not only that person’s life but also every relationship that he or she has, he said.

“The book is about living with deep meaning and theological purpose, and allowing that to thoroughly inform every single facet of our lives,” he added. “It’s a book about going all in with the Lord.”

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