Movie and Book Reviews

The following are recently published books that have been sent to Today’s Catholic that can touch the fancy of Catholic and non-Catholic readers alike. Each book is reviewed using publishing house press releases and includes publisher name and ISBN number for ease of purchase at your local Catholic bookstore.

“Joyful Witness: How to be an Extraordinary Catholic,” by Randy Hain offers stories of ordinary Catholics leading joy filled extraordinary faith lives. His practical and creative lessons and questions for reflection concluding each chapter will inspire all to be joyful witnesses of God’s love in everyday life. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-810-4.


“Seven Saints for Seven Virtues,” by Jean M. Heimann takes her readers through the lives of seven exemplary people who were models for each of the seven virtues. Learning how these holy witnesses lived with temptation and problems will guide the faithful on their journey toward God. Her concrete suggestions for putting virtues in action makes this a practical guide for any Catholic. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-845-6.


“What Do I Say? Talking and Praying With Someone Who is Dying,” by Margrit Anna Banta is an easy read packed with heartfelt stories from the author’s own pastoral experience with the terminally ill. She shares her personal approach to being with someone who is dying and offers suggestions on how and when to speak, listen and pray with them. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-804-3.


“Dark Light of Love,” John S. Dunne’s 23rd book, was written before his death in 2013 and examines darkness as a metaphor for unknowing and the unknown. In this meditative work Dunne engages music, theology and more to show how the dark light of love illuminates a soul as it approaches God. University of Notre Dame, ISBN: 978-0-268-02618-9.


“5 Minutes with the Saints: More Spiritual Nourishment for Busy Teachers,” edited by Lou DelFra and Ann Primus Berends of the Alliance for Catholic Education, University of Notre Dame, is a wonderfully inspiring little book filled with reflections on great saints and teachers of religious orders who offer educators the motivation and affirmation to continue in their challenging work of educating the young. The reflections were written by members of University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education. Ave Maria Press, ISBN: 978-1-59471-448-1.


“Sacrament: Personal Encounters with Memories, Wounds, Dreams, and Unruly Hearts,” by Patrick Hannon brings the sacraments to life by offering engaging personal essays with realism and compassion. Each chapter is a metaphor of one of the sacraments with personal narratives from Father Hannon. Ave Maria Press, ISBN: 978-1-59471-544-0.


“Encounter Jesus: From Discovery to Discipleship,” by Father Dave Pivonka and Deacon Ralph Poyo is a guide from the first discovery of faith to rejection of sin, and prayer to learning to live for others. The team has written each chapter in his turn and delivers Scripture, faith education and inspiring vignettes from which to learn to live as true disciples. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-789-3.


“Catholics, Be a Spiritual Warrior, Wake up!” by Jesse Romero will wake his readers up to live a vibrant life of faith with personal stories from his ministry and career. Chapters begin with Scripture and conclude with reflection questions. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-816-6.


“The Spiritual Genius of Thomas Merton,” by Anthony T. Padovano tells the story of Merton’s life through his books, journals and poetry, explaining the thinking behind this great spiritual leader’s writings and how it affects life as a follower of Christ. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-802-9.


“Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured,” by Kathryn Harrison is an inspiring and fully documented saga of this young peasant girl who was moved to rally the French nation against British invaders in 1428. This tale offers a Joan of unshakable faith, courage and self-confidence in the face of her death by burning. Doubleday, ISBN: 978-0-385-53120-7.


“Being in the World: A Quotable Maritain Reader,” edited by Mario O. D’Souza offers 750 of the most salient quotes found in the English translations of 54 works by Jacques Maritain, a lay Catholic philosopher who lived from 1882-1973. In the 40 chapters readers will find an overview of the areas that Maritain addresses. University of Notre Dame Press, ISBN: 978-0-268-00899-4.

“Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places,” by Joe McHugh is packed with stories that show how humanity searches for the living God in the events, things and people of everyday life. This engaging text will keep its reader pushed to go deeper and hungering for more. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-685-8.

“The Gospels According to St. Francis,” by Franciscan Father Hilarion Kistner explores how St. Francis heard, lived and proclaimed the Gospel, considering the saint’s profound love for the Gospel and how he lived in the Gospel light. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-728-2.

“Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and Their Graces,” by Julie Dortch Cragon, more than a travel guide, features a first-hand view of Marian shrines across the U.S., including a comprehensive list of devotional sites across the country, explains devotion to Mary based on her various titles, and includes pictures of dozens of shrines. Each site description concludes with a prayer and grace. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-654-4.

“Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys to a Joyful Life,” by Jeff Cavins explains what biblical praise is and how it transforms any challenge and leads to deeper trust in God. It shows that gratitude and praise are a winning combination with practical tips on how to live it in everyday life. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-723-7.

“Made for Love, Loved by God,” by Father Peter John Cameron opens each chapter with words of wisdom from many powerful saints and followers of Christ and is filled with Scriptural and poetic quotes that show the reader the way to feel closer to God and become His love for others. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-635-3.

“Skirting Heresy: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe,” by Elizabeth Macdonald is a riveting tale of this heroic and faithful Christian mystic who took a stand for what she believed in all in the world of Medieval England. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-716-9.

“Answers: Catholic Advice for your Spiritual Questions,” by Father John Bartunek is a book packed with frequently asked questions and a plethora of advice written from a practical perspective. Questions from “How can I find comfort in God when I feel so unworthy?” to “How can I balance being with doing?” are answered with intelligent and inspiring insight. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-822-7.

“Simply Merton: Wisdom from His Journals,” by Linus Mundy distills the timeless themes from nonviolence to death and eternity and more written on by Merton in his dozens of books and journals and gives his readers wisdom to live by in today’s world. Franciscan Media, ISBN: 978-1-61636-763-3.

“Following St. Francis; John Paul II’s Call for Ecological Action,” written and complied by Marybeth Lorbiecki is a dynamic book written in easy, interesting narrative that offers a fresh look at environmental problems by investigating the ecological teachings of St. John Paul. Rizzoli ex libris, ISBN: 978-0-8478-4271-1.

“Unbeatable: Notre Dame’s 1988 Championship and Last Great College Football Season,” by Jerry Barca. St. Martin’s Griffin, ISBN: 978-1-250-04865-3.

“Basil Moreau: Essential Writings,” edited by Holy Cross Fathers Kevin Grove and Andrew Gawrych is the first book to gather this 19th century French priest’s essential spiritual, pastoral and educational writings that illustrate for this deeply faithful clergyman, who founded the Congregation of Holy Cross, life was an imitation of Christ. Ave Maria Press, ISBN: 978-0-87061-283-1.

“The Faith: A Question and Answer Guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” by renowned Catechism author and expert Father John Hardon, is a road map written in clear and concise terms for readers wishing to understand and embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church. The user-friendly question and answer format makes it an easy read. Servant Books, ISBN: 978-1-61636-775-6.