Study Guide for THE GARDEN OF SOULS by Cheri Vause

(If you don't want the mystery of the novel spoiled, wait to view this Study Guide!)

The novel can be purchased through Xulon Press Books,, It is available in paperback or e-book format.
 Study Guide:
  1. Pope Francis stated recently that “careerism is a leprosy in the Church.” The opposite of careerism is a calling or a vocation. How does the character Liam Connick learn what path he is called to take? Is his struggle between obedience and God's calling one that you can identify with? How?
  2. The character Alana Morgan grows in her faith by confronting her poor life's decisions while on her journey to Eden with Liam and Avi. What things did Liam and Avi do to help her to find her way to God? Which worked better: Liam's gentle encouragement or Avi's stern accusations? Or was it a combination of both? What did she let go of to finally see the truth? Can you see yourself or a loved one in Alana's journey to faith? Are there things or people in your life who hold you back from a closer relationship with God for fear of embarrassment or rejection?
  3. When Liam shares the story of Rabbi Akiva's wife with Alana, she rejects Akiva's years spent studying scripture as a poor example of husbandry. Is his wife's sacrifice something that you would do for your husband or wife, or mother or father, or brother or sister? Do you believe that marriages or relationships with family members are too easily broken today?
  4. Liam's relationship with his parents taught him how to find his way in life. It was a map to guide him through the trials of his life and it helped him find his way to Eden to meet God. He literally runs to service and to meet God leaving everything behind him. How would you begin a journey to Eden? What devotionals and ways can you use to discover your path to Eden?
  5. On the river of dreams or the river to Eden, Liam and Alana have very different visions: Liam finds the secret to crossing the fiery threshold, but Alana is forced to face her complicity in the deaths of the archaeologists in the Andes; her conscience is pricked by guilt. Are you willing to face whatever is holding you back? Are you willing to risk crossing a fiery threshold to see God? In what ways has God revealed the key to your path and your vocation like God revealed Liam's?
  6. Liam isn't allowed to see his fate, but he sees the fate of others. Why do you believe that God withheld that information from Liam? Explain how that would apply to you.
  7. Avi Schwartz writes an email to his wife explaining how the discovery of the map convinces him that God is real. Can Faith and Reason coexist? What obstacles do you put between faith and reason to prevent you from growing in your walk with God?
  8. Liam declares, “Blessed are those who don't see and believe.” This beatitude, found in John 20:29 outside of the Sermon on the mount, is an important key to faith. Explain its significance to you as a beatitude and for all of us.
  9. How is Liam's relationship as a priest with Avi and Alana significant? How is your relationship with your priest? Is your priest an important figure in the moral development of your family, of you? Where does the priest fit within your family?
  10. Can you identify the seven deadly sins in the book by Character or Act? Can you identify the seven virtues in the book by Character or Act?
    Seven Deadly Sins Seven Virtues
    1. Lust
    1. Chastity
    2. Gluttony
    2. Temperance
    3. Greed/Avarice
    3. Charity
    4. Diligence
    4. Sloth/Discouragement
    5. Wrath/Rage
    5. Patience
    6. Envy
    6. Kindness
    7. Pride
    7. Humility
      Scriptural Readings:
    1. Genesis Chapter 1- 4
    2. Genesis Chapter 23
    3. Genesis Chapter 28: 10-22
    4. Song of Songs 2: 2
    5. Song of Songs 4: 12-16
    6. John 20:29
    7. Genesis 28: 10-22
    8. Proverbs 6:16-19
Suggested readings:
        Catholic Catechism nn. 59-61; 201; 1719; 1776-1782
Scholarly readings:
        Fides et Ratio, by Pope John Paul II,
        John Climacus. The Ladder of Divine Ascent


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