Catholic.Net offers its online community a brief interview about a fascinating new book, The Path, by Michael Ralhfs.
by Fr Cliff Ermatinger, LC | Source:
What is The Path?
The Path is a story of a simple peasant, who is sent on a
great journey of trial and discovery. In his journey, he discovers God and the world as it really
is. It’s the story of a man, like most men, who wants a tranquil life, but his encounter with God is
also an encounter with himself. What he finds is that he can’t go on as before. Everything is
different, there is a spiritual war going on all around him an only now does he realize that he’s in
the middle of it as is everybody else. But the difference is that they are as he used to be – asleep
So, are you saying this is like
Not at all. “Matrix” presents a completely
different world view. There one finds a dangerous dualism as well as the old Gnostic story of
salvation coming through special knowledge. In The Path, a common man finds his help in God who,
while transcending him, is very present all along. But God can only help him if he opens himself to
His help. That’s the story of all of us. Reality doesn’t present us with a dualism. Only God is
eternal. The devil and his minions are finite creatures like us – dangerous ones but very finite
ones. The peasant in this story learns that although he has his struggles and weakness, his real
strength comes when he finds himself at his lowest. Often, God wants us to experience that so that
we finally understand that our real strength is in him. He doesn’t want us to feel we can go it
alone. That would be a very dangerous and lonely path.
What is The Path about?
It deals with the everyday struggle to live your faith in a world of sin and
evil. It is a story of suffering, prayer, and surrender to Eternal Truth, and of the redemption, the
true freedom, and the true peace that only comes with that surrender.
What makes The Path different from other stories?
The style of writing used in The Path is loosely based
on ancient folk songs and poems that told tales of great heroes and warriors, and their deeds of
chivalry, honor, and virtue. These old stories used vivid imagery to try and inspire people to
courageously emulate the hero of the tale. The Path is written from the perspective of a simple
peasant, without any reference to time or place, to try and inspire the modern reader.
Can you give an excerpt from the book?
“At the end of the seventh week, the final evil spirit
was expelled from the girl. The souls of the dead turned their cries of woe to shouts of joy, and
they ascended above. The peasant slowly rose and asked the weary people now to pray for him. They
did as he drew his sword and attacked the demons destroying the town. After he cut down the last
beast, he looked out on a plain near the river. Not only were many more demons advancing towards
him, but also with them many of the same men who had previously attacked the town. They were coming
to raze it to the ground.
The peasant paused and stood, knowing in the back of his mind
that he would probably be killed on this plain today. There were too many of them for him to defeat
on his own. But he could not think of better people to die for. Resigned to his fate, he began to
advance. Just as he clutched the small cross around his neck to gird himself for his final battle,
he felt a hand on his shoulder hold him up. It was the king, dressed in full battle armor, a top a
mighty charger. The men of the town were behind him, armed for war.”
Why did you write this book?
I wrote it for a couple of reasons. First, the message simply needs to be said
over and over again. I just tried to package it in a little different format. We all need to hear
Eternal Truth because we have all been wounded by sin and face continued and increasing temptation
every day. But, this is our time to hold fast to Truth and let it carry us through the trials of
life with childlike faith, trust, and hope. Only by surrender to the Will of God, by picking up our
cross daily and perfecting our union with the Word of God, can we free ourselves from fear and the
temptation to give in to the apparent insurmountable opposition to Truth. I know this can be very
difficult. Hopefully this book will offer some encouragement to persevere and to remember that no
matter how people try to twist and deny it, there is Eternal Truth and it will endure whatever
humanity can come up with to attempt to oppose it. Second, I want to inspire people to read more of
the great old books of literature. Please read the Bible, the Catechism, and the lives of the
saints, but also realize there are many books and writings from The Song of Roland, to the humanist
writings of Petrarch, to Utopia by St. Thomas More, to Sybil by Disraeli that are very entertaining
and have a Catholic perspective to them. They do not present formal theology per se, but present
faith in life in many different times and places, and they let the reader see that it has been a
tough struggle for many people for a long time. They toughed it out and so can we.
What are some of the responses readers have given about The
I was actually surprised to get some
very nice replies. I figured, if these people have written this, perhaps there are many other people
who have had similar experiences but simply didn’t write. I hope so. Here are a couple.
“Very powerful and moving, different from anything I have read before.” “The story flows nicely.
This book really makes you think about who you are and what you believe.” “It is the perfect gift
for any occasion.”
Where can our
readers buy The Path?
The Path is available
at Barnes and Noble, either online or you can order it at a retail store. It is also available
online at Amazon.com and iUniverse.com.