Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Photo of Easter Almuena

The coda for this blog, Confessions of a Cooperator, is "Musings of a late middle-aged Catholic laywoman who has made The Promise to participate as a Pauline Cooperator in Fr. James Alberione's vision of evangelization through the new means of social communication." I am one of only two Cooperators in Delaware, and my comrade-in-arms, Eva Vary, is leaving soon to move permanently to New York.
But my fellow Cooperators are located throughout the world. Easter Almuena is in Hawai'i, on the big island (I think), and she recently sent me a copy of her just-published book, "Serving God Joyfully Right Here in Hawai'i: Stories, Life Journeys, Reflections." I recommend you order a copy directly through Easter at Joy of Christ press.

One reviewer characterized the book as a "Chicken Soup for the Catholic Hawai'ian Soul" and I suppose it is although I think that sells the book a little short. I thought of the Chicken Soup series also when I read Serving God Joyfully, but the few times I have picked up a Chicken Soup book I have put it down without much interest. I will admit here and now, freely, that I don't know if this is because the books are inspirational at a shallow level -- which is the impression I have always gotten from the few times I've flipped through them -- or because I am predisposed to look down my nose at anything so obviously non-intellectual. Intellectual snobbery is definitely one of my sins, against which I fight all the time now. Snarkiness has been the hallmark of popular intellectualism for most of my lifetime, and snarkiness is not a virtue but a substitute for real wit. Since the Chicken Soup books have not a snarky bone in their bodies, perhaps my disdain for them is my own sinful sense of superiority. I will have to give them another try, in the wake of my absolute love for Easter Almuena's book, which has a similarity of structure to the Chicken Soup books.

However, I do think the excellence of Serving God Joyfully Right Here in Hawai'i goes far beyond its incidental similarity to the Chicken Soup books. Easter's book inspires down to the very bone of my being. I don't know what instructions she gave to her contributors, but she has managed to produce an expression of how one local church - the Catholic Church in Hawai'i - reflects the beauty, excitement, vitality, heroism, dark-seeing faith, light-bearing compassion, of the unversal Church, visible and invisible. In Easter's book I find a modern witness to the reality of the communion of saints. I know why I love Christ in His Bride, the Church. And I long to visit the Diocese of Hawai'i and meet its people. Or, perhaps, to attempt a similar project and discover in the Diocese of Wilmington too a garden of flowering souls of faith, hope and love in Christ.

I'll most likely have more to write later. Right now, time for Mass. Got the inspiration to go from a quote in the book, by St. Alphonsus Liguori: "One single Mass gives more honor to God than all the penances of the Saints, the labors of the Apostles, the sufferings of the Martyrs and even the burning love of the Blessed Mother of God." My question to you -- hyperbole, or...???

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