Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints
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Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  308 ratings  ·  38 reviews
By meditating on personal examples from the author's life, as well as reflecting on the inspirational life and writings of Thomas Merton, stories from the Gospels, as well as the lives of other holy men and women (among them, Henri Nouwen, Therese of Lisieux and Pope John XXIII) the reader will see how becoming who you are, and becoming the person that God created, is a si...more
Paperback, 98 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by HiddenSpring
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Jaci
A quick read by Jesuit James Martin (his most recent book is A Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything)...it is a meditation based on Thomas Merton's idea of the true self that Martin originally wrote for a lecture at Corpus Christi Church in NY, 2005.
ix: "For me to be a saint means to be myself," wrote Thoms Merton in his book New Seeds of Contemplation. "Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discovering my true self."
p.49: I don't think th...more
Ginny
Since I find both Merton and Nouwen helpful in my spiritual journey, I thought I would read this brief book by James Martin, S. J. to see how they impacted his spiritual journey. In addition to learning more about both men, I found the conversation about the false self and true self from Merton's perspective to be helpful for me. "The false self is the person that we present to the world, the one we think will be pleading to others: attractive, confident, successful. The true self ... Is the per...more
Jeff
An amazing book, and very timely for me at the stage of life I am in. Uses the backdrops of the "saints" Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa and others to show how they grew in their understanding of life and become who they were created to be, rather than someone else. The author encourages us to find who God created us to be, rather than try and emulate another's path to holiness. Recognizing that each of us are called to the path of holiness but how that happens is different for each o...more
Adam Shields
Short Review: A very helpful short book exploring Merton's idea of the True Self and the False self. Martin uses Merton and Nouwen and Jesus (with a few others) to illustrate how others have tried to seek out their true selves. The thesis of the book is that in order to become our best self (the true self) we have to become the particular person that God created us to be. So we need to pay attention to our desires and our particular makeup. We can learn from others but we should not strive to be...more
Sofie Tyger
I liked this book a lot, less for what it was in and of itself and more for the seeds of ideas it threw at me, some of which stuck. I just requested eight or nine odd books from the library, by and on Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, plus a couple random ones mentioned or quoted, like Journey of a Soul by Pope John XXIII.

Side note: I was skeptical about the entire chapter spent freely speculating on Jesus' self-knowledge, and journey of self-discovery. That being said, it hasn't been a topic I've...more
Beth
So this Lent I made the same commitment that I made last Lent - to only read books on religion and spirituality. I actually re-read this book, which is such a lovely gem. I discovered something new the second time around - and I imagine I will likely re-read it again next Lent ;) This book is great because it says that being a Saint means being yourself. And being yourself means being your best self - the way God wants you to be. The book also references a lot of other books - some of which I've...more
Laurie
Excellent short book on discovering the true self. This is a life-long journey for most of us. One of the key points I got here is that we never ask ourselves who we want to be. We ask of ourselves and others what do we want to do but not who do want to BE. The doing should flow from the being and that river only flows one way. If you find yourself doing something that feels soul-sucking, it is likely because you missed the step when you asked yourself what you want to be and the two are not ali...more
Jes Pedroza
Jun 18, 2007 Jes Pedroza rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen Fans
If you've read "My Life with the Saints" (also by Martin) before you read this book, then you'll notice a lot of overlap. But the life of Thomas Merton (which is addressed in "My Life with the Saints") is so interesting that I didn't mind at all.
Martin introduces us to Henri Nouwen as well who was also a man with a fascinating life. Both men wanted so badly to be their "true selves"....., men of love, honesty, compassion etc. They worked their whole lives to obtain this and although they lived...more
Jane
A short book reviewing the false self and the true self. Introduces Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. Also speculates on what Jesus Christ may have experienced of his own self in his earthly life. Very readable, interesting and helpful for one's own life. I highly recommend it.
Jeanette
I liked this book because the topic is so important. Especially when times are tough, it's easy to start to feel kind of useless in the grand scheme of things. The idea of the true self is that we're meant to be unique, and an important part of life's journey is shedding the false selves we build up to pursue unfulfilling goals and embracing who we're really meant to be.

It's a very quick read so it you don't feel bogged down by any one perspective (he offers his own, plus his reading of Merton,...more
Lucynda
I really enjoy Thomas Merton, this author does a nice job capturing him.
Jaret
This is a really cool little book. It's short, sweet, to the point, and packed with a lot of good stuff. I really liked the introductions to Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton's lives and how they can be models of living out your "true self" and casting off the "false self." My one complaint is that a lot of the content seems to be recycled from Martin's other works. Not that the recycled stuff is bad, probably should hear it again, just that it would be nice to get more original thoughts. Definitel...more
Camellia
Worth checking out
Liz D'Onofrio
This short meditation reminded me of why I love Merton and Nouwen so much, and why their words have stayed with me years after I first read them during my freshman year of college. Jim Martin is always a good read: easy, accessible, practical, and encouraging. I also appreciated his acknowledgement of the late Dan Harrington, SJ - one of my grad school professors, as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman, who he just called "Phil". A nice testament to them both.
April-lyn
I wish this book had been longer, and I wish that Martin had made more of an attempt to apply the concepts to secular life. Most of us are not saints or in religious orders, and many of us don't have the luxury of leaving our jobs if we don't feel they reflect our "true self". He did attempt to address the former, but I wanted more substance than he provided.

I guess I'll just have to dig into his recommended reading list instead!
Charlotte
This book was a Christmas gift to me from one of my grown sons.

The author urges the reader to be himself/herself while staying on the quest for becoming what God intends each of us to be - our best self. We do not need to be a carbon copy of someone else's idea of perfection. Instead we need to be true to our soul while pursuing our unique talents.
Terri
Emphasizes that the path to holiness is linked to discovering & developing the gifts God has placed in each of us. This is the perfect time for me to ponder this insight, and Fr Martin is the perfect author to present it.
Minrose
This book was a disappointment. His other book My life with the Saints was wonderful. So I had high expectations. I don't really care for Merton and the book was full of his opinions. Not enough of James Martin's ideas.
Susan
Father Martin's literary style is conversational and thought provoking. He shares personal insights to his spiritually and encourages the reader to engage in self examination and reflection. Good book to share as a gift!
Lisa
I don't think this is a book you like or dislike. It didn't move me unexpectedly, but I did learn about the struggles of 2 great Christian theologians. It didn't stick with me, but I liked it at the time I read it
Marion
I liked Fr. Martin's short book. He reflects on the lives of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and others in their pursuit to find themselves - and he offers reflections to help readers accept themselves.
Maria
Surprised to enjoy last 2 chapters the most. As previously mentioned, looking forward to reading many of the books that were referenced and/or recommended. Will add to my "to read" list soon!
Diane
I did not remember this book when I looked at the title. After reading the forward again I do remember that Mr. Merton gave wonderful insights into how he thinks and feels.
Julie
Not as strong a book at others written by Martin. I thought this book was not as well organized or insightful. I was a bit disappointed all in all.
Rita
Loved this book. James Martin is a wonderful writer and I so appreciate his faith sharing. This will be a must read for my college aged daughters.
Lisajo62
Read as part of the Lenten studies at Church. Enjoyed very much. Great for anyone searching for something more, you are definately not alone.
Jessica Hall
this book will change your life - it asks critical questions and forces contemplation of each indivudals purpose and discovery of true self
Danae Hudson
A good book with some great insights, but, if you've read My Life With The Saints, there is a good deal of overlap.
Lisa
Apr 04, 2008 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Merton or Nouwen
Shelves: catholic, religion, saints
This is my least favorite Fr. Martin book. I LOVED "My Life with the Saints" and recommend that instead.
Kathleen
Interesting info about Merton and author's reflections on the path to becoming your true self.
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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....more
More about James Martin...
My Life With the Saints The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life Jesus: A Pilgrimage A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions

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