With vacations, better weather and simply slowing down, summer seems to be the best time to get lost in a book. Whether your book club read the latest “chic lit” or a mystery is your default for summer reading, there are few things more lovely than reading about God in your favorite summer location.
Here are few to add to your “to-read” stack.
• “Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith” by Bishop Robert E. Barron
Bishop Barron brings us back to the essentials of our faith in this book. What makes Catholicism distinctive from other traditions? It is the Incarnation, the enfleshment of God. Drawing from the arts, architecture and storytelling, he opens our eyes to see God is with us in every tenet of our faith and throughout the ages.
Bishop Barron reminds us why we fell in love with the church to begin with, that it is not a system, but a relationship, and we recall the deep love we felt when God first captured our hearts. This is an amazing book for converts and cradle Catholics alike.
• “Movies Are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings” by Josh Larsen
Words often fail in prayer as we bring forth our deepest desires to God. Larsen opens up a new dimension to our favorite films, revealing that our love for these films is often a reflection of how they express the deepest groanings of our own heart.
Looking at different forms of prayer in the Psalms — such as lament, praise, joy and confession — alongside scenes from favorite films, Larsen shows us a new way of approaching prayer and film.
As we head into the summer movie season, this book trains our eye to find “God in all things,” even the new summer blockbuster. Reading Larsen’s reflection on the Wes Anderson film, “Rushmore,” I found my own connection with the film and God. He covers classics and recent releases alike, so I am certain you will find a favorite among them.
• “Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God” by Lauren F. Winner
When author Lauren F. Winner’s faith became stagnant, she began to look at lesser-known biblical metaphors for God. In this well-researched book, Winner examines metaphors such as bread, clothing and a woman in labor.
By grounding these metaphors in stories of her interactions with friends and family, she invites the reader into a deeper understanding and friendship with our God. Her chapter on bread and wine made me cling even more tightly to the Eucharist.
• “Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints” by Christiana N. Peterson
Faced with the challenges of intentional communal living and working a family farm, Peterson looks for strength in Christian mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi, Simone Weil and Dorothy Day — all people who literally were misfits.
Through both personal narrative and biography, Peterson tells the inspiring story of spiritual transformation. Through her personal stories, I found a model for how to incorporate favorite saints into my own spiritual practices.
Prayer is difficult for most. This book is a beautiful introduction to the examen, the 500-year-old form of prayer developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The prayer is more approachable than we might think. Manney explains how and why we should practice this very accessible prayer.
Praying the examen reveals God’s presence in our day-to-day life, drawing us closer to him; you’ll find yourself ending your summer days with the prayer and feel rich as you see the beauty of your life. I learned to pray the examen earlier this year with this book’s guidance, and I will no doubt return to it again and again.
By Shemaiah Gonzalez
(Gonzalez is a freelance writer. Her website is www.shemaiahgonzalez.com.)