John Bartunek, LC
Liguori Publications $9.99
Consciously or not, we too often live disconnected from our planet’s natural rhythms. We can make night seem like day and summer seem like winter. We can travel from tundra to tropics in less than a day and find whatever fruit or vegetable we crave at the local grocery, no matter the season. We’ve taken hold of our environment and as a result our lives are out of synch with those rhythms of the earth we were created to tend and protect. Moral theologian Father John Bartunek offers “bite-sized meditations” in his book—the first of four, for each of the natural seasons—to provide “space to remember and reconnect with this essential dimension of our humanity…and regain some balance.” This slim volume contains twelve meditations, one for each week of spring, and sections for Making It Your Own, opportunities to absorb and apply these simple yet significant teachings as this season of new life unfolds.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Love
Pauline Books and Media $12.95
Here is a perfect follow-up to the Holy Father’s September 2015 visit to the United States coinciding with the World Meeting of Families. In his typically direct yet warm and encouraging manner, Pope Francis addresses the overarching and perhaps imposing question, “What is the secret to a strong family?” by asking less sizable, more serviceable ones: Do you play with your children? Are you afraid of sacrifice? To what have you given your priorities? Is God present or hidden in your relationships? What robs you of hope? Shepherding the faithful as spiritual father to millions, Pope Francis brings a unique perspective to those blessings and blights of families everywhere. In eight sections—including The Family’s Dignity, In Difficult Times, Fathers and Mothers, and Passing on the Faith—he looks squarely at Jesus as our source of hope, the one desiring generational encounter, persevering in love, untiring in mercy, choosing a community who knew struggle, doubt and loss “so no one might feel excluded from the closeness of God.” You will surely find words to counsel, challenge, and inspire.
The Choice of the Family
Although Jean Laffitte is currently the secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, he brings more than simple ecclesial understanding to this conversation, addressing the issues, stages, choices, and calling in the vocation of the familial community. Bishop Laffitte has profound practical experience, with family relationships being at the heart of both social and Christian life. It was there he witnessed esteem “for the concerns of humble people,” was prompted to inquire—particularly with regard to religious practice—and inherited active kindness, “an extreme sense of service” from upright and united parents. Laffitte is the youngest of twelve children, raised by devout Catholics in southwestern France, with numerous extended relations. Today his parents have 100 descendants! Close kindred ties as well as a deep and vibrant friendship with the Christ whose life as God is one of holy relationship have penetrated Bishop Laffitte’s candid and caring insights in this series of interviews and reflections on covenant, fidelity, the pedagogy of (growing in) love, authority and obedience, preparation for marriage and parenthood, and more.
Rebuilding Youth Ministry
Ave Maria Press $9.95
Yes or No? The Church is a community of adults presently making an investment in young people as its future, because one day they will be part of the adult community. Well, yes and no. This attitude can overlook that valuable part of the Church young people are right now. However, it’s most helpful to see young people as our future if we as a Church are to have one. And it’s good to be reminded that it’s our responsibility to mentor and encourage them to develop a personal, intentional relationship with Christ and with the community of believers. Chris Wesley writes “from the trenches, doing God’s work” and takes each of these aspects of youth ministry seriously. Here he offers ten strategies for shaping a thriving ministry for and with young people. Make it more than pizza, he advises, while making it irresistible. Keep asking the right questions without pretending to have all the answers. Accept the messiness with grace, recognizing that failure will be part of the process. With honesty and good humor, Wesley offers a practical, pastoral resource for anyone doing God’s good, important work apprenticing disciples.
Lent and Easter Wisdom From Pope Francis
Liguori Publications $11.99
Christians have long recognized Lent as a time of liturgical rituals and pious traditions—the receiving of ashes, sacrifice, self-denial, and atonement. But it is broader and deeper than these practices. And while Lent can often be portrayed as a journey—an obvious metaphor for those experiencing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults often conducted during the Lent—this prayerful preparation need not be limited to those readying for full communion in the Church. The Lenten journey is a process of spiritual growth for all, with Scripture, prayer, rituals, reflection, practices, and penance as proven meaningful components. John Cleary has crafted a collection of daily devotions grounded in the wisdom of Pope Francis, to be used from Ash Wednesday through the Easter season. Entries include words from the Holy Father’s homilies, letters, addresses and interviews, calling us to examination and conversion, to conform our lives to Christ’s. “Lent comes to awaken us,” he says, “rouse us from the risk of moving forward by inertia.” Begin or end each day of Lent and Eastertide reflecting upon the pope’s teaching, Scripture, prayers, and suggested action. Then share the good news: Christ is risen indeed!