by Brandon Vogt
Reviewed by Carmen Julia Rodriguez
We read in (Acts 8:26-40): “the angel of the Lord spoke unto Philip, saying: Arise, and go…” Yes, our life is a journey with no map. Yet for those among us who choose to seek a relationship with the Creator, there are guides we could rely on as we journey one step at a time. The most evident is the Book of Nature for “the Creation – Nature - speaks of the virtues of the Creator.” Then, for those of us who strive to be Christians, there is the Bible, the Word of God - the eternal I AM through Whom everything was created. Finally, for those of us who are Catholic, there is the Community of Saints. We read in the Bible: “may all be One; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21) The Community of Saints is the living testimony of the God Spell: “For God so loved the world He surrendered His only begotten Son so that whoever believes, will have life everlasting.” (John 3:16) By virtue of the mission embraced by the Members of this body, the Community of Saints is a transformative force in the world. Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt( a concise, powerful account of fourteen Members of this body representing seven principles proposed by the Catholic Church as guide for our life’s journey towards God.
The sacredness of life and the intrinsic dignity of the human being are exemplified by the lives of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Peter Claver. The call to be active participants of a family and a community find truthful testimony in the lives of Saint Frances of Rome and Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey. The commitment to human rights and their inherent responsibilities are powerfully portrayed in the missions of Saint Roque González and Saint Thomas More. The option for the poor and vulnerable are beautifully illustrated by the indefatigable labor of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and Saint Vincent de Paul. The commitment to the dignity of work and the rights of workers are reaffirmed through the transformative contributions of Saint Benedict of Nursia and the Servant of God Dorothy Day. The ever guiding principles of Christian life - solidarity and subsidiarity - are made luminous by the words and actions of Saint John Paul II and Saint Damien of Molokai. Last – but not least – the command to care for God’s creation are the fruit of two charismatic witnesses’ lives, Saint Giles and Saint Isidore, the Farmer.
This book is an easy read and should be in the hands of every teacher at the Sunday school, the Catholic classroom or the interfaith workshop. The author has been especially careful in the portrayal the Community of Saints’ diversity. As the old country song very well proclaims, “the road to Heaven is not only for high achievers… it is full of sinners and believers.” Believers been the key word in the account by Brandon Vogt of the men and women whose lives are a living testimony of the Love of God for each and every one of us.
“Be not afraid. Be not alarmed.” Santa Teresa de Avila;
“Everything is Grace!” Saint Therese deu Lisieux;
“The fruit of Love is Service.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
My three Teresa’s, as well as other saints, are mentioned in this luminous book where everyone in the journey home will find comfort and encouragement as we walk…
I was attracted to this book because its young and charismatic writer, Brandon Vogt, has dedicated the income from its royalties to support the essential work of Catholic Charities USA (www.crs.org/). As a teacher in a small catholic school – Saint Therese of Jesus in Aurora, Illinois – I will forever be - more than word can ever express - indebted to the ministry of this organization. They not only ministered to our children, but to me as well. Thank you!