A Note to the Reader
Excerpt from My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, by Colleen Carroll Campbell (Image, 2012):
This is the story of a journey, a personal search for insight and peace that began with that age-old, seductively simple question: Is this all there is?
In my life that question took a contemporary and feminine twist when it first forced itself upon me one autumn morning midway through my college years. Reeling from a rough night, I found myself puzzled by the gulf between the boisterous party scene that had once captivated me and the menacing emptiness that consumed me in quieter moments. That puzzlement marked the start of a fifteen-year quest to understand the meaning of my feminine identity in light of my Christian faith and a culture shaped by modern feminism.
The spiritual journey that ensued led me to unexpected places, from the baths of Lourdes and ruins of Auschwitz to the Oval Office and the papal palace. Along the way, I wrestled with the quintessential dilemmas of my generation: confusion over the sexual chaos of the hookup culture, tension between my dueling desires for professional success and committed love, ambivalence about the demands of marriage and parenthood, and anguish over a beloved parent’s descent into illness and my own confrontation with a devastating diagnosis.
Dissatisfied by pat answers offered by both secular feminists and their antifeminist critics, I found grace and inspiration from an unexpected source: spiritual friendships with six women saints. In the lives and writings of Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of Lisieux, Faustina of Poland, Edith Stein of Germany, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Mary of Nazareth, I discovered kindred spirits. These women spoke to my deepest longings, guided me through my most wrenching decisions, and transformed my understanding of love and liberation.
You might think it odd that I speak of intimate friendships with women I have never met, women who have been dead for decades, centuries, even millennia. Once upon a time, I would have agreed. But that was before my journey began, before the joys, sorrows, and reversals chronicled in these pages convinced me of the living and powerful reality that is the communion of saints.
I hope the story of my journey, and the stories of the six holy women who guided me on my way, will encourage you to discover for yourself the consoling truth too often forgotten in our individualistic age: that the pilgrim who seeks God never travels alone.
Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, journalist, television host of EWTN's "Faith & Culture" and former presidential speechwriter whose latest book is My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.
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Excerpted from My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Copyright © 2012 by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Excerpted by permission of Image Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.