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The Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings [Paperback]

By Bert Ghezzi (Author)
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Item Number 158142  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   816
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.18" Height: 1.71"
Weight:   2.29 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 2002
Publisher   Image
ISBN  0385491824  
EAN  9780385491822  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The inspiring stories of 365 holy men and women-from the best known to some of the most obscure-come to life in an engaging collection of biographical profiles, quotations from the saints themselves, meditations, and prayers.

Voices of the Saints opens with an instruction from Saint Philip Neri: "The best preparation for prayer is to read the lives of the saints, not from mere curiosity, but quietly and with recollection a little at a time. And to pause whenever you feel your heart touched with devotion."

With these words of faith and wisdom as his guiding principle, Bert Ghezzi presents the lives of such familiar and beloved saints as Saint Peter and Saint Catherine of Siena; Saint Jerome and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux; of humble, little-known figures like Felix of Nola, Pelagia the Penitent, and Leonard of Port Maurice; and of sainted men and women associated with a particular place, including Margaret of Scotland, Rose of Lima, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Junípero Serra.  In lively profiles written for contemporary readers, Ghezzi chronicles their journeys of faith and their contributions to the vitality of the Church.  The voices of the saints resound throughout the book, in quotations drawn from their own writings, the works of biographers, and the recollections of witnesses.

Readers can use Voices of the Saints in several different ways.  Organized alphabetically, it serves as a helpful, easy-to-use dictionary.  It also features a day-by-day numbering system, ideal for daily readings; notations at the end of each entry, enabling the exploration of the lives in historical order; an index that highlights particular themes (including the intriguing "Porcupine Saints"), and a calendar of saints' days.  A fascinating look at disparate and unusual lives-each one a rich source of illumination, inspiration, encouragement, and motivation-along with prayers and meditations, Voices of the Saints is a valuable companion for members of Catholic, Episcopal, and other traditional churches, and an enlightening introduction to the saints for general readers.

From the Hardcover edition.
Advance praise for Voices of the Saints:

"If you are a 'saint watcher' this is the book for you, with a totally new arrangement permitting one to look up themes and calendars as well as the names of saints. This represents a unique step forward in biographies of the saints.  The quotations supplied are also fascinating and worthwhile for meditation.  A book to keep where you make your daily meditations."  
-Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR  author of The Journey Toward God

From the Hardcover edition.
Bert Ghezzi is the author of twelve previous books, most of them focusing on family, spirituality, and faith. He is the Editorial Director of Servant Publications and divides his time between Winter Park, Florida, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

From the Hardcover edition.
Aelred of Rievaulx

(1110 - 1167)

How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers together!

--Ps 133:1 NJB

Although St. Aelred lived a millennium ago, his life and writings have a distinctively contemporary feel. An extremely competent administrator of Rievaulx, a vast Yorkshire abbey in Northern England, yet even more a spiritual father to hundreds of men, had we met Aelred we would identify him with Pope John XXIII or Carlo Martini, the archbishop of Milan, Italy. Like these beloved shepherds of the modern church, Aelred loved his flock and was much loved in return. As I was walking around the cloisters, he said, all the brothers were sitting together. And in the whole throng I could not find one whom I did not love and by whom I was not loved.

As a writer, too, Aelred seems to address our modern concerns and sensibilities. In his teaching that the interior life is communal--that we move from self and sin to find God in community--we might imagine we are hearing Henri J. M. Nouwen or Dorothy Day. Consider, for example, Aelred's reflections on how spiritual friendship leads us to Christ:

It is no small consolation in this life to have someone who can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love. Someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whose pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow. To the dear breast of whose friendship, amidst the many troubles of the world, you can safely retire. A person who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart. A person who, though absent in body, is yet present in spirit, where heart to heart you can talk to him, where the sweetness of the Spirit flows between you, where you so join yourself and cleave to him that soul mingles with soul and two become one.

And so praying to Christ for your friend, and longing to be heard by Christ for your friend's sake, you reach out with devotion and desire to Christ himself. And suddenly and insensibly, as though touched by the gentleness of Christ close at hand, you begin to taste how sweet he is and to feel how lovely he is. Thus from that holy love with which you embrace your friend, you rise to that love by which you embrace Christ.

From 1147 to 1167, Aelred governed 150 choir monks and 500 lay brothers at the Cistercian abbey at Rievaulx. He ruled firmly, but with kindness. In two decades he did not dismiss even one person from the monastery. Although constantly suffering from kidney stones, Aelred visited many other abbeys, extending his gentle influence throughout western monasticism. Encouraged by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, he wrote numerous books, including The Mirror of Charity and On Spiritual Friendship. For the last four years of his life, illness confined him to a cell attached to the abbey where small groups of monks daily sought his counsel. He died on January 12, 1167.

I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master's business. I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father. You did not choose me, no I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last . . . My command to you is to love one another. --Jn 15:15-17 NJB

January 12 / Go to Thomas Becket. / Go back to Hildegard of Bingen.

2 Agnes (d. 304?)

"A new kind of martyrdom!" exclaimed St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. The assembly cheered and applauded. He was celebrating St. Agnes because she was a virgin, a martyr--and a child. She was executed at Rome in 304 during the Emperor Diocletian's vicious persecution. Here are Ambrose's observations on her death:

St. Agnes is said to have suffered martyrdom at age twelve. The cruelty that did not spare so young a child was hateful, but the power of faith in the child was greater. Was there room for a wound in that small body? The sword could barely strike her, yet she had the inner strength to strike back. Girls of her age usually can't even bear a parent's angry glance. They cry at needles' pricks as though they were wounds. Agnes, however, faced her persecutors fearlessly. When they attempted to force her to worship at the pagan altars, she stretched out her hands and made the sign of the cross over the sacrificial fires. She was not fazed by the heavy weight of the chains they wrapped around her. And she freely offered her body to the executioner's sword.

The executioner used both threats and allurements to try to change her mind. He encouraged young men to beg her to marry them. But she answered, "I already have a spouse, and I will not offend him by pretending that another might please me. I will give myself only to him who first chose me. So, executioner, what are you waiting for? Destroy this body that unwanted eyes desire."

Agnes stood and prayed. Then she bent down her neck. The executioner trembled as though he himself had been condemned. His right hand shook and his face grew pale, but the virgin showed no fear at all.

So in one victim we have a twofold martyrdom of purity and faith, for Agnes both remained a virgin and also obtained martyrdom.

Historians say that legends have embroidered the few facts we know about Agnes. But the stories are rooted in actual events and convey kernels of truth about her. These legends tell that Agnes was a beautiful and soon-to-be-marriageable young woman. Many eager young men pursued her, but she rebuffed them because she had consecrated her virginity to Christ.

One spurned suitor took revenge by reporting to the authorities that Agnes was a Christian. She was brought before a judge who tried to persuade her to recant. He threatened her with fire and torture, but she did not flinch. Then he had her stripped at a brothel and urged young men to seduce her. "You may stain your sword with my blood," she said, "but you will never profane my body that I have consecrated to Christ." All were so stunned by her presence that only one boy tried to touch her. Legend says he was struck blind, and that Agnes healed him.

Exasperated and egged on by her first accuser, the governor ordered her execution. Agnes was taken to the Stadium of Domitian, where she courageously faced a nervous soldier who hacked her to death with his sword. Over the centuries the little virgin martyr became one of the most popular saints in Christian history.

St. Agnes's death was "a new kind of martyrdom!" She taught us adults the meaning of valor while she was still a child. Agnes hurried to the place of her execution more joyfully than a bride goes to her wedding. And she was adorned not with plaited hair, but with Christ himself.

--St. Ambrose

January 21 / Patron of girls. / Go to Eulalia of Merida. / Go back to George of Lydda.

From the Hardcover edition.

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More About Bert Ghezzi

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bert Ghezzi, who holds a PhD in history from the University of Notre Dame, is a popular speaker and author who has written nearly twenty books, including Mystics and Miracles, The Sign of the Cross, Keeping Your Kids Catholic, and Voices of the Saints. He is currently an acquisitions editor for Our Sunday Visitor. He and his wife reside in Winter Park, Florida.

Bert Ghezzi currently resides in Winter Park, in the state of Florida. Bert Ghezzi was born in 1941.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
This will become a classic reference for its topic  Aug 13, 2004
Bravo to the author! In an age increasinly bare of heroes, it's helpful to look backward to read about these very human creatures who, through grace and faith, moved beyond what we think of as 'do-able'and established Rules, schools, hospitals, monasteries and colonies, or who did none of those 'great' things but showed us, instead, how to build interiorly, in faith. I am particularly happy to see the author's habit of pointing out those qualities of a saint which shout of their flawed humanity, thus joining them with us. These are not pastel-flavored hagiographies but strong, bold portraits of strong, bold people - from both ancient and modern times. A job well done, and yes, this is an excellent gift idea, especially for a family raising young people. Give it to them and tell them to put it on the coffee table. I did that and I'm very gratified when I see my kids pick it up and thumb through it, reading a little here, a little there. It is highly readable, and a good thing to 'keep around'.
A Superlative Work  Jan 22, 2001
I am immensely impressed with Voices of the Saints, which I began reading on January 1 of this year. I have been reading the lives of the Saints by various authors and publishers, including Butler, every day for the past two decades of my life, but I can wholeheartedly proclaim that this book is by far the best, bar none. Most of the renditions I have read paint the Saints with hard to reach (and even harder to obtain) halos, like Blessed Fra Angelico paintings set to words. Bert Ghezzi's account brings the Saints to life--to ordinary human life, with all of its foibles, struggles, and in the end for them...victory. The truly human element in each of these literary portraits, which is brought home by the well-chosen quotations, makes each Saint a true inspiration to the "bumbling their way through" masses like me. His comments on each Saint are insightful and inspired, the writing and research are scholarly yet approachable, and the organization of the book (which allows one to read it by any one of three logical methods) makes this an immensely satisfying book to read. My wife and I look forward to delving into it each day, as Bert Ghezzi invites us to share the lot of the Saints in Light!
A Present for the Year  Dec 16, 2000
I was given this book as a gift and picked it up with the intention of giving it a welcoming glance and, then, putting it away to use as my devotional book for 2001. I couldn't put the book down. It is a wonderful book--at turns profound, intelligent, poignant, and witty (Yes, witty). Ghezzi's style is concise, graceful, and articulate. This book would make a great present, one your loved ones will enjoy for many years.
Voices worth hearing  Dec 15, 2000
There's no one who knows the saints better and no one who dazzles with a story as well as Bert Ghezzi. These are readings and stories about people who could live next door, the kind of people you invite over for a cook out and a beer. With the multitude of voices contending for attention in our world these voices are worth hearing and spending time with. This is a jewel.
Past Worlds for this Present Day  Nov 17, 2000
Reading "Voices of the Saints" is like taking a nostalgic trip back into history with a personal tour guide and meeting some of the most colorful and heroic personalities who ever lived. Bert Ghezzi recreates the lives and character of the saints so vividly I felt I were meeting each saint in the flesh. Ghezzi places the saints in their native settings and skillfully reconstructs their worlds through the sights, sounds, and political and religious sensitivities of their times. I especially liked the quotes and writings in the saint's own "voices," providing relevant glimpses of their joys, hardships and aspirations through their own passionate hearts and keen intellects. More than just a digest, this book opens a door to a close association with each saint that intrigues, touches and teaches. Sitting down with "Voices" creates a way to know these grand and holy people in intimate ways not otherwise possible. Pass this one down. Worthwhile, for years to come.

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