One day when Jesus was praying alone,
the disciples came to him.
'Who do the crowds say I am?' he asked them.
'Some say that you are John the Baptist,' they answered.
'Others say that you are Elijah,
'while others say that one of the prophets of long ago
'has come back to life.'
'What about you?' he asked.
'Who do you say I am?'

The Gospel according to Saint Luke chapter 9, v. 18-20

About Prayer and Spirituality

Book of Catholic Prayer by Edmond Bliven. Compiled by a genial and learned priest in the Archdiocese of Portland and including calligraphy by Robert Palladino, this book could guide pray-ers well into the new century. Non-Catholic Christians should not be put off by the title; it is a deep and refreshing well from which to draw daily refreshment and inspiration. More.

School for Prayer by Metropolitan Anthony. A short book, almost a monograph, about how to pray. The Daybreak edition includes a transcript of an interview with the author, a useful frame for the book. See also Living Prayer by the same author. For lessons online, visit Lord, teach us how to pray

Spiritual Direction according to St. Paul of the Cross Bennet Kelley, C.P. Here is a compassionate, practical introduction to writings of St Paul of the Cross on the topic of spiritual direction. Highly recommended. Find out how to order a copy.

Taking Flight by Anthony de Mello, S. J. A collection of story meditations sorted into big themes, such as "Grace" and "Truth". Clever, but not facile; pragmatic, but not preachy. A wonderful gift, I can tell you. Some of his stories have been incorporated into The Story Web.

Further Along the Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M. D. Page 11 nearly stopped me cold with its memorable sentence: "This book is very much my own creation, and I am pleased with it." But I ended up liking this edited collection of essays and respecting the rigorousness of Peck's thinking. Although this book is not as explicitly theological as others on this list, readers will find it lucid, provocative, hopeful. You can find the Foundation for Community Encouragement, of which Dr Peck is a founder, on the Web.

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About Theology and Doctrine

Catechism of the Catholic Church by You Know Who. The recently published catechism briefly but tellingly summarizes Catholic thought and beliefs on many, many topics. It's enjoyable reading.

Tell Me Why: a Father Answers His Daughter's Questions about God by Michael Novak and Jana Novak. Father-daughter dialogue begins with "Why does religion, any religion, matter?" and proceeds from foundational issues (such as "What is God like?") to particulars ("Can I pick and choose what I believe?" ) and practicalities (yes, abortion is discussed). For a father and his grown daughter to allow us to eavesdrop on a rigorous, yet tender extended conversation about what matters most is a gift. Open it.

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. A book written by an iconoclastic conservative --but isn't it odd that a writer defending orthodox Christianity could be labelled iconoclastic? Such is our century. This is a witty, thoughtful book, written at the turn of the century by an able, well known and highly regarded author in defense of the church against the intellectual currents of the times. Sample Chesterton on this page of quotations or go straight to the text of Orthodoxy

A World of Grace: An Introduction to the Themes and Foundations of Karl Rahner's Theology edited by Leo J. O'Donovan. Rahner is the pre-eminent Catholic theologian of the 20th century. He is also considered by many to be practically unreadable. He is German and (naturally) writes in German, so the problem may be as much in translation as in anything else. But still the ideas are complex and this collection of short monographs both introduces and helps to explain them. The book is worth reading in its own, but can apparently be used as a study guide to Rahner's Foundations of Christian Faith.

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Great Lives

As a Seal Upon Your Heart: The Life of St Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists by Paul Francis Spencer C.P. 1994 was the tercentenary of the birth of St Paul of the Cross, a fine occasion for publishing a new English language biography of a fascinating saint. Want to talk about dysfunctional families? He knew all about them. Living in a place of social upheaval and political uncertainty? He did that. Any career setbacks or disappointments with people you trusted? Oh, yes. At least two things will happen if you trouble yourself to find and read this book: you'll be immersed in a gripping story, simply but interestingly told, and the many lovely and evocative photographs will draw you even more deeply into contemplating how one man passed through life's vicissitudes to sainthood. More.

To Heal the Broken Hearted: The Life of Blessed Charles of Mount Argus by Paul Francis Spencer, C.P. An ordinary man thrown into the chaos of culture shock and a startling lack of support from his co-workers (and this, believe me, understates the case) emerges as a gifted minister of healing. This simply written story depicts a saint-in-the-making who offers a lively example to Christians. More.

Making Saints by Kenneth L. Woodward. Woodward is a writer for Newsweek, and in this book on how the Catholic church decides who becomes a saint he has produced an outstanding piece of investigative and expository journalism. The writing is intelligent, lucid and straightforward. His approach is balanced, being both respectful and critical in an honest way. You'll find no major scandal, earthshaking story or cynical expose here, but you will enjoy a fascinating book. Catholic On-line's Saints' Pages is an on-line resource of some value.

The Gift of Peace by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. The final years of Cardinal Bernardin's life brought enormous burdens, including the suffering of his last illness. He tells his own story, partly in his own beautiful handwriting and entirely in a voice that expresses its regrets and yet refuses to lapse into bitterness. Eugene Kennedy, a close friend, tells a parallel story in My Brother Joseph. Although Kennedy's story explains more of the extraordinary background of the Cardinal's life, in some ways the Reader felt she learnt more about Kennedy than about the Cardinal. That is not a bad thing, because Eugene Kennedy's life as a writer, professor of psychology, and former priest certainly has its own interesting texture.

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Other Topics

Why Catholics Can't Sing: the Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste by Thomas Day. An exposition of contemporary liturgy that challenges and exasperates. If you've set foot in any Christian church in the past twenty years or so, you'll find plenty with which to agree and to disagree and your interest will not flag: where names are not dropped, there are plenty of clues...

New Men: Inside the Vatican's Elite School for American Priests by Brian Murphy. The Reader approached this book skeptically, wondering what sort of scandal or perfidy could lead Grosset/Putnam to take a chance on a hardcover description of a year inside the North American College. Murphy followed a half dozen students--"new men"--through their first, and perhaps only, year at the seminary. Some have never been away from the USA before; all are on a territory where honesty, especially with the self, is a pre-eminent virtue. At the heart of the story is the question of vocation: how do we serve best? There is also a matter of learning to pray. And, yes, the topics of chastity and celibacy get the full and frank discussion they deserve.

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More Links

Check out Catholic Net and RC Net, another directory of Catholic sources on the Web. Sister Site collects a wide range of links to women's religious foundations and to other Catholic material on the Web. Also surf to Eternal Word Television Network if you're interested. Pages on Catholic Christian apologetics are available; for art, official documents, and news, the Christus Rex pages are without peer.

For brief commentary, look at Sunday Gospel Reflections.

Visit the web page for the Shrine of Saint Jude .

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Copyright 1996-1999--The Faithful Reader.
This page most recently revised on 16 February 1999