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Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion: By Gregory Boyle

How do you fight despair and learn to meet the world with a loving heart? How do you overcome shame? Stay faithful in spite of failure? No matter where people live or what their circumstances may be, everyone needs boundless, restorative love. Gorgeous and uplifting,Tattoos on the Heart amply demonstrates the impact unconditional love can have on your life.As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles, Gregory Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration.

Tattoos on the Heart is a breathtaking series of parables distilled from his twenty years in the barrio. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s wonderful, hard-earned wisdom. Inspired by faith but applicable to anyone trying to be good, these personal, unflinching stories are full of surprising revelations and observations of the community in which Boyle works and of the many lives he has helped save.

Erudite, down-to-earth, and utterly heartening, these essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love in difficult times and the importance of fighting despair. With Gregory Boyle’s guidance, we can recognize our own wounds in the broken lives and daunting struggles of the men and women in these parables and learn to find joy in all of the people around us. Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.

Here and Now: By Henri J.M. Nouwen

If you are looking for something special this lent I would encourage you to check out the online reading group at the Henri Nouwen Society. It started on March 9th and continues through  lent and you can join at anytime.

This lent the group is reflecting on Nouwen’s book- Here and Now: Living in the Spirit.(Click here to visit the reading group.)

One reader on Amazon describe the book this way:

“Nouwen always grips the reader, but in HERE AND NOW, he compels you to visit the book again and again. The reader is challenged to periods of silent compassion, bringing to mind the friends who sat quietly with Job in his grief. (They were more helpful that way!) If you freqent airplanes, be sure to carry this book along and read the sections on worry, death and life-in-the-now; you will know incredible peace! Discover new meaning for the word “family,” new attitudes about what you think you possess and what’s really important, sources to guide you in spiritual maturity, and so much more! “We cannot live a spiritual life alone,” to quote Nouwen, and we need books like this one to get us thinking and moving and better relating to each other. “Claim your belovedness” with help from this book!”


The Cross and the Beatitudes: Lessons on Love and Forgiveness by: Fulton J. Sheen

This classic work from the pen of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen brings together Christ’s Sermon on the Mount with his Seven Last Words. From the Mount of the Beatitudes to the Hill of Calvary, Our Lord’s public ministry and statements centered on the themes of love and forgiveness, which are explored here with Archbishop Sheen’s characteristic insight and passion.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), one of the 20th century’s best-known and loved Catholic prelates, was a lecturer, professor, philosopher, preacher, and writer. A radio and television personality, he is widely regarded as the original media luminary for the spiritual world. This former director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith leaves behind an enormous written and oral history. In addition to two weekly syndicated newspaper columns that ran for close to two decades, he authored scores of books.

God’s Word on Sunday By: Fr. Scott Lewis

Regular readers will know that each Tuesday I “try” to post a short series of reflections from leading Catholic preachers aimed at helping us prepare for the THIS SUNDAY’s Liturgy of the Word.

One of the folks I link to is Fr. Scott Lewis. Fr. Lewis is an associate professor of New Testament at Regis College in Toronto and  is past president of the Canadian Catholic Biblical Association.

Fr. Lewis has written a new book called “God’s Word on Sunday” and in it he has  assembled 52 meditations that offer a window into the Sunday readings for the 2010-2011 Church calendar.

God’s Word on Sunday is a book of wisdom and insight from this  pre-eminent scriptural scholar. Fr. Lewis writes in a straightforward manner that makes the book a wonderful resource for homilists, Bible study groups, school classes or for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of Scripture.

The Seven Storey Mountain

A modern-day Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Seven Storey Mountain is one of the most influential religious works of the twentieth century. It tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man whose search for peace and faith leads him, at the age of twenty-six, to take vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders–the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, “the four walls of my new freedom,” Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has fully immersed himself in it.

The Return of the Prodigal Son: By Henri J.M. Nouwen

The following is from a book review written by Kathryn Morse on the Return of the Prodigal Son:

In 1983, Henri Nouwen discovered Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, a painting that absorbed his thoughts for several years; his own print being a part of the rest of his life. Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son, A Story of Homecoming, chronicles personal reflections on the painting and his life. Nouwen’s intellectual and social exercises had brought him to a certain spiritual point, and Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son took him farther on the journey away from power to receiving grace, from dependence on skill to dependence on God. It took him home to being more a child of God, ready to share more from his Father’s kingdom.

Please Click here to view more details on The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Book of the Month- September 2010: Forgiving the Unforgivable

Dr. David Stoop is a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder and director of the Center for Family Therapy. He is the author of more than 20 books, including Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves and Making Peace With Your Father.

Forgiveness is an essential part of being a Christian. But what do we do when confronted with the unforgivable-an act that shakes our moral foundations to their roots, often committed by someone trusted and loved?

The Friends of Dismas small faith group from St. Patrick’s spent a number of meetings discussing the  the ideas around forgiveness presented by Dr. Stoop.

If you have a person or persons in your life that you are finding it impossible to forgive then this book will provide you with interesting insights in the process of forgiveness.

Click here to see additional details on this Book of the Month- Forgiving the Unforgivable.

Sermon on the Mount by Richard Rohr

A good friend of mine recently lent me a copy of Richard Rohr’s recording of a retreat he gave on the Sermon on the Mount. This 6 CD set that takes about 6 hours to complete is well worth the investment in both time and money.

A line that really caught my attention – and I paraphrase it here – is “That Jesus was not killed by evil men- no, he was put to death for daring to challenge the CONVENTIONAL WISDOM of his day.”

Rhor does a brilliant job of setting the stage for what he calls the greatest of the wisdom teachings of Jesus that we call the Sermon on the Mount. He spends most of the retreat explaining the context of Matthew’s community and highlights why the evangelist wrote the way he did about the Beatitudes.

Click here to order the CD set from St. Anthony Messenger Press where you can find the following description of Fr. Rhor’s work:

Richard Rohr leads us through the social, political and environmental setting out of which Matthew brought Christ’s radical message of a new world order. He explains Matthew’s challenge to let go of the conventional wisdom that comes with contemporary American culture.

Each of seven talks brings us closer to the heart of the Sermon. Rohr contrasts conventional wisdom with the wisdom of Christ and draws the listener into the Kingdom of God, the end of the world and the experience of enlightenment. He explains that each generation lives in end times, that the Kingdom is for those willing to let go of all cultural idolatry (past and present) and that those who live in reality travel a path of life which unfolds into freedom. This series is a powerful call to follow Jesus Christ in the commandments of the New Testament.

Talk 1: Awakening the Heart: Recognizing Cultural Idolatry
Talk 2: Voices of the World: Social Institutions
Talk 3: Table Fellowship: Alfalfa Sprouts and Gravy
Talk 4: Matthew’s Gospel: Charter for a New World Order
Talk 5: Transformation: Jumping Off the Tower
Talk 6: The Sermon and Conventional Wisdom
Talk 7: Love and Power, Power and Love

In the clip below, Fr. Rhor talks about the importance of vulnerability and uses the Hospice movement as an example of faith in action as they walk with another as death approaches.

The Hidden Power of the Gospels By: Alexander Shaia

The Hidden Power of the Gospels by Alexander J. Shaia explores the journey of life as it relates to the four Christian gospels. Dr. Shaia  discusses the original communities for which the gospels were written and shares the significance of the development of the Three-Year Sunday gospel reading sequence.

The four progressive paths of Quadratos correspond to the four gospels and the four great questions of the spiritual life –

First Path: How do we face change?
Climbing the Great Mountain of Matthew

Second Path: How do we move through suffering? Crossing Mark’s Stormy Sea

Third Path: How do we receive joy?
Resting in John’s Glorious Garden

Fourth Path: How do we mature in service?
Walking Luke’s Road of Riches

The link below will take you to a one-hour interview hosted by Rev. Alan Jones who, at the time was head of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco with Dr. Shaia. So if you are a traveler that enjoys listening to Christians of different traditions talk about the life of Christ, then please feel free to visit Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for some far reaching discussions and perhaps a view of the gospels you have never experienced before. Prepare to go “Beyond the Biography of Jesus”.

Click here to see Alexander talk about his book “Beyond the Biography of Jesus”.

Books for Wanderers at the Itinerant Preacher Bookstore

To help you find  out more about these books I have built our very own bookstore. Click here or on the picture below and see a few recommendations for some reading for the road. Any funds raised by your purchased will be donated to The Friends of Dismas. If you have some suggested books that have meant something to you, send me a note I would love to hear about them.

2 Responses to “Books”

  1. Juliane says:

    Mike !

    Thank you so very much for putting this blog and book list together….. I have read the Prodigal Son and our dear friend Harry gave me Tattoos on the Heart …. Anyhow, I will be most certain to check out your other suggestions. Lovely blog by the way… I look forward to following you in your travels. :)

    Peace, justice, grace and blessings,

    ps. Until God opens the next door, praise him in the hallway!!!

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