Seven new books to help feed your mind and your faith

November 7, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
A book and a favorite hot beverage helps ease us into study of our faith in the autumnal season. (OSV News photo/Beatrice Borgiani, Pixabay)
A book and a favorite hot beverage helps ease us into study of our faith in the autumnal season. (OSV News photo/Beatrice Borgiani, Pixabay) (Beatrice Borgiani)


“If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and Churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.” C.S. Lewis, brilliant Christian author that he was, understood the importance of spiritual reading to bolster a person’s faith. To use his analogy, without it, we will starve.


In this year’s annual fall book review, we offer seven selections support you in your faith journey:


“Scrupulosity: Heal Your Mind, Unbind Your Soul, and Let God Work”

By Kevin Vost, Psy.D.

OSV, $18.95

In “Scrupulosity: Heal Your Mind, Unbind Your Soul, and Let God Work,” author and psychologist Dr. Kevin Vost — who passed away in April 2023 — provides a comprehensive overview of both ancient and current psychological and theological understanding of scrupulosity and how those who suffer from it can find peace and healing. If you’ve ever wondered what causes scrupulosity, or if you fear you have it, Dr. Vost not only addresses those concerns but reassures readers that “faith will be the front and center as we’ll strive to fly like eagles, moving away from scrupulosity upon the angel’s wing of faith.” Drawing on the strength of Christ and the understanding that comes from knowledge, each chapter concludes with a “Saintly Lesson for Scrupulous Souls,” counsel from those we know have made it to heaven after their own battles with the “snares of scrupulosity.”


“The Leaven of the Saints: Bringing Christ into a Fallen World”

By Dawn Marie Beutner

Ignatius Press, $19.95

You’ll come to know and appreciate the heroic yet very human lives of a wide variety of saints in this new book by Catholic convert and author Dawn Marie Beutner. “Leaven” is defined as “a pervasive influence that modifies something or transforms it for the better,” and “The Leaven of Saints” contains dozens of examples of saints, religious orders and topics related to saints that did just that. Conveniently organized around Christian witness, with chapters for Doctors of the Church, “Shepherd Saints,” religious life, Popes, the Virgin Mary, married saints and more, the book also includes a bibliography to expand your reading and a names index.


“Church Councils: 100 Questions and Answers”

By Paul Senz

Ignatius Press, $16.95

More than a history of the 21 ecumenical councils, author Paul Senz uses a question-and-answer format to provide a practical and theological explanation of these important Church meetings. Over the course of the 100 questions — divided into four sections (general, historical, theological and controversial) — Senz gives the historical context that led to each council, the reasons it was convened, the major events that happened during the council, and the impact of its teachings, both historically and for the present day. Readers will also discover the foundations of the teaching authority of the bishops as successors to the apostles as a body in union with the Pope under the protection of the Holy Spirit.


“Love in Recovery: One Woman’s Story of Breaking Free from Shame and Healing from Pornography Addiction”

By Rachael Killackey

Ave Maria Press, $17.95

When people discuss the raging monster of pornography in our culture, most often it is in reference to men. But women, too, struggle with addiction to pornography; in fact, some studies suggest that 1 in 3 porn addicts is a woman. Rachel Killackey was one of those women. However, since finding hope and healing in Christ, she has made it her mission to help other women out of the dark through her ministry, Magdala Ministries. Her new book, “Love in Recovery,” is a continuation of her ministry where Killackey shares her story and offers compassionate, down-to-earth advice about identifying the gateways to pornography addiction, its complexities, and the path to healing. In a review of the book, licensed clinical psychologist Julia Sadusky said the book “is an important contribution to a much-needed conversation in our Church about female sexual addiction.”


“Oriens”

By Father Joel Sember

OSV, $20.95

“Oriens” invites us all to embark on a life-changing journey beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, through the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2. Oriens is a Latin word that means “rising” and “dawn.” Each day, this pilgrimage takes you one step closer to “the dawn from on high,” as you learn to pray and reflect more deeply with Scripture. Father Joel Sember provides daily Scripture passages, guidance on how to pray with each passage, and questions for reflection and journaling. “Oriens” is a wonderful guide to intensify your Advent preparation and Christmas celebration, allowing God to speak directly to your heart.


“Science, Reason, and Faith: Discovering the Bible”

By Father Robert J. Spitzer, SJ

OSV, $34.95

Father Spitzer is an internationally-recognized Jesuit philosopher, who in this new book grapples with the heart’s yearning for answers to life’s most profound questions: Who are we? What is our purpose in this vast universe? How can we reconcile the existence of evil with the search for meaning in life? In the pages of “Science, Reason, and Faith,” readers are invited to confront the tensions and conflicts that often arise when these realms intersect. Father Spitzer’s thoughtful and illuminating analysis leads us to see that it is precisely in this intersection that the Truth is found. “Science, Reason, and Faith” is a must-read for those who seek to reconcile their thirst for scientific knowledge with their longing for religious faith.


“Confession of a Catholic Worker: Our Moment of Christian Witness”

By Larry Chapp

Ignatius Press, $17.95

In a world seemingly overrun by capitalism’s unchecked excesses, cultural decay and ideological polarization, Chapp’s view is refreshingly unconventional. He contends that crisis is an inherent facet of the Christian experience, and it is through this perspective that he urges a profound reevaluation of our values and actions. In a society choked by materialism and greed, Chapp challenges us to embrace the Gospel’s call for radical love and unwavering commitment to living by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. The choice to embrace Jesus Christ and his Gospel over all worldly concerns is the crux of Chapp’s message, and he delivers it with compelling urgency.  


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“If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and Churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.” C.S. Lewis, brilliant Christian author that he was, understood the importance of spiritual reading to bolster a person’s faith. To use his analogy, without it, we will starve.


In this year’s annual fall book review, we offer seven selections support you in your faith journey:


“Scrupulosity: Heal Your Mind, Unbind Your Soul, and Let God Work”

By Kevin Vost, Psy.D.

OSV, $18.95

In “Scrupulosity: Heal Your Mind, Unbind Your Soul, and Let God Work,” author and psychologist Dr. Kevin Vost — who passed away in April 2023 — provides a comprehensive overview of both ancient and current psychological and theological understanding of scrupulosity and how those who suffer from it can find peace and healing. If you’ve ever wondered what causes scrupulosity, or if you fear you have it, Dr. Vost not only addresses those concerns but reassures readers that “faith will be the front and center as we’ll strive to fly like eagles, moving away from scrupulosity upon the angel’s wing of faith.” Drawing on the strength of Christ and the understanding that comes from knowledge, each chapter concludes with a “Saintly Lesson for Scrupulous Souls,” counsel from those we know have made it to heaven after their own battles with the “snares of scrupulosity.”


“The Leaven of the Saints: Bringing Christ into a Fallen World”

By Dawn Marie Beutner

Ignatius Press, $19.95

You’ll come to know and appreciate the heroic yet very human lives of a wide variety of saints in this new book by Catholic convert and author Dawn Marie Beutner. “Leaven” is defined as “a pervasive influence that modifies something or transforms it for the better,” and “The Leaven of Saints” contains dozens of examples of saints, religious orders and topics related to saints that did just that. Conveniently organized around Christian witness, with chapters for Doctors of the Church, “Shepherd Saints,” religious life, Popes, the Virgin Mary, married saints and more, the book also includes a bibliography to expand your reading and a names index.


“Church Councils: 100 Questions and Answers”

By Paul Senz

Ignatius Press, $16.95

More than a history of the 21 ecumenical councils, author Paul Senz uses a question-and-answer format to provide a practical and theological explanation of these important Church meetings. Over the course of the 100 questions — divided into four sections (general, historical, theological and controversial) — Senz gives the historical context that led to each council, the reasons it was convened, the major events that happened during the council, and the impact of its teachings, both historically and for the present day. Readers will also discover the foundations of the teaching authority of the bishops as successors to the apostles as a body in union with the Pope under the protection of the Holy Spirit.


“Love in Recovery: One Woman’s Story of Breaking Free from Shame and Healing from Pornography Addiction”

By Rachael Killackey

Ave Maria Press, $17.95

When people discuss the raging monster of pornography in our culture, most often it is in reference to men. But women, too, struggle with addiction to pornography; in fact, some studies suggest that 1 in 3 porn addicts is a woman. Rachel Killackey was one of those women. However, since finding hope and healing in Christ, she has made it her mission to help other women out of the dark through her ministry, Magdala Ministries. Her new book, “Love in Recovery,” is a continuation of her ministry where Killackey shares her story and offers compassionate, down-to-earth advice about identifying the gateways to pornography addiction, its complexities, and the path to healing. In a review of the book, licensed clinical psychologist Julia Sadusky said the book “is an important contribution to a much-needed conversation in our Church about female sexual addiction.”


“Oriens”

By Father Joel Sember

OSV, $20.95

“Oriens” invites us all to embark on a life-changing journey beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, through the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2. Oriens is a Latin word that means “rising” and “dawn.” Each day, this pilgrimage takes you one step closer to “the dawn from on high,” as you learn to pray and reflect more deeply with Scripture. Father Joel Sember provides daily Scripture passages, guidance on how to pray with each passage, and questions for reflection and journaling. “Oriens” is a wonderful guide to intensify your Advent preparation and Christmas celebration, allowing God to speak directly to your heart.


“Science, Reason, and Faith: Discovering the Bible”

By Father Robert J. Spitzer, SJ

OSV, $34.95

Father Spitzer is an internationally-recognized Jesuit philosopher, who in this new book grapples with the heart’s yearning for answers to life’s most profound questions: Who are we? What is our purpose in this vast universe? How can we reconcile the existence of evil with the search for meaning in life? In the pages of “Science, Reason, and Faith,” readers are invited to confront the tensions and conflicts that often arise when these realms intersect. Father Spitzer’s thoughtful and illuminating analysis leads us to see that it is precisely in this intersection that the Truth is found. “Science, Reason, and Faith” is a must-read for those who seek to reconcile their thirst for scientific knowledge with their longing for religious faith.


“Confession of a Catholic Worker: Our Moment of Christian Witness”

By Larry Chapp

Ignatius Press, $17.95

In a world seemingly overrun by capitalism’s unchecked excesses, cultural decay and ideological polarization, Chapp’s view is refreshingly unconventional. He contends that crisis is an inherent facet of the Christian experience, and it is through this perspective that he urges a profound reevaluation of our values and actions. In a society choked by materialism and greed, Chapp challenges us to embrace the Gospel’s call for radical love and unwavering commitment to living by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. The choice to embrace Jesus Christ and his Gospel over all worldly concerns is the crux of Chapp’s message, and he delivers it with compelling urgency.  

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