What defines you? Is it where you come from? Your friends or family? The stuff that scares you or makes you strong? Motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez won’t let her audience leave without addressing this, something she was forced to do earlier than most. Born with an extremely rare condition preventing weight gain and causing partial blindness, Lizzie has chosen not to be defined by her outer appearance and instead lets her fighting spirit, warm wit, and blessings do the work. She is quick to enumerate and help shape a vital and victorious life. Lizzie has chosen happiness. “This life was put into my hands. The choices are mine.” In her third inspiring book, Choosing Happiness, Lizzie shares personal anecdotes and practical advice: Name a skill you’ve always desired, figure out who can help, and then go out and conquer it; list the things you enjoy but don’t seem to be doing, and make time to do one every day; create an action plan to improve your corner of the world; speak with courage and confidence. Ultimately, her message is: We define ourselves.
Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will
Emmaus Road Publishing $11.95
How often we’ve wholeheartedly sung the familiar hymn, composed to honor Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation: Faith of our fathers, we will love…and preach thee, too, as love knows how. Yet most of us have left learning about these Fathers, whose faith we profess to follow, to scholars and theologians. Acquaintance with those gone before who have helped form us is essential. Mike Aquilina helps make that connection once again in this book. With more than two dozen books on Church history, doctrine and devotion, Aquilina has become the go-to author for all things patristic in the Catholic Church. Faith of Our Fathers is a collection of essays on the wisdom of these first teachers: short, accessible chapters that need not be read in order—each capable of standing on its own. This is insightful and absorbing reading on icons, martyrdom, the lives of the apostles, the history of Christmas and the Stations of the Cross, and the theological weight accompanying a seemingly slight liturgical change to “And with your spirit.” All are valuable lessons for the family of believers.
Embracing Edith Stein: Wisdom for Women
Theresa Anne Costa
Servant books $13.99
Captivated by the autobiography of Teresa of Ávila, young Jewish scholar Edith Stein began the spiritual journey that would lead to her baptism and later, like Teresa, to becoming a Carmelite. Edith took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Her journey of faith continued to the ultimate sacrifice, as Edith and her sister, Rosa, were imprisoned and perished at Auschwitz in 1942. Her brief life and brave death have brought merit and wisdom to succeeding generations. When St. John Paul II canonized St. Teresa Benedicta in 1998, he noted her significant influence both on his personal teachings and the mission of the Church. In just 100 pages, writer and Catholic radio host Anne Costa bids us to befriend this woman of great faith and deep humanity, a seeker and servant and saint for our times. The author takes a firm stand: “We need her wisdom and example. The world is in need of women who understand their inherent value and dignity, faith-filled women who are prepared to shape the world.”
Lily of the Mohawks: The Story of St. Kateri
Servant Books $14.99
More than three centuries have passed since the death of Kateri Tekakwitha at age twenty-four. Countless volumes document her inspiring life and that of the Iroquois nation in this tempestuous period of European exploration into North America. As the canonization of the first Native American saint from North America approached in 2012, Catholic author Emily Cavins was invited to contribute to the canon. Lily of the Mohawks offers a fine introduction to Kateri and her spiritual journey toward sainthood, growing in holiness despite disease, displacement, and persecution. A collection of nine brief reflections is included for the reader’s pilgrimage, whether traveling to shrines throughout the U.S. and Canada or simply visiting them in your heart. The reflection On Silence concludes, “May we imitate her virtue of listening without interrupting the voice of God.” This is a remarkable and at times startling journey of faith, told here with skill and grace.
Rediscovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context
Oxford University Press $24.95
Twenty-five years ago, Carol Meyers published her groundbreaking Discovering Eve: Ancient Israel Women in Context. Her latest work, Rediscovering Eve, widens the scope of her original research and proves similarly significant. A prominent scholar in the study of women in the biblical world, Meyers submits the purpose of this book is not only to examine the Eve of Eden but also “to bring to light the lives of Everywoman Eve, the ordinary women of ancient Israel.” She paints a vivid picture of the difficult conditions Israelite women and men faced and attempts to shape our reading of the Genesis narrative in light of this environment and the meaning of the Hebrew text. In her attention to “Everywoman Eve” and the “households” of ancient Israel—with nuclear families enveloped into larger clans and tribes—Meyers suggests our contemporary experiences and assumptions may keep us from recognizing the exceptional contributions these women and their work made to Israelite society. Eve and her “sisters” remain notable both in our past and to our future. This is a valuable resource for their rediscovery.