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Books for Christmas

Including works on St. Charles Borromeo, Vatican II, “Amoris Laetitia”, Justice Scalia, Kenneth Clark, and the teachings and practices of Catholicism.

(ulzanna/us.fotolia.com)

 

It’s been a good year for publishing – at least in the sense of a lot of good books getting published – so here are some for the readers on your Christmas gift list (in addition, of course, to Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II [Basic Books], by your scribe):

The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism, by Thomas Joseph White, OP (Catholic University of America Press): Father White is one of America’s most impressive younger Catholic thinkers (and its most impressive banjo-playing Catholic thinker). His work exemplifies the Catholic renaissance inspired by St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and his book makes the searching skeptic think, and then think again, about what the fullness of Catholic faith means.

Charles Borromeo: Selected Orations, Homilies, and Writings, edited by John R. Cihak (Bloomsbury): The saintly 16th-century archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo – who was shot at the altar for his reformist efforts, recovered, and then pleaded for his assailant’s life – is obviously a man worth getting to know. Msgr. John Cihak’s fine introduction to Borromeo’s life and work helps us distinguish true from false reform in the Church at a moment when that’s a crucial issue for the 21st-century Catholicism.

An Introduction to Vatican II as an Ongoing Theological Event, by Matthew Levering (Catholic University of America Press): I’ve been amazed to discover in recent years just how little young and engaged Catholic millennials know about the Second Vatican Council and what preceded it – a gap in their historical knowledge that often leads to a distorted view of today’s intra-Catholic contentions. Give Dr. Levering’s fine book to anyone you know who falls into that category, or indeed to anyone who wants to know the Council and today’s arguments over its proper implementation better. It’s reader-friendly and written for non-specialists (although I can think of some theologians on the port side of the Barque of Peter who could benefit from studying it, too).

Accompanying, Discerning, Integrating: A Handbook for the Pastoral Care of the Family According to “Amoris Laetitia,” by José Granados, Stephan Kampowski, and Juan José Pérez-Soba (Emmaus Road Publishing): The buzzword title ought not put anyone off from giving this engaging and trustworthy guide through the thicket of family life issues to every priest, deacon, marriage-preparation minister, and marriage counselor on their gift list.

Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, edited by Christopher J. Scalia and Edward Whelan (Crown Forum): How could anyone not love a man whose favorite lunch was pepperoni pizza and red wine? Well, a lot of people didn’t love Justice Scalia during his lifetime, but this posthumous collection of his speeches may change even the most hardened of hearts and minds. For it not only introduces the man in full but helps explain why he was one of the most influential jurists in American history, in a class with John Marshall and Joseph Storey. Antonin Scalia was a serious man who took his craft seriously, loved his family and country, and wrote with courage, passion, and wit, especially in dissent. Little wonder that he was given, by his priest-son, Paul, the finest funeral homily since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s homily at the funeral Mass of John Paul II.

Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times, by Leon R. Kass (Encounter Books): Generations of students at the University of Chicago found in Leon Kass and his late wife Amy the kind of teachers for which every student and every student’s parents should long. In this collection of essays, some jointly written by one of the all-time great husband-and-wife teams, readers meet wisdom and decency honed by a deep reading of everyone from Homer, Aristotle, and Moses to Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and C.S. Lewis – and by a lifelong love for the Chicago Cubs (which, after the 2016 World Series, can no longer be dismissed as a sign of grave psychic distress).

Kenneth Clark: Life, Art, and “Civilisation,” by James Stourton (Knopf): A charming biography of the great art historian, who once said that entering the Catholic Church (which he seems to have done on his deathbed) was like a painting entering the Louvre: “It would find itself in some pretty queer company, but at least it would be sure that it had a soul.”

About George Weigel 172 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Fragility of Order: Catholic Reflections on Turbulent Times (Ignatius Press, 2018). Mr. Weigel received a B.A. from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore and an M.A. from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. He is the recipient of eighteen honorary doctorates in fields including divinity, philosophy, law, and social science.

2 Comments

  1. ” I’ve been amazed to discover in recent years just how little young and engaged Catholic millennials know about the Second Vatican Council”

    ROFLOL. How could he be amazed? To figure things out you have to be a pretty intrepid researcher. Count me as one who has read everything I could find on the Council for the past 13 years, and yet remains as ambivalent as I was at the start. The fact it has to be discussed as “an event” versus a Council … that alone raises red flags. I think John O’Malley was right: the documents can indeed be interpreted in various ways, including quite orthodox ones, but the medium here is as much the message as the actual texts. How can anyone witnessing our present funk honestly think otherwise? Weigel’s breezy dismissal is a bit off-putting.

    • I haven’t researched or even attempted to be as deep or well informed as you Joe or likely anyone who responds to this article. Recently heard our pastor teach on the Mass as an Advent event at our parish, and his explanation of the Mass after Vatican 2 was a medium also if you will, but it was very enlightening and helpful in moving me to be open to accepting praying the Mass together. I do still wish our priests would face the altar and tabernacle and not the congregation, but every step in the direction of uniting Catholics against the onslaught of paganism that is overtaking our culture is a positive one and I believe this is one of those steps.

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