Genre: Christian life – saints
Author: Rev. Joseph Esper
Length: 379 pages
Publisher: Sophia Press, 2001
Do you have problems? Well, who doesn’t, at least on occasion? There are different ways to deal with life’s vexations – ignore them, hide them, or try to manage them. Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems offers the guidance of 350 saints to help negotiate life’s troubles.
Life’s Problems and Heavenly Solutions
Because human nature is inherently wounded, certain tendencies hold powerful sway on our thoughts and actions. Trouble emerges if we don’t learn to calm these passions, namely, anger, lust, pride, depression, gluttony, impatience, and the like.
The tidal wave of crime, violence, hatred, and abuse has its origin in uncontrolled passion. Imagine if every person had total mastery of himself or herself? Our world would be quite heavenly. Instead, it’s often hellish. Yet, there is hope.
The saints were not born with haloes. They began with the same wounds. In fact, some of them revealed the worst of human nature. Yet by God’s grace and by dint of continual effort, they gained mastery over their wounded nature. Their haloes came at a price. Consequently, they serve as heavenly guides for the rest of us.
Example Case – Anger
Saintly Solutions presents forty-seven problems in alphabetical order with corresponding solutions. Each problem, or chapter, begins with a pertinent Scripture verse, then gives several examples of saints with similar struggles interspersed with the author’s commentary. The next section, Further Reflection, quotes from the Catholic Catechism and Lives of the Saints along with practical advice from the saints. Lastly, there is a small section of recommended reading and a final prayer.
For the problem of anger, for example, St. James warns, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Then come innumerable examples from the saints, such as that of St. Jerome or St. Francis de Sales, who themselves were hot-blooded by nature but learned to control it.
Further Reflection contains a quote from the Catechism, Anger is a desire for revenge. To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit. (Catechism 2302). There are further encouraging quotes from St. Thomas Villanova and St. John Chrysostom on resolving anger.
Next comes practical advice; for example, St. Francis de Sales recommends considering a person’s good qualities, rather than what’s inciteful. Other good recommendations include rehearsing situations where you may lose your temper, then employing positive responses. Again, avoid persons or situations that may cause you to stumble. Prayer is also recommended.
Finally, there is a list of recommended reading sources from Scripture, the writings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus Liguori, and Rudolf Allers, Self-Improvement. And last, of all – a prayer to God which ties it together.
This book is all-around good and packed with excellent solutions. While some good books you may read only once, it’s not so with this book. In fact, it can be perused at least once a year, possibly more often. Thus, it comes highly recommended: five stars.