Author: Hallie Lord, editor
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2012, 176 pp., $14.95 softcover; 800-348-2440
Edited by Hallie Lord — a Generation X convert to Catholicism — “Style, Sex, and Substance” is, at the same time, a poignant, humorous and candid discussion about the real lives, problems and joys of Catholic women as they encounter the daily challenges of balancing faith, family and finances. Each chapter is written by a different noted Catholic woman, and the list is an impressive one: Jennifer Fulwiler, Danielle Bean, Rachel Balducci, Simcha Fisher, Anna Mitchell, Barbara Nicolosi, Rebecca Teti, Elizabeth Duffy and Karen Edmisten. They represent a wide cross-section of contemporary Catholicism for women: former atheists, a magazine editor, a radio news director, mothers, Catholic converts and a Hollywood screenwriter. Some are married and others are single.
The chapters are varied, but also significant for their frankness, and there is an unabashed catholicity to the writing and the personalities. As Edmisten writes in her chapter, “God and Godiva”: “We’re proudly pope-loving, sterilization-eschewing, Eucharistic-adoring, confession-going, twenty-first-century Catholic specimens of femininity who buck societal norms and balk at contemporary expectations. Yeah, we’re the face of the new rebellion.”
The chapters also provide invaluable perspectives into some very difficult topics that Catholic women face in marriage and dating, the single life and loneliness, friendships and families, and the universal call to holiness. Not only is there something for every woman to find valuable, the book will enhance an awareness of the sheer diversity of women Catholics. “Style, Sex, and Substance” is a testament to the vitality of modern Catholic culture, but it is also a reminder that being a Catholic today — especially a Catholic woman — is not an easy path. But as Lord writes, “It really is possible to live in this busy, modern, exciting world as a good Catholic who isn’t just a mute spectator.”
Called by Name
Author: Christine Mugridge and Jerry Usher, editors
Publisher: Ascension Press, West Chester, Pa., 2011, 189 pp., $26.95 softcover; 800-376-0520
An inspiring, moving and at times surprising collection of 12 stories of men who became Catholic priests, “Called by Name” demonstrates the remarkably different ways that men are called by Christ. The 12 priests — Cardinal John Foley; Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.; Father Frank Pavone, M.E.V.; Father Maxim Popov, C.M.F.; Father Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C.; Father Kevin Scallon, C.M.; Father Daniel Ange; Father Wayne Weldschidt, O.M.I.; Archbishop Elden Curtiss; Father John Harvey, O.S.F.S.; and Msgr. Charles M. Mangan — each recount their particular path to ordination. Reading through the extraordinary lives of these priests, one is struck by the observation made by Mugridge and Usher in their introduction: “How many thousands of wonderful priests are living in places unknown whose stories are unheard?” This book gives all of us encouragement to ask our favorite priests to tell their story. It will be worth hearing.
Seven Myths about the Catholic Church and Science
Author: Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D.
Publisher: Catholic Courses, Charlotte, N.C., eight-part course, $89.95 DVD; 800-437-5876
Subtitled “A Refutation of Popular Errors,” “Seven Myths about the Catholic Church and Science” is part of the “Catholic Courses” program and looks at the common attack that there is some battle between Catholicism and science, between superstition and reason. Wiker offers a clear and concise discussion about the seven main myths: “The Church has Always Been at War Against Science”; “The Middle Ages Were Scientifically Dark”; “The Church Persecuted Copernicus and Galileo”; “The Church Rejects Evolution”; “The Big Bang Is the Alternative to a Creator God”; “Human Life Is the Result of Chemical Accident”; and “The Vast Universe Necessitates Alien Life.”
Christianity and Democracy and The Rights of Man and the Natural Law
Author: Jacques Maritain
Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2011, 146 pp., $17.95 softcover; 800-651-1531
Jacques Maritain was one of the greatest Catholic philosophers of the 20th century, and his writings are as relevant today as they were when first written decades ago. During World War II, he authored two short treatises on political philosophy — “Christianity and Democracy” and “The Rights of Man and the Natural Law” — that have been republished by Ignatius Press in one volume. The intention of Maritain in composing the two works was to give his voice to the war effort and to discuss some of the key features of freedom, especially compared to the evil ideologies that were threatening the world at the time: National Socialism and communism. For Catholics seeking to deepen their understanding of the relationship between Christianity and Democracy, the place of the human person, what a free society actually means, what the rights of the person entail and the central place of natural law, these two short works are essential reading. As Maritain warns, “The tragedy of modern democracies is that they have not yet succeeded in realizing democracy.”
Religious Liberty and Catholics
Author: Greg Erlandson
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2012, 8 pp., $14.95 pamphlet (50 count); 800-348-2440
Part of Our Sunday Visitor’s extensive pamphlet collection, “Religious Liberty and Catholics” addresses not just the enormous controversy surrounding the HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate regarding contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, but the many different threats to religious liberty that have emerged in recent years in the United States. A valuable summation of the key principles of religious liberty for Catholics and Americans, this pamphlet should be given to everyone seeking to understand one of the most important issues of our time.
Seek First the Kingdom
Author: Cardinal Donald Wuerl, S.T.D.
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2012, 190 pp., $19.95 hardcover; 800-348-2440
One of the foremost theologians in contemporary American Catholicism, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, has provided a timely and thoughtful reflection on the social and political conditions of modern America. In the wake of the HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate and other efforts to reduce religious liberty, “Seek First the Kingdom” provides a truly valuable guide for Catholics trying to live the Faith in today’s culture.
As Professor Mary Ann Glendon writes in her foreword: “Cardinal Wuerl’s book is a forceful rebuttal of the idea that a Christian can keep his faith shut up in a compartment. All Christians, he reminds us, are called not only to ‘seek’ the kingdom, but to ‘build up’ the kingdom.”
Cardinal Wuerl begins by assisting the reader to understand properly what is meant by the Kingdom, stressing that it is not a metaphor; it is something “supremely real.” He then moves on to detailing how every Catholic is called to manifest the Kingdom in his or her life. It is then that we can serve as ambassadors across the wider world and extend Christ’s healing power. This means, of course, that we are all called to be authentic witnesses in our own lives.
A book intended for any reader, “Seek First the Kingdom” notes the many dangers and attacks upon the Church and the effort to silence the voices of Catholics in public life.
As ambassadors of the Kingdom, “You and I,” he reminds us, “will face many moments when we must — quietly, personally, individually, sometimes alone — stand as a defender of the faith, stand as a witness to the truth.”