When I was planning my summer reading, I had intended to focus only the books accumulated in my Kindle. But Sister Lou Ella Hickman, my former spiritual director, gave me a box of books in Texas. I also was surprised to see that my mother usually received free books that she eventually passed along. The books were interesting. Before I know it, I have read a decent stack of books.
Here are the books I read this summer. If you’re interested in the book, click on the link:
These books are from my mother’s stack:
- “Bread of Heaven” (Penny Hickey, O.C.D.S.): This is a good collection of writings on the Eucharist from a variety of Carmelites, including John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. The Marian references to the Eucharist have put my devotion to Mary in perspective. I decided to keep this book instead of returning it to the pile.
- “My Life with the Saints” (James Martin, S.J.): I’m a big fan of Martin’s “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.” This book canvasses the saints that have touched Father Martin’s life. Dorothy Day and Joan of Arc are saints whom I have grown to love because of the book.
- “Catherine of Siena” (Sigrid Undset): This biography offers a good portrait of a saint so united with Jesus’ love that she could mediate between governments and chastise popes, cardinals and others to clean up their lives and the Church. The solution for a world gone wrong: Be united completely in the love of Jesus.
- “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” (Thomas E. Woods Jr.): This book examines how the Church has built up civilization beyond the usual monks copying ancient manuscripts and artists crafting beautiful artwork. Who knew that the Church helped develop universities, legal systems and economic theory?
When I looked inside the box from Sister Lou Ella, I was surprised by the variety of Marian, spiritual and theology books. But I decided to read this classic:
- “The Secret of Mary” (St. Louis de Montfort): This French saint is a master in explaining the devotion to Mary. I had read the saint’s “The Secret of the Rosary.” I would like to “True Devotion to Mary” to complete the trilogy.
These books are in my Kindle:
- “Laudato Si” (Pope Francis): Pope Francis discusses not only the need to care for the environment but also the need for an integral ecology within man and in human communities. He questions how we can care about animals and trees while we ignore the poor and the marginalized.
- “Running Away with Frannie” (Renée Manfredi): This is my first fiction book I’ve read in years. My sister Anna gave this as a Christmas present, but I hadn’t had much time to read it during the school year. I had wanted to end my summer reading with this book. The character of Frannie is interesting. Because of her troubled past, she has developed deep spiritual insights. But she acts in ways that are confusing, frustrating and funny. Manfredi keeps tossing red herrings when I expected something to happen. I had to put this book down momentarily to read the next book.
- “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” (Daniel James Brown): How do you help young men understand life in a religious community? Read about rowing. My formator, Father Tom, distributed this book for required reading. The story about this rowing team from the University of Washington is inspiring through all their hard-scrabble lives and their racing struggles. Rowing needs a balance between teamwork and individual awareness. Strange that sounds like religious life.
Next up: Summing up New York.