This has been a good season for books that any deacon would be happy to add to his shelf. So if you’re looking for a gift for that special deacon in your life (cough), let me throw out a few suggestions.
Every Day with Saint Joseph, edited by Dr. Mary Amore (OSV). This is a handy daily devotional with reflections from a variety of writers on the life and meaning of the saint who was more than just the foster father of Jesus. St. Joseph today serves a model of obedience, fidelity and courage for our own complicated age. The book devotes each month to a different characteristic of the saint — Faithfulness in January, Tenderness in February, Obedience in March, and so on — and offers a short insight and prayer to help us strengthen those qualities in our own lives. After we’ve been marking the Year of St. Joseph, this book serves as a welcome chaser, and a way to keep the saint a prominent presence in our world.
Feed the Wolf: Befriending Our Fears in the Way of St. Francis by Jon M. Sweeney (Broadloaf Books). What deacon doesn’t love reading about the great deacon saint, Francis? More than another biography or spiritual reflection on the saint from Assisi, this book takes iconic moments from St. Francis’s life — such as the encounter in the title — and challenges the reader to learn from them and, quite possibly, grow. As Jon Sweeney writes in his first chapter: “When we overcome our fears and do what’s right, we meet the wolf, sometimes in ourselves, and begin to understand that we are all wolves, after all, at one time or another.” It’s a terrific read, and is best consumed with a felt tip pen or highlighter in one hand. You’ll want to keep this close by.
Our Life of Service: The Handbook for Deacons by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (Ave Maria Press). This is a book a lot of us have been waiting for: a practical, accessible, engaging glimpse into the life and ministry of the deacon, written by one of the most inspiring and familiar deacons in the country. Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers — a popular presence on EWTN and elsewhere around the country — unpacks what it means to be a deacon, and offers insights, pointers and personal testimony from men in the vocation (including Your Humble Blogger.) This book could be a great resource for formation programs, and I suspect even deacons who have been working in the vineyard for a while will find new insights about how to make their ministry bear more fruit.
Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C, edited by Deacon Jim Knipper (Clear Faith Publishing). I blogged about this exceptional new addition to Jim Knipper’s series some days back, and I do think it’s a worthy gift for preachers of all stripes. As I wrote: “This year’s writers feature once again a wide array of preachers, including Father Greg Boyle, Father Richard Rohr, Megan McKenna, Father James Martin, Rev. Penny Nash, Robert Ellsberg, Deacon Bill Ditewig … and me. I’m proud to be a part of this ongoing project that was launched by a deacon and that is truly — in spirit and in execution — diaconal. Year after year, this effort continues to witness to the Gospel — loving and caring for those who are so often in need. It is Matthew 25, done with paper and ink (and a significant amount of heart.)” This year, funds raised from book sales will support charities devoted specifically to providing water for those in need.
And finally, if you’re looking for another idea, there’s this little prayer book that might make a nice stocking stuffer.
All the books listed here are available through their publishers, at many local Catholic bookstores and, of course, on Amazon.com. Check ’em out. And have a blessed, merry and page-turning Christmas!