Books that Merit Attention – August 2021

by Sister Laura Swan

Saint Benedict’s Rule, an Inclusive Translation, Judith Sutera OSB, Liturgical Press, 2021, is available in two versions: the text only, or with commentary. She has divided the Rule for daily reading, assuming the Rule would be read through three times each year. Her commentary includes a paragraph that explores the reading within the context of St. Benedict’s world; the second paragraph then considers what this might have to do with contemporary life; and her own reflection is followed by three questions for the reader’s reflection.


Rooted. Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, Lyanda Haupt, Little, Brown Spark, 2021. The reader is immediately drawn in, exploring the myriad ways the Divine speaks to us through creation. Her language is poetic and prophetically piercing, inviting us deeper into our humanity. Her explorations echo many Benedictine values. I highly recommend this.



The Church and the Racial Divide. Reflections of an African American Catholic Bishop, Bishop Edward Braxton, Orbis Books, 2021. Braxton has been one of our sane voices in the U.S. Church, speaking from his own experience as a Black man and attempting to draw the Church into 323a more honest assessment of our racial history and the call to conversion. He writes hard truths with an elegant pen, producing a worthy read.



Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?, Timothy O’Malley, Ave Maria Press, 2021. There has been much debate around the meaning of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Claims abound that U.S. Catholics no longer understand or believe in the Real Presence, yet come forth to receive. And unfortunately some are attempting to politicize the reception of communion. This is a short, down-to-earth introduction to what “Real Presence” actually means: through history, poetry, and the mystics.



Stability. How an Ancient Monastic Practice Can Restore Our Relationships, Churches, and Communities, Nathan Oates, Paraclete Press, 2021. Of all aspects of our oblation / monastic profession, stability might be the most confusing for Americans to meaningfully apply to their lives. Yet St. Benedict considered stability to be essential and foundational to our spiritual transformation. Oates unpacks the richness to be discovered when we commit to stability in our lives. I encourage Oblates, Associates, and all those who find wisdom in the Rule of Benedict to delve into this fine study.