On The Shelf
Robert Barron with John L. Allen, Jr.
Image Books $27 (hardcover)
As a Bishop Barron fangirl, I was excited to dive into this book, which is as much a biography as it is an outline of Barron’s style and thought process as an evangelist. Allen has expertly woven together his conversations with Barron so that you feel as though you are sitting in the midst of them.
In ten chapters, Barron and Allen travel from childhood to bishopric, from a love of baseball and reading to a love of God and people. They’re not mutually exclusive, and there’s something intriguing about diving into the past and learning about the influences that formed Barron. There’s also the intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the formation of his Word on Fire apostolate and the alluring idea of it becoming a “movement” in a larger, more global, sense.
While I was reading, I found myself nodding and making mental notes. This is the kind of book I read once and then revisit. There’s wisdom and insight, certainly, but there are also amusing anecdotes and illustrations, things that may help me as I share my faith.
We can all learn a lot from Bishop Barron, not the least of which is his love for God—a love that is at the heart of all he does and all that drives him. May we let that be our guide, too.
Edited by Patrick Corbett, CSsR
Liguori Publications (distributor) $24.99
While I’m not much of a poetry reader, I’d like to think I am. Thus I found myself faced with a challenge in this lovely volume: It’s beautiful and yet I have all these other books to read. You can’t just whip through a book of poetry. It deserves time and attention, and this collection, perhaps even more so.
The book begins with an introduction by Fr. Corbett, who explains, “This small volume attempts…to make the poetry and songs of Alphonsus available to a wider English audience and seeks to combine a more literal translation with the earlier work published.” There’s a brief history and introduction of Alphonsus himself, followed by poetry and songs, presented in both English and Latin.
The eight sections of poetry include prayers, novenas, and lovely images which, while not all are from Alphonsus, make this a gift you give yourself as you read it.
It doesn’t seem right to call this a prayer book, yet it seems to fit perfectly with the contemplative nature of Eucharistic Adoration or the still of a morning, before the house is bustling, after my rosary. However, I also think this could find a home in the midst of the chaos, as it provides a way to dip into beauty and remember that God is always present.
Edited by Jon M. Sweeney
Ave Maria Press $17.95
Thomas Merton is one of those Catholic writers I’d always intended to read but just never had. But, after I read this collection of essays, the used copy of Seven Story Mountain moved to the top of my to-read pile. Among the twenty contributors are Bishop Robert Barron, Fr. James Martin, and Paula Huston, writers I’ve loved in their own right. Reading about the lessons that these opeople took from Merton’s life and writings piqued my curiosity. In mentioning my interest to read Merton, I got a slew of advice about where to start.
Holiness, as it turns out, comes in all shapes and sizes. What’s kept me away from Merton all these years—equal parts laziness and unfamiliarity with the person—has been cracked. I feel like I’m going to be picking up the book of an old friend of a friend: These essays are thought-provoking and thoughtful.