Part of the ongoing formation and collaboration among the 2021 DIA Fellows included a book discussion group. Together they read, “Ordinary Lives Extraordinary Mission: 5 Steps to Winning the War Within,” by John Wood. They even met with the author on a virtual meeting. The Fellows were asked to comment on at least one takeaway from the book and this experience. Here are a few of their reactions:

The beginning of the book reminds me that God has called me (and all believers) in this moment in time to be His reflection in the world; he has called us to be saints. This does not mean that we are saints, or have to always live like saints right now; but that we have an earnest desire to, we aspire to, we seek to, and have our hearts set on working towards being a saint. It reminds me that this does not need to be complicated, as it is all understood through the words of Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

John Angelle, Dean of Student Life – Middle Grades and Middle Grades Social Studies Teacher at Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Atlanta, GA

As a campus minister working with teenagers, I found the section on the social diseases of hedonism, minimalism, and individualism especially illuminating. 
On page 50, Wood demonstrates how Satan attempts to make God look unreasonable to Eve. Advocating individualism he tries to show her that God is a liar, Satan tricks Eve into doing the one thing God asked that she not do, eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. 
This is just what the Equality Act is doing to The Church. By making Christians look unreasonable and labeling faith based organizations as homophobic, politicians seek to tear institutions like Catholic schools down. It’s these social diseases that threaten to muddy the waters of Catholicism by insisting that the Church “change with the times”. But, Holy Mother Church doesn’t work that way. 
This is frustrating for those on the outside because they don’t understand that the church is concerned with the truth, not poll numbers.  

Mary Vulcani, Coordinator of Campus Ministry at Holy Family High School, Broomfield, CO

“It is imperative to remember where the war takes place – inside the human heart”. John Wood’s point in this statement is to say that we have free will and nothing can take that from us. As I reflect on this quote I think of many things. So often the culture teaches us to look to others to blame for our failings, our shortcomings, our misdeeds. 
We need to gird our loins and prepare for the internal battle between sin and virtue that is ours alone. Yet, we are never alone. Turning to our Lord and the vast cloud of witnesses that have gone before us gives us hope. Hope in the fact the war is already won; we are indeed saved. The doors of heaven have been open for us if we were to just listen. Listen with our hearts for the still small voice that calls us each to holiness and eternal life. That still small voice can only be heard if we quiet ourselves and really listen. 

I pray that we all hear that call to oneness with the Divine, to find ourselves deep within the abundance of grace and mercy that is continually being offered. Allowing our wills to accept the gifts within the deepest part of our hearts. The grace and mercy will help us fight that internal battle so that one day we will meet our Lord face to face and he will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.

Tami Goy, Director of Pastoral Ministry at St. Joseph High School, South Bend, IN

Our most recent cohort meeting consisted of meeting with Dr. John Wood, who authored the book. It was insightful and inspiring to hear his process in writing this book. It truly is the fruit of his own life and developing relationship with Jesus and His Church. I was struck with awe at how he approached teaching adults. He had a passion to not let children just be sacramentalized but to actually live out their faith. He knew that the parents held such a powerful position in this as the primary teachers of their children. This resonated with what I am doing for my own fellowship and how a continual teaching and touchpoint with parents can lead my students to a deeper relationship with Jesus. 

Austin Krause, Theology Teacher at St. James Academy in Lenexa, KS