Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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David Matzko McCarthy – Sharing God’s Good Company

David Matzko McCarthy

Sharing God’s Good Company

ISBN: 9780 8028 6709 4

Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2012, pp174, £18.99

The subtitle of this book is: ‘A Theology of the Communion of Saints’. The author focuses on the place of saints in Christian experience. He explores the meaning of the word ‘saint’, noting their wide variety, which ranges from the most attractive to the mildly eccentric, not forgetting those whom modern scholarship has confined to the realms of legend.

Despite their undeniable diversity, he discerns something of a ‘family likeness’ among saints. He asserts that this is not because of the charitable and various good works that they perform, but because of their closeness to God through their lives of holiness. He gives special place to the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘an exemplar of faith and love’ and he commends the use of the Rosary in prayer, though in his outline of this devotion he does not mention the Luminous Mysteries which were added by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

The author maintains that saints should not be identified with heroes. Some saints are antiheroes (this is a word which one seldom meets, except when describing a character in a film or play!) and he gives as an example St Thérèse of Lisieux, whose ‘little way’ led her to do nothing extraordinary in this life, though her closeness to God led the Catholic Church to recognize her as one of its saints.

If this line of thought is given the consideration that it deserves, there could be some changes in the shape of the Church’s calendar. In recent revisions there has been a tendency to promote the names of those who have been prominent in Christian history and to bypass the lesser known saints who have quietly lived out their lives of holiness.

Martin SSF