“If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.”
C.S. Lewis, brilliant Christian author that he was, understood the importance of spiritual reading to bolster a person’s faith. To use his analogy, without it, we will starve.
In this year’s annual fall book review, we once again offer a wide selection to support you in your faith journey. Meet the new family of blesseds, the martyred Ulma family from Poland during the Second World War. Or learn how to combat scrupulosity or reclaim hope through these new releases. Unpack what it means to live charity and defend life in our modern world, and find resources for living an authentic Catholic family life. All this and more can be found among these new titles, ready for you to explore!
By Sister Josephine Garrett, CSFN
Do you have hope? Not the kind of hope of winning the lottery, but rather the messy and risky kind of hope? Sister Josephine Garrett, CSFN, is a woman full of hope. In “Hope, An Invitation,” she takes a look at the painful parts of hope, our struggles with hope and our labors in hope. She explains that authentic hope is powerful and life-giving. Authentic hope shines light into complete and utter darkness. Sister Josephine invites us to journey to new heights of hope, to discover the courage to press ahead into the unknown even in difficult or seemingly impossible circumstances. We need a hope that extends well beyond ourselves and into eternity — one that comes from God, who not only has given us that hope but allows us to spread it to others.
By Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik and Manuela Tulli
The extraordinary story of the recently beatified Ulma family, who were martyred during World War II, is one of faith, courage and heroic love for their neighbor. The Ulma family of Markowa, Poland, risked their lives to protect three Jewish families during the Holocaust. On March 24, 1944, German Nazis raided their farmhouse and shot the Jews and the members of the Ulma family, including their seven children, the seventh of which was delivered while Wiktoria Ulma was dying. The entire Ulma family was beatified on Sept. 10, 2023, in Markowa, marking the first time in Church history that an entire family was beatified together.
Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik and Manuela Tulli provide a detailed account of the virtuous lives and martyrdom of the Ulma family, while placing their lives and actions within the horrors of World War II and the historical relations between Poles and Jews.
By Andrew and Sara Swafford
Ascension Press, $15.95
Fostering authentic relationships, answering life’s deepest questions, and remaining committed to a relationship with God are challenges faced by young people. Add to that the challenges posed by online dating, social media and more, Andrew and Sarah Swafford, with over 15 years of ministry to college students, have some real-life advice: how to foster good and faithful relationship; how to pursue fulfilling and romantic relationships; how to navigate past wounds and move forward; how to achieve greatness; how to bridge the gap between today’s world and the spiritual life; but mostly, how to live life to the fullest as God intended. For those facing struggles with isolation, insecurity and sadness, “Gift and Grit” inspires a deeper look at healing, forgiveness and transformation we desire in our lives.
By Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Marian Press, $15.95
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, brings to life the incredible story of St. Faustina — one of the world’s most popular saints and, according to Pope St. John Paul II, “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.” This biography reads like a page-turning novel and is written for ages 10 and up. Born Helena Kowalska, a simple Polish peasant farm girl at the dawn of the 20th century, Faustina was chosen by God to teach the world about his unfathomable Divine Mercy. Though mocked, ridiculed and unbelieved, she earnestly followed Jesus’ commands, the Blessed Mother’s instructions, and saintly wisdom to tread an amazing mystical journey, filled to overflowing with gifts and graces to glorify God. Cooper O’Boyle is an expert on St. Faustina and a master storyteller, who presents St. Faustina’s life in this page-turning novel for all ages.
By Elizabeth Gillette
Author Elizabeth Gillette has been active in pro-life ministry for over a decade. Her new book, “Above All, Love: Discerning Ways to Defend Life with Charity and Justice,” is based on her unique personal journey as a post-abortive mother and as a pro-life advocate. Not a memoir, it’s a book designed to help a reader self-reflect and grow in their own pro-life journey, although it also can be used in a group setting. The author encourages readers to use their Bible and Catechism alongside the book, and to use the spaces provided in the reflection sections to record their thoughts and answers to the questions posed. Busy readers will love the short chapters that begin with spiritual quotations from everyone from St. Teresa of Calcutta to King Leonidas of Sparta. “Above All, Love” concludes with an examination of conscience and prayers.
By Kevin Vost, Psy.D.
In “Scrupulosity: Heal Your Mind, Unbind Your Soul, and Let God Work,” author and psychologist Dr. Kevin Vost — who passed away in April 2023 — provides a comprehensive overview of both ancient and current psychological and theological understanding of scrupulosity and how those who suffer from it can find peace and healing. If you’ve ever wondered what causes scrupulosity, or if you fear you have it, Dr. Vost not only addresses those concerns but reassures readers that “faith will be the front and center as we’ll strive to fly like eagles, moving away from scrupulosity upon the angel’s wing of faith.” Drawing on the strength of Christ and the understanding that comes from knowledge, each chapter concludes with a “Saintly Lesson for Scrupulous Souls,” counsel from those we know have made it to heaven after their own battles with the “snares of scrupulosity.”
By Dawn Marie Beutner
Ignatius Press, $19.95
You’ll come to know and appreciate the heroic yet very human lives of a wide variety of saints in this new book by Catholic convert and author Dawn Marie Beutner. “Leaven” is defined as “a pervasive influence that modifies something or transforms it for the better,” and “The Leaven of Saints” contains dozens of examples of saints, religious orders and topics related to saints that did just that. Conveniently organized around Christian witness, with chapters for Doctors of the Church, “Shepherd Saints,” religious life, popes, the Virgin Mary, married saints and more, the book also includes a bibliography to expand your reading and a names index.
By Paul Senz
Ignatius Press, $16.95
More than a history of the 21 ecumenical councils, author Paul Senz uses a question-and-answer format to provide a practical and theological explanation of these important Church meetings. Over the course of the 100 questions — divided into four sections (general, historical, theological and controversial) — Senz gives the historical context that led to each council, the reasons it was convened, the major events that happened during the council, and the impact of its teachings, both historically and for the present day. Readers will also discover the foundations of the teaching authority of the bishops as successors to the apostles as a body in union with the pope under the protection of the Holy Spirit.
By Father Bill Deschamps, Christine Schroeder, Mary Roma and Susan J. Bellavance
Illustrated by Dan Andreasen
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you,” we are told in the first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah. Yet, known and loved as we are by God, our culture does not value this gift of life in these early, vulnerable moments. That’s why books like “In My Mother’s Womb” are so important — for children and adults alike. This picture book expresses the mysterious unfolding of a life in a mother’s womb from the unique point of view of the child. Written in a diary format, the story imagines what the child is seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling during the weeks of pregnancy. With accompanying Scripture verses and stunning artwork for each week, this book provides a fresh encounter with life as well as the Author of Life.
By Catherine M. Odell
The graces of the Blessed Mother’s apparitions in Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and elsewhere continue to bless the people of God today — years, decades and centuries after Our Lady revealed herself. In this revised and expanded fourth edition, “Those Who Saw Her” shares the latest developments, updates and Church teachings on the apparitions of Mary. Among these updates includes the apparitions Mary made to Adele Brise in 1859 in Champion, Wisconsin, which now has an annual solemnity to celebrate the event. As you read this book, let Mary’s prophetic messages bring comfort and hope to your life in this thorough and compelling presentation of the extraordinary visits of the Blessed Mother to her children around the world.
By Rachael Killackey
Ave Maria Press, $17.95
When people discuss the raging monster of pornography in our culture, most often it is in reference to men. But women, too, struggle with addiction to pornography; in fact, some studies suggest that 1 in 3 porn addicts is a woman. Rachel Killackey was one of those women. However, since finding hope and healing in Christ, she has made it her mission to help other women out of the dark through her ministry, Magdala Ministries. Her new book, “Love in Recovery,” is a continuation of her ministry where Killackey shares her story and offers compassionate, down-to-earth advice about identifying the gateways to pornography addiction, its complexities, and the path to healing. In a review of the book, licensed clinical psychologist Julia Sadusky said the book “is an important contribution to a much-needed conversation in our Church about female sexual addiction.”
By Jessica Mannen Kimmet
Liturgical Press, $14.95
Many moms feel overwhelmed by the early days of motherhood. But, as author Jessica Mannen Kimmet assures new mothers, “There is hope. This doesn’t last forever.” Her new book, “Groaning in Labor, Growing in Hope,” is a slim volume to accompany moms during those first days, weeks and months of motherhood. With short chapters rooted in Scripture, helping guide women in prayer and reflection, this book can be read in whatever scraps of time can be spared. Stacey Noem, the director of the University of Notre Dame’s Human and Spiritual Formation, Master of Divinity program, shared in a review: “I was barely through the introduction and I just kept thinking, I love her voice! Kimmet writes in a deeply authentic and vulnerable way that somehow manages to be simultaneously conversational and not overwhelming. In addition, her content is both scripturally focused and theologically sound. It will definitely be my go-to gift for ‘newborn moms.'”
By Colleen Pressprich
The Jesse Tree is a long-standing Advent tradition that recounts Jesus Christ’s family tree to illustrate the story of salvation. Its name comes from Jesse, the father of King David, referring to the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the family of King David: “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (Is 11:1). Colleen Pressprich presents a beautiful and achievable way for young families to grow in faith during the Advent season as they prepare for Christmas. Each day focuses on the story of a specific person from Christ’s family tree and includes a meditation, an illustration and an ornament for the family Jesse tree. Conversation starters and resources for parents are also included.
By Julianne Will
Is your family trying to get more intentional about your faith and reorient your family’s life around what matters most? This book provides practical resources and a road map to help families foster their Catholic identity and live out their faith according to their family’s unique gifts. Designed to meet families where they are and engage every family member, the book provides weekly exercises, easily completed around the dinner table on a Sunday evening, and resources to provide inspiration all year long.
By Father Joel Sember
“Oriens” invites us all to embark on a life-changing journey beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, through the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2. Oriens is a Latin word that means “rising” and “dawn.” Each day, this pilgrimage takes you one step closer to “the dawn from on high,” as you learn to pray and reflect more deeply with Scripture. Father Joel Sember provides daily Scripture passages, guidance on how to pray with each passage, and questions for reflection and journaling. “Oriens” is a wonderful guide to intensify your Advent preparation and Christmas celebration, allowing God to speak directly to your heart.
By Megan Madden
Ascension Press, $16.95
This book provides a unique view into our Blessed Mother’s day-to-day life. From the Annunciation to the Cross, it illuminates the profound virtues that defined Mary’s character, including humility and self-denial. Based on her personal experience as a wife and mother with a special consecration to the Virgin Mary, Megan Madden invites Catholic women on an intimate and empowering journey that includes Scripture, discussion questions, and practical applications to explore how they can learn from Mary’s example to grow in virtue and draw closer to Jesus as they journey toward heaven.
By Father Robert J. Spitzer, SJ
Father Spitzer is an internationally-recognized Jesuit philosopher, who in this new book grapples with the heart’s yearning for answers to life’s most profound questions: Who are we? What is our purpose in this vast universe? How can we reconcile the existence of evil with the search for meaning in life? In the pages of “Science, Reason, and Faith,” readers are invited to confront the tensions and conflicts that often arise when these realms intersect. Father Spitzer’s thoughtful and illuminating analysis leads us to see that it is precisely in this intersection that the Truth is found. “Science, Reason, and Faith” is a must-read for those who seek to reconcile their thirst for scientific knowledge with their longing for religious faith.
By Larry Chapp
Ignatius Press, $17.95
In a world seemingly overrun by capitalism’s unchecked excesses, cultural decay and ideological polarization, Chapp’s view is refreshingly unconventional. He contends that crisis is an inherent facet of the Christian experience, and it is through this perspective that he urges a profound reevaluation of our values and actions. In a society choked by materialism and greed, Chapp challenges us to embrace the Gospel’s call for radical love and unwavering commitment to living by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. The choice to embrace Jesus Christ and his Gospel over all worldly concerns is the crux of Chapp’s message, and he delivers it with compelling urgency.
By Pope Benedict XVI
Ignatius Press, $24.95
“What Is Christianity?” is a profound and insightful testament to the enduring wisdom and spiritual depth of Pope Benedict XVI. In this final work, crafted near the end of his remarkable life, the former pontiff, along with editor Elio Guerriero, offers readers a kaleidoscope of reflections on themes that were closest to his heart. It is a poignant collection that not only serves as a legacy of his theological brilliance but also as a prophetic voice in our day. Readers will find in this collection not only a treasure trove of theological insights but also a heartfelt farewell from a spiritual giant. Pope Benedict’s words continue to resonate, offering inspiration for those seeking a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and its relevance in our contemporary society.
By Holly Ordway
Word on Fire, $34.95
“Tolkien’s Faith: A Spiritual Biography” offers a captivating and illuminating exploration into the intricate relationship between J.R.R. Tolkien’s profound faith and his timeless literary works, most notably “The Lord of the Rings.” Holly Ordway’s biographical journey is a remarkable contribution to our understanding of this literary genius and spiritual thinker, shedding light on the often-overlooked facets of his life and beliefs. Tolkien’s faith was tested on multiple fronts, from the trials of war to the turbulent times within the Church itself. Ordway’s book is not only a testament to Tolkien’s unwavering convictions but also a testament to her own meticulous research and dedication.