Book News

Irish Beth Maddock says she gets a lot of calls from God late at night or early in the morning. It is during these quiet hours of the night she “downloads” the ideas God plants in her mind.

Road travelled to who I am

By

The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times by Peter Kavanagh (Knopf Canada, hard cover, 257 pages, $29.95).

In a poem by the English poet Ted Hughes, a hawk contemplates its physical form: “It took the whole of creation to produce my foot, my each feather; now I hold creation in my foot.”

Wills’ future stuck in the past

By

The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis by Garry Wills. (Penguin, 288 pages, hardcover, $32.95)

At first glance, Garry Wills’ latest book might appear to offer insight into the life and intentions of Pope Francis. But anyone familiar with Wills’ polarizing views might well guess that is not the case. He does discuss Pope Francis — in the introduction and in the epilogue — but his treatment of the Pope is minimal.

Inside the spiritual Martin Sheen

By

No one had a bad word to say about Martin Sheen. Sr. Rose Pacatte tried to find someone to disparage the Catholic actor while researching his spiritual biography. But no luck.

Life is meant to be well lived to the end

By

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (Doubleday, hard cover, 304 pages, $20).

We don’t die the way we used to. At the turn of the 20th century, the primary causes of death in the United States were pneumonia, influenza and tuberculosis. Today, heart disease and cancer are by far the major causes of death. In 2010, pneumonia and influenza combined accounted for a slightly higher number of deaths than suicide, but less than Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Tuberculosis was virtually eradicated in the United States by the 1950s.

The political life of a Catholic priest

By

Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square, by Randy Boyagoda (Image, hardcover, 480 pages, $35).

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ life was a broad sweep in many ways. Born into a Lutheran family in the rural Ottawa Valley, he ended up living in densely populated lower Manhattan.

Comic-book reissue of St. John XXIII's life improves on the original

By

NEW YORK - Forget the Avengers. The coolest Marvel-related character this year is Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, better known to the world as St. John XXIII.

Higgins the scholar is undoubtedly a Merton fan

By

The Unquiet Monk, Thomas Merton’s Questing Faith, by Michael Higgins (Novalis, 126 pages, $14.95).

Heroes matter. Which is not to say that our heroes define us. Superman has many admirers, but few who fly or fight crime. Despite the ways each of us falls short, every hero we admit into our personal halls of fame, whether starting pitcher or saint, gives us an opportunity to aspire as well as admire.

Romero biography suffers through identity crisis

By

Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out by Kevin Clarke (Novalis, 164 pages, softcover, $14.95).

The life and death of Archbishop Oscar Romero raises questions as relevant to Catholics today as they were when Romero’s native El Salvador was struggling through years of violence and injustice. How and when should Church officials take sides in the political affairs of nations? What brings a person of privilege to a radical change of heart? How can such a person come to be in solidarity with the poor?

Lent is about spiritual commitment to Christ

By

Sacred Journey: Daily Reflections for Lent 2015. By Krystyna Higgins. (Novalis. 49 pages. $2.50).
40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent. By Marcellino D’Ambrosio. (Servant Books, an imprint of Franciscan Media. 127 pages. $14.99). Sacred Silence: Daily Meditations for Lent. By Phyllis Zagano. (Franciscan Media. 132 pages. $9.99).

Lent is upon us and it’s time to make some room for change. This year, will Lent pass us by as little more than 40 days of good intentions or will it become a life-changing journey? These three books remind us that it’s not enough to give up chocolate or some other vice — although sacrifice does have its place. Authors Krystyna Higgins, Marcellino D’Ambrosio and Phyllis Zagano remind us each in their own way that Lent is about renewing our spiritual commitment to Christ and hopefully going deeper and maturing in our relationship with Him.

‘Troublemaker’ Hughes finally gets her due

By

Radicals and deviants have to fight their way into the history books. Ninety years after her death, Katherine Hughes is finally winning that battle.