July 27, 2010

Book Review--39 New Saints You Should Know.

I am finally getting around to reviewing Brian O'Neel's book 39 New Saints You Should Know.  It took me awhile to read it--there is a whole lot of information packed in there!  And, I don't know about you, I can't just absorb all the stories of those lives all at once.  I have to do it slowly, reflect, then move on.

Now, there are some saints in this book that you have probably heard of.  For instance, Mother Teresa and Gianna Beretta Molla.  But for the most part, I have never, ever heard of any of these people. Crazy.  Crazy because in this day and age of so much information, I haven't heard of so many of the people in the church who are making waves, standing strong in faith, who are being examples to all of us.  So, I think a book like this is a great way of making all of us aware of those people who have existed in recent times and yet, managed to become a saint. 

All of these saints are an inspiration to us because they dealt with a lot of the same issues we all try to overcome in our lives.  They were ordinary and yet, extraordinary in their faith.  If you read these life stories, you will think, "Wow.  Maybe someday I can be saintly, too!"  Seriously, I can use this kind of inspiration.  We often belittle ourselves because of our normal struggles but even these can be a springboard to sainthood.  It is easy to think that saints of other times don't really relate to us.  That we can't be saintly because we didn't live then, that we are hopeless in our attempts.  The saints in this book prove that notion wrong.

One of my favorites in this book is Blessed Alberto Marvelli.  He was the second of seven boys and the son of a homemaker and a banker.  Mr O'Neel states that he "was no 'add water and stir' saint." and that "he struggled daily with his faults."  Alberto Marvelli did all sorts of normal things--he worked in a car plant, he taught high school, he worked as a civil engineer and then city council.  What set him apart was his desire to become holy and his determination to serve the needy and poor.  Alberto is quoted as saying, "For us to proceed in the spiritual life, our efforts must be constant and determined.  We need to continuously progress step by step, day by day, minute by minute, always aspiring to that which is our highest summit: God."

This book, 39 New Saints You Should Know, is full of fantastic examples of people who lived their lives to the fullest for God.  Brian O'Neel did a wonderful job with the layout of this book.  For each saint, there is a condensed biography, their lifespan, date beatified or canonized, and a prayer for reflection.  The saints listed are varied--from mothers, fathers, priests, children, even an Emperor and a Pope--you will find a saint here that touches your heart.  Maybe a new patron saint to adopt?  :)

You can find 39 New Saints You Should Know at The Catholic Company for $13.99.  You can find the author Brian O'Neel at his website here.

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