River of Fire by S. Helen Prejean
Recommended by Patricia O’Donnell OSF
I would not say that I am an avid reader, but I do feel lost when I am without a book at hand. For example, right before I retire at night and discover an empty spot on my nightstand where I keep reading materials or when I go to the dentist and find myself turning up my nose at the medical or sport magazines in the rack. (Why oh why did I forget my book?)
I find lately that the most recent books I read or am in the process of reading are all by women authors; namely, On Becoming by Michelle Obama, Caste by Isabelle Ferguson, The Time is Now by Joan Chittister, and River of Fire: On Becoming an Activist by S. Helen Prejean. (I belong to the resident book discussion group here at The Waters, but I’m not including their selections).
While I would encourage reading each of the above-mentioned books, I found myself captivated by River of Fire. It is so different from Prejean’s first book, Dead Man Walking. River of Fire definitely shares the humor that abounds in convent living; Prejean also recounts personal events that I could identify with easily (sometimes with a twinge of embarrassment and head hanging). If I were to write my own memoir, I can’t envision being as upfront and honest as Prejean is about her feelings and relationships. But that is what makes her a good author, I believe. Like a good author, Prejean takes the reader on a journey of her life, starting out with the normal bumps and encounters and gradually traversing to more mature and deepening understandings of her vocation and what really is the prime motivator in all that she is and does.
Not a complicated read; but definitely a reason to admire and be proud of S. Helen Prejean all the more.
Let Us Dream
“The Path to a Better Future” by Pope Francis
Recommended by Roberta Smith OSF
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 17, 1936, the son of Italian immigrants. In March 2013 he was elected Bishop of Rome, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.
In this uplifting book, Pope Francis explains why we must, especially during this Covid-19 time, make the world a safer, fairer and healthier place for all people. He urges us not to let the pain and suffering of this time to be in vain.
LET US DREAM is a pleasure and a challenge to read. It lets us experience Pope Francis at his most profound and personal best.
I found many inspiring words in Let Us Dream: “To come out of this crisis better, we have to see clearly, choose well, and act right. Let’s talk about how. Let us dare to dream.”
What is the greatest fruit of a personal crisis? I’d say patience, sprinkled with a healthy sense of humor, which allows us to endure and make space for change to happen.
Pope Francis envisioned the path before us and called us to be courageous agents of intelligent and compassionate change!
“The Coming of God” by Dame Maria Boulding, O.S.B. (1929-2009)
Recommended Advent Reading by Roberta Smith OSF
Dame Maria Boulding, O.S.B. was a contemplative nun at Stanbrook Abbey, England. She wrote several books and translated into English of a numbers of works of St. Augustine.
This book is a modern spiritual classic where Boulding explores the various ways that God comes to us. Her core message is that God comes to the empty and needy.
Boulding begins with the following words: “If you want God, and long for union with him, yet sometimes wonder what that means, or whether it can mean anything at all, you are already walking with the God who comes…If you have ever had an obscure intuition that the truth of things is somehow better, greater, more wonderful than you deserve or desire, …that there is a mercy beyond anything you could ever suspect, you are already drawn into the central mystery of salvation.
Your hope is not a mocking dream; God creates in human hearts a huge desire and a sense of need, because he wants to fill them with the gift of himself.”
This book is perfect reading for the holy season of Advent. It invites us to ponder anew “the coming of God” into our lives, and encourages us to continue to pray and grow in hope.