December 16, 2006

Recommended Catholic Books

Ever since Alex was born 5 months ago, I found myself having more time to read books. How is that possible? Well, whether I want it or not I need to take many short breaks every day to nurse the baby. Since I can't do any housework while breastfeeding, I either say my daily prayers or I read. Here are some of the books I've read this year that I recommend.
For Catholic mothers of many children there are several helpful books on raising large Catholic families written by other mothers (mostly homeschooling moms). One such book is Your Vocation of Love by Agnes M. Penny (author of "Your Labor of Love"). Each chapter of this book is a short essay about a specific aspect of motherhood. Some examples of these "short reflections" as the author calls them are: "Openness to Children", "Keeping Your Home Catholic", "Working Outside the Home" "Self-Pity", "Bad Days", "Holy Poverty", "Attending Sunday Mass" and more. It is a very easy read and even the most experienced of mothers could find some helpful advice in it.
Another interesting little book is Collyyn Hammond's Dressing With Dignity. I don't know if I necessarilly recommend it, but it did make me rethink the way I dress and the way I should teach my daughter to dress.
I recently discovered a great Catholic author, Ann Ball, who mostly writes about contemporary saints, blesseds or holy people who are in the process of being canonized. She also wrote books about other aspects of the Catholic faith, like the sacramentals, the titles of Mary etc. The first book I've read from her modern saints series is called Young Faces of Holiness, a gem of a book featuring the short biographies of modern (from the last 100-150 years) young saints, blessed, venerable or uncanonized holy people. All of the people featured in this book have died before the age of 21. Some of the children have died a heroic death at ages as young as 4! There's an inspiring story in this book for every child or parent. This is my second favorite book I've read this year.
The book I'm reading now is called Faces of Holiness - Modern Saints in Photos and Words also by Ann Ball. This one features saints and other holy people like Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (the young Italian student who died in 1925 at 24 years old and who enjoyed sports and mountain climbing). Pier Giorgio is a favorite of my husband Dominic and my son Teddy. Teddy just finished reading his biography written for children and was very impressed. Other people featured are Saint Clelia Barbieri, Blessed Miguel Pro and two of my favorites: Sister Maria Troncatti, missionary in the Amazon jungle (I'm frantically looking for a longer biography of hers) and Montserrat Grasses (1941-1959) a young girl from Barcelona, Spain, who lived a normal life on the outside but had a profound love of God and accepted with serenity her suffering and her premature death, due to bone cancer. Again, wonderful role models for children and young people and for everyone else who wants to grow closer to God and who thinks that holiness is hard to achieve in our time.
Recently I've started to think more seriously about that thing called "sex education". I realized that my oldest son, now 8 1/2 is going to bee a preteen before I know it and will need to learn "the facts of life". I strongly believe that it is the parents' responsibility to teach their children these things. Public and even Catholic parochial schools offer sex education classes for even young children and I am happy that my kids are able to go to a private Catholic school where they will not be offered such an "education". In order to prepare myself for the fast approaching teenage years of my children I've looked for some good wholesome books on the subject. On EWTN (the National Catholic Radio) someone was recently recommending Parents, Children and the Facts of Life" by Fr. Henry V. Sattler as the book about teaching children about sexuality. I have to say that I did find it useful. Some of the ideas presented are: teaching the facts gradually over years, teaching children about modesty from the early years, guarding their purity and stoping them from developing bad habits, the importance of frequent Communion and Confession, teaching about the three vocations (married life, unmarried life in the world and unmarried life as a priest or religious). This book is a must for every parent who wants to raise children who will use their sexuality as God intended it, only inside the marriage.
There's many more great catholic books on the subjects I've mentioned. The best way to find them is for each of the above books to look at the other recommended books on Amazon.

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