My Sisters the Saints, by Colleen Carroll Campbell

  1. My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell (to finish this book)
  2. Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell (to finish this book)
  3. Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
  4. Wife Mother & Mystic: Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi by Fr. Albert Bessieres
  5. Therese, Faustina, and Bernadette: Three saints who challenged my faith, gave me hope, and taught me how to love by Elizabeth Ficocelli
  6. Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila
  7. St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton
  8. Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly
  9. Jesus a Pilgrimage by James Martin (to finish this book)

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We’re almost two months into 2016 and I have finally finished a book. My friend Britt gave me this book to read back in August when I moved to Beacon. So, it sat on my shelf as I adjusted to life as a full time volunteer. I barely read anything from August to December, which is pretty unlike me. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to incorporate more reading into my prayer life this year. I decided to start with this book because it was lent to me by a friend, and it is a spiritual memoir. So, it would be interesting (I hoped) and still fulfill the requirement of spiritual reading.

I started to read this book during the College Capuchin Outreach Program (College COP) in early January, where I had a few college students comment on how much they loved this book. So I started it before bed, and had a hard time putting it down. Campbell’s memoir was relatable to women in college, and beyond. Her spiritual journey starts as a little girl, but as a teenager she strays away. In college, she picks up a copy of St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography, and her life is transformed. (Don’t worry I’m not giving anything away, this is all on the back cover!) She writes of her father, and her profound respect for him and his faith, especially as his health declines later on in the book.

She writes of her prayer life, her journey with these incredible women saints (Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Faustina, Edith Stein, Teresa of Calcutta, and Mary), and her career. I think that many Catholic women can relate to Campbell’s journey and discernment to place her career or her internal desires first. She is a talented writer, which is displayed throughout this text, but also through her career as a correspondent and speech writer for the White House.

I found the text enjoyable to read, but also spiritually deep and enlightening. One of my favorite parts about this text was the intertwining of the lives of the Saints with the different stages of Colleen’s life. For me, it was reminder of the incredible lives of these women saints, whom I have journeyed with before. Although I have read about all of these women before, this memoir inspired me to learn more about Edith Stein and Faustina. This summer, I’m making a pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day. Both of these women will come up in my journey. I will be visiting the Convent where St. Faustina lived and received her visions. I will also be visiting Auschwitz, where Edith Stein and many others were martyred. Faustina has inspired me to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet more and Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) has inspired me to read more of her texts on women. I knew that Stein was a philosopher, but I had no idea what she had written or how it could be interesting to me.

I finished this book last week while on retreat in Esopus, NY. I was so pleased to have finally finished a book on my list! But, a spiritual companion, or Saintly Stalker as I sometimes call her, showed up at the end of the book. In the chapter on Mary, Campbell writes about her wedding, and how she and her husband knelt before an icon of none other than Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I wanted to laugh and show the paragraph to my community, but I was in a chapel where the Eucharist was exposed, so I kept it to myself until we retired to the living room. They laughed too.

I’m happy that I chose to read this book first. I now realize why my friend lent it to me, and why so many others have raved about it. (It even came up in a podcast that I was listening to yesterday!) For my next journey in the world of reading, I will be diving into Matthew Kelley’s Rediscover Jesus. Although it isn’t specifically for Lent, it can be used for this season, and is purple. So it works. I read Rediscover Catholicism this past summer and I really enjoyed it, but also found it as good preparation for this year of service. I also hope to read a bit of James Martin’s Jesus A Pilgrimage during breaks from Kelley’s book. I have been “reading” this book since it was published, but I usually only read  one chapter at a time, with months in between. But it works for me.

Mary

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