Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Review: Christians Courageous

I’m always on the look-out for well-written stories of the heroes of the Catholic Church. Our heritage is packed with men and women, lay and religious, young and old who gave their lives literally or figuratively for the love of Jesus. This is a big deal. This is important for me to share with my kids. I want them to know that there is someone whom the Church has declared sanctified, someone to whom my kids can turn in a similar circumstance.

The problem that often occurs, however, is that many of the stories of saints tell the same stories about the same saints. Which doesn’t lessen the saints’ sanctity, but my kids want to hear about others … in other situations … who were tested in the fire and succeeded in upholding the Catholic way.

I’d like to tell you about a volume that has just been reprinted by Sophia Institute. Msgr Aloysius Roche (1886-1957), an English parish priest, wrote a book back in 1955, that tells the tale of Christian saints. Christians Courageous contains 14 biographies of saints that are not usually mentioned in anthologies. Told for a young audience – although the writing style precludes allowing younger children to read without help – these stories are dramatic and exciting.

The biographies include stories about: Ardalion, the Roman actor who converted while trying to make light of the early Christian Church; Didymus, the 4th century blindman who not only learned to read but was made head of the Cathechetical College in Athens; Athanasius, the 4th century bishop exiled three times for fighting against the heretical teachings of Arius; Telemachus, the 5th century Roman who gave his life to stop the barbarism of old Roman ways; Pope Leo’s plea to save Rome from the Mongol hordes; the story of St. Brendan the Navigator; Columba’s fight against 6th century Druids in the Highlands of Scotland; Caedmon of 7th century England who praised God and finally was able to speak and sing at Whitby; 14th century Franciscan missionary Odoric and his travels in Asia; Don John’s victory at the Battle of Lepanto; 16th century Jesuit missionaries to India; Fr. Joseph LeCaron’s work with the Hurons and other tribes in 17th century North America; Fr. Andrada’s work in 17th century Tibet; and Fr. Damian’s work with lepers in 19th century Hawaii. These are stories of official and unofficial saints – men who made their way on the strength of the promises and sacrifices of the Son of Man.
This is a great read.  I especially love the fact that most of these folks are not the typical saint-biography fare.  But as I mentioned earlier, for the younger ones (anyone younger than middle school) I think the reading style requires that the book be used as a read-aloud. I’ll be using this book during November for our annual study of saints and holy people of the Catholic Church.
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This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Christians Courageous and to purchase your own copy of this soon-to-be thriller classic.

Roche, Aloysius – Christians Courageous – Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, NH). 2009. ISBN: 9781933-184548 (paperback, 179pgs)

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