Welcome back to “The Clergy Speaks”, a recurring feature here at The Catholic Book Blogger. “The Clergy Speaks” is a column focusing on one question I have asked various members of the clergy. That question is: What five books would you recommend as must-reads for Catholics today? I left the responses open to current or classic books with the only restriction being that the Bible and the Catechism could not be used as they are a given. This week I am thrilled to welcome my Bishop, The Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA.
Bishop Gainer was appointed the Eleventh Bishop of Harrisburg by his Holiness Pope Francis on January 24, 2014. He was installed as Bishop of Harrisburg on March 19, 2014.
Bishop Gainer was born August 24, 1947, in Pottsville, PA. After studies for the priesthood he was ordained a Priest for the diocese of Allentown on May 19, 1973. He was consecrated and installed as Bishop of Lexington, KY on February 22, 2003.
Bishop Gainer completed studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia in 1973, earning a Master of Divinity degree, summa cum laude and has earned a licentiate degree in Canon Law and a diploma in Latin Letter from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1986.
For much of his Priesthood Bishop Gainer served in parish, campus ministry, marriages and family, and tribunal positions. As Secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Allentown he supervised 14 diocesan offices and the promotion of the works of spiritual renewal and evangelization.
On the national level, Bishop Gainer is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Administrative Committee and Committee on Priorities and Planning. He has served as Chair of the Region V of the USCCB as well as having served on the Committee on Catholic Education, the Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, as well as a regional representative to the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, and liaison with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. He is also on the Sacred Heart School of Theology Board of Directors.
Here are his picks for 5 must read books:
1) Pastoral Care by Pope St. Gregory the Great
Written in the late sixth century by one who very reluctantly accepted his election as the Bishop of Rome, this book has been a classic for the formation of the clergy. It reveals the burdensome responsibilities of sacred ministry, as well as profound insights into human nature. Lay faithful who read this classic learn what to expect and what to pray for in our pastors.
2) Introduction to the Devout Lifeby St. Francis de Sales
3 1/2 centuries before the second Vatican Council taught “the universal call to holiness”, the gentle Bishop of Geneva gave this timeless instruction for growth in spiritual perfection to all “Lovers of God”. Whatever our state in life, holiness is our common vocation.
3) Life of Christby Fulton J. Sheen
Time and time again in my prayer and homily preparation I have turned to this 1958 classic by America’s preeminent bishop. His rich insights into the world and the person of our Lord always inspires and generates rich food for mind and soul.
This three volume work by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been an indispensable guide in my own “seeking the face of Christ” (Vol. 1, p. xxiii).
No other author I have ever read reveals the astounding interconnection of the texts of the Old and New Testament’s and leads me consistently to a deeper knowledge and love of Christ.
5) Evangelical Catholicismby George Weigel (2013)
The Church exists to evangelize. Weigel’s careful and clear analysis of the Church’s essential mission and the challenges and opportunities in our contemporary culture should inspire the reader to live our Catholic faith more passionately and more fruitfully.
Bishop Ronald Gainer