The Simple Catholic Snapshots:
- Matthew Kelly has said: “Show me the books you’ve read in the past year and I’ll show you the person you are…”
- …and “Show me the books you are planning to read in the next year and I’ll know the kind of person you’ll be.”
- Reading good books should be part of our everyday spiritual journey.
- Here’s my book list from 2016, and the beginning of my list for 2017…
- Anyone also enjoy these books recently? Leave me a comment…
- Anyone have a recommendation for future reads? Leave me a comment…
The Simple Catholic Truth:
Here is the list of books I read in 2016, just in case you are looking for something to do in 2017. 🙂
Each of them taught me a little more about God and/or myself – I wish the same for you. They are listed in no particular priority or importance, just the order they came off the shelf this morning. I’ve also included a brief comment on each. Enjoy!
My 2016 Books:
Jesus the Bridegroom by Brant Pitre
Dr. Pitre is becoming on of my favorite Catholic authors and this book is one of the reasons. Here, Dr. Pitre examines how the Cross is an example of perfect love like that of the Bridegroom for His bride. Steeped in Jewish tradition, this metaphor for Jesus’ love for us is revealed in easy to understand terms. After reading this book, Marriage, virginity, Baptism and the Eucharist will have an entirely new meaning.
New Testament Basics for Catholics by John Bergsma
Dr. Bergsma is a skilled teacher of Scripture. He uses a clear writing style augmented by clever hand drawn sketches to communicate ideas and help the reader remember the highlights. I would say that this is a basic introduction to the themes of the New Testament (as the title claims) and as such is a good introductory Bible study book. Although I don’t think I found anything entirely new here, everything was presented in clever and concise ways. It is a quick read and I enjoyed it so much I ordered his companion book on the Old Testament which I have started for 2017 (see below).
Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri
This book explores Pope St. John Paul’s 1960’s book Love and Responsibility. Dr. Sri examines the types of relationships and the role of sexuality and emotions in healthy relationships. He discusses building trust and need to work to mature the relationships we have. I don’t naturally gravitate towards “self-help” types of books but I was glad I did in this case. Yes, relationship building is the goal, but this book is devoid of the modern pop psychology goofiness that you often run across. Rather it examines human relationships from a proper Christian point of view – that is, that our human relationships are mirrors and pointers to our ultimate relationship with God. If you liked Theology of the Body you’ll like this book.
Handed Down – The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians by James Papandrea
One thing that sets Catholicism apart from the multitude of protestant denominations is our intimate commonality with the practices of early Christians. The more I read about those that followed Christ in the first few centuries, what they believed, and how they worshiped, the more I see the beauty and fidelity of modern Catholicism. The Catholic Sacraments, salvation theology, the priesthood and the Papacy are just a few examples of how the one Church founded by Jesus Himself still exists in the Catholic Church today. A great reminder of what we should all be aware of and remember.
Persuasive Pro-Life by Trent Horn
This book is an extensive treatment of the arguments often used to support the pro-choice position and the responses all Pro-Life advocates should know. As you might expect from Trent Horn, it is thorough and systematic in its content. Trent provides the common pro-abortion claims, analyzes the claim and offers the proper responses from the Pro-Life viewpoint. His method stresses listening first, and then asking questions when in dialog with a pro-abortion person. A must read for all defenders of life!
Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments by Colman E. O’Neill, OP
Since the Sacraments are an especially central part of Catholic faith and worship, this book was particularly interesting. As you might expect, each of the seven Sacraments were explored including origination by Christ, effectiveness in receiving grace, structure and practice. Not a simple text but certainly not a doctoral thesis either. I think all Catholics should read this book to better understand in particular Marriage, Confession and the Eucharist. I’m planning to blog more about the Sacraments in 2017 and this book will certainly be a useful reference.
God Sent His Son by Christoph Cardinal Schonborn
Cardinal Schonborn was a contemporary scholar of future Pope Joseph Ratzinger so it is not surprising that this book tends towards the theologically deep end of the spectrum. However, I was honestly surprised how clear he made the topics. I have a particular interest in trying to understand more about why God became man and what exactly Christ accomplished on the Cross. I am not satisfied with the idea that Christ simply died to take the punishment for my sins. There may be some truth to that, but I was wanting much more. Therefore, I was particularly interested in the sub-chapter (Jesus) Died for Us on the Cross – The Doctrine of Redemption. Here I found excellent discussions of Christ’s mission on earth including perspectives on salvation theology from Anslem, Aquinas and Martin Luther. I thought the treatment of each to be clear and unbiased and insightful. Although this book took some effort and was a slower read I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to dig deeper into their faith.
Answering Atheism by Trent Horn
It should be clear that secularism and atheism are on the rise in our country and throughout the world. As Christians we should be prepared to answer the challenges of non-believers and this book is a great tool in that regard. Could you today give two arguments for the existence of God to an atheist? My two favorites are the Argument of First Cause and the Argument of a Fine Tuned Universe. The former is somewhat philosophical in nature and the latter is purely scientific. This book offers these (as well as others) that everyone should be familiar with. In typical Trent Horn’s methodical and systematic manner, he presents common claims by atheists and how to respond. This book is similar to Persuasive Pro-Life in style and structure.
The Drama of Salvation by Jimmy Akin
Jimmy Akin is a senior apologist at Catholic Answers because of his extensive theological, historical and Biblical knowledge. In this book Jimmy examines the issue of salvation and justification and as you might expect it is comprehensive. Although Jimmy writes to those of us not necessarily pursuing a PhD in Theology, he nevertheless gets into significant historical and theological details. It’s a bit slower to read but is a good book for anyone wanting to start exploring this important aspect of Christianity. If you find yourself in dialog with non-Catholics on the issue of salvation I think you would find this book a handy reference.
Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody by Allen Hunt
This book contains 12 stories of real people who discovered the life-changing power of grace that comes with forgiveness. Some of the stories are familiar – such as the prisoner forgiving the concentration camp guard – but the purpose here is somewhat different. This book includes specific reflection questions causing the reader to think and draw parallels to his or her life. This was a very quick read and could be used in a book club or even a bible study type activity.
By What Authority by Mark Shea
Mark Shea is a Catholic convert from evangelical Christianity and this book reveals the primary reason for his conversion – namely the authority for Christian faith and doctrine. In his introduction he says “[this book is] about how an Evangelical who believed Holy Scriptures to be the sole source of the Christian revelation came to discover and embrace the ancient Catholic teaching that Sacred Tradition is a source of revelation too.” The claim to authority stands at the center of much of what separates Catholics and Protestants today so I wanted to hear Mark’s story. I found Mark’s journey in this book to confirm the uniqueness of the Catholic Church as the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. A good easy read for those looking for introductory apologetics information.
Making Sense of the Scriptures by Mark Shea
This is a good companion book to Mark’s “By What Authority.” Again, from a converts perspective, Mark examines the meaning of Scripture from the point of view of the early Christians. As Catholics we should know and appreciate how much of our practices and theology are in alignment with that of the early followers of Jesus. This book serves that goal.
Hard Sayings by Trent Horn
Often times, people are confused by passages in the Bible. Non believers use these passages to challenge if not reject God’s true message. Christians often find these passages difficult to explain or defend and many even find their faith at risk. In this book, Trent Horn examines many of these difficult passages. He divides them in to Internal Difficulties (apparent conflicts within the Bible), External Difficulties (apparent conflicts of the Bible with external sources), and Moral Difficulties (such as the Old Testament killings commanded by God). One thing in particular that I liked about this book is that near the end is a listing, chapter and verse, of those “Hard Sayings”. A great resource for future study.
And finally on the 2016 list – not exactly my reading list – was my first book, published in July 2016:
Roadtrip – A Journey to Forever by Tom Massoth
Roadtrip is a fictional story about a young man’s cross country car trip where he discovers himself, his God, and the purpose of his life.
You can read the Introduction, scan the Table of Contents and read some initial reviews on my blog SimpleCatholicTruth.com. Simply click on the “ROADTRIP” menu at the top of the blog. You can get your own copy directly from me or thru Amazon.
Books already on my 2017 list:
I’ve already started on this one:
Bible Basics by John Bergsma
This is Dr. Bergsma’s book I mentioned above. It shares the same fluid writing style and supporting graphics as his treatment of the New Testament. This book however focuses on the six covenants that God used to reveal himself to mankind and to return all of mankind back to eternal relationship. A great high level introductory reference for newer Bible students.
The next two books are in my hands and waiting the finish of Bible Basics for Catholics.
Jesus of Nazareth – The Infancy Narrative by Joseph Ratzinger
Since Pope Benedict is unquestionably one of the greatest theologians of our era, I am anticipating two challenging yet rewarding books. These will be a deeper exploration of who and what Jesus is and what His earthly mission really was. I’m looking forward to these with a bit of excitement and anxiety, hoping that I’m not in too deep over my head.
Jesus of Nazareth – From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration by Joseph Ratzinger
Again, this is another by Pope Benedict but addresses Jesus’ ministry later in His life.
Night’s Bright Darkness – A Modern Conversion Story by Sally Reid
This one should be a little lighter on the theology side and a bit more of a personal story. This is a story of a deeply anti-Catholic atheist that converted to the Catholic Church in 2010. I’m looking forward to this because often we learn the most from people that don’t agree with us or at least come from a very different background. Thanks to Greg for this recommendation!
If you have any comments on my 2016 list above or my 2017 goal list so far please leave a comment. I’m always looking for good books that help my personal spiritual journey. I’ve been thinking of learning more about the lives of some saints…any suggestions?
Happy New Year and Blessings in 2017!