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on 9 December 2012
'My Life with the Saints' is a book for anyone seeking inspiration from the saints. Rather than a dry, heavy re-telling of the lives of saints, full of pious details that most modern readers will struggle to relate to, Fr James Martin SJ instead provides us with a beautiful and personal anthology of the saints.

This is no ordinary book about saints. 'My Life with the Saints', as the title implies, describes the life of Fr Martin and how he came to meet various saints. By writing about the saints in the order that he came to know them, you can't help but feel as though you are taking a journey with Martin, living his life with him, and thus discovering these saints with him. The way the lives of the saints are interwoven with anecdotes and relevant tales from Martin's own life serves to reveal the impact the lives of the saints can have on someone. The saints should, after all, be our inspiration and yet often they feel unfamiliar, so holy and living a life so different from our own that it can be hard to relate them to our modern lives. And yet Martin somehow makes them modern again. As a Jesuit priest, he has many diverse experiences to draw from and therefore manages to set an example of how we can discover the saints in the most unlikely of places and at the most surprising times.

Martin tells the lives of the saints like a good story: he gives you characters so fleshy you feel like you know them, situations so real that you can find yourself relating to them, and enough details to make you interested. The way he writes is almost as though he's talking to a friend, and he will have you wanting to cry in sympathy at times and laughing out loud at others.

The great thing about Martin's way of looking at the saints is that it shows you how YOU can be a saint. The way he describes their lives, with their various blessings and troubles, they could easily have lived in the 21st century (if you change a few key details of course!) and in that way he makes them more real. By making the saints real, it finally makes being one yourself seem achievable. He also makes it abundantly clear that by becoming a saint, we are not called to be Mother Teresa, or St Francis, or Dorothy Day, or countless other saints. We are called only to be ourselves. This, I think, is the real treasure of this book.

My favourite part, however, wasn't how much I learned about the saints, or realising that becoming a saint doesn't mean changing my personality. The best bit of this book for me was the inclusion of the real stories from real people. These are people Martin met, people whose stories intertwined with his around the time he discovered a particular saint, and somehow it was these people that inspired me the most. There were the women prisoners who spoke for hours in Spanish about Our Lady, not because she was the mother of God or conceived without sin or any of the other amazing things about her - it was Mary, the woman, a real person they as women and mothers could relate to. There were the refugees he met in East Africa who worked hard to become businesswomen and sell items to tourists, turning their lives around by using their God-given talents. There was the community of nuns he met also whilst in East Africa who served Christ by finding employment in all the menial jobs that no one else wanted and evangelising to those who worked with them. And how I could forget the Brother who worked with gangs in Chicago, standing in the middle of gun fights to stop the gangs from fighting. These people, these very real people who find God in whatever circumstance they happen to find themselves in, these are the saints that inspired me the most. These are the living saints, people who have already been inspired by the saints of heaven to follow God completely. These were the people who made the book even more fantastic and memorable.

I can't describe how grateful I am for this book. All I can say is this: Read it. Whether you're drawn to the saints or to the holy men and women of today, you'll find something in there that will truly inspire you.
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on 13 March 2014
This is a well written book which allows the reader to learn basic background about saints across almost 2000 years. It is written from an American perspective which actually made it more interesting and covered people who many of us on this side of the Atlantic may not have heard of. For example, it does a nice summarised version of Dorothy Day which may actually inspire you to read Dorothy's own story in 'The long lonliness'. It also does a nice summarised version of the story of Bernadette which should inspire you to read the full biography of Bernadette. I enjoyed the little personal narrative that the author attached to the story of each saint. The only reason I did not give five stars was because potential readers might search for some of the 'saints' covered and discover that they are not 'formal' saints as decreed by the Catholic Church - even thought there can be no doubt that they ARE saints.
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on 9 September 2015
This is a very readable book. James Martin has chosen a range of people to write about. some are well known saints , others are people he puts forward as having lives dedicated to God. He ties this in with episodes in his own life when these saints have been particularly important to him. Add to his that he tells us a great deal about the Jesuits through his own story, and one has a fascinating book which prompts one to reflect on one's own life story and journey to God.
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on 28 December 2013
An easy read and a great way to find out about some of our most popular saints. Written with humour and a light touch. Could not put it down.
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on 15 September 2015
I enjoyed this book. Prob not as much as "the Jesuit guide to almost everything". However I thought it was a good read.
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on 9 September 2015
Excellent - another inspiring work by Fr James Martin SJ. Kudos and thanks.
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on 3 February 2016
Very easy reading and thought provoking!
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on 6 January 2016
Really enjoyed Fr Martins book.
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