Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Unveils 20th Century Contemplative

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Edith Stein, who eventually became Carmelite Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, is not well known as saints go but is becoming better known, thanks to books like this one. Author Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda has given her readers a clear and readable introduction to this fascinating figure of 20th-century Catholicism, while intriguing us with some parallel historical figures.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Young Catholic invites readers to explore church's truth, goodness

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Catholic wunderkind Brandon Vogt, who joined the church in 2008, is one of the go-to spokesmen for both Catholic and secular media when they need an articulate young Catholic to interview.
A best-selling author of seven books on Catholic topics, he also is the founder of the website and content director for Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Vogt's eighth book is a highly readable apologetic treatment of Catholicism that should attract many readers. To his credit, the book isn't organized into explanations of the traditional "marks of the church," i.e. "one, holy, catholic and apostolic." Instead, following an introduction titled "The Only Rebellion Left," the three parts of the book unpack declarations that Catholicism is "true," "good" and "beautiful."

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Three new books offer prayers to help Catholic couples

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Whether they know it or not, married couples today need lots of prayer to live their vocation well. They always have, but perhaps today they may need it more than ever. Three recently published books approach this need in rather different ways.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Children's books show Christmas' true joy with beautiful stories, art

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These are among several books for children that are suitable for Christmas giving.
— Regina Lordan, Catholic News Service

“The Watcher” by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Bryan Collier. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2017). 42 pp., $17.
“The Watcher” is a rare treasure in the world of children’s books: The verse is poetic, the illustrations are a compelling blend of photographs and drawings, and the story is a gripping tale of bully and victim ... or is it? The narration unfolds and reveals that the instigator is really just a lonely child desperate for a friend. Influenced by Psalm 121, which attributes all help to God’s loving protection and care, it is written in “golden shovel” form, in which the last word of each verse is a word from the psalm. “The Watcher” is a story that holds onto you as it slowly reveals understanding, compassion and innocent faith in God’s love and protection. After it is read, its lyrical tale will not be soon forgotten. Ages 6-10.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Look at China’s Religious Landscape Omits Today’s Catholics

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In "The Souls of China," author Ian Johnson shows how China does, indeed, have more than one soul.
The religious landscape is dynamic yet chaotic, as the Chinese people carry not only a 5,000-year history behind them, but also the excesses of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, the year of Mao's death.
If there is one consistency to contemporary Chinese belief systems and practices, it is inconsistency, the author makes clear.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Memoir tells lives of Syrians, nation in peril

"The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria" is as much an account of Syria as it is a beautifully crafted narrative of a Syrian family and an independent first-generation Syrian-American woman.
It breaks through the single-lensed generalizations and headline tickers and dives deeply into the lives of Syrians with stories that smoothly weave in and out of a complex political context. In sharing the stories of her friends and families, author Alia Malek is sharing the story of a nation.
The book is bracketed by Malek's quest to reclaim and renovate her grandmother's apartment in Damascus, which had been taken in 1970 from her family by an obstinate tenant protected by lopsided laws. Malek, a Christian whose parents' professional careers as a physician and pharmacist lead them to settle in Baltimore, had long had a nostalgic desire to return to her parents' homeland to which she was exposed during long visits with family as a child.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Honest book on prayer is compelling

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Heather King is a wonderful writer who, in "Holy Desperation," gives us a contemporary rendition of classic Catholic asceticism.
Her story -- a recovering alcoholic who gave up the practice of law to embark on a full-time vocation as a writer -- would be compelling enough as a human memoir. But what she has done in this remarkable book is more impressive. King, who entered the church in 1996, has allowed us to see the contours of her prayer life and the daily discipline that led her to a life of service.
The book begins with the prayer of desperation King uttered from the depths of 20 years of alcoholism, an acknowledgment of defeat and the utter need for God's help. The kernel of her wisdom is the recognition that "genuine spiritual awakening seems to consist in a disappearance, however temporary, of self."