Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles by Raymond Arroyo.  Michael picked up this book at the Irondale, AL monastery gift shop and read it in record time. I'm not surprised. Mother's life reads like a novel, full of unexpected twists and turns. I feel a bit sheepish that I didn't know much about her given that I listen to EWTN every chance I get.

I was so inspired reading her life story. Rita Rizzo was an unwanted child. Her father abandoned them. Her mother, depressed, clung to Rita, so much so that when she was sure she was being called to serve God, she had to do it on the sly. She left a note for her mother. Rita had a sharp tongue, a short temper, and bad health, not the stuff nuns are made of. Yet, God called this contemplative nun to share the Good News all over the world. And she said Yes. The love she has for Jesus overflows from the pages of this book. And it is this very love that causes problems for her. Mother fights with everybody including bishops behaving badly. I never realized how messed up things were.

This is a wonderful book about a woman who abandoned herself to God. Some wit and wisdom from Mother herself:

"Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach."

"Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous."

"Boldness should be the eleventh commandment."

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme. I picked this up at Goodwill and the pages spill over with Julia's joie de vivre. I love how she dives into everything with both feet. This is another story of doing what you love, not counting the cost, but letting the chips fall where they may. The first half of the book reminded me of our time in Europe. Michael and I were like Paul and Julia, without kids, and highly indulgent. Our chief indulgence was gastronomical and even now, we have a tremendous appetite for good food and wine. We often spend an entire day cooking a gourmet meal. Our children are thoroughly spoiled and often sound like Anton Ego, the food critic from Ratatouille.

The second half of the book is about writing and publishing and experimenting and collaborating. But most of all, it's about persevering. What a magnum opus! I do not own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (my tastes run more towards Italian/Greek/Thai/Indian) but I have checked it out to learn some techniques and I just may get it for Dagny, who has a great love of cooking and would enjoy a book like this ... which is, I quote the editor-in-chief at Houghton Mifflin now  ... your manuscript is a work of culinary science as much as of culinary art. However ...  Yes, a rejection.

So write what you love, take all the time with it, and never give up!

A Story of Anti-Christ by Vladimir Sergaevitch Soloviev. This short story was published near the end of Soloviev's life in 1900. Today I doubt this could be published. It reads like a narrative outline, but the broad strokes are disturbingly true.

Briefly, after Japanese domination, Europe unites into a United States of Europe. A charismatic leader comes to the forefront preaching peace and unity. What's fascinating is that he does not denounce Jesus, but instead appreciates His teachings. "Christ brought the sword; I shall bring peace. Christ threatened the earth with the Day of Judgment. But I shall be the last judge, and my judgment will be not only that of justice but also that of mercy." However, he reduces Jesus and the Church to a good person and great institution, instead of the way to salvation. You see, there is no need for salvation since people are to help one another from earthly misery. Sound familiar? I will say no more. You can read the entire story here.

I will not forget this book in a long time and will always be suspicious of anyone who speaks too much of peace or becoming vegetarian.

I have several more books to share, but I'll save those for another time. What good books, bad books or disturbing books have you read lately?


Faith E. Hough said...

Thanks for the round-up! I haven't read any of these, though the first is on my dad's shelf where I can borrow it whenever I like. :)
like Anton Ego--mine do, too. I think we've watched too many cooking shows on Hulu for our movie nights, because suddenly I'll hear, "Well, Mama, this tastes pretty good, but I'm not fond of your presentation." !
(On the plus side, food shows really make them eager to try new foods. So maybe I'll just have some humble pie for dessert after my poorly presented meals. :)

Leandra Wallace said...

Oh, Ratatouille! That movie always makes me so hungry- which in retrospect seems a little weird since a rat's the main character... Heh, oh well! And Mother Angelica sounds like a pistol. =)

Mirka Breen said...

I hope it isn't sacrilege to say I never cared for Julia's recopies, and I did try many. But her personality? A national treasure.

Marcia said...

What a very nice round-up of books. The last one gives me chills. "Anti" is likely to be very subtle, I think.

Vijaya said...

Angelica is with a friend right now as well :) You sounds so much more patient when it comes to the food critics. My family gets black looks from me.

Ratatouille is one of our all-time favorite movies even though I'm not a fan of animation of any kind in general. The last scene when they prepare the meal is so very imaginative. And yeah, Mother Angelica could dish it out! There's a photo of her giving black looks on TV.

Mirka, well, then we can both be sacrilegious :) I find the French style ridiculously complicated. But her book is fabulous! What passion!

Marcia, bingo on the anti. The devil likes to distort Truth, make it sound nice and reasonable. It's a fascinating book, though also creepy.

Johnell said...

All of these books sound fascinating. Thanks for sharing them. I love Ratatouille!