Books that Merit Attention – March 2021

by Sister Laura Swan

Saint Benedict’s Wisdom: Monastic Spirituality and the Life of the Church by Luigi Gioia, OSB, Liturgical Press, 2020. I rarely encounter a new book on Benedictine spirituality that offers a fresh approach. I am impressed. Gioia explores the monastic journey (inclusive for all seekers) through the lens of wisdom gained by embracing the inner life seriously and lived day-by-day. I encourage you to pick this up.



Illuminated Space. A Personal Theory & Contemplative Practice of Media Art by Marilyn Freeman, the 3rd Thing, 2020. Oblate Marilyn is a gifted artist who has created video images for use in “visio divina” as well as other creative film projects. This is simply a beautiful book where she takes us through her creative process, inviting us to wake up to life with all its beauty and pain. Her process invites us truly to see.



Long Time Coming. Reckoning with Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson, St. Martin’s Press, 2020. Dyson is a keen intellect who treats his subjects with poetic passion. I’ve always appreciated his books. Long Time Coming traces the “genealogy of anti-Blackness” by addressing each chapter to a martyr, beginning with Emmitt Till (d. 1955). He is engaging and will keep your attention


Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship by Pope Francis, Twenty-Third Publications, 2020. Pope Francis confronts a dark cloud over a closed world filled with fear and conflict; encourages us to envision and engender an open world valuing the rights of all people; expresses his belief that love integrates and unites us; invites us to a new culture as neighbors without boundaries; and challenges us that forgiveness is the way forward to enable solidarity with one another. Our community will study Fratelli Tutti during our retreat this year.


Earth, Our Original Monastery. Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature by Christine Valters Paintner, Oblate of St. Placid Priory. When we contemplate the intimate connection of earth with our monastic tradition, we see how God speaks to us through earth as God’s original cathedral, original scriptures, original saint, original spiritual director, original icon, original sacrament and original liturgy. Each chapter follows a similar format of practices that enable us to cultivate wonder and live a deeper contemplative awareness. Loving what God has created allows us to live in praise.