Book explores St. John’s Abbey Arboretum’s beauty, spirit

“The Nature of Saint John’s: A Guide to the Landscape and Spirituality of Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum” edited by Larry Haeg with Jennifer Kutter; St. John’s University Press; August 2015; 244 pp; $12.95. By Ann Jonas For The Visitor Visitors have long been attracted to the St. John’s University campus to see the striking St….

Farm family’s story unfolds through treasured letters

“The Crops Look Good: News From a Midwestern Family Farm” by Sara DeLuca; Minnesota Historical Society Press; March 2015; 240 pp.; $17.95. By Ann Jonas For The Visitor Writing letters appears to be a thing of the past, with cell phones and computers now being the most common ways of communicating with each other. Unfortunately,…

Major league manager teaches values for baseball and beyond

“The Matheny Manifesto” by Mike Matheny with Jerry Jenkins, Crown Publishing Group: February 2015, 224 pp. $24. By Ann Jonas For The Visitor The baseball season is in full force at all levels, from the major leagues to t-ball. “The Matheny Manifesto,” a recent book by St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, offers advice to…

Historical overview of modern papacy shows political ups and downs

“The Papacy in the Modern World: A Political History” by Frank J. Coppa. University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 2014). 224 pp., $35. Although popes are first and foremost heads of the Catholic Church, political issues historically have rivaled spiritual ones as topics of concern. Even today, when a pope no longer holds temporal power, he…

Vibrant stories bring New York Catholicism to life

“New York Catholics: Faith, Attitude & the Works!” by Patrick McNamara. Orbis Books (Maryknoll, New York, 2014). 210 pp., $24. Patrick McNamara, lifelong New York Catholic, historian and teacher, has written a wonderful tribute to the uniqueness and vitality of a most distinctive Catholic milieu. “New York Catholics” is imbued with love, respect and admiration…

Military mom provides spiritual guidance

There are some conversations that most parents are never truly prepared for. Their son or daughter telling them about wanting to join the military is definitely among them. In her just-released book “Be Safe, Love Mom,” Elaine Lowry Brye seeks to make that conversation, as well as the entire lifestyle change following it, much easier…

Books use different approaches to offer valuable lessons to youths

“From Teens to Twenties: Lessons Every Young Adult Should Learn” by Alexander J. Basile. Paulist Press (Staten Island, New York, 2014). 118 pp., $8.95. “Discerning Your Vocation: A Catholic Guide for Young Adults” by Father Nathanael Pujos, Father Anthony Ariniello and Sister Emmanuelle Borchardt of the Community of the Beatitudes. Paulist Press (Staten Island, New…

‘Dead Wake’ tells riveting story of ocean liner’s sinking

“Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson; Crown Publishing Group; March 2015; 448 pp; $28. Reviewed by Ann Jonas For The Visitor One hundred years ago, the British luxury ocean liner Lusitania was attacked and sunk by a German U-boat’s torpedo with 1,265 passengers and almost 700 crew members on board….

Mystery novel deals with church’s foibles but entertains, inspires too

“Master of Ceremonies: A Novel” by Donald Cozzens. In Extenso Press (Chicago, 2015). 287 pp., $19.95. Most Catholics are sick and tired of news about priests who abused children and bishops who covered up for them. So a good many may not welcome a mystery novel about the same. This, however, is no fictional attempt…

Gift books for first Communion

Reviewed by Ann Jonas For The Visitor “Your First Communion: Meeting Jesus, Your True Joy” by Pope Francis; Magnificat/Ignatius Press; October 2014; 48 pp; $16.99 In this hardcover keepsake book, Pope Francis talks to young people preparing for their first Communion. The five chapters cover holy Communion, the power of the sacraments, confession, the church…