Thursday, March 20, 2008

6 Little Books That Pack a Big Punch

These small books would make good gifts for the various events that happen in the spring ... First Communion, entering the Church, weddings, baptisms, etc. ... it just depends on the occasion. In fact, I have several of these earmarked for various friends in the near future.

What Catholics Believe
A Pocket Catechism for Kids
by Mike Aquilina and Father Kris Stubna
These differ only in the increased complexity of information offered in the first books. Both are in question and answer format and offer very simple but clear answers to likely questions about Church teachings. Each also has a section of traditional prayers, a guide to making a good confession, and an explanation of the Mass. Both of these are small enough to easily slip into a pocket or purse. Not to mention that they are handy to have around for quick answers that one might run across ... for instance we were all at a loss when trying to remember the theological versus cardinal virtues the other day (yes, that's the sort of home we have ... don't ask!)

Meditations from the Oratory: Praying the Creed
by Father Benedict Groeschel
This is a series of meditations that are fairly short but quite powerful. Designed to be weekly meditations used by a group, these could also be used by an individual. For instance, I am planning to do one each Sunday. Each begins with a substantial Scripture reading, goes on to a brief meditation, followed by a quotation which is usually from a saint or church document such as the Catechism. A quiet time is then followed by a few questions to consider and then prayer closes the session. All of this, naturally, follows the framework of the Creed.

Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: with St. Thomas Aquinas
by Mike Aquilina
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote superlative poems in praise of the Eucharist. Mike Aquilina gives us both the Latin and also beautiful English translations while providing seven meditations for each. These focus on helping us pray as St. Thomas prayed, in the presence of the Eucharist. Needless to say these will be helpful for any meditative time but especially during Adoration.

Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians
by Mike Aquilina and Scott Hahn
This devotional takes us through key teachings of eight of the Church Fathers. The focus flows from understanding mysteries and revelation through individual sacraments. Each of the 50 meditations has a brief introduction, the writing of the Church Father for that week, a few key sentences to "Take to Prayer" throughout the day, a phrase recommended for memorization, and a thought about applying this teaching to real life. This is the only devotional style book that Tom has ever been interested in reading which says something about its accessibility.

A Prayer Book for Catholic Families
This is a resource I really wish I'd had when the kids were younger and I was wondering how to integrate prayer into our family life. Simply written but amazingly thorough, this book doesn't just present prayers, it describes key parts of Catholic devotion. This includes the order and liturgy of the Mass, simple Morning and Evening Prayer as an introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours, the Stations of the Cross and Devotions to Mary. Although the cover looks more oriented toward those with children, this also would be a good book to give a new convert or as a practical wedding gift.

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