KWENU: Our Culture, Our Future
Monday 30 April 2012
Sr. Carina Maris Okeke
Bloomington, IN, Xlibris Publishers,
Pp. 68; Price, $24.99)
r. Carina Maris Okeke’s forthcoming book, The Love of the Unloved, seeks to take the faithful reader back to the basics and underpinning ethos of the Catholic faith and teachings; redemption through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In a world increasingly bereft of belief and weary of faith, the arrival of this book is most propitious. As the author of this work (which is due out in mid-May), avers, she undertook this scriptural task due to the “indifference and rejection suffered by our Eucharistic Jesus in the hands of his creatures in the tabernacle of his Divine Love particularly in the ungrateful tabernacles of human hearts.” Such indifference has been amplified by mushrooming of latter day churches that continually undermine the theological doctrine of Catholicism.
Call this pithy work an endeavour in epistemology, philosophy or strict theology; it delves into one of the core challenges confronting the Catholic Church --the erosion of the understanding and belief in the redemptive love and sacrifice that led to the crucifixion and the eventual manifestation of that love in the transubstantiation, represented by the Holy Eucharist.
The motivation for this work is the recognition that increasingly, “People often doubt the teachings of the Church”, even those who profess to believe. In so doing, they fail to recognize the mystical component and nexus between the promised redemption and the death on the cross, which is the fulfilment of that promise. While this book may be of little interest to non-Catholics and the sceptics; even as a historical treatise its essence and thesis are easily validated by eloquent Biblical citations and common sense logic.
It is argued that the human failure to grasp the mystery of redemption as represented by the Holy Eucharist is attributable to the Eucharistic process being “incomprehensible and unexplainable to human intellect.” Hence, the proposition: “To understand the mystery of the Holy Eucharistic, you must first develop an intimate relationship with Jesus, because he is the only person that would explain the mystery to you.”
The Love of the Unloved is divided into eleven chapters; namely, The Eucharist: The Sacrament of Life and Love; The Wounded Lover; The Unconditional Lover; He Waits for Your Love; A Friend in Need; The Sweet Voice of the Beloved; Jesus Can Do All Things; New Life with New Beginnings; Living our Faith in Christ; The Ultimate Mandate; and Living a Life of Gratitude and Love.
The book, inter alia, investigates why the relationship between the redeemer and his flock, which should be one of unrequited love, is skewed. Christ did his part, loving His beloved people unconditionally and sacrificing his life for them. Yet, “Jesus is the wounded Lover abandoned by his beloved in the tabernacle of his divine love” (p.14). The author explains this disconnect in lay human terms, noting that while “what prompts the sacrifice of Jesus transcends human understanding” his actions were akin to that of a lover; “he can do anything to make his love known to me”(p.16).
Two key points are used to anchor the premise of the love between Jesus Christ and his beloved. “He called us his own and his friends (Jn 15:15). He laid down his life for us. Like a Great Shepherd he took upon himself our infirmities, our condemnation and our death (Is 53:4; Matt 8:17).”
Beyond reciprocal love, Love of the Unloved is also about trust and faith, both common, but inevitably tasking virtues. In this context, the author asserts; “Jesus needs trustworthy friends that will continue his mission on earth. He needs friends who can stand up for him in good and in bad times. …. But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”(p.38) Valid as this assertion is, doubt and lack of faith are inevitable human foibles. They are not so much physiological as they as mental and indeed, to some degree, their origin is inexplicable. Hence, it is understandable that those who believe must walk by faith, as “walking by faith encourages us to confide in the revelation of God. In fact, walking by faith simply means living our life according to God’s word”(p.45).
Love of the Unloved is about relationships and abiding faith. Clearly, some who vouchsafe to be Catholics have abandoned or totally rejected the very basis of their faith – unfettered belief. They do so, utterly unmindful of St. Paul exhortation to Timothy to “. . .fight the good fight by having faith and a good conscience. Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith.” (p.49)
Sr. Carina Maris Okeke has written a book of spiritual companionship, which explains the teachings in the Bible in synoptic but illuminating forms and offers those wavering in their faith, a basis to rekindle their beliefs. The book bridges the concept of agape love and unrequited love; and both, like faith, doubt and belief, are hardly radical thoughts. As Sr. Okeke disclosed, the book was “inspired by her love for the Eucharistic Lord who lives in the tabernacles of the world particularly in the tabernacles of human hearts in a simple but mystical way.”
Love of the Unloved is well written, elegant in form, factual and more importantly, not geared towards proselytization of non-Catholics. Rather, it will serve as useful tool in the hands of those doubting Thomases most in need of succour; and provide to others who have remained fervently steadfast in their religious belief, especially in the dogma of redemption and life hereafter, an affirmation of being on the right course. The love will find a well-deserved place in any worthy Christian family library.
Mr. Oseloka Obaze is the co-founder of the Kwenu.com Book Review Forum, which is dedicated to the promotion of books with Igbo and Afrocentric themes. He is also a supporting Member of the African Writers Endowment (AWE). From 1999 to 2005, he served on the editorial board of INYEAKA, the journal of Songhai Charities, Inc., a New Jersey community-based charity founded and run by Nigerians based in New York Tri-state area in the United States, first as its founding Publisher and later as the Editor-At-Large. He is also on the editorial board of The Amaka Gazette, journal of the Christ the King College, Onitsha Alumni Association in America. He is the co-author of a forthcoming book, Joe Garba’s Legacy (Xlibris) due out in June 2012. His collection of poems, “Regarscent Past: A Collection of Poems” (Ben Bosah Books), will be published in the fall. He is working on a novel titled “Happy Eulogy”. He reviews books and arts strictly as a hobby.
© Copyright 30 April 2012.
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