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Becoming saints, one book at a time

We don’t become saints in isolation. That’s why the role of parents and mentors in the Faith are so important. And that’s why the Church continues to promote the causes of the holy men and women who have gone before us. We can’t do it alone, but with the help of our community — here and above — and with God’s grace, it is possible.

In our annual Fall Books review, we offer a selection of great new releases about the saints and how we, too, can be like them. Included are books about great American Catholics, how we can invite St. Joseph more deeply into our homes and hearts, and how the angels accompany us on our journey to heaven. Also recommended are books to inspire your personal prayer, such as seasonal and daily devotionals and reflections on how to consistently convert our hearts more closely to Christ’s.

If you are starting to get ahead on your Christmas shopping or want a book to journey with in the upcoming seasons, browse through our list and let the Holy Spirit guide you. Enjoy!

“Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz”

Priest Beggar bookAuthor: Kevin Wells
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Price: $17.95
 

Summary: Father Aloysius Schwartz, a native of Washington, D.C., was an inspiring and ambitious priest who dedicated his ministry beginning in 1957 to serve the poor of South Korea, where he founded and reformed orphanages, hospitals, hospices and schools. Beyond Korea, he established two religious orders, Boystowns and Girlstowns, across Central and South America and Tanzania. He died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1992 and later was declared a Servant of God by Pope Francis. Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, writes that “Priest and Beggar” is “a remarkable account of what our Church and world so desperately need at this time: a humble priest whose unwavering commitment to Christ in service to the poor models for us radical discipleship.”

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“Every Day with Saint Joseph”

Every Day JosephEditor: Dr. Mary Amore
Publisher: OSV
Price: $19.95
 

Summary: As the Year of St. Joseph wraps up on Dec. 8, we can be steadfast in honoring the foster father of Jesus beyond this special year. “Every Day with Saint Joseph,” which is edited by Dr. Mary Amore, can help us build that relationship. Each month highlights a particular charism or spiritual gift that Joseph exhibited. Daily messages begin with a verse from Scripture, followed by a reflection, a question or act to consider, and a short prayer to carry through the day. This daily devotional may enrich readers with the spiritual presence and intercession of St. Joseph, needed now more than ever in our Church, our families and the lives of the faithful.

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“Custos: Total Consecration through Saint Joseph”

Custos bookAuthor: Devin Schadt
Publisher: TAN
Price: $27.95
 

Summary: Devin Schadt, the executive director of the Fathers of St. Joseph, an apostolate for the restoration, redemption and revitalization of fatherhood, has written this 33-day consecration, a spiritual boot camp that helps men who are or will be fathers to encounter the real St. Joseph, walk with him and become like him. The consecration is a combination of daily Biblical reflections based on St. Joseph, prayers and spiritual practices. “Custos” is Latin for “guardian.” The book’s seven stages and 33 spiritual practices serve as a blueprint for dads’ spiritual life. It’s about adapting St. Joseph’s behavior into one’s life and vocation and being made into St. Joseph for our families.

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“Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul”

Mary Lou bookAuthor: Deanna Witkowski
Publisher: Liturgical Press
Price: $16.95
 

Summary: The life of legendary jazz-pianist Mary Lou Williams, 1910-81, is explored in Deanna Witkowski’s biography, “Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul.” Williams, who became a devout Catholic, had an extraordinary life as a successful African American jazz artist. Witkowski examines how Williams created networks of support and friendship through her decades-long letter correspondence with various women religious, her charitable work and her tireless efforts to perform jazz in churches, community centers, concert halls and schools. The story is told with equal amounts of love and scholarly research. Witkowski herself is an award-winning jazz pianist and composer. Her work on the life of Mary Lou Williams illuminates Williams’ passionate mantra that “jazz is healing to the soul.”

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“Jérôme Lejeune: A Man of Science and Conscience”

LeJuneAuthor: Aude Dugast
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Price: $19.95
 

Summary: Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, a pioneer of modern genetics, discovered the chromosomal defect that causes Down syndrome. He was a man of both science and conscience and advocated for the dignity of children with Downs. In writing the biography, Aude Dugast spent 11 years consulting archives, meeting with Lejeune’s wife and relatives, families of patients and Dr. Lejeune’s collaborators. Lejeune was a man of deep faith who was appointed by Pope St. John Paul II to head the Pontifical Academy for Life. His cause for beatification and canonization was initiated in 2007. Dugast has been the postulator for the cause for the canonization of Jérôme Lejeune since 2012, within the Association of Friends of Professor Lejeune.

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“Sweet Cross: A Marian Guide to Suffering”

Sweet CrossAuthor: Laura Mary Phelps
Publisher: OSV
Price: $17.95
 

Summary: If we’ve heard this verse once, we’ve heard it a hundred times: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). We know this call to discipleship, but how do we live it out without experiencing constant fear or complaining all the time. In her latest book, Laura Phelps reveals not only why suffering is a necessary part of our Christian life, but how we can find sweetness in it. The secret? Mother Mary. Each of her 13 chapters addresses how to embrace our crosses through one of the Marian virtues, such as unshakable confidence, lively faith, unwavering trust and heroic patience.

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“Adore: A Guided Advent Journal for Prayer and Meditation”

Adore bookAuthor: Father John Burns
Illustrator: Valerie Delgado
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
Price: $10.95
 

Summary: Advent is right around the corner, but it’s not too late to pick up a book to accompany you through this liturgical season. And while this season is brief and often crowded by the busy anticipation of Christmas celebrations, Advent is “a season for resetting our horizon, reframing our movement toward fullness of Christ,” as Father John Burns writes in the introduction of the “Adore” Advent journal. This Advent guide invites Catholics to slow down and embrace the season through daily meditations, questions for reflection, journaling space, prayers and beautiful art by Valerie Delgado of Pax.Valerie. The journal is organized around four themes, one for each week of Advent: watchfulness, preparation, nearness and Emmanuel.

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“Made New: 52 Devotions for Catholic Women”

52 devotions bookAuthor: Blessed Is She
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Price: $19.99 (due out Nov. 31)
 

Summary: “We have to remember whose we are, and in that, we settle into the truth of who we are. We are made new in Christ Jesus.” In order to encourage women in their identity in Christ, Blessed is She — an online community that fosters Catholic community between women — put together a 52-week devotional reflecting on the experiences women go through and dispelling the myths that cloud their hearts from the truth Christ offers. Written by five Blessed is She women — Nell O’Leary, Brittany Calavitta, Leana Bowler, Jenna Guizar and Liz Kelly — the devotional unfolds five themes about identity: being beheld by God, belonging to God’s family, our belovedness in God’s eyes, finding ourselves in our belief in God, and becoming the saints he desires us to be.

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“Encounters with Angels: The Invisible Companions of Our Spiritual Lives”

Encounter AngelsAuthor: Odile Haumonte
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Price: $18.95
 

Summary: So, we know angels exist. But what exactly are they, and how much do they affect our reality? In a new book for Sophia Institute Press, Odile Haumonte “carefully combines the writings of Scripture, Tradition, and the testimony of saints who met angels face-to-face to unveil for you the breathtaking facts behind these heroic heavenly beings.” This includes an explanation of the nine choirs of angels, learning how the angels play a role at the time of our deaths, understanding why the fallen angels have no chance of redemption, and how angels are present in intimate family occasions and gatherings of groups that pray. The spiritual realm is real, and this book unveils much that we often forget or ignore.

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“Parents of the Saints: The Hidden Heroes Behind Our Favorite Saints”

Parents bookAuthor: Patrick O’Hearn
Publisher: TAN
Price: $27.95
 

Summary: Parents have a difficult but essential duty: to get their spouses and children to heaven. In his new book, Patrick O’Hearn uncovers the lives of over 100 parents who formed some of the greatest saints. He dives into seven hallmarks we can associate with the success of these saintly parents: sacramental life, surrender, sacrificial love, suffering, simplicity, solitude and sacredness of life. As Sister Bethany Madonna wrote in a review: “This exposition of the often hidden lives of husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, striving to fulfill their vocation to holiness reveals the beauty of spousal love and the fruit of heroic sacrifice … a thorough, captivating, and timely work for the renewal of the culture.”

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“Turn to the Lord: An Invitation to Lifelong Conversion” and “Turn to the Lord: Forming Disciples for Lifelong Conversion”

Turn to the LordTurn to the Lord2Author: Leonard J. DeLorenzo
Publisher: Liturgical Press
Price: $14.95 and $29.95
 

Summary: Too often, teens consider the Sacrament of Confirmation to be a graduation from Catholicism. Yet confirmation should be a pivotal moment of anchoring a Catholic’s commitment to God. But do our current sacramental preparation programs really inspire candidates to turn toward the Lord? In two books, Leonard J. DeLorenzo offers a new perspective for both those going through preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and for those accompanying these young people. While both books contain the same text, “Forming Disciples for Lifelong Conversion” contains additional resources for parents and catechists to help them guide teens into prayer and reflection surrounding what the book shares about the teachings of the Catholic faith. As Katie Dawson, the director of parish evangelization and faith formation in the Diocese of Orange, California, wrote in a review, these books “will be a great resource in our efforts to reenvision an evangelizing catechesis in our day.”

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“Living Metanoia”

LivingMetanoiaAuthor: Father Dave Pivonka, TOR
Publisher: OSV
Price: $18.95
 

Summary: What is metanoia? In Greek, the word means “repent.” But its Catholic application has developed to mean to change, to turn, to think differently. In “Living Metanoia,” Father Dave Pivonka, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, explores metanoia and what it means to a believer, and how living metanoia every day is a source of hope and encouragement. Metanoia is not something that happens once in your life. It’s a lifelong process — as he says, “While we are alive, it’s never finished.” Father Pivonka uses Scripture, reflection questions and a “metanoia moment” in each chapter to explore a wide range of topics, including the true nature of Christ; death and life; sin and mercy; prayer; being chosen as a Christian; living the Eucharist; and much more.

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“How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic”

Read Write CatholicAuthor: Joshua Hren
Publisher: TAN
Price: $34.95
 

Summary: Fans of Catholic fiction — and those who want to be — will find a foundational starting point in Joshua’s Hren’s book, “How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic. And better yet, given the dearth of contemporary Catholic fiction, the author (founder and publisher of Wiseblood Books and co-founder of a MFA program in creative writing at the University of St. Thomas) includes a substantial section on how to write like a Catholic. The author looks at a vast array of literature through a Catholic lens, spanning centuries and genres, and touching on works both well known and little known. From Flannery O’Connor to Flaubert, Homer to Hemingway, Evelyn Waugh to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hren sheds a sacramental light on character and story that illuminates truths a reader might otherwise miss.

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“Providence Blue: A Fantasy Quest”

Providence Blue bookAuthor: David Pinault
Publisher: Carmel Communications
Price: $19.95
 

Summary: In this imaginative and genre-bending novel by David Pinault, aging grad student Joshua Bonaventure is struggling to finish his dissertation on H. P. Lovecraft. When Joshua and a young librarian, Fay O’Connell, discover a trove of Lovecraft’s papers, they fall into a world of black magic, occult conspiracy and dark forces that leads them to the work and life of horror and fantasy writer Bob Howard, who had committed suicide years earlier in Texas. The novel brings together the imagined underworld journey of Howard after his death, and Joshua and Fay’s quest for truth. Providence, Rhode Island, provides a lively cast of characters for the battle of good against evil, heaven against hell, and the Lamb of God against oblivion.
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“Losing Our Dignity: How Secularized Medicine Is Undermining Fundamental Human Equality”

Losing Dignity bookAuthor: Charles C. Camosy
Publisher: New City Press
Price: $22.95
 

Summary: In his second book, author Charles Camosy, associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, charts important territory in the debate surrounding ethics in public life, and the need for the Christian ideal of equality to be applied more consistently in this often secular realm. Every human requires some kind of health care, but the author draws our attention to the dangerous truth that not every person is considered fundamentally equal in the eyes of the institutions that deliver that care. Camosy uses the stories of Terri Schiavo, Jahi McMath, Alfie Evans, and others to show how the influence of secularized medicine is undermining fundamental human equality. In the final chapter, he sounds an alarm about the next population to be in danger: Millions of older people suffering from forms of dementia.

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“Oriens: A Pilgrimage Through Advent and Christmas”

Oriens bookAuthor: Father Joel Sember
Publisher: OSV
Price: $18.95
 

Summary: O Oriens — O Rising Sun — is one of the great O Antiphons of the Advent season. In this book by Father Joel Sember, your Oriens journey begins on the first Sunday of Advent and continues for 10 weeks, until the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2. The emphasis is on prayer. “Oriens” is a daily guidebook for your Advent and Christmas journey, with daily reflections, Scripture, an Advent activity calendar, and a journaling space with starter questions provided. Father Sember, ordained in 2007, has completed a dozen walking pilgrimages, and in this book he invites you to walk along on a journey to learn how to pray better and meditate more deeply. The author offers some common sense advice on Advent preparations, Christmas celebrations, and how to get back on track if your Oriens prayer walk is interrupted.

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“Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed Our Family and Restored Our Faith”

Awakening LourdesAuthor: Christy Wilkens
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
Price: $17.95
 

Summary: On average, more than 6 million pilgrims a year visit the shrine at Lourdes, France. Many go simply to stand near the site where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858. Many others, however, go seeking a miracle. Christy Wilkins and her husband, Todd, fell into the second category. In her new book, “Awakening at Lourdes,” Wilkins shares the story of how they brought their young son, Oscar, who was suffering from mysterious seizures, to Lourdes in search of a miraculous healing. “While Oscar’s condition did improve after their visit, the real healing took place between her and her husband.” In “Awakening at Lourdes,” Wilkins tells a story about how her family was strengthened through hope and, above all, faith.

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“Reclaiming Vatican II: What It (Really) Said, What it Means, and How It Calls Us to Renew the Church”

Reclaiming bookAuthor: Father Blake Britton
Publisher: Word On Fire, Ave Maria Press
Price: $17.95
 

Summary: Nearly 55 years have passed since the closing of the Second Vatican Council, and yet all these decades later, Catholics who tend to view such things through a political lense continue to debate its merits. In his new book, “Reclaiming Vatican II,” Father Blake Britton explores the legacy of the 20th-century council, which Pope St. John Paul II called “the fundamental event of the life of the contemporary Church.” In his foreword, John C. Cavadini, director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, writes that Father Britton helps to cut through the current polarization and focus on the rich documents produced by the council — documents, Cavadini says, that “can still today provide the inspiration for meaningful reform in the Church and for the evangelization of the ‘modern world.'”

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“Pray for Us: 75 Saints Who Sinned, Suffered, and Struggled on Their Way to Holiness”

pray for us bookAuthor: Meg Hunter-Kilmer
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
Price: $18.95
 

Summary: What comes to mind when you hear the word “saint”? For most, it might be someone who lived a life completely devoted to God (such as St. Thérèse), or someone whose charity inspired millions (such as Mother Teresa). In her new book, “Pray for Us,” author Meg Hunter-Kilmer writes that while she “tried to be holy like that,” she didn’t fall in love with the saints until she “realized that these were real people, broken people made whole by grace, and that far from being the impossible standard I’d thought they represented, they offered nothing but hope.” Hunter-Kilmer expertly tells the inspiring stories of saints “who’ve sinned, suffered and struggled and come through on the other side, radiant with the glory of God.”

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“The Catholic Wedding Planner”

Wedding plannerPublisher: OSV
Price: $29.95
 

Summary: Planning a wedding isn’t easy. Planning a Catholic wedding can feel even more overwhelming, as on top of finding a reception venue, flowers and a photographer, the Catholic couple also must find a cantor, lectors, servers and choose Scripture verses and songs to be read and sung during the Mass. Thankfully, OSV has a solution to ease the stress of all of the brides-to-be out there. “The Catholic Wedding Planner” helps engaged couples stay organized and inspired as they prepare not only for the big day but also for their lifelong commitment to each other. Along with tips on how to manage your budget, plan the liturgy and build your wedding party and guest list, Catholic wives Jenny Uebbing, Emily Wilson and Rachel Balducci offer reflections on each of St. Paul’s “Love is …” descriptions in First Corinthians.

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“Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness”

Author: Kelly Ann Guest
Publisher: OSV
Price: $16.95
 

Summary: Being a mother is hard. There always seems to be a need to fill or a chore to be done, and sometimes it can be difficult to remember that holiness can be found in the day-to-day task of mothering little ones — or big ones! Kelly Ann Guest’s “Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness” offers the inspiration and encouragement mothers need as they strive for sanctity while living out their vocation. With profiles from the Blessed Mother to St. Margaret of Cortona to St. Gianna Molla, Guest spans the millennia of the Church, shining a light on mothers who are venerated by the Church. Each chapter focuses on one mother and includes a lesson learned from her life, as well as a prayer seeking her intercession.    

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