LED BY FAITH: Rising From the Ashes
of the Rwandan Genocide, by Immaculée
Ilibagiza, with Steve Erwin. Hay
House, Inc. 202 pp. $24.95, hardcover;
Reviewed by ELIZABETH YANK, an avid
reader, homeschool mother and freelance
writer from South Milwaukee.
THERE SHE WAS AGAIN, Immaculée
Ilibagiza, on the cover of her new book.
I had always wanted to read Left to
Tell, but had never gotten
around to it. Now she has
written a sequel, Led by
In Left to Tell, Immaculée
recounts her horrific experience
of living through the
1994 Rwandan genocide.
One million Tutsis were brutally
murdered by the Hutus.
Such a number is hard to
imagine. Through the kindness
of a Protestant pastor,
the Catholic Immaculée
huddled with seven other women in a
tiny, cramped bathroom. Despite nearly
starving to death and fearing death at
any moment, she survived.
When she emerged, she discovered
her mother, father and two brothers
had been killed. One after another relative
was reported dead. Rather than
live a life of rage and resentment, she
turned to God for healing. Through
God's transforming power of love, she
was able to forgive those who had so
cruelly butchered her family and destroyed
Now in Led by Faith, she picks up the
theme of God's loving divine providence.
After recapping the events of
the genocide, she highlights the significant
events of her new life and how she
has continued to cope with her loss.
When the genocide was over, fear
abounded. Two million Hutus had fled
in exile, fearing reprisals. The Tutsis were
afraid that the genocide organizers were
regrouping in the thick jungles of Zaire.
The number of dead was staggering.
Everywhere were the ruins of burnt-out
or destroyed homes. Could the new
government ever recover? More importantly,
could Hutu and Tutsi families
ever live side by side again?
Immaculée had lost everything—her
family, her home, the possibility of a
college education. She was adrift, yet
God had a plan for her. While many
were unemployed, she was able to find
a job with the United Nations.
When she was pressured
to compromise her
moral principles, she chose
to live by faith. When all
seemed lost, her courage
and daring urged her on.
Ultimately, her adventurous
spirit led her to come to
the United States. Rather
than live a life consumed
with grief, she found a new
life after the tragedies.
What makes this book a
joy to read is Immaculée's beautiful
soul. She doesn't pretend that a magic
formula will answer all problems. She
presents herself as fully human, experiencing
the sorrow of missing her family,
the anguish of not having been able
to live a normal life, and the uncertainty
of the future. After she meets her
future husband and has children, she
shares the happiness and love of her
What is most amazing
about Immaculée is that she
chose not to become bitter,
resentful or angry. She chose
not to turn away from God
or wallow in self-pity. She
has allowed herself time for
This does not mean that
her journey of faith was easy.
But instead of self-pity, she
chose to help others. She
sought emotional refuge in caring for
Rwandan orphans. But she soon found
out that they gave her far more than
she could ever give them.
She is a role model for those of us
who have suffered a great loss. We can
learn from her childlike example of
Christ's love to forgive the unforgivable.
Yet what is most remarkable is
that she does not say, "Hey, look at
me. Follow my example." She is completely
self-effacing. In a world of self-proclaimed
experts, her humility is
refreshing, her thoughts inspiring, her
You can order LED BY FAITH: Rising From the Ashes
of the Rwandan Genocide from St. Francis Bookstore.
FUTURE AMERICAN SAINTS? Men
and Women Whose Causes Are Being
Considered, by John F. Fink. Alba
House. 194 pp. $9.95.
Reviewed by PAT McCLOSKEY, O.F.M.,
editor of this publication and author of
three books on saints. His interview with
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, who is featured
in Fink's book, appeared in the
November 1976 issue of this magazine.
AUTHOR OF FIVE BOOKS about saints,
John Fink presents biographical
sketches of 51 men and women connected
to the United States and whose
causes have reached the "Servant of
God" stage (now with the Holy See's
Congregation for the Causes of the
Saints). In fact, four have been declared
Venerable: Felix de Andreis,
C.M., Cornelia Connelly,
S.C.H.J., Maria Luisa Josefa,
O.C.D., and Solanus Casey,
O.F.M.Cap. They will be beatified
whenever the Church
accepts a miracle linked to
Although Fink lists Marianne
Cope, O.S.F., as Venerable,
she was beatified on
May 14, 2005. These profiles
are slightly revised from Fink's series in The Criterion, the newspaper
of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
After telling the stories of eight Jesuit
martyrs in Virginia (1571) and five
Franciscan martyrs in Georgia (1579),
this volume presents the remaining 38
individuals, roughly according to the
year that they died, from Eusebio Kino,
S.J., in 1711 to Patrick Peyton, C.S.C.,
When they died, everyone in this
book belonged to the clergy or to a religious
community, except Pierre Toussaint
(d.1820), Mary Virginia Merrick
(1955, Christ Child Society), Dorothy
Day (1980, Catholic Worker) and
Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1985,
Madonna House Apostolate).
Bishops Frederic Baraga (Michigan)
and Simon Bruté (Indiana) are here
with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (New
York) and Cardinal Terrence Cooke
(New York). Parish priests Charles
Nerinckx (Kentucky), Felix Varela (New
York/Cuba), Demetrius Gallitzin (Pennsylvania),
Michael McGivney (Connecticut)
and Nelson Baker (New
York) are described along with priest-chaplains
Emil Kapaun (Kansas/Korea)
and Vincent Capodanno, M.M. (New
Founders of women's religious communities
include Henriette Delille (Sisters
of the Holy Family), Mary Lange
(Oblate Sisters of Providence), Mary
Theresa Dudzik (Franciscan Sisters of
Chicago), Rose Hawthorne Lathrop
(Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer),
Marie-Clement Staub (Sisters of
St. Joan of Arc), Maria Kaupas (Sisters of
St. Casimir) and Angeline McCrory
(Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and
Fink also profiles Franciscan Magin
Catala, Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P.,
Isaac Hecker, C.S.P., Mary Magdalene
Bentivoglio, O.S.C., Stephen Eckert,
O.F.M.Cap., Maria Theresa Demjanovich,
S.C., and Walter Ciszek, S.J., as
well as Frank Parater (seminarian) and
the male founders of Maryknoll (James
Walsh and Thomas Price).
The chapters on Sheen and Peyton
are slightly longer because Fink knew
them personally. In a future edition of
this book, it would be good if the
author could report that the causes of
several married couples had completed
the diocesan process.
This fine volume concludes with a
four-page Bibliography for those who
wish to learn more about these women
and men who generously lived out the
Good News of Jesus Christ.
You can order FUTURE AMERICAN SAINTS? Men
and Women Whose Causes Are Being
Considered from St.
THE PERFECT MARRIAGE APTITUDE
TEST, by Mary Carty. Glitterati Incorporated
(available by title or by
requesting PMAT on www.amazon.
com). 144 pp. $18.95.
Reviewed by SUSAN HINES-BRIGGER, assistant
managing editor of this publication.
WHEN MY HUSBAND, Mark, and I got
married 14 years ago, the first argument
we ever had was not over any of
the topics we had discussed during our
marriage-prep classes—sex, finances,
household responsibilities. No, it was
over peanut butter. He wanted it stored
in the refrigerator; I thought that was
the stupidest thing I had ever heard.
In fact, I can almost say with certainty
that for the first year of our marriage
we argued more about how to
fold towels or load the dishwasher
properly, or whose job it was to put
down/up the toilet seat, than we did
about any of the issues we had discussed
in marriage prep.
Author Mary Carty understands that.
In the Introduction to this book, she
writes, "Couples create their marriage
by the choices they make on a daily,
minute-to-minute basis about thousands
of situations that occur while
building a life together. It is the element
of choice of actions, thoughts,
attitudes, and responses that determines
the structure and quality of the
She also points out, "While there are
many resources available to help couples
plan their weddings, there is little information
on how to prepare for marriage
after the honeymoon." So she took it upon herself to help out by creating The
Perfect Marriage Aptitude Test (PMAT).
The book includes 200 multiple-choice
questions that gauge each partner's
typical responses to everyday
dilemmas, such as the temperature setting
for the air conditioner,
to larger issues of
sex, intimacy and personal
boundaries. His-and-her response sheets
and a response assessment
key are included
with the book.
There are seven chapters
of situations presented
on topics such as
food, fitness and health,
family and friends, and
togetherness. After couples
individually answer the questions,
Carty offers information on how to
assess the answers and use them to
improve communication in their marriage.
As an added bonus, Carty offers a
number of extras, such as the ABCs of
self-care and 100 ways to show active
love, as well as a chapter detailing further
With three kids and date nights few
and far between, Mark and I found this
book to be a wonderful way to reconnect
as a couple. After the kids went to
bed, we spent more than one evening
answering the questions, discussing
why we answered the way we did and
discerning how we could come together
on certain issues. After all these years,
we even learned a few things we didn't
know about each other or had simply
lost sight of. That alone makes this book
more than worth its price.
You can order THE PERFECT MARRIAGE APTITUDE
TEST from St.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN
MYSTICISM, by Thomas Merton. Cistercian
Publications. 390 pp. $39.95.
Reviewed by BRIAN WELTER, a doctoral
student in theology from North Vancouver,
British Columbia. He is a teacher of English
as a Second Language to adults and
holds a B.A. in history from the University
THOMAS MERTON, the Trappist monk
who died in 1968, goes over a profound
amount of Christian spirituality
and theology in these lecture notes for
young monks at his Kentucky monastery.
He takes the view that theology
and spirituality, including mysticism,
function best when they
form a unified whole, as they
did with the Church Fathers.
Merton's discussion of
certain Greek Fathers such
as Gregory Nazianzus shows
why these teachers must be
read more often by Catholics.
They form the basis of
our theology and spirituality.
Moreover, they were
theologians because they
loved God and searched for
a deeper relationship with
God. From this quest, they gained theological
knowledge. While they formed
their theology on the tenets of the
faith, they also based it on their relationship
According to Merton, "In St. Gregory
of Nyssa the dogmatic writings...have
a direct orientation to the mystical
When discussing these
Greek writers, as usual,
Merton does not hesitate to
use Latin and Greek expressions,
which can be hard for
readers with no interest in
such terms. But for those
with a keen sense of the
intellectual heritage of the
Church, Merton's wordsmithing
adds greatly to the
For instance, he defines
Nyssa's Greek term epectasis as "the ever-increasing
growth of love and desire
and penetration into the inexhaustible
ocean of divine light."
Sentences like this are almost one-of-a-kind Merton. Very few people
develop the intellectual and spiritual
capacity to write such things. Merton's
understanding of both the Greek and
Latin lungs of the Church also helps
readers to see the great debt the Western
Church owes to the Greek Fathers.
In the Latin West, as he traces it, the
split during the Middle Ages between
theology and spirituality caused all
sorts of issues. Fourteenth-century
mystics in the Rhineland turned away
from Church hierarchy and orthodox
theology, and looked inward. They
practiced a non-sacramental, non-hierarchical,
highly individualistic and
pietistic spirituality frowned upon by
Clergy, for their part, overfocused at
this time on speculative theology and
became corrupted by the Church's great
material wealth and power. With their
neo-scholastic theology, as taught
chiefly at the University of Paris, the
Schoolmen forgot the importance of
lived, personal, Christ-centered spirituality.
Yet theology and spirituality are never
so simple. Merton digs up some of the
complications with his analysis of the
Dionysian (from a fifth-century Greek
in medieval spirituality. Again, we read
a sentence only Merton could write:
"The cosmos of Denys is then a vast
ecstatic communion of intelligence
striving to respond to the call of divine
Love summoning them to unity in
Christ, each according to his
rank and degree of purity."
This is one of Merton's
most demanding books, as
he whizzes by centuries and
geographical areas of theology,
spirituality and religious
culture, yet all the
while on the search for the
great love of his life—God.
The enthusiasm behind the
writing of this book comes
from Merton's own lived
experience of these ideas,
which give immediacy and frankness to
You can order AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN
MYSTICISM from St. Francis Bookstore.
THE PROMISE OF LUMBY, by Gail
Fraser. New American Library (www.penguin.com). 459 pp. $15, U.S./$18,
Reviewed by BARBARA BECKWITH,
managing editor of this publication.
WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH, I love to
retreat into fiction. A good novel presents
places where I'd rather be living, situations I'd rather be facing. The fictional
town of Lumby, Montana, intrigues
me for its warm,
fully drawn characters and
The first three books in
this series have described a
village that gives people
room to reinvent themselves.
But this time a new
veterinarian has come to
town and, after hearing
only one side of the story of
a mistake he made 20 years
ago, the town withdraws its
When the people of Lumby try to
correct their mistake, they go over the
top the other way and create more
The usual characters of a Lumby
book are all here, except the fading-out
Dr. Ellen Campbell, who is selling
her veterinary clinic, and the absent
Beezer son in South America. He is
assessing applications for the micro-credit
offered by the local monastery of
Holy Cross Abbey.
The monks have done well with their
rum-sauce business and want to share
their wealth. As before, the monastery
is intimately involved in the region's
activities. Now the monks are receiving
gifts of animals such as snow monkeys,
rheas and camels to thank them for
their generosity. What will they do
with these amazing creatures?
The monks also face the decision of
whether to partner in some way with a
women's religious order from Oregon.
The Sisters of St. Amand have overgrown
their monastery and need more
land to continue to raise grapes for the
wine they sell. The sisters want to buy
land and build next to the monks. The
practical and prayerful way both the
monks and sisters approach this decision
is truly inspirational.
Pam and Mark Walker, owners of the
Montis Inn, which they renovated from
an old monastery in the first book, face
their own dilemmas. Pam wants help in
the kitchen, but is reluctant to share the
kitchen with someone else. Mark keeps
buying things on eBay, for example, a
motorcycle with no wheels and a vintage
truck with no engine. But the couple
have generous hearts, shown by
their willingness to open their new
barn to shelter the Lumby
Park—at least temporarily.
But the main story involves
the new veterinarian,
Dr. Tom Candor, whose
name hints at his problem.
He conceals his history from
the town, a critical sin of
omission. He is attracted to
Mac McGuire, who has her
own construction company.
Mac's now-adult son,
Terry, is bringing home a
different girl every night, and has her
worried. But I'm not sure that Mac's
decision to take a vacation with Dr.
Candor—despite his undeniable need
of a friend right now—is setting the best
A second element in the book that
disturbs me is how quickly newspaper
owner Dennis Beezer exploits Candor's
story without getting his side of it.
(Such behavior makes me ashamed of
my own profession.) The way Beezer
and Jimmy D, the town's mayor, confront
Candor is egregious. Yes, both
feel they have a responsibility to protect
the town, but at what human cost—as
both discover later.
And then, of course, there's still the
town's mascot, Hank, a stuffed pink
flamingo who thinks he's a bald eagle
and shows up at most all civic events in
appropriate dress (such as tuxedo for
the "shingle" party for Dr. Candor). He
now has been seen in the company of
a mannequin from Lumby Sporting
Goods. In his own weird way, he is a
model of tolerance.
Fraser's new book is as wonderful as
the previous ones, providing characters
to care about and situations that do
not offer simple solutions. The book
even concludes with recipes and a discussion
guide for reading groups.
You can order THE PROMISE OF LUMBY from St. Francis Bookstore.