Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Readers' Poll

Our publishing house is doing an online poll about readers' favorite online places to chat about books. Please join in!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can't Stop Browsing!

The last few books I spotted on my visit to the Dedham bookcenter. (Have you been there? It's on Route 1, near the exit for Rte 128.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This one's mine!

With the month of the Rosary starting in just a week, I don't think you'll mind if I do a little self-promotion here... The children's Rosary booklet first came out years ago (and it seems like it took me years to do all the illustrations!). When Pope John Paul II introduced the Luminous mysteries, I knew I was going to have to take out the pastels and update the book, but between running a bookstore (and running out of town for Hurricane Katrina), it took a little longer than anticipated. Finally, it's updated and available.

The format is like the "Scriptural Rosary" (the one with the blue and white cover) that offers a short bible passage for each "Hail Mary." In this booklet, the thoughts are on a child's level. This would be good for children up to about ten years old. It includes a chart showing how to pray the Rosary, and each set of mysteries has its own little chart showing how the decades fall along the string of beads.

Speaking for myself, I find it easier to pray the Rosary when the rosary beads themselves are beautiful! (Now I make my own.) Do the children in your family have the kind of rosary that invites them to pick it up and use it?

Other children's books on the Rosary:


"My First Book about Mary" is another book I illustrated (Sr Christine Virginia wrote it). Can you tell that Mary has a special place in my life?

Monday, September 21, 2009

After a number of setbacks, Sr. Anne finished the video book reviews we did this summer. Actually, she had enough footage for three videos, so I will be posting them one by one. Special thanks to Eric Groth at Outside da Box (youth ministry DVDs) for the technical help!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fr Barron's "Eucharist"

I just finished reading Fr. Robert Barron's new book, "The Eucharist" and wanted to post a "must read" to the blog:) Honestly, this priest just gets better and better! Since I never miss any of his books, this one was on my to-read list and I ended up taking it home with me on vacation. In a very slim book of 141 pages he manages to give the most inspiring insights into the Eucharist that I have read in ages. He runs the gamut from "Babette's Feast" to Flannnery O'Connor to Thomas Aquinas. A whirlwind look, which at the same time manages to be profound and thorough....and surprisingly accessible, whether you happen to be a theologian or a housewife. Bottom line for me is the fact that you can't read it without being touched and grateful and rather in awe of the gift we've been given. A book that can do that is certainly worth the read. Thanks again, Fr.Barron, for another gem!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Guest Blogger: Sr. Anne

Summer Reading

Over the past five weeks I've been able to read (or finish) reading a wonderful little stack of books, and get started on a whole new stack. (When I was in the playpen, my parents told me, "Books are our friends," and I believed them!)
Have you read any of these? What's on your bookshelf?

  • Inhabiting the Cruciform God (Michael Gorman): A terrific study of what Gorman believes is Paul's central "narrative" and the pattern of our life in Christ. You need some background in Scripture to follow him, though. (Sr. Julia has written and spoken at length about Gorman's fabulous "Cruciformity," which is a longer and less intensely scholarly presentation of the same concept.)
  • Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity (Robert L. Moore): a Jungian Christian analyst looks at the spiritual life and what the fathers would simply call the sin of pride. (I read this on retreat and it's full of bookmarks for me to go over with Jesus during the year.)
  • Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Solanus Casey (Michael Crosby, OFM Cap). I had heard about Fr. Casey, but this is the first I've ever read of his life. This book, too, now features a number of bookmarked spots for leisurely rereading.
  • Musicophilia (Oliver Sacks). Subtitle is "Tales of Music and the Brain." Need I say more? (Sr. Barbara has the copy now. Our provincial, Sr. Margaret Timothy, borrowed it while I was in Boston.)
  • Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus (Fr. Dave Pivonka): Since I visited Campostela in 2006 (thanks again, Karen!), and cannot reasonably ever expect to make the whole Camino, I have enjoyed doing the Camino vicariously through the new of books that have been coming out by Catholic caministas like Joyce Rupp ("Walk in a Leisurely Manner") and others. Fr. Pivonka's book would be a terrific catechetical companion for the pilgrimage, because he relates the various aspects of camino life to dimensions of faith and spirituality.
  • Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (Stuart Brown). This is by one of those business gurus who goes around helping corporations loosen up and get their creative juices back. Brown is actually a psychologist who did years and years of study on the importance of play and how vital it is in shaping the brain and keeping us functioning as human beings. Play keeps us young! If we forget how to play, we also forget how to adapt to new or unexpected circumstances. We get stuck. We might even die. (Sr. Julia has this one right now.)
  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future (Daniel Pink). Another business guru book (he even cites some of the same stories and quotes as Brown in "Play"!); kind of the same idea as Brown's book, but covering six dimensions of "right-brain" activity with practical suggestions for exercising that muscle. (Sr. Maria Kim is now reading this one. I hope I get it back some day.)
  • Franz Jagerstatter: Letters and Writings from Prison. This Austrian farmer gave himself so wholeheartedly to the Gospel that he could not justify any cooperation with the Nazi government, not even hospital service (because he could not, in conscience, make the oath of loyalty to the party). What is remarkable about these writings is not that the writings are remarkable (although there are a couple of striking insights), but how this ordinary man found in such remarkable meaning in what sound like Catholic commonplaces: reason enough to stand up alone against the Third Reich.
  • The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity (Stephen J. Davis): This is a kind of archaology book focusing on the early devotion to St. Thecla, especially in the Egyptian church from around the 300's to the 500's. Amazing. Especially the Coptic footnotes.
  • Apollos: Paul's Partner or Rival? (Patrick J. Hartin): Another kind of scholarly book, but at 1/8 of an inch thick, it's no tome! This is a sociological approach to that eloquent evangelizer whom we meet in Acts 18 and hear about in 1 Corinthians. What do studies of ancient civilization have to teach us about Apollos' upbringing, expectations and method of evangelization? What do these same studies tell us about the relationships among Paul, Apollos and the Corinthians? (This little book is part of a series, "Paul's Social Network"; I'm waiting with baited breath for the volume on Prisca and Aquila, the dynamic duo of the New Testament.)

Currently reading:
  • The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Steven Pinker). I am only on Chapter 2 of this investigation into how language works, how we learn it and use it, and what that implies.
  • In the Steps of St. Paul (H.V. Morton). Turns out this is a classic, first published in 1936. It came into my hands in Philadelphia when Sr. Cynthia (or maybe it was Sr. Barbara?) found it in the community library. Nondescript black cloth cover, pages mottled with age, it looked like a candidate for the dustbin, but the sister thought I'd be interested. I was. I am. It's a delightfully engaging travel book from a lost era, written in an equally delightful (and equally lost) style.
  • Jesus of Nazareth (Benedict XVI). I confess I only opened this book a week ago. I have been so intimidated by what Time (or was it US News?) called the Pope's "stratospheric intellect" that I kept this amazingly lovely and readable text at arms length since its release! Don't make the same mistake I did. "Take and read."

Coming soon!

While I was in Boston (recording two new choral albums with the sisters: read all about it on Facebook!), Sr. Anne took me and her video camera to the Pauline bookstore on Route 1. She promises a new "Best Catholic Books" video soon!
Meanwhile, Sr. Anne herself has compiled such an impressive list of books on her "Summer Reading" blog post that I invited her to share it with you as a guest blogger. Welcome, Sr. Anne!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bookshelf Update

I wrote this review on Facebook quite a while ago, and just realized I hadn't shared it with the wider world. (Sorry!)

The God of Our Deepest Longings: Seven Biblical Meditations
by Peter Van Breemen

A friend sent me this book and I put it in chapel with my prayerbooks. You never know when you need something new and different! I picked it up last week and couldn't put it down. It was easy to read- only about a hundred pages, but I'm on my second time, much-slower, let's-relish-this reading.

Even the chapter titles are worthy of a long meditation: "What are you looking for?", "Where do you live?", "What Supports you?", "Becoming Transparent". It's a thin book, but I guarantee that it would last you through Lent and probably through Pentecost :) Or longer, depending on how much you get out of it. Personally, between the suggested Scripture readings, the questions for reflection....I'll be at this one for quite a while. I love finding new treasures and passing them on. It would be an easy one to miss, but please don't. It covers the most basic desires of our heart and reveals the God of our deepest longings through the most beautiful passages of Scipture.

Friday, June 05, 2009

New Book!

Michael Gorman, author of "Cruciformity" and "Apostle of the Crucified Lord" (see below) has a new book out: "Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification and Theosis in Paul's Narrative Soteriology." The title is intimidating, but Gorman's other books were so readable and so truly uplifting that I'm not overly intimidated by this one (not yet, anyway!). 
I'm looking forward to reading this as the Year of St. Paul comes to a (triumphant?) close.
I'll give you a full report later!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

"In Paradisum" in the News!

A writer for the New Orleans "Times-Picayune" interviewed me and Sr. Anne for this article on our latest music release.
Blessings for your Holy Week!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Favorites

Some of this information is already available (scroll down!), but I thought you would enjoy the video.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daily Reads

Nearer to the Heart of God: Daily Readings from the Christian Mystics

This is one of those "daily" books thay I usually pick up every January for my thought-a-day. I've had it for five years or more, but, I'm surprised every time I read it at how inspired this collection is. Quotes from mystics, saints and holy people who made it their lifes aim to be "nearer to the heart of God". Since I consider that the essential goal of my life, I keep going back to it. These thoughts are sometimes only a few lines or a short paragraph, but sometimes a short thought is all it takes to keep you refreshed and focused for the day. Personally I tend to remember one-liners much better than pages of text--for example, here's one from St. Francis de Sales: "Don't sow weeds in the soil of your heart. Your garden space is limited." Good point, you know? 
One good way to tend the garden of your heart is to water it with good reading. Start with this one!

Back to St. Paul

I talked about these already in the video of books for the Pauline Year, but just in case you skipped the video, these two books by Michael Gorman are high on my list:

Gorman's other book, Apostle of the Crucified Lord, is more of a text book. This one is for meditation! The spirituality of St. Paul predates that of the Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines...and they all use him for a foundation. You know..."take me as your model, as I take Christ"?? Highly highly HIGHLY recommended.
Apostle of the Crucified Lord
Very informative but not so cerebral that you can't enjoy it. Covers everything about St. Paul (and the maps and pictures don't hurt either!). It's a good review of his life and something worth reading during this year dedictated to him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Simple Ways

This was a Christmas gift from a dear friend so I put it in my "chapel" pile of books and picked it up this week. What a pleasant surprise to find something so perfect for the New Year.
A book that makes you slow down and appreciate all the treasures we have right at hand...and that are so often ignored or taken for granted. This is a small book with small chapters, but everything else about it is BIG. The author ( Gunilla Norris) has an approach that reminds me very much of Brother Lawrence and his classic book, "Practice of the Presence of God." His book, too, is deceptively short and simple, but just try putting it into practice! It's one of those "lifetime" things!

I only made it through three extremely short chapters of "Simple Ways" and felt compelled to start again and go slower. In my humble opinion, any book that can do that is worth reading. And thanks, Peggy, for the Christmas gift that I'll be using all year!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's not a book, but...

You'll forgive me for adding this to the "Best Catholic Books" blog, given that I developed this music project--and sang on it last summer.

The idea for this album started back in 1972. Not kidding.
I was a brand new Catholic and was visiting the motherhouse of the Daughters of St. Paul for the first time. I firmly and wholeheartedly believed that the Catholic Church was the one true Church...and I just as strongly believed that I had sacrificed good music in the process of becoming a Catholic. (The early '70s was not the best of times for Church music.) But then here I was sitting in the sisters' chapel during a Sunday Mass listening to Gregorian Chant for the first time in my life. They were singing the Mass of the Angels... My first thought was, so this is where the good Church music is hiding!
Then about ten years ago when I was studying music I had a strong desire to share this musical heritage with the many Catholics who still had never heard of it. We sisters "grew up" in the convent, so to speak, singing this music on feast days, for benediction, novenas, etc.. I've rarely, if ever, heard this music outside of our motherhouse and most people I know have had the same reaction as I first did: Where have they been hiding this?
During the recording last summer, we did have to pull out the Latin dictionary...and we also had a vocal coach come in to help us, but on the whole, this type of music fits us like a glove.

In Paradisum
is an introduction for those too young to remember, and a fresh take on old, familiar melodies for those who do: W
e took Gregorian chant up a notch by adding instruments and playing around with the arrangements. It's to give people a taste for chant, but also to give them an experience of "heavenly music"...the kind you listen to while you're driving or trying to pray. It puts you in another zone. It's familiar, but it's new. I think it's perfect prayer music--it can help in providing a reverent "atmosphere" that is conducive to prayer and reflection.

What's inside: Vexilla Regis ProdeuntAve Regina Caelorum/Ave Maris StellaSalve Regina ∙ Adoro Te, Devote ∙ Tantum Ergo, SacramentumAve Verum Corpus NatumUbi CaritasTe Joseph In Paradisum

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Spirituality of Archbishop Fenelon

This is a hidden treasure. It sat on our bookshelf for a year before I picked it up out of curiousity and read the contents. It's a skinny little book, but the vaule of it is as dense as the Summa Theologica! I couldn't resist reading it at a gallop, but it's one of those special books that is worth keeping (and sharing...definitely sharing!) Great introduction to the teachings of Francois Fenelon, a spirtual teacher along the lines of Brother Lawernce and St. Therese. It's too bad that a few centuries stand between us....I would have loved to have this 17th century Jesuit bishop as my spiritual director! Don't pass this one by!

I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my list (and my shelf!): Complete Fenelon...

Perpetua: A Novel

Sorry about the long silence...I've been reviewing books on Facebook! But I'll share them with you here, too!

I have always been fascinated by the story of Perpetua and Felicity that was recounted in the Office of Readings (from Perpetua's own diary!), so naturally I had to pick up this book. Title, cover, story, everything was asking me to take it off the library shelf. Brought it home and promptly ordered a copy of my own. Once upon a time there was a book that grabbed me like this and made me change my direction in life. I was 13 and read the Song of Bernadette. Went from that to every life of a saint I could find....mostly young girls my age: Joan of Arc. St. Agnes, Maria Goretti etc. Now to come across a story like this one that "fills in the blanks" around the account of her martyrdom and recreates a flesh and blood woman of such conviction and passion and humanity...you know, the kind of life your longing to live.
There's another book on Perpetua entitled "What Would You Die For?" This book shows not only what (Who) she most willingly died for, but who she most passionately lived for as well.