Book Review: Mentors for the New Evangelization

mentorsThis past summer at the St. John Bosco Conference I picked up a copy of Sr. M. Johanna Paruch’s new book, Mentors for the New Evangelization: Catechetical Saints of North America (Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University, 2013). I’m glad I did — the books is a treasure trove of inspiring stories from the saints of North America who evangelized and catechized the continent.

The book focuses both on familiar names (St. Juan Diego, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Ven. Fr. Michael McGiveny) and lesser-known saints (St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Bl. Marie of the Incarnation).

Each chapter focuses on one or two saints and includes a biographical sketch, a reflection based on the life of the saints, questions for further reflection, and a prayer. The biographies are straight-forward if leaning towards hagiography. The reflections and prayers would be ideal for use in a small group setting or retreat for catechists; I can imagine a catechetical leader presenting information on each saint and then leading a period of reflection based on the material.

Mentors for the New Evangelization is an ideal resource for those who wish to know more about the history and persons behind catechesis in North America. It would make a great addition to any catechetical library.

Book Review: Holy Days

In Holy Days: Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and Other Solemnities of the Church, editor Jean-Michel Coulet has compiled a useful selection of excerpts from the homilies of Pope Benedict XVI related to various holy days throughout the Church’s liturgical year.

The book is divided by liturgical season, beginning with Advent and progressing through the entire Church year. Each selection is related to a holy day that falls in that season. Readers should be aware that depending on the dates of certain feasts the holy days may appear out of order. For instance, the book places the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle (February 22) after the Second Sunday of Lent; in 2013, the feast will precede the Sunday. This is a minor inconvenience, however.

The text of the book comes directly from the homilies and addresses of Benedict XVI and reflects his pastoral and catechetical concerns. While the content of the book may be available online, this collection makes it easy to journey through the Church year with the Holy Father. Holy Days would make a worthy addition to any spiritual library.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer program.