Christmas Ideas: 5 Great Books About Saints Who Inspire

Books about St. Faustina, Mother Teresa and others

(photo: Register Files)

It's just so easy to fall into a rut. Sure, you go to church on Sunday; you try to love your neighbor; you keep the Commandments. And yet, you stop short of really embracing your Catholic faith, settling instead for a ho-hum kind of spirituality that fails to inspire.

I know! You need to get to know the saints! There's nothing like delving into the life of a holy man or woman – whether one who stood calmly before the firing squad, refusing to renounce his faith in Christ, or one who lived the “little martyrdom” of kindness in everyday life – to nudge a reader toward greater personal holiness.

Today, just in time for Christmas, I take a quick look at some of the books about saints that have made their way to my mailbox this year.


Jean de Brébeuf: Saint Among the Hurons by Francis X. Talbot, S.J. (Ignatius Press). I'd never heard the story of this courageous young Jesuit priest who lived for 19 years with the Huron Indians in the Canadian wilderness – learning their ways and their language. With the Hurons he hoped to convert, Father de Brébeuf ate raw bear and moose meat, paddled miles in their canoes, and built a rough chapel. He won their respect and their love, and eventually led a small band of them into the Christian faith. The book succeeds both as a historical adventure, and as a spiritual encouragement.

To Raise the Fallen: A Selection of the War Letters, Prayers, and Spiritual Writings of Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., compiled and edited by Patrick Kenny (Ignatius Press). Jesuit Fr. Joseph Koterski said of the writings of Fr. Willie Doyle, “Just the story we need right now: the short life of a witty military chaplain who devoted much of his private prayers to reparation for the sins of priests.” And that is clear, but also clear in his reflections is his sheer bravery in the face of constant danger, and his deep love for God and for Jesus' Mother Mary. Whether writing a letter to his father or penning notes for a pamphlet on vocations, Fr. Doyle lived his faith at every moment, and his spiritual advice is well worth considering.

Dorothy Day: An Introduction to Her Life and Thought, by Terrence C. Wright (Ignatius Press). Dorothy Day was one of the most influential Catholics of the 20th century. With Peter Maurin, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement. But she is sometimes regarded as a dissenting Catholic – one who challenged the hierarchy and the Church's teachings on social justice. She experienced a period of darkness, during which she had an abortion and even attempted suicide. Yet Dr. Wright shows that she was an obedient servant, demonstrating the Church's love for the poor. Her challenge to the hierarchy was a call to be more Catholic, to follow the teachings of the Church and to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This book will challenge the reader in the same way.

A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa, edited and with an introduction by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC (Image). This book was originally published in hardcover in 2016 – but the new paperback edition is now available. Father Kolodiejchuk met Mother Teresa in 1977 and was associated with her until her death in 1997. He is postulator of the cause of beatification and canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and director of the Mother Teresa Center. In A Call to Mercy, he has brought together her writings on ministering to others with love and compassion. Also included are testimonies by those who were close to Mother Teresa, as well as her favorite prayers and suggestions for showing mercy in our daily lives.

52 Weeks With Saint Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle (Marian Press). Hot off the press (this book is scheduled to ship December 10), this is a beautiful collection of weekly meditations that takes readers on a spiritual pilgrimage with St. Faustina Kowalska, one inspiring week at a time. Donna-Marie is always a delight, with her clear and compelling writing. In her latest book, she offers readers a light-filled retreat, helping them welcome the grace and power of St. Faustina's spiritual path of mercy and trust into their lives. Each week, there's something to learn, something to think about, and something to pray about. It's a great way to start the new year, and if followed, promises to make the reader a better Christian by the end of 2019!