Spirituality & Health

January 2, 2022

Anselm Gruen is a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of Munsterschwarzach in Germany where he works as a spiritual counselor and advisor. He is the author of “Heaven Begins Within You.” In this cogent and imaginative work, Gruen presents a Christian perspective on creating and sustaining self-esteem. He notes: “Self-respect is a religious question. Faith can show us who we actually are and where we obtain our true value.”

Many of the problems of contemporary men and women who feel useless, inept, and powerless are mirrored in the variety of individuals depicted in the Gospels as recipients of Jesus’ healing ministry. Gruen ponders the difficulties of Zacchaeus and his low self-esteem, the feeling of inferiority in the paralyzed man, and the conformity of the man with the shriveled hand. In each case Jesus challenges them to accept their uniqueness as sons of God.

Gruen emphasizes the following point: “Faith is an excellent school for learning how to acquire self-confidence and a true conviction of our dignity and worth.” We can nourish the image of God within us by meditating upon biblical passages and by looking at the feasts of the church year as “images of our redemption and of the value we have for God.” For example, Epiphany enables us to accept the appearance of God’s glory in our bodies, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception tells us “there is a space inside everyone of us that sin can’t get at.”

“Building Self-Esteem” is a perfect study project for small Christian groups. It speaks boldly and broadly about the nature of faith, grace, mystery, prayer, and personal transformation.

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