FLESH AND SPIRIT by Elizabeth Christman


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Christman's earnest, blessedly low-keyed approach to the burdens of conscience assumed by post-Vatican II nuns and priests mutes the implausibilites of this story about the spiritual crises of Sister Brigid, a young nun serving as counselor at a secular Ohio college. Like her cherished friend Father Porter Woods, a brilliant and cultivated former Episcopalian on the staff of the Campus Ministry, Brigid has come to the religious life rather abruptly--and she now is scrupulous in her examination of the (reality and motives of her words and deeds. She wonders about her recent operation to donate a kidney to save a dying brother (who died anyway)--was it a noble ""gesture"" or a true sacrifice? And now she faces new, crushing dilemmas at the college: how to advise a distraught homosexual; how to define the line between choosing to be a ""victim"" (""neurotic, self-destructive, sick"") and following Christ, who did indeed choose; and, above all, the question of where her duty lies when a young graduate student, deserted by his wife and unable to sustain his two small children, proposes marriage. Sister Brigid considers sacrificing her loved vocation for another in need, but finally an anguished Father Porter illuminates her true motivation. Christman clearly knows the religious life--""Priests and nuns and brothers needed one another, needed to catch an eye or a shrug. . . needed to joke about their meager budgets and the failure of their plans""--so, in spite of the bizarre turn of events in Brigid's story, there's some appeal here for readers interested in catching convincing glimpses of ""lonely celibates working for God.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow