SOUTH BEND, Indiana – With hopes of leading Catholics to a deeper search for Christ, a new puzzle book from Ave Maria Press challenges readers to expand their interaction with God’s mysteries.
“I open the book with a quote from Proverbs 25:2, ‘It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out’,” said Matt Swaim, author of Catholic Puzzles, Word Games, and Brainteasers: Volume 1.
“Properly understood, the idea of God as a mystery shouldn’t cause us to throw up our hands and stop searching him out; it should draw us to engage with him and get a window into his magnificence,” he told CNA.
Catholic Puzzles, which will go on sale Sept. 22, contains interactive word problems such as anagrams, code scrambles and crypto quizzes. The puzzles empower readers to learn more about saints, the mysteries of the rosary, Holy Scripture, and Church doctrine.
Swaim started developing fun interactive puzzles to aid his 8th grade CCD students with understanding Church teachings. After connecting with Ave Maria Press, a suggestion was made to put together a similar project for a broader adult audience.
“I think adults see their kids doing worksheets for religious ed classes and wish there were more of that kind of thing for their skill level out there.”
He said the puzzles are meant to be a challenge for older Catholics, but not so difficult as to deter anyone from giving it a try.
So far, he said, the response has been positive: “Most people are just excited to discover that something like this exists, and that it’s not at the elementary school level.”
Watching people wrestle with thought-provoking questions is one of his favorite things about the new book, Swaim said, noting that the struggle to solve a problem can help bring us to a deeper knowledge of it.
“Think about it – if you’re working on solving a particular encrypted saint quote for a half an hour, that’s 30 minutes for your brain to mull it over, let it sink in, and have it stay with you.”
He clarified that searching for truth and for Christ does not mean that we treat God like he is a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery. Rather, delving into the mystery of God’s creation gives us “a greater insight into just how wonderful and big and mind-blowing it is to be in relationship with him.”
Seeing God as a mystery doesn’t stop us from pursuing him, Swaim said, adding that growing in our relationship to God’s mystery is similar to the experience of getting to know another human person through friendship, marriage or parenting.
“If every person in this world is a unique, unrepeatable mystery to learn about and learn from, then how much more the God who created all of them?
“God has hidden himself in his creation, in the faces of our neighbors, in the most minuscule aspects of our days. He’s constantly searching after us, but he also wants us to be searching after him.”
But we do not always search for God, he said. Instead, “we devote hours to studying the intricacies of the NFL” or memorizing quotes of “our favorite television shows.”
Swaim challenged Catholics: “What if we applied a fraction of that inquisitive fervor toward exploring our faith?”