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Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions Paperback – February 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the liturgical reforms of the last four decades have given much of Catholic worship a decidedly Protestant patina, many Catholics have continued to find meaning in such distinctive devotional practices as praying the Rosary and venerating the saints. These traditional observances are examined in this little collection of short essays assembled by Martin, a Jesuit priest and associate editor of America magazine, which first published a shorter version of the series. Martin invited 19 contributors, some in their 30s and 40s, to reflect on practices that hold particular meaning for them. Aware that many younger Catholics are rediscovering devotions that had been abandoned by some of their elders in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, he seeks to bring the practices into the light of contemporary times while explaining their origins and purposes. Most of the pieces are highly informative and place each devotion in the context of the reforming council's teaching on worship. The best incorporate a meaningful personal story, such as Therese Borchard's reflection on "The Stations of the Cross," in which the author compares her yearly ritual recalling her father's passing to the way Catholics relive the events of Christ's suffering and death. Catholics and non-Catholics who are curious about practices like holy water blessings, novenas and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will find this compilation both helpful and enlightening.
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Review

"A thrilling guide to the hidden treasures of Catholicism with a delicate balance of history, theology, and personal engagement." -- Robert Ellsberg, author, The Saints' Guide to Happiness

"These authors show that it is indeed possible to reclaim old Catholic rituals without needing to be an 'old Catholic.'" -- Tom Beaudoin, author, Virtual Faith
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Loyola Press (February 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082941987X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0829419870
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I'm a Catholic, but knew about only a few of these things--like the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. But I learned so much not just about the history and the traditions behind these devotions (and others--my favorite essay was on what the tradition of the saints means) but also on the ways that the individual writers find personal meaning in these ways of prayer. My favorite essay was by Christopher Ruddy, a young Catholic theologian, who talked about the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a way of pondering the way that Jesus loved. I really liked that. This is a fantastic book for Catholics interested in learning (and refreshing) an old tradition, that will speak to them today. It would be a great book for almost any Catholic, I think
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Format: Paperback
Reading "Awake My Soul" is like stepping into the sunshine on the first morning of spring when the smell of new grass fills the air. Father Martin appropriately took the title of this marvelous little book from the opening verses of Psalm 108. Reading it IS an experience of awakening, because the essays bring a fresh perspective to spiritual practices which have enabled Catholics for centuries to experience spiritual intimacy. Unfortunately, in the wake of Vatican II, the meaning behind many of these had been lost as religious leaders sought to make the Faith more relevant to contemporary church goers. Rediscovering their history and the meaning they hold to those who practice them today makes them new again.
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By A Customer on February 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
I didn't know much about Catholic devotions, but this book really helped me to understand things like the rosary, and the saints and relics, etc. It's a great collection of beautiful essays by wonderful writers, and I would recommend it highly. I really liked the essay by Lawrence Cunningham on the saints, in particular. It would be great for book reading groups, too.
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I should start off by saying that I'm a young Catholic that has been spending the last couple of years trying to better understand my faith. Raised with nearly no formal catechisis I drifted away from the faith during adolescence only to find my way home after starting college. I bought this book believing that it would explain these various traditional devotions. A sort of "how to guide" combined with the insights of those who practice said devotions.

That is not what this book is.

This book is a series of very short essays written by people who enjoy whatever particular devotion or sacramental they are writing about. Most of the essays are beyond vague and seem to only focus on the "warm and fuzzy" feelings each person gets when engaged in their preferred form of personal piety. Now I'm glad that these various devotions and sacramentals give peace and joy to these people, but how does that really help anyone else? I love to pray the rosary, but does my stating this fact really help anyone better understand the rosary?

In the end I gave this book a 3 star rating because it's not the various essayists' fault that I misunderstood what this book is supposed to be about. However, I couldn't rate it higher than a 3 since even for what it is supposed to be ("chicken soup for the Catholic devotions") it is a rather mediocre series of stories.

I hope this review helps to keep someone else from making the same error that I did.
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Format: Paperback
"What do traditional devotions have to say to contemporary Catholics?" (p. x) "Can devotions that sometimes carry heavy theological and cultural baggage find a place in the post-Vatican II church?" (p. xi) While devotions have been (and probably continue to be) misused, distorted and overemphasized, their potential as part of a life of faith continues to be very significant.

Chapters that I found particularly interesting: Liturgy of the Hours (which can be used as a devotion, but actually is a liturgy); Joan Chittister on Marian devotions (she wastes little time on Mariolatry); Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament ((its rise and fall and rise again?); and Holy Water (in case you've never run into the word "stoup").

Lots of room for subjective judgment here. People will likely find some chapters and their associated devotions more attractive than others.
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A hopeful message that cultural experiences of the Catholic faith are alive in the hearts of many today. Rituals and traditional expressions of faith are one more path that enrich seekers and invite them to experience for the first time or return to a faith that is ever ancient, ever new.
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