Rorate Caeli

Book suggestions for summer

- Do you pray to Angels?
- My God, yes,... certainly.
- We do not pray to Angels often enough. They frighten the theologians, like those ancient heresies from the East, a nervous fear, indeed! The world is filled with Angels. And the Blessed Virgin, do you pray to the Blessed Virgin?
- Certainly!
- We say that... Yet do you pray to her as you should, do you pray well? She is our mother, certainly. She is the mother of the human race, the new Eve. But she is also its daughter. The ancient world, the world of pain, the world before Grace, nourished her for a long time in its desolate bosom - centuries upon centuries -, in the confusing, incomprehensible, expectation of a Virgo Genitrix... Centuries upon centuries, it protected within its old hands filled with crime, in its heavy hands, the wonderful little girl whose very name it ignored. A little girl, this queen of Angels! And she remained that, forget it not! The Middle Ages had understood this well, the Middle Ages understood everything. But just try to stop these imbeciles from reimagining in their own way the "drama of the Incarnation", as they say! Now that they think they must, for the sake of their prestige, dress up as modest justices of the peace, [...] it would ashame them to no end to proclaim to unbelievers that the one and only drama, the drama of dramas - for there is no other - took place without a backdrop and without trimmings. Think about it! The Word was made flesh, and the journalists of the time knew nothing of it! 
Georges Bernanos 
Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne)

In the voice of the old and experienced priest, Bernanos saw clearly through the fog of modern theology, that often (mostly) hides imbecility, or worse, under the appearance of literary-inspired rhetoric -- as well as the emptiness of most journalistic coverage. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose dear daughter of Lisieux inspired so much of his work, intercede for his soul. 

What about you, what are your book suggestions for this summer (winter for our readers in the Southern Hemisphere)? (You may suggest any publication, in any language, with any content you believe may enrich our lives.)


Marla said...

Young Man's Guide / The Catholic Girl's Guide, by Father Lasance

Actually, anything by Father Lasance.

JMD said...

Christopher Derrick, Escape from Scepticism: Liberal Education as if Truth Mattered


Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., He Leadeth Me

David said...

Viper's Tangle and Therese by Francois Mauriac

Programato said...

I'm very happy to see someone suggest Viper's Tangle. Excellent.

I suggest the following program,* to be read in order:

1) The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

2) The Sinner's Guide, by Venerable Louis of Grenada

3) Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart, by Jacques Philippe

4) The Spiritual Combat, by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

5) Light And Peace [actual title: Instructions for Devout Souls], by R. P. Quadrupani

6) Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales

7) The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis

*This program is based on this:

"L'inquiétude est le plus grand mal qui arrive en l'âme, excepté le péché. Car comme les séditions et troubles intérieurs d'une république la ruinent entièrement et l'empêchent qu'elle ne puisse résister à l'étranger, ainsi notre coeur, étant troublé et inquiété en soi-même, perd la force de maintenir les vertus qu'il avait acquises, et par conséquent le moyen de résister aux tentations de l'ennemi, lequel fait alors toutes sortes d'efforts pour pêcher, comme l'on dit, en eau trouble".

-St. Francois de Sales, Introduction a la Vie Dévote, 4.11

Mike said...

Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila

Essential Sermons, St. Augustine

The Duty of Delight: Diary of Dorothy Day

The last one is an interesting window on the Post-Conciliar years by someone clearly devoted to Our Lord and His Church. Not all of her judgments re contemporary events and persons hold up, to say the least, but her heart and mind belonged to Christ. Added bonus: he couldn't stand the hippies of the late 60s/70s!

Mike said...

That would be "she" couldn't stand the hippies.

Their vulgar use of language, especially regarding sex, she thought demonic.

rodrigo said...

Non-fiction selection:

Kenneth Minogue's The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life

Fiction selection:

Yukio Mishima's After the Banquet

Woody said...

Well, I am too "diffuse" to read one thing at a time straight through, but here are what I am working on, or plan to do so currently,

1. Sigrid Undset, "Stages on the Road"--also maybe "Catherine of Siena".
2. J. Philippe, "The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux".
3. Jutta Burggraf, "Made for Freedom".
4. William Keenan, "The Day the Bells Rang Out: Saint Josemaria Escriva and the Origins of Opus Dei".
5. Joseph Pearce, "Through Shakespear's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays".

HSE said...

Left To Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza

Immaculée shares her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 when she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! In this captivating and inspiring book, Immaculée shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding—through our darkest hours.

Rick DeLano said...

"Parallel Universes" by Michio Kaku.

Very soon the "dialoguing" will be at an end, and it will be necessary to know, in order to refute, the final, logical destination of the Copernican: the multiverse.

Goliath has conquered in metaphysics (for the present) and now has begun the campaign against theology.

BK said...

Leftism Revisited (or the original, Leftism) by Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

Johannes de Silentio said...

For some light reading I would suggest: St. Francis of Assisi, by G.K. Chesterton.

For something meatier: Faith in a Hard Ground - Essays on Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics, by G.E.M. Anscombe

And allow me to recommend what I have recommended before: Liberalism is a sin, by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany.

Roy Peachey said...

Short Stories

Tim Gautreaux - 'Waiting for the Evening News'

Great stories from a Catholic author from Louisiana - as one blogger put it: "something contemporary that packs literary punch but also has compassion and moral fibre".

Nicolas Bellord said...

Bernanos's "Sous le Soleil de Satan" if you want to understand how the devil works.

Mar said...

Not about books, but not entirely off-topic either, so I hope the moderator will pass this. It is the third verse from a hymn to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Virgin of the Incarnation,
In the mysteries of grace
God has made His habitation
In our soul's most secret place.
Toward that bright and inner kingdom
All our words and ways compel:
Gor the Father, Son and Spirit
In its sacred silence dwell.
Mother of Mount Carmel, hear:
When we call, O be thou near.

Mar said...

Very light but quite delightful:
Lightly Poached by Lillian Beckwith

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

Nice to see that François Mauriac has not been forgotten by Catholic readers, since he is the basis of much of my research. I would add his Les anges noirs (The Dark Angels) to the list of readings.

MT said...

I miei trentacinque anni di missione nell'alta Etiopia - memorie storiche
di frà Guglielmo Massaja, cappuccino già vicario apostolico dei Galla.
Cardinale del titolo di S. Vitale

Jason C. said...

The Crusader: The life and tumultuous times of. Pat. Buchanan, by Timothy Stanley. This is a really enjoyable little book about a traditional Catholic heavily involved in and with U.S. politics from Nixon to the present who fell neither into the extremes of neoconservatism nor libertarianism. Stanley's young and English, and so a bit given to bombast and cute turns of phrase, but he does tell PJB's story very well.

Irony said...

"The Ball and the Cross", by G. K. Chesterton

"What's Wrong with the World", by G. K. Chesterton

"Brave New Family", by G. K. Chesterton

"The Death of Christian Culture", by John Senior

"The Restoration of Christian Culutre", by John Senior

"Home for Good", Mother Mary Loyola
(See St. Augustine Press Academy for this book. They also have many other good books by Mother Mary Loyola.)

ben ingledew said...

"The Jesuits" - Malachi Martin

"The Gap in the Curtain" - John Buchan (free on kindle,

anabel said...

"Of Mary There is Never Enough" by William Biersach.

Bishop Fulton Sheen's Masterpiece: "The Life of Christ."

benedictus said...

It's always fun to see the suggestions here. Lots of new books I never heard of!

I generally prefer lighter reading in the Summer, so I will recommoned Howard Pyle's Robin Hood. It's based on the old ballads, a delightful and funny read. Best for adults and teenage children as the arachic english expressions are hard for younger children to understand. A good version for younger kids is J. Walker McSpadden's version. It is similar to Pyle's but the stories are shorter and the language is simpler, but not at all condecending. Either one is a hundred times more entertaining than any of the movies. Both versions are also available as a free audio book on

For non-ficition I just read God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet. A terrific account of the last Almshouse in America and how it was basically dismantled by medical "efficiency" experts. If you want to better understand the problems with health care in America, this is a must read. As an added bonus, there is fascinating information in there about St. Hildegard and the medeival understanding of the human body and the practice of medicine.

JulieColl said...

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni is, in my humble opinion, the definitive Catholic novel.

Set in 14th c. Italy it tells the tale of a young betrothed couple whose wedding is called off due to the cowardice of their priest, Don Abbondio, in the face of threats from a local nobleman who has nefarious designs upon the pious and beautiful young Lucia.

Lorenzo and Lucia are separated for Lucia's safety and each must endure many trials, including the treachery of a Mother Superior, a famine, a bread riot and finally the plague, which is spread exponentially by the well-intentioned but unwitting actions of an eminent churchman, Cardinal Bona.

The book was actually condemned for anticlericalism by the Jesuits in the 1800's and because it portrays the clergy and a cloistered nun with an unsparing hand--though I would argue with sympathy and respect.

However, the sheer compass of the book, the multiple layers of allegory and Catholic symbolism woven throughout and the fund of wisdom and keen observation of human psychology will keep you engrossed.

I have read this book multiple times at different stages in my life and always find new sources of delight and meditation.

(It's not surprising that the saintly Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski chose this and his breviary to take with him the night he was seized by the Communists and sent into exile.)

Lake Erie said...

Since the situation in the Church and in the world can lead one to oppressive thoughts, any of P.G. Wodehouse's novels will lift one's spirits and elicit many a chuckle. I am just about finished with "Full Moon".

Miles said...

I’ve written recently in my own blog about “A Canticle to Leibowitz”, from Walter M. Miller, Jr., and “Le Voyage du Centurion”, from Ernest Psichari, so I would recommend these two books.

I would also recommend “L’Église - Sa Constituion”, from the great Cardinal Louis Billot, translated from latin to french by Father Jean Michel-Gleize, SSPX, teacher at the Seminary of Écône. This is pure traditional theology and classical thomism at its best.

d'Herbigny said...

Here are a few books for your consideration:

1. "The Soul of the Apostolate" by dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, O.C.S.O (This was St Pius X's favorite book).

2. "The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods" by Antonin Gilbert Sertillanges, O.P.

3. Anything by dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

quotquot said...

"While the Eyes of the Great Are Elsewhere" by William Biersach.

backtothefuture said...

Some good spiritual books
The diary of Saint Faustina
Blessed Gemma Galgani, now Saint Gemma(my patron saint) by venerable padre Germano
The dolorous passion of the lord and the life of the blessed virgin Mary by blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
For those that can read italian, a wonderful book on the short life of the child saint venerable Antonietta Mei(Nennolina)
For those that are spiritually ready, anything by father Gabriele Amorth

Anonymous said...

Em said: One of the best books ever is, "My New Curate" by Canon P.A. Sheehan

George said...

This may be a little outside the box here, but I would like to suggest my recently released autobiography, "Revolutionary: A Biography of George Waclaw Spelvin.:

The book deals with quite a variety of different subjects, as you can read on its official Facebook page on the link above. However, it may be of interest to others here because it also deals in part with how I grew up with the Novus Ordo liturgy just after it was imposed on the Church.

I was born in 1969 and never had the TLM to compare the NO with. In fact, I never learned anything about the whole liturgical controversy surrounding Vatican II until Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI. I heard of the Holy Father's passion for the TLM at that time, and I decided to check it out.

That was in 2005, and I have been a Traditionalist ever since and have never gone back. It was only after this that I learned anything at all about the whole sad history of what happened. The book deals with this in part, therefore my inspiration to post this.

backtothefuture said...

It's Antonietta Meo, not Mei, iphone arghh

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

For something light... Walker Percy's "Lost in the Cosmos."

Martin said...

This list of books is based on the list that i have read/wish to read this year.

1)The Priest Is Not His Own, by Fulton J. Sheen

2)End The Fed, by Ron Paul

3)An Exorcist Tells His Story, by Fr. Gabriele Amorth

4)Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton

5)For the Love of Physics, by Walter Lewin

6)The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing, Patrick Engebretson

7)The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zaphron

8)The Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy

9)Liberty, the God That Failed, by Christopher Ferrara

10)The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, by Joseph Pearce

Ferraiuolo said...

Any of the works by Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

quotquot said...

All patriots should read Orestes Brownson's essay "Catholicity Is Necessary to Sustain Popular Liberty". It can be found at

JFM said...

Just completed Anne Roche Muggeridge's "The Gates of Hell." Extremely helpful, and not nearly as severe as either its title would suggest of her sequel "Desolate City."

Also terrific are Maisie Ward's historical family recollections, "The Wilfrid Wards" and "Insurrection or Ressurection."

Lastly, Maxx Berry's "Syrup" is pretty funny, a window into a happy-go-lucky Californian male's mind.

Michael said...

If the moderators will permit a bit of self-promotion...

Rational Faith: Proof of the Existence of God, the Falsity of Atheism, and the Truth of Catholicism (see the link in my name for the book, or just Google it)

I wrote this book recently. It is designed for atheists, agnostics, lapsed or uninformed Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Protestants, modern pagan secularists, etc.

The first part lays out detailed defenses of the traditional metaphysical proofs of God's existence, the proofs of the soul's immortality, and related topics.

The second part discusses the possibility of divine revelation and the signs by which it can be recognized (the motives of credibility, miracles and prophecies), the proofs of Christ's divinity and Resurrection and the historical truth of the Gospels.

The third part discusses the proofs that Christ established a Church and the marks by which it may be recognized, defends the Church's teaching on many controversial subjects like abortion, contraception, and unnatural vice (natural law proofs), defends Catholic teaching on the Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, and the Blessed Virgin, recalls the Church's contributions to science and civilization, and defends the dogma "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" at some length, among many other topics.

It's designed to be a "one stop" book of sorts to take a reader from atheism to theism, from theism to Christianity, and from Christianity to Catholicism, using arguments from reason and Thomistic philosophy. I think it would be of interest to traditional Catholics because it somewhat follows the style of the traditional preconciliar "manuals" of apologetics (those who are familiar with those will know to what I am referring; those who aren't familiar, well, now you can become so!)

Happy feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Roger said...

May I suggest "Brideshead Revisited", by Evelyn Waugh?

Mar said...

Serious but very interesting:

"Didymus the Blind - an Educator of the Fourth Century" by Rev. William Gauche, S.T.D.

Pope Pius XI gave Didymus, who was the head of the Catechetical School in Alexandria, a place of honour among the greatest of the Christian educators. St. Jerome was so impressed by Didymus that he attended his classes and later
translated his greatest work "De Spiritu Sancto" into Latin. Pope Damasus I had asked St. Jerome to write a treatise on the Holy Ghost, but he recommended Didymus
instead. St. Thomas Aquinas made use of this work in his Summa and the Catena Aurea.

Didymus was influenced by Origen and so was tainted by his bad reputation. It is true that he adopted some of his errors, but he also deliberately rejected others.

Christina said...

I highly recommend:

The Judas Syndrome: Seven Ancient Heresies Return to Betray Christ Anew by Thomas Colyandro (Saint Benedict Press)