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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
If you’ve ever asked yourself how best to lead a Christian life, you may find that St. Francis and the Christian Life: A Disorderly Parable of the Epistle to the Galatians by April Love-Fordham is for you. Author Jon M. Sweeney notes in a foreword that, “(Love-Fordham) does here what we desperately need spiritual books to do: she prompts questions in us.” If you’re studying the missions of St. Francis and St. Paul, you’ll find this an interesting comparison on how they approached the establishment of religious communities in their respective times. If you’re looking for an engaging and thought-provoking subject for group or personal study, you’ll find this to be an utterly approachable and readable presentation that includes lesson plans, suggested spiritual practices, illustrations, and a bibliography.
I enjoyed St. Francis and the Christian Life. For all that it’s a non-fiction work on a serious question (“how are we to live the Christian Life?”), it reads with the easiness of an adventure novel set in the Italian countryside and laced with history, mystery, and suspense rather than as a purely academic treatment. The result is enjoyable. Love-Fordham crosses three timelines—the Early Church, the Middle Ages, and the modern world—as she and her husband end a hiking pilgrimage on the Camino di Assissi with a month’s stop at an agriturismo a day from Assisi. While there, April Love-Fordham works on a lesson regarding St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and draws comparisons between the two saints. The descriptions of the Italian countryside, the religious sites, and the people that she encounters, including the mysterious Brother Giovanni, add color and interest to the historical and religious themes.