In the late 1980s, I finally took the plunge and started graduate school on a part-time basis. I had survived my first year of teaching high school and was ready to be the student rather than the teacher. One of the first classes I took was “Psalms” with Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. My choices were limited to evening and weekend courses, and Fr. Carroll’s class was one of the few that fit that very modest criteria. I was eager to be in the classroom again.
Fr. Carroll was one of the leading authorities on the Book of Psalms. His skill at teaching was like that of a top-ranked athlete, especially a skater or gymnast—graceful, engaging, dynamic, surprising, awe-inspiring. With only the most basic background in Scriptures, I was anxious that I would not understand the insider language that is part of the world of Scripture scholars and have difficulty keeping up.
In the ten weeks that followed, I discovered that Fr. Carroll presumed nothing about our abilities as students. Because he taught from the heart of his passion for the Psalms, we found it was impossible not to be drawn into sharing that same love.
In the over 30 years since I took that course, there is one lesson that I have never forgotten. We were studying the psalms of lament at the time, and Fr. Carroll pointed out that despite the depths of despair and sadness that the psalmist expresses, he always remembers and repeats his undying trust in God.
As I reviewed the titles for this week’s issue of CatholicsRead, I was struck by how each of the author’s perspectives is fiercely rooted in profound faith–regardless of how the winds of time and change may blow. Beginning with Franciscan Media’s What Was Lost: Seeking Refuge in the Psalms, There is a deja vu element to this spiritual memoir by Maureen O’Brien who clearly learned Fr. Carroll’s lesson the hard way.
Ave Maria Press’ St. Dymphna’s Playbook by Tommy Tighe explores how to reach and maintain mental and emotional well-being in the most difficult of times. Untroubled by the Unknown: Trusting God in Every Moment by Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension lays it on the line, calling us to rest in the enduring hope and trust that even the first disciples experienced while the world around them was tentative and ever-changing. Sounds familiar?
Wisdom and aging have been recurring themes in past months’ CatholicsRead titles, and November is no different. We hear from a group of elders including Pope Francis in Loyola Press’s Sharing the Wisdom of Time. Make sure you watch the docuseries based on this book after it is released on Christmas Day on Netflix. Though we had so few days with Pope John Paul I, this week’s definitive biography by Stefania Falasca and published by Our Sunday Visitor, The September Pope: The Final Days of John Paul I, gives us some insights into his short time as pope.
With so much economic unease today, Loyola Press’ You Have Called Me by My Name provides reflective encouragement to us to be patient in our discernment, look for God everywhere, and remember that God is ever-present.
Both St. Francis and Sr. Thea Bowman encountered lamentable situations in their lives that shaped the choices that they made and lived in the joy of and trust in God. From Albert Haase, O.F.M. at Franciscan Media, we have Soul Training with the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis which uses each phrase of the Prayer of Saint Francis to share the stories of ordinary people. From Ave Maria Press, we have We Are Beloved, a thirty-day retreat edited by Karianna Frey, based on the prophetic words of Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman, the renowned Black Catholic evangelizer, teacher, writer, and singer.
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.