Chesterton Mystery Book a Charming Introduction to Catholic Literary Giant {Kidlit Corner}

Today I’m introducing a new feature called “Kidlit Corner.” I’ve long wanted to be more intentional about introducing readers here and in The Catholic Post to good children’s literature (sometimes called “kidlit”), both old and new. So I’m just going to jump in and start.  I’m sure it will evolve over time, and perhaps have a name change. Stay tuned!

“Whatever is true whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” — Philippians 4:8

Keeping younger kids in chapter books, the shorter, interesting stories to help readers transition from easy readers to full-length novels, can be a challenge.  There are always the classic series like The Boxcar Children and The Magic Tree House series, which offer enjoyable and well-told mysteries for younger readers. 

But sadly, this category in recent years has also filled up with many “branded” or commercialized stories that promote the latest movie or television show, and are the equivalent of processed food.  Kids might be “reading” these books, but they are not especially nourishing.  It’s like chips for the mind.

Younger readers deserve hearty fare as they are beginning to love reading—books that are fun and relatively easy to read, but provide an interesting and worthy subject matter. Consider such books meat & potatoes, or healthy comfort food, for the emergent reader.

One great new offering in the chapter-book genre is The Chestertons and the Golden Key by Nancy Carpentier Brown, with Regina Doman, and lovely period-style illustrations by Ann Kissane Englelhart. 

The Chestertons and the Golden Key is a charming story about GK Chesterton and his wife, on vacation one summer, meeting and befriending a young family, and helping them solve a child-friendly mystery.

As I read the story, I thought it was mostly fiction.  It turns out the story is based on the real-life Nicholls family, whom the Chestertons did meet and befriend when they  visited Lyme Regis, England.  The afterward describes the actual story, and how Carpentier Brown’s research lead her to the Nicholls family and relatives who were still alive to tell her some stories.

You might also be interested in:

Previously, Nancy Carpentier Brown also has adapted for younger readers a good variety of Chesterton’s most famous Father Brown mystery stories. 

The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton, and The Father Brown Reader II: More Stories from Chesterton offer budding mystery lovers a chance to be introduced to one of the classic sleuths from the prolific Chesterton.

Carpentier Brown is also the author of the well-regarded adult biography of Frances Chesterton, The Woman Who Was Chesterton.  You can read my review of that book here.

Meet a Reader: Paul McNamara {@TheCatholicPost}

Following is the “Meet a Reader” feature that appears on the book page of the current print issue of The Catholic Post.

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How you know me: As a homeschooling father of four beautiful daughters and a particularly lovely wife, Deanna, I tend to blend in to the background. However, I am a member of Epiphany Parish in Normal and meander to ISU’s Newman Center and Historic St. Patrick’s for an occasional daily Mass. I am employed as a graphic designer by Illinois Wesleyan University.

Why I love reading: A seeker and lover of truth, my mind is invigorated by succinct Catholic theology and testimonials. Alas, it often seems easier to aspire to greatness via learning what it looks like abstractly rather than through personal experience, but I am hedging that it is helping me grow in sanctity, at least theoretically. I apply the same principles to healthy living, and enjoy reading about cooking, nutrition, the environment, etc., to help me make appropriate choices.

What I’m reading now: After struggling through Pope Saint John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” a few years ago, a refresher was in order so I picked up Love and Responsibility, written before Karol Wojtyla became Pope. Our secular society has many illusions about gender, intimacy and personal freedom, but JPII has given us a framework in which to better explain God’s plans for our identity, relationships and ultimately finding true happiness.

In my car I am listening to an audiobook entitled First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson. The premise of the book is to help our children develop good eating habits and tastes, as well as unlearn our own biases that are keeping us from the pleasures of simple, whole foods.

My favorite book: The title speaks for itself: Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. After spending the first 23 years of my life semi-catechized, a series of events pricked my latent Catholic curiosity.  This book was instrumental in me discovering and then developing a love of our Catholic faith. Sheed mixes theology with apologetics and real-world examples in a way that brings doctrine alive.

“The Global War on Christians” Offers Sobering Look at An Epidemic of Martyrdom {My June column @TheCatholicPost }

The ancient Christian expression, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” is commonly known. We as American Christians may think of it as an encouraging or awe-inspiring reminder of the courage of martyrs, often in centuries past, and how their witness inspired others and us to live our faith today.  But I think few of us realize the extent to which our brothers and sisters are persecuted right now, throughout the world, for the faith we share.

That’s why John Allen’s new book, The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution is such an important read.

The book is divided into three sections: anti-Christian persecution around the world; myths about the global war on Christians; and fallout, consequences, and response.  Allen proves that anti-Christian persecution is undeniable. He also shows how the term “war” is not hyperbole in describing this problem.  He also shares some of the myths surrounding the victimization of Christians, importantly sharing what’s true and what is not, to help put things in a realistic context.

John Allen, who is a prolific author on all things Catholic, and editor of the Catholic news website cruxnow.com, has a unique perspective. He is himself Catholic, so he has an insider’s view of things.  He has a keen sense of how Catholicism interacts with the world culture at large, and so he can and does write about it fairly and comprehensively.  He’s written about so many Catholic issues,  from papal elections to scandals, from Church politics to theology.

Reading John Allen on any topic can sometimes seen overwhelming, so thorough is he to cover all aspects.  And in a book about Christian persecution and martyrdom, that can be even more daunting. But it’s both sobering and uplifting to have such a well-rounded  picture of what millions of Christians of the rest of the world experiences.

The Global War on Christians is a 2016 edition of a book originally published in 2013.  It’s been updated because in just those three short years, the notion of Christian persecution has become a settled fact, rather than a “stretch” by those of us in the West.  That’s because of the dramatic stories from the Middle East, but Allen points out that the Middle East is not the only place where Christians are marginalized or martyred.

In this new edition, Allen shares even more stories and facts to reflect the most recent areas of concern.

Allen tells a ruefully funny story in The Global War on Christians.  David Barrett, a pioneer of the study of Christian martyrdom before his death in 2011, spoke to a group of Christian business people.  They asked him, “What is the single most effective form of evangelization?” He said that the evidence points to martyrdom as the most effective form of evangelization. 

As Allen shares, “The response of the crowd quiet for a minute, until one of the industrialists finally had the nerve to ask, ‘Dr. Barrett, could you tell us what the second most effective form of evangelization is?’”

A highlight of Allen’s writing is how he is able to tell the stories of so many in a detailed, respectful way, so that the reader gets to know many individual stories, rather than the trends.  For instance, he explains that one such person was known in his community as “a man of God, trusted by all” before his martyrdom.

“One spiritual fruit of the global war on Christians is providing the contemporary church with more such stories, both those told about the dead by others and those that survivors can tell for themselves,”  Allen writes.

I confess that I found the book incredibly depressing at times, and wondered how in the world the average American Catholic can do anything at all about it.  I also have a healthy dose of guilt pondering my relatively easy Catholic life in the West. That’s why Allen’s final chapter, “What’s to be Done,” is so powerful.  It details the ways that a number of solutions, from prayer, global thinking, “micro-charity,” institutional humanitarian relief, political activism, and refugee resettling, can help to alleviate the sufferings of those most vulnerable to abuse.

There’s a new documentary about the writer and “farmer-philosopher” Wendell Berry and about his life-long advocacy for simple living.  The film’s producer/director, Laura Dunn, talked with an interviewer about how making the film overwhelmed her about the state of the world, but Berry’s approach to life helped her reconcile it with her own life.  You can read that interview here.

As Dunn shares in the interview, ”What he’s saying to me is, there is no big solution. It’s broken. We’re all complicit in a broken system, and it a broken world. The question isn’t how can I fix it all. But how can I, with my own two hands, do good work, every day. And I find that immensely hopeful.”

In the same way, we Catholics who feel overcome by the state of the world, the evil present, the enormity of what Christians in other places undergo, we can feel hopeless. But by making concrete actions, beginning with prayer, we can create change in the world, with our own two hands.

Meet a Reader: Jenny Witt {@TheCatholicPost}

Following is the “Meet a Reader” feature that appears on the book page of the current print issue of The Catholic Post.


FullSizeRenderHow you know me:  The seeds of my faith were watered here in our Peoria Diocese at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Peoria Notre Dame High School, and OSF College of Nursing. While serving children and families in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit at OSF God called me to care for the spiritually poor in our country on college campuses as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, FOCUS. During my time as a missionary with FOCUS God rooted me and launched me into our life long mission as Christians to make disciples of all nations. After my time in FOCUS, I returned to medicine serving as a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner and nurse for Dr. Jillian Stalling, OB/GYN. I currently serve as the Director of Evangelization at St. Philomena Parish. There is so much adventure and joy in following Christ as his disciple.

Why I love reading:  I love reading because it opens doors and allows for an encounter with Christ. My love for reading developed in nursing school as I began to study and discover the many layers of God’s design to the human body. The turning of each page was like walking into a new room and the opening of a present that filled me with awe and wonder. As I began to use this knowledge to care for the sick and vulnerable I saw my time of reading and study bearing fruit. Reading lead me to knowledge, knowledge to gaining skills, skills to providing care, care to bring forth healing, healing to an encounter with God, who is love. Reading is such a gift as there is always more to discover!

What I’m reading now:  I am always reading a few books in a sprinkling of different disciplines that range from scripture, science, the saints, and documents of the Church. The current book marks are resting in 2 Timothy in the Bible, “Essays on Woman” by Edith Stein, and “The Way of Trust and Love” by Jacques Philippe.

I just finished the book, “Chiara Corbella Pertillo: A Witness to Joy.” Her picture on the cover struck me from afar. Her face was radiating with the light of Christ. I could not put Chiara’s story down and completed in a day and her testimony has remained with me. Chiara proclaimed the joy that can found in the cross, the anchor we have in God’s love for us, the gift of our vocation, children, the Church, and our Blessed Mother. As with all good books and stories it is one you want to share with others.

My favorite book:

The Holy Bible is my favorite book. We were required to read the entire New Testament before arriving to our training as FOCUS missionaries. It seemed like a big task and is the best assignment I have ever been given. While reading the scriptures the words struck me to the heart. It was as if I was walking side by side Jesus and the early Christians in the Land of Israel. I was encountering the living God and discovering the way to live and love. For the first time I felt I was loving God not just with my whole heart and whole soul, but also my whole mind. The scriptures are my daily read and continue to be an encounter with God where He gives me His love, direction, rest, peace, and hope.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near…For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways-oracle of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Yet just as from the heaven the rain and snow come down and don not return here till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:6, 8-11

Celebration Season {My May column @TheCatholicPost }

May kicks off a busy season filled with first Communions, Confirmations, graduations, and other celebrations. From Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, there are parties galore and gift-giving opportunities abound. Here are some gift-book suggestions for those holidays:

If someone you know would love a trip to Rome, but a cross-ocean trip is not in the works, consider giving a virtual pilgrimage with The Vatican Cookbook: 500 Years of Classic Recipes, Papal Tributes, and Exclusive Images of Life and Art at the Vatican by the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

This volume, written by several members of the Swiss Guard, the soldiers who have protected the Holy Father and the Vatican for many centuries, is much more than a cookbook.  Yes, there are recipes, but the book is chock full of essays and gorgeous photographs that describe and show life at the Vatican for the popes, the Swiss Guard, and visitors. 

The recipes are classically European, and most are do-able by home cooks.  They are ell-written and designed chiefly by Swiss Guard member David Geisser, an accomplished chef.  Vatican photographer Katarzyna Artmiak supplies most of the photos in the book, ranging from breathtaking Vatican vistas, to Swiss guards in action, to personal photos of recent popes.

At first look the recipes could appear too complicated, since the photos and the ingredient lists sometimes made them look complex.  But most are relatively simple recipes featuring classic cuisine, from soup to desserts.  They offer a great taste of Swiss, Italian, German, and other European foods, and would be great special occasion ideas for a family or group of friends to plan a meal “from the Vatican.”

If you’re looking for a first-rate gift book for younger readers, here is one that is that and more.  Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World is a charming picture book, but deep in theology.

Jesuit communities around the world collected letters from more than 250 children, and they were presented to Pope Francis.  He answers in this book several dozen of these letters, on such far-ranging topics from spiritual fatherhood to suffering to soccer to miracles.  Each spread contains a facsimile of a letter and drawing created by a child somewhere in the world, with its English translation if necessary.  On  the facing page is the Holy Father’s answer.

The book also includes the author Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., as “in conversation with,” which means that Fr. Spadaro interviewed Pope Francis with the questions from children.

As Fr. Spadaro writes in the short afterward describing the process of how he interviewed the Holy Father for the answers to these questions, “the language of Pope Francis is simple and that he lives in simple words.  Because God is simple.  The tenderness of God is revealed in his simplicity. One must not complicate God.”

The book would be a delightful gift for first Communion or other spring milestone, but it shouldn’t be reserved only for the young.  My older teens loved this book and found it not just enjoyable to read, but also profound.

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(Brace yourselves—it’s another year of mercy book).

For moms, consider the gentle, simple, and yet thorough, introduction to the Divine Mercy devotion: Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet.

Divine Mercy for Moms offers a way for mothers to encounter Divine Mercy in a mother—specific way.  The two authors, both moms, share many stories of their lives that aid a realistic and nitty-gritty understanding of how Divine Mercy can be understood and lived out in a normal mother’s life.

This small volume is an excellent primer to the devotion of Divine Mercy for those who have little knowledge of (or even interest in) the Divine Mercy devotion.  But it’s also good for people like me, who love the Divine Mercy devotion, and pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, but have felt too daunted to read Saint Faustina’s diary.  A friend was reading Saint Faustina’s diary in a book group, and she mentioned that it was “too much” to take in big chunks, but it’s difficult to know what to focus on.

That’s why one of my favorite parts of Divine Mercy for Moms is an appendix titled “Thirty Days of Mercy,” daily reflections on motherhood.  Each day begins with a short, sentence-long excerpt from the diaries, and then a few questions, and a short prayer.  What a great way to start a day, spending some quality time with one specific and very short quote from St. Faustina’s diary.

For those who know a high school graduate (and I “might” know one in my immediate family, but I’m in denial that my first baby is that old), the best book gift hands-down is “Your College Faith: Own It!” by husband-and-wife writing team Matt and Colleen Swaim. 

I recommended Your College Faith highly when it was first published in 2013, and it definitely stands the test of time.  The high school graduate in our house will be receiving it (shh), and I hope gleaning wisdom from the sensible, detailed advice.  What I love is that Colleen and Matt Swaim share ways to succeed in college from every perspective, and show how integrating faith into one’s life makes for a happier, holier experience throughout college and beyond.

Meet a Reader: John Donnelly { @TheCatholicPost }

Following is the “Meet a Reader” feature that appears on the book page of the current print issue of The Catholic Post.

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How you know me: I teach religion and Spanish at Peoria Notre Dame High School, and also bartend at Donnelly’s Irish Pub most Saturday nights.

Why I love reading: Reading is my absolute favorite thing to do. One of my favorite writers, David Foster Wallace, once said in an interview that reading makes him less alone intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I love it as a form of communicating with others. You never know exactly what someone else is thinking, but sometimes reading brings us close to achieving that. The really great books let us know that others may have felt what we feel, thought what we’ve thought. The hundreds or thousands of years between author and reader can just fall away. My favorite books speak to Faulkner’s verities and truths of the heart. Another writer I came across recently talks about finding out what matters in the world and what it means to be human – I think the best books do that too.

What I’m reading now:

I’m currently reading (re-reading in fact, but it’s been over 10 years now) Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude along with some other teachers from school. I spent a couple of years in Latin America after college – it’s astonishing how much history he weaves in and out of the story. I’m also halfway through Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me after seeing it on so many “best of” lists last year. It’s amazing – he does a really fantastic job of interrogating himself and the world around him.

My favorite book: As much as I could talk about Flannery O’Connor, or David Foster Wallace, or Andre Dubus, or Raymond Carver (especially “A Small, Good Thing”), I’d still choose J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I’ve never gotten as lost in a book as I have that one. John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy would be a close second. They have a similar tone – I’d like to imagine the conversation those two might have had together. I think they were both at Oxford together at the same time – maybe they did.

“The Prodigal You Love” Offers Hope {My April column @TheCatholicPost}

Following is my April column that appears in this week’s print edition of The Catholic Post. 

When Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday this year, there were myriad tributes to her life and influence. Many quoted her pithy, tongue-in-cheek, but often pretty true, zingers. One of my favorites was shared on Facebook by Catholic Memes. It’s a laughing photo of Mother with the caption, “If it wasn’t for people, we could all be holy.”

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Isn’t that the truth? It’s easy to be a “good Catholic” in theory. It’s when reality sets in—that of our own weaknesses and flaws, combined with the weaknesses and flaws of others— that our best intentions and desires to “be good” are often thwarted.

So how do we try to live holy and inspire others to live the Catholic faith? That’s the premise of an appealing new book on attracting people to (or back to) the faith.

It’s The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church by Sister Theresa Alethia Noble, FSP.


Sister Theresa, once an atheist but now a Daughter or St. Paul, has written an incisive and spiritually rich book both about her own experience. She grew up Catholic, left the faith (and any faith) for many years, and then not only returned to the Catholic Church, but discerned a vocation to the religious life. She writes about how people can approach those who have left the faith, not just to convert them back, but to model a healthy, wholesome faith.

Sister Theresa weaves the story of the Prodigal Son parable throughout the book, showing how we ourselves are prodigals, along with those who may have left the faith behind. The Prodigal You Love  explores how Scripture, the saints, and our own struggles, offer us the way to inspire others in ways we may never understand fully in this life.

For instance, in a chapter on doubt, Sister Theresa points out that how we encounter our own questions and uncertainty can help others:

“We can learn to model a healthy relationship with doubt by living our doubts honestly, while at the same time holding them lightly.”

 Sister Theresa also shows how while our ultimate goal may be having those we know in the fullness of the Catholic faith, we have to respect the free will of others to choose, as she did for a time, a different expression of faith, or even no faith, all the while praying for conversion and for Christ to reach each person in a different way. She quotes Saint John Paul II’s statement, “It is necessary to keep those two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for salvation.”

Several months ago, a young woman I know posted her disgust and frustration on Facebook about her college alma mater supporting something dreadful. A priest friend commented: “Be a saint. All the outrage in the world goes nowhere. Saints change hearts.”

Ultimately, that is the message of The Prodigal You Love. When we seek holiness and live a life of prayer amidst our daily responsibilities, desires, and faults, we will change hearts, starting with our own, as well as those dear to us, and even those we may not know well or at all. As Sister Theresa writes, “Precisely because it is difficult and requires holiness, the evangelization of our loved ones in an intense path to sanctity.”

Meet a Reader: Father Paul Langevin, OFM Conv. { @TheCatholicPost }

Following is the “Meet a Reader” feature that appears on the book page of the current print issue of The Catholic Post.

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How you know me:

I am the (relatively new) Parochial  Vicar at Holy Family Parish and School (Go Crusaders!). Perhaps you may know of my award-winning cole slaw served at Holy Family’s famous Fish Frys (mark your calendars for first Fridays during the school year and every Friday throughout Lent).  They say it’s some of the very best cole slaw this side of the Illinois River….or maybe they said “this side of the Mississippi” (I told you I’m still new here and trying to get my bearings!!!).  Perhaps our paths crossed before I was ordained to the holy priesthood when I was a clinical social worker for 20 years working with children and families first in Ohio and then for the Department of Children and Family Services in Illinois.  But if we’ve never met and you see me out and about I sure hope you’ll introduce yourself as I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  Or, if you ever see me jogging down Sterling Avenue give me a honk and I’ll be sure to wave!

Why I love reading:

I must confess, as a child I wasn’t much of a bookworm because it was one of those “have-to-do” things.  But once I discovered that reading opens the mind and the heart to a world of possibilities, I was hooked.  

Whether it’s a novel with a plot that engrosses all my senses (even to the point of losing track of the time!!!) or reading for general knowledge/information, reading is fascinating.  I never read so much so fast as during graduate school at Michigan (M-GO-BLUE) for my Master of Social Work degree.  That is, until I went back to school after 20 years for my Master of Divinity degree at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.  “So many books…..so little time” was the reality I faced both times in graduate school.  

Now it’s good to be reading once again what I want to read.  I’ve also heard that reading helps keep the mind sharp…..and I’m needing all the help with that I can get!

What I’m reading now:

I find myself reading several books at a time.  Right now, I’m reading and meditating on Christoph Cardinal Schonborn’s We Have Found Mercy.

 The message of Divine Mercy (as we understand it through Saint Faustina Kowalska) runs throughout Cardinal Schonborn’s writing and his message of God’s merciful love.  He takes the reader on a spiritual journey of God’s mercy through the Sacred Scriptures, the life of Christ, the sacrament of mercy-which is confession, and the rich catechetical tradition of the “works of mercy” as well as how Christianity throughout history has become an “engine” of mercy in the world.  No literary work on God’s mercy would be complete without considering Mary, the Mother of Mercy.  And Cardinal Schonborn shows us how we can be like Mary: touched by God’s mercy, we become visible signs of His mercy for all people.

I am also reading Daniel Pambianchi’s Techniques in Home Winemaking as I prepare to showcase Buona Ventura Cellars “Tarnished Halo Wines” — a St. Bonaventure Province Conventual Franciscan premier wine made right here in Peoria out of our friary basement.

My favorite book: 

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen is by far my favorite spiritual book.  I have never heard God speak so clearly to me through it as I was coming back home to the Catholic Faith.  I still find it a treasured pearl of great price in my library as it continues to guide me back home to our loving Father’s merciful embrace and the transformation that always awaits me there. 

   

Let Mercy and Grace Lead {My March column @TheCatholicPost }

Following is my March column that appears in this week’s print edition of The Catholic Post. 

There’s at least one person in everyone’s life, more than one if you’re fortunate.  Being around that person often makes you feel better, braver, and more peaceful  After a conversation with the person, you feel loved and cared for.

This may date me, but to me the concept is most fully expressed in the 1990s Rich Mullins song, “Let Mercy Lead.”  The refrain includes the line:

“Let mercy lead

let love be the strength in your legs

and in every footprint that you take there’ll be a drop of grace.”

This quality doesn’t mean the person is always perfect, or you always have that experience with him or her.  But it does mean that in many interactions, the person is a conduit of grace.

Sometimes the one who “leads with mercy” is a family member, or a dear friend. Sometimes, the person is one we know only as an acquaintance, or only meet on one occasion.

Sometimes, that person can be an author.  One such authors is Dawn Eden, who writes from such a place of peace and spiritual depth that nearly everything she writes contains a “drop of grace.”

Her latest book, Remembering God’s Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories is an excellent example of this gift.  As Eden writes in the preface: “I wrote this book to share the good news that Jesus Christ heals our memories.”

 

Eden’s 2012 book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, was chiefly written for those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.  Even for those readers, like me, who have not experienced abuse, that book was relevant and edifying. That book was part memoir and part meditations on what the saints can teach us about wholeness of body, mind and spirit, even in the face of searing memories and experiences.

After the publication of My Peace I Give You,  Eden received many requests to write a book that included the same healing spirituality, but for those who have not suffered abuse.  Remembering God’s Mercy is that book, and it covers in a fresh way many of the same themes.

What sets Remembering God’s Mercy apart is Eden’s focus on the work and words of three Ignatians:  St. Ignatius, St. Peter Faber, and Pope Francis.  Each chapter of the book is titled with a line from Ignatius’ “Suscipe” prayer, (Receive, O Lord, all my liberty…”), and surveys the theme of the line from an Ignatian perspective.  This framework works extremely well in organizing the book and allowing for depth.  Pope Francis’ words on memory, and how God heals our memory, is especially fascinating and well worth pondering.

Ever since she wrote My Peace I Give You, Eden has often been invited to parishes and groups to speak.  People’s questions & comments also helped inform what’s covered in Remembering God’s Mercy.  For instance, a question from a woman asking if there are any parts of the Bible that reference people who block out their memories, and then get their memories back.  After reflection, Eden shares Pope Francis’ writing on memory, and how the first thing Jesus does after his resurrection is “that he restores our memory.”

Remembering God’s Mercy is appropriate during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy not only because of its title, but primarily because Eden explores so capably how God’s mercy heals and transforms our memories.

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You might also be interested in:

This column is part of the “Brace Yourselves” series.

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Never say you weren’t warned.

Here is my 2012 review of Dawn’s prior book, My Peace I Give You. As I mentioned above, it’s a truly worthwhile read.

Meet a Reader: Jackie Scott

Following is the “Meet a Reader” feature that appears on the book page of the current print issue of The Catholic Post.
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How you know me:  I am a Regional Coordinator of Parish Evangelization for the Diocese of Peoria.  My region includes parishes in Champaign and Danville and the surrounding towns.  Prior to moving to Champaign I coordinated the Adult Faith Program at St. Jude Catholic Church in Peoria and co-coordinated Bible Studies for Women Who Believe in Peoria. 

My husband, William, was ordained a Deacon in 2012, and he serves at St. Matthew Church in Champaign.  We have two amazing daughters.  I am an immigrant of Indian descent.  I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, where my father worked for the U.S. Embassy and my mother for the Library of Congress, and my ten siblings and I spent much of our time with our noses buried in books which my parents brought home from their respective places of work. Books were hard to come by in Kenya and we were fortunate to have the access that we did!

Why I love reading:  As a child my favorite genre was Westerns – Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.  I loved the action and adventure of Westerns and I was inspired by the courage of the characters, especially the women of the “Wild West”!  Yes, I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up.  Reading gives you the ability to dream, to be inspired and to aspire to be greater than you are.  I have long grown out of that genre yet this is no less true today.  Whatever I am reading, it continues to challenge and inspire me.  I aspire to have the courage of Mother Teresa, Edith Stein, Saint John Paul II, Abby Johnson, and the simplicity of Saint Therese.  I want to be more loving, kind and merciful  like Popes Benedict XVI and Francis.  I want to be more spiritual and to know Jesus as I read in the Bible.

What I’m Reading Now:

 

The Love of God and the Cross of Jesus, Volume One  by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

My favorite book: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton and of course, The Bible.