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My Life with the Saints.

MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS By James Martin, S.J. (Loyola, 2006)

James Martin sailed from the top rung of his high school class to the Wharton School of Business to a perch at a Fortune 500 company, flying high in the corporate world but only skimming the surface of life's deeper meaning. A TV show on Thomas Merton, the contemplative monk, helped Martin set a new course.

He entered the Jesuit seminary at 28, ministered to the down and out, and landed as associate editor at the Catholic weekly America. Along the way, Martin became a student of the saints, finding them not only "models of holiness" but also personal companions who "struggled with the same human foibles that everyone does."

It is the saints' stories and their relevance to Martin's own spiritual journey that form the spine of this remarkably engaging book. A mix of history, memoir, social commentary, and spiritual exercise, My Life with the Saints reveals the familiar and not-so-familiar stories of a handful of holy people, from Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes to Dorothy Day to a group of Ugandan martyrs.

Here, for example, is Merton, a onetime carouser, "proud and boastful ... sometimes overly self-absorbed" but also a generous, peace-loving spiritual pathfinder for millions.

Here, too, is Joan of Arc, who claimed the voices of three saints instructed her to save France. "I felt," Martin writes of his own spiritual quest, "a little like Joan--not hearing voices, of course, but feeling that my attraction to religion was a crazy thing that had to be trusted anyway."

And then there is Mother Teresa, who, we learn, secretly struggled against an "interior darkness" that led her to confide a feeling "of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing."

Martin finds power in such doubt. "[I]n the end," he writes, "the saints really are like the rest of us and struggle in every way that we do, even where we would least suspect it: in the spiritual life."
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Author:Billitteri, Thomas J.
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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