Recommended summer reads for Catholic women (and men too)

Recommended summer reads for Catholic women (and men too) July 17, 2008

Here are some excellent books I have either read or am currently reading this summer and thought of recommending them to our readers:

1. Elisabeth Leseur: Selected Writings–Elisabeth was a lay French woman married to a staunch agnostic living in the late 19th century and first decade of the 20th century. Her husband, Félix, returned to the Catholic Church after Elisabeth’s death and became a Dominican priest years later. Elisabeth’s journal and practical resolutions stand as a great example for lay Catholic women who want to bring Christ to their homes. She was deeply affected by the social teachings of Leo XIII, which prompted her to reflect on the social issues of the time and what should be the proper Christian response to them. She was well ahead of their time with a deep understanding of the lay apostolate that would not surface officially in the Church until the Second Vatican Council. Elisabeth’s cause for canonization was opened Servant of God. The book I have linked to is from the Classics of Western Spirituality that has several of her writings, but if you want just her journal, you can find some cheap editions here. There are also some other good writings by her that you can find in Amazon. I will be posting on her life and spirituality sometime in the next few days in case you are curious to know more about her.

2. Christ in the Home by Raoul Plus, SJ–I found this book by accident on Amazon and I have incorporated it as part of my marriage preparation. Fr. Plus talks beautifully about the engaged couple, the nuptial Mass, the newly wed couple and life after “the wedding.” He has a lot of practical advice and spiritual direction for the married couple at any stage of their marriage as to how to bring Christ into the home.

3. Women in the Gospels by Carlo Cardinal Martini–Only for less than $3.00 in Amazon: these are talks by the Cardinal given to a group of thousands of religious women from his diocese. These are reflections drawn from Gospel scenes that intend to reflect on one’s vocation based on the response by the women in the Gospels to certain situations. The reflections are very Marian in nature, which has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation of Mary and her motherhood of the world. Strongly recommended for both men and women.

Any other recommendations?

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  • Funny you write this post today. I saw the Elisabeth Leseur volume yesterday when I was at the shrine on the CUA campus, and thought about getting it. I am sure I can find it cheaper, and maybe in hardback, on abebooks. But I will probably wait for now — not because of lack of interest, as much as I have other things I have ahead of it for now.

  • Now as to recommendations; if one is talk about studies on women in Christianity, I would recommend St Edith Stein’s Essays on Woman. .

  • Henry,

    Elisabeth Leseur is a wonderful read… I have only read her journal so far, but it seems that her “little treatises” and the letters she wrote to her nephews on how to participate in the social sphere look very interesting as well… Smart woman… I’ll post my short essay on her maybe tomorrow… I have the Classics of Western Spirituality hardcover edition that I bought used (well it was in mint condition) on Amazon for $15.00 that was much cheaper than what Amazon sold it for.

    Thanks for the recommendation by Edith Stein. I have to browse through Michael’s collection of Edith Stein, but given the numerous books he has by her, I’m sure he has those essays.

  • Policraticus

    Yes, I have all of the works of Edith Stein that have been translated into English.

  • I always loved Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – she distilled the best lessons of married life into a novel, and gosh, the new translation recently published is really good.

    And I am a huge fan of Edith, though it’s been my experience in women’s groups over the years that she is kind of a tough read. I’ve been trying to get through Finite and Eternal Being for years, but am just too distractible.

    Edith and her Essays on Woman inspired me to start a newsletter on spirituality for Catholic women. you can check it out at my website –

  • blackadderiv

    Love the photo.

  • “The Duty of Delight” by Dorothy Day, her journal just recently released. I have found it especially helpful for prayer and daily living. “Raissa’s Journal” by Raissa Maritain.

  • RCM

    Wonderful! Thanks, Katerina. I have never heard of Elizabeth before. I look forward to buying the book!

  • Rosalie Riegle

    I, too, have found Dorothy Day’s jouranls wonderful spiritual reading. I thought I knew a lot about dorothy, having written *Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her* but I learned SO much form “The Duty of Delight.” For instance, I read of how she often awoke discouraged but prayed herself into joy or at least acceptance, how much time she spent caring for her daughter and her grandchildren, how many hours she found for prayer and reading. Next time ’round I’m going to list all the hundreds of books she mentions, many of them novels. BTW, she, too, loved SigridUndset’s *Kriten Lavrensdatter* and Undset visited Dorothy when she came to the States.

  • Oh wow, thanks for the tip on Dorothy Day’s journal!! I wanted to do a paper on her spirituality for my class and I was wondering if she had ever read a journal, because that is where you really see someone’s innermost love for God and others. I ended up doing it on Elisabeth Leseur, but thanks for the tip!

  • Rosalie Riegle

    If you ever want to do some academic work on Dorothy’s spirituality, you might also want to look at Brigis O’Shea Merriman’s *Searching for Christ: The Spirituality of Dorothy Day (ND Studies in American Catholicism) March, 2001