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Sensitive Souls
by C J Eustace
  Quantity in Basket: None
Code: 1929291574
Price: $19.95
Shipping Weight: 1.00 pounds
Five Women Searching for Faith

How do women answer God's summons? The uncomfortable answer: some don't. Some succeed. Some excel. C. J. Eustace sketches five 19th and 20th century women's lives in this gem. Two failed, as far as we can judge—but each of them tried. The other three were exemplary Catholic women, who suffered much. We at Roman Catholic Books asked a Catholic woman/writer, herself a convert from Judaism, to review the book for us, privately, before deciding whether or not to reprint it. She convinced us we must. Excerpts from her report:

France Pastorelli provides a perfect case study. She was a tremendously gifted pianist whose descent into illness silenced her art. Pastorelli turned her tragedy into an occasion for heroic virtue in living the life of a dependent invalid, deprived of that which she most loved, her musci. "My God, there are certain circumstances in which it is not easy to trace thy hand. I fail to understand why Thou hast chained me a few feet from my piano." Author Eustace quotes liberally from her notebooks, which reveal artistic genius, luminous intelligence, and courage. Ultimately, France Pastorelli gave her life to God, praying only that she would not squander 'what God has revealed to her of the usefulness of suffering.'"

Elizabeth Leseur's story is equally moving. A cultivated, upper middle-class Parisienne, Elizabeth was a lone Catholic living in a skeptical, secular environment. In particular, her husband, an atheist, dedicated his efforts to tearing down her faith. Elizabeth bore this spiritual desolation with resignation and her worldly duties as hostess and socialite as a secret Cross of expiation. All the while she maintained her devotions and moved ever more deeply into the contemplative life. Finally, approaching 40 and knowing she had a grave illness, she made a pact with God: 'Make my trials, suffering, and renunciations the path by means of which Thou will come into this heart, which is so dear to me,' referring to her husband, in her journal. Following her death, he discovered her remarkable writings and was converted to the Faith. He then became a Dominican priest. God had accepted her sufferings in exchange for his soul.

St. Therese of Lisieux is a brilliant portrait. Eustace shows how this great saint was a paragon of loving sacrifice, of the art of religion carried to its human zenith. Of the women who failed, but who made some attempt, Eustace has much to say. Helen Foley and Katherine Mansfield, one a poet and the other an innovator in the style known as prosepoetry, were each gifted and sensitive, alive to the beauty and mystery of the created world. Both had intimations of a 'promised land,' a reality to which their writing pointed. But Helen Foley apparently feared and avoided it, while Katherine Mansfield went tragically off course, seeking, but always believing the answer lay in herself, and spent her final days involved in highly destructive encounter therapies that became popular in our time."

To our own reviewer's high praise, several Catholic publications added their endorsement. Eustace anticipated Catholic women's crying need by half a century:

"Moving...powerful...scales heights of inspiration." —Books on Trial

"For the mature reader...highly rewarding." - Catholic Library World, 1947

"First-rate biographical portraits.—Anne Fremantle, Commonweal

"Good especially for those seriously beginning the quest of life." —Ave Maria


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