Dietrich von Hildebrand's Transformation in Christ: Book Review

The Home provides many formation exercises for all age groups, with a special emphasis on our youth. But even for older singles and parents looking to move forward, deeper into their journey with Christ, the Home provides something like a 'Catholic Think Tank' environment, as they share their study of church documents, theological dissertations and the lives of the saints with anyone interested.

 

For instance, at the Home's last Easter Experience, at a campsite outside of Jacksonville, FL, in addition to fellowship around the sacraments and contemplating the Passion, the Home introduced Dietrich von Hildebrand's Transformation in Christ as a book worthy of study.

Intrigued by some talks given on HiIdebrand's perspective on internal conversion and its various aspects, I ordered the book.

The book arrived at my home. I started reading. Wow.

Hildebrand dissects the person into multiple facets, those of the world and those potentially focused on Christ. There are consequences, both good and bad, of which facets we knowingly or unknowingly choose to espouse.

Personally, what I find most helpful is Hildebrand's precise, thorough analysis of the human persona and, when applied to self-analysis, how I might be tripping up on the journey, how I might be derailing myself from growing in my personal relationship with God. 

For instance, I was immediately attracted to Chapter 10, True Freedom. 'Freedom' is a word used throughout society in many ways. With so many definitions, it seems the Merriam-Webster dictionary could put into print a whole 'freedom' dictionary dedicated to all the words different connotations as people use the word in their daily lexicon.

Personally, as I attempt to practice detachment from this world, centering more on Christ, His Mother, His Word, the angels and saints, could Hildebrand help me do a 'self-check?' Was I truly living a Christ-centric freedom, the only one that counts?

Ha! Dietrich von Hildebrand did not fail me!

Typically, I'm devoid of concern of others' opinions of me. After all, does it matter? Shouldn't Christ's opinions matter most and his judgement of my words and deeds be paramount? 

While Hildebrand relates an indifference to human opinion that may be healthy, i.e., so we don't become 'slaves to human respect' in terms of a personal need to receive positive praise based on personal insecurities, it can also be harmful.

What if my indifference is based on pride? Oh, I feel I am better than others to the point of dismissing them and their opinions? This means I'm conceited, a narcissist and pride-filled.  Whoops. Bad me.

And isn't this true when I look more deeply at my own disposition, thoughts and deeds?

But Hildebrand did not leave me in a lurch. Instead, by highlighting the risks involved with my very own pride, I became more self-aware of my defects and the only solution. It is only in my complete surrendering to Christ, a continued daily prayer, His love in the sacraments and lessening myself so that Christ may increase and expand my heart, that I will receive true freedom, i. e., freedom is Christ's sacrificial heart, His love, His mercy, grace...true, transformative light.

It is in His love, then, that Hildebrand introduces the 'sober' man or woman. I am sober when my surrender is complete, that Christ permeates my every action.  I may then move forward with Christ in a sober indifference to the world and its opinions, not because I feel secure, but because our Lord has taken over. In His encompassing light, I can only do good and my indifference is caused by making many little daily decisions to focus on Christ. Christ has thus consumed me and I am beginning to imperfectly act as He acted while here on earth and, now, in Heaven.

If this short book review and how it’s having a positive impact on my life catches your interest, then I humbly ask you to get the book and read it with a heart open to growing in Christ's love.

God Bless. 

Article contributed by Dane Baird

Dane Baird

Dane Baird has been a witness member of the Home of the Mother for 3 years. He has two daughters, Jean and Susannah. The newest addition to the family is Halo, wonder-dog! His profession is teaching autistic children and he enjoys acting in several parish and diocesan ministries, as well as supporting the Home of the Mother.

Latest from Dane Baird