Prayerful reading can work wonders in our spiritual life (with God’s grace). Though by no means an exhaustive list, and certainly not an attempt to proclaim these as the absolute best books for every English speaking and reading human soul, I nonetheless list here a few books that I think you may find particularly impactful, body, mind and soul for Holy Week. I encourage you to purchase or borrow at least one if not two of the following titles and plunge into them in the coming days. The following titles I find to be exciting, educational, compelling, touching, and excellent sources of devout meditation on Our Lord Jesus Christ:
- Witness To Mystery: Investigations into Christ’s relics by Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon- My top recommendation for Holy Week! Whether or not you have a wild biblical archaeology streak like unto Indiana Jones, this publication is for all of us! This lavish hybrid informational and picture book, splendid in detail and with an extensive number of photographs, tells the story of, and gives the scientific analysis of, a large number of the alleged relics of Christ’s Passion, from supposed relics of the True Cross to the Holy Nails and the Crown of Thorns. This publication does overlap with the books in bullet point #3 also as it does examine The Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manopello (see bullet point four for further explanation). In accord with what we believe and know to be true as Catholics, there can be no real conflict between Faith and Reason as this book which examines the relics of Christ’s Passion so poignantly demonstrates. The natural points towards the supernatural.
- The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Anne Catherine Emmerich. Having lived from 1774-1824 and miraculously known to have survived for the last years of her life on only water and the Eucharist, Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich was a nun, visionary, stigmatist and mystic. Though her writings can in no way be compared to as on equal with the four Gospel accounts, her very detailed visions of the Passion of our Lord that she experienced while in the midst of great suffering are deeply moving and have touched many souls. Please be aware that parts of this book are quite graphic in regards to Christ’s sufferings and death. Her writings on the Passion greatly influenced Mel’s Gibson major motion picture, The Passion Of The Christ. However much it may be true that we should not regard her visions as history communicated to us verbatim, and again, remembering that this is private revelation, not the public revelation of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, nonetheless, many, including her confessor, the person who wrote down her accounts, and the German bishops who pushed for the publication of this book, appear to have thought her visions more than just pious reflections. Her visions can be read beginning to end, or you can jump around in the text as you see fit.
- Father Elijah, by Michael O’brien – This composition does not relate directly into Holy Week, and though a fictional read, richly interwoven in the text are the Truths of the Catholic Faith, and a simultaneously chilling, thrilling, touching, and consoling what-if apocalyptic scenario of the End Times set in our modern era. This book, widely acclaimed, has proven itself of an entirely higher caliber than much of the recent End Times writing, and reminds us of the urgency and mortality of our life here below, a topic of perpetual importance in Holy Week and all through the year. Though an end will come to time and this old world, our future awaits us with our Risen Lord. Michael O’brien proves in this book why he is such a masterful storyteller.
- The Face of God: The Rediscovery Of The True Face Of Jesus by Paul Badde & The True Icon: From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manopello by Paul Badde- I have listed both of these publications together as they are intimately interrelated. Quite frankly, I recommend purchasing both. If you are a more visually minded reader, or if you tend to appreciate coffee-table style picture books, the second book, The True Icon, is for you. Quite frankly I recommend both. The Face of God, in more exacting written detail, brings us the story behind the Veil of Manopello, the alleged (and very likely) facial burial veil of Christ on which a stunning radiation image of our Lord appears to have been imprinted. Perhaps most convincingly, the Shroud of Turin facial image, and the more graphically detailed Veil of Manopello image match up perfectly.Once thought to be a hoax, The Shroud of Turin, and the heartrendingly stunning Veil of Manopello image of Christ, thanks to the latest scientific research and analysis are being looked at very seriously by those both in and outside the Church.
- Eucharist Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz- I have found few books on miracles more edifying than this wonderful compilation of some of the world’s greatest Eucharistic miracles in which our Lord in his great grace and mercy extended/continues to extend to us very visible and palpable signs of His Real Presence, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. With the commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday night, this is a wonderful book to read front to back, but it also provides ample short stories in which one can pick a brief chapter and find within it edifying, amazing historical facts concerning the Eucharist, which is the center of our Christian lives.
May you have a blessed and transformative Holy Week!