Catholic Women, Here Are 4 Good Books You Should Read Next
From encouragement for Catholic living to musings on cooking and the role of food among faith and fellowship, ladies will appreciate these selections as they add to this year’s to-read lists.
Women Made New!
EWTN personalities contribute to this new compilation from Crystalina Evert via EWTN Publishing.
Register contributor Catherine Hadro writes about “Whom Shall I Please?” reminding women, “… in the pursuit of holiness, we need to keep our eyes focused on Christ and move forward in our mission, despite what the world and others are saying around us. It sounds trite to say that we need to have thick skin to be a saint — that’s not quite it — but we cannot be preoccupied with others’ opinions over God’s will. … It is a discipline to keep our eyes on Christ and no one else.”
Sister Bethany Madonna of the Sisters of Life tackles “joyful hope” and God’s deep love:
“How deeply God loves you! He has a plan for each person, and it is as unique to you as your fingerprints are. Our value is intrinsic, and our worth is not found in what we are able to do, what we own, what we look like, our successes, our accomplishments, or the esteem of others. We have to realize that the culture has told us since we were in kindergarten that we are what we do, achieve, and produce: that we have to meet the expectations, perform the tasks, get the job, make the money, earn the prestige, be beautiful, be stylish, be ‘in the know’ — and that will give us our worth. But what does it do? It leaves us empty, frustrated, dissatisfied, and discouraged. Here is the reality: no matter what happens to me in this short life, I am a beloved daughter of the heavenly Father, Who sent His only Son to save me. I do not deserve His mercy or His grace, but I receive it as a gratuitous gift. These are holy mysteries! This is the truth that sets our hearts free to be, free to receive, and free to love. You are deeply loved.”
Catholic author and speaker Lisa Cotter reflects on “The Feminine Genius” in an adaptation of her book Reveal the Gift; in doing so, she includes the important thought of Religious Sister of Mercy Prudence Allen and St. Edith Stein/Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Cotter emphasizes how a woman is made to “receive others into her heart” — and, importantly, quoting one of my favorite St. John Paul II quotes, women “acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.”
Including the perspectives of EWTN’s Johnnette Benkovic Williams and Teresa Tomeo and even Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, and sprinkled with pithy quotes from Mother Angelica, Women Made New is an edifying read for women of all ages.
Loving God, Loving Others
Read in sequence or not, or even over the weeks of the year, Blessed Is She offers a new book full of Scripture and reflections exploring feminine relationships with God and prayer, combating sin, self-knowledge and growth, family of origin, relationships with family, friendships, work and discernment.
Beth Davis, Megan Hjelmstad, Nell O’Leary, Bonnie Engstrom, Sarah Elizabeth and Register contributor Emily Stimpson Chapman pen the thought-provoking passages, with theological editing by Register contributor Susanna Spencer.
As Chapman rightly notes, “When we pursue truth, beauty, and goodness, we pursue Christ.”
Elsewhere, O’Leary, who is Blessed Is She’s managing editor, assures “… the return of sharing happiness and inviting others into love is priceless.”
Though I couldn’t relate to all reflections, readers will find perspectives to which they will prayerfully say, “I needed to read this today.”
The Catholic Table
Written in 2016, Register contributor Emily Stimpson Chapman delves into the pride of place the kitchen has in our domestic churches — and how food brings us together at home while the Bread brings us together at church. Including how understanding the Eucharist helped her overcome an eating disorder, it’s a heartfelt, personal read on Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet.
“By God’s grace, the simplest bowl of soup and the humblest hunk of cheese have the power to become an occasion of grace, drawing friends and family together around a shared table to build a shared life,” Chapman writes.
“Food is one of God’s most precious gifts, a sign of the Lord’s goodness, abundance, creativity, and love. Most important, it’s the very thing that God becomes for us in the Eucharist,” she continues. “Food gives comfort. It also communicates love.”
She reflects on why God provides for us in this way, “giving us tasty treats that bring comfort, healing, love, and joy — the most obvious answer is because he is good and because he is love. … God’s love is manifested in every cocoa bean and every coffee bean …”
In including virtues and hospitality, this book is well-rounded in its scope.
Fans of Chapman’s recipes will be grateful for the tasty inclusions here. Followers on Instagram and readers of the Register will recognize her signature style: This book is written like she’s talking to you as a friend.
Catholics in the Kitchen
Speaking of cooking, profiles and recipes are the heart of this new book by Register contributor Alexandra Greeley. Insights into Catholics who cook, along with what they make and bake, is a great combination. Many of the sections are based on Register interviews, in fact. Personally, I was most intrigued by John Paul II’s favorite dessert, Kremowka Papieska/Polish Cream Cake.
Embark on a discussion of Nurturing the Bond Between Faith and Food and learn about Trinity House Café along the way.
“[C]ooking is the way I tie in living the liturgical year,” reflects Jennifer Gregory Miller of “Catholic Culture” in the “Chefs & Cooks” section.
Adds Christendom College professor and blogger John Cuddeback about what is on the family table, “… whatever we have, it’s all about coming together and giving thanks to God.”
This vein continues elsewhere, as Greeley explains to readers: “Catholicism and love of cooking draw in people from all corners of the earth who delight in assembling delicious dishes to feed others, and to feed the soul. … Learning about their devotion to God should inspire everyone to thank Him for our life-sustaining food.”