At the height of the sexual abuse scandal several years ago, Boston College editor Ben Birnbaum asked Catholic writers to “reflect on the nature of hope and its sources and uses in our time.” Only one writer said he had no hope. The answers of the other 35 are published in Take Heart: Catholic Writers on Hope in Our Time (Crossroad). Some of the writers tackle hope in theological and philosophical terms. But almost all of the writers, being writers, associate their hope with things: “green chile, a blooded crossroad, a Monday evening meditation group, a subway ride, charm braclets, ‘Danny Boy,’ a neglected church building, and AIDS clinic, and Spanish anarchists,” writes Birnbaum. In other words, hope is everywhere.
Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2008 (Ave Maria) is the dead-tree version of the hugely popular website www.sacredspace.ie. The website, operated by Irish Jesuits, is a superb destination for daily prayer. The book contains most of what’s on the site. It frees you from the limitations of the internet. You can read it in bed, in the bathtub, on the beach, in church — anywhere.
The Benedictine Tradition by Laura Swan (Liturgical Press) presents Benedictine spirituality through the lives and writings of great saints, scholars, abbots, and martyrs. Swan writes concise essays about 13 Benedictines, along with excerpts from their writings. It’s an excellent way to learn about this great spiritual tradition.