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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reflecting on a Plan of Life for 2017

Fr. Robert Hugh Benson
I'm reflecting on my spiritual goals for 2017. After reading a little pamphlet by the famous priest-convert Robert Hugh Benson on The Friendship of Christ, I've decided to focus on the saints and choose a different saint or group of saints to study each month. After all, they are the ones who excelled in the school of friendship with Christ so what better teachers can one have except Christ Himself? And since Christ is the friend who never fails I think I'll also do a daily reading from the Imitation of Christ. I've always loved that little book and actually memorized a bit that I pray after Communion.

But I also want to know Christ's close friends better, more than as the go-to helpers to find lost objects (St. Anthony) or pray for friends with special needs (e.g., St. Gerard Majella for women in childbirth) or for the survival of our bee colonies (St. Ambrose and St. Valentine). I want to get to know at least a few of the saints more intimately especially Mary.

And, in fact, I have a large library of saint biographies, autobiographies, and writings and devotions of the saints so there's no lack of material available.

But where to start? There are so many!

I think I'll begin with the Fathers of the Church for January and read Pope Benedict XVI's book, The Fathers, which is a collection of his weekly general audience teachings from March 2007 to February 2008. It begins with St. Clement, the third pope after St. Peter (Remember the Roman Canon where we ask the intercession of "Linus, Cletus, Clement, etc.") and ends 26 chapters later with St. Augustine. What a compendium of wise men! Each reading is relatively short so perhaps I will move from there to choose some for more in-depth study. I'm not planning out the whole year. I'll let the Holy Spirit surprise me and see whom He inspires me to choose as companions on the journey. It's kind of exciting to think about it.

Do you have a plan for 2017?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mary Ann,

First things first: Thank you for your blog which I read regularly.

Second: you mention that you intend to get to know different saints. Please may I suggest one for you, as he is my favourite: St Thomas More. The reason St Thomas is my favourite is that so many of the topics he writes about are so very topical today.

I am studying for a postgraduate degree on fear in More’s works, so I have come to discover many of his other topics as well. Obviously fear and martyrdom stand out. But he also writes on themes such as money, illness, pain, prison, fortune, complaining, sin, vice/virtue, temptation, death, purgatory, heaven and hell to name a few. His comments on St Peter are also very interesting. There are many other themes.

Unfortunately, most of these topics only occur within his works, rather than as separate chapters/works.

Of More’s works readily available, I recommend A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, written in the Tower. There is also his unfinished The Last Things, written c1522, and De Tristitia Christi [The Sadness of Christ].

There are also a huge number of biographies. The ones I recommend are those by Roper (More’s son-in-law), Stapleton (born in July 1535, the month of More’s execution) and of more modern ones, in order of preference, those of Gerard B Wegemer, Peter Ackroyd and E E Reynolds. Reynolds also wrote a biography of More’s fellow martyr Bishop John Fisher.

I hope that this inspires you concerning St Thomas.

Best wishes,

Catherine Donner