Thursday, 31 July 2008


Due to the fact we are supposed to the moving, should anyone buy our house, I have been thinking about what essentials are actually necessary to carry around with one. Wardrobe essentials and kitchen essentials are easy, I'm not a fan of gadgets and I have a very conservative colour scheme with clothes so it is quite easy to trim the wardrobe down. More difficult is the book essentials and rather than bore you with my essential, "must have" physics/teaching collection, I thought I'd ponder my essential books for evangelisation. By evangelisation, I mean the proclamation of the Faith and the Gospels in whatever random situation you may find yourself in, not necessarily formal catechisis. The teaching/evangelisation that happens when talking with friends or colleagues or neighbours, the teaching that happens just by the way you handle a particular difficult situation and those involved know you are a Catholic. You may well have a different set of essentials, I'd be interested to know.

Here goes:

(1) the Bible: pretty obvious really and on the whole the RSV Catholic Edition is a readable and accessible translation.
(2) My prayer life would be much poorer without the Douay Rheims/ Challoner translation of the Psalms. I don't think any evangelisation can take place if you don't have an active prayer life. Prayer books and the Office are essentials but I assume their use and have not included them in the list.
(3)The Catechism of the Catholic Church: I love this tome! Originally I mistyped this and wrote I live this, it is inspirational and I do try.
(4) Humanae Vitae: Own it, read it, know it
(5) The Theology of the Body Made Simple- Anthony Percy (gracewing):Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body is vast, but this slim little volume nicely extracts the essentials. I think its contents should be known.
(6)God is Near Us- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Ignatius Press): Some inspirational teaching on the Eucharist is vital and I personally have got a lot out of this book that I have passed on.
(7) The Stripping of the Altars- Eamon Duffy (Yale): This essentials shelf is getting a bit heavy and this book is the same weight as the Catechism, but I do think this book is one worth getting to grips with if there are wavering Anglicans in you life. By dealing with the history of ordinary worship in England from 1400-1580 it shows just how Catholic we were and how similar these people were to ourselves. Profoundly; it shows how the entire life of an ordinary person was totally consumed in living out the faith. How prayer and intercession were so important, how the relationship between the living and the dead was essential, how earthy and sensible the faith was as well as being sacred and mysterious. There are so many stories to tell from it that may just get people thinking....
(8) A book on some figure from recent Catholic history who made a difference by doing something extraordinary, counter cultural and brave because of his/her faith. I'm a big fan of the founder of Aid to the Church in Need so I have Fr Werenfried- A Life by Joanna Bogle (Gracewing). A useful book to retell inspiring snippets from.


Irene said...


Like many other people, I live full-time with my two dogs in a medium-sized Airstream. Like you, I find that kitchen and wardrobe are easy.

Though I love to read, I have no books outside of a few small campground directories. But I do have my laptop, so I do not share your selection problem. The bibles, the CCC, the encyclicals, the fathers, and others without limit are at my finger tips. I even have access to physics. I do not miss the copyrighted items on your list because there are other ways around to the same info. It is wonderful!

So you see, since you already are on the internet, you do not have a problem.

Rita said...

You are very lucky if you can read dense text from a computer screen, I find it very difficult. Still, I'd like to get everything downsized to fit in an Airstream...

The internet is a marvelous tool for evangelisation and learning, and to think, I remember using it when it only had about a few Mb of stuff on it.

Kirk said...

Ahh Fr Werenfried - what a truly good man! I have his two books and they are an excellent read as well as his book on the Seasons. Years ago I wrote to Fr Werenfried to tell him what I thought of his work and to ask if he would kindly remember at Mass my Grandfather who had died un-reconciled to Holy Mother Church.
Imagine my surprise to get a personal reply that including some words of comfort. I think that the fact that this extremely busy, saintly man, took the time out to write a lengthy letter to me speaks volumes about him.

Irene said...

Rita, please download and install the Opera 9 browser from -- if you use it for your browser, you will be able to enlarge text to any size you desire, on the fly.

Try it, you'll like it.