Prayer: Our Deepest Longing
Those who pray can too often be dissatisfied with, even judgmental, of their practice. We believe we need to say correct words, assume a particular posture, or show God a certain face. And so we struggle with what is meant to bring solace, frustrated rather than energized, sensing we are adrift rather than anchored in our devotion. “There is no bad way to pray,” suggests acclaimed writer, speaker, and columnist Ronald Rolheiser, “and no one starting point.” Rolheiser, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, joins numerous revered spiritual teachers offering a single, nonnegotiable rule: Show up. And show up regularly. Everything else can be worked through. In this brief collection of reflections—not a manual, the author insists—we find thoughts on recognizing God’s voice, on the rhythm of God’s good time, on resting in God’s presence. Worthwhile to have on hand the next time you think you’re not “doing it right.”
Sophie Wonders About Reconciliation
Sophie Wonders About Anointing
Debbie Bradley (author) and Lula Guzmán (illustrator)
The Sophie Wonders series, written to deepen
understanding of the sacraments for young children (recommended ages 4–8), is a delightful series. Inquisitive Sophie recognizes the value in talking over some troubling issues with her mother. Their dialogue is direct, thoughtful, and affectionate as Mother encourages Sophie’s desire to make things right with her friend Sarah and also assures Sophie that Grandma Clara is doing much the same thing with her friend Jesus as she asks to receive anointing of the sick. Author Debbie Bradley served for many years in elementary faith formation and writes with care and respect for young Catholics. This pair from her collection of seven Sophie Wonders books speaks simply yet profoundly to the promise of God’s mercy these sacramental rites confirm.
As author, lecturer, street-corner evangelist, and most notably, a standard-bearer of Catholic publishing for much of the 20th century, Frank Sheed (d. 1981) seized countless opportunities to both frame and shape the relationship between God and the human family. He recognized that while knowledge about God serves all people and is central to those calling themselves believers, it is in knowing God personally and intimately that our faith is truly formed and our lives forever transformed. Originally published in 1966 as God and the Human Mind, Sheed’s teaching is timeless. Refusing to shy away from difficult questions, and acknowledging the evident paradox and limitations in using language for what is beyond words, he was not deterred from integrating head and heart, intellect and experience, theology and life. Knowing God explores the meaning of Spirit, the mystery of Trinity, and the treasures of Scripture.
Stations of the Heart: Parting With a Son
Alfred A. Knopf Publisher
Lutheran minister and Duke Divinity
School professor Richard Lischer acknowledges it is a sensible arrangement for children to outlive their parents. “A father has no business writing of his son’s death.” Yet with this extraordinary book, Lischer accepts the bittersweet privilege of eulogist. Writing with grace and warmth, Lischer includes us in the final summer of Adam’s life. As his flesh weakens, Adam’s spirit and faith are fortified. Lischer’s brave eulogy reverences mortality, immortality, and the sacredness of his responsibilities as both writer and father.
Life After Death: Practical Help for the Widowed
Elizabeth Bookser Barkley
Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. Our liturgical prayer affirms this deep truth of transformation: those who have died are with us in a new way. Just as death is not the end of life, neither does it terminate the relationship we shared with the one now gone to God. Yet reshaping our lives without those we will forever love is always difficult. Elizabeth Barkley has walked this path, what she refers to as the “descent into widowhood,” and provides knowing and gracious companionship—patient, realistic, nonjudgmental, and hopeful. Each chapter includes a piece of Barkley’s personal story, enriched by experiences of other women and men who have found their footing through the valley of death, and concludes with an original prayer. “God gives every grace…to carry us through,” assured Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, to whom the author is devoted, sharing many common roles, including wife, mother, teacher, writer—and widow. Graces infuse the sadness of widowhood. This writing stands among them.
Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church (Abridged Version)
This comprehensive examination of the evolution of Latino Catholicism by Notre Dame theology professor Timothy Matovina earned numerous awards in both Catholic and academic press when published in 2011. Liguori now offers an abridged version of this highly readable work, available in both English and Spanish. Providing an interdisciplinary approach informed by history, science, and religion, Matovina seasons his writing with well-balanced activism and pastoral care. His point is clear: the celebrations, concerns, and occasional controversies of Latino faith have shaped—indeed, transformed—not only ecclesial life but political, cultural, and social forces as well. His approach is fresh: challenging the conventional narrative of American Catholic history while esteeming that mutually enriching dialogue between American culture, the Catholic Church, and increasingly audible Latino communities.