This month’s book review features four books — two written by authors from our own diocese — that are designed to help readers grow in virtue and develop their prayer lives. Each one would make a great gift on its own, especially during this time of year when Catholic parents are thinking of ways to help their college-bound children to remain strong in their faith.
Lawrence Rutherford, a graduate of Colorado College and long-time Colorado Springs resident, is the author of “The Book of Proverbs: Wisdom for living a good life” (Aquinas & More Publishing, 2019). Attributed to Solomon, King of Israel, and directed “to give the young man knowledge and understanding,” (1:4), the Book of Proverbs has been the source of wisdom and admonition for countless generations willing to reflect upon this practical, modest book of Scripture.
Rutherford has created a compact and beautiful version of Proverbs that will be an informative delight for everyone.
Based on his own translation of the venerable Douay-Rheims Bible with the archaic original Latin updated for modern (and younger) readers, Rutherford has superbly illustrated each chapter in the fashion of an illuminated sacred text (but at a very affordable price), creating a keepsake reminder of the truths that everyone should learn, embrace, and emulate.
The text is clear and readable, making it the kind of gift you could give to a young adult going off to college, a couple starting a new business, or a group scripture study class. Deliberately sparse on commentary, leaving the text to speak for itself, Rutherford provides a short introduction citing the Proverbs in history and then quickly brings us each chapter.
Not lost on the author is the irony that in spite all of Solomon’s attempts to teach wisdom, his own life and choices (700 wives, 300 concubines, including foreign princesses who led his heart astray to follow other gods) are left for the reader to consider as well.
The Proverbs are a timeless guide for every person, written for daily reflection. Given its 31 chapters, it is the perfect book to read one chapter each day, each month, to reflect upon its truths, and to follow its precepts. We are thankful for this marvelous little book and are happy to commend it.
Gary Kuntz of Knights of Columbus Council No. 8909 in Castle Rock has published “A Knight’s Rosary: A Guide to Understanding and Praying the Rosary” (Mother Mary Ministries for the Knights of Columbus, 2016). This handy text is a local contribution to the faith and spiritual practice of Catholics in this region.
Over 10,000 copies of this small handbook have already been distributed throughout the U.S., often borne by Knights of Columbus from this diocese to their brother knights and their families.
In addition to illustrated guides walking us through the basics of the rosary, there are additional meditations on the rosary mysteries, Divine Mercy prayers and chaplets, blessings for home and family, and short articles on such sacramentals as holy water and sacred medals.
We commend the Knights of Columbus for their faithful works of charity and service worldwide, and particularly in this diocese. Thanks also go to Joan Cameron Mitchell (a local Catholic artist) for her touching painting of Jesus’ face that graces this cover. We encourage everyone to get a few copies of this handy book (meant to be given away to anyone wanting to begin or revisit faithful Catholic prayer habits) by contacting www.aknightsrosary.org. Orders can also be mailed to 4936 Shelby Dr., Castle Rock, 80104.
Alan Migliorato is the author of “The Manly Art of Raising a Daughter” (Sophia Institute Press, 2018). What father has not prayed fervently for the safety and protection of his daughter? In the world of #MeToo and countless depredations of women in this culture, what father has not anguished and felt his efforts fell terribly short? Alan Migliorato, a Catholic businessman from Florida blessed with three daughters, has written a book about how to raise godly women in a filthy culture.
It starts, Migliorato relates, with cleaning up your own act. If God’s will is to triumph in your family, you must do your part as a man, leading your daughter (and all your children, we would add) as the Good Shepherd leads us all. You’ve got to stop being an overworked, out-of-touch father, and become the firm but gentle leader of your home.
We like this author. His writing is to the point, with pithy chapters entitled “Introduce Her to God”, “Teach Her to Fight” (not what you may think — the daughters’ grandfather was a boxer, though — dads should equip their daughters to solve their own problems and own their own decisions, a happy respite from the multitudes of “helicopter parents” swooping in to solve their children’s problems), “Shut Up and Listen (good for any parent of any child), “Expect No Trophies” (yes, there are no awards or medals for faithful parenting), and the very practical “Beware of Social Media.” Based on the author’s decades of experience, Migliorato admits that it takes sustained effort to learn the manly art of raising a daughter, but that it is the only way to raise a strong, confident, well-balanced woman of faith.
You will learn how to address your daughter’s boyfriend (besides my favorite, sitting on the front porch when he arrives, cleaning a firearm), how to know the warning signs of Internet/social media addiction (time continues to reveal the carnage wrought by this digital sewer), and how to get to know your daughter’s friends and key influencers. For a man fortunate enough to marry a woman raised to be a confident, beautiful Catholic, I would recommend this practical guide to any father (or mother) seeking to be faithful to God’s trust in granting them the gift of life.
Our final recommendation is “The Catholic Gentleman: Living Authentic Manhood Today” (Ignatius Press, 2019) by Sam Guzman. As confusing as womanhood is, Christian manhood can be equally unfathomable. We need a guide to reflect on, to challenge and to guide men toward authentic masculinity — and to tear the dominant guidance away from Hollywood, the sports world and social media. Matt Fradd, the host of the popular online Pints with Aquinas and author of “The Porn Myth,” has famously said “our culture isn’t suffering from toxic masculinity; it’s suffering from a toxic lack of it.”
Not just being a gentleman, but a Catholic gentleman, living in today’s world, is one of our world’s greatest needs. Author Samuel Guzman, founder and editor of The Catholic Gentleman blog and website, is a marketing professional from Oklahoma. He gracefully builds the picture of restoring the art of gentlemanly behavior to men. In the midst of eroding (and ever-evolving) gender roles in our world, what does it mean to substitute virtue and leave cultural stereotypes of masculinity as power and domination over women? “The Catholic Gentleman” is a very practical guide to living manhood (and adolescence) with goals of self-mastery instead of license and experimentation.
The book is compact, its chapters short, but filled with insights and self-tests that help the reader to understand whether he is an authentic man, fully appreciating and emulating the values of tradition, family, embodying the purposes of courtesy, and understanding the meaning of the physical body and why this matters. The book is not a litany of platitudes, but reflects the fact that virtue often arises from times when we have failed, and so Guzman deals with the important topic of how to deal with failure and sin in the spiritual life.
Dale Ahlquist, author and expert on G.K. Chesterton, writes in the forward to “The Catholic Gentleman” that “Sam Guzman has given us something we desperately need: a valuable, readable guide to help make young men into true men.” We could not add our own “amen” with more vigor.
(For comments, reactions, or to suggest a book or resource that might be helpful for Catholics, please write to Deacon Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.)