Lives of the Saints – My top 12 favorite books

St. Teresa of Avila by Girgio Papasogli, Alba House, 1973

St. Teresa of Avila by Giorgio Papasogli, Alba House, 1973

I have been spending some time on Facebook recently (Rose Pacatte) and everyone is doing these lists on Notes on their profile pages. So I decided to start some lists of my own.

Here is a list of my 12 favorite lives of the saints. I have read much hagiography over the course of my life, but these stand out as really good reads. Of course, when I was in the postulancy and novitiate more than 40 years ago our leisure time was limited (even for reading lives of the saints!). But I found these, and if you can find them, they might make it on your favorite saints biography list, too.

1. St Teresa of Avila by George Papsogli (trans. from the Italian) Alba House 1973
2. St. Francis de Sales and His Friends  Maurice Henry Couannier (translated from the French), Alba House 1973
3. The Woman God Loved (Bl. Anne Marie Javouhey; foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny)
4. St Therese by those Who Knew Her – testimony from the “trials” for her beatification and canonization; compelling
5. The Golden Thread (St Ignatius of Loyola, novel by Louis de Wohl)
6. Africa’s Twelve Apostles (All men, and not a perfect book – but a great read; some have been beatified or canonized) by Rev. H. Russell
7. Mystic in Motley: The Life of St Philip Nero by Theodore Maynard, 1946  – THE BEST! Maynard is an amazing biographer)
8. St. John Neumann by Robert H. Wilson
9. A Light to the Gentiles: the Life of Venerable Francis Libermann by Adrian van Kaam (one of my favorites)
10. The Song of Bernadette (novel by Franz Werfel)
11. St. Thomas More by John Farrow (Mia Farrow’s father); Man for All Season play by Robert Bolt
12. Bury Me Deep: The Life of Bl. Zepherin Namancura by Peter Lappin (most excellent biographer; if Namancura is ever beatified it may be because he was smothered – to death – by the desire of early Salesian missionaries to Argentina to evangelize/minister to indigenous peoples, however, the story is totally compelling.)

You will note that I have not listed biographies of the saints of the Pauline Family: Bl. James Alberione, Bl. Timothy Giaccardo, Ven. M. Tecla Merlo…. This is because the books available so far yet are informative, but I am still waiting for the best books to be written.

Also, St. Anthony’s Guild of Paterson, NJ (now defunct) used to publish these great paperbacks. One of them was the story of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers at 50 years. I can’t find the title online or recall the author’s name… Glenn something… but an outstanding story of holy men and how Maryknoll interfaced with the history of the first half of the 20th century.

I received a comment about the above book and I want to post it within the text of the blog so you can find it – or look forward to the new one!

Hi Sr. Rose,
I think the book about Maryknoll that you mention at the end of your post is “The Maryknoll Fathers: The Heroic Story of Fifty Year in Mission Field Afar” by Glenn D. Kittler. The book appeared in hardcover in 1961 and was published by The World Publishing Company of Cleveland, OH. I am not familiar with the paperback version you mention.

We’re now coming up on our 100th Anniversary in 2011 and a book is once again in preparation. It will be authored by Dr. Angelyn Dries, OSF, a church historian out of St. Louis University. I’m looking forward to it.

Years ago, the later Penny Lernoux put out a popular history of the Maryknoll Sisters called, “Hearts on Fire” which is also very powerful. They too are coming up on their centennial and I’m not sure what they have in the works as far as a history goes.

Thanks for a very enlightening blog! Prayerful best wishes in your many efforts.

Gregory Darr

ReAction! Chemistry in the Movies book review

chemistry and movies

 

Here’s a link to a book that sounds innovative and unique to chemistry classes. Sounds like an “explosive” idea to me … using film clips in chemistry class! Love it. An idea for teaching method transfer…. (The link for this review was posted on the MediaEducation listserv.)

ReAction! Chemistry in the Movies by Mark Griep and Marjorie Mikasen

Conquest of the Useless: Reflections on the Making of FITZCARRALDO by Werner Herzog

Herzog

A funny thing happened on the way to LAX last Friday.

I will admit to never having seen “Fitzcarraldo”. But I was thoroughly rivited by the NPR interview with the film’s director-dreamer Werner Herzog  that I listened to on the way to the airport to collect Frank Frost who was arriving for the National Film Retreat: NPR: Werner Herzog Reveals Intense Private Journals (You can listen to it, which I recommend, or download a transcript).

The New York Times reviewed CONQUEST OF THE USELESS: Reflections on the Making of “Fitzcarraldo”  in yesterday’s Book Review section. The reviewer, Mark Harris, didn’t care much for the two year’s worth of linear journal entries (they seemed to  irritate his gestalt) about Herzog’s folly in the Brazilian rain forest – and if I had read his review first I would have changed radio stations instead of tuning into a fascinating and articulate interview of a major cinematic auteur.

About his filmmaking Herzog said that he has been categorized as a German romanticist but he thoroughly resists this label. He is about nature.  Think “Rescue Dawn” and “Grizzley Man” for starters.

If you are a student of cinema, check this out. I may not read the book but I want to see the film to find out why a filmmaker would spend so much energy, time, humanity, and money on what, to some, is a work of art and to others, an absurdity.

Finding life lessons in Harry Potter

HP3

Finding lessons for life in Harry Potter books by Deborah Netburn LATimes July 24, 2009

New Catholic Book Store in Manhattan! Pauline Books & Media, that is. We’ve moved!

Our new Pauline Book & Media Center at 64 West 38th St. b/w 5th and 6th Avenues (closer to 6th, also called Avenue of the Americas). Opening soon!

Our new Pauline Book & Media Center at 64 West 38th St. b/w 5th and 6th Avenues (closer to 6th, also called Avenue of the Americas). Opening soon!

Sr Carmen Christi, newly back from a year-long course in Pauline studies in Rome (and the new novice director for our province of the Daughters of St. Paul) lends a hand at prepping the fixtures. When you enter the convent there is always some light outdoor - or indoor work - involved!

Sr Carmen Christi, newly back from a year-long course in Pauline studies in Rome (and the new novice director for our province of the Daughters of St. Paul) lends a hand at prepping the fixtures. When you enter the convent there is always some light outdoor - or indoor work - involved!

Sr. Bridget is working so fast at helping to prepare the new center that she's a blur! Sr Bridget is the dorector of our Daughters of St. Paul Choir and the producer of several of our best-selling CD's. Check out www.pauline.org for info.)

Sr. Bridget is working so fast at helping to prepare the new center that she's a blur! Sr Bridget is a gifted musician and the director of our Daughters of St. Paul Choir as well as the producer of several of our best-selling CD's. (Check out http://www.pauline.org for info.)

"Pauline" is our brand name and our logo; it refers to the inspiration we take from St. Paul the Apostle, our patron saint. The image surronding the "P" is a globe, the world, signifying Paul's journeys throughout the then-known world and the presence of the Daughters of St. Paul in 52 countries to communicate the Word of God's love for all people through the media.

"Pauline" is our brand name and our logo; it refers to the inspiration we take from St. Paul the Apostle, our patron saint. The image surronding the "P" is a globe, the world with an imbedded cross, signifying Paul's journeys throughout the then-known world to preach Jesus as well as a symbol of the presence of the Daughters of St. Paul in 52 countries to communicate the Word of God's love for all people through the media.

Our former locations in Manhattan included E. 43rd and Vanderbilt and then almost 20 years at 150 E. 52nd Street. As we all feel the pinch of these current economic times we have downsized in space but the new Center on W. 38th St. will continue to be a place of encounter with the Word that is Jesus through the media and our chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. 

Pauline Books & Media

64 West 38th St. (b/w 5th and 6th, closer to 6th)

New York, New York 10018

212-754-1110

Manhattan@paulinemedia.com

 

An icon of St. Paul the Apostle by Rublev.

An icon of St. Paul the Apostle by Rublev.

Grace & Grotesque: Flannery O’Connor on the page and screen

 

Flannery O'Connor 1925 - 1964

Flannery O'Connor 1925 - 1964

AMERICA magazine ran an excellent article on the American Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor in their June 22, 2009 issue. Here is a link to it: Grace and Grotesque: Flannery O\’Connor on the page and screen by Jon M. Sweeney.

Sweeney quotes a Nigerian priest who is a writer as well: ““I’m fascinated” he said, “by her incredible understanding of the dynamics of sin and grace in the modern world. I find her work very sacramental and powerful. I’m happy, too, that she was a person of faith who refrained from writing didactic and saccharine stuff.”

Read on…. Flannery O’Connor is a writer for our time.

War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims by Melody Moezzi

War-On-Error

When I was at the University of Dayton (working at the Institute for Pastoral initiatives for the online media literacy course www.vlc.udayton.edu) a couple of weeks ago I visited the university book store. While it is a typical college bookstore (though one of the better ones, I think) I found a section of books by local authors. Melody Moezzi’s book looked – and is – very appealing.

For a contemporary American writer, Moezzi excells in combining humor, self-reflection, and an open, long-sentence narrative style.  She never rambles but sometimes she can leave you breathless. I felt like she wrote the book in a hurry!

Moezzi begins with her own story: an American-born child of Iranian parents who were skeptical of all religion.  Her life, as with the other 11 people she interviews in the book, were changed by 9/11. She focuses on how American Muslims, mostly born here, or who converted here to Islam (or are on their journey to becoming Muslim), or fallen away, find themselves and identify themselves as Americans.

What the author offers is clarity about Islam. She elicits from these friends, relatives, or acquaintances their perspectives about Islam and why they reject extremism; why extremism is illogical to Muslims. These people are informed, well-educated,  and some have suffered as a result of 9/11 because they follow Islam.

They were also typical American college students….

Moezzi’s wit is most noticeable when she describes how “American” these people are, or how they become American or are Americans that became Muslim. She is also very good at unmasking all the stereotypes about Middle Easterners. Not all Arabs are Muslim, for example. Many are Christian, many are Jewish (outside of Israel; although the Persian Jewish population, for example, is mostly in the diaspora). Iranians are not Arabic; they are Persian. People in the Middle East are not all the same, nor are their children who were born in the USA.

She also describes the essence of Islam and lets the interviewees say why terrorism is not part of it.

I did not get the feeling I was reading a book of Islamic apologetics, however. The book is too wry and sometimes poignant for that. I feel like I know more about Islam today. For example, The Five Pillars. At first glance the Pillars seem like a check-list of things to do to be a good Muslim, that these Pillars don’t require that a person grow and change spiritually and as a human being. But when there is authentic theology, the Pillars do provide a way of life that can be good for the person and the world. The lack of Islamic scholarship in the Middle East is probably the biggest challenge to Islam today. At least one of the interviewees also notes how U.S. policies often have not helped the people of the Middle East to set aside violence and strive for peace – yet none of those interviewed want to leave the US; they are Americans. They want to find a way to go forward as Americans of Middle Eastern descent (except for two who converted) who practice Islam to varying degrees.

I enjoyed reading this book for the insight and information it provides; for the way it invited me to walk in the shoes of someone else for awhile.

Dayton can be proud of this hometown author (who is also a lawyer and a journalist) and her work.

(For your homework, look up the Five Pillars of Islam).

War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims

by Melody Moezzi

University of Arkansas Press, 2007

ISBN 10: 1-55728-855-0

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The

 Potato pie

I picked up this book so often but the letter format put me off. I finally bought it at Costco (big discount). It sat around for awhile. Then when I picked it up I could hardly put it down.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008, Dial Press/Random House) tells the story of a young writer in post-World War II England who uncovers a story of love and sacrifice between a British woman and a German soldier (a doctor) on the Channel Island of Guernsey. In so doing (guess what?) she finds love, too. Humor and pathos.

This is a gentle, lovely book; inspiring, too. Perfect summer reading. Or airplane read (but I would wait and savor it while on vacation or stay-cation, whatever it may be.)

The film is due out in 2011 but the Internet Movie Database lists it as “in development” and is mum on details. Didn’t find anything on Google either but I didn’t look that hard.

When you read the book you can just imagine who could play the characters that populate its pages. I think I hear a Joan Plowright there….

The lead actress will play someone about 33 years old, not too tall. Please don’t say Amy Adams. She’s too cute. This has to be a woman who could put out fires (literally) during the London blitz.

Kate Winslet would be awesome in the lead now for a 35-year old British actor ….

Peace making | National Catholic Reporter (& Three Cups of Tea)

Here’s my review of Three Cups of Tea and a reflection on peace making:

threecupsoftea

Peace making | National Catholic Reporter

Shared via AddThis

Chapel of Violence against Women in Our Lady of Angels Cathedral March 2009

The Chapel of Violence Against Women from the art of J. Michael Walker

The Chapel of Violence Against Women from the art of J. Michael Walker

The Cathedral here in LA had a side chapel (temporary) called THE CHAPEL OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN set up in March (as well as several other chapels, all with the amazing art of J. Michael Walker.)  

There was a poster on the wall that impressed me and it quoted something called “Corrido de Santa Susana”:

 “The years pass, yet there are men  who do not understand that women also have the right to live as they choose, and to think and believe as they see fit.”

 IMG_0302

If anyone happens to know what the “Corrido de Santa Susana” is or where I can find it in its entirety, please let me know.

 I googled it, both the name and the quote, but nothing came up.

Here is J. Michael Walker’s website and the recent exhibitions at the Our Lady of Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles

If you love Los Angeles and art, you will love his work.

All the Saints of Los Angeles website

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