Book Review: Broken + Blessed An Invitation to My Generation by Father Josh Johnson
The sun is setting, the shadows are getting longer, and another day is almost in the books. Chores of the day are winding down, but on the back porch, the conversation is just beginning. Relationships are being built as discussion ensues and an occasional whiskey or beer is being enjoyed in moderation of course. What is it that brings us to this place every month? Perhaps it is as simple as like-minded friends gathering together to deepen their faith, but maybe it is something else, something unseen, and perhaps holy in nature.
Are you part of a men’s group? Have you ever thought of starting a men’s group? Do you need ideas or resources? The Catholic Man Show has a resource brochure on the topic of men’s groups. Also, I suggest episodes # 11 and #94 on the topic of brotherhood. Maybe you are hesitating because you are not sure what to read. You may want to consider Broken + Blessed by Father Josh Johnson.
Father Josh wrote this book to millennials; however, the men’s group I am in just finished it and all of us in our group are not of the millennial generation. Our group meets monthly and for this particular book, we were fortunate that the work included “Questions for Meditation and Discussion” at the end of each chapter. We didn’t always use every question, but they did spur on our conversation.
On the official Catholic Man Show technical scale*** (see bottom of the blog for the rating scale) I rate this book at a level 3 out of 10 which means the book is easy to read, relates well to readers and is rich in content. I had the eerie sense through the seven chapters that Father Josh was inside my head and reading my thoughts. In addition, as a collective group I cannot tell you how many times our men’s group said, “Oh man, he was talking right to me in this chapter!” In addition, I find myself revisiting the prayers, meditations, and thoughts presented in this work.
I enjoy books that present real-life stories and examples to highlight the point the author is trying to make. Father Josh does an excellent job of presenting situations from his own life experiences to draw readers into a closer encounter with Christ. In the first two chapters, I found the “I Thirst” meditation as presented by the Missionaries of Charity Fathers to be powerful (by the way the author points out that St. Teresa of Calcutta was extremely devoted to Jesus’ statement of “I thirst” when he was on the cross). Also, in chapters 1 and 2 Father Josh shares a story of his interaction with a belligerent elderly man in a bar, and going deeper, he addresses the issues of peer pressure and authentic friendship in the ever-turbulent teenage years of life. A final note from the first 2 chapters is “The Litany of Trust” prayer as presented by Sister Faustina Maria Pia of the Sisters of Life.
Some further highlights from the final five chapters include:
- Treating God as the “Eternal Vending Machine” with a further explanation from St. Augustine
- Addressing the “Prosperity Gospel Lie”
- A reflection from St. Teresa of Calcutta based on Jesus’ question in Matthew 16:15: “Who do you say that I am?”
- Lectio Divina using the parable of the prodigal son
- Fostering a relationship with God so that we can “let him into every area of our hearts”
- How to “trade vice for virtue”
- A personal story about St. Padre Pio
- Fasting and avoiding the near occasion to sin
- The Litany of Humility (unconfirmed sources say David Niles may have been a contributing author to this litany)
- The “Acknowledge, Relate, Receive and Respond” prayer method
- A refreshing idea for your outgoing voice mail message courtesy of Monsignor Fitz
- How to “prioritize prayer” and to not overextend yourself in service to your parish
- Planning your schedule to answer the “Five W’S” which are “1. When will I spend intentional time with Jesus? 2. Where will I spend intentional time with Jesus? 3. What will Jesus and I do during this time together? 4. Who will hold me accountable for spending this time with Jesus? 5. Why am I spending this time with Jesus?
Of course, there is much more to this book than the above-listed bullet points, but this literary work lends itself to be a functional tool for fostering spiritual growth and fraternity. Personally, I appreciated Fr. Josh’s ability to be honest with regard to his struggles and how he writes with a vulnerability that almost seems lost in our culture, especially among men. So, whether your group (or soon to be formed group) meets weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly I have no doubt that Broken + Blessed will challenge each person to deepen their faith and grow closer to Christ.
By: Kent Keithly, Husband and Father
***Regarding The Catholic Man Show technical read scale:
A 3 out of 10 is a leisurely read that could be read in a couple of weeks, an 8 out of 10 is a more technical read which requires more time and often requires looking up definitions of words to clearly understand the author, and finally a 10/10 is an extremely technical read that requires a significant amount of time to complete the book, as well as, extra time to look up further explanations of the topic, definitions, and likely requires that some pages be read more than once to grasp the content.