the fact that I had reached my own peace with the Catholic Church. 'It's a good thing,' he once told me, 'that you're raising your kids in the Catholic faith. At least they'll have a map to follow or throw away. In either case, they'll know where they are.' "
That's what Mr. McCourt had. Even as he described suffering under its thumb, he developed an unbreakable affinity with the church's history, traditions and literature. He writes in "Angela's Ashes" about discovering Butler's "Lives of the Saints" in the library on a rainy afternoon—"I don't want to spend my life reading about saints but when I start I wish the rain would last forever." He told an Irish television host in 1999: "I read the 'Lives of the Saints' all the time. If you poke me in the middle of the night and say what are you reading, I'll say, the 'Lives of the Saints.' "