Fr. William Peckman has written a masterful work in his new book, A Young Catholic’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare. Fr. Peckman, a diocesan priest for the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, shows in eleven focused chapters that he is keenly aware of what can sidetrack persons on their journey toward heaven. His writing is clear, well-organized, straightforward, and hopeful. In the introduction to his book, Fr. Peckman notes: “this handbook is about knowing your enemy and yourself, but also knowing the God that will bring you to victory.”
A Young Catholic’s Guide is organized around the seven deadly sins: Pride, Lust, Greed, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth. Three general chapters in the beginning detail the why, what, and how to engage in this battle for your soul. The following seven chapters explore each deadly sin in turn, supplying its name and explanation then offering both natural and supernatural weapons to be used in the fight. An actionable battle plan concludes each chapter. The evils of the day are succinctly identified and confronted, using real-world examples as well as cultural references. The book wraps up with the appropriately titled and hopeful chapter, “Being a Heroic Warrior.”
This book is aimed at teenagers and young adults. It is not, though, a watered-down treatment of the subject matter and would be helpful for all who are serious about their spiritual life and want to know how to engage in spiritual warfare. Fr. Peckman addresses the roots of many societal problems, doing so in a thoroughly Catholic manner. Scripture, catechism references, and quotes from Saints lend both depth and authority. I found it refreshing to see substantive references to mortal sin, grace, the Church Militant, concupiscence, temptation, Sacramental Confession, Adoration, virtues, fear of the Lord, as well as fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving. And all of this is presented with an over-arching emphasis on mercy and hope.
The writing-style is strong and masculine. Personally, I appreciated this quality. As the title suggests, battle-imagery can be found throughout. I think teenaged boys and young men will find this engaging and encouraging. My only reservation, and it is a small one, is that teenaged girls and young women may at first not connect with the talk of weapons, warriors, and battles. My hope is that they will read the book with the understanding that we are in a battle for our souls, and that all, male and female alike, are called to engage in spiritual warfare. The imagery Fr. Peckman uses is entirely proper for the seriousness of the endeavor, and the language of being battle-ready should not be softened nor toned down.
This book would be a valuable resource for parents. It could offer a starting point for those sometimes difficult but necessary conversations, and supply follow-up reading afterward. Youth groups might find it useful, as well, perhaps as a months-long study or material for a retreat. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone, but especially the teen and young adult who is beginning to question what it means to be Catholic in the world and how to fend off the allurements which entice them off the Narrow Way.
A Young Catholic’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare is published by Mater Media, and can be found on their website, www.matermedia.org. It is also available on Amazon in both electronic and paperback editions.