2011: 83. My Life With The Saints

"When I was nine, my greatest pleasure was ordering things through the mail."

My Life With The Saints, James Martin, SJ

     I am a practicing Catholic, but I have a complicated relationship with my Catholicism.  I go to church almost every weekend (well, kids permitting), but I will frankly admit that my husband is more religious than I am, and  that if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't go.  When I was growing up I rebelled against church, and though I've come back to it, I struggle with aspects of the whole thing.  Not to get too theological, but if I was to sum it up - love the ritual, disagree with some of the retrograde positions on social issues, which probably puts me in a large class of American Catholics.  But one thing that has really helped me become comfortable with my faith was finding a Jesuit church (indeed, one once referred to as "the most liberal Catholic church in Washington"), and experiencing the amazing preaching, and committment to social justice, and community that that church offers.  Which is all a long way of saying that I come to this book with a little bit of baggage.  

      The book is part memoir, part live of the saints, as told by Father James Martin, Society of Jesus.  It's the tale of how he came to be where he is in his life, and the role the lives of the saints played in that.  I have to say that I found it fascinating.  The lives of the various saints are pretty interesting, but what I really enjoyed was learning about how this man travelled from a lukewarm Catholic childhood to education at Wharton, to life as a businessman, and then, eventually to life as a Jesuit.  He is very frank about his choices - for example - he talks about celebacy, and how he has struggled with that - and he really emphasizes the part of the Church that really speak to me - the social justice aspects, the notion of love.  Which is a nice change from so much that you see about the Church, which focuses on the negative.  I don't know that my relationship with Catholicism is any less complicated than it was before, but reading this book I was struck, as I often am at my Jesuit church, of the best parts of my religion.  Plus, he is a damn fine writer, so the book is a pleasure to read.  I don't often read things like this, but I am glad I did.

Categories:  Non-Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017