The Lord by Romano Guardini
This book might be Pope Francis’ most favorite of all. Bishop Robert Barron gives us some context on why:
“In 1986….Jorge Mario Bergoglio commenced doctoral studies in Germany. The focus of his research was the great twentieth century theologian and cultural critic Romano Guardini, who had been a key influence on, among many others, Karl Rahner, Henri de Lubac, and Joseph Ratzinger. As things turned out, Bergoglio never finished his doctoral degree (he probably started too late in life), but his immersion in the writings of Guardini decisively shaped his thinking.” (“Laudato Si and Roman Guardini”)
I own this book and have read it, not front to back, but in segments by chapter as I am moved to do so. It is a complete commentary on the Gospels – more specifically on the life of Christ – but it is packed with a tremendous amount of spiritual, theological and philosophical insight.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), who wrote the Introduction to this book, remarks that Guardini’s masterpiece “has helped more than one generation of Christians enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Eminent Catholic philosopher, Peter Kreeft, describes The Lord as “a profoundly insightful and orthodox meditation on the life of Christ”. I agree; and I am certain I will be reading this book (and praying with it) until the day I die.
The Return Of The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
Inspired by Rembrandt’s painting (which was inspired by the biblical story of “The Prodigal Son”)
In Robert Moynihan’s book on Pope Francis, Pray For Me, it is mentioned that the pope from Argentina speaks highly of the works of Rev. Henri Nouwen, a former chaplain of the L’Arche community. As a priest and a psychologist, Nouwen writes with a deep spiritual understanding of the human condition – specifically our current brokenness as sinners and our destiny for greatness as children of God. He helps his readers to understand themselves, while openly seeking to further understand himself along the way in his writings.
I’ve found Nouwen’s works very thought-provoking and insightful. I own several of his books myself and I most recommend The Return Of The Prodigal Son and The Wounded Healer (I will admit, however, that I am no Nouwen scholar and have only read a few of his many books).
If Fr. Nouwen’s writings excite Pope Francis, Joe Zambon and Ben Turland – then these books must definitely be worth checking out!
For more of Pope Francis’ favorite books click here.