GOD UNDERNEATH: Spiritual Memoirs of a Catholic Priest

Edward L. Beck, Author . Doubleday $21.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-50180-4

Born in 1958, Beck, who belongs to the religious order of brothers and priests known as Passionists, hardly seems old enough to be writing his memoirs. But whatever he may lack in the wisdom that age brings, he compensates for in this refreshing portrait of life as a Catholic priest. Beck is a gifted storyteller who evokes both humor and pathos with his tales of family and church life. Employing a cast of fascinating characters ranging from his mother, whose expletive of choice is "terrible," to Sister Mary Alicene, his first grade teacher, Beck offers an intimate look at what led him to his vowed life and what keeps him there. Although he clearly loves his calling, he is honest about its challenges, particularly the state of celibacy. For example, he writes movingly of the time he got too close to a woman who sought spiritual direction from him, leading to an ending that was painful for them both. In relating such incidents, Beck manages to reveal his failings without excusing them, emerging as someone who is comfortable with his humanity even as he aspires to holiness. At times, he lapses into opining on issues such as anti-Catholic attitudes and the Church's refusal to ordain women priests, but he is at his best when he sticks to telling stories. Beck's book could well become required reading for anyone considering religious life, and is sufficiently engaging to attract a wider audience. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
Open Ebook - 182 pages - 978-0-385-50717-2
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-50181-1
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