The Catholic Register and the Youth Speak News team have put together a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young booklovers might enjoy for their summer reading. In the second instalment of the series, we feature some action-packed reads alongside unique resource companions for a young reader’s journey in faith.

Published in Youth Speak News

Summer is here which means the busyness of the school year is gone. It’s the perfect time to unplug from the real world and curl up with a good book. That’s why The Catholic Register and the Youth Speak News team have put together a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young booklovers might enjoy for summer reading.

Published in Youth Speak News

TORONTO – Fr. Henri Nouwen is still trying to help us understand. He’s been dead 20 years, but he’s still there talking to us about our gifts and our failures, our hopes and our doubts, God and love and sin and community and loneliness.

Published in Faith

TORONTO - To break the chain of poverty marginalized students must never feel alienated by material used to teach literacy as that skill is the foundation for success, said Avis Glaze.

Published in Catholic Education

What We Talk About When We Talk About War by Noah Richler (Goose Lane Editions, 376 pages, $24.95).

Noah Richler, son of novelist Mordecai, product of a liberal upbringing in Montreal and London, has crafted an interesting and aggressive defense of Canada’s history as a peaceful nation.

I was immediately struck by the question, “Who would read this book?” The hawks won’t want to read it since this book clearly implies — from the title to the picture of the haunted face of the Afghani woman on the cover — that war is on trial in these pages. Dedicated doves don’t need to read it, since they are already convinced of Richler’s arguments. Richler says he wrote it for the rest, the undecided, “the vast majority of Canadians … who depend on what they learn from others for the views they take on. “

Published in Arts News

Jesuit Father James (Jim) Martin is quickly becoming one of my favourite religious writers and orators. And the more I read of his works or watch his talks on TV and the Internet, the more impressed I become.

This American Jesuit thinks clearly, speaks and writes directly, and best of all, he is funny, although he has serious messages. (He is the official chaplain of Comedy Network’s The Colbert Report where he sometimes appears.) He is a populist who endeavours to make Catholicism ever more popular.

If you’re looking for summer reading, Fr. Martin has several best-selling books, including My Life With the Saints, A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Centre Stage with Jesus, Judas and Life’s Big Questions, and the Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.

Published in Robert Brehl

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican Secretary of State blamed an ongoing scandal over leaked Vatican documents on unethical journalists and a spirit of hostility toward the Catholic Church.

"Many journalists play at imitating Dan Brown," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in an interview with the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana. "They continue to invent fables or repeat legends."

Cardinal Bertone made his remarks as Vatican judges were investigating leaks to Italian journalists of dozens of documents, including letters to the pope and encrypted cables from Vatican embassies around the world, several of which hint at power struggles among officials of the Holy See.

Published in International

Heretics, heresy, lost opportunities and misdirection — Bad Religion has it all.

Depending on where and when you first read about Bad Religion — the book, not the band — you might be of the opinion it is a smart, thoughtful take on the United States and the importance of religion. Or you might be pretty sure it is a sloppily assembled defense of some of the most retrograde Christianity imaginable.

Published in Book News

Heretics, heresy, lost opportunities and misdirection — Bad Religion has it all.

Depending on where and when you first read about Bad Religion — the book, not the band — you might be of the opinion it is a smart, thoughtful take on the United States and the importance of religion. Or you might be pretty sure it is a sloppily assembled defense of some of the most retrograde Christianity imaginable.

Published in Book News

Since time is always at a premium, I try to be selective in what I read. As well, I like to keep my diet wide, reading novels, books on spirituality, theological treatises, biographies and essays on psychological and anthropological issues.

How do I select a book? I read reviews, get tips from colleagues, receive books as gifts and occasionally browse in bookstores, but what I actually end up reading is often more the result of a conspiracy of accidents than of a studied choice. Books that we need to read have a way of finding us.

What books of note found me over the past year?

Among novels ...

o Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is a John Updike-type of commentary on contemporary culture. It’s an easy read, but packs good emotional intelligence.

o Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is stunning both in language and content. A classic that deserves to be read. In a culture that tends to prize good looks and looking good above most everything else, this contains some inconvenient warnings.

o Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a witness to the raw drive to stay alive. This isn’t Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but it touches some of the same places inside us.

o Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed is 200 pages too long, but, like all of Lamb’s books, is deeply insightful apposite to our struggle to forgive and reconcile. Lamb’s central character is invariably someone out of touch with his own anger who is eventually brought to his knees in a way that redemptively exposes his anger to himself.

o Par Lagerkvist’s Barabbas is a very imaginative take on what happens to Barabbas after Jesus’ crucifixion.

o Oscar Casares’ Brownsville Stories and Amigoland: Warm, emotionally insightful, good stories, with special appeal to anyone living near the borders of Mexico.

o Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table is one of the best reviewed novels of 2011, deservedly so.

o Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon is your novel, if you’re looking for an intellectual hit.

Among spirituality and theological treatises ...

o Judy Cannato, Radical Amazement: Insights and hints about getting into the present moment and seeing the hidden depth within life.

o John Shea, On Earth as it is in Heaven, The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers. If you are dissatisfied with the homily you listen to every Sunday, buy these commentaries on the Sunday readings.

o Michael Paul Gallagher, Faith Maps, The Religious Explorers from Newman to Joseph Ratzinger: A mature apologetics for those seeking to articulate reasons for their hope.

o Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth — The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale: A great piece on the power of language and the language of the Gospels.

o Rob Bell’s Sex God, Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality, and Love Wins, A Book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of every Person who Ever Lived, come from the pen of a young minister who writes with extraordinary balance, good insight and an equal feel for both the Gospel and the culture.

Biography ...

o Two of the most powerful books I read in 2011 were Bush Dweller, Essays in Memory of Fr. James Gray, OSB, edited by Donald Ward, and Joan Didion’s Blue Nights. Both are powerful stories, the first about a hermit who meets and counsels the world from his hut, the second about a woman struggling to find life in the face of a number of bitter deaths.

Treatises, theological and anthropological ...

o Michael Kirwan’s Discovering Girard is a lay-person’s introduction to the insights of the renowned anthropologist Rene Girard.

o Bill Plotkin’s Nature and the Human Soul, Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World. As with previous books, Plotkin pushes the edges of mainline spirituality, calling always for a much deeper role for nature.

Varia ...

o John S. Porter’s The Glass Art of Sarah Hall is a spectacularly beautiful book replete with photos that belongs on every coffee table and in every library.

o David Servan-Schreiber’s Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life. This book was handed to me at the cancer clinic just as I was beginning chemotherapy and, among the many books on cancer I have perused these past months, I found this one to be the most challenging and helpful.

o Kathleen C. Berken’s Walking on Rolling Deck: Life on the Arc, foreword by Jean Vanier. Berken, a journalist who lived for some years inside the community of L’Arche, takes us inside an alternative world, but without false sentiment or naïve romanticism.

These are books that have touched me, but, as St. Augustine once famously said: Concerning taste, we should not have disputes! Read at your own risk!

Published in Fr. Ron Rolheiser
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