Real, raw, rugged life stories - book cover

By  Andrew Santos, The Catholic Register
  • February 22, 2008

{mosimage}I Choose God, by Chris Cuddy, Peter Ericksen (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 130 pg., $10.99).

The novel I Choose God is an enjoyable read of 21 testimonies by young people about how they struggled to overcome difficult situations and find God.

Included in the compilation are authors Chris Cuddy’s and Peter Ericksen’s personal testimonies. The other stories they selected provide insight into the everyday routine and lifestyle of adolescents and offer a glimpse into the outgoing, heroic faiths of others.

I Choose God is geared towards young people in high school and post-secondary institutions. It tackles issues such as pornography, homosexuality, attempted suicide, euthanasia and tragedies.

{sa 0867167734}One short story called “Saying Yes to the Light” is about Therese and her friend Rebekah who attended Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, site of one of the worst massacres in the United States. On April 20, 1999, Therese had the sudden urge to leave her school for lunch instead of joining her friend in the library as usual. As she was driving off with another friend, she noticed in her rear-view mirror that hundreds of students were running out of the school.

That day changed Therese’s life. She  later discovered that as she was leaving the building, the shooters, who took the lives of 12 students and one teacher, entered the school. Most of the shootings had taken place in the library. If Therese had decided to stay at school, it is very possible that she would have been among those killed.

Therese then embarked on a journey of prayer. During the following year, Therese had begun partying and drinking. She was hit hard with depression in her senior year, which led her to attempt suicide. She recounted how her world was a dark one.

“I would sit in my room, think about  life and remember all of the hurtful things that had been said about me. Staring into a mirror, I would cut myself while tears rolled down my face. I would often cry myself to sleep.”

As Therese’s situation spiralled out of control, she was invited to attend a Catholic church with a friend. She was greeted by a warm, friendly youth minister. After attending a youth retreat with other Catholic teenagers, Therese decided to become Catholic. Ultimately, she was accepted to the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio and later received into the Catholic Church.

Scott Hahn, professor of theology and Scripture at the Franciscan University, says in the book’s foreword: “His church is never too full of people who wish to receive the fullness of His grace.”  

Hahn said the church is a universal institution whose doors are open to everyone seeking advice and calm from the everyday troubles. And this book expresses that message. It provides remarkable stories of courage and hope for those who might be struggling with troubles. I Choose God is definitely a book worth reading.

(Santos, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Francis Libermann Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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