My Sisters The Saints~
Once I began this book, I couldn't set it down any longer than was necessary.
Colleen Carroll Campbell writes like she's talking to friends- she gives us the gift of her story and she tells it with intensity.
She asks a lot of questions- what does it mean to be a woman?
What do I do about work and goals and choices?
And how do I live through waiting and suffering and falling in love?
Colleen begins with the day she realized that she wanted- needed- something more. She was a bright young college student with a promising future. And on that October morning all she felt was an ache.
Something was lost and needed finding, or dislocated and needed healing, and she wasn't sure what it all meant.
She never imagined that a dead saint, encountered through a old book, would speak words that soothed the ache.
Theresa of Avila's life in the 16th century helped made sense of Colleen's 21st century experience. One may think that career ambitions, relationship struggles, and personal identity questions would have no reference in the life of a saint. Yet they do.
And over the next decade of Colleen's life- when she publishes a book and becomes a White House speech writer, and lives with her dad's Alzheimer's diagnosis, and meets the man she one day marries, and then copes with infertility- she keeps finding strength and solace in the words of saints.
One by one, various female saints come into her life in the season she most needed them.
Somehow these women address her reality, and point to their Jesus who redeemed them and guided them, offering Him to her.
Therese of Lisieux- one of her father's favorite saints- lived the "Little Way" of completely trusting faith.
That seems too simple in our intellectual age, but it was just what Colleen needed as she watched her father's faith become more childlike.
Therese reminded her that great love in ordinary actions would sustain them.
Edith Stein's writing came along when Colleen wondered why God would give her the longing for children *and* the burden of infertility.
Edith affirmed these desires as holy and good, saying that every woman is called to nurture and bring forth life, whether or not she ever bears children.
This spiritual maternity is not a second-place prize after biological motherhood, rather it's the heart of all motherhood.
Theresa of Calcutta's private letters, published posthumously, met Colleen in the darkness after her father's death. The fact that this saint who lived with a "smile for Jesus" could feel absolutely bereft of God was a revelation. Her vulnerability taught Colleen "the promise of joy."
This is a really good read, very much worth the time it takes. (And I also think you'll want to find some of the saints original writing when you're done.)
Thank you to Image Books and Blogging for Books for my review copy.