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Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints (Christian Classics) Paperback – September 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press; Christian Classics edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158768036X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587680366
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

His insights, far from being burdensome, are alive with meaning and inspiration. -- Sue Mosteller, CSJ, Literary Executrix of the Nouwen Legacy

This compelling book is a kind of prayer that can help us become what we were meant to be. -- Greg Kandra, CBS News

This small gem of a book illuminates an insight at once paradoxical and deeply liberating. --Robert Ellsberg, author, The Saints' Guide to Happiness

About the Author

James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest and associate editor of AMERICA, a national Catholic magazine. Before entering the Society of Jesus, Martin worked for six years in corporate finance. He is a frequent commentator in the national media on religion and spirituality and is the author of several books.

More About the Author

Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, culture editor of America magazine, and author of numerous books, including My Life with the Saints, which Publishers Weekly named one of the best books of 2006. Father Martin is a frequent commentator in the national and international media, having appeared in such diverse outlets as The Colbert Report, Fresh Air, The O'Reilly Factor, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe, and on the History Channel, BBC, and Vatican Radio. Before entering the Jesuits in 1988 he graduated from the Wharton School of Business.

Customer Reviews

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See all 53 customer reviews
The message of this book is key.
D. Horan
In "Becoming Who You Are," Martin encourages all of us to embrace the way that God made us, the circumstances of our lives, and our unique path to holiness.
Patrice Fagnant-macarthur
The author has an engaging style that makes a deep subject easy to read.
Melvin F. Wendrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur VINE VOICE on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
The author of "My Life With the Saints" (Loyola Press, 2006) explores the path to holiness in "Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints." Fr. James Martin's life was profoundly changed by reading the writings of Thomas Merton, a 20th century Trappist monk who came to his own vocation via a rather circuitous route. In his book, "New Seeds of Contemplation," Merton wrote "For me to be a saint means to be myself. . . Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discovering my true self." This brief book is an exploration of that idea.

Martin offers a short biography of Merton's life as well as an overview of his own life. Then he delves into the heart of the issue. We are all created for holiness, yet our particular brand of holiness is unique to each one of us. In the process of reaching for holiness, "one's own individuality, one's own brand of holiness is gradually revealed. Our personalities are not eradicated as much as they are made fuller, more real, and finally more holy."

Martin briefly touches on the unique brands of holiness illustrated in the lives of the first Apostles, Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, St. Bernadette and St. Therese. He also offers a longer exploration of the life of Henri Nouwen, another major influence in the author's life. Perhaps the most interesting chapter of the book focuses on the life of Jesus Christ. He speculates on how Jesus came to realize who he was and how to live out his mission in the world.

In "Becoming Who You Are," Martin encourages all of us to embrace the way that God made us, the circumstances of our lives, and our unique path to holiness.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful By D. Horan on September 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have yet to be disappointed with a book by James Martin. While much of this little paperback is reminiscent of the ideas floated in Martin's "My Life With The Saints" (perhaps his masterpiece work), a good number of his thoughts are expanded and buttressed with additional material.

The Length of this book, its size and its content makes this book perfect for segmented devotional reading. Providing much to meditate on, "Becoming Who You Are" is a great read for the subway commute or the quiet time in the morning/evening/before church.

The message of this book is key. Without becoming superfluous in an "I'm ok, you're ok, we're ok" manner, Martin challenges the reader to really search deep within her or himself to find God's grace in his or her life that will enable that person to become the saint they always have been and the God created each person to be. This is a very nice book. I await the publication of Martin's "Lourdes Journal."
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122 of 133 people found the following review helpful By John Alexander on January 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
I loved "My Life With The Saints" and as a subscriber, enjoy Martin's writing in America Magazine. I am also a devotee of Thomas Merton's writing, and have read a majority of Merton's rather voluminous body of work. So I approached this little book expecting great things, and was left disappointed. Among other things, a fair percentage of this thin book simply re-uses writing from Martin's very popular book, "My Life With The Saints." Further, Martin's stated objective - to shed more light on Thomas Merton's concept of the false self versus the true self - was not accomplished. Frankly, I was left with the impression that Martin was simply fulfilling an obligation to his publisher when he tendered this manuscript. It does not rise to his usual level of writing excellence. For those who really want to explore Merton's approach to the emergence of the true self, I would suggest they instead buy a copy of James Finley's "Thomas Merton's Palace of Nowhere." Written nearly thirty years ago, it is still in print and full of insights Finley gleaned from studying under Merton as a novice in Merton's monestery, and as a practicing psychotherapist. But skip this volume.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on December 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm afraid I have to agree with the reviewer who concludes that this little book isn't one of Martin's better works. I'm a great admirer of his My Life with the Saints (2007), and thought his coming-out memoir, In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience (2000), one of the best spiritual autobiographies of the last quarter century. But Becoming Who You Are is, alas, a bit of fluff.

The Mertonian (actually, it's quite ancient, but Merton made it famous in our day and time) distinction between "true" and "false" self is pretty well known and has been formulated and reformulated time and again. The false self is the persona we present to the world; the true self is who we are before God. We can be just as deceived about our true identity as others around us are deceived. The spiritual journey is to grow into an awareness of true self, because this necessarily means growing into an awareness of God as well.

In exploring the true self/false self distinction, Martin basically culls some quotes from Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Mother Theresa and intersperses among them autobiographical reflections (these latter are actually what make the book interesting). But nothing new is said.

To be fair, perhaps the book is intended as an absolute primer for absolute beginners (after all, it grew, Martin tells us, from a popular lecture he gave in a NYC church), and so is bound to disappoint readers who have even a passing acquaintance with Merton or Nouwen. But I suspect that it also might be an example of yet one more book the world could've done without, but which the rising reputation of the author made marketable. Whichever the case, the book's back cover enthusiastic endorsements (all by people I immensely admire) seem---well, rather overdone.
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