For many years I have reflected on the lives and lessons of the saints, writing about them every day in a column for “Give Us This Day,” and in several books. Now, in A Living Gospel, I reflect on the ways that “God’s story” can be read in such holy lives. Both in their achievements and in their stumbling along the way, these women and men, religious and lay, exemplify the meaning of what Pope Francis calls “a journey faith.” In reflecting on their stories we learn how to read God’s story in our own lives as well.
So as not to testify on my own behalf, let me quote these comments:
- “A tremendous and compulsively readable book. One of the best books on the saints I’ve ever read.” — James Martin, S.J.
- “The most meaningful work on holiness I have ever read. This book will stretch your ideas of what it means to be holy in this day and age.” — Sr. Joan Chittister
- “As this beautiful book shows, we come to know Jesus through those who love him. And through their witness we find the courage to take one step, and then another, along his path of discipleship.” — Sr. Helen Prejean
One of the great figures we have been blessed to know was Denis Edwards. An Australian priest and theologian, he was a pioneering voice on the relation between faith, science, and ecology. He died this spring, just after finishing his last book, Deep Incarnation: God’s Redemptive Suffering with Creatures, which becomes, sadly, his final legacy. Elizabeth Johnson describes it as a “heartbreakingly beautiful and carefully reasoned argument for divine love present with suffering creatures, holding a promise of future salvation.”
Elizabeth Johnson’s related book, Creation and the Cross: The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril, was one of two Orbis titles to receive an Excellence in Publishing Awards from the Association of Catholic Publishers. Another first place award went to Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love in our Modern Spiritual Masters Series.
From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has stressed the centrality of mission as the foundation, identity, and purpose of the church. William Gregory has done a masterful job in compiling a comprehensive collection of the Pope’s writings on this theme: Go Forth! Toward a Community of Missionary Disciples. It is an inspiring call to carry on the Great Commission with mercy, courage, and joy.
Denis Edwards, with uncanny prescience, concluded his book by quoting Pope Francis on the resurrection: “At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe. . . . Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.”
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