Recommended Reading

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

HNP Today occasionally provides recommendations of publications that are relevant to friars and partners-in-ministry. These three were submitted by Neil O’Connell, OFM, of New York City, and Julie Ogden of the 20’s/30’s group at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston.

The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work (2011 Liguori Publications) by Randy Hain is recommended by Ogden.”Being a light for Christ is ultimately the best way to share your faith with others as they will be drawn to you by your good example and joy,” according to the book’s description. But how does one do this on a practical level in the workplace today? This guide offers suggestions on how to integrate the Catholic faith with one’s job, through tips such as finding time for prayer and reflection throughout the day, and the inspirational stories of others who have learned how to bring their Catholic identity with them to work. This book also explores ways to make business decisions through the filter of Catholic teaching, according to the book’s description. The Catholic Briefcase is a useful tool for Catholics struggling to reconcile their workday with their Catholicism.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Books 2012) is regarded as the culminating volume of author James H. Cone’s theologizing and is recommended by Neil O’Connell, OFM, and Fr. Christian Reuter, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, both members of the OFM Interfamilial African Ancestry Apostolate. Cone delayed the writing and publishing of this book because of his personal pain from growing up in Arkansas, where lynching was most rampant, said Neil. The Cross and the Lynching Tree is an act of liberation freeing him to confidently submit lynching to the scrutiny of theological analysis. “Though separated by almost 2,000 years and apparent different symbolisms, the cross and the lynching tree find an identity in his theologizing. Jesus and African-American victims of lynching share a common ground — Jesus was being recrucified through the victims of lynching,” Neil said. “Like Mary, African-American women have stood at the foot of the cross/lynching tree and have formed a continuous line of strength and confrontation in the face of the horror of the lynching of their fathers, husbands and sons.” Cone concludes by suggesting that African Americans and white Americans might bridge the chasm between them by placing themselves together on the cross/lynching tree. “Maybe, for Franciscans, Bonaventure’s discourse of the cross as the tree of life might further illumine this book as they read it,” Neil said.

Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor (2011 Paraclete Press) by Jana Reiss, recommended by Ogden, is a wry memoir that tackles 12 different spiritual practices as the author begins a quest to become more saintly, including fasting, fixed-hour prayer, the Jesus Prayer, gratitude, Sabbath-keeping, and generosity, according to the book’s description. Although the author begins with great plans for success, she finds to her growing humiliation that she is failing — not just at some of the practices, but at every single one. What emerges is a funny, yet vulnerable, story of the quest for spiritual perfection and the reality of spiritual failure, which turns out to be a valuable practice in and of itself.

The HNP Communications Office welcomes emails from readers who would like to suggest a book or periodical. Themes that are relevant to friars and partners-in-ministry — in addition to spirituality and news of the Catholic Church — include topics affiliated with Holy Name Province committees and directorates: evangelization, vocations, justice and peace, wellness, African-American and Hispanic ministries, and young adults.

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas