From Paul VI to Confession: 10 books that impressed me in 2017

CP&S:  We would add Cardinal Robert Sarah’s two excellent books to this list. May we also presume that Marcantonio Colonna’s The Dictator Pope, available in English only as an e-book at present, might be added to the list next year?

By Francis Phillips

Pope Paul VI appeals for world peace in 1965 at the UN headquarters in New York (CNS)

Choosing these 10 was a real struggle

It is hard as a book blogger to choose between all the books one has read throughout the year in order to select ones that particularly stand out, for the purpose of a Christmas round-up. After some debate with myself on the merits of various volumes, here is my final list and why I have chosen them:

1.  I met Paul VI. By Archbishop Rino Fisichella (Gracewing, £7.99) A short memoir providing some interesting anecdotes and insights into the personality of this shy and saintly man.

2.  Cor Jesu Sacratissimum. By Roger Buck. (Angelico Press). An absorbing spiritual autobiography of a man who spent years in the thrall of the New Age Movement and who shows how only the love flowing from the Sacred Heart was able to release him from the spell of secular “spirituality”.

3.  The Love that made Mother Teresa. By David Scott. (Sophia Institute Press). For those who think that God exists to make us feel good about ourselves, this book details the purgatorial darkness that enveloped Mother Teresa for many decades as she struggled for sanctity within her missionary apostolate.

4.  The Mariner. By Malcolm Guite (Hodder & Stoughton). Whoever loves the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his greatness and in his weaknesses and who wants to understand the likely genesis of his most famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, will find this scholarly study very illuminating.

5.  St Mary Magdalene: Prophetess of Eucharistic Love. By Fr Sean Davison (Ignatius Press). The author, who spent some years working in Provence, has written a most moving account of the true story behind the legends of Mary Magdalene’s long sojourn in France after the Crucifixion; in so doing, he draws out the saint’s vocation as the first adorer of Christ.

6.  What Jesus Saw from the Cross. By AG Sertillanges (Sophia Institute Press). The republication of this classic book (it should be top of the list for Lenten reading material) will bring home to a new readership all the geographical and historical features of Jerusalem at the time of Christ, as well as a new understanding of the personalities that conspired in his death.

7.  From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain Their Journey Home. With a foreword by Marcus Grodi (EWTN). A stimulating collection of personal stories by well-known writers and academics who have made the decision, aided by the grace of God, to move from confusion and doubt – and the unhappiness they cause – to the serenity and joy of Christian faith.

8.  The Priest Barracks. By Guillaume Zeller (Ignatius Press). A detailed account of the infamous “priest barracks” at Dachau concentration camp and the heroic men incarcerated there, as well as the extraordinary means they employed to furnish their little “chapel” and assist at the secret ordination of seminarian Blessed Karl Leisner.

9.  With God in Russia. By Fr Walter Ciszek (HarperOne). From the horrors of Fascism to the horrors of communism: the true story of one Polish American priest’s experience of the gulag for more 20 years, how he kept his faith (and his sanity) and ministered to fellow convicts.

10.  Confession: The Healing of the Soul. By Peter Tyler (Bloomsbury £14.99). This is written to encourage more Catholics to make regular use of this wonderful sacrament. The author, a Catholic psychotherapist and academic, explores the difference between psychology and Confession and argues for wider recognition of the deep-rooted human instinct to confess one’s sins.

Other suggestions from readers for books that “impress” are welcome.

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2 Responses to From Paul VI to Confession: 10 books that impressed me in 2017

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    That’s a wow! list! Doubt I could read them in one year though! Dr. Brant Pitre’s book, the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, is an outstanding explanation of the use of bread from Old to New Testament with Christ as the central figure. I would make it required reading in Catholic schools starting in the 6 the grade is so. Easy to read and understand with continuous biblical references. Forgot publisher name.


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    I shan’t presume to suggest ten books – only three, all by / about the same person, Msgr Ronald Arbuthnott Knox. My comments are quotes from their dust-jacket blurbs:
    The Mass In Slow Motion (Sheed & Ward, London, 1948, 139 pp):

    “…[W]e are immediately at one his [schoolgirl listeners] – ready to be bored, but soon made captive by this astonishing preacher who can make supernatural sense of inkstains and journeys in trains, who can lead us from noise in the dormitories and ladders in stockings to the Mass and our share in it.”

    On Englishing The Bible (Burns & Oates Ltd, London,1949, 64 pp):

    “…[H]is account of the ordeal…which manages to be both illuminating and full of Knox’s wit. Anyone wishing to know more about…the problems involved in rendering the sacred Scriptures into the vernacular will be fascinated to hear from the translator himself how he tackled this mammoth project.”

    Ronald Knox: A Man For All Seasons (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 2016, 386 pp):

    “This impressive collection…combines unpublished primary source material, contemporaneous reflections and thoughtful critical essays…a rich source for those already familiar with Knox [and] an intelligent introduction for the uninitiated.Two extensive collections of Knox’s unpublished writings now difficult to trace, complement these essays.”

    I hope to start and finish, or get well into, the Knox Version of the Holy Bible next year!


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