I was asked the other day if I would consider putting my five favorite books on this Blog. Well, that’s like asking “What's your favorite food?” - Italian, Chinese, Mexican, East European or all of the above? Frankly it's all of the above, not to mention some great Vino – Malbec in particular.
As the axiom goes, “the more you know the more you realize you don’t know” and over the years I found that true of reading. You’ll find that one thing we priests do is spend time in book stores which surely comes from our Seminary years. I know of one brother priest who literally has thousands of volumes. Has he read them all? I believe he has and God bless him for doing so. There’s nothing like a wall of books on decorative shelves that looks impressive.
I’m typically the kind of person who tends to be reading about three or four books at a time. I’m still working on a 500 pager that I pick up every so often as a nice diversion. But here’s a list of several favorites of both a spiritual and historical nature. There are thousands more that we could all name. Maybe you’ve read or are in the process of reading them. They’re not listed in any particular order but just some great reads.
Jesus a Pilgrimage – James Martin SJ – Fr. James Martin, SJ a very popular writer engages the reader on his journey through Israel. He combines both his observations of the various holy places associated with the life of Jesus in a humorous and insightful manner, and then offers some beautiful spiritual reflections on passages in the Scriptures: Jesus’ birth, his parables, his passion, death and resurrection. One of those books you pick up then put down as you ponder his insights.
What’s so great about Christianity? – Dinesh D’Souza: An insightful read about the overwhelming influence of religion and in particular Christianity on history. But even more it presents cogent arguments in defense of religion vs. atheism. If you know of non-believers and are seeking some balanced and articulate understanding of the failure of atheistic thinking as opposed to a faith based life this will be of great help.
Path between the Seas – David McCullough. If you’re a lover of history, in particular American history, you’ll find McCullough’s books a great read. This one covers the history of the building of the Panama Canal. I knew next to nothing about this period but have been finding it engrossing and filled with surprising facts. Look at any of McCullough’s books and you’ll find the same about Presidential history, nineteenth century American life, New York City and its famous Brooklyn Bridge, and so many other topics. He is prolific and readable.
Basilica, The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter’s by R.A. Scotti – If you’re planning a trip to Rome or anywhere in Italy, this is a must read. The title says it all. It covers the period of over 100 years beginning with laying the cornerstone of the present grand Basilica at the Vatican under Pope Julius II. The famed genius of the Renaissance Michelangelo is featured prominently. Even if you’re not going overseas, a rich read.
Interview with an Exorcist by Fr. Jose Antonia Fortea – Fr. Fortea a well-known Exorcist of the Catholic Church, using a question and answer format, convincingly asserts the existence of the evil ones – the fallen angels (demons) who continue to wreak havoc on this earth. This is not Hollywood hype but reasoned accounts of demonic influence and a powerful reflection on their reality. It isn’t meant to be sensational but an assured account of their existence and why our personal spiritual life must be centered on Christ.
These are some reads I’ve come to find rich and varied. There is so much more where we can pull from the rich treasures of our Catholic life and spiritual writers today and over the long history of time before us. Just some suggestions and hope they may find a place in your summer reading.
Finally, if you like, take a look at my own book which offers a true account of a blatant violation of religious freedom in this Country. It is listed on my blog and you can click on the book image for an explanation: The Seal: A Priest’s Story