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.
- 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
- Christmas in Harvard Square by The Boys of St. Paul’s Choir School.
- To Be a Pilgrim: The Canterbury Way with Fr. Marcus Holden and Fr. Nicholas Schofield.
- Many religious communities are now producing excellent records of sacred music (what a change from the bleak musical situation even just 10 years ago!). You could try these: Benedicta (from the Monks of Norcia); several fine recordings from the Benedictine Nuns of Ephesus; In Medio Ecclesiae: Music for the New Evangelization (Dominicans in D.C.); Best of Solesmes.
- A French classic for Christmas: the Midnight Mass by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. For the best historic recording of this polyphonic Mass, see here.
- Byzantine Christmas: a nice book & CD set.
Books for Parents & Families
- Mary Reed Newland, We and Our Children: How to Make a Catholic Home.
- Mary Reed Newland, The Year and Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season.
- The Little Oratory by David Clayton and Leila Lawler. (NLM review)
- A Short Guide to Praying as a Family: Growing Together in Faith and Love Each Day, with photos by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.
- Treasure and Tradition by Lisa Bergman. Simply the best single-volume detailed introduction to the Traditional Latin Mass that has ever been published. Wonderful! (NLM review)
Catholic Childrens’ Books
- A Missal for Young Catholics. (Read more about this missal for the traditional Latin Mass, along with some other items for children, at this link.)
- Of Bells and Cells. A book on religious vocations and religious orders.
- Maria Montessori, The Mass Explained to Children. (NLM review of this and the preceding)
- The Life of St. Benedict by Br. John McKenzie, O.S.B. (NLM review)
- The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. The handsomest reader-friendly edition of these Gospels that you can give to your child. (NLM review)
- The Miracle of St. Nicholas — one of the best ever.
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 Works, a 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)
- Missale Romanum (1962): the altar missal that no sacristy should be without.
- The traditional Rituale Romanum.
- Joseph de Sainte-Marie, The Holy Eucharist – The World’s Salvation. This book forever changes the way a person thinks about Mass and concelebration. (NLM review)
- U. W. Lang, Turning Towards the Lord. The definitive work on ad orientem.
- U. W. Lang, Signs of the Holy One. Fr. Lang’s new book, a little masterpiece, hasn’t yet received the attention it should. Check out the table of contents at Amazon.
- Athanasius Schneider, “Dominus Est” – It is the Lord! The best short book on reverence (and signs of reverence) towards the Blessed Sacrament.
- David Clayton, The Way of Beauty: Liturgy, Education, and Inspiration for Family, School, and College. (NLM review.)
- Basil Cole, O.P. The Hidden Enemies of the Priesthood.
- Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing. This book has rightly attracted a lot of praise (and doubtless caused more than a few raised eyebrows among the progressives). Cardinal Sarah is somehow able to be simultaneously gracious and amazingly blunt.
- Festal Orations by St. Gregory the Theologian, in the splendid edition from SVS Press. Includes his Christmas and Theophany homilies in beautiful translation — some of the best Christmas preaching ever, and the core of many Byzantine liturgical hymns.
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
- Alcuin Reid and Adrian Fortescue, Ceremonies of the Roman Rite (EF)
- The Roman Catholic Ceremonial, vol. 1: The Ordinary Ceremonies (EF). Recommended by NLM’s William Riccio as one of the most useful resources an MC can have.
- Britt, How to Serve in Simple, Solemn, and Pontifical Functions (EF)
- Peter Elliott, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite (OF). The closest thing to Fortescue that exists for the Ordinary Form.
- Peter Elliott, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year (OF). A companion volume to the preceding.
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.