By Adam Janke, Program Director
Not every book on this list is brand new, but anyone who wants to learn about the New Evangelization and the what people are talking about in the Church today would do well to explore these titles.
Taking the Catholic world by storm, Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples is the stand out book of the last two years on the New Evangelization. Being read and used by bishops, priests, and lay people all over the country who are engaged in the actual work of evangelization this text lands in the #1 spot on our list. It explores the truth about what is going on in the US Church today without sugarcoating it, what evangelization is, what discipleship looks like, what a discipled parish looks like, and the practical steps that parishes, organizations, and individuals need to take to help bring about the fruit of the New Evangelization. If you read any book on this list, this is it. Then buy 10 more copies to give away to others in ministry.
Whereas Sherry’s book is a step by step manual to the New Evangelization, Weigel gives us a historical perspective on how the Catholic Church is evangelical, and the direction of where the Church as a whole needs to go from here. He lays out principles for reform from the episcopate to the priesthood as well as the liturgy, consecrated life, the lay vocation, the intellectual life of the Church, and social policy. This is the second most important book for the New Evangelization today.
Pope Francis has given the world a gem in this 50,000 word document in which he lays out his plan for the New Evangelization that hinges on 1) urgency, 2) encounter, and 3) the christocentricity of the Gospel message. He leaves no stone unturned as he talks about the need for every Catholic Christian to be an agent of the New Evangelization whatever their place in life and area of responsibility. Along with Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio, and Verbum Domini we have another document that will be referenced time and time again as we turn to prayer and creativity in bringing about the conversion of souls.
Probably one of the lesser known books on this list, it is worth noting for the examples Fr. Wehner gives of Catholics actually engaged in the New Evangelization on a parish level. He gives examples of what parishes can do now to engage in the New Evangelization from using social media, understanding the importance of beauty in the liturgy, using good catechesis as an instrument of evangelization, and being a witness to Jesus Christ first and foremost.
An evangelist must have a balanced practice between active works and a contemplative interior life. Chautard’s masterpiece should be on the bedside table of every evangelist as it was for Pope St. Pius X. It is my hope to increase awareness about this book so more people will turn to it, especially evangelists. Along with the next title it is a “way” and a “guide” to Christian living.
Of all of the spiritual classics that Catholic saints have produced the last 2,000 years the Interior Castle stands out as the text for evangelists. You can’t give what you don’t have, and St. Teresa gives us a measuring stick for how we are doing in our pursuit of sainthood as it relates to prayer and virtue. Are we advancing in the spiritual life? Are we putting away sin and increasing in love? This book proves to be invaluable for the Christian as they seek to die to themselves and live for Christ.
This is the best apologetic work I have read in the past few years. Dr. Kaczor, a master of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, has produced an immensely readable work on how to respond to common myths about the Catholic faith. I read it in one sitting and then went back and read it again. He uses a simple, logical progression of thought to dismantle myths such as “The Church Opposes Science” and “The Church Hates Women”. By reading it you will be better equipped to counter these harmful misconceptions that are so often perpetuated in the media and by non-Catholics.
Pope Francis said that an evangelist should never look like he has just come back from a funeral. The worldwide bestseller earns a place for 2014 because Catholics need to learn the principles that not only makes a great salesman, but makes for a great evangelist as well. Smile! Find common ground! Use a person’s name! Don’t complain! Pray! Every Catholic evangelist should read this book once a year.
Carnegie also teaches that the best way to win an argument is to avoid it. I couldn’t agree more. However, people want to know about the Catholic faith and sometimes they oppose her teachings. Ivereigh fulfills a need here which serves as a wonderful follow-up to the principles taught in Carnegie’s text.
As our post-Christian culture continues to struggle, Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Liberty offers an easy to read text on why we need to turn back to cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude if we are to stop our culture from circling the drain.
Another book that should be more well-known than it is. Written by a professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville Dr. Bergsma teaches Catholics the basics of the story of salvation and how to explain that story in none other than stick figures. It is fun to read and fun to put into practice as evangelists share the story of salvation in the classroom and beyond.
The redefinition of marriage seems inevitable to some, but these three scholars offer a short and reasonable argument for why the traditional definition of marriage is the only one that makes sense. Without appealing to authority or religion their case of civil marriage between one man and one woman is something Catholics should study and be well versed in.
So, are you a pro-life Catholic or a social justice Catholic? This false dichotomy created to categorize Catholics would make Kierkegaard cringe. Brandon Vogt shows the world that all Catholics are by their very nature “social justice Catholics” just as they are “pro-life Catholics”. Taking us through the stories of the saints this inspiring work shows us how the Catholic Church is the most charitable organization in the history of the world and how it is integral to our identity as Catholics. And at a ridiculous $3.19 on Amazon Kindle everyone should read this book.
For better or worse there is a sudden rush for Catholic publishers and authors to release books on the New Evangelization. Anything by Scott Hahn is worth keeping an eye on though.