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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

Welcome to my own personal exploration of life through reading the great books of the world.

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Lord Darcy and Theology for Beginners

Things have gotten busy lately, so I just have time for a quick post. I'm bouncing between two books right now, Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett, and Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed. I'm reading one for fun and the other as background for teaching religion to my eighth graders this coming school year. I'll let you decide which is which.

I have not read either of them before and they are both equally interesting, so my decision about which one to read at any given moment is mostly a matter of mood. Stay tuned for more about both books in the coming days.


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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Henri Daniel-Rops Recommendations

I received a recommendation today from Thomas who writes:
Please make sure that all the books of the great French Roman Catholic scholar are placed on your list:

Henri Daniel-Rops

Henri Daniel-Rops was the nom de plume of Henri Jules Charles Petiot. He was born in France in 1901, the grandson of peasants and the son of an artillery officer. An academic prodigy, by the age of twenty-one Petiot had earned the equivalent of three Master's degrees and became an Associate Professor of History at Neuilly a year later. He wrote more than seventy books and received a large number of distinctions and honours. In 1955 he became the youngest ever member of the Academie Française (eventually winning the Grand Prix) and went on to receive the Legion of Honour. Henri Jules Charles Petiot died in 1965.

His 10-volume Church history is unsurpassable; his numerous sacred history books are the crème de la crème…. He is similar to Giuseppe Ricciotti…
Thanks for the suggestion. A few of Daniel-Rops' books can already be found on Part VI of the list, and I've added his ten volume history to the reader recommendations.


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Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan Still in Print

Thanks to Chris from St. Mary’s for commenting that Fr. Hardon’s The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan is indeed still in print. You can get it at The Grotto Press, or Amazon.com.


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Reader Recommendations

Here is a list of books recommended by readers of Literary Compass that do not appear on the Catholic Classics list:
  • Henri Daniel-Rops - Ten volume Church history
  • Romano Guardini – Living the Drama of Faith: What Faith is and Where it Leads You
  • James J. Meagher – How Christ Said the First Mass or the Lord’s Last Supper
  • Fr. James T. O’Connor – The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist
  • Fr. James T. O’Connor – The Father’s Son
If you’ve got a Catholic book recommendation that’s not on my Catholic Classics List, please let me know and I will add it to the list.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fr. Elijah Update

In an earlier post I mentioned that Michael O'Brien's novel Fr. Elijah was going to be discussed on the radio program Sound Insights. That radio program has now been archived here. Scroll down to July 18 for the mp3 of the show. I only caught the last five minutes of the show when it aired, so I am really looking forward to listening to the rest of it. Apparently they will do a second part next Monday, July 24.


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Monday, July 17, 2006

St. Vidicon, Pray for Us!

If you are a computer troubleshooter, you need to know about St. Vidicon of Cathode. He was martyred in the year 2020 when he was electrocuted in order to keep the Vatican broadcast equipment working so that Pope Clement could send his message to the world. Since his death, people throughout the world have prayed for his intercession to combat those terrors of technology, Murphy's Law, the Imp of Perversity, and Finagle.

His story is recounted in St. Vidicon to the Rescue, a novel by Christopher Stasheff. St. Vidicon is a spin-off of Stasheff's popular Ron Gallowglass series (The Warlock in Spite of Himself, etc.). Father Vidicon employs the help of computer troubleshooter Tony Ricci to come to the aid of various people plagued by the forces of entropy. Tony gets to wield Occam's Razor, travel through time, and thwart the legal system. At the same time, Father Vidicon helps Tony in his relationship with Sandy, the object of Tony's affection.

Stasheff writes very light, enjoyable science fiction, peppered with Catholic references. If you've ever wished you could take a sword to the gremlins and viruses that interfere with your computer work, be sure to call on St. Vidicon.


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Saturday, July 15, 2006

What Does God Want?

I hate making decisions. Well, that's not exactly true. I hate making bad decisions. Why can't God just reach down from heaven, place a huge index finger on the newspaper and say, "THAT ONE...PICK THE ONE WITH CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING"? He told Mother Teresa to found an order of nuns to serve the poorest of the poor, why can't he tell us what he wants us to do with our lives?

Well, it turns out he does tell us. It's just that he uses God-speak, that mysterious language that we mortals have to decipher. And one of the best ways to decipher God-speak is to follow the advice given by Fr. Michael Scanlon in his little book, What Does God Want? A Practical Guide to Making Decisions. It's amazing how much practical wisdom Fr. Scanlon can pack into 127 pages.

Fr. Scanlon describes five "tests" to help us prayerfully discern what God might want in any decision we have to make:
  1. Does it conform to God's will?
  2. Does it encourage conversion?
  3. Is it consistent with how God has guided us in the past?
  4. What confirms it?
  5. Do I have conviction about it?
Each chapter develops these questions with examples and practical advice. Fr. Scanlon also provides decision-making worksheets in the back of the book to encourage people to write down their thoughts before making a decision.

The book is also useful for parents, teachers, counselors, and other professionals in positions of leadership. My eighth grade students are at the stage of life where they are just beginning to experience serious decisions: Which high school should I go to? Should I continue in ballet or skiing? Am I being called to the priesthood? When students come to me for advice it can be difficult to avoid jumping in with my own opinionated solutions, rather than letting the students work through the problem themselves. What Does God Want? gives me a good place to start in offering advice. In fact, chapter nine gives specific suggestions for how to help others make decisions.

If you've got some major decisions to make, or if you're the Dear Abby of your family, What Does God Want? is definitely worth owning. It'll help you see the invisible finger of God.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

12 of 12 for July 2006

Today is the 12th of the month, so taking a cue from the Rosary Army and their friend Chad Darnell, I am posting 12 pictures of my day. Above is a picture of a couple of my shelves of Catholic prayer books . You can view the rest of the day's pictures here.

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Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part VIII

Here (finally!) is part eight of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 1 of 16 lists, authors N-Z:
John Henry Cardinal Newman — The Dream of Gerontius
Ludwig Ott — Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
Fulton Oursler — The Greatest Story Ever Told
Walker Percy — Love in the Ruins
Walker Percy — The Second Coming
Bonaventure Perquin — Abba Father
Josef Pieper — The Four Cardinal Virtues
Augustin Poulain — The Graces of Interior Prayer
Pierre Pourrat — Christian Spirituality
Ferdinand Prat — Theology of St. Paul
Ferdinand Prat — Jesus Christ: His Life, His Teaching, and His Works
Ottokar Prohaszka — Meditations on the Gospels
Prudentius — Poems
Prudentius — Hymns
Giuseppe Ricciotti — The Life of Jesus Christ
Giuseppe Ricciotti — The History of Israel
Giuseppe Ricciotti — Paul the Apostle
Giuseppe Ricciotti — The Age of Martyrs: Christianity from Diocletian to Constantine
Charles E. Rice — 50 Questions on the Natural Law
Peter T. Rohrbach — Conversation with Christ
Matthias Joseph Scheeben — The Mysteries of Christianity
Matthias Joseph Scheeben — Mariology
Lorenzo Scupoli — Spiritual Combat
A. G. Sertillanges — The Intellectual Life
Francis Joseph Sheed — Communism and Man
Francis Joseph Sheed — The Church and I
Francis Joseph Sheed — Marriage and the Family
Fulton Sheen — Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton Sheen
Fulton Sheen — Peace of Soul
Fulton Sheen — These are the Sacraments
Henryk Sienkiewicz — With Fire and Sword
Henryk Sienkiewicz — The Deluge
St. Edith Stein — The Science of the Cross (biography of St. Teresa of Avila)
Federico Suarez — Mary of Nazareth
Alophe Alfred Tanquerey — The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology
Mother Teresa — Meditations from a Simple Path
Tertullian — Apologetical Works
Tertullian — Disciplinary, Moral and Ascetical Works
St. Thomas Aquinas — Summa Contra Gentiles
St. Thomas Aquinas — The Catechetical Instructions
Francis Trochu — St. Bernadette Soubirous
William Bernard Ullathorne — The Groundwork of the Christian Virtues
William Bernard Ullathorne — The Little Book of Humility and Patience
Sigrid Undset — Saga of the Saints
Sigrid Undset — The Longest Years
Sigrid Undset — The Master of Hestviken
Gerald Vann — The Divine Pity
Gerald Vann — The Seven Swords
Hubert van Zeller — We Die Standing Up
Hubert van Zeller — Approach to Christian Sculpture
Hubert van Zeller — The End: A Projection Not a Prophecy
Hubert van Zeller — Praying While You Work: Devotions for the Use of Martha Rather than Mary
St. Vincent of Lerins — Commonitorium
Dietrich von Hildebrand — Marriage: the Mystery of Faithful Love
Dietrich von Hildebrand — Celibacy and the Crisis of Faith
Dietrich von Hildebrand — The Sacred Heart: An Analysis of Human and Divine Affection
Ludwig von Pastor — The History of the Popes
William Thomas Walsh — Isabella of Spain
William Thomas Walsh — Characters of the Inquisition
Evelyn Waugh — Edmund Campion
Gerard B. Wegemer — Thomas More
George Weigel — Witness to Hope
John C.H.Wu — The Science of Love: A Study in the Teachings of Therese of Lisieux
John C.H.Wu — Beyond East and West
John C.H.Wu — Fountain of Justice: A Study in Natural Law
John C.H.Wu — The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Benedictine Books

Today is the feast of St. Benedict, so I thought I’d mention a few of my favorite Benedictine books. First, a few books about the Rule of St. Benedict:
  • The Rule of St. Benedict – Though it was written to guide behavior at monasteries, anyone who is in a leadership position can also benefit from the wisdom it contains. Try reading it as if it were addressed to parents, or supervisors.

  • Reading St. Benedict: Reflections on the Rule by Adalbert de Vogue – This is probably the definitive commentary on the Rule, and is a great help for those wishing to study it and meditate on it.

  • A Share in the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict for Oblates by Benet Tvedten, O.S.B. – Oblates are traditionally laypersons who are formally connected with a particular Benedictine abbey or monastery. Tvedten’s book helps a layperson apply the wisdom of the rule to contemporary life.
Perhaps the most common Benedictine practice today is the form of meditative prayer known as Lectio Divina or Sacred Reading. As the Catechism puts it, “Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value…” (CCC 2708). These two books describe the essentials of lectio divina:
The Benedictine practice that has affected me most is the praying of the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours. It is at the same time humbling and uplifting to pray several times a day with the rest of the universal Church, and I wish I could be more faithful to it. Here are some Divine Office resources:
  • Chapter 17 of The Words We Pray by Amy Welborn – Probably the most beautiful and concise explanation of the power and majesty of the Divine Office. (By the way, the rest of the book is just as excellent.)

  • The School of Prayer by John Brook – This book is for me the definitive guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. Not only does Brook explain the history and rationale behind the Divine Office, he also provides a how-to for praying it, along with an extensive commentary on each of the psalms used in Morning and Evening Prayer.

  • An invaluable tool for learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or for praying them when you’re on the go is the Praystation Portable podcast by the SQPN network.


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Monday, July 10, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part VII

Here is part seven of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 1 of 16 lists, authors I-M:
St. Ignatius of Antioch — Letters
St. Ignatius Loyola — Letters and Instructions
St. Ignatius Loyola — Autobiography
St. Irenaeus — The Presentation of the Apostolic Preaching
St. Irenaeus — Against Heresies
St. Jerome — Letters
St. Jerome — On Illustrious Men
Pope John XXIII — Journal of a Soul
Pope John Paul II — Crossing the Threshold of Hope
St. John Chrysostom — On the Priesthood
St. John Chrysostom — Address on Vainglory
St. John Chrysostom — The Right Way for Parents to Bring up Their Children
St. John of the Cross — Ascent of Mount Carmel
Johannes Jorgensen — Saint Bridget of Sweden
Johannes Jorgensen — Saint Catherine of Siena
Johannes Jorgensen — Pilgrim Walks in Franciscan Italy
Johannes Jorgensen — Jorgenson: An Autobiography
Charles Journet — The Church of the Word Incarnate
Charles Journet — The Primacy of Peter
Charles Journet — The Meaning of Grace
Charles Journet —The Wisdom of Faith: An Introduction to Theology
St. Justin Martyr — The First and Second Apologies
Ronald A.Knox — A Spiritual Aeneid
Ronald A.Knox — The Belief of Catholics
Ronald A.Knox — A Commentary on the Gospels
St. Maximilian Kolbe — Personal Letters
St. Maximilian Kolbe — Spiritual Writings
St. Maximilian Kolbe — Theological Writings
Peter Kreeft — Christianity for Modern Pagans
Lactantius — The Divine Institutes
Marie Joseph Lagrange — The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Jean Leclercq — Love of Learning and the Desire for God
Edward Leen — Progress Through Mental Prayer
Edward Leen — In the Likeness of Christ
Edward Leen — The Church before Pilate
Edward Leen — The Holy Ghost and His Work in Souls
C. S. Lewis — The Problem with Pain
C. S. Lewis — Mere Christianity
C.S. Lewis — Till We Have Faces
St. Alphonsus de Liguori — The Holy Eucharist
St. Alphonsus de Liguori — The Glories of Mary
St. Alphonsus de Liguori — The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ
St. Alphonsus de Liguori — The Way of Salvation and Perfection
Venerable Louis of Granada — The Sinner's Guide
Lawrence Lovasik — The Hidden Power of Kindness
Arnold Lunn — Now I See: Autobiography
Arnold Lunn — The Revolt Against Reason
Arnold Lunn — Switzerland, Its Literary, Historical, and Topographical Landmarks
Arnold Lunn — A Saint in the Slave Trade: Peter Claver, 1581-1654
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque — Autobiography
Jacques Maritain — An Introduction to Philosophy
Jacques Maritain — Prayer and Intelligence
Joseph Columba Marmion — Christ, the Life of the Soul
Joseph Columba Marmion — Christ in His Mysteries
Luis M. Martinez — True Devotion to the Holy Spirit
Georgina Masson — Companion Guide to Rome
Francois Mauriac — St. Margaret of Cortona
Francois Mauriac — The Eucharist
Francois Mauriac — Viper's Tangle
Alice Meynell — Poems: Complete Edition
Alice Meynell — Essays
Walter Miller, Jr. — A Canticle for Leibowitz
James Monti — King's Good Servant but God's First
St. Thomas More — A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation
St. Thomas More — Thomas More's Prayerbook
Malcolm Muggeridge — Something Beautiful for God

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Reflecting on Father Elijah

I have just finished Michael D. O’Brien’s Father Elijah for the second time. I hadn’t read it in about five years, and I wanted to re-read it before Tom Curran discussed it later this month on his Sound Insights radio show. I remember liking it a lot more the first time I read it, probably because it was such a revelation to me.

The book attempts to look at the second coming from a Catholic perspective. If you’ve read or heard about the Left Behind series, and wondered about the Catholic take on the end times, then Father Elijah could help answer your questions. Unfortunately, our culture is so driven by hyper-dramatic action stories, that a novel like this one goes mostly unnoticed. It is much more literary, and consequently takes more effort to read, than other more popular novels. But trust me, this one gets it right. This is a rational, believable, exploration of how the world might look shortly before Jesus comes again. It is also a rational, believable critique of the modern world.

The plot is fairly straightforward: a man has risen to become president of the European Union, and though he appears to be a great man of peace and unity, some suspect him of being the next Anti-Christ. Father Elijah, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, is asked to leave his monastery to discover the truth about this man. In doing so, Father Elijah becomes aware of sinister, demonic forces at work in the world, both inside and outside the Church.

The reason I love this novel so much has little to do with the apocalyptic story-line, though. I appreciate O’Brien’s take on modern culture and what ails it. I think he does an excellent job of exposing the intellectual fallacies and traps of our time. Also, as one who rarely travels, I was captivated by his descriptions of various places in Rome and Poland. If you are planning a visit to Italy or Poland, or if you have already been there, this aspect of the book may really appeal to you, too.

But it is the character of Father Elijah himself that really makes the book worth reading. His humility and obedience immediately set him apart from every other character in the novel, and one couldn’t ask for a greater example of priestly virtue. And though O’Brien does a fantastic job of creating sympathetic clergy, he does not shy away from Catholic characters who are ignorant, weak and self-serving.

I keep a Commonplace Book on my computer, a place where I record lines from literature that really move me, or that seem to speak strongly to me. It’s been awhile since I found anything worth copying, but I found two lines from Father Elijah that I wanted to remember. The first line echoes a theme that is prevalent in Tolkien’s works, and which also reminds me of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:

“Accept being a little one, and He who made the universe will fill you.”

The second line comes when Father Elijah begins to despair of accomplishing his mission. One of the Vatican cardinals (I forget now which one) gives him these words:

“…I tell you that we are going to the cross. But it is not our right to hasten that day. We must work while the light lasts. We must strengthen what remains. This is the long and lonely martyrdom. It is the most difficult of all.”

“…the long and lonely martyrdom.” Sometimes life does indeed feel that way, especially when we make the difficult decision to do God’s will at the expense of our own pleasure. We may not ever have to suffer the martyrdom of blood like our brothers and sisters in the persecuted countries of Asia or the Middle East, but we are all called to be witnesses in our own way to the saving power of Christ. Father Elijah inspires us to accept that call more readily.


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Friday, July 07, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part VI

Here is part six of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 1 of 16 lists, authors D-H:
Henri Daniel-Rops — The Book of Mary
Henri Daniel-Rops — The Church of the Apostles and Martyrs
Henri Daniel-Rops — The Church in the Dark Ages
Henri Daniel-Rops — The Catholic Reformation
Christopher Dawson — Religion and World History
Christopher Dawson — Progress and Religion
Christopher Dawson — The Crisis of Western Education
Christopher Dawson — Religion and the Rise of Western Culture
Paul de Jaegher — One with Jesus
Paul de Jaegher — The Virtue of Trust
St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal — Letters of Spiritual Direction
Owen Francis Dudley — Will Men Be Like Gods?
Owen Francis Dudley — The Shadow on the Earth
Owen Francis Dudley — The Masterful Monk
Owen Francis Dudley — The Pageant of Life
Owen Francis Dudley — The Coming of the Monster
Owen Francis Dudley — The Tremaynes and the Masterful Monk
T. S. Eliot — Christianity and Culture
Anne Catherine Emmerich — The Lowly Life and Bitter Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother
Shusaki Endo — Silence
St. Josemaria Escriva — Friends of God
St. Josemaria Escriva — Christ is Passing By
St. Josemaria Escriva — Way, Furrow, Forge
St. Josemaria Escriva — Way of the Cross
Eusebius — Ecclesiastical History
St. Peter Julian Eymard — The Real Presence
St. Peter Julian Eymard — Holy Communion
St. Peter Julian Eymard — Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament
St. Peter Julian Eymard — The Eucharist and Christian Perfection
Frederick William Faber — Growth in Holiness, or the Progress of the Spiritual Life
Frederick William Faber — The Blessed Sacrament, or the Works and Ways of God
Frederick William Faber — Poems
Frederick William Faber — Spiritual Conferences
St. Francis of Assisi — The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange — Christian Perfection and Contemplation, According to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange — The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange — The Mother of Our Savior
Henri Gheon — Secrets of the Saints
Henri Gheon — Three Plays
Henri Gheon — Christmas in the Market Place
Henri Gheon — The Art of the Theatre
James Gibbons — The Faith of Our Fathers
James Gibbons — The Ambassador of Christ
Igino Giordani — The Social Message of Jesus
Igino Giordani — The Social Message of the Apostles
Igino Giordani — The Social Message of the Early Church Fathers
Igino Giordani — Mary of Nazareth
Etienne Gilson — History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages
Etienne Gilson — A Gilson Reader: Selected Writings
Etienne Gilson —Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Kant
Etienne Gilson — Recent Philosophy: Hegel to the Present
Alban Goodier — The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Alban Goodier — The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Alban Goodier — The Prince of Peace
Romano Guardini — The Way of the Cross of Our Lord and Our Savior Jesus Christ
Romano Guardini — Freedom and Destiny: Three Chapters in the Interpretation of Existence
Romano Guardini — The End of the Modern World: Search for Orientation
Prosper Gueranger — The Liturgical Year: Advent to the Last Sunday of Pentecost
Scott Hahn — Rome Sweet Home

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part V

Here is part five of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 1 of 16 lists, authors A-C:
Karl Adam — The Son of God
Karl Adam — Christ our Brother
Karl Adam — The Roots of the Reformation
James Alberione — Personality and Configuration with Christ
James Alberione — Thoughts
James Alberione — Glories and Virtues of Mary
James Alberione — Daily Meditations: The Great Prayers, the Great Truths, the Great Virtues
St. Anselm — Prayers and Meditations
St. Anselm — Why God Became Man
St. Anselm — The Virgin Conception
John Peter Arendzen — The Holy Trinity
John Peter Arendzen — Reason and Revelation
John Peter Arendzen — What Becomes of the Dead?
John Peter Arendzen — Purgatory and Heaven
St. Athanasius — The Incarnation of the Word
St. Augustine — Of True Religion
St. Augustine — On Faith, Hope and Charity
Jordan Aumann — Spiritual Theology
Benedict Baur — Frequent Confession
Benedict Baur — In Silence with God
Bede The Venerable — A History of the English Church and People
St. Robert Bellarmine — The Ascent of the Mind to God
St. Robert Bellarmine — The Art of Dying Well
Hilaire Belloc — The Path to Rome
Hilaire Belloc — The Servile State
Hilaire Belloc — Europe and the Faith
Hilaire Belloc — Marie Antoinette
Robert Hugh Benson — Christ in the Church
Robert Hugh Benson — The Light Invisible
Robert Hugh Benson — The Necromancers
Robert Hugh Benson — Come Rack! Come Rope!
St. Bernard of Clairvaux — The Steps of Humility
St. Bernard of Clairvaux — On Loving God
St. Bernard of Clairvaux — Magnificat: Homilies in Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Bonaventure — The Journey of the Mind to God
St. Bonaventure — The Triple Way
St. Bonaventure — The Mirror of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Louis Bouyer — The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism
M. Eugene Boylan — The Mystical Body: The Foundation of the Spiritual Life
Orestes Brownson — Essays and Reviews Chiefly on Theology, Politics, and Socialism
Cormac Burke — Covenanted Happiness
Katherine Burton — The Great Mantle
Katherine Burton — Sorrow Built a Bridge
Katherine Burton — Witness of the Light
Katherine Burton — The Next Thing: Autobiography and Reminiscences
Alban Butler — Lives of the Saints
Fernand Cabrol — Liturgical Prayer: Its History and Spirit
Fernand Cabrol — The Prayer of the Early Christians
Fernand Cabrol — Mass of the Western Rite
Fernand Cabrol — The Mass: Its Doctrine, Its History
Alexis Carrel — Man the Unknown
Alexis Carrel — The Voyage to Lourdes
Warren H. Carroll — Christendom I, II, III and IV
Jean-Pierrre de Caussaude — Self Abandonment to Divine Providence
St. Catherine of Genoa — Treatise on Purgatory
G.K. Chesterton — The Catholic Church and Conversion
Paul Claudel — The Satin Slipper
Paul Claudel — The Tidings Brought to Mary: A Drama
Paul Claudel — The Book of Christopher Columbus: A Lyrical Drama
Paul Claudel — Letters from Paul Claudel, My Godfather
H. W. Crocker, III — Triumph
St. Cyprian — The Lapsed
St. Cyprian — The Unity of the Catholic Church
St. Cyprian — On the Lord's Prayer

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part IV

Here is part four of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 2 of 16 lists, authors L-Z:
C. S. Lewis — Screwtape Letters
St. Alphonsus Liguori — 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation
St. Alphonsus Liguori — Uniformity with God's Will
St. Louis Grignion de Montfort — True Devotion to Mary
Jacques Maritain — The Degrees of Knowledge
Jacques Maritain — Art and Scholasticism
Jacques Maritain — The Rights of Man and the Natural Law
Jacques Maritain — True Humanism
Francois Mauriac — The Woman of the Pharisees
Francois Mauriac — Therese
Francois Mauriac — The Desert of Love
Francois Mauriac — Life of Jesus
Thomas Merton — Seven Storey Mountain
Thomas More — Sadness of Christ
John Henry Cardinal Newman — Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine
John Henry Cardinal Newman — Parochial and Plain Sermons
Coventry Patmore — Poems
Walker Percy — Lost in the Cosmos
Francis Joseph Sheed — Theology and Sanity
Francis Joseph Sheed — Theology for Beginners
Francis Joseph Sheed — To Know Christ Jesus
Fulton Sheen — Life of Christ
Fulton Sheen — Three to Get Married
Henryk Sienkiewicz — Quo Vadis?
Edith Stein — Essays on Woman
Alophe Alfred Tanqueray — Spiritual Life
St. Thomas Aquinas — My Way of Life
J. R. R. Tolkien — The Lord of the Rings
Dietrich Von Hildebrand — Transformation in Christ
William Thomas Walsh — Our Lady of Fatima
Evelyn Waugh — A Handful of Dust
Evelyn Waugh — Scoop
Evelyn Waugh — Vile Bodies
Evelyn Waugh — Put Out More Flags
Evelyn Waugh — Sword of Honor Trilogy

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part III

Here is part three of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 2 of 16 lists, authors A-J:
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Karl Adam — The Spirit of Catholicism
St. Anselm — Proslogium
St. Athanasius — The Life of Saint Anthony
Hilaire Belloc — The Great Heresies
Hilaire Belloc — How The Reformation Happened
Hilaire Belloc — Survivals and New Arrivals
St. Benedict — The Rule of St. Benedict
Robert Hugh Benson — Lord of the World
Georges Bernanos — The Diary of a Country Priest
Boethius — The Consolation of Philosophy
M. Eugene Boylan — This Tremendous Lover
M. Eugene Boylan — Difficulties in Mental Prayer
St. Catherine of Siena — Little Talks with God (modernized version of The Dialogues)
Jean-Baptiste Chautard — The Soul of the Apostolate
G.K. Chesterton — The Man Who Was Thursday
G.K. Chesterton — The Father Brown Mysteries
G.K. Chesterton — Everlasting Man
G.K. Chesterton — Orthodoxy
G.K. Chesterton — St. Thomas Aquinas
G.K. Chesterton — St. Francis of Assisi
Richard Crashaw — Poems
Christopher Dawson — Christianity and European Culture
Dorothy Day — The Long Loneliness
St. Francis de Sales — Treatise on the Love of God
Frederick William Faber — All for Jesus
St. Francis of Assisi — The Little Flowers of St. Francis
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange — The Three Ages of Interior Life, I and II
Graham Greene — Brighton Rock
Romano Guardini — End of the Modern World
St. Ignatius of Loyola - Spiritual Exercises
Bl. Jacobus de Voragine — The Golden Legend

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posted by Nick Senger at 9:26 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Monday, July 03, 2006

Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Since today is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, known in popular circles as doubting Thomas, I thought I'd pose a question related to St. Thomas and books:

What book besides the Bible helped you to get through a crisis of faith, or a time of doubting?

For me it was Peter Kreeft's Making Sense Out of Suffering. About three years ago, when my oldest daughter was about four years old, we looked out of the living room window to find her having a seizure on the driveway. We rushed her to the hospital where we began a long process of trying to diagnose and treat her illness. Over the next year and half we discovered she had epilepsy caused by a rare mitochondrial disorder known as glutaric acidemia type II. In the midst of trying to help her through all of her seizures and blood tests and trips to the hospital, I found myself confronted with the question that all of us have to ask at least once in our lives: why is this happening?

It was really the first time I had to deal so personally with the problem of suffering. Being an introverted, academic type, I turned to books. The first book I read was Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Big Mistake. Rather than comforting me, it plunged me deeper into confusion and despair. And then Providence, which had been guiding the situation from the beginning, led me to a used a bookstore where I saw Peter Kreeft's book on the shelf right next to the book I had come to look at.

Kreeft's book was the turning point in my struggle with my daughter's illness. I did not learn all the answers to my questions, but I learned how to live with the mystery of suffering. Kreeft was able to explain in his clear and logical way the problem of suffering, and the true solution. His book, along with deep spiritual talks with my wife Brenda, helped me to recover from the doubt and despair that had been plaguing me.

And to wrap this up, let me just say that our daughter is doing extremely well. She has been seizure-free for a year and a half. The seizures stopped in early December of 2004, just after we prayed a novena to Mary, the Immaculate Conception. It was the first novena I had ever prayed in my life. Rather than causing us to lose hope and faith, dealing with our daughter's illness has brought my wife and I closer to Mary and more importantly to her Son, Jesus. Peter Kreeft's book was an essential part of that struggle, and I recommend it highly.

Now tell your story, and link back to this post so we can all share it.


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posted by Nick Senger at 6:24 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part II

Here is part two of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 3 of 16 lists:
St. Francis de Sales — Introduction to Devout Life
Graham Greene — The Power and the Glory
Graham Greene — The Heart of the Matter
Romano Guardini — The Lord
St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul
Thomas a Kempis — The Imitation of Christ
Ronald Knox — Enthusiasm
John Henry Cardinal Newman — Idea of a University
St. Teresa of Avila — Interior Castle
St. Teresa of Avila — Way of Perfection
St. Teresa of Avila — The Life of St. Teresa (Autobiography)
St. Therese of Lisieux — Story of a Soul
Francis Thompson — Poems
Francis Trochu — Cure of Ars
Evelyn Waugh — Brideshead Revisited

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:21 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List, Part I

Here it is: part one of Nick’s Catholic Classics Reading List. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

Books that showed up on 14 of 16 lists:
St. Augustine — Confessions
Dante — Divine Comedy
Miguel de Cervantes — Don Quixote

Books that showed up on 9 of 16 lists
Geoffrey Chaucer — The Canterbury Tales
Fyodor Dostoyevski — The Brothers Karamazov

Books that showed up on 7 of 16 lists
George Eliot — Middlemarch
Herman Melville — Moby Dick

Books that showed up on 6 of 16 lists
St. Augustine — City of God
James Joyce — Ulysses
St. Thomas Aquinas — Summa Theologiae

Books that showed up on 5 of 16 lists:
St. Thomas More — Utopia

Books that showed up on 4 of 16 lists:
Gerard Manley Hopkins — Hopkins: Poetry and Prose
Alessandro Manzoni — The Betrothed
John Henry Cardinal Newman — Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Flannery O'Connor — Flannery O'Connor: Complete Stories
Sigrid Undset — Kristin Lavransdatter

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:16 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List: History and Rationale

About three years ago I got fed up with wasting my time reading mediocre books. As the Michael Card song goes, “So many books, so little time.” I became determined to only read books that would have a life-changing effect on me. But first I had to find a way to know which books those were. So, I accumulated about thirteen lists of the greatest or most influential books ever written and counted which books appeared on the most lists, and then I ranked them. The logic behind this method is that by using many lists I can reduce the bias of individual critics or organizations, and come up with a more objective and comprehensive list. This process would have been a lot more time consuming without Robert Teeter’s fantastic great books page.

Not long after that, I found Fr. Hardon’s The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and I decided to put together a list of great Catholic literature, based on the same logic. I found two more lists of Catholic/Christian classics and added them to my initial thirteen. Here, then, are my sources for my Catholic Classics Reading List:

Catholic/Christian Reading Lists:
My Original Thirteen Lists:
My next post will contain part one of Nick's Catholic Classics Reading List.

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posted by Nick Senger at 2:18 PM 5 comments Links to this post

The Catholic LifeTime Reading Plan

One book that you should probably try to get a hold of if you're interested in reading Catholic literature is Fr. Hardon's Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan. Unfortunately it is out of print, but you should be able to find a used copy on Amazon.com, or Alibris.com, or Abebooks, or whatever other used book vendor you use.

After discussing the Bible, the Catechism, the Second Vatican Council and L'Osservatore Romano, Fr. Hardon provides a brief commentary on over 100 Catholic authors, arranged chronologically in the following periods:
  • The Age of Persecution
  • The Patristic Age
  • Medieval Civilization
  • The Catholic Reformation
  • The Modern Age
I'm sure I'll be referring to this book as I comment on books discussed here. Reading the works listed in Fr. Hardon's book would truly take a lifetime.


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posted by Nick Senger at 7:44 AM 1 comments Links to this post