Thanks to the
urging of a good friend, I got past the title of this book and actually read
it. It only took three or four pages before I was hooked. Compiled at the
request of his superiors, Bishop Dolan has put together a collection of his
conferences given while he was rector at the North American College in Rome.
The most important thing to note is that this book is not written just for
priests! All you need to do is substitute “practicing Catholic” or “mom” or
“dad” and you will see that most of the practices and habits he suggests
would be helpful to anyone, not just priests.
book is written in two sections. The first section, titled “Living the
Christian Life”, devotes one chapter each to a discussion of a particular
virtue. Bishop Dolan goes beyond the basic faith, hope and love, including
such topics as obedience, patience, courtesy, simplicity and even joy. He
begins with a scripture reference, and then details his objective, usually
with a story. Next, he goes on to explain what the virtue is, giving reasons
and benefits for practicing the virtue. Following that, he uses many
concrete examples of how to practice the virtue. At the end of each chapter,
he closes with a prayer.
The second section, titled “Living the Priestly Life”, is written in the
same way. It is much shorter than the first section and some may not find it
as pertinent. I still found it interesting and helpful, especially in terms
of understanding what is expected of priests, and what they are being
taught. There is a chapter on Celibacy and Chastity, with some blunt
discussion of sexual temptations, vices and habits. His comments and
examples are brief, and to the point. He does not dwell on the discussion,
but offers encouragement and advice for anyone feeling himself so tempted.
Bishop Dolan is an excellent speaker (from personal experience) and this
comes across in his writing. His examples are filled with many personal and
often humorous anecdotes and he is not beyond poking fun at himself. Besides
the beautiful prayers in each chapter, there are many pertinent and
thought-provoking quotes. The quotes he uses are diverse, and come not only
from scripture, but from the saints, writing of the popes, popular authors
and even Ben Franklin.
In days when much discussion including the word “priest” is negative, this
book is a wonderful difference. It is positive, encouraging and offers hope
for priests, as well as anyone who will strive to follow his advice. The
format makes it ideal to take along for a visit to the chapel or to read in
small sections. I don’t have enough thumbs to give it the praise I feel it
Mary Hilmes is a stay-at-home mother of five in
Missouri. She loves to read!
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