Book Reviews

Explore Our Library and Bookstore for Inspirational Reading

We hope our book reviews give you inspiration on what book to read next.

Our Bookstore is open Wednesdays from 10 am to noon and 1 pm-3 pm, at scheduled times during retreats and by appointment Mon-Fri during office hours.

Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God

by James Finley
This is a classic on the path and process of Christian contemplation. The author James Finley, was a monk in the Trappist monastery of Gethsemane under the mentorship of Thomas Merton in the early years of his life. Mr. Finley brings forth a lifetime of his own study and experience as a retreat master, along with insights drawn from his relationship with Thomas Merton, spiritual classics like "The Cloud of Unknowing", and the contemplative Christian saints. This is an invaluable book for those who wish to deepen their prayer life and understand the history and origins of Christian contemplative spirituality. His often poetic prose expresses the inexpressible, the relationship between the soul and God, and yet defines a practice to grow in this relationship. At times in the book, I wished that he would be clearer and more concise. But possibly he is leaving things open ended, just like his teacher Thomas Merton, who would never gave a process for contemplation. If you wish for a more defined book, look to Fr. Thomas Keating's book on centering prayer, "Open Mind, Open Heart". This is a book for the beginner and the lifelong seeker that seeks to revive the ancient tradition of daily Christian meditation. A rare view into the essence of the Christian life. - Julia Gauvin

The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom

by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Many of us have been touched by the spiritual writings of Fr. Nouwen, possibly best-known for his book "The Return of the Prodigal Son". "The Inner Voice of Love" is Nouwen's personal journal written at a time of deep anguish, hurt, rejection, and depression. Through facing his grief and despair, he was able to come to a place of healing, and deep spiritual insights. These short reflections speak to all of us who have or are experiencing the deep inner pain of loss and brokenness. - Terri Search

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

by Katherine May
Wintering is a delightful, wise, and reflective book that is a welcome read for all of us who delight in winter and especially for the rest of us. The author was no fan of winter so one year decided to embrace the challenges it presents. As a friend noted, the author approached that winter as a verb rather than a noun which resulted in her exploring, discovering, and receiving the surprises, secrets, and life found in the season, not only as a season of the year but also as an internal season which we all face regardless of the time of year. - Terri Sersch

Five Minutes Matter: End of Life Reflections on Spirituality and Religion

by Vince Hatt
The author of this insightful book is well known to the many people who have attended the Franciscan Spirituality Center’s Spiritual Director’s Training Program where Vince was the director for several years. For those of you who were not familiar with Vince, this is your opportunity to become acquainted with this wise, holy, and delightful mentor to many. Vince shares his reflections on life, his impending death, religion, and spirituality, among other pertinent subjects. He does this with insight, humor, gratitude, and vulnerability. Carving out 5-minutes a day to read these reflections is the perfect way to find inspiration amidst the busyness of your day. - Terri Sersch

A Light Shines Through Us

by Joe Sweeney
Our Book Club has been discussing this business man's memoir about his friendship with a Franciscan sister. The two have different perspectives about many things, but their open and honest conversations about religion, faith, spirituality and the meaning of life lead to a deep friendship. I enjoyed the book because it is an easy read, and offers hope that we can learn from those who have different political views, different religious practices, and different life experiences if we can listen to others and see that the light of God that shines through all of us. - Marge Lindell

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

by Henri J.M. Nouwen
This book is a powerful personal reflection on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son as recorded in Luke. Nouwen views the parable through the lens of Rembrandt’s painting of the same name and also sharing his personal relationship to the story through his own life experiences. The book is divided into three parts relating to the characters in the story but also making comparisons to the stages of one’s own life: the younger son, the elder son, and the father. You can’t help but see yourself in all three roles. Nouwen’s raw honesty led me to look at my internal dialog with the Divine more closely in the different life roles one experiences. While affirming God’s compassion the human free will, does not diminish God’s power to not only seek, but call his children home, and to raise the spiritually dead to new life. The Return of the Prodigal Son deserves “classic” status. This book was spiritually refreshing and thought provoking. It was an important reminder to me that I am truly God’s child, that I am loved, and unconditionally forgiven, and that I am free within the presence of my heavenly Father. - Candace Bahr

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