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Saints As They Really Are: Voices of Holiness in Our Time (edition 2012)

by Michael Plekon

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Member:keithhamblen
Title:Saints As They Really Are: Voices of Holiness in Our Time
Authors:Michael Plekon
Info:University of Notre Dame Press (2012), Edition: 1, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Book reviews
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Tags:practical holiness

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Saints As They Really Are: Voices of Holiness in Our Time by Michael Plekon

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Reviewed in 11-12/12 Books and Culture

LibraryThing, Saints As They Really Are, Michael Plekon
Also reviewed books by Plekon: Living Icons: Persons of Faith in the Eastern Church (2002), Hidden Holiness (2009)
Books and Culture review, 11-12/12, p. 9

“Today it is not nearly enough to be a saint, but we must have the saintliness demanded by the present moment, a new saintliness, itself without precedent.”

Despite the ancient understanding of the holy as something “set apart,” Plekon and his fellow travelers insist that in Christ can never mean a distinction between different domains of life, different geographical locations, different tasks. Holiness demands to be everywhere.

“‘Hidden holiness,’ in the end, is neither magical nor theoretical, but personal and interpersonal—an invitation to follow Christ where we are.”

Perhaps the saddest part of all was the practice, then, of discouraging seminarians from emotional intimacy of any kind with anyone at all; holiness was treated as a matter of keeping oneself to oneself and God alone: “Emotional reserve, the distancing of oneself from others and from one’s own feelings, having little to say about one’s own thoughts, less even about one’s personality—all of this was to some extent acquired in the formation I experienced in the Carmelites.”

… one would expect to find the same problem in any Christian community that drives a hard line between individual and community, between the holy life and the ordinary life.

But being set apart does not mean being set alone. Plekon does well to remind us of Tertullian’s old adage: “Solus christianus, nullus christianus: There is no such thing as a solitary Christian.”
  keithhamblen | Dec 25, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0268038384, Paperback)

In his new book, Saints As They Really Are, priest and scholar Michael Plekon traces the spiritual journeys of several American Christians, using their memoirs and other writings. These “saints-in-the-making” show all their doubts and imperfections as they reflect on their search for God and their efforts to lead holy lives. They are gifted yet ordinary women and men trying to follow Christ within their flawed and broken humanity—“saints as they really are,” as Dorothy Day put it.

Saints As They Really Are is the third book in Plekon’s critically acclaimed series on saints and holiness in our time. He draws on the autobiographical work of Dorothy Day, Peter Berger, Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, and Barbara Brown Taylor, among others, as well as from his own experiences as a Carmelite seminarian and brother. Plekon shares the power of these individuals’ stories as they unfold. The book offers a strong argument that our failings and weaknesses are not disqualifications to holiness. Plekon further confronts the institutional church and its relationship to individuals seeking God, focusing on some of the challenges to this search—the destructive potential of religion and religious institutions, as well as our personal tendencies to extremism, overwork, pious obsessions, and legalism. But he also underscores the healing qualities of faith and the spiritual life. Plekon's insights will help readers better understand their own spiritual pilgrimages as they learn how others have dealt with the trials and joys of their path to everyday holiness.
 
“This is the third in a progression of books by Michael Plekon that have served to expand our understanding of saints and holiness. In this new book, he has taken yet a further step in relating holiness to ordinary or everyday life by showing the contours of grace, or the harmonics of holiness, revealed in the Christian journey of a number of contemporary Christian memoirists. He shows how the gospel story of death-resurrection is written in the journey of ordinary Christians.” —Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints  

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:54 -0400)

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