Saturday 5 February 2022

Lisieux A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Lisieux: A Pilgrim's Companion 
CTS Christian Shrines Series
David Baldwin
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860825798
eISBN 9781784693893
CTS Booklet D706

Over the last few years, I have read over 200 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have greatly enjoyed many of the books in the Christian Shrines Series. This is the thirteenth volume in the CTS Christian Shrines series that I have read. It is also the thirteenth by David Baldwin. I approached this volume with completely new eyes. I have personally had an interest in Pilgrimage, for as long as I can remember. I have written about personal pilgrimage, and previously written about my desire for pilgrimage. I have a university degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought I would have loved to have had books from this series, and many from the CTS catalog to use as a resource during my schooling. But back to this specific volume on Lisieux. 

The description of this volume is:

“This companion for those who are specifically going to Lisieux on pilgrimage, takes you to the principal places of Thérèse, provides you with a coherent commentary, and suggests some appropriate prayers and meditations at each place. For anyone on holiday in the region, it may be worth just slipping this in with your travel guides – a visit to see the Basilica alone is well worth while.

Armchair pilgrims with an interest in St Thérèse will also find much of interest here too. For anyone who bumps into Thérèse during their life – it will lead them to Lisieux to learn more about her life and times.”

This booklet is intended for two different types of readers. The first those going to these places in person, and as such it is an excellent spiritual travel guide. The second category, that which I find myself in currently, is the ‘armchair pilgrim’. I love that concept; it is for those who are going on pilgrimage spiritually. Or even virtually. But I would state that the book is great for a third category, those with a devotion or interest in Saint Thérèse it will help you explore those places central to her life. As such this is an excellent volume in a wonderful series and I highly recommend it. The chapters in the booklet are:

Thérèse’s Lisieux
Who is Saint Thérèse?
Tribute to St Thérèse - The Basilica
The Family’s Place of Prayer - Cathedral of St Peter
Thérèse’s Family Home - Les Buissonnets
Thérèse’s Final Home - The Carmel
Final Thoughts
Other Places of St Thérèse

The chapter Final Thoughts states:

“Having come to Lisieux you may be left with impressions, emotions and memories – some clear, some blurred, some unresolved – but at present they will be all about a person and a place, both, inextricably linked. In pilgrim terms, Lisieux is a place of contrasts: the mighty Basilica, which might be considered over-hagiographic, gaudy, and ‘in-your-face’, to the diminutive, gentle, humble Carmel, where today’s Sisters live out their lives in the same obscurity and fidelity as Thérèse.

The Basilica, crammed, in gigantic scale with the overwhelming depiction of Thérèse’s life and after-life – all of it designed by those who just wished to express that, in the most sincere, but explicit and glorious terms. It is a huge acknowledgement of her life and afterlife, and a desire to emphasise and perpetuate what she stands for, and in doing so, giving the thanks and glory to God. There is no doubting that it is a significant monument to a significant person.

Whether Thérèse approves or not is, of course, only conjecture. Her desire was to spend her ‘Heaven doing good on earth’ and taken in those terms, the Basilica is but an insignificant part of this global, universal mission of Thérèse – it is simply one of the many channels of grace that imparts the Gospel message in its own particular style. The Carmel, which expresses no more than a simple, working church, that houses and commemorates its most celebrated incumbent with such great dignity and serenity, will continue ever on as just that – a humble, working convent church – with the nuns living out the Gospel life.”

This book is an excellent read. It will bless all who pick it up. And it is a small volume that can be returned to time and time again. You can pick it up and read it through, or revisit specific places. At the end of the volume is a section on Other Places of St Thérèse, and a list of selected readings and websites to encourage and support your devotion. A fantastic resource and one I will return to again soon. I encourage you to pick it up and give it a read or two. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Christian Shrines series click here.

Other Books in the CTS Christian Shrines Series:
Message of Assisi
Message of Fatima
Message of Guadalupe
Message of Walsingham
Santiago: Santiago de Compostela - The Pilgrim Way of St James

CTS Books and Booklets n the life and spirituality of St Thérèse:
Thérèse of Lisieux - On the visit of her relics to Great Britain (Do 810)
Thérèse, teacher of Prayer, by Bro Craig (D 693)
Louis and Zélie Martin, Parents of Thérèse of Lisieux, by Paulinus Redmond (B 709)

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