Every year, the Editors of The Tablet invite bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn to submit their summer reading list. It is always an enjoyable and interesting feature and one which inspires so many people to do something once common, but certainly not so much any longer: to pick up a book and read!
At the risk of sounding overly pious (as if there could be such a thing), and in all sincerity, here are three books often left off the reading lists that are so good, so important, and, in a good way,
so commonplace that we do even think to include them any longer. These three books are part and parcel of our religious lives as Catholics and we are happy to mention them to you!
1. The first book to recommend is the “Holy Bible”! Do you have a copy of the Bible handy? A copy with which you can pray and even make notes in it? There are several great new editions all with fine and faithful translations approved by the Catholic Church. Although our personal favorite translation to pray with is the Ignatius Bible, you might want to check out The English Standard Version, Catholic Edition, published by the Augustine Institute. It is an excellent translation that remains very close to the original Biblical languages, but unlike the RSV-CE, it has eliminated the “thees” and “thous.”
2. The second book to recommend is a good personal missal for Mass. It used to be commonplace to have a missal with you when you attended Mass, to follow along with the prayers and the readings. When the Mass went into the vernacular, and with the publications of pew hymnals and missalettes, the idea of having your own copy of a missal went by the wayside for many Catholics. Now, with many churches taking away missalettes from the pews of our Churches due to worry of spreading the COVID-19 virus, it might be a good idea to bring back the idea of having your own personal copy of the missal.
There are several great and affordable versions of the Missal which have both the prayers and the readings for weekdays and Sundays, as well as other ritual Masses, like marriages and funerals. May we suggest the Saint Paul Daily Missal, published by the Daughters of Saint Paul? The print is big, it is complete, yet compact, and is easy to follow. Having a personal missal will really help enhance your love and experience of the Mass.
3. The third book to recommend is the “Liturgy of the Hours,” the official prayer of all in the Church. Also called the “Breviary or the Divine Office,” the “Liturgy of the Hours” is prayed faithfully daily by clerics and religious, but it is also the prayer that Christians throughout the world use to sanctify their day in the morning, in the evening, and at night. There are many different versions, and there is the four-volume edition that most priests have, but, as a starter, if you have never prayed this prayer before, in order to learn it and to keep it simple and understandable, may we suggest a “Shorter Christian Prayer: Four Week Psalter of the Liturgy of the Hours Containing Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer with Selections for the Entire Year?”
Yes, we will get many wonderful book suggestions, but in our purchasing, perhaps we should not forget these three essential books, ones which should be in the library of every Catholic!