A SPIRITUALITY FOR BROKENNESS:
Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult
Times, by Terry Taylor. Skylight
Paths. 158 pp. $16.99.
Reviewed by PATTI NORMILE, former
chaplain, retreat director and writer for
St. Anthony Messenger Press, Abbey Press
and National Catholic Reporter. She is
the author of John Dear on Peace: An
Introduction to His Life and Work (St.
Anthony Messenger Press).
TERRY TAYLOR has taken the brokenness
of his pain-filled childhood and
with faith has shaped it into
a healing spirituality that
he shares with workshop
participants and retreat
groups. Taylor is the executive
director of the
Interfaith Paths to Peace.
Now through this practical
guidebook to wholeness,
he invites readers to
travel through the varied
phases of pain toward compassion
for their brokenness
to new levels of health and wholeness.
His sharing of his personal journey is
genuine but not maudlin, an approach
that opens readers to their own life situations.
Taylor's guidance can lead
readers to areas of personal brokenness—physical, spiritual, emotional or
mental—that are hidden in the past,
exposing them to healing in the present.
Taylor also speaks to those who may
feel broken but cannot express their
brokenness because they are not aware
of any traumatic events in their lives.
Feelings of alienation from others or a
sense of not being accepted are indicators
that there are chipped places in
He outlines seven steps toward a spirituality
for brokenness: recognizing
brokenness, having compassion for it,
understanding brokenness, finding
meaning in it, moving on, transcending
one's brokenness and sharing it
Dipping into the wisdom of various
faiths, Taylor creates a variety of pathways
toward mending one's brokenness.
The practices suggested do not
seem to violate any of the faith bases
which Taylor taps. Rather, there is a
universality and unity expressed in the
book's eight chapters. The practice of
Sabbath slows life so that reflecting can
happen, making mending possible.
Traditional lectio divina takes on a
new view as readers apply
this practice of praying
the Scriptures to their own
life story. Ancient traditions
such as walking the labyrinth
and journeying on
pilgrimage move readers
(literally, in some cases) to
the center of their own
being to discover the
deepest self, which
is rooted in the divine.
Community as a
spiritual place where healing
occurs and growth is nurtured
in self and others is described as
a "jewel" for sharing one's brokenness.
Also available to the
reader is a section entitled "Emotional
First Aid," by Frances E.
Englander, that contains suggestions
for coping with feelings
that may surface during the healing
More information on the spirituality
of brokenness can be found at www.helpforbrokenness.com.
You can order A SPIRITUALITY FOR BROKENNESS:
Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult
Times from St. Francis Bookstore.
THE SEAMLESS GARMENT: Writings
on the Consistent Ethic of Life, by Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin.
Thomas A. Nairn, Editor. Orbis
Books. 305 pp. $30.
Reviewed by DON MILLER, O.F.M., Ph.D.,
who spent 25 years teaching and serving
as an administrator and as a chaplain on
both secular and Catholic campuses. His
doctorate in moral theology is from The
Catholic University of America.
IN 35 MAJOR presentations delivered
between December 1983 and September
1996, Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin
laid out his consistent ethic of life
before a variety of audiences. Arguing
that the ethical discussion of each life
issue is unique in both method and
content, he sees a common value in
Arguing further that all ethical discussions
of life issues require consistency
and coherence in principles, and
clearly rooting his discussions in the
Judeo-Christian tradition, Cardinal
Bernardin defines the basic moral goal
of his ethic as a defense of the intrinsic
dignity of each human person.
Thus, while abortion,
poverty, euthanasia, war
or capital punishment
must be discussed in distinct
ways using very
different arguments, in
reality each issue raises a
bigger one: the dignity
of human life.
This underlying, core
concern unites all life
issues into a "seamless
garment." For this reason,
there is a unity in
the diversity of issues and argumentation.
Commemorating in December 2008
the 25th anniversary of the Gannon
Lecture at Fordham University in which
Cardinal Bernardin first presented his
consistent ethic of life, Nairn pays tribute
to Cardinal Bernardin by gathering
35 of his formal lectures into one book.
In each presentation, the cardinal
carefully adapted his core message to
the concerns/issues of his audience. So whether he was addressing Amnesty
International, the Right to Life Convention
or the American Medical Association
House of Delegates, Cardinal
Bernardin carefully and clearly recognized
and addressed the unique characteristics
of the audiences and placed
their specific concerns in the larger
context of the consistent ethic of
Because the book is a compilation of
lectures, and because the cardinal in
each case argued for the consistent
ethic of life underlying each issue, the
reader may find The Seamless Garment a bit tedious. There is a great deal of repetition
in the speaker's arguments, and
yet, on careful reading, the clarity of his
thought and arguments grows over
This does not, however, make the
book an easy read. While the book
fulfills its mission of presenting a
compendium of Bernardin's ethical
approach, it leaves the reader with
questions: What was the cardinal's
influence on ethical thinking? Did he
succeed in shedding light on the common
core value underlying all discussions
of human life? Where has his
consistent ethic of life led the moral discourse
on human life both in the
Church and in society?
The answers to these questions are
not the focus of The Seamless Garment.
This book intends only to pay tribute
to an ethical thinker by gathering into
one place his major presentations on
his major thesis: the consistent ethic
Anyone interested in this insightful
approach to life issues will find The
Seamless Garment a valuable resource.
Those who criticized Cardinal Bernardin
for whitewashing the unique characteristics
of specific life issues will, upon
careful reading of his speeches, realize
how mistaken is that judgment.
He, for instance, clearly states that
he does not equate the specific content
of abortion with that of capital
punishment. Each is a separate issue
with unique moral concerns. What he
does forcefully argue is that all life
issues are related in their common concern
for the dignity of human life.
Adopting that common concern can
bring together the scattered
forces of support in a united
effort to defend the value of
human life in all of its varying
You can order THE SEAMLESS GARMENT: Writings
on the Consistent Ethic of Life from St.
TWO WORLDS: The Sacred
Heart Seminary Class of
1965, edited by William E.
Richardson. Foreword by
Gregory Baum, Afterword
by Gerald Fogarty, S.J. Van Antwerp
and Beale Publishers. 383 pp. $24.95
plus s/h. (Available from Catholic
Book Store, 1232 Washington Blvd.,
Detroit, MI 48226 or 313-962-4490.)
Reviewed by NORM LANGENBRUNNER,
a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati,
ordained in 1970, former parish pastor
26 years, now engaged in preaching parish
PRIESTS ARE COMMONLY divided into
three cohorts: pre-Vatican
II, Vatican II and post-Vatican II, sometimes called
John Paul II priests. Ideally,
there would be no such
distinction, but on the
practical level there is.
These categories reflect the
eras in which priests were
trained and the dominant
theologies which motivate
Wandering Between Two
Worlds is the story of 17 men who were
in training at the time of the Second
Vatican Council—some of them were
never ordained, some were ordained
and some left the ministry. The biographies
of the class of 1965 of Sacred
Heart College Seminary, Detroit, Michigan,
provide data for profiling the second
of the three priestly cohorts.
The idea for this book of brief biographies
of the graduates came from a
class reunion in 2005. Only 17 of the
43 graduates submitted biographies; of that 17, eight went on to priestly ordination,
but only two of them remain
priests today. Most of those who were
ordained and remain active today chose
not to respond.
The 17 stories are spirited and engaging,
sometimes humorous, sometimes
heartrending. Each recaptures the spirit
of the 1960s, both in the heady experience
of the ecumenical council in
Rome and in the cultural revolution
in the United States. Most are critical of
Church leadership but love the Church
dearly. Many see priestly celibacy as
more of a problem than a help to ministry;
several reject the ban on artificial
birth control but strongly support social
outreach to the poor, the prisoner and
the politically disenfranchised.
One of the writers, Tony Locricchio,
while still a seminarian, crossed swords
with Detroit's Archbishop Dearden over
the archdiocese's use of federal funding
for the poor. Shortly after the confrontation,
seminarian Tony was in
Bogotá, Colombia, when Pope Paul VI
visited the city.
Hoping to get near the pope, he and
a friend dressed as clergy and worked
their way to the front of the crowd.
When the papal car stopped inches
from Locricchio, the crowd pushed forward,
and Locricchio was forced into
the circle of guards surrounding the
pope. By chance, Archbishop Dearden
was watching the scene on television
and was nearly apoplectic when he saw
his nemesis at the pope's side.
Gene Fisher, though never ordained,
became deeply involved in Catholic-Jewish relations, and became the first
layman to serve as director of a U.S.
Catholic Conference secretariat. He
recalls the occasion when he and a delegation
of Jews met Pope John Paul II.
When he was presented, Fisher bent
over to kiss the papal ring, and the
pope was startled that a Jew would do
such a thing. The rabbi who was introducing
the delegation called out, "It's
all right, Your Holiness. He's one of
John Mulheisen was never ordained.
Philosophical differences and the matter
of celibacy led him to choose marriage
instead. After 15 years, his wife
divorced him. He confesses that he is
still searching for faith.
William Richardson decided not to
go on to the major seminary after college
graduation; he married, his wife
left him, he married again after a declaration
of nullity, and his second wife
was killed in a bike accident
on their honeymoon. He
married a third time.
The religious formation,
seminary training and character
of the men who explored
the possibility of
priesthood often led not to
ordination but to other
forms of service to God's
people: One graduate went
on to prison ministry, one
to hospice work, one to law,
another to marriage and
No review can do the book justice.
These stories reveal the experience and
the mind-set of the priests of the Vatican
II cohort. As one of that number, I
am eager to recommend Wandering
Between Two Worlds to priests of any
cohort and to laymen and laywomen as
You can order WANDERING BETWEEN
TWO WORLDS: The Sacred
Heart Seminary Class of
1965 from St.
IMAGINATION AND THE JOURNEY
OF FAITH, by Sandra M. Levy.
William B. Eerdmans Publishing
Company. 190 pp. $18.
Reviewed by BARBARA SONNENBERG, a
retired public librarian who lives in Cincinnati,
CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST and Episcopalian
priest Sandra Levy suggests a
broad and all-encompassing definition
of imagination as "the inherent human
power to transcend the concrete, to
create new images or ideas that can
open up new possibility and promise—
the not-yet of a future we can envision,
the re-valuing of a remembered
past. Ultimately what I mean by imagination
is that human capacity to
receive and respond to God's revelation
in our everyday lives."
Drawing on her dual life experiences,
she describes imagination at work and
then suggests practices to enhance its
role in our faith lives. This reader found
the excellent opening section a treasure
trove of references to outstanding
works from poets, prose writers, artists,
musicians, movie producers and dramatists,
acting out what Samuel Taylor
Coleridge identified as "secondary
imagination," the ability to
reassemble perceived reality
into new concepts in the
search for the Divine.
The Bible, which Levy
considers a grand epic story
of human beings and their
relationship to a transcendent
God who cares about
them and their history, is
Its authors drew from traditions
handed to them
from the past but added
symbols, legends and traditions then
current, as well as dialogue and creative
narrative from their own imaginations,
to portray the truth as they
saw it. And what a story they created!
Aware of the absence of religious
themes in most contemporary media
or, at the most, their unflattering portrayal,
Levy suggests we monitor our
media selections. If our imaginations
are transformed by what they take in,
careful selection and interpretation are
While saints and sinners, contradiction
and paradox, courage and cowardice
will be portrayed, we can transform
their examples into meaningful
actions for ourselves. The leading characters
in Flannery O'Connor's short
story "Revelation," which her own
mother found unsavory, provide an
excellent example of the blindness that
"good" people often have about their
Naturally, religious rituals receive
special attention as to their portrayal of
historic events and their relevance to
the current day. A successful ritual combines
physical action with an accompanying
text, which deepens and
expands the experience portrayed.
Thus, processing, bowing and kneeling
are combined with accompanying
readings, the sharing of food, pouring
of water, extending of the hands, etc.
The author warns that "[w]hen the
community institutions—the Church, the hierarchy, the religious powers that
be—suppress the free expression of new
ritual, rigidity sets in."
The last 60 pages deal with suggestions
for developing the imaginative
mind with examples of rituals for use
in the home, the community and
houses of worship, and are earmarked
especially for children. In addition to
an index, there is an excellent appendix
of practical resources, as well as a
very useful bibliography.
I would especially recommend this
book for those involved in liturgical
planning, but any mature reader who
wishes to expand his or her imaginative
powers to appreciate how God reveals
his presence in our daily lives would
find it an excellent guidebook.
You can order IMAGINATION AND THE JOURNEY
OF FAITH from St. Francis Bookstore.
PRACTICING CATHOLIC, by James
Carroll. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
322 pp. $28.
Reviewed by the REV. LAWRENCE M.
VENTLINE, D.Min., a Catholic priest of
the Archdiocese of Detroit for 33 years,
now on special assignment. He is the director
of the 10-year-old Cura Animarum.
His latest book is A Tale So True of My
Christmas Tree: Everything Belongs in
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT for cooks,
contemplatives and coaches. Or so
it seems for author and former
University of Notre Dame
chaplain James Carroll. What
he's practicing is Catholicism,
but hurt, betrayal and disappointment
take their toll, as
he reveals in this tome. His
personal story is that of a
at a price.
The roller-coaster ride that
is the spiritual life has moments
of desolation and consolation.
Only God and math
are perfect entities. People win some
and lose some.
More of a memoir containing American
Catholic Church history, this story
of faith is woven by a fine crafter of
In 10 chapters, a Catholic chronology,
acknowledgments, notes and an
extensive index, this prolific author
covers Vatican II to imagination and
hope, religion and terror, sex and
power, to Catholic scandal at all levels
of hierarchy. Through it all, Carroll
searches for meaning, fresh language
and freedom enveloped in democracy.
A tall order, for sure, to fill! Included,
nevertheless, is a bit of bitterness and,
perhaps, understandably so.
This National Book Award-winning
best-seller explains why Carroll remains
a practicing Catholic, set against the
sometimes discouraging actions of the
Church's leaders. Carroll calls for a
more collaborative, interactive and
responsive leadership. He charges
Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict
XVI, with making cruelty a "main fact
of Catholic life."
Furthermore, Carroll claims that the
late Pope John Paul II's decades-long
pontificate may parallel those energies
that brought about 9/11, since John
Paul's pontificate since 1978 sowed
"seeds of a related zealotry."
In an almost combative discourse,
Carroll finds power and control portrayed
in Humanae Vitae, papal infallibility,
priestly celibacy and the role of
women in the Church.
This head-turner of a book, however,
kept me engaged, since Carroll was
leaving the active priesthood for a
career in writing at the time I was
about to be ordained in
1975. His newspaper articles
while he was a creative
and Paulist priest in the
1970s appealed to me.
Carroll lists a litany of
his heroes: Pope John
XXIII, Trappist monk
and bridge-builder of
West and East Thomas
Merton, Cardinal Richard
Cushing and William
Sloane Coffin. Also, the
great events of our times such as
Vatican II, the Kennedy era and the
end of the Cold War are highlighted
Tending the new language of belief
in a secular world, the writer stands
opposed to fundamentalisms of "neoatheists"
and born-again Christians.
Carroll makes a point hard to agree
with: "What Jesus offers is not salvation,
which is only a negative rescue
from damnation. Instead, Jesus offers a
positive completion of life." This illustrates
an unhealed wound, it seems, in
Carroll's childhood story perhaps,
when he writes about his wonder at
Mass about people striking their breasts
reciting, "I am not worthy...."
Practicing Catholic tells of faithfulness,
outrage, ambivalence and
compassionate dissidence, sprinkled
throughout this one pilgrim's path.
Carroll makes a claim for a fresh, rational
and vital Catholic community. For
him, faith is a practice, which, like all
practices—cooking, music, whatever—
aims at getting better each day.
You can order PRACTICING CATHOLIC from St. Francis Bookstore.