Book Reviews: Lenten Reading 2020

A couple of years ago, I started reading books about the Catholic faith during Lent. You can read my previous posts from 2018 and 2019, if you wish. Normally, I only read three books during those 40 days, but because I started early … and have decided not to stop, I go through four this year. Here are my thoughts on each one.

  • Rediscover the Saints: Twenty-Five Questions That Will Change Your Life by Matthew Kelly
  • Around the Table: Retelling the Story of the Eucharist through the Eyes of Jesus’ First Followers by Scott R. Hurd
  • The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn
  • Going Deeper: A Reasoned Exploration of God and Truth by Leo Severino

Book Reviews: Lenten Reading 2020

Rediscover the Saints by Matthew Kelly

Rediscover the Saints by Matthew KellyAlthough this is not the first book by Matthew Kelly to be added to my collection, it is the first one I’ve read. In this book, Kelly explores a different saint in each chapter. He provides a small amount of information about the saint and then dives into what you can learn from that particular saint.

At first, I was a bit irritated by the book. Kelly assumes a lot of knowledge on the part of the reader. And, I suppose, if I had had a better Catholic education, I might have had that knowledge. However, I didn’t and so was often lost while reading the book.

Add to that Kelly’s habit of meandering in his writing, and you’ve got a mediocre book.

Why Read Rediscover the Saints?

  • This is a quick read and you’ll get a simple primer to a number of saints.
  • There are golden nuggets hidden among the silt.

Whay give Rediscover the Saints a pass?

  • This is a sloppily written book that meanders around, often attempting to tie two different ideas together that don’t really make sense together.

You can find this book on Amazon, however you can find it on Kelly’s site for much less money. I got mine for free this past Christmas, as the church was handing them out as a gift.

Around the Table by Scott R. Hurd

Around the TableTo help you better understand the Eucharist, Scott R. Hurd uses the bible as inspiration to tell fiction-style stories from the perspectives of those who were there with Jesus as the Last Supper. Each chapter introduces you to the main character, giving you some context for the story to follow. Then the story is told from the point of view of the character but in the second person.

I understand that Hurd was trying to help the reader immerse themselves in the character’s POV by using “you” language. But I found it off-putting. I would have found it much easier to read in the third person.

That said, experiencing the stories of the bible in story form — much like I do when I watch Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (one of my top 3 favorite films of all time) or Henry Koster’s The Robe — I gained insights I had not thought of before.

At the end of each chapter, Hurd provides a couple of questions as journal prompts and then lists all the bible passages that were referenced to create the story. I really enjoyed looking up and the passages that caught my interest.

Why Read Around the Table?

  • Reading Jesus story from the perspective of his closest companions could give you insight you had not thought of before
  • This book can be a great way to organize Bible study

Whay give Around the Table a pass?

  • Some people hate reading works in the second person. If this is you, pass on this book.

You can find this book on Amazon or through Ave Maria Press, which is where I purchased it.

The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn

The Lamb's SupperMy mind is blown. I will definitely have to read this book again.

This is the second book I’ve read by Scott Hahn and I am now convinced that I need to pick up every book he’s ever written and read them. He’s an amazing writer.

That said, even though Hahn writes clearly about topics that can be difficult to wrap your mind around, this is a dense book that is worth reading more than once. In it, Hahn explores an ancient view of the Catholic Mass and illustrates how the Book of Revelations is a vision of the Mass as Heaven on Earth. Heck! I could barely write that sentence clearly!

Like I said, mind blown.

I gained so many insights and deep ways of thinking about Mass and my life as a Catholic from reading this book. If you find it hard to connect to God during the weekly service, then I suggest you give this book a try. You’ll walk away with a whole new way of experiencing Mass.

Why Read The Lamb’s Supper?

  • Scott Hahn’s writing
  • Profound insights into what the mass is all about
  • If you are a convert from another faith, Hahn’s story of his conversion that is interlaced throughout this book may speak to you

Whay give The Lamb’s Supper a pass?

  • You’re not ready to go deeper into the Catholic faith

You can order this book through Amazon.

Going Deeper by Leo Severino

Going DeeperCan a falling leaf prove the existence of God?

In this book, Leo Severino walks you through the logical reasoning behind the existence of God, all starting from a falling leaf. Carefully and clearly, he shares the deductive and inductive logic that suggests — dare I say proves? — God’s existence.

The chapters that use deductive reasoning are straight forward and I didn’t find fault in them. However, once he had to move to inductive logic, I started to have questions.

Do I believe in the results of his logic? Yes. But I question whether his arguments, at least once he uses induction, are at tight as he claims them to be.

The implications of the information shared in this book are wide-reaching and I’m still digesting what I learned.

Why Read Going Deeper?

  • You enjoy philosophy and wish to see how a philosopher would prove the existence of God
  • You wish to have a logical reason for your belief in God

Whay give Going Deeper a pass?

  • Philisophical arguments go over your head

You can order this book through Amazon.

Summary Conclusions

The books I enjoyed the most and gained the most food for thought were Around the Table and The Lamb’s Supper. Of the four books, these are the ones I would recommend the most strongly.

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