While many of us might be complaining about having to stay indoors with some bored out of their minds, I think it is important to take time to look at bright side of things because life is not all about negativity. One of those bright sides is that with university classes now completed, and my workplace still closed, the spare time on hand have been devoted to reading. Today, I am recommending the following 10 Catholic Reads during this quarantine time, some of which I have reviewed on here and some not.
1. The Miracle of Hope: Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận; Political Prisoner, Prophet Of Peace
The late-Cardinal Francis Xavier Thuận Văn Nguyễn persevered through the darkest nights – thirteen-years in a communist prison in Vietnam, nine of which spent in solitary confinement. However, even in those dark nights, he kept the flame of faith alive. Some people have commented about how restless they are during this lockdown – but it is nothing compared to what the Venerable Văn Thuận went through during his days in Vietnam. This book opens one’s eyes to the injustices Cardinal Văn Thuận’s family had to endure, and his own personal trials and liberation. This biography of the late Cardinal by Andre Châu sheds light on a life of man who suffered much, but within his suffering, he was a source of hope and light for those around him.
- Purchase on Amazon.
2. Sinner: The Catholic Guy’s Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic
Have you ever heard of “a man with a large nose” named Lino Rulli? One of the funniest Catholics of all time, Rulli is a radio host of The Catholic Guy Show on SiriusXM 129. To someone who is a first time listener of The Catholic Guy Show, his show may seem a little weird, but the more you listen to him, the more you get to know who Rulli is and how he sees Catholicism. Sinner speaks to Rulli’s attempts “to be a faithful Catholic”. He starts right off the bat understanding that his is not a perfect Catholic, but yet he still tries in every way to be the ideal Catholic. He does so not in a biographical way, but with a sense of humour. Pair a listening of The Catholic Guy Show and Sinner, and you will have yourself a happy day. (Note: SiriusXM is free to listen to till May 15!)
3. Saint: Why I Should Be Canonized Right Away
A sequel to Sinner, Lino Rulli speaks ironically not of his triumphant saintly ways, but rather attempts to achieve sainthood – the vocation in which every Catholic should be striving for. We can all relate to the stories of these attempts to achieve sainthood. Yet do you ever feel like sainthood is too hard? Rulli points out that sainthood is in now way easy, but we have to keep trying over and over again. It takes virtue – and what virtues really are, are good habits and in order to form habits, we need to something and practice it over and over again. So don’t give up on sainthood!
4. Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomenon in the Lives of the Saints
Are you thirsting for the day we come again to celebrate the Eucharist together again? I certainly am – livestream Masses is no way the same as physical and communal celebration of the Eucharist. While Eucharistic Miracles and Marian Apparitions are not doctrine, they may, in a sense be concrete confirmations of the doctrines of the Church that cannot be explained scientifically – they are divine signs. Maybe prior to this pandemic, you may have found yourself partaking in the Mass and other acts of piety out of a sense of routine. However, I hope that after a “fast” from the Sacramental reception of the Eucharist, once these restrictions have been lifted, we will have a greater love and devotion for the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
5. A History of the Church in 100 Objects
Have you ever wanted to learn about the rich history of the Catholic Church but found a thick history book full of text to be daunting? Well this book is for you. Colourful with high quality pictures of 100 artifacts from the time of Christ to the current times of the Church, this book takes you through the Church’s history in a way that is appealing to every Catholic. If you want to do a crash course of Church History, only scratching its surface, then start reading this title!
6. Breakthrough: A Journey from Desperation to Hope
People have had many opportunities throughout the past weeks to choose from a variety of priests and bishops to “attend” Mass virtually. One of those many priests is Fr. Rob Galea – now a popular Catholic speaker and singer. However, he did have his past. His story of true conversion of heart that turned his life around and eventually lead him to the priesthood… like a modern day St. Augustine conversion. Feeling lost? Especially during these times? This book is for you.
7. Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience
I know some people were expected to be in the Holy Land this Holy Week for the grand celebrations of Catholicism. The thing with books is that it can take you to various places. Msgr. Vincenzo Peroni brings pilgrims back or to the Holy Land in his new book, Encountering Jesus. With Biblical passages, meditations, reflection questions and prayers, Msgr. Peroni is able to capture the events and atmosphere the Biblical sites brought up within this short book. There will be an in-depth review coming in a couple of week on this blog, but for now… I know this book is going to be in my carry-on the day I get to go the Holy Land. For the time being, I’m on “reading” pilgrimage.
- Purchase on Amazon.
8. Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship
Some have said that quarantine period has made this year’s Lent seems like an “authentic” Lent. However, with Lent comes Easter and to prepare ourselves anew, once this pandemic is over, I highly recommend using this time in discernment. For months or years, we may have followed Jesus in a routine matter, or maybe out of obligation. However, Franciscan Fr. Casey Cole’s book Let Go allows one the chance to do a deep examination of conscience. To truly be “liberated” and follow Jesus with out whole hearts, there are seven things that Fr. Casey says you need to “let go” from yourself in order to open yourself up to Christ.
9. When in Rome: A Journal of Life in the Vatican City
Rome and Vatican City – the centre of Roman Catholicism… I have such vivid memories of my time there in March 2019. I always wondered what it would be like to actually live in the eternal city. This journal of Robert J. Hutchinson’s life in Rome with his family gave a simple, authentic account which I really loved. Allow yourself to step into Hutchinson’s shoes and take some days of “normal” life in Rome, going through the city of saints and relics.
- Purchase on Amazon.
10. Laudato Si’ (Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home)
Laudato Si’ is probably one of the highlight encyclicals of Pope Francis’ pontificate. The call for the care for our “common home” by our Holy Father still continues to echo throughout the world even five years later after the encyclical was published. The thing is, with Papal Documents, Catholics or people in general seem to get tidbits here and there, but fail to read the documents in its entirety or spend devoting time to study them. As we approach the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, it is fitting that we spend time to read to re-read this Papal Document. Let us arise out of pandemic not only with a new self, but a new world, a new and clean environment.