The Common Good

5 Books to Spark Your Soul

Alas, simply reading a book won't make you a better person. But when it comes to spirituality, books can sometimes provide the catalyst or guidance that will help you go deeper in your relationship with God. Here are some recent books that might bring a bit of spark to the soul.

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March 24 is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed by a single bullet to the heart as he was saying Mass. Oscar Romero and the Communion of the Saints, a biography by Scott Wright, is not a typical "spirituality" book. But Wright focuses on the faith journey of Romero, including his "conversion" from being a relatively conservative and cautious bishop to assuming a profoundly prophetic ministry in the last three years of his life. Orbis

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Meditation and Prayer, edited by Peter Frick, is a slim volume of brief quotes from the writings of the German pastor and theologian, intended to be seeds for learning (or relearning) a daily practice of contemplation and prayer. As Bonhoeffer wrote, "Before daybreak, Jesus prays. God wants to open up the heart, before the heart opens up to the world. Before the ear listens to the countless voices of the day, let it hear the voice of the Creator and Redeemer." Liturgical Press

Each volume in the Augsburg Books' 40-Day Journey Series also draws from the words of a spiritual leader and thinker to create daily meditations, accompanied by scripture, questions for pondering, journaling suggestions, and prayers. 40-Day Journey with Howard Thurman draws on the wisdom of the great mystic, pastor, and educator, whose insights on the spiritual undergirding of nonviolence, justice, and human dignity were formative to Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others in the civil rights movement and beyond.

Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: The Art of Janet McKenzie, edited by Susan Perry, is a beautiful presentation of 28 of McKenzie's evocative works, paired with reflections by women that include Ann Patchett, Helen Prejean, Katie Geneva Cannon, Joan Chittister, and Jeanette Rodriguez. The works are arranged to follow and illuminate Jesus' life through the stories of the diverse women who surrounded him and who continue to embody God's message and presence in the world. Orbis

"Virtually anything can carry something of God to us," writes Dean Nelson in his new book God Hides in Plain Sight. Nelson thoughtfully (and often humorously) reflects on eight sacraments

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