The following books come from across the spectrum of disciplines and interest. Some may interest you, others not; they are books priests have recommended as I move around the country.
THE PASCHAL PARADOX: A MEDITATION ON THE CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGE OF DIOCESAN PRIESTLY LIFE
By David Ranson, Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls Publications, 2009 (paperback, $18.00).
"It is the paschal paradox of finding new life in the midst of death that inf0rms the meditations in this book. The author explores the challenge and delight of priestly ministry in the face of its present numerical diminishment and offers a framework by which priests might listen more deeply to their experience, so discovering Spirit-filled possibilities for new life."
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST PAUL: MEDITATIONS ON HIS LIFE AND LETTERS
By Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini SJ, The Word Among us Press, Maryland, 2008 (paperback, approx. $25.00).
"These biblical reflections on the life and writings of St. Paul are characteristic of the senstive combination of devoted scholarship and pastoral spirit possessed by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. This biblical scholar, Jesuit priest, and pastoral leader has deeply influenced my own life, and I know he can inspire yours as you read his work." Stephen J. Binz.
TAKING GOD TO HEART: A LIVING SPIRITUALITY
By Brian Gallagher MSC, Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls Publications, 2008 (paperback, approx $15.00)
"TAKING GOD TO HEART gives a context in which to appreciate our human experience of God. Brian Gallagher finds this context in the tradition of spirituality sometimes referred to as 'the way of the heart'. Calling on his many years' experience as a spiritual guide and teacher, and supported by carefully selected classical and contemporary writings on the ways of God, he develops a spirituality that is God-focused though very human, relational and personal, and outgoing even while contemplative in approach. Readers will readily identify with much in these pages and find encouragement to take God, who is always present in their life exprience, to heart."
ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: BRIDGING SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION TODAY
By David Ranson, Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls Publication, 2002 (paperback, approx. $20.00)
"Many people today claim to be 'spiritual' but not 'religious'. But is it necesarry to divide religion from spirituality? ... David Ranson shows us how to overcome the divide between religion and spirituality and so to restore equilibrium in the ecology of the human spirit. He offers a welcome guide for discerning the genuineness of the many types of sprituality that are promoted today."
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN: A MIND ALIVE
By Roderick Strange, London, UK: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 2008 (paperback, approx. $30.oo)
"John Henry Newman: A Mind Alive paints a vivid and nuanced portrait of Newman as a thinker, a friend, and priest, and shows us how he approached some of the controversial issues that still divide Christians. Those who want to come to know Newman better and to learn from him will be able to meet him in this concise and elegant new study."
THE LOST ART OF WALKING ON WATER: REIMAGINING THE PRIESTHOOD
By Michael Heher, Paulist Press, New York, 2004 (paperback, approx. $35.00).
"This is the most articulate, charming, and persuasive book I have ever read ont he priesthood. Coming from someone who has given his daily love and care to all his parishioners, it is a must-read for priests and all those who cherish them." Gerald O'Collins SJ, Profession of Theology, Gregorian University, Rome.
WHAT HAPPENED AT VATICAN II
By John W. O'Malley SJ, Harvard University Press, 2008 (hardcover, approx $65.00).
"In this elegant and erudite book, the dean of American historians of Christianity tells the story of Vatican II. As a student, John O'Malley attended sessions of the Council. Now he shows us what happened, sets the Council before a richly reconstructed historical background, and makes clear why it still matters so much. His book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the modern history of the Catholic Church." Anthony Grafton.
VATICAN II: DID ANYTHING HAPPEN?
Edited by David G. Schultenover, with chapters by John W.O'Malley, Joseph A. Komonchak, Stephen Schloesser, and Neil J. Omerod, The Continuum International Publishing Group, New York, 2007 (paperback, approx $35.00).
"This book is clearly on the side of those who think something unprecedented happened [at Vatican II], that a genie was let out of the bottle that will never be put back. The book is a collection of articles that are without qualification some of the best analyses of the council ever written."
BEGIN WITH THE HEART: RECOVERING A SACRAMENTAL VISION
By Daniel O'Leary, Dublin, Ireland: The Columbia Press, 2008 (paperback, $50.00).
"I am grateful to Fr Daniel for taking up the suggestions from On the Way to Life, and working with them sensitively and creatively. I have profited from reading his work and have learned from his approach." James Hanvey SJ
THE RESURRECTION EFFECT: TRANSFORMING CHRISTIAN LIFE AND THOUGHT
By Anthony Kelly CSsR, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008 (paperback, approx $35.00).
"This accessible study of the Resurrection is fresh and alive. Anthony Kelly speaks not only to the theologian, but to those in pastoral ministry and religious education. Like all good theology, it transforms the reader as well as informs ... a remarkable achievement." Donald Cozzens, John Carroll University
ESSENCE OF PRAYER
By Ruth Burrows OCD, London UK: Burns & Oates, 2006 (paperback, approx. $45.00)
"In this simple but profound insight we find the richness of vision of a contemplative nun whose message counteracts the tendency of so much modern writing about the spiritual life to imply that we reach God by running faster. It answers to the prevalent interest in the contemplative and monastic life and a growing desire to draw from the wealth of its spritual tradition."
FULLY HUMAN, FULLY DIVINE: AN INTERACTIVE CHRISTOLOGY
By Michael Casey OCSO, Mulgrave, Vic: John Garrett Publishing, 2004 (paperback, approx. $40.00)
"In eloquent prose, Michael Casey offers a Marcan-based gospel exploration of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. Chapters on the dynamics of Jesus' life on earth as portrayed in Mark alternate with chapters that turn their attention back to our own human condition. Thus we grow in an understranding of our own humanity as the means by which we participate in the precious gift of divine life in and through Christ. ... Casey advises, 'read slowly', 'expand your horizons', 'expect sulrprises'."
QUICKENING THE FIRE IN OUR MIDST
By George A. Aschenbrenner SJ, Chicago Ill.: Loyola Press 2002 (paperback, approx $45.00).
"The author is a Jesuit who specialises in diocesan priestly spirituality. He has worked with seminarians and priests in many situations, including as director of the Spiritual Formation Program at the North American College in Rome. The book is practical, prayerful and theological."
ECOLOGY AT THE HEART OF FAITH
By Denis Edwards, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006 (paperback, approx. $45.00)
"In a world born of the 'big bang', Edwards shows that humanity and the world are together being made into the image of God. The heart of faith is an ecological communion that holds together and grows in love towards the fullness of life imaged in the Resurrection of Jesus. Denis Edwards helps the reader, the preacher, the spiritual director, the student, and the theologian tear down the walls that too often separate mysticism, theology, prophecy, poetry,and science."
A PRIEST AFTER MY OWN HEART: Exploring Priestly Spirituality
By Michael Fallon msc, Strathfield: St Pauls, 2001: pp 172
Written out of a conviction that all our human experience can become a route to access the divine, this book is by an author long involved in adult education and retreat direction. As the subtitle indicates, it explores spirituality for priests today in a realistic and challenging way. It would make a good companion for a priest on retreat.
THE CHANGING FACE OF PRIESTHOOD
A Reflection on the Priest's Crisis of Soul
By Donald B. Cozzens, Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2000 pp 148 $35.95
This book is a call for an honest look by priests and by the church at large at three key issues for priests today: identity, integrity and intimacy and at four crises they face: shortage of vocations, sexual orientation, authority, and an intellectual crisis. Many priests have identified the chapter on integrity as the most significant part. The book speaks out of and to the American experience but most of it has broader relevance. A serious limitation is a lack of a developed discussion of the relation between the priesthood of all the baptised and ordained priesthood.
25 Stories from the Toowoomba Diocese by Fr Peter Murphy. Diocese of Toowoomba
Publication, 2004 pp. 151; $15.
Ah, those were the days! "Nine trains converged on Warwick [to see Archbishop Mannix lay the foundation stone for the new church in 1920]. Mgr Potter forbade the trains to leave until he had visited every carriage to collect for the church". Or 45 years later, Michael McKenna "was the first to say Mass facing the people, albeit on an unauthorised temporary altar; and the people were admonished to respond ‘And also with you, Monsignor'." Very readable stories of very real men.
THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF THE PRIESTHOOD
By Dean R. Hoge, Collegeville Min.: Liturgical Press, 2002 pp 180 $46.95
A rather expensive paperback, but of obvious importance for formation staff and those ministering to younger or more recently ordained priests and, of course, to the newly ordained priests themsel
STEWARDS OF GOD'S MYSTERIES: Priestly Spirituality in a Changing Church
By Paul J. Philibert O.P., Collegeville Min.: Order of Saint Benedict, 2004 pp. 87 $18.95
An initiative of the (USA) National Federations of Priests' Councils, to mark the thirtieth anniversary of a document entitled The Spiritual Renewal of the American Priesthood. The fruit of a "writing committee" consisting of a Dominican, a Sulpician, and a diocesan priest. Short, practical book with an extensive bibliography.
CLERICAL CULTURE: Contradiction and Transformation
By Michael L. Papesh, Collegeville Min.: Liturgical Press, 2004 pp 1900 $38.95
Another practical, thoughtful book written by a diocesan parish priest (or "pastor", as more commonly used in the USA). To quote Richard Rohr OFM: "Michael Papesh is critical in the good sense, and faith-filled in the best sense. We desperately need a book such as this in our soul searching time".
ESSENTIAL CHURCH DOCUMENTS of Pope John Paul II:
- PASTORES DABO VOBIS - I will give you Shepherds
- NOVO MILLENNIO INEUNTE - At the beginning of the New Millennium, 2001
- CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI - The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful, 1989
PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS, On the Ministerial Priesthood, Vatican II 1965
THE FOUR CONSTITUTIONS OF VATICAN II:
- Sacrosanctum Concilium - on the Sacred Liturgy
- Dei Verbum - on Revelation
- Lumen Gentium - on the Nature of the Church
- Gaudium et Spes - on the Church in the Modern World
PRIESTS IN A PEOPLE'S CHURCH
By George Guiver and others, London: SPCK 2001 pp138 $38.50
Nine authors associated with the (Anglican) College of the Resurrection, Mirfield UK, probe the questions about the relationship between priests and the rest of God's people. The book follows another by the same group, The Fire and the Clay.
GOING THE DISTANCE: How to stay fit for a lifetime of ministry
By Peter Brain, Sydney: Matthias Media 2004 pp 260 $26.50
"Christian ministry is not a sprint; it's a marathon, requiring not just enthusiasm and ability, but staying power". Peter Brain is the Anglican Bishop of Armidale NSW, having served previously in the Archdioceses of Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. A very practical book that deals with such topics as burnout, depression, stress, anger, sexual temptation in ministry, friendship. Particularly valuable as it addresses these questions in the Australian context.