Book Review: Patience of a Saint

Greeley 2
It might seem a bit odd to review a book that was published almost 30 years ago and that I’ve read many times before.  But having recently re-read Patience of a Saint by Father Andrew Greeley, who died in 2013, I wanted to talk about him and his writing.
patience of a saint
In 1987 I wouldn’t have been able to understand or appreciate Father Greeley’s work.  I’d read about him, of course–what Catholic hasn’t been horrified at the idea of a priest writing “racy novels” with actual sex scenes? (Such very mild and tasteful scenes, by the way.)  I’m sure at the time, without having read any of his books, I disapproved.  I’m sure I thought that a priest ought to have better things to do than write sexy novels.  I’m sure I assumed it was notoriety the man was after.
Of course, Father Greeley, a sociologist as well as a priest, was doing other things too.  In addition to his priestly duties, he was cranking out scores of non-fiction books in his field.  But he considered his novels a ministry too, something that is obvious to me when I read them now.  In his own words: “I wouldn’t say the world is my parish, but my readers are my parish. And especially the readers that write to me. They’re my parish.”
Anyone who reads Father Greeley will see that he loves Chicago, the Irish, and the Church.  That doesn’t mean he won’t point out what he thinks their flaws are!  And I don’t always agree with his perception of the Church’s flaws–I’m no authority on Chicago or the Irish!  But always the love is there, and his conviction of the truth of the Church and of the power of the love of God to transform people’s lives.
Red Kane, a somewhat dissipated Chicago journalist, is a perfunctory Catholic when Patience of a Saint begins.  A conversion experience comparable to St. Paul’s on the Road to Damascus propels him reluctantly into a reformation of his life which simultaneously delights and threatens his friends and family.  He comes to realize that “if one party in a relationship undergoes a transformation, then the other party in that relationship must be transformed too,” and that this is scary for those around him who have grown comfortable with the roles they were used to playing.
In a climax that is foreshadowed throughout the novel, Red’s family decides he has had a nervous breakdown and they send for the men in the white coats.  In the end, in what to me was a particularly moving passage, Red asks himself where he can go for help.  “The answer was still obvious.  The only institution in the world that could help him now was the Roman Catholic Church–the real Catholic Church.  Send in the first team.”
I’ve read many–not all, by a long shot–of Father Greeley’s novels.  He’s a good writer, not a great one.  He does have what to me is crucial–the ability to anchor his novels firmly in a particular place and time.   Chicago and its environs are intrinsic to his books.  His characterization is terrific, his dialogue not so much, although to me in Patience of a Saint it rings most true.  But most important is that his books are deeply Catholic, even the “sexy parts.”  It’s a misunderstanding of and a disservice to Church teaching to claim that Catholicism believes sex is bad, or base, or dirty.  Greeley’s novels elevate sexual love within marriage almost to a sacramental level–the ultimate act of self-giving that reflects God’s love for us.
Greeley 1

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

I fell off the NaBloPoMo wagon in a big way, even failing to participate in my usual linkups.  So I missed Sunday Snippets last week, and will make up for it by listing two weeks’ worth of posts this week.
Sunday Snippets is a gathering of Catholic bloggers sharing their posts with each other and with their readers.  Please check my posts for anything you may have missed, and visit RAnn’s blog for the rest of the links!
First up is another post in my South Knoxville Urban Wilderness Hiking series.
Next I wrote about starting to write letters again!
Then I did a post about a very disturbing trend in assisted reproductive technology.
I wrote about a great new online shopping find.
Then I wrote about the May/Murray Cemetery.
Last night I wrote about a strenuous hike in Mead’s Quarry.
This afternoon I posted another short cemetery story.
And finally, I just added a picture to the My Sunday Photo linkup.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

I’m linking up with RAnn of This, That, and the Other Thing for Sunday Snippets, that weekly famous gathering of Catholic Bloggers sharing their week’s posts.  This week there is no question of the week to answer (and yes, RAnn, I DO miss it!) so it’s straight on to the recap:
It’s the first full week of NaBloPoMo, and I’ve done pretty well–I did miss one day this week.
I led off the week with this post  about the elections. (Yes, I voted!)
Next I posted a little homeschooling update.
I wrote about another cemetery.
And because what I wrote upset some people, I wrote about it some more.
Then I wrote about another cemetery.
Finally, I participated in a weekly photo linkup.
I hope you will take a look at any you may have missed this week, and that you will check out the other linkup participants.
 
 
 
 
 

We Are Still Homeschooling

I haven’t written a post on homeschooling in a while, probably because I’m too busy doing it to write about it–or about anything.  Last time I homeschooled, John worked in an office and had a full-time staff.  This time, the office is the house and the staff is me.  Mostly this works out fine, with me getting Lorelei started on a task, which she can work on here in the office with me while I attend to my own work.  But sometimes, involved in whatever I am doing, I lose track of her and how long (very very long) it is taking to do her math or whatever.  She has been known to even wander away while I am otherwise occupied.  So I need to work on that. [This was an ongoing problem that I am happy to say has improved a lot in this, our last homeschooling year.]
Another challenge is that I have had to leave the house during the school day more frequently lately.  Jake’s injury [A tendon in his pinky severed by a box cutter while cutting drywall to patch a hole in our basement] means twice weekly therapy appointments as well as doctor visits.  If Emily isn’t home, Lorelei has to come along.  We don’t do well with disruptions to the routine.
Still, at the moment I would call homeschooling a qualified success.  Lorelei is certainly happy!  She has no desire to go back to school (judging from how she acts when I threaten her with it when she is bad!).  I’ve already written about some of the fringe benefits of homeschooling.
Here’s what’s going well:
We are going to Mass once a week, on Wednesday mornings.  There’s a 9:00 a.m. Mass at All Saints, just five minutes away from us.  Lorelei looks forward to going, and that makes me happy.  She actually suggested we should go on First Fridays too, so we are going to start doing that this month.   After Mass we walk on the walking trail and Lorelei plays on the playground.
We are on track with our spelling program, and Lorelei never misses more than one word.  She’s never going to be a spelling bee champ and thank God for that.
We’ve finished two reading books already!
We’ve memorized the Beatitudes and the Corporal Works of Mercy and are almost finished with the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
We are exactly where we should be in the English book.
We went on a great field trip to the symphony last week.
Here’s where we could use improvement:
Lorelei does not like math, and since we were doing it toward the end of our day, it sometimes got skipped.  In the second quarter, we’ve moved it earlier in our school day to combat that tendency. [Math remains a struggle.]
We need to move faster in Social Studies.  We’ve only done half the states, and I want to have the whole state part of Social Studies finished by Christmas so that we can do Presidents the second half of the year.
Another thing Lorelei hates is Penmanship.  I’m trying not to stress out about this too much–I still want her to learn cursive, but my goal of doing all work in cursive isn’t going to happen this year. [Never happened, never will.]
I want to incorporate more field trips.  Originally I had hoped to take one every week, or at least every other week, but all the interruptions for doctor appointments have made that difficult.
So that’s where we are, almost three months in.  And having written it out, as so often happens, I feel even better about it. 🙂

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly at This, That, and the Other Thing to share our best posts with each other.
Question of the week:  Who is your favorite saint?
Hard, hard question!  But I’ll go with St. Peter.  Why?  Because he was a gloriously imperfect human being who God used to accomplish amazing things.  Peter is constantly making mistakes but he has faith in abundance and that is the rock on which Jesus built the Church.  Peter is a reminder to all of us that as long as we have faith God can use us to further His will.
Posts for last week:
I started off with a piece on a local African-American cemetery and the importance of names.
I wrote a brief post to announce my intention of participating in NaBloPoMo, which means that my Sunday Snippets posts will have at least seven snippets throughout the month of November!
I linked up with My Sunday Photo.
Coming up this week:  more graveyards, more autumn walks, and perhaps a little something on voting . . . and who knows what else?  Thanks for reading!

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

Maybe I should say Monday Snippets since I’m only just now getting around to writing it, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?  Anyway, it’s a weekly linkup of a group of Catholic bloggers hosted by RAnn, and even though lately my content is more catholic than Catholic, I like to join in!
Question of the Week:  Do you have any suggestions regarding the Rosary? Books? Audios? Ways to pray it?
All Saints 5
 
There is a Rosary prayer garden on the grounds of All Saints Church, where Lorelei and I go to Mass every Wednesday morning.  I haven’t said the Rosary there, but it’s a thought, especially since she and I will be studying all twenty mysteries later this year.
morning garden
As you might notice above, there’s no rosary shortage around here!  I’d like to be that person who says it every day, but so far I have failed at all my attempts at formal prayer.
Anyway, on to the posts for this week!
Last Sunday I participated in the My Sunday Photo link up.
Then I wrote a post about last Saturday’s walk in the Urban Wilderness.
I ended with another graveyard post.  And there are many more to come whenever I find the time.
Thanks for reading, and check out the other bloggers in the link up above.
 
 

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

It’s been a lovely day and a busy Sunday which is not over yet, but I’m taking a few moments to link up with RAnn for Sunday snippets, a weekly gathering of Catholic bloggers sharing their week’s posts.
Question of the Week:  Have you ever tried the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office)?  Why or why not, and, if so, is it something you pray regularly? 
No, I have not.  I don’t have any kind of formal prayer routine, which is something I would like to remedy at some point.  If there is one things I would wish it is that I could be more holy. Sigh.
Now for the round up:
I was out of town from Tuesday night until Friday night, visiting my sister in Dallas, and despite good intentions I did not write a word while I was there.  I did, however, post a few things at the beginning of the week, which I hope you will enjoy!
A post about what’s going on in my garden right now.
Two photo posts, for new linkups I am participating in:  Silent Sunday and My Sunday Photo.
Thanks for reading!
 

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

Finally, a week in which I can participate in Sunday Snippets, a weekly linkup of Catholic bloggers hosted by RAnn, and actually have several posts to share!
First, though, this week’s question:
Question of the Week:  Share a family sacramental memory–the cute thing the kid said, the cake at the party, you in your wedding dress, the family gathered around the baby–anything is fair game as long as it at least sort of involved a sacrament.
Here’s a fun one. First the picture, then the explanation.
Jake's BaptismThis picture was taken at the reception we had following Jake’s baptism (August 1994, when he was six months old).  Those are his godparents in the picture, and the reason they are wearing those expressions is that they just saw the little piece of paper we had tucked into each napkin, which read: “Please save the date for this same time next year for the baptism of Jake’s little brother or sister, expected in February.”  And there was yet more fun to come at this party.  John got up to make a speech, as he is wont to do.  He announced that he had just been offered a job (he had graduated from law school just months before).  Then he dropped the final bombshell, telling everyone he was planning to join the Church (something no one was expecting).  It was a big day all around.
Now on to what I’ve posted this week!
I led off the week with It’s Good to Be Insured: An Obamacare Update, sharing what a blessing this has been to our family.
Next up was Beneath the Ashes, exploring some of my lingering feelings about what we lost in the fire that destroyed our house three years ago.
Then I shared a recipe post: Low Carb Pumpkin Sausage Soup.
I wrote another installment of my series on local walks, Walking in South Knoxville: In the Homestretch.
Finally, it was back to the graveyard with The Mystery of Lebanon Cemetery.
I hope you will check some of them out!

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

Good Sunday evening and welcome to Sunday Snippets, a weekly linkup hosted by RAnn in which Catholic bloggers answer a weekly question and share their posts.  Y’all, if you haven’t been reading me for long I promise I really do qualify as a “Catholic blogger.”  For one thing, I’m a Catholic, first and foremost, which informs EVERYTHING I do, including blogging. 🙂  But also, even though lately my posts tend more towards health and exercise, if you look back you’ll find plenty of religious content.
Question of the Week:  Tell us what you like best about your parish.
My parish is Immaculate Conception, the oldest parish in East Tennessee.  The parish is 159 years old and we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the current church building just a few years back.
Picture of IC that looks like a painting
My family has been part of this parish for almost 70 years.  My parents were married here, as we were; I was baptized here, as were four of our five children; and all our children celebrated their First Communions here.  So what I like best would be my historical connection to the parish, and next would just be the way I feel when I am there:  Nowhere else do I feel as comfortable and at home.
Now for this week’s post.  Yes, once again, only one!
This week I reviewed The Relationship Project in my capacity as an Off-the-Shelf blogger for Beacon Hill Press.  I have a lot of extra commitments this week, but I also have a number of post ideas, so we’ll see what happens!
Check out more prolific bloggers at the linkup here.
 

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

I’m linking up with This That and the Other Thing for Sunday Snippets, a weekly round up for Catholic Bloggers.
This week’s question:  Name and link to two Catholic blogs you really enjoy. If the bloggers don’t participate in Sunday Snippets, invite them to join us!
I don’t read a lot of blogs regularly, even though there are many that I like.  I just don’t have time any more.  These are a couple I stumbled across and like so much that I included them on my blogroll, even though I don’t visit every day.  You should check out Invisible Woman and Everything to Someone.
Now here’s the part where I am supposed to list my posts for the week.  But since this is the week in which I had jury duty and my son had unexpected surgery (among other things, as always), this list is short:
Walking in West Knoxville:  The Jean Teague Greenway
See you next week!