By John Norton
I'm looking forward to a week of vacation next week. We'll be at home, hosting my sister and a brother and their spouses and children for a mini-reunion of sorts; we haven't been all together in three years, when we gathered for the wedding of our youngest brother (who unfortunately won't be able to make it this time).
For months my kids have been anticipating this week, which they've christened "Cousin Fest." The name seems likely to stick.
In addition to catching up with family, I look forward to making a little extra time for reading, one of the great pleasures of summer vacation. Books are perfect for those vacation times when we've already stepped out of our usual routines. They, too, have a way of knocking us out of our daily mental rut, maybe jarring our consciences, and expanding the limits of our worldview and experience.
If, like me, you're always looking for ideas for the next book or two to read, be sure not to miss our Summer Reading guide starting on Page 9. The list was compiled by our summer intern, Stephanie Kornexl, an avid reader and recent college graduate.
Most of the books on the list are on the newer side. Some day we also should publish an In Focus identifying the must-read Catholic classics, maybe something like "The 50 Books All Catholics Should Read Before They Die." What do you think? What books, in your view, would have to be on that list?
I tend to be most partial to histories, biographies and historical novels. Right now I'm in the middle of reading Jesuit Father James Martin's book, "My Life with the Saints" (Loyola Press, $22.95), a well-written and unique combination of memoir and sort of "Lives of the Saints." As a former General-Electric-finance-guy-turned-Religious who tells of a youth largely devoid of Catholic culture, Father Martin's life experience is vastly different from mine. But many of the saints he mentions are also old friends of mine, and it is fascinating to see differences and similarities in how we came to discover them. What a community of believers we are.
It was fortuitous for me to be reflecting on saints this week, in which the news continues to be dominated by a string of celebrity deaths: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett (see Page 17), Gale Storm, Billy Mays and, most famously, Michael Jackson.
You have probably reached saturation point on Jackson et al. by now, but what you probably haven't seen is an analysis of this whole situation through the optic of Catholic clarity. So don't miss our editorial this week, which brings together "Saints and Celebrities" and distills a few key take-aways (see Page 19).
As always, I look forward to hearing your compliments, critiques and comments by mail at the address below or at firstname.lastname@example.org. From all of us here, have a blessed summer!
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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