April 21, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Recommended reading for Eastertide

As I look at three books resting near my computer, I smile contently.

How appropriate they were for my Lenten reading. Yet, I know they are even more appropriate the rest of the Church year, especially during Eastertide.

Converts and seasoned Catholics alike could well continue their journey of faith through this trio of Church-related literature.

Originally, I considered featuring each book in separate “Faithful Lines” columns, but I choose to group them together because, despite differences, they complement—and compliment—each other. As a “cradle Catholic” born into the faith, I learned much more than expected. The books are listed in the order received.

The first is The Catholic Passion: Rediscovering the Power and the Beauty of the Faith (www.loyolabooks.org) by David Scott, editorial director for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and contributing editor of www.Godspy.com.

Scott does not concentrate on rules, dogmas, doctrine and rituals. Instead, he keeps “the accent on the lives and works of flesh and blood Catholics,” so readers can see things differently.

He emphasizes 2,000 years of “faith expressions of real Catholics—saints, composers, poets, playwrights, activists, ordinary believers” from “every continent and walk of life.”

He asks, “Who is Jesus? Who is God? Why do we need a Church? Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? How do we get there?”

The second book is Claire Furia Smith’s Catholicism: Now I Get It! (published by Our Sunday Visitor, www.osv.com). The author, whose popular Web site is www.stillcatholic.com, captured my interest with special “Aha!” moments by helping me finally understand certain areas and history of Catholicism that have troubled me through the years.

Smith takes the reader from the very founding of the Church to the major practices and beliefs that most Catholics hold dear today. Also a cradle Catholic (but from a younger era than mine), Smith took the time and energy to research her subject well, then write about it in a clear and amusing manner.

The third book is Key Moments in Church History: A Concise Introduction to the Catholic Church by Mitch Finley, author of dozens of books. This work is a less formidable approach to Church history than when I studied the subject in earlier years. In fact, if Finley’s easy-to-read version had been accessible when I was a student, I would surely have retained more about the Church’s past. This book is part of the Sheed & Ward “Come & See Series” published by Rowman & Littlefield, Inc. (www.rowmanlittfield.com)

Having been enriched by these books during Lent, I trust they will do the same for other Catholics during Eastertide or in any season of the Church’s liturgical year.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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