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The Saints' Guide to Happiness Hardcover – November 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
It takes a gifted writer to engage readers in a book of insights from men and women commonly understood to have spent their lives so close to God that they were unusual in almost every way. In this eloquent, seamlessly woven and delightfully readable book, Catholic convert Ellsberg, editor-in-chief of Orbis Books, makes the spiritual struggles and triumphs of sanctified men and women accessible and relevant to believers who grapple with the tension between the desire for earthly pleasure and the call to leave all behind and follow Jesus Christ. Giving this series of life lessons a vivid immediacy is the fact that Ellsberg ranges far and wide in his choice of saintly examples, including some non-Catholics and many modern icons of holiness. In the chapter on learning to suffer, for instance, 14th-century mystic Julian of Norwich and 20th-century Catholic writer Henri Nouwen fittingly illustrate Ellsberg's point that affliction can become an instrument of grace and transfiguration. What unites all the saints, he argues, is their ability and decision to see God's hand at work in the whole composition of their lives. Interwoven with moments of gentle homage to his mentor, Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, this volume suggests to Catholics and other Christian readers the possibility that happiness can come by using the lens of holiness to illumine their lives, both remarkable and ordinary.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Saints are experts on holiness, but what do they know about happiness? The answer, Ellsberg says, depends on what we mean by happiness and on our understanding of holiness. Saints aren't all that different. They wonder about the meaning and purpose of life, and they feel disappointment and sadness. Some of the saints he discusses are reasonably remote (Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Avila), others quite modern (Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin). They all share finely developed senses of humanity and compassion, with which they remain ordinary in the best, most expansive sense of ordinariness. They model ideal behavior, setting standards to which we all can aspire. Ellsberg explores happiness through the lives and writings of these remarkable men and women, showing how relevant their stories are today but offering no guidance in the conventional sense. He insists that there is no way to happiness. Rather, there is a way of happiness. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Weaving gospel and other scriptural passages into his narrative description of how saints lived their lives and what they said about it Ellsberg helps the reader do the same, connect Scripture to life. This was the unanimous judgment of a men's faith sharing group I belong to over the past year which gathered weekly to reflect on the Sunday gospel readings in a lectio divina style while also taking a few pages each week of The Saints' Guide to Happiness to include in such reflections and their daily applications.
In his introduction Ellsberg gives the reader a glimpse of his own progression in coming to love and study the lives of the saints and a perspective with which to view the saints: "It is a mistake to think of saints simply as figures from long ago. They are everywhere in our midst....people we know or pass every day: people who remind us of God...When we are with such people, we come away feeling gladder, more grateful to be alive, perhaps wishing that we knew the "secret" of their inner illumination."
Readers will indeed find that they 'feel gladder' and that the saints come alive in a new way from the wealth of wisdom in this book.
This book also opens our knowledge about different types of saints. Saints are closer to us than we think. Maybe there is one in our school, in our factory, in our office, or in our family...maybe we can become saints...or we already are.
The book offers indepth contemplations and revelations on how to live the Word in our daily lives. With the saints as role models, Mr. Ellsberg guides the reader through some of the more difficult avenues we experience as human beings... forgiveness, love of neighbor, love of self, realizing death as the ultimate human experience...
I have purchased and given away several copies of this book - all received with many thanks from friends and family - and recommend it highly.