Embracing renewal: 21 must-read Catholic books for a vibrant spring

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Spring books
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Spring heralds a season of renewal, growth and the blossoming of new life, not only in the natural world but also in the realm of the spirit and the mind. As we witness earth’s reawakening, it’s a perfect time to delve into a fresh selection of books that promise to enrich our souls, challenge our minds and deepen our faith. In this year’s annual spring book review, we’ve curated an exhilarating array of titles that shine with the light of wisdom, creativity and divine inspiration, echoing the vibrancy of the season. From thought-provoking analyses of Scripture to riveting biographies of saints and scholars, these books invite us on a journey of discovery and reflection. They offer insights into living a life of purpose, understanding God’s creation and finding joy in the everyday.

This year, we highlight works that address pressing contemporary issues through the lens of Catholic thought alongside timeless spiritual classics that speak to the eternal human condition. Each book is a doorway to exploration — of self, society and the sacred. Whether you’re drawn to theological deep dives, inspirational stories or practical guides on living out your faith, there’s something here for every reader. Let these selections be your companions as the days grow longer and the world around us bursts into life. Embrace this season of spiritual renewal with open hearts and minds, ready to be transformed by the power of the written word.

In the Courts of Three Popes

“In the Courts of Three Popes: An American Lawyer and Diplomat in the Last Absolute Monarchy of the West”

By Mary Ann Glendon
Image, $27.00

Mary Ann Glendon’s new book is a welcome addition to the body of narrative nonfiction on the inner workings of influential, but only dimly understood, institutions. This new book is a memoirlike examination of diplomatic and administrative Vatican operations from a front-line observer. Glendon’s book offers keen insights into how the last three pontiffs handled the temporal side of Church affairs. Nominated as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in November 2007, Glendon served in that role until early 2009. Although it was a one-year term, Glendon was already acquainted with Vatican operations from her previous work for the Holy See. Despite her criticisms, which are well worth reading, Glendon remains optimistic that the Vatican can improve its corporate culture and allow lay, religious and ordained staff to bring their talents, enthusiasm and inspiration to the service of the Church.

Seek and you will find

“Seek and You Will Find: A Catholic Sacraments Adventure!”

By Kristina Schoh, illustrated by Michael LaVoy
Voyage Comics & Publishing, $17.99

“Seek and You Will Find” was written by a devoted mother. Kristina Schoh is also a former Miss Wisconsin and an accomplished Catholic speaker. This, her debut kids’ book, is the first title released under Voyage Comics & Publishing’s new imprint, Little Voyagers. Its newsletter describes the goal for this imprint as “helping parents and educators foster the imagination of young children so they discover truth, beauty and goodness.” This is the kind of book that you read to a young child and walk away having learned something yourself. Msgr. Delbert J. Malin from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, weighed in on “Seek and You Will Find” recently — “[This] book promises to help [young children] become more curious and more aware of what is going on around them at Mass as they learn about Jesus.”

Citizens yet strangers

“Citizens yet Strangers: Living Authentically Catholic in a Divided America”

By Kenneth Craycraft
OSV, $26.95

In this timely book, Kenneth Craycraft explores the complex relationship between Catholic faith and American political life, an increasingly urgent subject in today’s charged political atmosphere. Craycraft critically examines the influence of classical liberal political theory on American Catholics, arguing that this has overshadowed the rich tradition of Catholic moral theology in guiding political engagement. By dissecting the limitations of partisan politics, he encourages Catholics to reevaluate their political identities, which are too often shaped by party allegiance rather than by Catholic moral principles. This book challenges readers to transcend the binary confines of contemporary political discourse, advocating for a faith-driven approach to political participation that eschews individualist inclinations for a more communal and morally oriented perspective. Craycraft’s work is an essential read for those seeking to navigate the treacherous waters of modern political life.

Hannah's children

“Hannah’s Children: The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth”

By Catherine Pakaluk
Regnery Gateway, $29.99

Catherine Pakaluk offers a rare glimpse into the lives of America’s unsung heroines: Women who embrace motherhood with open arms, bearing five or more children in an era of declining birth rates. Through the lens of 55 college-educated, large-family matriarchs, Pakaluk, a mother of eight herself, paints a vivid portrait of dedication, purpose and unparalleled joy that challenges societal norms. This book goes beyond mere storytelling; it delves into the essence of what it means to find fulfillment in the vocation of motherhood, asserting these women’s choices as a silent yet profound countercurrent to the mainstream narrative of success. Pakaluk’s journey across the nation not only uncovers the rich tapestry of experiences that bind these families but also offers critical insights into the potential implications of these choices for America’s future prosperity.

The Moral Universe

“The Moral Universe”

By Fulton J. Sheen
Cluny Media, $19.95

In this seminal work, Fulton J. Sheen delves into the profound depths of Christian ethics with the precision and clarity that defined his illustrious career. Father Sheen, before later becoming archbishop, addresses the age-old question of why a benevolent God permits evil with a compelling explanation: The creation of a moral universe necessitates human freedom, a double-edged sword that allows for both great good and great evil. Father Sheen eloquently unpacks the foundations of Christian morality, from the significance of personal conscience and the sanctity of marriage to the inevitable realities of sin and redemption. This new edition reaffirms Father Sheen’s timeless wisdom and relevance in today’s world. For anyone grappling with questions of morality, freedom and the pursuit of holiness in an often tumultuous world, “The Moral Universe” provides not only answers but also a roadmap to a life of virtue and grace.

The Father

“The Father: 30 Meditations to Draw You Into the Heart of God”

By Father Mark-Mary Ames, CFR
Ascension, $15.95

In his new book, Father Mark-Mary Ames, CFR, leads the reader to reflect on God’s delight in us, care for us and calling to us as our Father through touching, real-life stories of biological and spiritual fathers. The book is arranged as a 30-day retreat, and each story is followed by related Scripture verses, a reflection, prayer and space for the reader to write his or her own thoughts. While many fathers fall short in their calling to reflect the goodness of our heavenly Father, Father Ames illustrates how God reveals his love for us through good, earthly fathers. Reflecting on this collection of beautiful stories about the love and care that earthly fathers have for their children helps us to see how much more these things are true of our Father in heaven.

Building a Civilization of Love

“Building a Civilization of Love: A Catholic Response to Racism”

By Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
Ignatius Press, $18.95

When protests broke out in the late spring of 2020 following the death of George Floyd, many Catholics faced a reckoning: Racism is intrinsically evil, and yet they felt woefully unprepared to come to the aid of brothers and sisters of color. In his latest book, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers methodically explains the concept of racism to present a way that Catholics should respond to this fundamental injustice. Discussions around racism can easily descend into political arguments with ad hominem attacks. What Deacon Burke-Sivers offers in these pages is a way to engage in conversations about racism with logic, rather than leading with emotion, to better understand the impact of the concepts and organizations that claim to be inscrutable because they exist to correct an evil.

In Pursuit of Wisdom

“In Pursuit of Wisdom: Catholicism and Science Through the Ages”

By Phillip Campbell
OSV, $29.95

Follow a remarkable journey through the historical dialogues between the Catholic Church and scientific exploration in this new book. Phillip Campbell expertly navigates the complex narrative that many believe pits faith against reason, providing a thorough examination from the Church’s inception through the Renaissance and into modernity. This book is an essential read for anyone grappling with the perceived discrepancies between religious belief and scientific understanding, revealing the Church’s profound contribution to the scientific world. Through captivating stories of pioneering individuals and groundbreaking discoveries, Campbell illustrates that the relationship between Catholicism and science is not only compatible but also deeply intertwined.

Jesus Make Me Fully Alive

“Jesus, Make Me Fully Alive: 30 Holy Hour Reflections”

By Father Tim Anastos
Ave Maria Press, $17.95

Father Tim Anastos extends an inviting hand to those swamped by the incessant busyness of modern life, offering a gateway to rejuvenation through prayer. This guide is not only for the spiritually elite but also for everyone, advocating that intimacy with Christ is achievable through regular, confident prayer. Father Anastos shares from his own spiritual journey, enriching the guide with personal anecdotes, practical exercises for engaging in prayer and methods to incorporate lectio divina and spiritual journaling, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. The 30 Holy Hour exercises provided are designed to be accessible, whether one can spare a few minutes or an hour, making the process of deepening one’s relationship with God both simple and profound. This book promises to be a spiritual lifeline, inviting readers to experience the joy that comes from an authentic relationship with Christ.

Language of Your Body

“The Language of Your Body: Embracing God’s Design for Your Cycle”

By Christina Valenzuela
OSV, $18.95

Through the lens of Catholic faith and the wisdom of saints such as Hildegard von Bingen, Pope John Paul II and Thomas Aquinas, Christina Valenzuela probes deep into the significance of the menstrual cycle, often misunderstood and stigmatized even in the Christian community. This book stands out for its bold invitation to view menstruation not as a burden, but as a beautiful and integral part of God’s design for women, encouraging a reclamation of the body’s natural rhythms in a positive light. Valenzuela skillfully bridges the gap between the physical and spiritual, urging women to embrace their cycles as a pathway to deeper self-understanding and spiritual growth. The work is a testament to the beauty of female biology and its reflection of divine creation, offering fresh insights into how our bodies can guide us closer to God.

The Father's House

“The Father’s House: Discovering Our Home in the Trinity”

By Father James Dominic Brent, OP
Pauline Books & Media, $21.95

Catholics searching for a deeper, fuller life of friendship with God in the Trinity will find an indispensable aid in this book. Father James Dominic Brent, OP, emphasizes baptism as the moment when we are first drawn into the life of the Holy Trinity. This is perhaps the book’s greatest contribution — our baptism is not merely symbolic, not simply a rite of passage or a celebration of membership in an earthly community. In a culture where many lament that Christianity is watered down, “The Father’s House” serves as a radical reminder that the truth of Christianity is not revealed through culture wars and front-page stories, but through the simple lives of people who have welcomed the Holy Trinity to dwell within their hearts and who have courageously set out to allow others to encounter Jesus through them.

True Confessions

“True Confessions: Voices of Faith from a Life in the Church”

By Francis X. Maier
Ignatius Press, $24.95

Veteran Catholic journalist Francis X. Maier conducted 103 interviews over a 17-month period, striving to capture an accurate snapshot of the Catholic Church today. The result is astonishing. With the freedom of anonymity, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders speak boldly, offering a captivating portrait of Catholic life. Maier brings an expert hand to the interviews, asking questions that deeply matter to those interviewed and prompting responses the reader won’t easily forget. In his forward to the book, Emeritus Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, recalls that he once asked Maier, his longtime collaborator, why he worked for the Church when he could make more money elsewhere. Maier replied, “Because I love her.” That devotion shines in this unrivaled collection of interviews, sure to offer new perspectives and fill the reader with hope.

Full life

“In Search of a Full Life: A Practical and Spiritual Guide”

By Leonard J. DeLorenzo
OSV, $16.95

“In Search of a Full Life” is a beacon for young adults navigating contemporary life through a Catholic lens. Leonard J. DeLorenzo masterfully blends practical advice with spiritual wisdom, addressing pivotal aspects of life such as prayer, friendships, dating and discernment. He encourages readers to mature in their faith and personal development by embodying Christlike virtues, moving beyond the superficial to find true substance and meaning in life. The book’s strength lies in making profound theological concepts accessible, offering a roadmap to Christian maturity that is both achievable and deeply rooted in Catholic tradition.

Hidden stream

“The Hidden Stream”

By Msgr. Ronald Knox
Cluny Media, $19.95

In this new edition of Msgr. Ronald Knox’s classic apologetic work, readers are invited to explore Catholic doctrine set against the rich backdrop of Oxford University. Msgr. Knox, with his characteristic wit and profound insight, delves into the core teachings of the Catholic Church and their perennial relevance. He tackles complex theological issues such as the necessity of revelation, the role of miracles, the unique marks of the Church and the unchanging nature of truth with a freshness of style that makes profound concepts accessible and compelling. Msgr. Knox asserts the transformative power of Catholicism to offer supernatural life amid the trials of a precarious world.


“Penny and the Stolen Chalice”

By Antony Barone Kolenc
OSV, $17.95

This captivating children’s novel set against the backdrop of a Catholic school offers more than just an engaging mystery for young readers. The story follows Penny, a new sixth grader unfamiliar with Catholic traditions, as she delves into the mystery of a stolen chalice with the help of her friend Jayden, an altar server with a deep love for the Eucharist. Through a fast-paced narrative filled with suspense and discovery, the novel skillfully introduces the significance of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in a manner that is accessible and engaging for middle-school readers. As Penny learns about the importance of the chalice in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, young readers are invited to explore their own understanding of Catholic faith and practices.

We have a pope

“We Have a Pope”

By Katherine Bogner, illustrated by Kortnee Senn
Emmaus Road Publishing, $17.95

Katherine Bogner and illustrator Kortnee Senn invite young readers on a vibrant journey to the heart of the Catholic Church — the Vatican — where the process of electing a new pope is beautifully unraveled. Bogner, a seasoned Catholic school teacher, and Senn, a passionate Catholic artist, combine their talents to demystify the papal election process, making it accessible and engaging for children. The book is not only educational, teaching the history of the papacy and the intricate election process but also spiritually enriching. The illustrations are a feast for the eyes, drawing readers into the solemn proceedings within the Sistine Chapel and the anticipation in St. Peter’s Square. This book is a must-have for Catholic families and schools, promising to enlighten and inspire children about the foundational aspects of their faith.

bird of fire

“Bird of Fire”

By Helen C. White
Cluny Media, $22.95

This classic novel, a remarkable exploration of St. Francis of Assisi’s life, captures the essence of his spirituality and the vibrancy of the High Middle Ages with grace and fervor. Unlike many literary treatments of the beloved saint, Helen C. White’s narrative is deeply respectful and insightful, shedding light on St. Francis’ transformation from a would-be knight to a humble servant of Christ. Set against a meticulously-researched backdrop, the novel vividly portrays St. Francis’ radical embrace of poverty and his journey toward founding the Franciscan order, offering readers a compelling vision of his quest for spiritual purity. White’s prose is both evocative and enlightening, weaving historical detail with a profound understanding of the Franciscan mission to bring hope and salvation to all.

power of silence

“The Hidden Power of Silence in the Mass: A Guide for Encountering Christ in the Liturgy”

By Father Boniface Hicks, OSB
Sophia Institute Press, $18.95

This book is a rich exploration of the often-overlooked aspects of the Catholic Mass. With Father Hicks as a guide, readers will delve into the sacred quietude of the Mass, where silence is not empty but full of the presence of God. With insights from saints and contemporary spiritual leaders as well as his own deep reflections, Father Hicks will help readers to quiet their minds, open their hearts and embrace the mysteries of the Mass with childlike wonder. He meticulously outlines how periods of silence within the Mass are full of spiritual opportunities, from the secret prayers of the priest to the symbolic gestures and images that speak volumes to the soul. Written to foster communal growth as well as personal reflection, this book is an essential read for those seeking to deepen their experience of the liturgy.

Detransition diaries

“The Detransition Diaries”

By Jennifer Lahl and Kallie Fell
Ignatius Press, $18.95

This compelling narrative is both personal, through the poignant stories of seven individuals who regret their decisions to undergo gender transition surgeries, and historical, by charting the development of the gender-affirmation movement. It raises serious questions about the long-term effects of so-called “gender-affirmative” treatments and the societal rush to accept complex notions of identity without sufficient scrutiny. Through these narratives, Jennifer Lahl and Kallie Fell argue that the medical community’s current approach to gender dysphoria has led to significant harm, undermining the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Calling for a more cautious and evidence-based approach to gender dysphoria, Lahl and Fell advocate for the rights and well-being of those who have come to regret their transitions. This book contributes to the ongoing conversation about gender and identity that challenges mainstream narratives.

“Restoring the Lord’s Day: How Reclaiming Sunday Can Revive Our Human Nature”

By Daniel Fitzpatrick
Sophia Institute Press, $18.95

Daniel Fitzpatrick has issued a clarion call to Christians, urging a revival of the sacred observance of the Sabbath in the face of modernity’s relentless pace. Drawing from his upbringing in New Orleans, Fitzpatrick weaves a compelling narrative that champions the Lord’s Day as essential for both temporal happiness and eternal bliss. His analysis, rooted in Scripture, philosophy and literature, diagnoses the modern malaise of “internal pharaohs” — our unchecked compulsion for work and consumption — and prescribes a return to Sabbath worship as the cure. Fitzpatrick’s insights into overcoming acedia, reordering Sunday activities and embracing the liturgy are both profound and practical, offering a roadmap back to the sanctity of the Lord’s Day. “Restoring the Lord’s Day” is an essential read for those seeking to deepen their faith and reclaim the joy and freedom of worship, making it a worthy addition to any Catholic library.

thinking clearly

“Thinking Clearly: Catholic Philosophy for a Culture in Chaos”

By John-Mark L. Miravalle
OSV, $14.95

John-Mark L. Miravalle offers a timely and insightful resource for Christians navigating the challenges of evangelizing in a predominantly post-Christian society. Miravalle understands the cultural landscape that has largely moved away from Christian beliefs and proposes a philosophical response. Grounded in the Catholic tradition, the book serves as an introductory guide to philosophical thinking, aiming to equip believers with the tools needed to engage in meaningful conversations about faith, morality and the human person. By leveraging universal experiences and rational discourse, Miravalle illustrates how philosophy can bridge the gap between secular views and Christianity. The book emphasizes the importance of initiating philosophical conversations that lead participants to recognize God’s existence.

Our Sunday Visitor Staff

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