LeAnne's Reviews > Saint Training

Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer
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Oct 05, 11

bookshelves: christian-ya
Read in October, 2011

Mary Clare is not the most likeable character. Maybe that is because I see too much of myself in her. She is sure that the route to sainthood is through keeping careful track of her sins and confessing them. Not content with becoming a nun, she plans to be the Mother Superior. She even begins a correspondence with the Superior of a convent by asking the requirements for her job. Mary Clare’s concern with sainthood is humorous, but how many of us focus on obeying the rules more than enjoying God’s grace? The issues are complicated. Living in the grace of God does not mean ignoring his holiness or flaunting his guidelines for godly living. It would have been interesting if the author had contrasted a character going overboard the opposite direction—presuming on God’s grace, which is only touched on in one scene with Mary Claire’s little sister.

This book is much more Catholic than I have previously seen in Christian fiction. I learned a lot about first communion, confession, saints and other aspects of 1960s Catholicism. It is historical fiction set in the tumultuous period just after Vatican II when civil rights and the Vietnam War loomed large in the culture as a whole. As Mary Clare grows through her experiences, we see her opening herself to the ambiguities of life, accepting that people are different and understand God’s will in different ways. In some ways this struck me as an adult book, almost a memoire of a time that is past. It is hard to imagine modern youth preoccupied with sin and striving for sainthood.

The writing is good; the characters believable. The third person narrative felt a bit more remote than the first person things I have read lately. Definitely worth a read.
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