In January, I have joined Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas and others on a reading challenge: 19 Catholic books in 2019. As it’s now well into April. I thought I should take stock of the progress so far. Here is the original list, and there is still time to join especially if you read quite fast.
My first book was, as it happens a birthday treat after reading it from the Library, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (crossing from the list the book by a Catholic novelist). Its own review will follow, but I have already talked about it in the context of friendship for this year’s LoveBlog so I won’t add much here. Suffice to say that I love it and it has made a lasting impression on my own writing.
I have then moved on to a book that has been on my shelf for years, On Heaven and Earth by Pope Francis (book by a Pope). It’s a transcript of a series of conversations he had with the Chief Rabbi in Argentina when Archbishop and the country’s head of the Jesuit Order and it’s been illuminating in many respects, in particular how deeply his background affected him as a person and as a shepherd. I’ve always been sympathetic to him in the infamous culture wars within the Church, but now I have a deeper appreciation of Francis the man instead of doing it just out of respect for the office and the belief that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church whether we understand what’s going on or not. I really recommend it, and recommend reading it with an open mind.
The third book I have been reading, and so far only the first part and then it became misplaced and I still haven’t found it, is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis (Catholic classic). It is a really heavy and convicting book, so I have resolved that instead of reading a lot of it before bed, I will read a chapter a day from when I find it to the end of the year, and I may read more of it if I need to catch up. I have already read some excerpts of it in the past, and I’m using some of it in my own work, so I’m positive that I will have it finished long before December 31st.
The fourth book (and 3rd completed) has been 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr Michael Gaitley, which I have read daily in the days coming up to the feast of the Annunciation. I have to admit that I have struggled with it a lot, but I have persevered undecided whether the consecration was for me until the afternoon on the 25th of March. I read it knowing that the worst that would happen was that I would just read a book about 4 saints and never do the consecration, and it was his suggestion that we might write our own prayer (giving me validation where I’ve had insecurities) and a pretty miraculous way in which God came through for me that day in a situation in my life, that made me resolve to do it after all. If you are someone who, like me, struggles with the flowery language used by the Marian devotees that is at times pretty ambiguous, know that it is all a private devotion and as such, you can approach it however you like within the boundaries of orthodoxy.
At the same time as the 4th book, I have started my long Catholic book, The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien, although I am sort of cheating on this one as it’s an audiobook. The reason for that is that I have lost a number of days I could have read to migraines, so I keep this book as my book for those days while I work on reducing them with the Pathways app. I am currently on Book 2, Chapter 1 of the Fellowship of the Rings. That’s like 8h30 to go until I finish the first of 3 volumes in the saga. The last time I read the novel I was not back in the Church, so the Catholic symbolism is jumping at me in very vivid terms, including things that I did not necessarily pick upon in the past. I had an example that I thought at the time I must write in this post, but I have 100% forgotten it by the time I got around to writing. Typical me. I should stick to live-tweeting.
The final book of the quarter, although it was finished in April, has been Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper (the book about the liturgy). I am absolutely mindblown by it, and I say that as someone who goes to conferences and reads theology and is pretty well-versed about the liturgy, including studying it from a theatrical point of view in secular settings! I once joked to a Dominican priest that I was beginning to wonder if I were going to be the mother of a priest because of my love for the liturgy and the fact I can’t be a priest myself (sort of like the Twilight saga when Jacob imprinting on Bella’s child before she even existed). This is a book anyone should read, aspiring and confirmed converts, and cradle Catholics, life-long faithful ones and reverts alike, but in particular anyone who gets bored or distracted and thinks about their to-do list for the week at Mass. I have only been to Mass 3 times since reading the first part of the book, but it has made such a huge difference in my participation and one of them was one of the infamous guitar masses with 1970s hymns.
4/19 down, 15 to go.