Thursday 9 August 2018

Josemaria Escriva - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky - CTS Biographies

Josemaria Escriva
CTS Biographies
Helena Scott
Ethel Tolansky
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860821196
First Edition 2001
Reprint 2008
eBook Edition 2018

This biography was first published in 2001, less than a year before he was canonized. Ut was also reprinted in 2008. The eBook edition was released late in 2018. It is one of 8 books cowritten by Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky, and the fourth of them that I have read. It is part of the CTS Biographies series. I have also read this book a second time with my son who is 10 years old and he was very fascinated by the life of this saint. 

Prior to reading this book I have read all the works by Josemaria that are available in English, and I have read a fair bit about Escriva and Opus Dei. And yet even with all of my previous readings there were a few stories in this book that I had not encountered previously.

The sections in this book are:
Early life
Footprints in the snow
Call to priesthood
Ordained a priest
Caring for the sick
Founding Opus Dei:
Holiness in daily work
The mission of lay people
Opus Dei takes shape
Learning about apostolate
Role of women
The first Centre of Opus Dei
The Apostolate Grows:
'The Way' is published
War in Spain
Escape from Madrid
Beginning again
Retreats and spiritual direction
Delores and Carmen Escriva
Road to Evangelization:
Priests in Opus Dei
Opus Dei attacked
Consolidating and expanding the Work
Apostolate in new countries
Prayer and daily work
The death of Fr. Escriva

This book would serve as a great introduction to the Man, and to his life's work of founding Opus Dei. It is written in an accessible style. It is easy to engage with. Scott and Tolansky write with a passion for their subject but without rose colored glasses. My son who is 10 could read most of the book on his own, and he could hardly put it down. When I was in university I did research on the Jesuits and Opus Dei, and the two most disliked, maligned, and often misunderstood groups within the Catholic church. I wish I had had this booklet as a resource when I began my study of this man and the personal prelature he was inspired to create. The description on the back of the book is:

"Born sixty years before the Second Vatican Council, Josemaria Escriva grew up in a politically volatile Spain, where the Church struggled to dialogue in a fast changing world. This booklet traces Fr Escriva's journey from childhood and family tragedy, vocational struggle and civil war to the personal discovery of his own, fairly revolutionary task of teaching people, ordinary lay people, how to find God in their work. This refreshing account offers moving evidence of Fr Escriva's courage, goodness and originality, and his prophetic contribution towards uncovering the fullness of the apostolate shared by all baptised, which itself helped prepare the ground for the Council."

And it does an amazing job of that. It does not matter if you are very familiar with Saint Josemaria Escriva, or have only encountered his name, this book will be informative and inspiring. I highly recommend this book, and from the others I have read, the whole Catholic Truth Society's CTS Biographies Series. 

This book is currently out of print, and not easy to track down, but it was worth the time and effort. If you hunt around you will be able to find a reasonably priced copy. As of September 2018 there is now an eBook edition available!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.
2023 Note: This volume is now available as an audio book on the CTS Podcast.

Books by Scott and Tolansky:
Pius XII
Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan
Benedict XVI

Josemaria Escriva
Alvaro Del Portillo

A Pope of Surprises: The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy
Sophie Scholl and The White Rose: Resistance to the Nazis
Johann Gruber and Jacques Bunel: Victims of the Nazis

Books by St. Josemaria Escriva:
Christ Is Passing By
Conversations with Saint Josemaria
The Forge
Friends of God

Holy Rosary
In Love with the Church
The Way
The Way of the Cross

Books about St. Josemaria Escriva:
A Man Who Knew How to Forgive: Lessons from the Life of St. Josemaria Escriva - Francesc Faus

Josemaria Escriva - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky - CTS Biographies
Last of the Romantics: St. Josemaria in the Twenty-First Century - Mariano Fazio
Praying 15 Days with St. Josemaria Escriva - Guillaume Derville

Volumes in the St Josemaria Escriva's Collected Letters:
Letters 1: Singuli dies, 24 March 1930
Letters 2: Videns eos, 24 March 1931
The Burgos Letters (1938-1939): Three Circular Letters
Letters: Letter 3: Res omnes, 9 January 1932
Letter 4: Vos autem, 16 July 1933 : Letter 4: Vos autem, 16 July 1933 
Letter 5: Euntes ergo, 2 October 1939 
Letter 6: Sincerus est, 11 March 1940
Letter 7: Quem per annos, 24 October 1942 
Letter 8: Legitima hominum, 31 May 1943 

Other Posts:

Author profile and interview with Helena Scott.

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