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on 3 November 1998
We are all called to be saints, regardless of the religion we profess. To serve God is to serve one another - there is no other way. Robert Ellsberg shows that there are as many roads to sainthood as there are people who love God. The people profiled here come from all faiths, ages, occupations, nations. Some are mystical, some mythical, some famous and others obscure, some are remarkable and others more ordinary. They are all, as are we, revelations of God's love and presence in our world, yesterday, today, and forever. This book is Ellsberg's gift for all of us looking to serve God in our day to day lives; it's wonderful to read first thing in the morning if one is given to morning prayer. It could also hold the interest of those among us less interested in the formalities and dogmas of established religions and yet drawn to spirituality and advocacy in the world. Noteworthy are the icons by Robert Lentz - I wish they graced more than just the cover of the book.
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on 23 July 1999
All Saints is truly remarkable. While there are many traditional collections honoring Catholic saints, this is the first I have seen that is truly catholic (universal) in embracing many different traditions and the best of those traditions. Ellsburg's book reminds me that saints are made, not born. Each day I am presented with the story of some man or woman who struggled to grow in relationship with God and to live well in the world around him/her. Many advocates of social justice and modern "saints" (as modern as the 90s) are included here, which is wonderful to see. I have ordered many copies for family and friends! No one who knows the value of role models should be without one.
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on 15 April 1998
While one could fill a bookcase with one-volume guides to the saints, this new publication both takes a refreshing, innovative approach in its choice of spiritual models and sets new standards of such writing. Over one or two of the book's large-format pages, Robert Ellsberg presents each of his 365 insightful portraits of men and women who present inspiring and challenging role models for today's Christian. His selection puts individuals traditionally celebrated as saints alongside others also recognized today as spiritual giants, including some from non-Christian faiths.
The profiles are presented one per day, often on their official feast days, if this applies. At the end of each entry, Ellsberg provides one or two well-chosen suggestions for further reading. An index makes the book a useful reference, in addition to it being rich spiritual reading.
The merits of 'All Saints' were well captured by Henri Nouwen when he commented on a draft version of the book prior to his death (Nouwen himself receives an entry in the finished book): 'This book is a great treasure. Though not pious it is spiritually evocative; though untraditional, it is consistent with the larger Catholic tradition. While broadening the traditional vision of sanctity it calls us to explore our own ways of becoming a saint. I consider Robert Ellsberg to be one of the most significant spiritual writers in the United States, and this book puts him right into the center of contemporary spiritual literature.'
Ellsberg is editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and has written and edited a number of award-winning books, including works on Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi. In 'All Saints' he has produced a compendium of holy lives that will truly speak to and inspire today's women and men. [A Selection of the John Garratt Catholic Book Club.]
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on 10 June 1998
This is a masterpiece and unique of its kind. William Blake? (August 12) Flannery O'Connor? (August 3) Mary, Mother of Jesus (January 1). There are 365 of them and the vignettes are thoroughly researched. Ellsberg writes like an angel. Cheez, where has this Ellsberg been all my life? This is a "vade-mecum" if there ever was one. I can't wait to see it every morning. In his Frontispiece, he quotes Thomas Merton (December 10), "There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun." Robert Ellsberg has sure got me looking.
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on 7 January 1998
I have always been attracted to books of "lives of the saints" but have always been disappointed by the author's "collection". Often the "saint" makes the collection because they were undeniably orthodox or their passion was plastered over to make them presentable. The collections were eurocentric, patriarchal, & pious reflecting a narrow, self-satisfied god. Ellsberg's "All Asaints" is happily all-inclusive, revealing the myriad facets of God, the Lover of Creation. The sole standard which the author seems to use is how the individual manifested his/her relationship with God by pursuing agape between desperate communities via prayer, mysticism, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, social justice, political empowerment, education, gender equity, environmentalism, healthcare, journalism, communication, and good ol'-fashion "Speaking to the Truth". Ellsberg's "all saints" are people of passion & compassion--flesh & blood & spirit. The book is intelligently written, with suggestions for further reading. I unreservedly recommend this book. Seldom has a book so resonated with me--I read it before my evening devotions & it draws me into the heart of prayer. Kudos!
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on 9 June 1998
Ellsberg has not only made wise choices, he has presented his saints, witnesses and modern day prophets in a concise readable format. We gather insights from the lives of contemporary greats such as Karl Rahner and Karl Barth, and spirituality from Chief Seattle whose wisdom has much to teach us (as do all the highlighted lives). Ellsberg gives us glimpses of holiness in people like Flannery O'Connor who commented, "There won't be any biographies of me because... life spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy." Each story begins with a quotation for those of us who appreciate a quote a day along with a short biographical sketch and ends with a reference at the bottom of each section. Ellsberg has truly compiled a "communion of saints" from all traditions that may very well be his contribution to a continuing ecumenical dialogue.
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on 30 April 1998
When you hear lives of the saints you think of the gruesome martyrdom and hard to believe virtues of the stories of the little red book from your youth. Ellsberg does a good job portraying in believeable terms the lives of the traditional saints, with those of not official saints of today. The relevance of their situations and heroism can set an example for those living in the modern world. Since no biograghy is more than 2 pages, its a great 1 minute exercise at the start of your day when an inspiring thought can help
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on 21 July 2012
This is a really worthwhile purchase - a 'saint' for the day. Read an inspiring story about an inspiring person before you get out of bed, or before you turn off the bedside light. The stories themselves are well-written, thought-provoking and insightful, the cast of characters from all over the world. Not all are 'Saints' in the Roman Catholic sense of the word, though most are - these 'saints' include non-Christians, and non-Catholic Christians. This is one book I think I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
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on 24 September 2011
As all the reviews in the book say, these daily reflections are so varied and diverse. This is a remarkable collection of people who followed their own call from God. In this secular modern world to read a little of this big book is inspiring and warming. Buy it.
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on 23 November 1998
This book does an admirable job of telling the inspired stories of a wide-variety of Catholic (e.g. Dorothy Day, Romero, etc.) and non-Catholic (e.g. Camus, Gandhi, etc.) "saints" and heroes. He presents them as individual meditations of 2 or 3 pages. The scope is extraordinary and generally balanced, though certainly centered around the central figures of Catholicism. Perhaps out of respect, on occasion he shys away from acknowledging debate or controversy around a figure. He takes it pretty easy on Thomas Merton, for example, by failing to acknowledge his possible suicide or some of the details of his alleged affair. In a world near-saturated with tabloid trash, this would be refreshing if it did not also detract from the fallibility and humanity of the characters he presents. The book, nevertheless, is far from a hagiography and well-worth a place on the nightstand of those of any faith.
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