Sunday, March 18, 2012

Favorite New Spiritual Memoirs

I'm a besotted book-lover. I have heaps of books piled on tables throughout the house waiting to be read or in the process of being read. Many of these books have been recommended to me by friends whose reading preferences I respect. When these books are spiritual, it makes sense to  recommend them on a blog dedicated to spiritual living? These are not exactly reviews. They are meant simply to share what I've loved. They are a get-to-the-point-and-do-it-quickly type of review that will perhaps inspire you to check them out and maybe buy a copy.

My two newest spiritual favorites are both memoirs and both were written by Jesuits. When a Jesuit writes, you can usually count on the work being erudite. Some Jesuit authors are also darn good story-tellers.The authors of the next two books are erudite and they know how to engage the reader.

My Life with the Saints

I have numerous books on the lives of the Saints. I've recommended some of them here, in the past.While all of these books introduce us to saints and their lives, I've not found one that combines both the lives of the saints with a personal experience of these saints. Father James Martin's My Life with the Saints is a perfect blend: a personal spiritual memoir combined with the lives of the saints. This book is a delightful journey with a self-effacing, articulate, and often funny Jesuit as he meets and “befriends” saints both modern and ancient. Martin is a gifted story-teller and guide to those seeking to know the great friends of God. This book has instilled in me a new curiosity about my own and other's relationship with the saints. I question whether I've ever considered them friends. I wonder if reverence for their lives and the inspiration they offer qualify as friendship. I wonder what is your experience? Are you friends with particular saints?

Tattoos on the Heart

I received Tattoos on the Heart from one of my best friends: a nun who spent the money I'd given her to buy books, to buy me a book! Actually, she bought several copies to share; she loved it that much. Tattoos on the Heart is a spiritual memoir of Father Gregory Boyle's work with the “homies” in Los Angeles. As we follow him into the heart of the LA ghettos, we travel with a priest who has dedicated his life to restoring hope and a sense of self-worth to hopeless lives. He introduces us to gang members who want more than anything to "to get a job." It is having a job that instills a sense of dignity to their lives. But even more than that, these young people need to be loved and it is love, unconditional love, that Father Greg offers. For the past twenty-years, Father Greg has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles ( the "gang capital of the world.") The lives of these young people, as told by a wise and courageous priest, propel this book with such urgency that you will find it hard to put it down. Some of the stories Father Greg tells will make you laugh. Others will break your heart. To my mind, they are certain to enlighten and uplift you. 

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