St. Paul’s Recommended Reading List for Catholics

Introduction

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul.”

                                                   Matthew Kelly,  Rediscover Catholicism

Books change our lives.  Whether we read them on the printed page, scroll through them on a screen or listen to them, books can ignite our souls with the desire to grow in holiness and can help us find the answers to questions that have stirred our innermost being.  Sometimes they can test us with new ideas and encourage us to accept or refute what they have to say. 

After reading Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Catholicism, I thought that it would be a good idea to compile a list of Catholic books that have had a positive effect on me as well as others.  So I asked some friends actively involved in ministry as well as those who are avid readers to give me some suggestions.  This list is our first installment. 

Let me just add a word of caution:  You may see a book or an author on this list that you may not like or that may challenge your beliefs.  I have not read all of these books, but when I hear someone tell me that a book has influenced them more than others, I believe that the title should appear on the list.  I trust that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us in our reading just as He does in all of our other activities if we but ask Him to do so.

 I would like to extend this list so that new titles will continue to appear. If you have any books to add, let me know either in person, via email caramore@hancock.net or call 607-637-4407.

Also if you are interested in purchasing copies of the books, please remember to order them through Amazon on the parish website.  Not only are the prices very reasonable, but our parish receives a percentage of the money spent.  It’s a good deal for all!

                                                            Many Blessings,

                                                            Charlene Caramore

 

St. Paul’s Recommended Reading List for Catholics

 

Accidental Theologians:  Four Women Who Shaped Christianity – Elizabeth A. Dreyer

Four women—Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Thérèse of Lisieux—have been honored with the title "Doctor of the Church." But what does that title mean and what do these women mean for us today?

Elizabeth Dreyer examines the history-changing effect each of their unique theologies has had on our Church and our world. She explains how our understanding of the Cross, the Incarnation by the Holy Spirit, and the human person have been enhanced by the work of these women. They may not have planned to be thought of as theologians, but reading about their lives, teaching, and writings will have a profound effect on how you live your faith.

And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation – Father Robert Barron

“Christianity is, above all, a way of seeing. What unites figures as diverse as James Joyce, Caravaggio, John Milton, the architect of Chartres, Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the later Bob Dylan is a peculiar and distinctive take on things, a style, a way, which flows finally from Jesus of Nazareth. Origen remarked that holiness is seeing with the eyes of Christ. Teilhard de Chardin said, with great passion, that his mission as a Christian thinker was to help people see. And Thomas Aquinas said that the ultimate goal of the Christian life is a ‘beatific vision,’ an act of seeing. This book is about coming to vision through Christ.” — Robert Barron, from the Prelude

 

Catholicism – Father Robert Barron


What is Catholicism? A 2,000-year-old living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith.

Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell – using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.

Paired with his documentary film series of the same title, Catholicism is an intimate journey, capturing “The Catholic Thing” in all its depth and beauty. Eclectic, unique, and inspiring, Father Barron brings the faith to life for a new generation, in a style that is both faithful to timeless truths, while simultaneously speaking in the language of contemporary life.

Faith:  What It Is and What It Isn’t – Terrence W. Tilley

This accessible book that addresses what faith is and what it means in our lives can serve as an introduction to the study of theology or religious studies. The five chapters include (1) Misunderstanding Faith, (2) Defining Faith, (3) Expressing Faith, (4) Living Faith, and (5) Justifying Faith. Because most of us live in a world with multiple faith traditions, this books deals broadly with the nature and expression of faith across traditions including religious traditions and secular traditions such as humanism.

In the words of Professor Tilley, this book is an exercise in learning how to see our faiths clearly so we can figure out how we can live well together in a world in which faith unites and divides us. Written in clear language and with easily understood examples, this book serves as a first step as students begin to explore the world of theology or religious studies.

A Father Who Keeps His Promises - Dr. Scott Hahn

Hahn explores the "covenant love" God reveals to us through the Scriptures and explains how God patiently reaches out to us—despite our faults and shortcomings—to restore us into relationship with his divine family. Join Hahn as he follows the high adventure of God's plan for the ages, beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing down through the generations to the coming of Christ and the birth of the Church. You'll discover how the patient love of the Father revealed in the Bible is the same persistent love he has for you.

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic – Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly has a once-in-a-generation ability to bring the genius of Catholicism to life for the average person. The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic is brilliantly simple and practical. Every Catholic in America should read this book!

-Allen Hunt, author of Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor

The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope—Austen Ivereigh

This biography of Pope Francis describes how this revolutionary thinker will use the power of his position to challenge and redirect one of the world's most formidable religions.

An expansive and deeply contextual work, at its heart The Great Reformer is about the intersection of faith and politics--the tension between the pope’s innovative vision for the Church and the obstacles he faces in an institution still strongly defined by its conservative past. Based on extensive interviews in Argentina and years of study of the Catholic Church, Ivereigh tells the story not only of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the remarkable man whose background and total commitment to the discernment of God’s will transformed him into Pope Francis--but the story of why the Catholic Church chose him as their leader.

With the Francis Revolution just beginning, this biography will provide never-before-explained context on how one man’s ambitious program began--and how it will likely end--through an investigation of Francis’s youth growing up in Buenos Aires and the dramatic events during the Perón era that shaped his beliefs; his ongoing conflicts and disillusionment with the ensuing doctrines of an authoritarian and militaristic government in the 1970s; how his Jesuit training in Argentina and Chile gave him a unique understanding and advocacy for a "Church of the Poor"; and his rise from Cardinal to the papacy. 

Hinds’ Feet on High Places – Hannah Hurdard

Hinds' Feet on High Places is one of the most successful works of Christian fiction. It is the story of a young woman named Much Afraid and her journey away from her Fearing family into the High Places of the Shepherd. It is an allegory of the Christian life from salvation through maturity. It doesn't actually describe life in Heaven but shows how the Christian is transformed from unbeliever to immature believer to mature believer, who walks daily with his/her Lord as easily on the High Places of Joy in the spirit as in the daily life of the mundane and often-times humiliating trials that tempt us to lose perspective of who we now are in Christ.

The Holy Longing: The Search for Christian Spirituality – Ronald Rolheiser

Channeling the deep, mysterious desires of our hearts, Ronald Rolheiser leads readers from restlessness to peace, showing a contemporary path to authentic and healthy spiritual life.

In The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser probes the question “What is spirituality?” cutting through the misunderstanding and confusion that can often surround this subject with clarity. Using examples and stories relevant for today and with great sensitivity to modern challenges to religious faith, he explains the essentials of spiritual life, including the importance of community worship, the imperatives surrounding social action, and the centrality of the Incarnation, to outline a Christian spirituality that reflects the yearning and search for meaning at the core of the human experience.

Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand what Christian spirituality means and how to apply it to their own lives, The Holy Longing translates the universal struggle for love and integration of spirit into a language accessible to all, explaining God and the Church for a world that more often than not doubts the credibility of both.

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence – Sarah Young

Experience peace in the presence of the Savior who is closer than you can imagine.  A rich relationship with Jesus is so much more than presenting Him with a list of requests. It includes listening — through reading the Bible and receiving what He is putting on your heart. The 365-day devotional Jesus Calling is written as if Jesus Himself is speaking directly to you — words of encouragement, comfort, and reassurance of His unending love. In this devotional, Sarah Young shares her own prayer journal with you. These writings are personal reflections based on Jesus’ own words of hope, guidance, and peace within Scripture — penned by one who loves Him and reveres His Word. As you experience the devotions and the fresh look at Scripture, you will look forward to your time with Him. Listen to what the Savior is laying on your heart, and savor the presence of the One who will never leave you.

The Joy of the Gospel – Pope Francis


 “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus… In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
– Pope Francis

 Examining the many obstacles to faith and what can be done to overcome those hurdles, Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of service to God and all his creation. Advocating for “the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned,” the Holy Father shows us how to respond to poverty and current economic challenges that affect us locally and globally. Ultimately, Pope Francis demonstrates how to develop a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ, “to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small.”
 
Profound in its insight, yet warm and accessible in its tone, The Joy of the Gospel is a call to action to live a life motivated by divine love and, in turn, to experience heaven on earth.

The Lamb’s Supper –Dr. Scott Hahn

Of all things Catholic, there is nothing that is so familiar as the Mass. With its unchanging prayers, the Mass fits Catholics like their favorite clothes. Yet most Catholics sitting in the pews on Sundays fail to see the powerful supernatural drama that enfolds them. Pope John Paul II described the Mass as "Heaven on Earth," explaining that what "we celebrate on Earth is a mysterious participation in the heavenly liturgy."
The Lamb’s Supper reveals a long-lost secret of the Church: The early Christians' key to understanding the mysteries of the Mass was the New Testament Book of Revelation. With its bizarre imagery, its mystic visions of heaven, and its end-of-time prophecies, Revelation mirrors the sacrifice and celebration of the Eucharist.

Naked as a Jailbird – Richard Denis Shaw, Ph.D. (Father Rick Shaw)

A rookie priest assigned to chaplain's duty has to do his growing up after he already has the collar on and people are calling him father. Shaw's elucidation of the pull of faith is about as enlightening an answer the questioner is going to get.

Leslie Hanscom, Newsday.

(Father Shaw is a priest in the Albany Diocese.)

No Greater Love – Mother Teresa

No Greater Love is the essential wisdom of Mother Teresa — the most accessible, intimate, and inspiring book of her teachings. Thematically arranged to present her revolutionary vision of Christianity in its graceful simplicity, the book features her thoughts on love, generosity, forgiveness, prayer, service, and what it means to be a Christian. A passionate testament to deep hope and abiding faith in God, No Greater Love celebrates the life and work of one of the world’s most revered spiritual teachers.

 

 

 

Pleading, Cursing, Praising:  Conversing with God through the Psalms – Irene Nowell

Nowell maintains that the Psalms teach us to tell our story, to cry out our pain, and to give praise to God. They also teach us to listen - to the voice of God, the voice of Christ, the voices of the people around us, and the voice of all creation. This book includes questions and exercises for personal reflection, brief prayers for praying along the way, and suggestions for composing one's own psalm-prayers. It promises to enrich the spiritual life of everyone who reads it.

Rediscover Catholicism – Matthew Kelly

 Matthew Kelly proposes that Catholicism is not a lifeless set of rules and regulations, but a way of life designed by God to help each person reach his or her full potential. With remarkable insight, Kelly dispels dozens of myths that surround the rejection of Catholicism today and provides a profound and practical vision of what will lead the Catholic Church to thrive again in the future. Rediscover Catholicism is quickly becoming the most read Catholic book of our times. From the spellbinding opening story, Kelly grips his readers and takes them on a life-changing journey to rediscover the genius of Catholicism.

Seven Essentials for the Spiritual Journey – Dolores R. Leckey

This book is full of stories and writings from wisdom traditions that illustrate the seven basics we need on the spiritual path.

 

Seven Secrets of the Eucharist – Vinny Flynn

Pope John Paul II referred to the Holy Eucharist as the greatest treasure of the Church, and yet even many devoted Catholics have a very limited understanding of this powerful sacrament. This book will change all that. The reader will come away with a completely new awareness that the Eucharist is not just about receiving Communion; it's about transforming your daily life .Deeply based on the Scriptures, the writings of the Saints, and the teachings of our two most recent Popes, this profound and remarkably readable book will introduce you to some of the hidden truths of the Eucharist that have always been embraced by theologians, saints, and mystics, but have rarely been passed on to the average person in a meaningful way. In Seven Secrets of the Eucharist, these truths are finally made accessible to all, as author Vinny Flynn shows how each reception of Holy Communion can be a life-changing experience. No matter how much or how little you already know about the Eucharist, the secrets revealed here will bring you to a new, personal Emmaus experience, again and again.

The Seven Storey Mountain – Thomas Merton

A modern-day Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Seven Storey Mountain is one of the most influential religious works of the twentieth century.  It tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man whose search for peace and faith leads him, at the age of twenty-six, to take vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders--the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, "the four walls of my new freedom," Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has fully immersed himself in it.

She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse - Elizabeth Johnson

This classic explains what feminist theology is and how can we rediscover the feminine God within the Christian tradition. This book presents a profound vision of Christian theology, women’s experience, and emancipation.

The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux – St. Therese of Lisieux

Two and a half years before her death in 1897 at the age of 24, as Thérèse Martin began writing down her childhood memories at the request of her blood sisters in the Lisieux Carmel, few could have guessed the eventual outcome.  First published in 1898 in a highly edited version, her story quickly became a modern spiritual classic.  Here, expressed with all of Thérèse's original spontaneity and fervor, we rediscover the great themes of her spirituality: confidence and love, the Little Way, abandonment to God's merciful love, and her mission in the church and world today.

Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest – Donald Calloway

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, deftly shares his personal insights on topics including Divine Mercy, the Eucharist, the papacy, the Church, confession, prayer, the cross, masculinity, and femininity. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the central thread weaving a tapestry throughout with quotes about Our Lady from saints, blessed, and popes.

The Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ – Father Robert Barron

Word on Fire is one of the leading introductions to Catholic faith and culture. Based on specific Bible readings from the Old and the New Testament, Fr. Barron shares enthusiastically from the riches of Christian belief and tradition. His lively presentation of Catholicism uses art, music, painting, poetry, philosophy and the saints' lives to illustrate the Biblical message. With sections on God, Jesus, the church, the liturgy, living the spiritual life, and the saints, this book offers passionate evangelism for discerning readers interested in Catholicism, whether in private reflection or in group discussion.