Breaking Through

Author: Helen M. Alvaré 

Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2012, 160 pp., $16.95 hardcover; 800-348-2440

In “Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves,” noted law professor and writer Helen Alvaré brings together a marvelous collection of authentic Catholic voices and allows the writers to speak without the filters and agendas of the modern media. As Alvaré writes in her introduction, “Observers can’t seem to decide whether Catholic women are mouthpieces for a celibate male hierarchy, unthinkingly clinging to home and hearth, or card-carrying feminists who, if they knew what was good for them would leave the Church, shaking its ancient dust off their sneakers, or pumps, or whatever-the-hell shoes they felt like wearing that day.” Catholic women, Alvaré argues, are in a different place: “Faced with situations their grandmothers and even their mothers never imagined, they are faced with the question of whether a 2,000-year-old Church has anything to offer them at this moment in time. They are trying to make sense of the intersection of faith, modern science, and their contemporary, lived experience.” 

Alvare book
Odell book

“Breaking Through” gives Catholic women an opportunity to be heard and to discuss “the ways that some Catholic women have drawn upon the resources of their ancient faith to face completely modern situations.” The nine women who contributed essays to the book, in addition to Alvaré, come from a variety of backgrounds, but all of them, according to Alvaré, “including myself, have struggled to figure out how the demands of their faith allow them to live freely and even with joy in the context of some very pointed and current challenges.” Contibutors include: Marie Anderson, M.D.; Elise Italiano, M.A.; Sister Mary Gabriel, S.V.; Mary Devlin Capizzi, J.D.; Rebecca Vitz Cherico, Ph.D.; Mary Hallan FioRito, J.D.; Michelle A. Cretella, M.D.; and Kim Daniels, J.D. Highly recommended.

Praying the Rosary for Intercession

Author: Catherine M. Odell

Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2012, 159 pp., $14.95 softcover; 800-348-2440

As author Catherine M. Odell notes in her introduction, there are many books on the Rosary available to Catholics today. This is especially true at a time when the use of the Rosary is making a significant comeback in Catholic culture. Her book, however, focuses on optimizing our use of the Rosary in our prayer and devotional life through the power of intercession. She considers each of the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries and then connects them to a meaningful Scripture passage, a meditation on how the mystery relates to the topic of intercession, a prayer on the mystery and suggested intercessory mystery intentions. There is also a feature called “The Rosary in Our Lives,” providing true stories of the power of the Rosary in the lives of saints, popes and ordinary Catholics. There is, in addition, a history of the Rosary and step-by-step instructions on how to pray it, making the book useful for anyone. 

For Greater Glory

Director: Dean Wright 

Distributor: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2012, 130 min., $26.95 DVD; 800-651-1531

One of the most ambitious and successful recent films presenting an important episode in modern Catholic history, For Greater Glory" offers the heroic but also searing story of the Cristero Wars in 1920s Mexico. The DVD includes both the theatrical release and a documentary on the bloody civil strife that cost the lives of countless thousands. Please be aware that the film contains violence and scenes of torture, but they are integral to the story and are given appropriate context. The film is aided also by excellent performances by Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Peter O’Toole and newcomer Mauricio Kuri. Recommended.

Wrapped Up

Authors: Teresa Tomeo and Cheryl Dickow 

Publisher: Servant Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012, 133 pp., $15.99 softcover; 800-488-0488

Wrapped Up: God's Ten Gifts for Women" is an excellent effort by two gifted authors to help women realize the gifts that God is offering to them instead of the false and destructive messages that women hear on a regular basis in modern culture. They use 10 chapters to focus on the different gifts available to every woman, gifts that will lead to their true fulfillment and happiness. The 10 chapters cover: “God’s Love,” “God’s Forgiveness,” “Allowing God to be God,” “A Joyful Attitude,” “Suffering,” “Letting Go,” “A Sacramental Life,” “Your Sisters in Faith,” “Setting Priorities” and “The Gift of You!” 

Dickow and Tomeo complement each other well as co-authors, as Dickow brings broad knowledge of Old Testament women while Tomeo applies her media expertise to discuss contemporary culture and the challenges that modern women face.  

“Wrapped Up” is also available with a Companion Journal, intended for use by individuals or groups. Each chapter of the journal corresponds to the chapters in the book and includes Scripture and references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, discussion questions and other resources.

Eucharistic Adoration

Author: Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration  

Publisher: St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012, 112 pp., $9.99 softcover; 800-488-0488

Compiled and written by members of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wis., Eucharistic Adoration: Reflections in the Franciscan Tradition" has the subtitle of “Reflections in the Franciscan Tradition,” and it does, indeed, adhere clearly to the wisdom of St. Clare and St. Francis of Assisi. Each of the 52 chapters embraces four aspects of Clare’s advice: “Gaze upon Christ,” with a quote from Francis or Clare; “Consider Christ,” with a meditation from the Franciscan tradition; “Contemplate Christ,” with new prayers; and “Imitate Christ,” by responding to a personal challenge.

The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church

Author: Christopher Kaczor 

Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2012, 164 pp., $17.95 hardcover; 800-651-1531

It is all too common today to hear that Catholics face a host of attacks and distortions regarding the Faith. But rather than lament the situation, Catholics have the obligation to be able to refute them with confidence and clarity. Dr. Christopher Kaczor looks at the The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Catholicism" directed at the Church: “The Church Opposes Science: The Myth of Catholic Irrationality”; “The Church Opposes Freedom and Happiness: The Myth of Catholic Indifference to Earthly Welfare”; “The Church Hates Women: The Myth of Catholic Misogyny”; “Indifferent to Love, the Church Banned Contraception: The Myth of Opposition between Love and Procreation”; “The Church Hates Gays: The Myth of Catholic ‘Homophobia’”; “The Church Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Because of Bigotry: The Myth that There Is No Rational Basis for Limiting Marriage to One Man and One Woman”; “Priestly Celibacy Caused the Crisis of Sexual Abuse of Minors: The Myth of Priestly Pedophilia.” 

Kaczor does not present a work of blind apologetics. He is honest about the mistakes made by Catholics in the past. But he makes a key distinction: “It is important to recognize that the Church never claimed that her lay members or her priests and bishops would be free from wrongdoing. There is a difference between infallibility (inability to teach as true views that are false) and impeccability (inability to sin).” This allows Kaczor to focus on a frank discussion of the issues often used against the Church.