Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Reading 2017

Each year around this time I like to hear from you as to what you are reading this summer.  Summer seems to always be a great time to dig out that book you got for Christmas or your birthday, but just haven't gotten around to yet.  This summer, I have a small stack of books that I am hoping to get through (although my wife might say it isn't that small.)  Perhaps "hoping to get through" isn't the best way to put it, since I am not trying to win a race, but rather since I don't teach in the summer I do have some free time.  So, quality of reading is far superior to quantity of reading.

Here is what I am up to this summer:

The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition (I have been using this as my main reading/lectio bible for the past year.  I have been using the NRSV/NABRE for study and the classes I teach.)

A Book of Hours w/Thomas Merton (I have used this daily for almost two months.  Initially thought it was a bit of a gimmick, but it has been a great help to my daily prayer time.  Also, highly adaptable.)

A Long Obendience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Genesis 1-11: A New Old Translation by Bray and Hobbins

The Kings and Their Gods: The Pathology of Power by Daniel Berrigan

Cold War Letters by Thomas Merton


Unknown said...

The NABRE and The Creed by Scott Hahn.

Dan Kowalsky said...

Looks good!

For me - RSVCE2 - Didache Study Bible

A bit of Knox translation when the mood strikes.

"Life of Christ" by Blessed Fulton J. Sheen

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis

"Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis

Should keep me busy for a bit. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I'm reading through the Knox translation this year--currently halfway through Sirach. It's so different than KJV-tradition versions, but I've grown to love it.

Also "The Power of Silence" by Robert Cardinal Sarah, "In Sinu Jesu", "Porn" by Matt Fradd (I think), and a few other things. It's hard to fit reading into my schedule, unfortunately.

I've been doing Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer from the 1928 BCP pretty regularly, since the Vatican seems to be taking its time in granting approval of the U.S. Ordinariate's daily office book (which I understand is completed and ready to print as soon as it's approved). I really wish the Vatican had authorized the KJV for the ordinariates' lectionary rather than the RSV-2CE. Much is to be said for maintaining tradition, especially in liturgy.

I'd feel better reading Peterson's works (though I'm no fan of The Message) than reading Merton and Berrigan, Catholic though they be. Who's next on your reading list, Fr. James Martin, S.J.? I certainly hope not. I don't think Merton, Berrigan and the like are worth the risk when there are dozens of other, far more orthodox, writers, many of whom are canonized saints.

Timothy said...


Thanks for your comments. Glad you are loving Knox. It is an exceptional translation.

Just a quick comment about those writers you consider "unorthodox". I have read many of the "far more orthodox" writers over the past number of years. They are wonderful, and I still read them. However, I'm not going to avoid writers because some people have a problem with what they say. Having read Thomas Merton for almost four years now, I can tell you that he is the most "Catholic" 20th century writer that I regularly read. Dan Berrigan is also very good too, but doesn't fall into the normal standards of what some people portray as "orthodox". I personally think that word is way overplayed these days and wish it would be retired. I prefer simply "Catholic".

One of the amazing things is to be able to read people like Merton and Berrigan (and maybe even Jim Martin!) along with Peter Kreeft, George Weigel, and Cardinal Sarah. I know I am greatly enriched when I do!

Anonymous said...


Just to clarify a bit, I too prefer to use "Catholic" rather than "orthodox". For a lot of people, orthodox is synonymous with "traditionalist", even though that shouldn't be the case at all.

There's that old saying that we are known by the company we keep, and that's pretty true. What about the authors we admire? Yes, Jim Martin is witty and throws out a grain of truth every once in a while, but in an argument over the magisterial teachings of the Church, would you be on his side, or, say, Cardinal Mueller's?

Fr. Martin, I think we all know, stands against quite a lot of 2,000 years of Church teaching. And that is not something Catholics should be okay with.

Timothy said...


That's fine. I don't have a huge problem with Martin to be honest. I think he provides more than just a few nuggets of truth in his writings, but we can disagree on that. I don't agree with everything he writes, but then again neither do I with most people I read. However, I'm not going to avoid certain Catholic writers, none of who have been publically cautioned by the church, because I don't agree with everything they say or what other people say about them. If I were to have done that, I would never have picked up Merton and that would have been a great loss to my prayer/spiritual life.

Steve Molitor said...

'I personally think that word [orthodox] is way overplayed these days and wish it would be retired. I prefer simply "Catholic". '

Hear, hear Tim! I think that word is used to separate the Catholic wheat from the Catholic chaff nowadays. Or in the case of those talking about who gets admitted to the "Benedict Option", the Christian wheat from the Christian chaff. However that's God's job, not ours (see Matthew 13:24-30). I find it distasteful.

Timothy said...

Amen brother!

Jason MSpyridonP said...

Father James Martin should be defrocked.

He spits in the face of Christ.

He desecrates the writings of the Doctors.

He is a disgrace to the Church.

Very sad to see you seem to "like" things written by someone who is obviously afflicted with devils.

I know you won't approve this but cmon, whats next?

You gonna try saying Judas was a swell fella? Or that satan is just misunderstood?

Evil should be fought tooth and nail.

Evil should be ridiculed.

Evil should NEVER be compromised with.

Timothy said...


I don't typically approve comments like this on this blog, but I decided to in order that I may respond briefly. (I could be making a mistake in doing so, but oh well.)

Fr Jim Martin is not evil. I find your condemnations disturbing and way over the top. I don't agree with everything he has written, but the man has dedicated his life as a priest so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he is a man of good will. He has not been silenced by his superiors nor any bishop I am aware of. His latest book "Building a Bridge", which I am guessing you have issues with, was endorsed by two cardinals and an another bishop. Fr Martin is also a consultant to the Vatican on communications. So, I am asking you to please not make ad hominem attacks like the one I just posted. Those are not welcome here.

Leighton said...

FYI: Bishop Robert Barron did a very good video treatment of Merton (You can search it on YouTube). He seems to find a lot of good in Merton's writings, as do I. Merton was influenced by the climate of his times, as we all are, and some of that may make us uncomfortable given that we are not familiar, experientially, with what it was like to be a monk in the 1960s, a very troubled and confusing time by all accounts, when sincere Christians struggled to grapple with the question, Where is God's will in all this (Viet Nam, the Cold War, racism)?

Merton found value in Eastern spirituality, and that bothers a lot of Catholics. He was open to what we could learn from other traditions. I share the desire to stick to my own faith tradition (I figure I have enough Christian books to read to keep me busy for a lifetime!), but Bishop Barron points out in his commentary that Merton was thoroughly grounded in Catholic Tradition and was able to appreciate other traditions without compromising his own. In the end, says Barron, Merton was looking forward to coming home to Gethsemani at the time of his sudden and tragic death. He was Catholic to the bones. My personal preference is earlier Merton, because I find the earlier works more spiritually edifying.

He was, in the end, a man, and thoroughly so, and I think that's why he's so accessible. The Lord used his gifts powerfully to inspire ordinary folk to take seriously the pursuit of prayer. He had a huge impact on me when I came to the Church as a young man seeking God. His writings fueled that desire.

We live in difficult times, now, too, which probably would have thrown Merton for a loop!

As for summer reading, it's a leisurely re-read of Fr. Walter Ciszek's "He Leadeth Me" all the way!

Mark D. said...

Bible reading: The Message Catholic Edition & the NABRE

Historical reading: Constantinople in the Age of Justinian

Devotional reading: The Psalms -- New Catholic Version

Liturgical reading: the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chryostom, Ruthenian Recission, 2015 study text (Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix)

As for Fr. Thomas Merton and Fr. James Martin, SJ.: 1) Merton was a deep well-spring spiritual insight, and his openness to other traditions strengthened his devotion to the Catholic faith. A great book to read his his last set of talks before his fateful trip to Asia -- the Alaskan Journal of Thomas Merton. Very deep, very insightful, and very Catholic. 2) Fr. Martin is not my cup of tea, but I would not call his faith or devotion to Christ into question. He is exploring questions from a pastoral and scholarly perspective, and such exploration is often by nature messy and imprecise. That doesn't mean I agree with him or I think the Church's official teaching should agree with him, but he is acting in good faith. I respect him for his defense of Christ and the Eucharist in the face of Satanists and efforts to hold a Satanic desecration of a consecrated host. Here's Martin's statement on the Harvard mess:

Bob said...

I'll be reading the New Collegeville Commentary on Galatians and Romans.

(Don't tell anyone, but I've also got to finish Fr James Martin's The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.)

Owen said...

Merton - rereading a number of titles, especially his quote unquote later writings - and staying daily since April with the compilation of his writings into the daily office hours (the same you, Tim, mention above); it is a constant with me and the only book of Hours that has managed to take root and, I have read/prayed them all LoTH(single volume and four volume/B.D.P/M.D./B.C.P.)

The Message Catholic Ecumenical - having read the Message Bible when it first came out, at the time I was an ordained Protestant minister, then setting it aside, then later picking it up again as a Catholic in its Catholic and Ecumenical edition and rediscovery its vibrancy, immediacy, directness and to my surprise its, Peterson's, ability to (whether he was aware or not) capture a Catholic ethos, yes, often in the very go-to-proof-text-for-Catholics passages, better, than the approved translations. The MSG Bible is my constant now and my preferred second is KNOX. Ive been though them all ASV/RSV/NRSV/KJV/NLT/NAB/NABre/JB/NJB over decades worth of serious reading and study. The thing about the Message is that it is that the truths are so clearly and emotively spoken that rather than hide behind dickering and nit-picking one is directly challenged to live it, to apply it personally; John 5:39,40 comes to mind

Martin - I look forward to ready his compassionate and balanced voice in his new book addressing Church and LGBTQ. His book "Jesus" was excellent.

I must return to Rohr's The Divine Dance which I put down due to business and did not get back to.

Zen Catholicism - by Dom Aelred Graham, p1963 OoP but I was able to get a nice hard cover edition.

Krista Tippett Becoming Wise

Henri Nouwen's Essential Writings

I would like to read the Pope's encyclicals - we shall see.

As though that we not enough I haven't touched on novels but one I am eager to read is Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World, about " an ageing painter, who looks back on his life and how he has lived it."

Then there art my art and art practice books, I shant post those suspecting they won't be overly of interest to your readers (but I may presume too much).

Oh yes and Way of the Pilgrim - I've read it but I have a tiny format edition on the way in a more recent translation.

Clearly, I'm "SET" straight through Autumn. ;-)

It's been good, helpful, insightful to share the journey with you for many years on the journey and now into Silence for me as:

" Silence is praise to you,
Zion-dwelling God,
And also obedience.
You hear the prayer in it all." PS 65.1,2 MSGCE

Steve Molitor said...

I have Martin's "Jesus" book sitting on my bookshelf but haven't read it. The comments above reminded me of it. I think I'll give it a read!

Timothy said...


I really enjoyed Martin's "Jesus" book. The list of endorsements was covered a broad spectrum of people in the Church. A good thing.

Unknown said...

Once I finish The Creed by Scott Hahn I hope to re-read The US Catholic Catechism for Adults and anything by St. Louis De Montfort.

Erap10 said...

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible


The Help (novel)

The Historian (novel)

I hope to get back to my Shorter Christian Prayer and to incorporate my Little Office of the Blessed Virgin.


Anonymous said...

I think Fr. Martin is kind and sincere, but he is very ambiguous when it comes to homosexual acts. I've never heard him condemn them as the sins that they are.

I haven't read his newest book. Does he directly and clearly defend Catholic doctrine in it? Or is he vague like he is on Facebook?

I wish he would just be more clear.



Anonymous said...

So much to read, so little time to read it in. I'm trying to read the following this summer:
- Continuing with reading the NABRE along with the New Collegeville Commentaries
-Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: Gospel of Matthew by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri
-With God in Russia by Father Walter J Ciszek
-Genesis 1-11: A New Old Translation by Bray and Hobbins (Added this to my list after reading the post about it the other day.


Jason MSpyridonP said...


How do you feel about Fr James Martin and his incessant promotion of homosexuality? Or of the fact that James Martin pushes for the the Church to recognize homosexual marriage? Or the fact that James Martin believes homosexual sex is not sinful. Or the fact that James Martin wants to ordain women? What of the fact that James Martin believes the Catechism and Code of Canons need to be revised to say homosexual acts are not sinful? What of the fact that James Martin wants the Church to accept contraception? What of the fact that James Martin wants to "canonize" a dissident nun who has been censured by the Vatican?

How do you explain all of this?

Timothy said...


First, I want you to remember that it was you who continue to bring up Fr. James Martin. He wasn't on my summer reading list. Yet, you felt the need to obsess over him, it seems, in relation to the other books I listed. You also never responded to any of the responses I or others had. You seem to use many of the same tactics by those who oppose the church, namely just proposing more and more questions while you fail to respond to the ones given you.

Second, in response to your most recent comments about Fr Martin, I have not seen a written source where he pushes for gay marriage. He is certainly an advocate for those who have same-sex attraction. His newest book, which I currently do not own but may have to order at this point, seems to seek a greater understanding between those with authority in the church and those Catholics who are gay. I don't have a problem with that. Let me remind you that his book has an imprimatur and was endorsed by two American Cardinals. Now, that doesn't mean it's a good or helpful book, but it likely means he is not advocating the church accepting same-sex marriage. I guess I'll need to find out.

I think we can do a better job in this politically charged climate, which seems to get worse and worse each day, to genuinely approach those we disagree with with compassion and understand. It doesn't mean we in any way back down from our beliefs, but simple courtesy and actually giving the person the benefit of the doubt about their intentions, instead of condemnation, is a better path to journey on. I know I am not perfect, but I have tried over the past few years to be more compassionate with those who hold different views than my own. It has been a good exercise and has brought me greater peace.

Anonymous said...

Jason, I do not know if Fr. Martin actually disagrees with Church teaching. He is just very ambiguous.


Surly Hermit said...


I hate to add to an already tired discussion, and won't air my views of Fr. Martin here, but I'd like to point out that just because a book is endorsed by high-ranking prelates doesn't always mean it adheres to Church teachings. Particularly in this case with Cardinal Farrell's endorsement: I'm from his former diocese and know quite a bit about the man. We were... well, very happy to see him elevated to the cardinaliate and relocated from Dallas to Rome.

There are some pretty specious arguments on both sides here. Everyone needs to tighten up their logic, or we'll end up shouting at each other to absolutely no effect.

Timothy said...


I am well aware of how this goes. I'm mostly concerned about accusations of heresy when there are none.

JDH said...

I appreciate your response, Tim, and I too am troubled by the tone of this and the previous comments.

First, it isn't healthy to only read things in a very narrow range, creating one' son reaffirming bubble. Especially when the limitations adopted exclude even Catholic voices. It's good to be challenged from time to time.

Second, ad hominem attacks like in the immediately preceding comment are very unhelpful. If you disagree with something Fr Martin has said, then disagree. Do so clearly and charitably. State what you believe is wrong and what you believe is right. But attacking a priest of Jesus Christ as evil deserving to be mocked and ridiculed is crossing the line. And frankly, not very persuasive, since no actual position on anything is even stated, just a personal attack.

JDH said...

I am really saddened by this comment thread. This has always been a wonderful site where Catholic Bible fans can gather and discuss editions of the Bible, commentaries, etc. I really hope politics and the spirit of condemnation that so permeates the Internet doesn't take over here.