The Eighth Day

Feast of Nicephorous the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople
The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder

The_Eighth_Day_Square.jpgWILDER WROTE The Eighth Day after a lifetime of scattered energy. Birthed during a concentrated twenty-month retreat in the southwest, it became what Wilder called his “only real novel.” It was, he said, as if Dostoevsky had reworked Little Women—set in a small American coal mining town. It is the story of two families, the... Continue Reading

The Mirrored World

Feast of St Theodosia, Virgin-Martyr of Constantinople
The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

MIrrored_World_Square.jpgIN 1758, IN AN AGE when the extravagant lives of the Russian wealthy seemed to mock the struggles of the destitute, one of the St. Petersburg noblewomen—once a carefree guest at balls and a presence at court—suddenly disappeared. She had recently been mystifying her friends with strange behavior: she had begun giving away all her possessions,... Continue Reading

Against Religion

Feast of St Irene the Great Martyr
Against Religion: The Alienation of the Ecclesial Event by Christos Yannaras; trans. Norman Russell

Yannaras_Square.jpgWHEN THIS ORTHODOX theologian tackles the greatest force undermining Christianity today, the usual suspects (materialism, secularism, etc.) don’t even make the list. The real tension, he contends, lies between Church—defined as the ecclesial “event” of participation in the Eucharistic body—and religion per se. Yannaras doesn’t stop, however, with... Continue Reading

The Feast of Friendship

Feast of Symeon the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Persia
The Feast of Friendship (2nd Ed.) by Fr Paul D. O'Callaghan

Eucharist_Square.jpgWHETHER THE author knows it or not, this is a profoundly humble book—in the sense of the Latin root of the word which indicates the soil from which something grows. The soil for this book is rich: the insights of Aristotle, biblical paradigms of friendship (David and Jonathan,... Continue Reading

The Aquinas Catechism

Feast of St John Climacus
The Aquinas Catechism: A Simple Explanation of the Catholic Faith by the Church's Greatest Theologian by St Thomas Aquinas; foreword by Ralph McInerny

Aquinas_Catechism_book_cover_square.jpgTHE TITLE OF St. Thomas Aquinas’s magnum opusThe Summa Theologia—can be misleading. A layman might think it is merely a “summary” of theology. The steep learning curve involved in understanding this great work makes one think: “If this is a summary... Continue Reading

The First Thousand Years

Feast of the Martyr Sabinas of Egypt
The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity by Robert Louis Wilken

First_Thousand_Years_Square.jpg“CHRISTIANITY IS an affair of things.” This line comes late in Wilken’s book, but it sums up his entire approach to the rise and flourishing of the Church in the first millennium of its existence. For Wilken, the Church moved from a persecuted minority to an imperial... Continue Reading

Great Lent

Feast of St Quadratus the Martyr and His Companions
Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

Great_Lent_cover_Square.jpgALEXANDER SCHMEMANN, one of the most respected and widely-read Orthodox writers of the 20th century challenges, in all his work, our willing acceptance of a modern consciousness against a thorougly Christian one. Taking seriously the radical nature of the faith and its exemplar in the Church Fathers, Schmemann never fails... Continue Reading

Unseen Warfare

Feast of Hesychius the Martyr
Unseen Warfare by Lorenzo Scupoli; edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain; revised by Theophan the Recluse

Unseen_Warfare_Square.jpgUNSEEN WARFARE consists of eighty chapters on how to wage spiritual warfare, and thus avoid the fate of those who embrace spiritual atrophy. Originally written by a sixteenth-century Roman Catholic priest, Lorenzo Scupoli, the text was translated into Greek and edited by the Orthodox monk Nicodemus of Mount... Continue Reading

A First Glance at St. Thomas Aquinas

Feast of St Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople
A First Glance at St. Thomas Aquinas: A Handbook for Peeping Thomists by Ralph McInerny

First_Glance_Square.jpgMORE THAN AN introduction to the achievement of St. Thomas Aquinas, this book is an elegant time machine transporting us to an earlier, more confident way of thinking and perceiving reality. McInerny contrasts Aquinas and Descartes, arguing that Aquinas, not Descartes, trusts our ability to perceive the... Continue Reading

Lost in the Cosmos

Feast of Leo, Bishop of Catania
Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy

Lost_in_Cosmos_cover_Square.jpgTHIS STRANGE BOOK by the great Southern novelist is a genre unto itself: an oblique, lighthearted and philosophical toying with the distinctive foibles of late twentieth-century culture, in the form of a multiple choice, do-it-yourself personality evaluation. "I love this book . . . it makes me squirm at times, in self-recognition"... Continue Reading