The 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge!

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for a new year of reading goals! Working through The 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge this past year was really rewarding, and I found that having that list to guide me helped to broaden my reading scope and introduce a good variety of perspectives. I think it helped me be a more well-rounded reader in regard to the “voices” that are edifying and educating my faith.

So as I started to put together The 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge over the last couple of months, I began to get excited about all of the books that were coming to mind for the 12 categories. The list is done, and I’m happy to be ready to share it with you! Here it is…

Continue reading “The 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge!”

My Last 2 Picks for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge

It’s the end of the year and the end of the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge! I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for each one, and here are my last two picks…

Category: A Book on Catholic Spirituality Written More Than 100 Years Ago

My Pick: The Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the Cross

 

Category: A Book by Bishop Robert Barron

My Pick: Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master 

Little did I know when I picked these two books how well they paired together, and I just happened to read them back to back. St. John of the Cross was a devoted student of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings, and The Spiritual Canticle (a work of verse similar to the Song of Solomon) is steeped in Thomist philosophy. You initially become aware of this from reading the introduction to St. John’s work, but this Thomist theme became even more apparent when I subsequently read Barron’s book.

I want to mentioned a couple of themes from each book, but I would first stress that both share the characteristic of being works that deeply nourish the spiritual life and offer much in the way of spiritual direction and insights for extensive meditation, though written centuries apart and in much different styles. Continue reading “My Last 2 Picks for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge”

3 Possible Advents, 3 Prayers

It is the second Sunday of Advent, and we light the “Bethlehem Candle” of faith today, or the candle of “preparation.” Advent is really all about preparing to give birth to, and sustain, new life – to allow the Holy Spirit to do a new work in our hearts and our walk with the Lord. That is why the rhythm of the Church doesn’t start with Christmas. Our hearts cannot welcome the birth of Christ without preparation. Part of that preparation is a realization of the long groaning of all of creation throughout the centuries of salvation history.

But another important part of Advent is to recognize what Christ still means to fulfill in our individual lives. We are still waiting for the complete fulfillment of the promise of that covenant relationship made so long ago to make all things new and for our Father to fully restore us to himself. The Advent of our King was not a one-time event. It is a once-for-all-time event. Which means that his coming in our lives – and the new life he births in us because of his birth – is reoccurring – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

So the question that I have for you in the middle of your Advent season is this: What is it that Christ wants to give birth to in your life this Advent? What is he preparing you for, and how is he preparing you to walk more closely with him?

I want to use a pregnancy analogy (since I’m currently 34 weeks pregnant), to help describe three possible seasons of Advent that may be happening in your heart right now. Think first of the woman whose pregnancy and expectation of a new life is filled with nothing but joy. Everything about it is wonderful and exciting. My first pregnancy was like this. It’s a happy time…not without its overwhelming moments of how life will change…but you are preparing for this new birth with a welcoming joy.

In the spiritual life, these are the easiest and best Advent seasons, aren’t they? Preparing for what God is about to do, for the unique way that he appears to be coming in your life, is full of joy. During this time God may be giving birth to lots of exciting new things and wonderful insights. It might be a time of blessing, and you are probably being called to bless others through that blessing. This may be a time when you are experiencing a lot of spiritual consolations too. These are good times in the spiritual life. But these are not always the only seasons of Advent that God has for us. Continue reading “3 Possible Advents, 3 Prayers”