A Book of Saints

I’ve just finished reading the sixth edition of Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons & Feasts, sent to me by the Catholic Company. Edited by Leonard Foley, OFM, and revised by Pat McCloskey, OFM, the book is the “cooperative effort ot Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province and the staff of St. Anthony Messenger Press.” Not having read prior editions of this book, I can’t compare this edition to earlier ones, but it is clear that the book has been updated to include some more recent saints, including the recently canonized Damien of Molokai.

For each entry, the book includes a short biography, some statemnt about what the life of the saint in question teaches us about our own lives and some passage for reflection – either a scriptural passage, some words of the waing or words of another writer. The book also includes entries for a number of Marian feasts.

Like most books of this type, Saint of the Day is not meant to be read cover to cover in a single or a few sittings. One can, of course, simply keep it as a reference to learn something about a particular saint as his or her solemnity, feast or memorial arises. Or, it can serve as an aid for (almost) daily reflection on the lives of some well-known and some lesser known saints.

Not surprisingly, I found the entries to vary in their quality and usefulness. The biographies tend to be too short to provide more than a bare sketch of the live of the saint in question. For saints I knew nothing about, I did learn some “basics.” For saints with whom I am already familiar, there was nothing that added to my store of knowledge. What I often found useful were the quotes, which almost always gave me some grist for reflection.

Despite the fact that the bios were too short for my tastes, I think this is the sort of book worth having. I think the saints have a lot to teach us and fear that they occupy too small a place in the lives of most Catholics. The biographies, comments and quotes in this book offer a good start for developing a relationship on some of those who have come before us.