New and Notable Books (January 2013)
One perk of being a book reviewer is that publishers regularly send emails and catalogs promoting their newest titles, along with a steady stream of advanced review copies.
I don't have time to read and review them all, so each month, in addition to my regular reviews, I highlight a few new and upcoming books that I'm particularly excited about.
(The descriptions below are either from the publisher or from Amazon.)
by George Weigel
Basic Books, 304 pages, hardcover
Released on February 5, 2013
The Catholic Church is on the threshold of a bold new era in its two-thousand year history. As the curtain comes down on the Church defined by the 16th-century Counter-Reformation, the curtain is rising on the Evangelical Catholicism of the third millennium: a way of being Catholic that comes from over a century of Catholic reform; a mission-centered renewal honed by the Second Vatican Council and given compelling expression by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
The Gospel-centered Evangelical Catholicism of the future will send all the people of the Church into mission territory every day—a territory increasingly defined in the West by spiritual boredom and aggressive secularism. Confronting both these cultural challenges and the shadows cast by recent Catholic history, Evangelical Catholicism unapologetically proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the truth of the world. It also molds disciples who witness to faith, hope, and love by the quality of their lives and the nobility of their aspirations. Thus the Catholicism of the 21st–century and beyond will be a culture-forming counterculture, offering all men and women of good will a deeply humane alternative to the soul-stifling self-absorption of postmodernity.
Drawing on thirty years of experience throughout the Catholic world, from its humblest parishes to its highest levels of authority, George Weigel proposes a deepening of faith-based and mission-driven Catholic reform that touches every facet of Catholic life—from the episcopate and the papacy to the priesthood and the consecrated life; from the renewal of the lay vocation in the world to the redefinition of the Church’s engagement with public life; from the liturgy to the Church’s intellectual life. Lay Catholics and clergy alike should welcome the challenge of this unique moment in the Church’s history, Weigel urges. Mediocrity is not an option, and all Catholics, no matter what their station in life, are called to live the evangelical vocation into which they were baptized: without compromise, but with the joy, courage, and confidence that comes from living this side of the Resurrection.
by Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Our Sunday Visitor, 64 pages, paperback
Released on January 16, 2013
This is a new moment in the life of the Church, a new Pentecost. For the first time since the term New Evangelization was coined by Blessed John Paul II, 250 bishops from all over the world were called to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss it, define it, and determine what it really means to Catholics today. In an exclusive first-hand summary of the three-week Synod, the leader of the gathering, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, provides a succinct, specific and tactical roadmap for where Catholics and parishes and dioceses go from here, including:
- What's the point? The three most important priorities of the New Evangelization
- What am I up against? The three isms that get in the way of sharing and growing the Faith
- What do I do? How to galvanize people around one simple truth of the Gospel message
- Where it all began: The four theological foundations of the New Evangelization
- Learning from the best: The four characteristics of great evangelizers
In addition to personal and group reflection questions at the end of every chapter, Wuerl also shares his own personal faith sharing experiences with non-Catholics and Catholics alike and how the insight he gained shaped his own view of the New Evangelization. A must-read for all parish communities.
by Robert A. Ventresca
Belknap Press, 432 pages, hardcover
Released on January 15, 2013
Debates over the legacy of Pope Pius XII and his canonization are so heated they are known as the “Pius wars.” Soldier of Christ moves beyond competing caricatures and considers Pius XII as Eugenio Pacelli, a flawed and gifted man. While offering insight into the pope’s response to Nazism, Robert A. Ventresca argues that it was the Cold War and Pius XII’s manner of engaging with the modern world that defined his pontificate.
Laying the groundwork for the pope’s controversial, contradictory actions from 1939 to 1958, Ventresca begins with the story of Pacelli’s Roman upbringing, his intellectual formation in Rome’s seminaries, and his interwar experience as papal diplomat and Vatican secretary of state. Accused of moral equivocation during the Holocaust, Pius XII later fought the spread of Communism in Western Europe, spoke against the persecution of Catholics in Eastern Europe and Asia, and tackled a range of social and political issues. By appointing the first indigenous cardinals from China and India and expanding missions in Africa while expressing solidarity with independence movements, he internationalized the church’s membership and moved Catholicism beyond the colonial mentality of previous eras.
Drawing from a diversity of international sources, including unexplored documentation from the Vatican, Ventresca reveals a paradoxical figure: a prophetic reformer of limited vision whose leadership both stimulated the emergence of a global Catholicism and sowed doubt and dissension among some of the church’s most faithful servants.
by Fr. Brian McMaster
Our Sunday Visitor, 158 pages, paperback
Released on January 15, 2013
Amidst the Nazi occupation of Poland and long days in forced labor at a quarry and chemical plant, young Karol Wojtyla—the man who would become Pope John Paul II—made a discovery that would change his life. He read the 18th century spiritual writings of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort and prayed St. Louis' thirty-three days of preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary. He understood anew that the purpose of a true devotion to Mary is to be directed into a deeper relationship with Jesus and the Holy Trinity. The consecration so marked his life that he would adopt St. Louis' phrase Totus Tuus (Latin for "Totally Yours") as his motto as bishop and later as pope.
Blessed John Paul II's adoption of this radical commitment to Jesus through Mary ignited a new flame in the hearts of countless Catholics all over the world.
This fresh look at Marian consecration takes the themes and structures of St. Louis de Montfort's preparation for total consecration and incorporates the teachings and insight of Blessed John Paul II, including prayer, contemplation, and resolutions that will open your heart to the life of the Holy Trinity. Through these thirty-three days of spiritual exercises you will discover how you can grow closer to Jesus through the heart of Mary, while becoming the very best version of yourself in a life of consecration.
by Tom Peterson
Image, 160 pages, hardcover
Released on February 19, 2013
"God has something extraordinary planned for your life...In our fast-paced, highly technological world, this statement might sound a bit lofty, but the lives of millions of souls who have come before us attest to this simple truth: God has a wonderful plan in store for you."
With these words, Tom Peterson, founder and president of Catholics Come Home, a nonprofit multimedia organization dedicated to promoting Catholic evangelization, offers inspiration for believers from all walks of life, whether lapsed or practicing, to deepen their faith and draw them closer to Jesus and His Church.
In a series of moving stories and personal anecdotes, Tom relates how after rediscovering his faith, he experienced God's unfailing love, and soon found his true purpose in life. You can too! Drawing from scripture, his own struggles and discoveries, and the lives of the saints as well as ordinary individuals, the author offers seven ways to enter into a more deeply personal relationship with Jesus. These are pearls that you can share with others to illuminate the importance of the Catholic faith and open wide the door to a homecoming celebration.
What new and notable books are you looking forward to?