Lack of interest in the world makes us old, besides our biological age: When we stop being curious, we stop growing. We stop learning about the world around us.
We stop reading.
Now that the new Christ Cathedral Gift Shop has opened inside the Cultural Center, there’s no excuse to neglect our intellectual or spiritual growth. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, it’s the perfect place and opportunity to nurture our Catholic faith by consuming the readily available wealth of useful and inspirational books on the saints’ lives, prayer, spirituality, and Catholic issues.
“Reading helps us grow, especially when grappling with the big questions in life,” says Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. “It’s essential. Otherwise our minds keep running in familiar pathways. We need to grow and learn.”
The bookstore’s children’s section offers a number of board books about guardian angels, saints, the people of the Bible, and Mary’s story. Adults can select missals, self-improvement tomes, prayer books or inspirational works.
Dawson recommends a number of useful books on various Catholic topics for all ages. If the books are published by companies that work with the gift shop, they can be specially ordered, Manager Steve Peters says. They also are available online at Amazon.com.
Basics on the Catholic Faith
Start with the basics, Peters says. “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” “YouCat, the Youth Catechism,” and the Didache Bible, which offers “extensive commentaries, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for each of the books of the Holy Bible” and has numerous apologetical inserts to assist the reader in understanding the Church’s teachings on current issues.
Further explanation of the faith can be found, he adds, in Patrick Madrid’s “Why Be Catholic?”
Spiritual Growth and Direction
Peters also recommends “33 Days to Merciful Love, A Do-It-Yourself Retreat” by Michael E. Gaitley, which provides a guide to consecrating oneself to Jesus; and “The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius” which offers time-honored ways to pray and meditate in the Lord’s presence.
In “The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order,” Peters notes, author Scott Hahn ponders the idea that the problems in our society come from the very foundations of who we are as human beings in relationship with God.
“Honey for a Child’s Heart,” published by Gladys Hunt, is a bibliography of children’s books on various themes. “You can consult it for a good book for a 10-year-old boy who loves the outdoors and seeks adventure,” Dawson suggests. “When you crack open this book you see all the potential for giving children a world of variety and depth. The suggested books are a window into every generation and age.”
“Read Aloud Family” is produced by Sarah McKenzie, the creator of the Read Aloud Revival podcast. “It draws a beautiful picture of what the family who reads together is,” Dawson says. “They have conversations with their kids about life and offer great tools for opening up opportunities for meaningful relationships.”
Michael Barber’s “How to Share Your Faith With Anyone,” teaches readers how to use conversational openings to evangelize about Catholicism, Dawson says. “Barber does a good job of showing how to engage with someone without offending them. Reading this book can help you develop your own story about how faith has affected you.”
Amy Welborn’s “Prove It Church” is one of a four-book series that Dawson recommends to people who are questioning their Catholic faith. “Move it Out” is Father Tom Forrest’s more populist approach. Dawson notes, “It’s very much the ‘why’ of evangelization and a kind of call to the mission and how to live it out.”
Everyone should read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, Dawson says, because while brief, it offers the most effective proposition for believing in God. “It’s the best response to the modern era’s challenges that I’ve ever seen, and I’m not alone in that feeling.”
Philip Yancy’s “Reaching for the Invisible God” isn’t a Catholic book but is Catholic-friendly, Dawson explains. “It unpacks the adult challenges to believing, such as suffering or why God doesn’t answer my prayers,” she explains. “It addresses the paradox of adulthood when we come up against the hard things in life.”
Holy Men and Women
Brandon Vogt, bestselling author of seven books and founder of ClaritasU, notes that the lives of the saints and popes can offer Catholic readers innumerable examples we can follow to create what fellow author Matthew Kelly calls “holy moments” in our lives. Some of Vogt’s recommendations include Dorothy Day’s “The Long Loneliness,” Pope John XXIII’s “Journal of a Soul,” and Thomas Merton’s “The Seven StoreyMountain.”
Two biographies on the saints, “St. Francis of Assisi” and “St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox,” authored by G.K. Chesterton, inspire us to recommit to prayer and contemplation as well as to meditate on the saints’ approach to the Trinity, Catholicism, and spirituality.