Oak Park author Julie Douglas was buried out of St. Edmund Church today, Feb. 7, with interment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Forest Park. She was 64.
She was a longtime St. Edmund parishioner, a regular at the 8:30 a.m. weekday mass, could be seen waiting at the church door for it to be opened, having walked from her apartment several blocks to the west.
Her devotion was evident. So was her big smile and friendly demeanor. It was a pleasure to meet that smile and strike up talk with her about books — she always carried one with her and was a regular customer at the Seminary Co-op Book store in Hyde Park.
At mass she sat in the front row or close to it and would stand balancing her considerable poundage, foot to foot. When she took her turn reading the day’s Scripture from the pulpit, it was with the clearest, I might say stentorian, tones you are likely to hear in church.
An author? Not sure how many Oak Parkers knew about that aspect. Her one book, Handbook for Spiritual Directors, Paulist Press, 1998, is available at Amazon, as linked, and elsewhere online, including Abebooks, my go-to online store, and Alibris, which I also recommend.
It’s trim, at a mere 90 pages, and is clean copy, neither too deep nor too shallow nor speaking with authority that weighs heavily. Cases are discussed in her “Handbook of definitions” that include (alphabetically) Anger with God, Angry at God, Antagonism from Peers, Boredom in prayer, etc.
For instance, “Scott comes for . . . direction furious with God because of the death of his doting mother . . . It is understandable . . . as people figure that’s where the buck stops . . . The best thing . . . is to admit this anger . . . and not try to hide or deny the hurt . . . ” etc.
It’s a book easily skimmed, picking and choosing, from the list, absolution to vocation, or to glean what you may from the list of readings in the last five pages. Julie was, and remains in her writing, a big Teresa of Avila fan — now there was a woman, 16th-century mystic who shrank not from the burning issues of her day, known in church history as reformer, with John of the Cross, of the Carmelites. In a century of reformation, she’s a standout.
Seeking a spiritual director, she wrote, we should prefer a smart one to a holy one. Hmm. Not surprised she’s especially respected by Oak Park’s Julie Douglas, who left a memory of special humanity to those who knew her and a nice little book that’s full of practical advice.