The Patheos Book Club is a busy place with a wide variety of books constantly being explored and discussed. This Tuesday, it started looking at two Catholic books that could not be more different. One is the posthumous publication of the writings of an often physically-challenged Dominican priest assisting at the Second Vatican Council; one is written by a house-afire of a woman assisting pregnant women.
So, I guess you could say that both books have to do with the process of giving birth — of gestation and deliverance and aftermath.
The first is Yves Congar’s My Journal of the Council, which the book club undertook just days after the 50th Anniversary of the opening of VCII and at 1,100 pages, gives us a fascinating and all-but-comprehensive “insider’s view” to the discussions and disagreements, the chafings, challenges and champions of that remarkable period. The book club, as always, offers background on the book and, in this case, not one but two excerpts — the first from a 1962 journal entry and another from 1965 (partly concerning a particular priest by the name of Wojtyla). Having two excerpts gives you a sense of scope, evolution and development while also giving you a chance to see how accessible and readable this tome is.
Among those currently gathered at the roundtable and opining on the book are scholar Joseph A. Komonchak, writer Peter Nixon, our indefatigable friend Brandon Vogt, and Sr. Judith Miryam Boneski, O.P., a nun from the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary. There are also videos of Father Robert Barron and Massimo Faggioli discussing the importance of this journal being available to us. Next next week should see the addition of a few more reviews by some familiar names. I was supposed to write something too, and perhaps over the weekend, I’ll manage to jot down some thoughts, so that’s a page worth check back to, several times.
The second title featured at the Book Club is one that we’ve posted about here on the blog, Sarah Reinhard’s A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy:Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, which The Wine-Dark Sea’s Melanie Bettinelli calls “the book I have been waiting for” while Chaunie Brusie` of Tiny Blue Lines treats us to an example of her making real-time use of the wisdom she gleaned from Reinhard’s work, and Julie Davis reassures us that this is not just another “what to expect when expecting” sort of book.
Indeed, it is not. What Sarah has put together is not a “pregnancy is bliss” book but “pregnancy and motherhood is a cross and it’s hard because it’s great” kind of book that urges moms to make the burden more bearable through prayer and the companionship of Our Lady. It is a very good, wise but down-to-earth book. Pat Gohn (who has a wholly re-designed website that includes a brand-new blog) has recorded a terrific interview with Sarah (who reads an excerpt) and I’ll link to it here with an update as soon as it posts, so check back!
(:::UPDATE::: Find Pat Gohn’s excellent podcast, here)
By the way, since Christmas is coming, you might want to consider either of these books as a gift.
You also might want to consider Pope Benedict XVI’s Infancy Narratives in the life of Christ.
As the Good Rats were wont to say, Birth Comes to Us All