May is dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Two of the books covered here will teach you more about Mary and draw you closer to her and her Son. “And coming to her, [the angel Gabriel] said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).
Mary of Nazareth
History, Archeology, Legends
by Michael Hesemann (Ignatius Press)
An archaeologist explores ancient sites, works of art, and writings associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary and shines the light of Scripture and sacred Tradition on them. The result is a fascinating portrait of Mary that will enrich your relationship with her. The author writes with both personal devotion and scholarly attention to detail. It’s fine spiritual reading for the month of May.
Praying the Angelus
Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life
by Jared Dees (Ave Maria Press)
Once upon a time, you could hear church bells ring at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m., reminding the faithful to pray the Angelus. Author Jared Dees invites you to learn the origin of this devotion, meditate on the meaning of this prayer, and integrate it into your own day. The Angelus is a great way to frame and order your day within the mystery of the Incarnation.
A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church
by Anthony Esolen (TAN Books)
We all have our likes and dislikes when it comes to hymns, especially dislikes. But Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island, has decided to emphasize the positive — to explain what makes a hymn good and to share his favorites. Great hymns are beautiful poetry that teach divine truth and inspire us to love and praise God. Some of Esolen’s choices will be familiar to you, but many of them will not be. A CD is included so you can become familiar with some lost treasures of Christian musical heritage.
The Benedict Option
A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation
by Rod Dreher (Sentinel)
Do you enjoy lively discussions at your book club? Then suggest The Benedict Option for your next meeting. The author’s premise: Believing, committed Christians are now a minority in the United States. It is time for believers (such as Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant evangelicals) to regroup by finding creative ways to keep the rising generation from being absorbed into secularism. Just as St. Benedict founded the monastic system in response to the corruption of his times, Christian families must detach themselves from certain aspects of modern society and foster communities that will preserve the life of faith. How to do this while still engaging and evangelizing the culture? That’s where the discussion gets lively.
The Twelve Steps Meet the Gospel
Reflections on Scripture and Stories of Hope for those in Recovery
by Trish Vanni and Dick Rice (Twenty-Third Publications)
The authors, both in recovery themselves, bring their experience, strength, and hope to their reflections on Scripture. Organized loosely around the seasons of the liturgical year, their interpretations shed fresh light and power on stories we’ve heard many, many times. Their distinctive viewpoint will strike responsive chords not just with those in recovery, but with anyone who has ever felt out of place, out of step, or somehow set adrift in today’s world.
Seeking Spiritual Balance in an Off-Kilter World
How to find your “Center” in the Circus of Life
by Kathy Hendricks (Twenty-Third Publications)
Kathy Hendricks — through real-life experiences and awe-inspiring quotes from spiritual masters — helps us explore how balance enables us to respond to our off-kilter moments in peace, convergence, and blessing. Spiritual balance — the reality of living in healthy, whole, and holy ways — is illustrated throughout the book with a consideration of the rich tradition of our spiritual practices as well as innovative, creative ones.