Q: What Can I Read During the Summer?
A: Summer is a good time to read good books. I share with you some books I’ve read this year in case you are wondering what to read. This list is quite personal so I don’t pretend to exhaust all the good books that you can read, and also you might like different authors. But I share what I know and like!
In preparation for a Theology of the Body (TOB) class, I’ve been studying more this aspect of the legacy of Pope John Paul II (JPII). There are two good books to read about TOB. The first one is an introduction to TOB called: “Men and Women Are from Eden” by Mary Healey. If you’re a listener more than a reader, you can find a talk that summarizes the book in the kiosk of Lighthouse or the Formed.org website.
If you want to go deeper into TOB, you can read “Theology of the Body Explained” by Christopher West (make sure to read the 2nd edition – it’s better). JPII’s teaching on the TOB is prophetic for our times. Among many things, it provides a more profound response to the gender issues we are starting to see.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (HV), the papal document that speaks about contraception. In some dioceses, bishops are asking all parishioners to read it. It was written by Pope Paul VI who will become a Saint in October. If you have not read it, you can find it online in the Vatican Website. Again for audio/visual learners, you can YouTube a talk given by Dr. Janet Smith about the 50th anniversary of HV.
In the line of papal documents, Pope Francis wrote a short Apostolic Exhortation on Holiness called “Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World”. You can also find it online. I really liked it because it’s short, practical, and realistic. It presents the universal call to holiness as something doable.
In the area of spirituality, I’m re-reading the “Fulfillment of All Desire” by Ralph Martin. It’s a great spiritual book that describes the three stages of spiritual growth: purgative, illuminative, and unitive, through the lenses of the Doctors of the church. Warning! This is a more “spiritual book.” Although it is well-written, some of concepts given by the saints are quite profound. It’s not a 101 level book!
In the area of ecumenism, I read the book “Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?” by Peter Kreeft. It’s a short but excellent book. It’s great for those who are married to, dating, or have any friends who are Protestant. It is really good to enter into dialogue with them. You can also listen to the talk by Kreeft “Ecumenism Without Compromise.”
In the area of science and physics, I started but haven’t finished the book “New Proofs for the Existence of God” by Robert Spitzer. Fr. Robert Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University, seeks to demonstrate how new discoveries in physics about the origin of the universe are in agreement with the content of faith.
Also you can always go back to the classics of spirituality. You will never fail if you read: “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux, “Autobiography” by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the “The Confession of St. Patrick” by St. Patrick, “Confessions” by St. Augustine, and “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales.
If you have been to Medjugorge, you should read “My Heart Will Triumph” by Mirjana Soldo. It describes the experience of Medjugorge and Marian apparitions from the point of view of one of the visionaries. It’s very evangelical and full of love.
I’ve not started but I want to start soon the book “Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation” by Rod Dreher. It speaks about the interactions of Christians in a secular world. The movie “A Quiet Place” has a similar message by the Benedict Option book.