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My Life With the Saints by James Martin

My Life With the Saints (original 2006; edition 2007)

by James Martin

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5431327,181 (4.43)6
Title:My Life With the Saints
Authors:James Martin
Info:Loyola Press (2007), Paperback, 424 pages
Collections:Your library

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My Life with the Saints by James Martin SJ (2006)


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Written in such a way that you not only feel the passion for the Saints as Martin did, but want to experience it for yourself! ( )
  TiffanyHow | Oct 3, 2017 |
My husband will say, "What a surprise! Another book you love!" I guess I wouldn't love to read if I only read books that were average. No, I like to try to be pretty selective about what I read, and have learned not to invest the time if it's not worth it for me, regardless of what others think. I do think, with the amazing number of books out there, it is important to read it all, but also to read the best of the best. So, why is this book another home run for me?

I have been Protestant all my life, so it's sometimes hard to understand Saints. All Christians are eventually Saints, so why do Catholics make such a big deal about them? Why do they pray " to" them? What is so special about people who have been recognized as Saints by the Catholic church? What's the big deal? This book answered those questions for me, and tugged at my heart, too, in ways that I was totally not expecting.

Martin is a good writer and appears to be a good priest too. His love of his God and the world, whom he serves, shines through in this book. I plan to read more of his writings, and am especially intrigued with his book about when he served as a priest for a theatrical group in their off broadway production of Judas. He said that he was surprised to find how loving theater people are and how they ministered to him when he thought he was there to minister to them. Can't wait to read it, having experienced much the same thing right here in Paris, Texas. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I bought this book a while ago, when I was under the impression that Fr. James Martin was, like, the best Catholic, EVER!! (I was young and naive.) Then I read some of his articles and ... I actually think I have him blocked on Twitter because I find him so progressive ...

But, I bought the book so I'm going to read the book ... and I quite liked it.
Hey, guess what? Fr James Martin is a fallen human being just like the rest of us!

I loved the saints he shared and the stories about his life, and the honesty he shares about his struggles (I found his struggle with humility humorous 😂).

I'm really glad I read it.
I don't believe I will read it again, so I will not keep it.

Adrianne ( )
  Adrianne_p | Dec 23, 2015 |
My Life with the Saints by James Martin SJ is his reteling of how he has connected with several saints of the Catholic Church and why he emulates and prays to them. A quick read I found it quite enjoyable, but probably not worth reading twice. 4 stars ( )
  oldman | Oct 10, 2014 |
I finished Jim Martin’s My Life with the Saints recently and found it most helpful for understanding the living’s relation with the dead. I found the epigraph to his concluding chapter, a quote from John XXIII, to clearly state his opinion of the saints. It reads

"From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents, of their virtues. I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character, and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances" (qtd. on 373).

Later in the conclusion, Martin notes that we must beware not to take a “functional” perspective of the saints either, advising instead, following John XXIII, that we see them as friends and examples along the way. Thus, he uses the race metaphor—saints are runners ahead of us in a race, pacing us, giving us courage to keep running on the same course. We ask them for their prayers, and we trust they are in heaven praying to God for us.

Martin’s stated goad for the book was to introduce his reader to some of the saints he is particularly fond of, so the book is successful in that respect. I found myself adding just about every biography and autobiography of the saints mentioned in this book to my Amazon Wish List. So it’s a helpful read for directing the reader on to the next book, because, as Martin says, quoting C. S. Lewis, “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints” (qtd. on 6). After reading My Life with the Saints, I have to agree. The lives of the saints are so varied and so interesting. One is sure to find dear friends in the faith. One is also sure to find saints who make one scratch one’s head.

Enter St. Joan of Arc, the first saint discussed in detail in Martin’s book. I appreciated how Martin himself was a bit perplexed by this French woman who became a soldier, had visions, and would not recant. He found inspiration in her courage to follow her inspiration, but he also noted that it’s an odd story. I have problems with the sainthood of this warrior. In that respect, it’s a troubling image for me. I much prefer the story of St. Ignatius, who is discussed later in the book, who left military service to found the Society of Jesus. So Joan left me a bit perplexed.

I found Martin’s chapter on Ignatius of Loyola most helpful. I had never heard the width and depth of his story, but Martin’s memoir gives life to Ignatius’ life. Likewise, Martin helpfully discusses the totality of the lives of Pedro Arrupe (who I had never previously heard of), Thomas Aquinas (who I had only ever encountered superficially in Historical Theology classes in grad school), and Aloysius Gonzaga (who, I think, I had heard of only through the school bearing his name). Their stories especially captivated me.

Among the most powerful stories were Martin’s contemporary saints—Mother Teresa, Pope John XXIII, and Dorothy Day. It’s good to know that contemporary “not yet official” saints are guides for the church too. The chapter on Day was especially helpful, because I have only ever encountered caricatures of Day. Martin’s chapter on Day made her seem like an actual human being, who had actual human love for neighbors and—wait for it—for God and the church. So, I finally am at a place where I can at least put her autobiography (and her biography of Therese of Lisieux) on my Wish List. I think that’s a big step toward appreciating all that Day has to offer the church. I am thankful to Martin for presenting her in a way that makes me want to enter into ministry with her.

Speaking of Therese of Lisieux, her story and the story of St. Bernadette make me want to go on pilgrimage to France to see the places touched by these women’s lives. I am thankful that these women are praying to the Father for us.

For fear of being overly repetitive, I won’t mention how Martin deepened my appreciation of St. Francis by giving me the fuller picture of Francis’s life, but he did.

Martin introduces us to three biblical saints: Mary, Peter, and Joseph. I found the chapter of Joseph especially helpful because he frames it in terms of the hidden life—both the hidden life of Jesus with Joseph and the hidden life of Joseph in relation to the Gospels. Along these lines he mentioned Charles de Foucauld, which I thought both appropriate and helpful.

The final group of saints that Martin discusses is the Ugandan Martyrs. I did not know their story prior to reading Martin’s book, but I found their witness to be most inspiring. A group of some 45 Anglican and Catholic Christians were killed in fires. They were faithful to the end, dying with the words of Jesus’ name on their lips. I was especially touched by the Catholic memorial to these martyrs (though Martin himself was left rather unmoved by it, preferring instead the more contemplative Anglican memorial some little ways away). I think I was most moved by the way it looks like “Patty’s Wigwam”—the Catholic Church building—in Liverpool. I felt a connection because of that similarity. I’m thankful that Christians all over the world are worshiping and witnessing. “From the rising of the sun, to its setting, [God's] name shall be great among the nations.”

May we all be such witnesses.

But lest you think that My Life with the Saints is a life of the saints only, it must be noted that it is most directly a spiritual memoir. Martin impressively weaves the story of his growth in admiration for the saints into the wider story of his growth as a Christian and as a Jesuit.

I must say, I tend to be drawn to spiritual memoirs. Perhaps because they are all so “gloriously different,” to borrow Lewis’s phrase. Martin’s has helped me understand who Jim Martin is, which makes me feel a connection with him (and I’ll undoubtedly be reading more of his books), but My Life with the Saints also makes me feel connected to the saints of the church. And it deepens my understanding of their relationship to us and vice versa.

May all these saints and holy people pray for us.
  katzenmicd | Apr 12, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0829426442, Paperback)

One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year

Winner of a Christopher Award

Winner of a Catholic Press Association Book Award

Meet some surprising friends of God in this warm and wonderful memoir

James Martin has led an entirely modern life: from a lukewarm Catholic childhood, to an  education at the Wharton School of Business, to the executive fast track at General Electric, to ministry as a Jesuit priest, to a busy media career in Manhattan. But at every step he has been accompanied by some surprising friends—the saints of the Catholic Church. For many, these holy men and women remain just historical figures. For Martin, they are intimate companions. “They pray for me, offer me comfort, give me examples of discipleship, and help me along the way,” he writes.
The author is both engaging and specific about the help and companionship he has received. When his pride proves trouble­some, he seeks help from Thomas Merton, the monk and writer who struggled with egotism. In sickness he turns to Thérèse of Lisieux, who knew about the boredom and self-pity that come with illness. Joan of Arc shores up his flagging courage. Aloysius Gonzaga deepens his compassion. Pope John XXIII helps him to laugh and not take life too seriously.
Martin’s inspiring, witty, and always fascinating memoir encompasses saints from the whole of Christian history— from St. Peter to Dorothy Day. His saintly friends include Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Mother Teresa, and other beloved figures. They accompany the author on a lifelong pilgrimage that includes stops in a sunlit square of a French town, a quiet retreat house on a New England beach, the gritty housing projects of inner-city Chicago, the sprawling slums of Nairobi, and a gorgeous Baroque church in Rome. This rich, vibrant, stirring narrative shows how the saints can help all of us find our way in the world.

“In a cross between Holden Caulfield and Thomas Merton, James Martin has written one of the best spiritual memoirs in years.”
—Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints

“It isn’t often that a new and noteworthy book comes along in this genre, but we have reason to celebrate My Life with the Saints. It is earmarked for longevity. It will endure as an important and uncommon contribution to religious writing.”
—Doris Donnelly, America

“An account . . . that is as delightful as it is instructive.”
First Things

“In delightful prose Martin recounts incidents, both perilous and funny, that have prompted him to turn to the saints, and in doing so shows us a new way of living out a devotion that is as old and universal as the Church.”
—Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, Fordham University

“An outstanding and often hilarious memoir.”
Publishers Weekly

“Martin’s final word for us is as Jungian as it is Catholic: God does not want us to be like Mother Teresa or Dorothy Day. God wants us to be most fully ourselves.”
The Washington Post Book World

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a memoir, a Jesuit priest pays homage to the Catholic saints--from St. Peter to Pope John XXIII--who accompanied him every step of the way and changed his life.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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