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My Life With the Saints

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  2,749 Ratings  ·  303 Reviews
One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year

Winner of a Christopher Award

Winner of a Catholic Press Association Book Award

Meet some surprising friends of God in this warm and wonderful memoir

James Martin has led an entirely modern life: from a lukewarm Catholic childhood, to an educationat the Wharton School of Business, to the executive fast track at General
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Loyola Press (first published February 28th 2006)
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Roman Catholic Reading
15th out of 381 books — 198 voters
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Lent Reading List
9th out of 126 books — 57 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Webster Bull
May 26, 2016 Webster Bull rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, modern-saints
This is the book that "made" me a Catholic eight years ago, and my original review about its effects on my life and faith is below. This time I listened to the audio version winningly narrated by the author, whom you may have seen as the "chaplain" of the Colbert Report.

I "read" it again because I am one-half of a two-man book club, the other half being a secular Jewish psychologist who—though he finds my belief in a "sky god" somewhat odd—kindly asked me to choose a book, or the book, that had
Jan 14, 2013 Ken rated it really liked it
One of my reasonable goals for 2013 is to pay more attention to my neglected spiritual side. The urge has been there all along, but the last two months of 2012 increased the sense of urgency. "The world is too much with us late and soon," and all that. Reality needed to be checked.

So I scoured amazon for Thomas Merton-like writers. You know. Christians who aren't rolled in too much holy. Writers with a sense of humor and a sense of sin. Ordinary people like me who think too much for their own g
Oct 23, 2007 Carole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every Person
This is a really great, life-changing kind of book. The author is a Jesuit priest and the book is basically a memoir of how various saints have played an important role in his own life. He also explains some of the theology about saints and why they are important and tells a little about the life of each saint that has played an important role in his life.

The main point of the book is that each saint has his or her own personality with individual strengths and weaknesses - and that this shows t
Dec 10, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
An absolutely fascinating book...and unlike any other book on saints I have ever read. Although it is nothing like a devotional, every page has a little nugget to help with your every day life as he relates the lessons learned from saints. He talks about how saints are important to us not because they all do great things for God, but because they are individuals whom God used to do seemingly small things in an extraordinary way.
Apr 13, 2009 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
My own experience with Catholic saints was better than most raised in the Catholic tradition. I always viewed them as adventurous fairy tales, having been exposed to the grim version of the Grimm fairy tales. This book is written by a Catholic priest who came into the priesthood without really knowing the canon of Catholic popular media like "The Bells of St. Mary's" or "The Song of Bernadette". Without having been influenced by the stranger aspects that can come with Catholic folklore, James Ma ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
If you went to Catholic grade school, odds are that your classroom or library had multiple "lives of saints" books for your eight-year-old self to peruse. Full of lavish pictures of romantically dressed men and women, the books told stories about people who traveled to exotic places, fought authority in the name of justice, and performed the occasional miracle or two. And if that wasn't enough to make your eight-year-old-self love them, you might just have gotten hooked by the fact that there ar ...more
GK Stritch
Jun 03, 2015 GK Stritch rated it liked it
Brilliant minded Jesuits, strong teachers with fascinating insights, JESUITS WHO KNOW MORE THAN ME have always captured my attention. Call me old fashioned, but I don't like Jesuits dumbed down.

The title, the cover, and the blurb caught my interest (Goodreads recommendation), but the premise of the book: a Wharton grad raised in a lukewarm Catholic family who knows little of Catholic culture and goes on to be a Jesuit--seems "spiritually lite" to use the author's words. If this is a way to reac
Nov 29, 2011 Grace rated it really liked it
I am now officially a Father Martin fan. This is the second book of his that I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly, the stories and meditations on his favorite saints were packed with inspiration and practical wisdom. Father Martin's self-deprecating, witty writing style makes for a fun read that also happens to edify the soul.
Jun 08, 2009 Alexis rated it it was amazing
Reading Jesuit James Martin’s My Life with the Saints, brought home many key concepts for me. Some were just reinforcements of what I already know and understand, but there were other concepts, that I have felt before but could never describe, put into words, fully extrapolate, etc. You get the idea, I am sure. “Who trusts in God lacks nothing” was a Swahili proverb Martin cites at the start of one of the later chapters, and can really be seen as wrapping up the book’s entire message in a nice n ...more
Dennis Lid
Oct 06, 2010 Dennis Lid rated it liked it
The book is well written, a good summary of several saint's lives, and is obviously painstakingly researched. James Martin, S.J. has personalized the renderings of the saints lives with references to his own experiences. Yet, I find it difficult to retain a keen interest in reading the rest of the book, although I must admit that it gets more interesting as the book progresses. I have had to read it in fits and starts over a prolonged period of time and am determined to finish it. Right now I am ...more
Mary Harley
May 30, 2009 Mary Harley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I've never really been interested to read what I've traditionally seen as a "lives of the saints" book. I have, however, taken time over the years to learn about specific people I've considered role models - Mother Teresa and Saint Francis, Dorothy Day and Pope John Paul, among others. In this book, James Martin writes a short chapter on each of 16 "saints" - some canonized, some blessed, some just admirable people you'd want to emulate in some way. Martin keeps the book interesting by moving it ...more
Sydney Young
May 19, 2012 Sydney Young rated it it was amazing
My husband will say, "What a surprise! Another book you love!" I guess I wouldn't love to read if I only read books that were average. No, I like to try to be pretty selective about what I read, and have learned not to invest the time if it's not worth it for me, regardless of what others think. I do think, with the amazing number of books out there, it is important to read it all, but also to read the best of the best. So, why is this book another home run for me?

I have been Protestant all my
Feb 04, 2011 booklady rated it really liked it
Recommended to booklady by: Karina
My favorite books are those which introduce me to other books or people I want to read/“meet”/learn more about. James Martin S.J.'s My Life With the Saints is exactly that sort of book! Of course most of the saints he writes about are old friends so there weren't too many introductions per se. Still reading and hearing about how my favorite heavenly allies have helped others in their spiritual journeys was very comforting. I found myself nodding, smiling and thinking, “That sounds just like St. ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Mare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this after reading Martin"s book, Jesus: a parable, which I rated high and loved reading. In fact that was how I was into refocused to James Martin's work. I bought this book thinking I would read it later, so I did gradually. His writing is still engaging and easy to comprehend. He adds enough of his own personal spiritual journey to give it depth and organization, the saints and men and women he talked about were his favorites and were covered well enough in depth, he does give ...more
Anthony Ventrello
Jun 17, 2012 Anthony Ventrello rated it it was amazing
It's been said that there are books that change your life, well this is mine. I've always had a good relationship with my saints, but I never went beyond my favorite saints, until I read this book. This book was like an answered prayer for me. I was introduced to many saints that I wasn't familiar with and it led me to discover new saints. Although I did not agree with some of Fr. Martin's choices such as Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton who will never become saints, I was pleased to learn more abo ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone, especially fans of James Martin, SJ
Wonderful look at particular saints who influenced Fr. Martin. Some are canonized, some are not. The idea is that they influenced HIS life. There is a small amount of biography when it is available woven into what Martin was doing at the time he was influenced by reading or hearing about a saintly figure.

This is not a lives of the saints, as such, but more of a life of James Martin. His humble stories and lively storytelling do much to introduce some saints to me. I am not all that aware of sai
Dana Kraft
Apr 26, 2015 Dana Kraft rated it really liked it
I found this book interesting not because it provided a lot of details about the lives of some saints but because it showed how they can inspire someone. Reading this book has added several other subjects and books to my reading queue, which is one of my main criteria for an excellent read - it makes me want to read more. The author does a great job of making the material accessible regardless of your familiarity with any of the people he's writing about. My favorite quote by far is from Thomas ...more
In My Life with the Saints, James Martin traces his life from a casually Catholic childhood to the Wharton School of Business, a career in the finance department of General Electric, and then improbably to the priesthood. Throughout his spiritual journey, Martin is inspired, challenged, and comforted by the lives of saints, 16 of whom he profiles in brief, entertaining chapters that reveal as much about Martin’s spiritual growth as they do about these pillars of Christianity.
Hardly the cold, sc
Sep 10, 2015 Luke rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious
Personally I was hoping for more in-depth looks at the lives of the saints going in, but after reading this book the balance between information on these holy Catholic men and women is balanced well in each chapter with Fr. Martin's own life experiences. Some chapters are more saint biographies, and some are more Fr. Martin biographies, but each chapter works, and works well. Fr. Martin is a fantastically simple writer, with a style and charm that could entertain everyone. What's more, while thi ...more
Aug 21, 2015 Phil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, christian
This is an enjoyable book which doesn't just set out the lives of various saints, but weaves in how the author has interacted with them and what he has learned from them over the years. The author, a Jesuit priest, who left a life in the business world to join this monastic order, is a gifted writer and has produced a highly engaging narrative about several saints and near-saints- St. Jude, St. Joan of Arc, St. Therese of Lisieux, Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, St. Ignatius of Loyala among others. ...more
Veronica Greenwell
Dec 26, 2013 Veronica Greenwell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good-lord, 2012
I really enjoyed the historical, spiritual, and author's personal experience with each of the saint.
The questions in the back of the book helped me and a friend have some great discussions.
It's a great book for someone who wants to know more about "the saints"
Nov 29, 2013 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-church
I enjoyed this. There were some saints I knew, some I knew a little, and some I didn't know at all. I intend to go through the bibliography for more.

So far, I've not thought of the saints as "big brothers and sisters" for myself, but I will see if I can hold onto that idea in the future.
Jacob Frank
Mar 23, 2015 Jacob Frank rated it really liked it
This book touches on many of the moments in Martin's life that he discusses in his later books, e.g. his work in Kenya, his epiphany at seeing a Thomas Merton documentary on TV, etc. In addition, he tells of his work at a hospice for the poor in Jamaica and among gang members in Chicago's Cabrini Greens housing project. Taken as a whole, Martin's writing paints an impressive picture of Jesuit training. They are, for example, expected to complete a Master's degree in philosophy prior to their the ...more
Cheryl Gatling
I loved looking at the picture on the front of this book. There are the saints lined up. There are men and women, people of all complexions, people wearing robes and monastic habits, people wearing modern-day suits. Looking at the picture, and reading the stories in the book, I found myself quoting the line from "Dover Beach": "so various, so beautiful, so new." (We will ignore the fact that that line is taken totally out of context, and Arnold's poem is really about the death of faith, and the ...more
Chui Ying
Dec 27, 2015 Chui Ying rated it really liked it
A delightful read from start to finish. I have been pleasantly introduced to a few saints that I would now like to know more about. I think you know you've read a good book when it introduces and inspires you to read other related books. My favorite saint has always been St. Francis of Assisi without really knowing why, other than the fact that he preaches to birds. Fr. Martin's book gives a few more delightful anecdotes for me to want to further my understanding of the Saint. Also, he writes a ...more
4 Stars + for this engaging autobiographical journey of a Jesuit (Society of Jesus) and his journey from entering the Novitiate through just a year or so ago, and the Saints that he has come to know, love, and learn from.

I became engaged in learning about Saints I had never heard of before. Their challenges and their beauty. Father Martin writes extremely well and from the heart and the soul. He expresses his own humanity and his own revelations as he matures and becomes the best of his vocatio
Apr 05, 2014 Bernadette rated it it was amazing
Since memoirs are among my favorite books to read, I was intrigued with the jacket cover blurb for this book calling it a "spiritual memoir." James J. Martin knows how to tell a personal story with humor, wisdom, warmth, encouragement and exceptional detail for facts. He writes about his 20-year journey becoming and living as a Jesuit priest highlighting various saints that have played a role in his spiritual growth. Each chapter describes Martin's personal encounter/reflections on a saint inter ...more
Apr 25, 2015 Teressa rated it it was amazing
My Life With the Saints is a special audiobook for me. I was first given the book by a friend at Church and was really hoping to find it in audio format and when I did I was very happy. I listen to parts of this audiobook almost every night.

James Martin is a Jesuit Priest and a wonderful storyteller. I especially like that he narrated his own book. That makes it all the more better. This has been a helpful audiobook for me at all times and I would definitely recommend the audio version for those
Sep 02, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Greatly entertaining memoir based around inspiring stories of saints.
Dec 21, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! Touching overview of Fr. Martin's most loved saints.
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James J. Martin, born 29 December 1960, is a Jesuit priest, writer and Culture Editor of the Jesuit magazine America.

Education and Career

Martin grew up in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States, and attended Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982 and worked in corporate finance at General Electric for six years.
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“But it is always God who takes the initiative and who surprises us with his presence, as God did with Mary.
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