María of Guadalupe

Author: Paul Badde; Carol Cowgill, trans.

Publisher: Ignatius, San Francisco, Calif., 2009, 260 pp., $16.95 paper; 800-651-1531

In this fascinating new look at the 16th-century apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Vatican-based journalist and historian Paul Badde tells a story that is at once universal and intensely personal.

An editor and correspondent for the German newspaper Welt, Badde carried out his careful investigation through original research, despite his own initial skepticism.

The book chronicles the Guadalupe events themselves and their historical reverberations over the following centuries. But it also reveals the author's spiritual journey as he seeks to determine the authenticity of the apparitions and of the miraculous image on the tilma of St. Juan Diego.

In Europe, Our Lady of Guadalupe is not well known. As a German, Badde reports, he "had never in [his] whole life either heard or seen anything about the 'beloved image' that has impacted the world for over 400 years. Not one word, one picture of a tanned or dark-skinned Mary."

The journalist first heard of Guadalupe while researching the famed Shroud of Turin in 1988. When a theology professor first told him the story of the associated Marian apparitions and the miraculous image, he concluded, "This is a fairy tale, a legend."

"I had absolutely no leanings toward superstition," he insists.

But in the years following, he felt drawn to Guadalupe to investigate its mysteries for himself. As he did, he had to wrestle with the modern world's cynical arrogance about spiritual and supernatural realities so he could get to the truth.

The resulting account is a thorough and wide-ranging examination, not just of Our Lady's role at Guadalupe, but also in the conversion of millions in what is now Latin America, the difficulties of finding peace in the Middle East and much more.

Saints to Help the Sick and the Dying

Author: Edmund J. Goebel, Ph.D.

The purpose of this little book, first published in 1937, is "educating the sick to patience [and] … training the soul to virtue in the throes of suffering and agony."

The first chapter teaches resignation to God's will; the second explores the meaning of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick; the third recalls the last words of a number of holy men and women as they lay dying.

Other chapters provide information about saints who are patrons of those with various illnesses, along with numerous prayers to be used in times of suffering.

To Whom Shall We Go?

Author: Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan

Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2008, 144 pp., $13.95 paper; 800-348-2440

New York's Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan's episcopal motto is St. Peter's famous question addressed to Christ: "To whom shall we go?" (Jn 6:68).

This implicit confession of faith, made explicit by the words that followed -- "You have the words of eternal life" -- provide the title and the focus of this series of profound reflections. Drawing lessons from the life of the Prince of the Apostles, the author talks about:

  •   How to keep our eyes focused on Christ.
  •   How to be silently with the Lord.
  •   How to embrace our cross.
  •   How to ask the Lord for forgiveness.
  •   How to let God love us.
  •   How to meet Christ in our weakness.
  •   How to enter into the Paschal mystery of Christ.

A final "Afterword" urges readers to seek Christ as our greatest treasure.

Praying Scripture for a Change

Author: Tim Gray, Ph.D.

Publisher: Ascension, West Chester, Pa., 2009, 127 pp., $12.99 paper; 800-376-0520

Lectio divina (Latin for "sacred reading") is one of the oldest forms of Christian prayer, finding its clearest development within the monastic tradition. (See "What Is Lectio Divina?" by Jim Manney, TCA January/ February).

Even so, lectio divina is not just for monks, but for all Christians.

Dr. Tim Gray's compact introduction to the practice walks readers through the Bible and the insights of the saints to discover how they can take practical steps to enjoy the fruits of this great treasure of Catholic tradition.

Using the medieval image of prayer as a "stairway to heaven," Gray takes us through the "rungs" of that stairway -- lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio -- then follows with a final step, operatio (action).

St. Augustine once remarked, "When we pray, we speak to God; when we read Scripture, God speaks to us." Lectio divina is a time-tested way to hear just what it is God has to say.

Called to Love

Authors: Carl Anderson and José Granados

Publisher: Doubleday, New York, N.Y., 2009, 260 pp., $24 hardcover; 800-793-2665

In this volume, Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, teams up with Father José Granados, professor at the pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The result is an illuminating, challenging study of Pope John Paul II's celebrated "theology of the body." The authors write with an engaging clarity, revealing a vision of the human person that is at once both poetic and profound.

Meeting Jesus in the Gospels

Author: George Martin

Publisher: Servant, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2009, 149 pp.; $13.99 paper; 800-488-0488

What do you find when you read the Gospels or hear them read at Mass?

Is it simply rules for right living? Stories to entertain and inspire?
Or do you encounter there Jesus himself, who stands at the center of the Gospels and indeed all Scripture, waiting for us?

In these short, lively reflections, the popular spiritual writer and Scripture commentator George Martin brings us face-to-face with a life-changing Christ. He addresses a number of intriguing questions, both common and not-so-common:

Who exactly was Jesus?

What did He look like?

What activities would a typical day in His life have included?

What was His message?

What was most puzzling about Him?

What blanks in the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life do I wish could be filled in?

At the end of each reflection, the author presses us to ask important questions about ourselves in light of the Savior we find in the Gospels:

How does my life show who Jesus is?

What is my response to the good news Jesus brings?

Do I find any of Jesus' teachings or demands difficult or disturbing?

How can I place my greatest need in Jesus' hands right now?

How can I imitate the compassion of Jesus?

Through these and other challenges, Martin invites us into the wise, powerful and healing presence of Christ.