Rainy-Day Reads

Rainy-Day Reads

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” So, if you’re stuck inside on a drizzly day this spring, here are some books to lift your spirits while waiting for the sun to break through the clouds. 

Come Forth: The Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle

By James Martin, SJ / Harper Collins 

There is a “near universal desire to leave behind something painful.” What new life waits on the other side of letting something go? Prolific author and beloved priest James Martin, SJ, presents another insightful book about listening to where God is leading you—in this case, into the tomb of Lazarus and back out into the light. 

Father Martin explains that while the story of Lazarus is well-known, with Jesus raising Lazarus from death, we can more deeply see it as God calling us to move into a place of letting go. He says God uses this story, told only in the Gospel of John, to help us examine what binds and entraps us in our own lives. Father Martin guides you, passage by passage, through this miracle story, revealing how God is hoping for you to be freed to enter into fresh life, renewed life. 

Reading a book by Father Martin is like having a conversation with a friend. He discusses his own transformative visit to the tomb of Lazarus in Bethany, a Muslim city in the Palestinian territories, and describes his long fascination with this biblical narrative. Additionally, he fully explores Lazarus’ story and its presence in Christian culture worldwide. At the end of each chapter, Father Martin asks spiritual questions to help you grasp what God is calling you to leave behind. 

Are You Good Enough Yet?

By Father Joe Kempf / Twenty-Third Publications 

The subtitle of this lovely book is A Book for Perfectionists and All Who Try Too Hard or Worry Too Much. The author, Father Joe Kempf, is a born storyteller with a passion for helping people reconnect with meaning in their lives. Along with attempting to do just that as pastor of Most Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka, Missouri, he’s also the founder of the nonprofit Gospel Values Inc., which provides a variety of spiritual resources for Catholic families. In Are You Good Enough Yet? Father Kempf writes with warmth and compassion as he details the dangers of perfectionism and how to counter it with self-care and having realistic expectations. The chapter “Imperfect Parenting (The Only Kind There Is)” is a great example of Father Kempf’s approach to dismantling perfectionism. Parents probably need to hear—and believe—that they can still be great role models for their children while also making mistakes along the way. 

The author knows from his own lived experience the strain of trying to live up to a perfect ideal of who we think God wants us to be. Often, we are not able to reach a place of peace because of the stress that comes with pursuing an impossible state of perfection. In Are You Good Enough Yet? Father Kempf wants readers to know: “You are worthy of that peace. You deserve to know that you are safe, you are loved, your life matters, and you are good enough just as you are. Because these things are true.” 

Chastity and the Soul: You Are Holy Ground 

By Ronald Rolheiser, OMI / Paraclete Press 

Best-selling author Ronald Rolheister (Prayer: Our Deepest Longing, Bruised and Wounded: Struggling to Understand Suicide, and many others), reflects on a topic that is often neglected—and probably fundamentally misunderstood—in our hypersexualized culture obsessed with youth and physical beauty: chastity. It’s a word that might make some readers think of medieval virtues or vows taken by professed men and women religious. But Father Rolheiser takes a more expansive look at what chastity is and how it can enrich our spiritual life. He likens it more to a kind of wisdom-infused restraint rather than simply a rejection of sexual impulses. 

“To be chaste is to let gift be gift,” Father Rolheiser writes, and it’s a practical virtue based on patience and “the capacity to carry tension.” People tend to cringe when they hear what they believe is the generally accepted, strict definition of chastity. Father Rolheiser understands this common reaction and takes pains to reintroduce this virtue to a 21st-century audience. 

A Map of Future Ruins: On Borders and Belonging 

By Lauren Markham / Penguin Random House 

Lauren Markham, the author of The Faraway Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life, returns to the topics of migration, immigration, and identity with A Map of Future Ruins. Whereas her first book followed twin teenage brothers Ernesto and Raúl as they navigate life in their newfound home in America, Markham’s treatment is a bit more personal in this latest title. With her own immigrant heritage stemming from Greece, Markham finds herself deeply connected to the history of mass human movements and how they reveal as much about the culture and people of the host country as they do about immigrants’ places of origin. She decides to go to Greece to encounter her ancestral homeland and one of the world’s most active crossroads in human migration today. 

A Map of Future Ruins is equal parts history and memoir, and, by shedding light on migrant stories both past and present, Markham takes bold steps to give readers a glimpse of the future for migrant peoples and the societies they newly call home. 

God’s Love Song

By Murray Bodo, OFM, and Susan Saint Sing / Franciscan Media 

Lifelong friends and creative partners, Murray Bodo and Susan Saint Sing have collaborated once more to produce this celebration of St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures.” Brother Murray describes Francis’ canticle as a love song to God and all God’s creatures and illustrates that we are creating our own unique songs—the story of our lives—as we converse with God and trust him. 

The two writers take turns sharing their personal growth and experiences as they have followed the examples of St. Francis and St. Clare. “Every life well lived is a love song,” writes Murray. What is your song? 

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