Lent is well under way, and I already feel like I have failed and just want to hit the reset button. I’ve had a bad attitude and been short with others. I’m not praying as much as I like. I’m not reading as much as I like. I just know I could be doing better and am trying to do so before Lent is over and I have completely wasted it. I am trying to be better, and when I need to do this, I usually turn to books for help. Therefore, I have recently read these two books – Story of a Life and Three Women and the Lord.
The Story of a Soul is one of the most famous and popular Catholic books ever. It is a spiritual autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and is a frequent bestseller. In 1982, Fr. Guy Gaucher (an expert on St. Therese) wrote Story of a Life, an actual biography that has only recently been translated into English. The book is divided into three parts – Alencon, Les Buissonnets, and Carmel. Each of these parts documents her life, based on her current location. The first two parts focus on her early life, struggles as a young child, time in school, and early death of her parents. The third part focuses on her time in the monastery, including time as a postulant and novice (where she also struggled), and then we sadly get to her death at an early age. The book ends with testimonies of others, her cause for canonization, and genealogies of her parents.
Reading through this book you can see the great love and devotion that Fr. Gaucher had for St. Thérèse. A lot of information presented here is nothing new on her if you know anything about St. Thérèse. However, I think this book is an excellent starting point for new Catholics or Catholics not familiar with St. Thérèse’s beautiful life. May her life be an inspiration to us both in Lent and throughout the whole year.
Three Women and the Lord is another classic of Adrienne von Speyr’s recently published by Ignatius Press. The brief book is divided into three parts, focusing on three different women in St. Luke’s Gospel – Mary Magdalen, the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, and Mary of Bethany. The chapters on Mary Magdalen talk about how little is known about her history, but eventually we learn her name, and that she stepped forward to follow Jesus. There is also a chapter on her conversion when she was freed from demonic possession. Finally, we see her at the Cross and His resurrection, following Jesus to death and beyond.
The section on the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet juxtaposes her with the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner. It then expounds on Jesus’ parable of the creditor who had two debtors. It finally ends with a chapter on forgiveness. The section on Mary of Bethany is the shortest of all and focuses on this sister of Martha who “chose the best portion.” This small book packs a punch, and excellently highlights how each of these women represent a different virtue – faith, hope, and love respectively. Highly recommended.
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Copyright 2020 Stuart Dunn
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