Wednesday 19 September 2018

Played by Ear - Daniel A.Lord S.J.

Played by Ear
Daniel A. Lord S.J.
Loyola University Press
ISBN 9780829400496


Reading this book was both a great joy and a terribly frustrating, It was a joy to read such an incredible autobiography. It was frustrating in all the books he has written that he mentioned and many of the books he mentions that shaped him are all out of print and proving very hard to track down. Even tracking down this book proved not easy. This is the fourth book or booklet by Daniel a. Lord S.J. that I have read this year but it is by far the longest. My introduction was I Don't Like Lent, and it was wonderful. My youngest daughter then received two children's books by Father Lord, for her first communion, and they were wonderful reads for the whole family. Then after many tries I was able to track down this volume through inter-library loan to read.

This autobiography is unlike any that I have read. It was written as a series of letters, from the author to various people. He stated that he wrote in this form because it was natural to him. He also stated he tried not to duplicate too much that is included in his other books, but often touches upon them or refers to them. (The more the pity they are all out of print.) In the introduction we are told:

"He wrote exactly thirty adult books and twelve booklets.  His pamphlets must number nearly three hundred. He wrote forty-eight children's books.  He wrote twenty-five plays, twelve pageants, three musicals; and he published five separate musical compositions, not to mention the tunes incorporated in his pageants, some written in collaboration with others."

From my research only 2 of those books for adults are still in print. And about 50 of the pamphlets are available electronically. The booklets he wrote for children seem to still be available in beautiful hard cover editions. But the rest of his works are very difficult to track down. In the first letter he is writing to young parents and he states about his own school days:

"What I remember most clearly about grammar school was the competition between a group of us for the largest number of books read each week.  We were spurred on by Sister Mary Blanche, who loved books simply and intelligently.  We considered it a feat comparable to athletic victories to score high in the records of books taken from our school library, read, and returned in jig time.  I cannot recall that any of these books were ever assigned for class reading.  They seem to have been the object of supererogatory love."

His love of books and knowledge is a theme that runs through the letters and throughout his won life. And it appears to be something he holds in common with readers who discover his works. Outside of the two passages from the book already quoted, two other passages really had an impact upon me. I took pictures of the text and printed the paragraphs to have them up on my desk at work. In part as a reminder and in part to reflect on them.

First speaking about his early school days he states:

"Yet often, as my priestly life progressed and I have spoken to small college bodies on Catholic campuses, I have bragged in this fashion: "I am a graduate of a small college in a run-down building situated in the very center of Chicago's darkest Ghetto.  Yet I would not trade what I got there for the most spectacular college education the universities of the world could offer."  And I have meant sincerely what I said."

Another speaking about finances while growing up he says:

"Of a Satruday evening my dad simply tossed the pay envelope on the table in the kitchen.  On Monday morning my mother gave him the money he would need for carfare, lunches and incidedntal expenses of the week.  For the rest, his was the generosity and trust, hers was the financial managements that came in its small way close to genius.  When I hear moderns protesting the terrible lack of money, once more I smile.  Times are changed, no doubt of that; and money has no longer the purchasing power that once it had.  But I wonder if in domestic matters it is nearly as much a question of "how much income" as it is of "how well managed and with what generosity, loyalty, good humor, and love.""

I truly enjoyed reading this book. But having it on inter-library loan I felt rushed. I did not have long to read it, and it was an old and frail copy. I could only read it during dedicated times, and because of the condition, would not carry it to read on my commute to work. I would love to eventually track down my own copy of this and take my time and reread the letters at a more leisurely pace.

Lord was a man, a priest, and a Jesuit from a different time. His faith was contagious, to those who knew him, and like me those who encountered him via his writings. I was encouraged and challenged while reading this book. A few times I stopped and took notes, and at other times, stopped and prayed. If you can lay your hands on this book it is a wonderful read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Daniel A. Lord:
Father Finn, S.J., The Story Of His Life Told By Himself For His Friends Young And Old
Played by Ear

Children's Books:
The Our Father: Our Prayer to God
The Hail Mary Our Mother in Heaven

Red Arrows in the Night

Our Nuns: Their Varied and Vital Service for God and County
I can read ANYTHING!? All right! - then read THIS!
Confession is a joy?
Religion and Leadership
Fashionable Sin - A Modern Discussion of an Unpopular Subject
My Mother, The Study of an Uneventful Life
You Can't Live That Way
The Call to Catholic Action
Our Part in the Mystical Body
I Don't Like Lent

Three Great Catholic Writers That You Might Never Have Heard Of!  Curtayne - Lord - Powers

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