Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas from NLM Authors

NLM authors were asked to offer Christmas gift ideas to pass along to our readers. Their suggestions have been grouped into thematic lists. The following list is obviously anything but comprehensive — and if your personal favorites happen not to be included, that’s not because we don’t think they’re worth giving or receiving. Indeed, if you’d like to supplement our list in the combox, feel free to do so!

The lists below are book-heavy. The reason is simple enough. We need to keep studying, we need to form and inform ourselves intellectually. There is a huge amount of ignorance and error in the Church today, and, obviously, no one of us is ever fully “finished” with our education. Miseducation and lack of knowledge are not static problems; like weeds in a garden, they multiply and take over if they are not uprooted and valuable plants cultivated in their place. I saw recently a quotation attributed to St. Thomas More: “One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated.” So, NLM authors not surprisingly like to recommend good books.

Devotional items

  • Icons. There are, alas, a lot of cheap and ugly icons out there, but if you take your time you can find something very beautiful — either a well-made reproduction (two excellent sources are Jordanville and St. Isaac Skete) or an original icon (see, e.g., here or here).
  • A good daily Missal. The two best for the TLM are The Roman Catholic Daily Missal and the Baronius Press Daily Missal. For the OF, one can’t beat the Midwest Theological Forum editions
  • A nice chapel veil — this could make a great gift from a fellow to a lady, a sister to a sister, etc. Here’s one very good source.
  • Hand-carved olivewood statues from the holy Land that help support the Christians of the Holy Land.  They certainly need our support, and the gifts are really lovely. One such source would be here.
  • Oplatki Christmas Wafers for Christmas Eve.
  • Mystic Monk Coffee. I don’t think this really is a devotional item (although, in Thomistic fashion, one might consider it such by extention, inasmuch as it removes impediments to devotion.) But it’s comforting to be able to support great liturgy and get great coffee at the same time. The progress the monks are making on their Gothic monastery is heartening and deserves our support.

CDs and DVDs

Books for Parents & Families

Catholic Children’s Books

Books on the Sacred Liturgy

  • Joseph Ratzinger, The Theology of the Liturgy — this incredibly handy volume brings together all of Ratzinger’s writings on the liturgy, including his now-classic The Spirit  of the Liturgy. (It’s unfortunate that Amazon doesn’t delete the reviews that referred to the initial printing of the book, which was marred by a manufacturer’s error. The problem was quickly solved with a new printing, but now these one-star reviews are weighing it down.)
  • Romano Guardini, Sacred Signs. (NLM review)
  • Peter Kwasniewski, Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church. (See NLM review by Dom Alcuin Reid)
  • William Mahrt, The Musical Shape of the Liturgy. This book deserves to be better known than it is. A collection of Dr. Mahrt’s wise articles from years and years of Sacred Music, it represents the pinnacle of aesthetic, musicological, and theological thinking about the organic interconnection of church music (especially Gregorian chant) and the sacred rites. For serious students of liturgy and the fine arts.

Great Resources for Sacred Music (OF)

  • Fr. Samuel Weber’s The Proper of the Mass for Sundays and Solemnities. If you are going to sing the Introit, Offertory, and/or Communion chants in English, this is the gold standard. (NLM review.) 
  • Fr. Samuel Weber’s Hymnal for the Hours. This exceptional book contains English plainchant settings of nearly all the hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours. If you sing the LOTH, it’s a must-have. Available in hardcover or paperback. (NLM review)
  • Adam Bartlett’s Lumen Christi series (NLM review of one of the books in the series)
  • Aristotle Esguerra’s Modal Responsorial Psalms.
  • The Parish Book of Chant, 2nd ed. (for both OF and EF)—this is the flagship chant publication of the Church Music Association of America and has found a home in hundreds of churches and chapels. It is an ideal compilation of authentic Latin Gregorian chant for parish use.
  • Peter Kwasniewski’s Sacred Choral Worksa collection of 91 choral pieces (motets, antiphons, acclamations, Masses) for various choral ensembles, mostly SATB. The table of contents and audio samples are found at this link. (see NLM interview)

Books for Your Parish Priest (if he doesn’t already have them)

Other Gifts for the Clergy

  • If you want to offer a good gift of vestments for your priest, visit here. Superior work at an affordable price. (Of course, we also always recommend all the companies who advertise with NLM in our sidebars. We do not accept every ad; we take ads from people whose work we know and love.)
  • Every well-dressed cleric should have a biretta; it is the correct headgear for the priest of the Roman Rite. See here for a good source.

Books for Masters of Ceremonies

Essential Reading on the Contemporary Church

  • H. J. A. Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes. Difficult to praise this book highly enough! It is a well-crafted, penetrating presentation of the crisis moments in the history of the Church, with special attention to the past 50+ years. 
  • Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods, The Great Façade, second edition. If you own the first edition, you’ll want to get the second—it has an additional 250 pages by Ferrara on the period from 2002 to the present (mainly, the pontificates of Benedict and Francis to date). Hot stuff, as P.G. Wodehouse would say.
  • Roberto De Mattei, The Second Vatican Council – An Unwritten Story. If you ever wanted the real scoop on what happened at the Council, including the intentions of its major players, the way the procedures were tampered with, how the documents actually got written, and so forth, this is the book. Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows into the Tiber is a classic, of course, but De Mattei drills deeper — he’s not a journalist but a true historian, with a vast knowledge of primary sources and the careful habits of a scholar, with the benefit of hindset that Wiltgen did not enjoy.
  • Romano Amerio, Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century. This book is, in a way, The Great Façade, avant la lettre. Amerio casts his net wider than Ferrara and Woods by surveying the entire 20th century and documenting the (usually) gradual shift in positions on a whole host of subjects. Check out the table of contents at Amazon for a sense of the breadth of the coverage.
A blessed Advent to all NLM readers. Let us all pray for one another.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: