by Luigi Guissani
Reviewed by Cathy Duffy

The first in a series of three book by Monsignor Luigi Guissani, this one is essentially an argument for the existence of God from natural law and personal experience. (The other two books deal with the person of Jesus Christ and the Church.)

Guissani appeals to the head, heart, and soul as he makes his case, but I was particularly struck by many of his insights into human nature and motivation. He deals with some of the deepest issues of the heart—the need for love, despair, search for purpose and meaning, continually amazing me with his insight and ability to put profound thoughts into understandable language. For example:

It is indeed truly superficial to repeat that religion is born of fear. Fear is not a human being’s first sentiment–it is attraction. Fear emerges only in a second moment, as a reflex to a perceived danger that this attraction may be fleeting. Attachment to being, to life, awe in front of the evidence comes first: only after this is it possible for one to fear that this evidence might vanish, that the presence might not be yours, that the attraction you feel might not be fulfilled. You do not fear losing things which do not interest you. Rather, you fear losing things which have to interest you first (p. 102).

This is not an easy book to read. You might need to reread some passages until you grasp the ideas, but it is well worth the effort. Guissani believes that people who want to be all that God wants them to be must invest themselves in working toward that end. He remarks in a later chapter, “The mark of great souls and persons who are truly alive is an eagerness for this search [for God and to understand man’s relationship to God], carried out through their commitment to the reality of their existence” (p. 109). This book is a tremendous help in thinking through the “reality of existence” and our purpose in life.