Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catholic Company Book Review: Holiness for Everyone

It's the eve of All Saints, so what better day to review a book about a saint?

Some of the most intriguing saints, I think, are the relatively-contemporary ones. While St. Josemaria Escriva has garnered more than his share of notoriety due to a famous work of fiction, there's much less popular factual knowledge about this modern-day saint. Eric Sammons sets out to correct this imbalance with Holiness for Everyone: The Practical Spirituality of St. Josemaria Escriva.

The book is less a biography of the saint (although an early chapter in the book does cover those details) than an introduction to the saint's writings and philosophy. In fact, this book is not meant as a stand-alone text, but as a companion to the primary sources--the saint's actual writings--all of which are freely available online. Suggested readings, including web addresses, are included at the end of each chapter, along with meditations, suggestions for prayer, and concepts to contemplate.

I found this book challenging to read but not ridiculously academic. It's not meant to be "downed" in one sitting, but instead to be a tool for reflection and prayer. St. Josemaria Escriva's writings were intended the same way; many of them are in "nugget" form, so that a reader could take a single sentence as a gateway to action and meditation.

Chapters are organized by theme and include topics such as freedom, work, contemplation, evangelization and holiness, among others. The idea of "holiness for everyone" is not unfamiliar to me as a Secular Franciscan; after all, the idea of this life is to dedicate my particular state in life, and all that I do, toward living according to the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis. St. Josemaria Escriva's teachings reinforce the same ideas, though without the particularly Franciscan bent that I am used to seeing.

This book achieves its purpose: it's an appetizer, not the main course. It introduces the teachings and writing of a contemporary saint and leaves the reader hungry to learn more. Holiness for Everyone is an excellent introduction to the spirituality of a saint who has been misrepresented by popular culture.

You can purchase this book here.
I wrote this review of Holiness for Everyone for theCatholic Company Blogger Review program, created by The Catholic Company. The Catholic Company is a great resource for tools to help you participate in the Year of Faith, including Year of Faith bible studies and exclusive Year of Faith personalized gifts. The Catholic Company also has all your Advent needs in stock, such as Advent calendars and Advent wreaths. A review copy of the book was provided to me. I did not receive other compensation for this review.

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