cover image THE LURE OF SAINTS: A Protestant Experience of Catholic Tradition

THE LURE OF SAINTS: A Protestant Experience of Catholic Tradition

Jon M. Sweeney, . . Paraclete, $21.99 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-55725-419-1

Sweeney (Road to Assisi ), who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church believing that Catholic and Orthodox Christians were in need of salvation, honestly admits that his own discovery of the spirituality of the saints is not without serious doubts: "I am still a profound skeptic, only a partial convert." He writes that he's drawn to the saints so "I might learn to see differently," and build a deeper relationship with God. He offers a somewhat piecemeal tapestry of everything from how a saint is made (a campaign for the ideal patron saint of the Internet is still ongoing, he notes), and the place of bodily relics, to Mary, who "cuts to the root of the separation of Protestant from Catholic." There is a satisfying blend of the concrete (prayers, a list of feast days, 10 steps to living like a saint) with Sweeney's personal observations and historical information. He doesn't sidestep some of the troubling aspects of saints, including their images on trinkets and kitsch, and their seeming "weirdness" (e.g. Angela of Foligno partaking of lepers' sores). While Protestant readers may remain unconvinced about the place of saints in their faith, they will also come away with a deeper understanding of, and sympathy for, why saints play an important role in the lives of Catholic and Orthodox Christians. (May)