It was a great pleasure to be asked to blurb the latest edition in Ave Maria Press’ “30 Days With a Great Spiritual Teacher” series of small devotionals. This one, Set Aside Every Fear, features the writings of Catherine of Siena, and her words worked powerfully on me, and so I gave it a very enthusiastic thumbs up:
“Set Aside Every Fear not only helps us to become acquainted with the great St. Catherine of Siena, but brings to the reader an unusual and fine sense of “quietening.” In reading the meditations grounded in Catherine’s work, one’s spirit settles and becomes be-calmed as it is drawn into the presence of a saint and her mystical relationship to Christ Jesus. Mysteriously, deliciously, the daily thought we are encouraged to ponder begins to penetrate into all of our routine craziness and anxiety, and there comes to us a sense of peace and wellness that inspires us toward further prayer, further contemplation, and thus a deepening of faith. I really love this book, and know that I will return to it again and again. There is grace within these pages. This is a beautiful balm of a book.”
The whole series is terrific and I recommend it to you, but I do think the Siena book may be my favorite. You can pre-order it and have it when it is released in January — just in time to shake off the noise and busyness of the holidays and get centered again.
While we’re talking about Catherine of Siena, I’ve been meaning to direct your attention to OSV’s new translation of her Dialogue, — an edition that is highly readable and accessible, and a beautifully bound addition to their “Noll Library” collection of Catholic spiritual classics.
Don’t let the fact that I wrote the intro scare you off it. The fact is, once you’ve made Catherine’s acquaintance in the first book, you may very well want the second. She is a woman speaking with relevance to our times even from the 14th century, and a fearless model for the layfolk who may become the great force for reform in how we create our priests and teach our faith.
And yeah, at this point, I may as well direct your attention to another favorite book on Catherine, which would be Edmund Gardner’s classic The Road to Siena, which I wrote about at some length over at Word on Fire a while back and was recently re-edited by Jon Sweeney and reissued in paperback via Paraclete Press. It’s very good, too.
I’m kind of sorry I didn’t think to write about these books while everyone was Christmas shopping, but I only got an advance copy of Set Aside Every Fear in the mail today, so…you know…
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