THE FRANCISCAN TRADITION: Spirituality
in History, by Regis J. Armstrong
and Ingrid J. Peterson, series
editor Phyllis Zagano. Liturgical
Press. 196 pp. $16.95.
Reviewed by PAT McCLOSKEY, O.F.M.,
editor of this publication. He has an M.A.
in Franciscan studies from St. Bonaventure
FRANCIS AND CLARE of Assisi continue
to inspire a great variety of people
to live the Good News of Jesus
Christ generously. Regis J. Armstrong
and Ingrid J. Peterson write:
"With a penetrating simplicity,
the Spirit of the
Lord that enters the Christian
soul at Baptism seems
the only explanation for
the universality, the all-embracing
the joy Francis and his tradition
brought to the religious
life of the Church.
The Spirit, the Spirit alone,
was needed by the 13th-century
saint, perhaps the
most popular saint in the Church's two-millennia
Later, they note that a chronological
reading of Francis' writings shows the
Spirit's role to become "ever more influential,
drawing him into the very inner
life of the triune God."
The "Spirituality in History" series
covers the Dominican, Benedictine and
Ignatian traditions and will include a
volume on the Carmelite tradition.
"Each volume in the series," writes editor
Phyllis Zagano, "seeks to present
the given spiritual tradition through
an anthology of writings by or about
persons who have lived it, along with
brief biographical introductions of those
persons. Each volume is edited by an
expert or experts in the tradition at
After chapters on the Franciscan tradition
overall and on Francis (d. 1226),
Armstrong and Peterson introduce
readers to Anthony of Padua (d. 1231),
Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (d. 1274),
Felix of Cantalice (d. 1587), Junipero
Serra (d. 1784), Maximilian Mary Kolbe
(d. 1941) and Solanus Casey (d. 1957).
The Second Order is represented by
Clare of Assisi (d. 1253), Colette of Corbie
(d. 1447), Catherine of Bologna (d.
1463) and Veronica Giuliani (d. 1727).
Clare was the first woman to write a
Rule officially approved by the Church.
Angela of Foligno (d. 1309) introduces
the section on the "Brothers
and Sisters of Penance," as
Francis called them. Mary
of the Passion (d. 1904) and
Marianne Cope of Molokai
(d. 1918) convey the Third
Order Regular charism. The
martyrs of Nagasaki (d.
1597), Jean-Marie Vianney
(d. 1859) and Matt Talbot
(d. 1925) illustrate the rich
variety among Secular Franciscans.
This book also presents
the full text of the Exhortation
to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (c. 1220), the Later Rule of St. Francis (1223), the Form of Life of Clare of Assisi (1253), the Rule of the Secular Franciscan
Order (1978) and the Rule and Life of the
Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order
The chapter on Matt Talbot is very
engaging. Already addicted to alcohol
as a teenager, he began his sobriety as
a 28-year-old and maintained it for 39
years. Daniel Manning, Talbot's longtime
co-worker, wrote: "I cannot think
of any particular reason why I thought
of him as holy—there was something
about the man which I cannot explain.
To all outward appearances he was just
an ordinary workman. The other men
restrained themselves in his presence.
They respected him and did not regard
him as being in any way odd or peculiar.
He was the most extraordinary
man I ever met; he impelled respect."
In the words of the liturgy, Talbot had
clearly become "a living gospel for all
people to hear."
According to Armstrong and Peterson,
in Adam's act of disobedience,
"Francis perceived the two enduring
tendencies of the human nature: to
make its will its own and to exalt itself
over that which really belongs to God."
In different ways, everyone featured in
this volume exalted what really belongs
to God and in the process benefited
the entire human family.
This excellent, reader-friendly volume
from two eminent Franciscan
scholars closes with six pages of notes
and eight pages of bibliography.
You can order THE FRANCISCAN TRADITION: Spirituality
in History from St. Francis Bookstore.
DOERS OF THE WORD: Putting Your
Faith Into Practice, by Archbishop
Timothy M. Dolan. Our Sunday Visitor,
Inc. 125 pp. $9.95.
Reviewed by ELIZABETH YANK, a freelance
writer and homeschooling mother
from South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
MY DAY IS jam-packed with the demands
of motherhood, but I still want
to spend time on spiritual reading and
reflection. Trying to carve out more
than a few moments each day can seem
impossible. Therefore, I really appreciate
a book that lifts me up, offers me
something to reflect on and takes just
a few minutes to read. Doers of the Word,
by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of
New York, fits the bill.
This book is for the everyday man
or woman. You won't find any heavy
theological expostulating or deep philosophical
ponderings, just practical guidance
The book is divided into seven topics
such as "My Lord and My God,"
"Signs of Faith," "The Communion of
Saints" and "Workers in the Vineyard." Each chapter presents several short meditations.
To pique the reader's interest, each
reflection opens with a personal anecdote,
comment or an eye-catching
phrase. Drawing on
real-life experiences, Archbishop
Dolan uses contemporary
examples to explain
timeless principles. For instance,
when he visited a
prison, he noted the tattoos
on the prisoners and compared
them to how we as
Christians are also marked,
but marked with the cross
Archbishop Dolan closes each meditation
with a short commentary or an
instructional tidbit. He shares Church
history, a poem, a scriptural reference,
a quote from a saint or a prayer. For
example, "The name Bethlehem comes
from the old Hebrew meaning ‘house
of bread.'" Then he quotes Micah 5:2.
Doers of the Word is Archbishop
Dolan's reminder that God comes to
meet us where we are. God wants us to
grow deeper in our faith and offers us
plenty of opportunities if we are open
to them. With the eyes of faith, we can
see God working in our own lives, in the
everyday occurrences. As the archbishop
says in the Preface, "He's [God's] there
in the stillness; He's there in the messiness....Our call is to serve Him, discover
Him, and find Him."
In the many examples throughout
the book, God is found. He's found in
the dying woman in the hospital who
wants to receive the sacraments, not
just an important visitor like the archbishop.
He's there in someone who
converted to the Catholic faith in order
to be intimately connected with Jesus
in the sacraments. He's there in the
cab driver who carries a picture of the
Madonna and child on his sun visor as
a reminder that "Jesus and Mary are
my only protection." He's even there in
the six-year-old boy who explains to his
younger sister that the baby in the
manger "is God."
Perhaps the most powerful story is
about two families who sacrifice much
in order to bring joy to one another.
Their lives bring pro-life witnessing to
a whole new level.
More than easy to read and easy to
understand, these stories are engaging.
They hold the reader's interest,
begging us to want to
read more. That is a good
thing, since we are actually
being instructed in the faith
without even knowing it.
What the readers won't
find is lecturing or scolding.
Archbishop Dolan speaks as
someone who has experienced
the same temptations
and faults. He provides encouragement
for the soul.
His down-to-earth, personal
style draws the reader in as though
having a conversation at the local pub,
while actually teaching about the Communion
of Saints, the Blessed Mother,
Our Lord and more.
In a world full of distractions, Archbishop
Dolan's Doers of the Word offers
a spiritual oasis, a refreshing retreat
to meditate on the higher things.
You can order DOERS OF THE WORD: Putting Your
Faith Into Practice from St.
THE LEGACY OF JOHN PAUL II, edited by Gerald O'Collins and
Michael A. Hayes. Continuum. 274
Reviewed by MICHAEL J. DALEY, a
teacher at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati,
Ohio. His most recent book is Our
Catholic Symbols: A Rich Spiritual Treasury (Twenty-Third Publications).
"I consider it my essential and personal
mission not so much to produce many
new documents but to see that [John
Paul II's] documents are assimilated,
because they are a very rich treasure, the
authentic interpretation of Vatican II."
These words come not just from anyone,
mind you, but from Pope Benedict
XVI. Rather than chart his own course,
Benedict XVI sees his papacy as one of
continuing the teachings of his predecessor,
Pope John Paul II.
With this thought in mind, Jesuit
Father Gerald O'Collins, longtime theology
professor at the Gregorian University,
and Michael A. Hayes, a vice
principal of St. Mary's University College
(London), gathered a group of
scholars, pastors and writers from
Europe and the United States to examine
the legacy of John Paul II. Twelve
contributed essays focused on certain
Unlike many historical figures, John
Paul II not only was shaped by his
times, but also shaped them. Attempting
to avoid any armchair psychology,
the journalist and papal biographer
Edward Stourton stresses that
Karol Wojtyla's war experience in Nazi-occupied
Poland cannot be underestimated.
In this maelstrom of destruction
and death, Wojtyla's vocation and
vision of Church were formed. Later, as
pope, he would assert his country's
independence, helping bring about the
collapse of Communism.
Connected with Poland is John Paul
II's relationship with Jews. Here
Margaret Shepherd argues that John
Paul II could well be considered the
pope who did more to foster and
develop the relationship between
Catholics and Jews than any other
pope. In this, he followed the lead
of Vatican II's document Declaration
on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.
This Polish pope appeared to use his
personal relationship with his closest
childhood friend, Jerzy Kluger, a Jew,
and apply it to all of Judaism. John
Paul II's legacy toward Jews
is best captured in his visits
to the Great Synagogue
of Rome in 1986 and the
Holy Land in 2000. In both
places he reaffirmed that
God's covenant with the
Jewish people is blessed and
In regard to other world
religions, it could be said
that John Paul II speaks
admiringly and substantively
of them as well. Addressing
the pope's relationship to
Muslims, contributor Christian Troll
writes that "differences in faith and
doctrine and potentially conflictual
opposition of doctrines and truth
claims on the normative level are one
thing, the pursuit of continuing a
‘friendly' dialoguing and visiting
Similarly, with ecumenism, John
Paul II's concern for Church unity was
long-standing. Connected with this
globe-trotting pope's many pastoral
visits throughout the world usually was
an ecumenical event meant to build
Roman Catholicism's relations with
other Christian traditions.
As Jared Wicks notes, one visible
expression of this dialogue was the
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification signed by Catholics and
Lutherans in 1999. As Archbishop
Kevin McDonald emphasizes, "Ecumenism
was integral to his whole
understanding of his ministry."
Though his teachings will be argued
and debated for some time to come,
one area in which John Paul II
advanced Church teaching was in
moral theology. Unlike the physiological
or biological approach of the past,
his foundation began by acknowledging
Perhaps even more important, David
Albert Jones points out, is John Paul II's
use of Scripture in moral theology.
A theologian often associated with
Pope John Paul II is Hans Urs von
Balthasar. Though both Brendan Leahy
and John McDade agree that von
Balthasar was but one influence on
this pope, they explore the theological,
ecclesiological and Mariological connections
At times considered
by many to be conservative,
even repressive, in his
theology, in some ways
Pope John Paul II "broke
new ground and developed
some fresh lines of
thought and practice for
Catholics and, indeed, for
other Christians," says
Gerald O'Collins. He singles
out for consideration
the areas of divine revelation, human
experience, suffering and the role of
the Holy Spirit.
As pope for over a quarter century
(1978-2005), John Paul II had an undeniable
influence. His papal writings
and actions will shape Catholicism for
years to come. It is important that
Catholics (and those outside the
Church) understand better not only
his person but also his theology.
In this regard, The Legacy of John Paul
II is a clear introduction to John Paul II's
life and teachings. On the whole, the
contributors write appreciatively of his
Though several topics were left out—most notably, his teachings on social
justice—the present work is a sure guide
into any beginning studies of Pope
John Paul II.
You can order THE LEGACY OF JOHN PAUL II from St.
TAMING THE WOLF: Resolving the
Conflicts Ruining Your Life, by Greg
Stone. Pink Unicorn Publishing. 558
TAMING THE WOLF: Conflict Resolution
Journal Workbook, by Greg
Stone. Pink Unicorn Publishing. 360
Reviewed by MARY LYNNE RAPIEN,
L.P.C.C., a clinical counselor in private
practice in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a trained
mediator. She is a former youth columnist
for St. Anthony Messenger.
CONFLICT is a part of life. How we
handle conflicts determines our inner
peace and the quality of outward relationships.
In these companion works,
Greg Stone gives a framework for
resolving conflicts. The Foreword promises
that these books will "guide readers
through the conflict resolution
process, providing concepts and techniques
that can be used to overcome
the difficult challenges that impede
resolution and reconciliation." That
They are not stand-alone volumes.
Although intended for personal use,
the author acknowledges that the
reader may at some time be working
with a mediator or legal representative
to help bring about resolution.
The 19 chapters of the first book correspond
to the chapters in the Journal
From the beginning, Stone entwines
the story of St. Francis and the Wolf of
Gubbio with stages of conflict resolution.
In brief, the wolf is killing people
in Gubbio, so the people of Gubbio
want to kill the wolf. St. Francis makes
friends with both sides, discovers their
individual needs and creates a solution
that gives food to the wolf and protection
of Gubbio by the wolf. Enemies are
The book is very structured. Each
chapter begins with an excerpt from
"St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio,"
followed by a discussion of a mediation
principle. Then a Franciscan view of
that principle is presented by drawing
an example from the life of Francis or
a contemporary Franciscan.
Chapters end with
relevant Scripture passages.
There is much valuable
information in Taming the
Wolf. But it reads more like
a textbook than a self-help
book for the average person
struggling with conflict.
Readers would have
to have above-average
education to handle the
material—or have a counselor
walk them through it.
The other obstacle would be spiritual
maturity. My suspicion is that
many struggling folks would be left in
While the author says the book is
not intended as a manual for mediators
(which is the author's specialty), it
would work well for that purpose.
The Journal Workbook is daunting.
For one who has the discipline to work
through it, however, the reward would
be a better understanding of self and
confidence in one's ability to approach
conflicts in a constructive way.
The Journal Workbook begins with
the pre-convening stage and goes
through reconciliation. The journal
questions are comprehensive, perhaps
too much so. Hopefully, the insights
and skills gained from the text and
journaling should provide a framework
that would carry over into other conflict
The criticism that there can be too
much of a good thing would apply
to Taming the Wolf. At times, the
excerpts from the Gubbio story seem
forced. While the "Franciscan
View" brings a spiritual
depth to the topics,
the mediation principles
could stand alone. (That
is not to deny the role of
the spiritual in reconciliation
On a practical note, the Workbook is spiral-bound,
so it lies flat for writing.
The chapters, which correspond
to the chapters in
the book, are easy to find
because of the prompts in black, visible
on the sides of the pages.
The Journal Workbook could be of
tremendous help to someone struggling
with a particular aspect of conflict.
It would be most effective if the
seeker had a spiritual director or counselor
to guide the process.
Greg Stone has provided a valuable
resource book for conflict resolution
of inner and social conflicts. His Journal
Workbook provides another tool. For
the average person, there may be more
You can order TAMING THE WOLF: Resolving the
Conflicts Ruining Your Life and TAMING THE WOLF: Conflict Resolution
Journal Workbook from St. Francis Bookstore.