BOOK REVIEWS:

Below are some book reviews of books that can be found in the parish library. 
Take the time to read the read the reviews and maybe even check out a book and read it for yourself. 



Poetry as Prayer
By: Jessica Powers

This book features the poetry of Jessica, a Carmelite nun from Wisconsin. The book was edited by a personal friend of hers, Bishop Robert Morneau, and with a foreward by Dolores Leckey. Powers' poetry reflects her steadfast love of God throughout her life, including the dark nights of the senses and the spirit. She draws many of her observations and much of her imagery from nature, no doubt influenced bu her upbringing in rural Wisconsin. Saskatchewan readers will easily relate to most of her images. One example is the concluding couplet of her poem Humility:

                                It is to have a place to hide

                                When all is hurricane outside.

Morneau has provided some useful context to the poems, including an essay proposing seven reasons for reading poetry, a brief biography of Power's life, and ten suggested steps to reading poetry in a holy way. Poetry as Prayer invites us to combine two activities that have the potential to connect us creatively with the Creator, and provides us with useful suggestions as to how we might do this effectively. Poetry as Prayer can be found in the PRAY section of the parish library.

- Review by Bill Armstrong






The Future Church
By: John L. A
llen Jr.

The Future Church is an attempt to answer the question "What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years?" by identifying and analyzing the current state of the Church and powerful trends that will influence its direction. John L. Allen Jr. is well equipped to tackle this question, having worked for many years as the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter before taking a similar post with the Boston Globe in early 2014. Allen identifies ten trends he sees that will affect the future direction of the Church. Lest that seem like an easy Letterman-style list, Allen explains the criteria he applied to identify a bona fide trend, noting that he had, at times, as few as 5 and more than 20 as he went through the process. The book does not lend itself to a brief book review; it contains a wealth of information that Allen has gathered in his years reporting from the Vatican, and in more than 40 countires, witnessing events and talking with Catholics in every walk of life. Perhaps the best entry into the book is to list Allen's 10 trends, and to let you, after reading each section, how the forces that Allen has identified might influence the Church in the coming years. In no particular order of significance, the trends are:

1. A World Church

2. Evangelical Catholicism 

3. Islam

4. the New Demography

5. Expanding Lay Roles

6. the Biotech Revolution

7. Globalization

8. Ecology

9. Multipolarism

10. Pentecostalism

The book was published in 2009, and Allen was prescient on a couple of points, suggesting that a future Pope might come from the developing world, and that he might move out of the Apostolic Palace into more humble digs, which did happen with the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 2013. The Future Church can be found in the CHUR section of the parish library.

- Review by Bill Armstrong





Parables
By: Megan McKenna 

In this book, McKenna interprets the meanings of eight of Jesus' parables in depth. Framing these chapters, she also looks at the story of John the Baptist (whom she calls the first parable) as the precursor to Jesus' own storytelling, and then an overview of Jesus' life and teachings as told in the Gospel of John. Throughout her interpretation of the parables, McKenna also draws on the storytelling of other religions. These stories emphasize that storytelling is an important teaching tool used by all religions to convey fundamental messages to followers. Many of the stories came from Judaism, illustrating that Jesus' parables came out of a well-established Jewish tradition. McKenna suggests that Jesus' parables are intended to take us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to set aside our assumptions about what meanings the parables contain. She illustrates for us that there may be deeper meanings in the stories than we realize, or are willing to look at and think about. Parables is a very readable exploration of the selected parables, but for the reasons listed above, may not be an easy read. That of course, is McKenna's point. Parables is located in the parish library under PARA. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong






The Return of the Prodigal Son 
By: Henri Nouwen 

This small paperback of just 140 pages is one of the spiritual classics of the 20th Century. In it, Nouwen chronicles how a chance encounter with a poster detailing a portion of Rembrandt's painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son turned into a profound exploration into the meaning of Jesus' parable, Nouwen's own vocation, and about the nature of homecoming. Nouwen's chance encounter set hime on a quest that included making friends with security guards at the Heritage Museum where the painting is displayed, so that he could spend hours meditating in front of it. The book is crammed with insights that flowed from the many hours Nouwen spent in the room where the painting hangs, including this one about the father's embrace of his wayward son: "I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God." Nouwen also provides some interesting information about the painting that a casual observer might not notice. One hat stands out in my mind is that one of the father's hands around his son's shoulders is that of a woman, which adds another dimension to the ideas of homecoming and forgiveness that are major themes throughout the book. This book is located in the parish library in the section labelled PARA. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong






Following Christ in a Consumer Society 
By: John Francis Kavanaugh 

This book by John Francis Kavanaugh has the subtitle, "The Spirituality of Cultural Resistance," which tells you a lot about the position taken by the author. Simply put, Kavanaugh states that living an authentically Christian life in a culture that values things over people is a counter-cultural act. In his analysis the author describes two very different ways of living and looking at the world: the Commodity Form and the Personal Form. He further states that these forms are embodied by two competing cultural gospels, defining a gospel as an expression of who or what is our functional god. Belief in what Kavanaugh calls the thing-god leads to a culture that accepts consuming, violence, the concept of the just war, and attacks on the family as a social institution. All of this is reinforced by the advertising industry, for as Kavanaugh notes, $50 billion a year (1980's figure) is not spent on advertising because it is ineffective. The book is divided into two parts. In the second part, the author examines the life of Christ as drawn from Scripture, providing examples of how Jesus asked us to live out our faith and grow as people on a spiritual journey. Kavanaugh shows us how Jesus was a counter-cultural person in word and deed in his own time, and how we are still called to be counter-cultural if we choose to follow Him. All of this is not easy, Kavanaugh concedes. There are many Christians have compromised with the dominant culture throughout history, and still do so today. While he suggests many ways we can be true to our faith, Kavanaugh's final suggestion is that we need to gain strength by admitting our weaknesses and rely on God for help in becoming better people. "Christianity is a belief about what God does in and for humanity, not about what Christians do for God." This book is located in the parish library under SOCI. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong 





Jesus and the Cosmos 
By: Denis Edwards 

Edwards is a priest and theologian who attempts in this slim paperback to examine what science has revealed about the nature of the universe, and to relate those discoveries to Christian theology. Specifically, Edwards addresses the environmental issues facing us, and the economic and social disparities created by the reality of some people with too much material wealth and many others with too little. This book was published in 1991, and I think it fair to say that our awareness of the environmental challenges we face has only increased since then. One of the major revelations of the past century, Edwards points out, has been our growing understanding of the "Big Bang" that created the ever-expanding universe. He also observes that this knowledge has called for changes to the traditional theology dating back to St. Thomas Aquinas that assumed a static universe where the sun and moon and five known planets revolved around the Earth. Within this context Edwards outlines some responses that Christian theologians have offered to profound questions such as "What does the story of the emerging universe have to do with Jesus?" Drawing on the work of scientists and other theologians, and adding his own thoughts, Edwards combines what we know about Jesus to his role in the evolutionary history of the cosmos. In the final chapter Edwards goes a step further by examining that resurrected Christ and his relationship with the still-evolving material universe. In this way Edwards brings the reader back to his original concerns about our responsibilities to be good stewards for Creation, and the need to work for social economic justice for all people. This book is located in the parish library in the CREA section. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong






Masada
Video Review

Relying on a Hollywood film to learn about an historical event is never a good idea. However, the basics of the story of the siege of Masada in this movie coincide with what we know about it, most of which came from a Jewish historian who collected second or third-hand accounts years later. When the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, some members of an extreme Jewish sect escaped to Masada, a large promontory in the desert overlooking the Dead Sea. King Herod had built a palace there several decades earlier, so the 980 Jews who took refuge there, under the leadership of Eleasar, were able to live self-sufficiently. The war-weary and world-weary Roman commander Silva regards stamping out this Jewish sect as his last task before returning to Rome and retirement. Silva would prefer to negotiate a peace with Eleasar and his followers, but political rivalries back in Rome undermine his idealistic intentions. The two men meet twice during the film to try to find some common ground, perhaps a Hollywood intervention to add some drama, as the two men come to respect, if not completely trust each other. In the end Roman engineering overcomes the defences atop Masada, but when centurions enter the fortress they find all of the inhabitants have been killed or committed suicide, rather than live under Roman occupation. Silva's solitary lament over the deaths may also be a Hollywood invention, and his statement that they did not have to die portrays someone whose idealism is at odds with the brutally efficient methods of the Roman Empire. This video can be found on the bottom shelf in the parish library. It is a VHS tape, so you'll have to dust off the VCR to watch it. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong






The Council In Action
By: Hans Kung 

Hans Kung was one of the theological experts who contributed to the development of several of the documents debated and later promulgated during the Vatican II ecumenical council. This book is unique in that it was written at the completion of the first of the council's four sessions, thereby providing useful context of the 2.5 years of preparatory work before the council began, and some first hand observations of how the council Fathers rejected the initial documents prepared by overly centralized and out of touch commissions dominated by the church's central office, the Curia. Kung focuses much of his book on the development of key documents such as the church in modern world and liturgical reform. A highlight is a side-by-side comparison of the Eucharistic Prayer that would have been said (in Greek) at the church in Rome about 200AD, with the prayer (in Latin) as it existed prior to its reform by Vatican II. This comparison shows the all-too-human temptation to add bits and pieces to the Eucharistic Prayer over the centuries, which seems to have happened with the latest example introduced at Advent 2012. Kung's comparison suggests that liturgists would be wise to consider that sometimes, "less is more". This book is available in the parish library under VATI. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong







The Eucharistic Miracles of the World 
Presented by the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, Inc. 

This book covers the Eucharistic miracles that have occurred in many parts of the world over time i.e. Belgium. During Holy Communion, the consecrated host is turned into bleeding flesh. In Germany, someone threw a consecrated host near a tree that could not be swallowed because of illness. Years later when the tree was cut in half, there was a perfectly carved crucifix. At this site, a church was built. This book features 329 illustrated stories, although there are many more such stories throughout history. A travelling exhibition out of Vancouver is hoping to make the public aware of these miracles, and aware of the importance of the gift of The Eucharist. 

- Review by Hilde Beckie 






Vatican II: We've Only Just Begun
By: Basil Pennington
Available in the Parish Library in the VATI section 

Pennington is the author of more than 20 books and was one of the experts who provided expertise and advice on a wide range of topics to the bishops who gathered for the four sessions of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council. This book was published in 1994, so it provides some perspective on the Council which concluded in 1965. In this 150 page overview, Pennington combines his comments and thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the various documents produced by the Council, with long passages from the documents themselves. This approach enables the reader to gain a deeper understanding of what the bishops were trying to say to the faithful and the world through these documents, with a (mostly gentle) helping hand from Pennington's deep knowledge and first-hand experience in Council sessions. Pennington devotes a large part of his book to the relationship of the laity, religious and the bishops within the church, in a chapter titled The People of God. From his perspective, 20 years later, he identifies areas where change has occurred in creating a more inclusive, participatory church for all. He is not afraid to point out where change has been slow to come, or difficult to perceive. From a 2013 viewpoint, Pennington's observations invite the reader to re-evaluate the Vatican II documents again, and make one's own observations about the pace of change since then. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong





Healing with Humour - A laughter First Aid Kit
By: Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick

Cathy is a former parishioner of St. Martin's. After her life with cancer, she wrote this handbook which is a valuable tool to help with recovery from crisis and for anyone needing some humour in their life. On page 64 is an illustration of the emotional roller coaster one goes through when faced with a crisis. Cathy's handbook has excellent bibliographies for further reading. 

- Review by Hilde Beckie 




201 Inspirational Stories of the Eucharist
By: Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC.

This book is a compilation of short stories about the Eucharist. The people behind the stories are ordinary Catholic people who have been touched by the power of this wonderful sacrament. Interspersed throughout the book are similar stories from the point of view of Priests. Some stories are heartwarming, some bring tears to your eyes, some are extraordinary and some even perhaps familiar. Each one is inspirational and encourages us to seek out the healing and peace through Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist as often as we can. The book is quick and enjoyable to read and you will probably find yourself reading "just one more story" before you put it down! 

Memorable quote:

The Eucharist is not merely a celebration of Real Presence, but a celebration of Real Presence which brings about unity and reconciliation of the Whole Body. As many grapes are brought together and crushed to make the wine - as many grains of wheat are ground into flour to make the one bread - so we, although many, become one Body when we eat the one Bread (pg. 201). 

- Review by Alison Sander 









Bible Basics for Catholics
By: Dr. John Bergsma

Bible Basics for Catholics is another attempt to provide an easily understandable guide to the Bible, designed to encourage people to read the Word, something that most of us struggle with amid the distractions of our time-challenged lives. With this compact paperback Dr. Bergsma has succeeded admirably. The book is organized around the idea of Covenant (which Bergsma defines) that runs throughout salvation history recorded in the Old and New Testaments. The book focuses on the covenants that God forged with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the major prophets of the Old Testament, and finally the Eucharistic Covenant instituted by Jesus. Each section includes suggested readings from which the main topic is drawn, although Bergsma enriches his commentary with references to other OT and NT passages that provide more context and illustrate the linkages throughout the entire salvation story. There are also helpful endnotes and suggestions for further reading at the back of the book. Bergsma has done well to illuminate Scripture in an easily readable style, accompanied by his charming stick-figure drawings. As an example, before reading this book I did not understand the story of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son Isaac, dismissing it as a barbaric loyalty test on God's part. Thanks to Bergma's close reading of the text I now understand that Isaac was not a young child, but closer to a young adult, and therefore a willing participant in the sacrifice-that-almost-happened. With this insight comes the additional awareness that in this story, Isaac prefigures the crucifixion of Christ in the NT. Read the book and you will likely discover your own "aha!" moments. The Lighthouse Catholic Media edition of Bible Basics for Catholics is available at St. Martin de Porres Parish for a suggested donation of $4. If it is not on sale in the gathering area, please inquire about the book at the parish office.

- Review by Bill Armstrong




Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
By: Anne Lamott

Traveling Mercies is what you might call an episodic autobiography, in that Lamott has written about her journey to faith at different points of her life and from different perspectives. As she puts it, “My journey to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another.” It is a remarkably diverse trip, with stops along the way where she absorbed the wisdom of various faith traditions. Still, Lamott’s was not an easy journey: what wisdom she has gained has come through plenty of suffering. The title, Traveling Mercies, comes from a saying offered to travelers by the people at the Presbyterian Church in the San Francisco Bay area where she found her spiritual home. “Traveling mercies: love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound,” was their wish. Lamott organized her book around topics such as Ashes, Forgiveness, Tribe, Thirst, Hunger and Mom. She also spends a short chapter to explain why she makes her beloved son Sam go to church. As Lamott explains it, a loving and caring congregation creates an extended family that provides both material and spiritual support. One of the most powerful chapters Lamott calls Ladders, where she explores her grieving over the death of a dear friend and the loss of a lover in a short period of time. She pulls no punches in sharing her insights about grief and the grieving process. At one point she writes, “You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying; and then, finally, grief ends up giving you the two best things: softness and illumination.” Traveling Mercies is located in the parish library in the BIO section.

- Review by Bill Armstrong








Out of Solitude
By: Henri Nouwen

This book presents some of Henri Nouwen's most profound thinking on what it means to be human in three compact meditations. The first meditation addresses life in action and in solitude. The second underscores the importance of care; both self-care and care of others in a community. The third meditation addresses expectation, expressed as patience and as joy. Because this book is so rich in observations and insights about the importance of making time for spiritual growth in our lives, it is tempting to quote long passages to illustrate Nouwen's points. Instead, here are a couple of illustrative examples. In a section called Our Life in Action, Nouwen warns us not to become trapped into doing good deeds simply because our goal-oriented society will approve: "...we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth." A few pages later, in a section called Our Life in Solitude, he writes: "In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness." Out of Solitude is located in the parish library under INSP.

- Review by Bill Armstrong







Living with Hope In Times of Illness 
By: Barry McGrorry and Greg Humbert

Published by the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and distributed by Novalis: www.novalis.ca 1-800-387-7164.

Suffering often brings forth the questions "Why?" or "Why me?" This little booklet explores the meaning of suffering from a Christian perspective. Some chapter titles are Acceptance, The Art of Patience, The Mystery of Suffering and You Are Not Alone. Suitable for those with chronic conditions or those who are facing death. The book is 28 pages long and can be purchased for $2.00. There are copies in our Library. 

- Review by Greta Allen






Lift Up Your Hearts to the Lord
Published by the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and distributed by Novalis: www.novalis.ca 1-800-387-7164.

This is a book of prayers for the sick and for those who care for them. This is an excellent collation of prayers for reading and meditation while in the hospital or for caregivers to read with their loved ones. It covers many situations from the time of hospitalization to discharge or death. It may also be used for special needs i.e. expectant mothers, newborns and children, the elderly, medical teams pre and post surgery etc. It concludes with general prayers like the Our Father and Acts of Faith, Hope and Love as well as the Rite for Communion of the Sick and the Liturgy for the Anointing of the Sick. The book is 104 pages long and can be purchased for $4.00. If it is not in our library, ask a member of the Care Giving Ministry or the Stewardship Committee. 

- Review by Greta Allen






Seeking Spirituality 
By: Ron Rolheiser 

The sub-title for this book is Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality for the 21st Century. In the book, Rolheiser uses references from Scripture, examples from art, music and literature, and stories and examples drawn from his own life to define what spirituality is, and how we encounter it many times in our everyday lives. Rolheiser suggests that the revival in recent years of the concept of spirituality often contains misunderstandings. "Chief among these," he writes, "is the idea that spirituality is, somehow, exotic, esoteric, and not something that issues forth from the bread and butter of daily life." Instead, Rolheiser suggests, spirituality is something that everyone has to have, either a life-giving one or a destructive one. "Spirituality is not something on the fringes, an option for those with a particular bent," he states. "None of us has a choice." Rolheiser also outlines what he calls the non-negotiable essentials for a spiritual life: private prayer and private morality; social justice; mellowness of heart and spirit; and, community as an element of true worship. Much of the book expands on these four essentials, as Rolheiser illustrates how we all encounter opportunities to put these essentials into practice (or avoid these opportunities, to our great loss) in everyday life. Rolheiser has a gift for reducing complex ideas and concepts to terms that are easily understood. He has done a great service in this book by making spirituality understandable, and showing how it has a place in all our lives. This book is located in the SPIR section of the parish library. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong






Belonging: A book for the questioning Catholic today 
By: Lucinda Vardey

This book was published in 1988, so the "today" in the title reflects the state of the church of 25 years ago. Still, it is remarkable that so many of the topics Vardey covers in her book remain current today. These topics include scandal at the Vatican Bank, priestly celibacy, sexism in the church, contraception, abortion, in-virto fertilization, equality for women and women's ordination. Vandey was born and raised in England, and experienced a very predictable upbringing where the church was an omnipresent part of everyday life. What she calls her Catholic crisis began when she moved to Canada and discovered that the old familiar "club" - a parish church waiting to warmly welcome her - was not just around the corner. Vardey is a journalist, and for this book she tested her own reaction to this challenge to grow up in her faith by asking probing questions of her friends, mostly lapsed Catholics in their 20's, as well as seminarians, nuns, priests and others. One of the things she discovered among lapsed Catholics is a sense of "emotional belonging", beyond the feeling of being a member of the club. She also concluded that in order to grow spiritually, "being Catholic is about doubting; doubt is very much a part of the questioning Catholic's life." Starting from this position Vardey examines the issues facing the church of her day, testing her own ideas with those she interviews throughout the book. Using this grassroots approach she comes to the conclusion that every questioning Catholic is on their own spiritual journey, and that each person will arrive at their own individual, personal definition of what it means to be Catholic, while also recognizing that they belong to the church in countless and tangible and intangible ways. This book is located in the CATH section of the parish library. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong






Let the Lord Build the House - 8 Steps to Successful Pastoral Planning 
By: Daniel Mulhall 
A book recommended by the Archdiocese of Regina 

Parish leaders do a great deal of planning - for annual and special events, for Faith Formation, RCIA, special liturgies, for reconciliation services, and even for improvements to parish property. Frequently, these plans fail and those who planned the programs are left scratching their heads and wondering why. Author Daniel Mulhall has a convincing and easy-to-follow answer: get away from planning for just the event or program ahead and look at the wider, longer view. Switch your planning style from episodic to systemic, and you'll see your plans take root and flourish because you are looking at how everything you do fits into the wider picture of who your parish is. Here he offers eight concrete steps, cast in the image of building a house, to help you proceed step by step to effective planning, which applies equally well to ANY kind of planning the parish is doing. These easy-to-follow guidelines are invaluable for effective parish planning. If you are interested in taking a look at this book, please call 306-352-1651 extension 238 or email twhelanlux@archregina.sk.ca. You can also book it directly online at www.archregina.sk.ca.





Answering the Big Questions 
By: Shane Parker 

This small paperback addresses the big questions, such as: What is God? How is Faith lived out? Does prayer make a difference? and many more from a Christian perspective. Parker is an Anglican priest who serves as the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, and teaches part-time at Saint Paul University, the Catholic college affiliated with the University of Ottawa. Through his studies and his own life experiences, he provides an overview and suggests some approaches to address the questions Christians are likely to confront in their daily lives. In less than 140 pages, Parker provides thoughtful analysis sprinkled with references to Scripture, and particularly to the life of Jesus, to help spur the reader on to further and deeper reflection on issues such as diverse as ways of perceiving God to the ethical dimensions of organ donations.

This book is available from the parish library in the section labelled as THEO. 

- Review by Bill Armstrong





Little Catechism on the Eucharist
By: Fr. Roberto Coggi O.P.

This book is more for younger people, but can be enjoyed by all ages. It too is well illustrated. This book provides a very good explanation of Transubstantiation (bread and wine changed into the Body and Blood of Christ). This book also tells of 14 Eucharistic Miracles and sixteen short stories of Saints round off this book. These are great stories to share with children who will soon be receiving their First Holy Communion. Pope John Paul II through his encyclical on New Evangelization wants all "to kindle our loving wonder before the Holy Eucharist, the great Mystery of Faith". "The Holy Eucharist is the highest expression of our life in Christ, for it unites us sacramentally to Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross, which is made always new in the celebration of the Holy Mass." 

- Review by Hilde Beckie




The Journey
By: Alister McGrath (1999) published by Doubleday
Classification: Easy read, Christian non-fiction

The Journey is a short, easy to read handbook on our Christian faith journey. Alister McGrath divides our earthly time into four stages. He effectively uses the writings of esteemed Christians such as Martin Luther, Susanna Wesley, and C.W. Lewis to encourage, excite and refresh us as we travel through each of these stages. Not a must read, but recommended to anyone who wants to begin to delve into some of the classical writers in order to come closer to God and better prepare themselves for salvation in the next world. 

My favourite quote is from Medieval spiritual writer Guigo II: "Reading without meditation is barren. Mediation without reading is prone to error. Prayer without meditation is lukewarm" (pg. 19). 

- Review by Alison Sander 






Catholicism & Scripture 
By: Rev. Msgr. Paul J. Hayes & James J. Drummey, 2006 
C.R. Publications Inc. Massachusetts

An excellent read that explains scripture and assists the reader to better understand the scriptures. This is a valuable resource.





St. Therese Martin of Lisieux
By: Rosemary Haughton, 1967 
By: Kathryn Harrison, 2003

*Rosemary's book has photos taken by Therese's sister Celine 

In St. Martin's library, there are two excellent books on St. Therese Martin of Lisieux. Both books are very readable and are largely based on letters written by St. Therese herself, and by family members. 

She had an interesting childhood. Her mother could not nurser her so she was sent away to wet nurse for a while. It took a while for her to accept her mother. When she was four, her mother died of breast cancer. Therese's parents both wanted to enter the religious life, but were rejected. They passed on their religious devotion and fervor to their five daughters (four other children died in infancy). Therese was the last child in the family, and was very much treated like a princess, especially by her father. She displayed many behaviours of a spoilt child ... temper tantrums and stubborn behaviour. Yet as a very young girl, she had such a strong desire to become a saint, often playing games of dying and going to heaven. At fourteen years of age, she wanted to follow her sisters to the Carmelite Order in Lisieux. She went to Rome to get special permission to enter at age fifteen. She had a strong determination to live a life in a most austere and self-sacrificing way. She also accepted everyone as they were. She would go out of her way to seek out the most difficult people, and befriend them. She wrote profusely every night and in her recreation period. One of her books is the Story of Soul. She has thus become one of the Church's most influential religious figures. She died at age twenty-four of tuberculosis. In her dying days, the faith she had taken for granted, uninterrupted by doubt, vanished, leaving her in profound despair! 

This book also reveals the lives of strong Catholic families in France during Therese's time. Seven in a thousand females became nuns. In what had been a male dominated faith, it allowed women a powerful presence. At this time, the Church was hostile to all earthly pleasures, especially of the body; there were few sexually liberated married Catholics. Going into the convent was a very natural desire for you women. Families rejoiced in this. 

- Review by Hilde Beckie