My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell

(New York: Image, 2012), 214

Notes Started: 2021-07-28

Chapter 1: St. Teresa of Ávila

Summary: She feels lost and empty in her life of college debauchery and secular feminism, but starts reading Teresa of Ávila over Christmas break and sees how it’s never too late (and we’re never too far gone) to turn back to God.

  • Saint Teresa of Avila by Marcelle Auclair from her dad: "It makes Theresa come alive" (12)
  • her parents read the saints' lives again and again --> we need to be continually uplifted (12)
  • Autobiography of St. Teresa of Ávila (15)
  • It's never too late: Theresa's breakthrough came when she was 39
  • Persevering in prayer left her with "more tranquility and happiness than at certain other times when I had prayed because I had wanted to." (18)

Chapter 2: St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Summary: Her deepening love for Thérèse of Lisieux’s little way as she saw her father decline with Alzheimer’s, and his increasing joy as he grew closer to God.

  • Therese: A Life Of Therese Of Lisieux by Dorothy Day (31)
  • Louis Martin: "I know why God has ent me this trial. I never had any humiliation in my life; I needed one." (38)
  • her dad: "You're in God's hands." (48)
  • Thérèse's signature insight: "Jesus cares more about the love we put into our acts than the acts themselves" (51)

Chapter 3: Maria Faustina Kowalska

Summary: St. Faustina as a model in trusting the lord as she discerned leaving a prestigious White House job to marry her husband and be with her ailing father. True freedom is not license, but a commitment that costs you and trusting God to see you through.

  • Kowalska revealed to her the link between trust and humility (81)
  • "My Catholic faith reawakened a desire intrinsic to my feminine nature, one the world had convinced me to suppress for to long" (84)
  • "The only way to gain that trust was to act as if I already had it, to step out in faith with nothing other than God's hands to catch me if I fell." (88)
  • Freedom: "It was only in sacrificing something for love that I had found release." (90)

Chapter 4: Edith Stein

Summary: Her struggles with infertility and the spiritual motherhood and authentic feminism taught by Edith Stein.

  • John Paul II's writings on women (102):
    • On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Letter to Women, and The Gospel of Life by John Paul II
  • Edith Stein saw her conversion to Catholicism as a fulfillment, not repudiation, of her Jewish heritage, and "read her way into the Church" (104)
  • She devoured Teresa of Ávila's Autobiography in one night and declared: "This is the truth." (104, cf Witness to Hope 538)
  • Edith Stein's solution for misdirected love of God (111, Spiritual Disciplines):
      1. Thoroughly objective work: forces us to submit to laws outside ourselves and escape our obsessive focus on ourselves, helps us develop self-control
      1. Structure your day to be open to God's grace (Daily Routine): Fidelity to Christ requires stamina, which perishes if not refreshed by the wellspring of grace (Confession, Eucharist, Adoration)
      • Attend mass in the morning and ask God how he wants you to spend your day
      • Noontime break to reconnect with God
      • Offer your day back to God at night
  • "You cannot give what you do not possess." (113)
  • ref the National Catholic Bioethics Center for questions on IVF, among other things (120)

Chapter 5: Mother Teresa

Summary: The decline of her father into Alzheimer’s and the resulting dark night of her faith as she came to understand through John of the Cross and Mother Teresa: we don’t have to understand our cross, we just have to carry it.

  • Suffering: "God does not abandon us in our suffering but uses suffering to draw us closer to him." (138)
  • "God still allows evil in the world as the price of our freedom. Yet through his suffering, Christ transformed our trials into a means of grace, a way that we can participate in his redemptive work on earth while awaiting eternal life with him in heaven." (138)
  • The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross (139)
    • key to his thinking, something highlighted that I want to find in John but couldn't when flipping through it for a bit (140)
  • Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta (141)
    • the closer we are to God, the more we suffer
  • "I knew I was teetering on teh brink of a dangerous cliff. The only safe thing I knew to do was to keep showing up for daily Mass, keep reading scripture, keep confessing my sins, and keep visiting my parish's Eucharistic adoration chapel." (159)
  • Thérèse and Mother Teresa both made vows to refuse Jesus nothing (163)
  • "God is God, and I am not...In the face of such mystery, the only appropriate response is humble gratitude." (167)
  • Spiritual Disciplines: pray the rosary every day (170)

Chapter 6: Mary

Summary: Mary is our universal mother, who helped her through her challenging pregnancy.

  • Memorare by Danielle Rose (173)
  • True devotion to Mary must always lead closer to Christ and remain rooted in Christ (186)
  • Mary's sinless nature made living in our sinful world especially painful (195)
  • Mary shows us how motherhood requires a willingness to surrender


Source: Jordan


  • Saint Teresa of Ávila by Marcelle Auclair (12)
  • Autobiography by Saint Teresa of Ávila (15)
  • Confessions by Saint Augustine (17)
  • Therese: A Life Of Therese Of Lisieux by Dorothy Day (31)
  • Memory and Identity by John Paul II (68)
  • Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul by Maria Faustina Kowalska (68)
  • On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Letter to Women, and The Gospel of Life by John Paul II (102)
  • Life in a Jewish Family by Edith Stein (103)
  • Essays on Women by Edith Stein (105)
  • Theology of the Body by John Paul II (106)
  • The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross (139)
  • Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta (141)
  • Daughter Zion by Pope Benedict XVI (189)

Created: 2021-07-28-Wed
Updated: 2023-01-23-Mon