facebook icon twitter icon

Entries in book review (4)


Ordinary People Love This  Book

While relaxing at our lake house in mid-December, I came across New York Times’ bestselling author Matthew Kelly’s 2018 book, “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity”.  The jarring title together with the claim on the book jacket that “ordinary people love this book”, piqued my interest and I began my search for the answer.  The book’s short, entertaining chapters kept me turning pages, until in chapter six, I found the answer.

In referring to the biggest lie, Kelly explains, “This lie is not one that non-Christians tell.  It’s a lie we tell ourselves as Christians”.  The lie concerns holiness. Kelly asserts, “The great majority of modern Christians don’t actually believe that holiness is possible”.  We think that maybe grandparents and saints of old reached holiness but never us.

The author spends the rest of the chapters debunking the notion that holiness is not possible for everyone.  He also explains in practical terms how to strive for holiness.  Such holiness is the antidote to the anger and ill will that is consuming today’s society and thwarting positive attitudes and the desire for peace.

Take up this easy to read book and you will learn the art of what Kelly calls the “Holy Moment”.  I think he has rebranded a concept that is as old as humanity.  In referring to the holy moment, Kelly cautions, “This single, profound, beautiful truth will change your life forever”.  It has the possibility to transform our ailing world.

I’m so convinced of the value of reading “The Biggest Lie the History of Christianity”, that this Christmas, I sent a copy to all ten of my nieces and nephews.  I’m a believer, trying to live Holy Moments every day.

By Jean Moylan, csj


A Mystery for the New Year - A Book  Review

To Die But Once   by: Jacqueline Winspear

This is the latest book in a series of mystery stories, woven around tales during the months of the second World War following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. Maisie Dobbs, the main character, is a private investigator, in England, who has two assistants, Sandra and Billy.

The combination of fact, events detailing the second world war, and fiction, the mystery story that has been threaded through this novel, results in a very interesting read.

I look forward each year as Winspear continues to involve Maisie Dobbs in the next adventure in such a way that it like listening to yet another new and suspenseful tale told by a friend.

Although the Maisie Dobbs books are published yearly 2003 -2018  (with one exception, 2014), the author keeps the reader informed about past events in a very succinct and helpful manner. Her novels have been on the New York Times bestseller several times and readers wait for the next book in the Maisie Dobbs series to appear. I encourage you to join the Maisie Dobbs fan club!

- Sister Valerie Van Cauwenberghe


Let Darkness Bury the  Dead

Maureen Jennings’ mystery, Let Darkness Bury the Dead, (2017) is a Murdock Mystery. I did not choose this novel because of the story, but rather because I like Maureen Jennings’ writing and the Murdock character she has created.  It turned out that the novel is a story of the First World War, 100 years ago. I finished reading the novel just before Remembrance Day.

This story presents a very good description of the hardships and horrors of the Great War as well as a vivid portrayal of Victorian life in Toronto Ontario.

Murdock’s young son, 21 years old, has returned from France having personally experienced the scars of battle along with his friend who also is suffering from the horror of war. Meanwhile, Murdock, a senior detective, is called upon to solve a series of murders of men who were exempted from conscription. The author has woven the details of the events of the war into the story in a way that captivates the reader.   

Poetry and historical excerpts also play an important part in the telling of this story. It is a very interesting read.

- Sr. Valerie Van Cauwenberghe, csj


A Saint for our Times

Why yet another book on Hildegard of Bingen, especially by Matthew Fox who has written, lectured, and conducted workshops about her for over 25 years?

Perhaps timing is part of the story. Hildegard is a ‘come lately’ to the saints and doctors of the Catholic church being canonized in October 2012. Wryly Fox wonders if the Church knew what it was in for when admitting this strong, challenging mystic to the proclaimed saints/doctors of the church. 

This book honours a remarkably gifted woman: writer, poet, painter, musician, outspoken critic of the errors of the Church, spiritual leader and holy mystic. Further, as Fox presents Hildegard to us, he develops his belief that just as she shook the world of the 12th century, she can stir up that of the 21st.

Fox links Hildegard to Mary Oliver in terms of a Cosmic Christ; to Howard Thurman in believing in a God of life and Light; and to Einstein in her belief in the ‘marriage of science and spirituality. The context of Hildegard, that of the Rhineland mystics, speaks to the mysticism of our age while comparisons with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes link her with Wisdom, Creativity and the Holy Spirit…not to mention the Divine Feminine. Throughout, Fox presents her posing questions and stating positions that resonate with us now.

Hildegard of Bingen comes to life in this book especially if you are meeting her for the first time.  As Fox says in his subtitle, we can “unleash her power for the 21st century”.



Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.