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A Book Review . . . Step By Step Toward Sainthood

June 7, 2021 Featured Today No Comments

By REY FLORES

Habits for Holiness: Small Steps for Making Big Spiritual Progress by Fr. Mark-Mary Ames, CFR. Visit https://ascensionpress.com/ or call 1-800-376-0520 for ordering information.

“. . . And when the heat came down and I was left on the ground, the devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street, showing me his hand, I knew even the cops couldn’t beat. I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat. It’s so hard to be a saint in the city, when you’re just a boy out on the street. And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead, as the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead.”
Those are some of the lyrics from the 1973 Bruce Springsteen song It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City. Fast forward to 2021, and it’s hard to be a saint anywhere in the world. Sin runs rampant everywhere. Countless souls are being lost to sin and Satan every waking moment of the day.
We were all born to be saints. “Strive to be saints,” good Catholic parents will say to their children. But the reality of it is that these platitudes are meaningless without our own actions, charity, prayers, and sacrifices for our own families and our neighbors.
I’m no saint; very few of us are. As we find ourselves in our own present situations in life, I bet most of us can recall some of our most lamentable moments which may have brought us to where we are now. Thanks to books like this, it’s never too late if we choose to pursue holiness today over worldliness.
Like all the children of Adam and Eve, we are born with original sin. Sin is part of our fallen human nature. While some meander blindly through life not even realizing they are sinning, thank God for a book like Habits for Holiness to help us.
It’s one thing to acknowledge our mistakes and poor choices as well as our own sins and our ongoing sinful behaviors, yet it’s an entirely different thing when we commit to mending our ways and striving for actual, attainable holiness. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the incredibly special things that make our Catholic faith that much more valuable.
In his new book Habits for Holiness: Small Steps for Making Big Spiritual Progress, Fr. Mark-Mary Ames, CFR, author, speaker, and the director of communications for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, offers us hope in small enough bites that any of us humble and willing enough can benefit from it, making our path to Heaven that much easier.
He takes 800 years of wisdom from the Franciscans and provides small and manageable steps that can lead anyone to great holiness. This book tackles topics that affect Catholics’ everyday life!
While reading the book, learn how to live within a family and create a Catholic culture there. This lesson is especially important for fathers to keep honing the skills to be a strong example for our children. Let us remember always that our examples, good and bad, will absolutely affect our future generations.
This book also reminds us to make prayer the center of our lives. No matter what vocation we have in life, prayer is our compass. Our eyes, thoughts, hearts, and prayers are so especially important to make it through this life! I’ve often wondered how people who have no foundation in God can make it in such a challenging world. Pray often and pray fervently. And let us remember that prayer isn’t like throwing coins in a wishing well, asking God to grant us our desires as if He were some kind of a genie in a bottle. Like the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are there to repent, worship, and adore His presence.
The author also reminds us that contentment is needed for deep joy. We must not live a life of shame or regrets. We must be grateful for things we often overlook, like the fact that we can have the vision to read a book like this, the desire to grow in holiness, and the ability to carry Christ’s message of love to others.
I especially liked being reminded to turn the drudgery of work into the “altar of the desk.” Let us offer all of our daily works, joys, and sufferings for the sake of those who carry a heavier cross than our own. Let us remember the lonely, the homeless, the incarcerated, and those who live in broken and dysfunctional marriages and families.
As Catholics, it is our duty and obligation to offer our lives to the service of Christ. It is the call of every Catholic. Little by little, we can all get to Heaven, and by joining Fr. Mark-Mary in this wonderful book, Habits for Holiness, we can each and all take that first small step toward sainthood!
Author Fr. Mark-Mary Ames of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal reminds us that by our embracing of Jesus Christ and St. Francis, we lovingly commit to prayer and contemplation, the study of Sacred Scripture, and our fidelity to the Church and the sacraments, and generous service to others, especially the poor.
May God give us books like this one to live out our lives like the sons of St. Francis in the Capuchin tradition! Fr. Mark-Mary is the key host of the Ascension Presents video series, The CFRs.

  • + + (Rey Flores writes opinion and book and movie reviews for The Wanderer. Contact Rey at reyfloresusa@gmail.com.)
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