Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Review

For my first book review, I'd like to recommend "Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality."

This book finds its place in the long and venerable line of spiritual direction as exhibited by the Desert Mothers and Fathers. These wisdom figures would often receive visitors who would hail them with the greeting, "Abba, give me word of salvation." The Abba or Amma would then tell a story or give a short saying to the person. Such sayings or stories were not spontaneous aphorisms or Chinese fortunes, but rather the result of many hours of prayer and reflection.

Are you struggling with a long-held resentment over some slight you have suffered? Let us take this to Mother!

Gruge-Holder: "Mother, Give me a word of salvation! I am beset with a long-held grudge"

Mother Angelica: "Don't waste your time in life trying to get even with your enemies. The grave is a tremendous equalizer. Six weeks after you all are dead, you'll look pretty much the same. Let the Lord take care of those whom you think have harmed you. All you have to do is love and forgive. Try to forget and leave all else to the Master."

Struggling with being impatient?

Impatient Person: "Mother, Give me a word of salvation! I am most impatient with myself and with those around me!"

Mother Angelica: "Patience is adjusting your time to God's time."

Now it's obvious that this is no easy answer - nor should it be. The lessons and stories contained in this book are great material for prayer and reflection. Like the marrow bone that must be boiled for many hours to flavor a soup, many of these pithy statements and stories need to be reflected on in order for their lessons to penetrate deeply into the soul.

My only caveat: this is not a book to be read, necessarily, c0ver-to-cover. As it is helpfully broke up into sections such as "Sin and Temptation" "Living Prayer and True Spirituality" "Motherly Advice for the Family" "Everyday Holiness" one should bring one's struggles and questions to the text, open to the section addressing one's angst, and begin to read. Approach the text not as a How-To book of spirituality, but rather as a wisdom figure who has prayed and reflected for a long time. Come to the book and say, "Mother, give me a word" and ask your question. I have a feeling that she'll know just what to say.
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