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Showing posts with label DonAlvaro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DonAlvaro. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

My Russian Way - Alexandre Havard - A Spiritual Autobiography

My Russian Way: 
A Spiritual Autobiography
Alexandre Havard
Anthony T. Salvia (Translator)
University of Mary Press
ISBN 9780965288095

After reading From Temperament to Character: On Becoming A Virtuous Leader, I became fascinated with this book. It is currently the only one by Alexandre Havard that is not available as an eBook in English. This book was a fascinating read. While reading it I have mentioned it to at least 20 people and shared numerous quotes from the book with friends, family and co-workers. Here are some numbers based on my first reading of this book:

91 pages of text
52 quotes or references in the book
43 highlights
4 pages of photos
2 full page icon’s: 
     Saint Josemaria Escriva
     Our lady of Fatima

Alexandre begins with his grandparents. And works his way through their history, and his own history. He writes clearly and succinctly. And yet there is a passion and power in his prose. He is writing about his life but more importantly about his spiritual life. One quote appears twice in the book, in the dedication and as part of a longer quotation later on, from Anton Chekhov’s The Student: 

“The past is linked with the present by an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of another. It seemed to him … that when he touched one end the other quivered.”

Alexandre writes about the strings that impacted him, and he writes about some of the impact he has had. Other than a brief conclusion the book ends with:

“I sense that my life is about to take a new turn. I feel this is not the end of my Russian way but merely the end of the beginning. I feel I am entering into one of the most rewarding periods of my life – even if, objectively, all if fraught with uncertainty. But that is a story for another time. For now, enough is enough.”

I hope someday he writes that next story, and that it becomes available in English. Alexandre was shaped and influenced by men whom I have only known through their writings, writings about them, and their impact on others. Specifically, Saint Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Alvaro del porta. Their impact on his life, it’s direction, and his lifelong mission is undeniable. And as the chains travel through time, their impact on Alexandre has ripples and impacted me, and I believe will impact any who read this volume. 

I cannot share all the quotes that impacted me while reading this volume but a random selection below will give you a sampling. 

Speaking about Modern Education:
“The modern university outs the accent more and more on information, and less and less on education in the broad sense of the term. It produces managers rather than leaders, knowledge rather than wisdom, techniques rather than courage. It Concerns itself more and more with things, and less and less with persons. The Crisis of the modern world is not a crisis of information, it is a crisis of formation, a crisis of authentic education.”

Recalling part of his family heritage:
“The descendants of Gedeon and Elioz—the Gedevanishvilis — were charged by royal decree with protecting the cloak and the cathedral. On my family’s coat of arms are the Ten Commandments engraved on two tablets (indicative of our Jewish origins), the cloak of Christ, the episcopal miter and scepter, the sword and the banner, and the keys to the cathedral at Mtskheta.”

Remembering his grandfather:
“Pavel is an intense worker. He is tough and persistent. His motto is: “As long as the ball isn’t punctured, it bounces back.”

He is highly intelligent. He listens a lot and says little.

Everyone comes to him for advice.

This man who suffered so much has a hard time smiling,
but he is gentle and humble of heart.”

Family wishes:
“In 1991, the Soviet regime falls. A year later, my parents move to Georgia, thus fulfilling my maternal grandfather’s most cherished dream—that the family return to liberated Georgia. My mother is 54 years old.”

About his attraction to Russian literature:
“What strikes me about Russian literature is its moral and Christian content. It is aimed at the reader’s heart. It seeks to ennoble and transform.”

Speaking on Vocation:
“It is 1979 and I am 17 years old. In a few months, I will graduate from secondary school.

I must decide on a career but am more concerned about what kind of life I will lead, what kind of man I will be. I know that if I do not decide the matter soon, others will do it for me—my parents, my friends, the girls I know, French
society with its empty slogans and fads.

I seek refuge at the famous Sacré Coeur Basilica at the summit of the Montmartre butte. Sacré Coeur is French for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in which I now find comfort and consolation.”

“One of the most important Russian theologians of the emigration, Alexander Schmemann, says that the Christian’s on-going flight from the world stems from an inability to square the circle of a basic Christian paradox: to be “in the world” but “not of this world.”

Saint Pope John Paul II:
“During my university years, it is John Paul II who shapes my thinking.

Later, I would have the chance to be in his presence, to listen to him and speak to him in Rome, Helsinki and Tallinn.

John Paul II, like Escriva, is a giant. For me, he is also a father and a master.”

And a final quote:
“The years pass and nothing happens.

Or so it seems outwardly. In reality, these are years of great spiritual intensity.”

This book is an excellent read. This book was also an inspiring read. I have loved his leadership material I have read, and now I want to read the rest of his works. I just wish an eBook was available or it was easier to lay your hands on. This is a book I will keep buying copies of to give away. I give it my top recommendation. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! You can access a PDF of this book at the Virtuous Leadership Institute site.

Books by Alexandre Havard:
Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence
Created for Greatness: The Power of Magnanimity
From Temperament to Character: On Becoming A Virtuous Leader
My Russian Way: a spiritual autobiography

Friday, 29 June 2018

Alvaro Del Portillo The Power of Humility - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky

Alvaro Del Portillo:
The Power of Humility
Helena Scott
Ethel Tolansky
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860829024
eISBN 9781784693954

I have read extensively on Saint Josemaria Escriva but far less on Blessed Alvara del Portillo. This booklet is the start of that lack of knowledge changing. I was amazed at the life this man lived, and so much of it I was completely unaware of.  I began my research into Escriva and Opus Dei when I was a religious studies major in university. I started my research with the intent of a doing a thesis on the work. I started attending monthly recollections, and making retreats most years. The people I have known who are part of the work have inspired, challenged and encouraged me going on 30 years now. And this booklet has done the same things. I am already looking forward to rereading this book with my children over the summer holidays. My youngest two have crocheted versions of Saint Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Alvara del Portillo made by Oremus Crocheted Saints. And I know that they will love this booklet as much as I have.

But back to this book. The chapters in the booklet are:

During the War
Rome and the 'Rock'
A Quiet Servant of the Church
Prelate of Opus Dei
The Head of a Global Family
Devotion, a Great Joy, and His Last Day

There was so much in this book that I had not encountered in my readings and research to date. From his early years and switching programs so he could finish school and start working to help his family. To the works he has written. This man truly lived to serve, and gave his whole live in service to God. He was a man of great personal devotion, especially to Mary and Marian shrines. He was a man of learning. But he was also a humble servant. The amount of travel that Del Portillo did and the number of centres and works he started is staggering. At one point he was starting a new work about once a year each time in a new country and region. This booklet begins with a story:

"One day in the early 1980s a young man was praying in front of the statue of Our Lady in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. His name was Louis and he was from Cameroon. While he was there a white-haired priest came up to him and introduced himself, and they were soon deep in conversation. Louis was very struck by this fatherly-looking priest, with a gentle smile and understanding eyes, who spoke with such faith, warmth, priestly zeal and love for Jesus Christ. After they had both returned to their respective countries, they kept in touch by letter, and Louis discovered his own vocation to the priesthood. He entered the seminary and was ordained in 1989. Referring to that encounter, Father Louis said later: "This is my model, this is the priest I would like to imitate!" The priest who had inspired him, and continues to do so, along his path in the priesthood, was Alvaro del Portillo."
And that is what we will come away with after reading this book, it will be an encounter with a saintly man who will inspire us! And it is a blessing to have this book as so much that has been written about and by Alvaro del Portillo is not available in English. Making this a little treasure for us to cherish.

This book is another excellent read from The Catholic Truth Society. They currently have over 600 title in print, and just over 300 available electronically.  Every time I read a book from CTS I find 2 or 3 more I want to read. While working on this review I found out the authors Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky have co-authored three other biographies for CTS. I had not encountered Tolansky before, but have encountered Helena Scott as the translator into English of some of the works by Father Jacques Philippe. I have already added their 3 others CTS books to my wish list. This book is an excellent read and strongly encourage you give it a read.

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.

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 about Alvaro del Portillo:
Alvaro Del Portillo The Power of Humility - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo - John F. Coverdale
40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva - Cesare Cavalleri


Books by Alvaro del Portillo:
Like Salt and Like Light: Anthology of texts compiled by Jose Antonio Loarte
Faithful And Laity In The Church; The Bases Of Their Legal Status
Journey with Jesus

Friday, 23 September 2016

40 Years with a Saint - Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva

40 Years with a Saint:
Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva
Álvaro del Portillo
Cesare Cavalleri
Dr. Gerald Malsbary (Translator)
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594172496

I have read this book through and know that I will read It again. It was inspiring, motivating and encouraging. This book is also reprint of the book originally called Immersed in God. I first started reading about Opus Dei and Saint Josemaria Escriva the founder over a decade ago. And yet the more I read, the more I am impressed with both the man and the organization. And this book was an incredible read, opening up the life of the man and the work from one of the earlier members, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo.

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo lived with and worked closely with Josemaria Escriva for 40 years. The faith of both men come through in the book, their friendship, their support for each other and their dedication to serving the Church. The book is an interview with the back and forth between Cavalleri and del Portillo.

The sections in this book are:

1. A Son of the Church
2. Citizens of Two Cities
3. What the Father Was Like
4. His Upbringing
5. The Founder
6. A Family and an Army
7. Means and Obstacles
8. Outlines of Interior Life
9. The Bread and the Word
10. Devotions
11. Virtues Lived to a Heroic Degree
12. A Reputation for Sanctity
13. June 26, 1975
A Chronology of the Life of St. Josemaría Escrivá
Bibliographical Note

Some of the stories in this book have different versions told elsewhere. But many of them are new. It is the personal account of a life lived in service. A life committed to following Gods leadings, guidance an immense trust in Gods provision. This book was an excellent read. It will challenge your faith and how you live it out. The examples of Escriva and del Portillo  will both motivate and encourage.

This book is wonderful and I encourage you to give it a read with an open heart!

(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Books about Alvaro del Portillo:
Alvaro Del Portillo The Power of Humility - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo - John F. Coverdale
40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva - Cesare Cavalleri


Books by Alvaro del Portillo:
Like Salt and Like Light: Anthology of texts compiled by Jose Antonio Loarte
Faithful And Laity In The Church; The Bases Of Their Legal Status
Journey with Jesus