Spring is a time of newness, of being able to stretch out of our wintry…
Inspiring, challenging new reads for fall
More and more, Catholics of all walks of life are asking for resources to be inspired and better informed about their faith. Publishers continue to hear this cry and respond with new releases. This fall, we highlight a number of must-read books covering a wide range of topics. Pick up one of the great theological classics, including works by Catherine of Siena and newly canonized John Henry Newman, or pick up the writings of popular 20th century authors, such as G. K. Chesterton and Flannery O’Connor. Other books address authentic masculinity and growing in virtue; beauty in the arts and the home; a need for daily prayer and devotion to the Rosary; and miracles and words from the mystics. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in with any of these great reads to nourish your spiritual life.
Summary: For men seeking a guide to virtuous manhood, “The Catholic Gentleman” may be that source. The book’s short chapters cover: how to know you are an authentic man; why our bodies matter; the value of tradition; the purpose of courtesy; what real holiness is and how to achieve it; and how to deal with failure in the spiritual life. The book builds on offerings of author Sam’s Guzman’s The Catholic Gentleman blog: “If you’re a Catholic man who wants to grow in his faith and become a better man, you’re in the right place.” Father Larry Richards offers his praise, saying, “More than ever, we need a book to reflect on, challenge and guide men in authentic masculinity — and this is it.”
Summary: Pope St. John Paul II had a great devotion to the Rosary. It was his favorite prayer, and he encouraged the faithful to reclaim the Rosary in their daily prayer. “Praying the Rosary with St. John Paul II” is designed to help new and longtime devotees of the Rosary to form a deeper relationship both with the Marian prayer and with Pope St. John Paul II. Gretchen R. Crowe, editorial director of publications at OSV and the book’s author, reflects on each mystery with an excerpt from a talk or writing of Pope St. John Paul II and then offers a short meditation of how the saint embodied the spiritual fruit that accompanies the mystery.
Summary: Editor Matthew Muller has compiled a collection of essays, sermons, poems and hymns, meditations and letters of recently canonized St. John Henry Newman in the book “A Newman Reader.” A convert to Catholicism, St. John Henry Newman was known first as a disciple of Christ, a pastor and intellectual. He cared deeply for his students and parishioners at Oxford University. He guided Catholics to a deeper love and understanding of the Faith. Just as he challenged his flock in life, “A Newman Reader” will challenge readers today to be well-formed in order to be able to “give an account” of their Catholic faith. His sermons are timeless classics of Catholic spirituality.
Summary: We all want to go to heaven, but do you know the way? Father Ed Broom, a priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, shows the way in “Road Map to Heaven.” He breaks down the plan annually, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and even by the minute. He offers a professional and vocational plan of life and then covers the wonderful effects having such a plan, which hopefully leads to sainthood. He plants in hearts the truth that we are made by God, for God and to be with God for all eternity. Consider this book a GPS for our life journey.
Summary: Author Father George Rutler, a frequent contributor to EWTN broadcast programs and pastor of parishes in the heart of New York City, was encouraged to take his many talks on the Catholic television network and create a book. The result is “Grace and Truth: Twenty Steps to Embracing Virtue and Saving Civilization.” Father Rutler highlights 20 Church teachings that are essential to living an authentic Catholic life. He challenges readers to avoid mediocrity, contempt for innocence, redefining good to justify sin, and sentimentalism in a culture that is drifting farther from the truth. The book trains readers to keep their imaginations on God.
Summary: We are called to be missionaries, to proclaim the Gospel, and oftentimes we need not travel more than outside of our workplace. That is the story of Stephen Auth, who had a career on Wall Street. A member of the Regnum Christi movement, “The Missionary of Wall Street” is a collection of missionary stories on the streets outside of his parish, collected by Stephen Auth and fellow missionaries who went out to the highways and byways of a neighborhood mostly near St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, SoHo, and giving witness to the Good News of God’s mercy.
Summary: Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons has 40 years of experience as a marriage and family psychologist, and “Habits for A Healthy Marriage” is a book of self-knowledge and healing for struggling marriages. Drawing from his own experiences and from those whom he counsels, Fitzgibbons identifies the most harmful conflicts, such as emotional unavailability, infidelity, sadness, anxiety and controlling spouses, and offers ways to create positive habits or virtues to strengthen marriages. The book relies on the wisdom of Pope St. John Paul II’s writings in “Love and Responsibility.” “The pope was able to offer such helpful insights about marital love because he understood the nature of marriage,” writes Fitzgibbons.
Summary: “Believe the incredible, and you can do the impossible.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s words ring true in the miraculous story attributed to his intercession: James Fulton Engstrom, who was born stillborn, is now a healthy boy of 8 years old thanks to the prayers to his namesake. This new release by Catholic blogger and speaker Bonnie L. Engstrom will have you crying, smiling, praying and rooting for little James Fulton. And it will have you praising God for the miraculous intercession of soon-to-be Blessed Fulton Sheen, one of the greatest evangelists of the 20th century.
Summary: One review by Sam Guzman, author and founder of The Catholic Gentleman, said: “In a world that vacillates between the extremes of Puritanism and excess, we desperately need this message. Pour yourself a glass and enjoy this wonderful book!” Not only does author Trevor Gundlach address how to drink well in this book, but he dives deeper by discussing the theology of life, friendship, art, seasons and celebrations. He also gives a practical list of actions readers can take to transform their drinking life, such as reflecting on the Eucharist, planning a road-trip with friends and learning the art of toasting. This book is a great gift to both Catholics and non-Catholics of all backgrounds.
Summary: Mary’s Magnificat is one of the most beloved prayers in Catholic Tradition. Taking the song verse by verse, Sonja Corbitt, the Bible Study Evangelista, guides readers into the heart of Mary, showing how we, too, can be transformed by God and become the people he designed us to be. By the end of the book, you will feel emboldened to magnify the Lord in your life in your own unique way. Each chapter of this Scripture study provides moments of invitation and deeper meditations on how to love God as Mary did.
Summary: In his second book of the “Reclaiming Catholic History” series, Mike Aquilina once again presents a digestible and in-depth exploration of an era of Church history. Readers are introduced to the renowned saints of the fourth and fifth centuries, such as Athanasius of Alexandria, Jerome and Augustine, and a full chronology of events of the Church and the Roman Empire provides a good framework to contextualize the era, such as the Council of Nicaea and the fall of Rome. This series continues to debunk myths about the Church, allowing readers to form conclusions by themselves while also engaging them in the history of their faith.
Summary: In a world of so much noise, Catholics need a place to slow down and unplug. In her newest book, Kathryn Jean Lopez compiles the writings of mystics and popular saints, such as Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Edith Stein. Each day, readers can meditate on the wisdom of these holy men and women who experienced the highs and lows of faith — such as the true love of the Trinity and the dark night of the soul. Today more than ever, Catholics of all ages need to realize that sainthood is not just for the chosen; we all have the grace to choose God in our everyday moments, and this gift edition of daily reflections affirms all Catholics in this calling.
Summary: The nature of 20th-century American literature evolved through the works of luminaries such as Flannery O’Connor, the great novelist and master of the American short story. This long-awaited collection contains over 350 pages of previously unpublished letters by O’Connor and her contemporaries (including Walker Percy, Caroline Gordon and Katherine Anne Porter). While her prose reached beyond religious boundaries, O’Connor was influenced by her devout Catholic faith. These letters reveal the heart of this great author and her friends, mingled with themes of doubt and suffering, creativity and faith.
Summary: Father Mike Schmitz has become something of a social media superstar in the Catholic world for his short, always to the point — and always orthodox — videos. His latest book is of a similar vein. Less than 60 pages long, he pulls no punches as he guides readers through the process of discernment, yes, but ultimately of making decisions. He writes in the opening chapter: “True discernment is more than just thinking about something. Discernment involves action. It also involves a decision.” In this book, Father Schmitz helps equip readers with the tools they need to set their own biases aside in order to listen to the voice of God in their daily decision-making.
Summary: Longtime readers of Our Sunday Visitor will be familiar with the thoughtful, faith-filled work of author Susan Erschen. In “Finding a Loving God in the Midst of Grief,” she looks to help those suffering from a loss to be intentional about their feelings of grief in order to use them to grow closer to God. Her book serves as a how-to manual for those walking through the healing process, as she has chapters that touch on forgiveness, gratitude, courage, asking for help, finding inspiration in the saints, reclaiming joy and more. Each chapter is meant to stand alone, she writes, so that the reader can “let the Spirit guide you to what you need from these pages.”
Summary: The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, refers to the family as the “domestic Church.” If we are to live this out to its fullest potential, the authors of “Theology of the Home” suggest, shouldn’t we strive to make our homes sacred places of light, of joy and of peace? This beautifully written and beautifully illustrated book looks at all the ways in which we can make our homes a warm and inviting place where we can allow God to enter into our everyday lives in order to help our faith to flourish.
Summary: In his quest to compile stories, poems, plays and various other writings to stoke the warm, nostalgic feelings of the Christmas season, Catholic husband and father John-Mark Miravalle has wrapped a gift to the entire family with his new book, “Christmas Around the Fire.” Meant to be pulled off the shelf nightly during Advent and Christmas and read aloud for family and friends, the small volume is packed with short works from the likes of G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, St. Augustine, Pope. St. John Paul II and others. This book is perfect for for those who savor the spirit of Christmas and wish to make memories with those they love.
Summary: We frequently hear that beauty is all around us, yet how often do we truly push pause on our busy lives in order to appreciate the awe-inspiring sights and sounds that we encounter every day? Part of the problem is that art, music, literature, architecture seems stuffy and inaccessible to those who haven’t studied these mediums extensively. Nonsense, writes John-Mark Miravalle in his new book. “Beauty,” he writes, “isn’t just for the cultivated or the dreamers or the touchy-feely types — it’s for everyone.” Miravalle’s book is a primer on how to appreciate beauty and how doing so ultimately leads us to a deeper relationship with the ultimate Creator.
Summary: Borne out of cooking classes that began at a parish in Chantilly, Virginia, “Cooking with the Saints” is a unique way to walk through the liturgical calendar and honor the men and women after whom we are called to model our lives. Each month offers four recipes that honor the heritage of a different saint, as well as a multicourse “saintly meal” (which includes a shopping list and a table prayer) that invites diners to experience the customs and cultures of a particular saint. Full of beautiful photos and tidbits on the saints themselves, “Cooking with the Saints” is part cookbook and part devotional — a delicious, soul-filling mix.
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Author: St. Catherine of Siena
Summary: After introducing the Noll Library to readers in 2018, OSV adds three more volumes to its growing collection as it continues to introduce classic Catholic works to a new generation of readers. “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton is a no-nonsense defense of the Catholic faith, full of Chesterton’s wit, wisdom and sound theology. In “The Dialogue,” St. Catherine of Siena recounts the entirety of the spiritual life through a conversation between God and the human soul — represented by herself — that shows the importance of prayer and obedience. “Father Smith Instructs Jackson,” by Archbishop John Francis Noll, founder of Our Sunday Visitor, aims to build a foundation of faith in its readers through a series of conversations between a fictional priest and a curious Protestant. Each is a must-read for Catholics.