Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the saints that were reviewed. But maybe even more than that was the life of a woman that parallels the lives of the saints. The saints she discussed were Teresa of Avilla, Therese of Liseux, Mother Teresa, Edith Stein, Faustina of Poland and Mary of Nazareth. The truth is I am fascinated about studying how the saint's lived their lives. I connected with the author not so much in the details of a father with Alzheimer’s or bouts with infertility but with a woman searching for more. I am in the general demographic the book was intended being a middle class woman in my 40's. The book was easier to read because I identified with the main character. I didn't see a big change in the main character of the author beyond normal college shallowness and a woman in her thirties having a baby. There was a natural sense of maturity through the decade and half of living. The author did glean some similarities between herself and the saints she discusses. There was a self identified reawakening of her Catholic faith. I admired the patience of her spouse and I questioned her personal priorities at times. The author seemed overly dismissive of adoption but I haven't been in the position of infertility so it hard to judge how I would feel in this position. I would recommend this book to learn more about these saints since she gives a good biographical history of each. It gives a good example of how we as readers can draw parallels with the saints even if not at first an obvious one. The author maintains her faith ideals through personal trials as she questions her roles as daughter, wife and mother. Overall I enjoyed this book and I think you will too.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The American Catholic Almanac: A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary People by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson

My eyes have been opened to the rich history and beauty of American Catholicism. The subtitle of this book is “A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary people". This subtitle gives a glimpse into a history punctuated with many different spiritual paths of specific Americans. In this book, there are famous people you have heard of, like Fulton Sheen, Michael McGivney and many not so famous like Theodora Guerin, Rene Goupil. All of the stories are interesting histories of real Americans. There are stories of establishments of dioceses and designations of minor basilicas in America. There are also fun stories like the one of Al Capone. I like the one story a day format, so you can break it up to once a day reading. You could incorporate this into your daily prayer time or ponder their stories throughout your day. You could also look up a special day like your birthday to see what happened in American Catholic history on that day. It does need lend itself to reading straight through like a novel because this is not the intended format. There is a jumping around of timelines which is a bit confusing but probably not as much if not reading straight through. It is hard to sum up someone's life in one page but the authors do a good job of giving you the essence of what contribution this person has made to American Catholic history. I would recommend this book to expand your historical knowledge of American Catholicism and to give you a sense of being part of a rich Christian heritage in America. Even those who are not Catholic will enjoy these stories of American Christians who helped shape the religious landscape of American history.