We hope and pray this is a summer to reset minds, hearts, bodies and souls after the year we’ve experienced. Extra prayer, daily Mass, long walks, healthy eating, and great reads certainly will assist in re-igniting tired educators’ souls.

Here are some picks for summer reading from staff members at Ruah Woods Press. We hope you will be enjoying these reads poolside, on a beach or in a hammock somewhere!

Michael Grasinski recommends Inside the Light: Understanding the Message of Fatima, Sr. Angela de Fatima Coelho. Sr. Angela de Fatima Coelho is the leading expert on Fatima. She makes accessible the practical implications of the messages of Fatima and not only explains in vivid detail the theology behind the apparitions but also uncovers the urgent relevance to our daily lives. Sr. Angela describes how Fatima completely shaped the direction of her life and in doing so enkindles an ardent devotion in the reader for the things of God, a greater knowledge of Mary as their mother, the tender mercy of God, and ultimately a message of hope that resounds into eternity. While Sr. Angela gives a thorough account of the historical events, the book is not just a recounting of the apparitions, it rather unfolds as a beautiful and easy to read spiritual narrative.

Evie Estes, just read Austin Ruse’s new book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to Be a Catholic. This book examines how the culture and so many mainstream institutions are succeeding in kicking God out of our lives, leaving us to be our own arbiters of morality. Hmmm, does that sound like an echo from Original Man’s first sin — man taking it upon himself— the knowledge of good and evil without God, the only one who is the authority on truth, goodness and love. Although, the beginning of the book walks us through how we have gotten so lost, the ending is a beautiful acknowledgement that WE are who God chose, of all the people he has created, to defend the faith! “How blessed we are to be called by God to defend His creation right here, right now. Our Father in Heaven knew this battle would be upon us… He knew His most blessed creation —the human person— would be attacked. And yet, He sent us, you and me to fight this battle.”

Tommy Shultz shares, in high school, I was given a book recommendation by a dear friend, We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing by James C. Whittaker. This is the true story of a group of men who band together after their plane crashes in the ocean, and they are drifting for weeks. They come together and find God through the turmoil and strife of the waves and heat. This was a life-changing book for me and I hope it lifts you up, and ignites your spiritual life, as it did mine. (You can find this book in your local library or a rare copy in a used bookstore).

Laura Strietmann  endorses a recently published book, Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children by Katherine Bogner. I wanted to gain an understanding of the Gospel reading cycles throughout the school year. Disclaimer, this book is not just for children! It is so enjoyable and an excellent book for teachers of all grades. (For parents too!)  The images chosen to accompany the Gospel readings and the reflections and prayer prompts call the reader to place oneself in the drama of Christ’s life. Yes indeed, “The kingdom of God is at hand!” Since Pope St. John Paul II’s TOB inspires us to reflect on scripture, this book is a great partner to deepen our call to share the truth of human dignity. Our combined bodies and souls have enormous worth. We know this even more when we get to know Jesus, true God, who took on human embodiment. This book is also great for families to read and think about the Sunday Gospels in advance of Sunday Mass. What a way to deepen the experience of mass for your children. Enjoy! (Father Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast is renewing the love of scripture for Catholics, this book does that too)!

Rob Stamper recommends Saint John Paul the Great, His Five Loves by Jason Evert. A beautiful biography that walks through JP II’s saintly life and the way he loved. If you want to take the Theology of the Body teachings from just your head knowledge to your restless heart, this book will assist in that transformation. Be fed and be ready to feed those around you from the overflow!

Dena Reany suggests This Present Paradise, which is a spiritual journey into the life of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. It is especially inspiring to lay Catholics, as she proves with her life that holiness is not exclusively for priests, nuns and religious. This book encourages our spiritual journey with prayer, fulfilling God’s will, and living in union with God to find peace within our souls.  It is a perfect read for anyone who is searching for a saint spiritual director to lead them to heaven!