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What are you reading this summer?

Hopefully, summertime allows each one of us time to slow-down, refocus and re-energize. As we approach the “lazy” summer months and look forward to sharing quality time with family and friends perhaps poolside or at the beach, what are you reading? We’ve spent some time talking to friends and colleagues and curated a short #NOLACatholic Summer Reading List. From finding time and learning to pray to indulging in some classic who-dunnits with a Catholic twist the list offers a variety of titles and topics meant to reach any Catholic bibliophile.

Each week we’ll visit with a #NOLACatholic who recommended the book with written reviews and some select titles, and Facebook Live discussions!

So, find a comfortable spot whether it’s on the pool deck, beside the beach or in the comfort of your own living room and join us on this summer reading journey.

Time for God by Fr. Jacques Philippe (Tanya Cenac)

Are you too busy to pray? What if you could actually gain time and be more productive by praying? Would you pray more? We often forget the real secret to gaining time and being productive is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness , and all these things shall be yours as well (Mt 6:33). If we make time for God through prayer, He multiplies our time and makes it fruitful and productive in all areas of our life. But have you ever felt unsure about how to pray? For that matter, what exactly is prayer and who is it for? And where, when and how should you pray?

These questions find an answer in this latest book from Scepter, Time for God. Written in a simple and modern style, author Jacques Philippe draws on years of experience as a spiritual guide to illuminate the fundamental principles of true prayer and describes some common mistakes and misconceptions that can lead it astray. This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to make better use of their time with God.

Time for God has become an international bestseller in French and Spanish and is written by the bestselling author of Interior Freedom, also published by Scepter.

(description from Amazon.com)

Adam: God’s Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen (Alison Guerra)

In the final year before his death in 1996, Henri Nouwen began to write an account of the death of his friend Adam, a severely handicapped young man from the L Arche Daybreak Community. In the story of Adam he found a way to describe his own understanding of the Gospel message. Adam could not speak or even move without assistance. Gripped by frequent seizures, he spent his life in obscurity. And yet, for Nouwen, he became my friend, my teacher, and my guide. It was Adam who led Nouwen to a new understanding of his faith and what it means to be Beloved of God.

Through this story, Nouwen found a new way to tell God s story and the story of all of us human creatures, broken and yet beloved, who live in a world charged and alive with the mystery of God s love. Completed only weeks before Nouwen s own death, Adam became a final, precious gift, a fitting reflection of his own message and legacy.

(description from Amazon.com)

 

Love is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forest (Dr. Tom Neal)

Love Is the Measure offers a richly illustrated biography of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement and one of the most extraordinary and prophetic voices in the American Catholic church. Jim Forest, who worked with Day in the 1960s, provides a compelling portrait of her heroic efforts to live out the radical message of the gospel for our times. A journalist and radical social reformer in her youth, at home in the bohemian Greenwich Village of the 1920s, Day surprised her friends with the decision in 1927 to enter the Catholic church. Her conversion, prompted by the birth out of wedlock of her daughter Tamar, left her searching for some way to reconcile her faith with her commitment to the cause of the poor and social justice. The answer followed her meeting with the French peasant-philosopher Peter Maurin, who inspired her to start The Catholic Worker, both a newspaper and eventually a movement. Enunciating a radical social vision rooted in the gospel, Day and those who joined her devoted themselves to the Works of Mercy while struggling to create a new society "where it is easier to be good." An ardent pacifist, Dorothy Day challenged consciences within the church and society with her total opposition to war and her commitment to voluntary poverty. Forest chronicles her frequent arrests in the cause of peace, while stressing throughout the unique spiritual vision that underlies her dramatic witness.

(description from GoodReads.com)

Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom (Dr. Tom Neal)

Hailed both by Catholics and Protestants, it was written by an Orthodox Archbishop for people who had never prayed before and has been read and loved by persons at all levels of spiritual development.

(description from GoodReads.com)

Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton (Dr. Tom Neal)

A modern-day Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Seven Storey Mountain is one of the most influential religious works of the twentieth century. This edition contains an introduction by Merton's editor, Robert Giroux, and a note to the reader by biographer William H. Shannon. 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. The Seven Storey Mountain has been a favorite of readers ranging from Graham Greene to Claire Booth Luce, Eldridge Cleaver, and Frank McCourt. Since its original publication this timeless spiritual tome has been published in over twenty languages and has touched millions of lives.

(description from Amazon.com)

Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux by Heather King (Dr. Tom Neal)

If you have not read Heather King before, her honesty may shock you. In this remarkable memoir, you will see how a convert with a checkered past spends a year reflecting upon St. Thérèse of Lisieux—and discovers the radical faith, true love, and abundant life of a cloistered 19th-century French nun.

(description from Amazon.com)

Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton (Dr. Tom Neal)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton is one of the most celebrated and reverently esteemed figures in modern literature. He was a phenomenally prolific writer. After achieving early success as an illustrator, he subsequently established his fame as a playwright, novelist, poet, literary commentator, pamphleteer, essayist, lecturer, apologist, and editor. The depth and range of his work are astounding.

A pagan at only 12 and totally agnostic by 16, Chesterton had the remarkable experience of developing a personal, positive philosophy that turned out to be orthodox Christianity. Orthodoxy, his account of it all, has not lost its force as a timeless argument for the simple plausibility of traditional Christianity. C.S. Lewis and many other emerging Christian thinkers have found this book a pivotal step in their adoption of a credible Christian faith. This intellectual and spiritual autobiography of the leading 20th century essayist combines simplicity with subtlety in a model apologetic that appeals to today's generations of readers who face the same materialism and antisupernaturalism as did the "man at war with his times."

Of the numerous works that Chesterton wrote, the most scintillating synthesis of his philosophy and deeply religious faith was manifested in his masterpiece, Orthodoxy, written when he was only thirty-four and which tells, in his inimitable, soaring prose, of his earth-shaking discovery that orthodoxy is the only satisfactory answer to the perplexing riddle of the universe. Orthodoxy is perhaps the most outstanding example of the originality of his style and the brilliance of his thought.

"There has never been a more articulate champion of classic Christian orthodoxy, virtue, and decency than this rotund jouster whose words were his weapons."

(description from Ignatius.com)

Into Your Hands, Father by Wilfrid Stinissen (Dr. Tom Neal)

In the spiritual life, we need a central idea: something so basic and comprehensive that it encompasses everything else. According to Carmelite Father Wilfrid Stinissen, surrender to God, abandonment to the One who loves us completely, is that central reality. The life of Jesus shows us the centrality of abandonment, for it is truly the beginning and the end of his mission on earth.

In this simple but profound book, Father Stinissen distinguishes three degrees or stages in abandonment. The first stage consists of accepting and assenting to God's will as it manifests itself in all circumstances of life. The second is actively doing God's will at every moment of one's life. In the third stage, abandonment to God is so complete that one has become a tool in God's hands. At this stage it is no longer I who do God's will, but God who accomplishes his will through me.

(description from Ignatius.com)

The Lord by Romano Guardini (Dr. Tom Neal)

The only true and unedited telling of the life of Christ—his life and times, in historical context, but not lacking the psychology behind his physical being and spirit. Unlike other books seeking to strip Jesus' story to reveal only the human being, Romano Guardini's The Lord gives the complete story of Jesus Christ—as man, Holy Ghost, and Creator. Pope Benedict XVI lauds Guardini's work as providing a full understanding of the Son of God, away from the prejudice that rationality engenders. Put long-held myths aside and discover the entire truth about God's only begotten Son.

(description from Amazon.com)

Divine Renovation: Bringing Your Parish from Maintenance to Mission by James Mallon (Fr. David Caron, OP)

An engaging guide for parishes seeking to cultivate communities of discipleship and vibrant, dynamic faith. Highly acclaimed for his work with parish renewal and the New Evangelization, Fr. James Mallon shares with us the many ways for bringing our parishes to life. Through humorous and colorful stories, Mallon challenges us to rethink our models of parish life, from membership-based communities to assemblies of disciples of Jesus who proclaim and share the good news with all peoples. Accessible and engaging, Divine Renovation turns to the Church's many writings on evangelization and mission so as to articulate practical ways for injecting new life into our parishes. Pastors and parish ministers will be inspired by this book and turn to it for many years to come.

(description from Amazon.com)

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey (Sarah McDonald)

Beginning with Jesus' birth, Ken Bailey leads you on a kaleidoscopic study of Jesus throughout the four Gospels. Bailey examines the life and ministry of Jesus with attention to the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes, Jesus' relationship to women, and especially Jesus' parables. Through it all, Bailey employs his trademark expertise as a master of Middle Eastern culture to lead you into a deeper understanding of the person and significance of Jesus within his own cultural context. With a sure but gentle hand, Bailey lifts away the obscuring layers of modern Western interpretation to reveal Jesus in the light of his actual historical and cultural setting. This entirely new material from the pen of Ken Bailey is a must-have for any student of the New Testament. If you have benefited from Bailey's work over the years, this book will be a welcome and indispensable addition to your library. If you are unfamiliar with Bailey's work, this book will introduce you to a very old yet entirely new way of understanding Jesus.

(description from Amazon.com)

Father Brown of the Church of Rome by GK Chesterton (Sarah McDonald)

This is a unique collection of ten of Chesterton's famous Father Brown stories which puts special emphasis on the role that Brown's Catholic faith played in helping him solve the murder mysteries. As Dorothy Sayers once wrote, Chesterton was "the first man of our time to introduce the great name of God into a detective story ... to enlarge the boundaries of the detective story by making it deal with death and real wickedness and real, that is to say, divine judgment."

This paperback Father Brown edition includes generous footnotes (not available in other editions) which help to clarify the literary and historical allusions made by Father Brown. It is based on the texts of the original editions by Chesterton for assurance of complete authenticity, and is set in easily readable type.

These are excellent short detective yarns in the classic British tradition of Sherlock Holmes - puzzling concoctions of mysterious crimes, dubious suspects and ambiguous clues. They are among the very best of the Father Brown stories.

(description from Ignatius.com)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Christine Baglow)

Few have failed to be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s beloved classic Pride and Prejudice. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows us the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

(description from Amazon.com)

Mustard Seeds by Matthew Kelly (Christine Bordelon)

In each of these brief passages Matthew Kelly presents a seed of truth. Sow the seed in the rich and fertile soil of your heart. Water it with flowing waters of contemplations and allow the sunlight of life’s experiences to shine upon it. The seed will grow into a wonderful tree bearing the fruits of: peace, joy, humility, integrity, wisdom, and love.

These words will challenge you to think, reflect, ponder, and pray. This book will help you to see the person you are and the person you can become. Open your heart and mind, and your life will change gracefully.

(description from DynamicCatholic.com)

Rome Sweet Rome by Scott Hahn (Molly Howat)

The well-known and very popular Catholic couple, Scott and Kimberly Hahn, have been constantly travelling and speaking all over North America for the last few years about their conversion to the Catholic Church. Now these two outstanding Catholic apologists tell in their own words about the incredible spiritual journey that led them to embrace Catholicism.

Scott Hahn was a Presbyterian minister, the top student in his seminary class, a brilliant Scripture scholar, and militantly anti-Catholic ... until he reluctantly began to discover that his "enemy" had all the right answers. Kimberly, also a top-notch theology student in the seminary, is the daughter of a well-known Protestant minister, and went through a tremendous "dark night of the soul" after Scott converted to Catholicism.

Their conversion story and love for the Church has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of lukewarm Catholics and brought them back into an active participation in the Church. They have also influenced countless conversions to Catholicism among their friends and others who have heard their powerful testimony.

Written with simplicity, charity, grace and wit, the Hahns' deep love and knowledge of Christ and of Scripture is evident and contagious throughout their story. Their love of truth and of neighbor is equally evident, and their theological focus on the great importance of the family, both biological and spiritual, will be a source of inspiration for all readers.

(description from Ignatius.com)