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Who Pays for Cheap Prices?


THE TRUE COST OF LOW PRICES: The Violence of Globalization
THE LITTLE MONK: Wisdom From a Little Friend of Big Faith
Clouds of Witnesses

THE TRUE COST OF LOW PRICES: The Violence of Globalization, by Vincent A. Gallagher. Orbis Books. 147 pp. $15.

Reviewed by DONNA GRAHAM, O.S.F., director of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati, Ohio.

MOST OF US like the relatively low prices we find in many stores in the United States. But do we ever think about the true cost of these bargains? Do we ever look behind the racks and shelves to the people who make these prices possible? Our consumer lifestyle literally depends on the suffering of the poor in the developing world. And here Vincent Gallagher gives the evidence to prove it.

Gallagher speaks from experience, from his years in the Peace Corps in Venezuela, his work for the World Bank, the United Nations and organizations investigating worker injuries and deaths.

This clear, relatively easy-to-read book (given the complexity of the issues) takes us behind the scenes of the world of global economics. We often hear, “Corporations rule the world.” Gallagher points to evidence of this reality, and to the complicity of governments in this quest for wealth and power for the few (in developed countries) at the expense of the many (in the developing world).

World economic organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were established to promote “long-range balanced growth of international trade” and “the health of the world economy,” respectively. In reality, they are controlled by the powerful and wealthy, and support the efforts of transnational corporations to act without the restrictions of government regulations.

The end result is that the less developed countries get the short end of the stick, exporting more and more products and food to rich countries while their debt increases.

Labor costs in the United States are high because of the justice built into our system: minimum wage, labor unions, safety, health and environmental regulations, workers’ compensation, etc. So, many corporations relocate to countries where they can pay starvation wages, use child labor, force long hours of work, and ignore safety and environmental considerations.

Gallagher puts a human face on these suffering workers who make our cheap prices possible. He has witnessed families at garbage dumps in Peru collecting recyclable materials to sell. He tells of women and children who work 18 hours a day, seven days a week to make toys for Wal-Mart, earning as little as 13 cents an hour. Women workers in American Samoa have been fired for not agreeing to have abortions. In addition, they have been physically and sexually abused, and terrorized.

The injustice in the global economic system is evident in the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed in 1994. Proponents assured us that it would create jobs, raise the standard of living in the participating countries (U.S., Canada, Mexico) and stop migration.

In reality, migration from Mexico to the United States doubled from 1990 to 2000 because many Mexican farmers lost their farms due to the cheaper subsidized corn coming from the United States. Mexican industrial wages and small businesses also declined. In the United States, more than 38,000 small farmers went out of business, and our country lost 780,000 manufacturing jobs.

Gallagher discusses numerous other issues: the politics of food, which keeps some people starving, even though there is enough food to feed everyone; modern-day slavery and trafficking; how women and children suffer the most; government-supported violence.

And he challenges us, especially those of us who are Christian. What do the Gospels say? What did Jesus teach us? Gallagher points to the liberation theologians of Latin America for guidance. We must become aware, wake up from our blindness and then do something about it. We must address the systems that create the inequities and suffering.

Perhaps the one thing lacking in this book is a greater emphasis on what we can do. Gallagher mentions numerous groups making a difference, pointing especially to the need for personal contact and involvement with the poor and suffering to help us better understand the need for action. But we also need to come to grips with the power that we have as Americans. We are most often the oppressors, though perhaps unknowingly. But our very power makes it possible for us to change oppressive systems.

You can order THE TRUE COST OF LOW PRICES: The Violence of Globalization from St. Francis Bookshop.


BUTLER’S SAINT FOR THE DAY, edited by Paul Burns. Liturgical Press. 658 pp. $34.95.

A NEW DICTIONARY OF SAINTS: East and West, by Michael Walsh. Liturgical Press. 646 pp. $49.95.

Reviewed by MICHAEL J. DALEY, a teacher and writer at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He edited (with Bill Madges) Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories and The Many Marks of the Church (both from Twenty-Third Publications).

A JESUIT PRIEST-FRIEND of mine used to greet students he saw on campus, “How ya doing, saint?” Besides the smile he put on their faces (and covering up for not remembering their names!), I think he was communicating a profound truth. Not only do saints surround us, but we too are called to be saints. Butler’s Saint for the Day and A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West communicate this invitation well.

Drawn from the 12-volume series Butler’s Lives of the Saints and its later supplement, Burns’s book provides an account of one saint or blessed for each day of the year. While not diminishing the intercessory role of saints, the focus here is more on how saints lived in faithful discipleship to Jesus.

No one appeared to understand this better, Burns writes, than Pope John Paul II, “whose papacy produced more new saints (over 450) and blesseds (some 1,500) than all previous papacies since the reservation of the process to the papacy.”

When choosing saints, Burns was guided by the Universal Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. For example, this means that we universally celebrate the feasts of St. Thérèse of Lisieux on October 1 and St. Francis Xavier on December 3. For calendar dates for which there is no universal celebration, Burns picked persons using the following criteria: 1) interest for the English-speaking world and increasingly for the New World, 2) emphasis on recent canonizations and beatifications, 3) wider geographic spread and 4) fairer gender division.

As a result, the reader is introduced to a number of interesting figures: Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, the first Nigerian beatified; St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who became a saint; St. Katharine Drexel, a socialite who became devoted to the cause of African-Americans and Indians; Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks; Blessed John XXIII, the pope who convened the Second Vatican Council; Blessed Mary McKillop, Australia’s first blessed; and Blessed Miguel Pro, a Jesuit martyr during the Mexican Revolution.

In terms of usage, the book is intended to be used devotionally, prayerfully, rather than read straight through. The stories of the saints here are told well. Both their holiness and humanity are revealed—as if they could ever be separated! Through them we touch not only the historical person described but also the person they attempt to witness to—Jesus Christ.

It is to the book’s credit that, whether one is lay or ordained, single or married, man or woman, American or African, there is sure to be a saint who can be an inspiration to you.

The other volume, also from Liturgical Press, is an alphabetical listing of some 7,000 saints. Michel Walsh’s book is unique in that it includes many saints revered in the Eastern Church. Typical of a “dictionary,” the entries are kept to one short paragraph. Among the Orthodox saints listed, for instance, is Joseph of Volokolamsk, whose rule was significant in the development of the monastic tradition in Russian Orthodoxy.

I look forward to continuing to use these books as a means of prayer and, in the process, meeting some new friends in the Lord!

You can order BUTLER’S SAINT FOR THE DAY and A NEW DICTIONARY OF SAINTS: East and West from St. Francis Bookshop.


MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS, by James Martin, S.J. Loyola Press. 411 pp. $22.95.

Reviewed by PAT McCLOSKEY, O.F.M., editor of this publication. He has written three books on saints and contributed over 25 entries to Saint of the Day (St. Anthony Messenger Press).

WINNER OF AWARDS from the Catholic Press Association and the Christophers, this book is clearly a labor of love. Along with details about 16 saints (widely defined), Father Martin, an associate editor of America magazine, describes their initial and ongoing impact on his life.

The entire text flows from the opening quote from Thomas Merton, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” These are not saints in some ethereal stratosphere, but real women and men who struggled in responding to God’s grace as best they could. In the opening chapter, “Saint of the Sock Drawer,” Martin observes, “Each saint was holy in his or her unique way, revealing how God celebrates individuality.”

Besides chapters on Sts. Joan of Arc, Thérèse of Lisieux, Ignatius of Loyola, Bernadette Soubirous, Peter, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Joseph, the Ugandan Martyrs, Aloysius Gonzaga and Mary, Martin has chapters on Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed Pope John XXIII, Thomas Merton, Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and Dorothy Day.

This book is autobiographical in the sense that we learn when Martin became aware of various saints and how they have impacted his Jesuit formation and ministry.

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

“Almost above all the saints, she [Thérèse of Lisieux] is the one who most understands what it means to be a human being who suffers and rejoices in everyday life.”

“Merton’s contradictions are his most endearing features.”

“In essence, my gratitude is for his [Ignatius of Loyola’s] spirituality and for his way of looking at the world and at God.”

“Sometimes the most grateful pilgrim is the one whose road has been the rockiest” [said of Dorothy Day].

“We come closest to God not by doing right but ironically by doing it wrong” [Richard Rohr, O.F.M., on St. Peter].

“If St. Aloysius [Gonzaga] had been as I am, he would have become holy in a different way” [Blessed Pope John XXIII].

In the concluding chapter, Martin writes, “I see them [the saints] as models and enjoy the benefits of their experiences. All the saints encountered suffering of some kind, and when we undergo similar difficulties it’s consoling to know not only that there were Christians who underwent such trials, but also that, united with God, the saints are able to pray for us as we suffer....The saints offer us encouragement, like the runner just ahead of us in the race, urging us on and reminding us to pace ourselves.

“The beginning of sanctity is loving ourselves as creations of God. And that means all of ourselves. Even the parts of us that we wish weren’t there, the parts of us that we wish God hadn’t made, the parts of us that we lament. God loves us as a parent loves a child—often more for the parts of the child that are weaker or where the child struggles and falters. Those weaknesses are often the most important paths to holiness, because they remind us of our reliance on God.”

This excellent volume includes 14 pages of recommended readings about the saints and other holy people.

You can order MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS from St. Francis Bookshop.


ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND MODERN SCIENCE: A History, by Don O’Leary. Continuum. 356 pp. $34.95, hardcover; $19.95, paperback.

Reviewed by DANIEL KROGER, O.F.M., publisher/CEO of St. Anthony Messenger Press.

BECAUSE THE VATICAN mistreated Galileo, many think that Catholicism is opposed to science. By offering a historical account of the Church’s relationship to science for the years 1800 to 2000, this book offers a more positive and nuanced view.

Nineteenth-century popes felt challenged by everything modern—from politics to science to biblical interpretation. As science gained in prestige, Catholicism appeared dogmatic and opposed to progress. Darwin’s Origin of the Species (1859) appeared to Catholic officials as part of a “liberal conglomeration opposing Church authority.” While the bishops at the First Vatican Council thought that faith and reason should not conflict, since God is the source of all truth, by the pontificate of Leo XIII Vatican officials considered science an enemy of faith partly because leading scientists appeared to be agnostic.

St. (not a canonized saint but so named) George Jackson Mivart, a critic of Darwin during the 1870s, is an interesting example of one Catholic’s response to modern science. Mivart enjoyed some credibility among British scientists, thanks to such friends as Thomas Huxley. While Mivart agreed with Darwin on evolution, he invoked divine control of the process and spoke about “theistic evolution.” Initially, Leo XIII approved of his view, but when Mivart argued that scientific progress should be unrestrained, he angered Church officials.

A few Catholic priests were censured for trying to interpret evolution to the faithful. For example, John A. Zahm, C.S.C. (1851-1921), a priest-physicist at the University of Notre Dame, tried to educate Catholics about evolution. His 1896 book Evolution and Dogma was popular in the United States and in Europe. Observing that evolutionary theory was associated with materialistic philosophies, Father Zahm said that evolutionary ideas were not the product of materialism or necessarily opposed to Catholicism. Under Vatican orders, Zahm’s religious superiors forbade him to publish about evolution. M. D. Leroy, O.P., a French priest-scientist, was also silenced.

Thereafter, in 1907, Pius X decided to confront “modernism” because he considered evolutionary science as the heart of modern thought. He oversaw the drafting of official documents and imposed an “Oath Against Modernism” upon all Catholic professors and clergy. Decrying “modernism” as a coherent, heretical school of thought—though it was not—Pius X tried to counter the claim that reasoning should trump revelation.

Ironically, Catholics developed positive attitudes toward science as the anti-modernist campaign intensified. Even the popes following Pius X were more open. Pius XI laid the foundations for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Pius XII approved historical-critical approaches to biblical interpretation in Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943).

Yet Pius XII opposed claims that humans evolved from animals. His encyclical Humani Generis (1950) insisted that Adam and Eve were the parents of all human beings, even if biblical creation accounts were mythological. Apparently, Pius XII was protecting the doctrine of Original Sin.

While Vatican Council II (1962-65) praised science, the bishops chose not to admit that the Church erred in the case of Galileo. O’Leary finds that the views of some scientists bothered the bishops at Vatican II. Why? Because they feared admitting mistakes would compromise Church authority.

Regardless of the hierarchy, by the late 20th century, Catholics had developed a variety of views about the relationship between science and religion.

Elected in 1978, John Paul II formed an interdisciplinary commission in 1981 to examine the Galileo case. John Paul II believed scientists could profit from dialogue with theologians. In regard to Darwin, John Paul II conceded little to evolutionary theory. To avoid contradicting Pius XII, John Paul II avoided the issue of polygenism. Though worried about the implications of evolution for the doctrine of Original Sin, John Paul II expressed positive, yet critical, views of science.

Don O’Leary is professionally qualified in both science and history. Currently employed in scientific research at the Biosciences Institute at University College, Cork, O’Leary is a member of the British Society for the History of Science.

O’Leary’s account of how modern science impacts bioethical issues is helpful and balanced. In vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, genetically modified organisms and so forth raise complex questions.

This book helps readers understand the multifaceted relationship between Roman Catholicism and modern science. Covering its topic in a balanced manner, the book has extensive notes, 21 pages of bibliography and a full index. Carefully written and documented, this book is worth its price.

You can order ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND MODERN SCIENCE: A History from St. Francis Bookshop.


THE LITTLE MONK: Wisdom From a Little Friend of Big Faith, by Madeleine Delbrêl, translated by Carol C. Macomber, illustrated by Hector V. Lee. The Crossroad Publishing Company. 116 pp. $12.95.

Reviewed by BARBARA BECKWITH, book review editor of this publication.

NOT ONE PERSON, the character of the Little Monk represents “a whole host of people” who are striving “simply to live as holy people,” says Madeleine Delbrêl, in introducing her upbeat little character.

This book might be described as “a few memos to myself” because the Little Monk is trying to clarify “events, challenges or nerve-wracking experiences of his day” and put them in perspective.

This book contains pithy reflections on life, augmented by charming four-color illustrations.

One of my favorites is on “Having fun”: “When you can’t dance, let your soul tango,” an insight which came to the Little Monk after a day’s struggle with accounting.

The Little Monk offers down-to-earth advice on living the Christian life, such as “If your voice sounds like a bugle, your brother will loathe music” and “While authority has its limits, love does not.”

A French laywoman, Delbrêl was born in 1904 in the south of France, lived there through the Second World War and died unexpectedly from a brain hemorrhage in 1964. She said that she didn’t find God but that in 1924 God found her. Rather than joining the Carmelites, she decided to take a degree in social studies and work in city government. Her aphorisms circulated among her friends while she was alive, and were intended for publication.

As in the French original edition, the table of contents is at the end.

The Little Monk’s wisdom is refreshing: “You haven’t reached perfection yet, so don’t push others to it”; “If you want to be humble, don’t belittle the greatness of others”; “My God, if you are everywhere, why then am I somewhere else so frequently?”; “The tender breeze of the Spirit does not always smell like mimosa.”

The Little Monk offers a lot to think about and pray over.

You can order THE LITTLE MONK: Wisdom From a Little Friend of Big Faith from St. Francis Bookshop.



Clouds of Witnesses

May these stories of saints inspire us to imitate them!

MORTAL SAINTS AND IMMORTAL CALLINGS: Vocation in the Lives of the Saints, by A’Dora Phillips (Paraclete Press, 185 pp., $16.95). Phillips is a Philadelphia artist who crossed France and Spain on foot to research this book. At the age of four, she was inspired by a film about Joan of Arc and later by a Titian painting of Margaret of Antioch; these saints impressed her because of their experience of calling and strength of purpose. In elegant prose, Phillips considers 14 saints—familiar ones such as Rita of Cascia and Francis of Assisi, and modern ones such as Edith Stein and Blessed Mother Teresa.

SAINTS: Ancient & Modern, by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua (Viking Studio/Penguin Group, 150 pp., $24.95, U.S./$31, Canada), considers many of the same saints as Phillips’s book, but not at such length. Here, the gorgeous color photos of classic artwork connected to each of the 22 saints are breathtaking.

STALKING THE HOLY: The Pursuit of Saint Making, by Michael W. Higgins (Anansi/Publishers Group West, Berkeley, CA, 275 pp., $29.95, U.S./$31.95, Canada), comes from a respected Thomas Merton scholar who teaches English and religious studies at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario. He rigorously examines many aspects of saint making, using case studies of Mother Teresa, Pope Pius XII, Padre Pio and Pope John Paul II.

Books can be obtained through St. Francis Bookshop on the Web or at 8621 Winton Road, Cincinnati, OH 45231, phone 1-800-241-6392. All orders must be prepaid. Add $4 for postage and handling, $2 more for each additional book. Ohio residents should also add 6.5 percent for sales tax. The Bookshop offers a free catalog.

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