Book review: A selection from 2017

As a book blogger it is hard to choose between all the books one has read throughout the year in order to select ones that particularly stand out, for the purpose of a Christmas round-up. After some debate with myself on the merits of various volumes, here is my final list and why I have chosen them:

I met Paul VI. By Archbishop Rino Fisichella (Gracewing, £7.99) A short memoir providing some interesting anecdotes and insights into the personality of this shy and saintly man.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum. By Roger Buck. (Angelico Press). An absorbing spiritual autobiography of a man who spent years in the thrall of the New Age Movement and who shows how only the love flowing from the Sacred Heart was able to release him from the spell of secular “spirituality”.

The Love that made Mother Teresa. By David Scott. (Sophia Institute Press). For those who think that God exists to make us feel good about ourselves, this book details the purgatorial darkness that enveloped Mother Teresa for many decades as she struggled for sanctity within her missionary apostolate.

The Mariner. By Malcolm Guite (Hodder & Stoughton). Whoever loves the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his greatness and in his weaknesses and who wants to understand the likely genesis of his most famous poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, will find this scholarly study very illuminating.

St Mary Magdalene: Prophetess of Eucharistic Love. By Fr Sean Davison (Ignatius Press). The author, who spent some years working in Provence, has written a most moving account of the true story behind the legends of Mary Magdalene’s long sojourn in France after the Crucifixion; in so doing, he draws out the saint’s vocation as the first adorer of Christ.

What Jesus Saw from the Cross. By A G Sertillanges (Sophia Institute Press). The republication of this classic book (it should be top of the list for Lenten reading material) will bring home to a new readership all the geographical and historical features of Jerusalem at the time of Christ, as well as a new understanding of the personalities that conspired in his death.

From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain Their Journey Home. With a foreword by Marcus Grodi (EWTN). A stimulating collection of personal stories by well-known writers and academics who have made the decision, aided by the grace of God, to move from confusion and doubt –  and the unhappiness they cause – to the serenity and joy of Christian faith.

The Priest Barracks. By Guillaume Zeller (Ignatius Press). A detailed account of the infamous “priest barracks” at Dachau concentration camp and the heroic men incarcerated there, as well as the extraordinary means they employed to furnish their little “chapel” and assist at the secret ordination of seminarian Blessed Karl Leisner.

With God in Russia. By Fr Walter Ciszek (HarperOne). From the horrors of Fascism to the horrors of Communism: the true story of one Polish American priest’s experience of the Gulag for over twenty years, how he kept his faith (and his sanity) and ministered to fellow convicts.

Confession: The Healing of the Soul. By Peter Tyler (Bloomsbury £14.99).  Written to encourage more Catholics to make regular use of this wonderful Sacrament the author, a Catholic psychotherapist and academic, explores the difference between psychology and Confession and argues for wider recognition of the deep-rooted human instinct to confess one’s sins.