Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thought Conditioners: Practical Use of the Word of God (Lent 1.A)

I didn't write out this week's homily, but I promised the congregation a link to a helpful resource that I mentioned.

Many years ago I came across Thought Conditioners, a small booklet from the Protestant preacher and author Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993).  Dr. Peale had assembled forty texts from Scripture and added a brief comment on how each could be applied to help Christians cope with the challenges of life.

Dr. Peale was a controversial figure--like many Protestants of his era he was no friend of Catholicism--and there are weaknesses in his bestselling book The Power of Positive Thinking. But recently I happened to find my copy of Thought Conditioners and was once again edified and helped by using a few verses in the way he had suggested.

And when I read today's Gospel, where Jesus defeats Satan by wielding the two-edged sword of the Word of God, I was struck by the value of memorizing Scripture verses and using them not just to "condition" our thoughts, but to defeat temptation, as Jesus did. (Some years ago the Catholic evangelizer and minister to men Steve Wood advocated this approach in a book aimed at helping those troubled by pornography called Breaking Free.  It includes a collection of suitable verses to memorize.)

In any case, I had trouble ordering copies of Thought Conditioners, but discovered the booklet is available online for free as a downloadable .pdf.  While there may be a few spots where the theology does not fully harmonize with Catholic thinking, the basic approach is sound and offers a starting place for more frequent and practical applications of Scripture to the concrete circumstances of our lives.

You can download the booklet here or at

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