Fr. Schrader’s Book Recommendations

Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done by Mick
Ebeling, Atria Books, New York: 2015, $25.00, 245 pp., ISBN 978-1-4767-8280-5
I found it on Barnes and Noble’s “New Arrivals” table at the beginning of 2015
(my first book purchase of that year) and, though having an occasional colorful
phrase, it is a truly spiritual read for the person in the pew—and, I might add, a great
motivator for the staff of any charitable institution. “It’s all about taking the leap of
faith” (p. 12). The author, a film and TV producer by trade, is the son of a
philanthropist who attended daily Mass and sat on the Board of Catholic Social
Services in Phoenix; and his Mom co-founded the Well-Care Foundation providing
free health care for women getting off welfare to work. The author founded the Not
Impossible Foundation and started a TV show “Making Good.” He states: “I really
do believe that every human being in this world is good, and if you don’t see the
good, then we’re most likely misunderstanding them” (p. 132). Hearing of an artist
who had ALS and could no longer paint or even speak, he found a way to build the
equipment to help him do both—and then he “open sourced” it so anyone anywhere
could copy the designs and do the same for others. Similarly, hearing of a young boy
in the Sudan, Daniel, whose hand had been blown off, he found a low-cost and simple
way to 3-D print new hands, flew the equipment to the Sudan, and trained the locals
how to make them, for Daniel and many others. (The local Catholic diocese in the
Nuba Mountains of Sudan hosted his presence there and supported him operationally.
Indeed, as he prepared to leave the Sudan, he attended morning Mass with the local
doctor to acknowledge the importance of that higher power making it all come
together—p. 194.) He writes: “If you take anything at all from this book, I hope you
take that: If this guy Mick [himself, the author] can accomplish what he
accomplished, what could I do if I set my mind to it?” (p. 184). In pastoral ministry,
parish councils and staffs all occasionally have to “Commit: then figure it out” (title
of ch. 3). Ebeling shows how!

Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life by
Joan Chittister, Image, New York: 2015, 173 pp., $20.00, ISBN 978-0-8041-4094-2
Though the title is deeply inviting, the subtitle captures the true focus of this
book. Within only a chapter or so, you’ll probably think of a friend or two to whom
you’d like to pass this book along when you finish. Its 32 chapters would make for a
very adequate month full of reflections for a personal time of retreat. The well-
known author, past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses,
is the current Executive Director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for
contemporary spirituality. The gist of the title is addressed right in chapter one:
“Only the experience of our own darkness gives us the light we need to be of help to
others whose journey into the dark spots of life is only just beginning” (p. 19). The
importance of being able to help others get off of home plate with their game plan
comes through in chapter 3: when we treasure a bad status quo, “We confuse
‘stagnant’ with ‘calm’ and call it holiness” (p. 31); and in chapter 4: “Certainty, for
all its guarantees, demands a subservient companion….It nails our feet to the floor and
calls it success” (p. 40). Chittister even uses humor to drive home how, though
forward motion may lead to confusion, it can lead to creativity as well: “The story is
told that when the home of Pablo Picasso, the great neo-expressionist painter of the
twentieth century, was burgled, Picasso told police that he would paint them a picture
of the intruder. ‘And on the strength of that picture,’ the French police reported later,
‘we arrested a mother superior, a government minister, a washing machine, and the
Eiffel Tower’” (p. 83). A very good read!

In the Midst of Our Storms: Opening Ourselves to Christ in the Liturgy by
Roc O’Connor, Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago: 2015, $13.95, 115 pp., ISBN
This author is one of the St. Louis Jesuits (remember “Be Not Afraid”? ), and
here he uses his degrees in biblical theology and liturgical studies as well as his
experience of rectorship at Creighton University and current parish work in
Milwaukee to invite us—according to fellow Jesuit author, Fr. James Martin—“into
the riches of the liturgical life, presented in a way that will appeal to both priest
celebrants and congregants alike, and that will enable all the faithful to more fully,
actively, and consciously encounter Christ in worship and prayer.” He does that and
more. Chapters 8 and 9 particularly will delight the Scripture student in each of us
with new homiletic insights into key Biblical passages. He also introduces us to the
“Liturgical Contemplative Practice” that can help us mine more richly. Enjoy!