Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ by Joe Paprocki (Loyola Press, 168 pages, $15.95)
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Loyola Press for my honest review.
Accessible, humorous, earnest, and faithful are all words I would use to describe the latest book by Joe Paprocki, a national consultant on faith formation for Loyola Press.
Paprocki discusses what a relationship with Jesus is and is not, and how it manifests in our hearts. What happens when we are truly inebriated with the love of Christ is a “subtle but observable” transformation in our personal lives, one to prompt others to ask us about our joy (1 Peter 3:15).
The book is manageable, sitting under 200 pages. The writing style is conversational. Paprocki frequently invokes modern culture to help make a clear picture or better connection for the reader. For people looking to have a more intimate, sincere relationship with Jesus, he also gives practical advice about how best to start, grow, and truly know the greatness of our God.
I love Papracki’s advice on “vision therapy” and how to daily engage your senses to recognize God in your life. He shows a very real and alive faith, and explains the habits we can form to encourage our journey to carry our own cross.
Too often, people feel pressure to “be” a certain kind of Christian. Paprocki writes, “Likewise, the Gospels make it clear that following Jesus, while transformative at the spiritual level, does not require us to become something we are not. Rather, we are to become a more authentic version of who we are, continuing to do what we do but with a new, single-hearted focus.” In Christ, we are fully ourselves, and we use our unique gifts to help serve the Church and our fellow humans. Peter and Paul were both essential to the Church, just as Mary and Martha served the Lord in different ways. It is in our individuality that joy is made manifest to many.
The book shows the multi-faceted sides of our Lord, and warmly brings the reader in; the Scripture passages used feel well-timed and placed. Paprocki reminds us that “Jesus does not desire fans who cheer from the sidelines but rather friends who will roll up their sleeves and work shoulder to shoulder with him to build the kingdom of God.” Discipleship is an invitation for more; a desire planted in the heart to serve.
Paprocki invites the readers to personally know Jesus: the Word made flesh – for “it touched heaven, but it stood upon the earth” (Wisdom 18:16). This book is worth studying and savoring in the pursuit to best know our faith. The title of the book refers to the centuries old prayer Anima Christi: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me.” The book encourages us all to experience life in Christ, and with him.