In a blog post entitled “5 Books Catholic Students in College Need to Possess,” Tom Perna, director of adult evangelization and catechesis at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Gilbert, Ariz., shares five titles which he believes are essential to knowing your faith in college. “These books,” Perna says, “can help a student when they face persecution from non-Catholics on what Catholics believe.”
The first is, of course, the Holy Bible. Perna recommends the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, and reminds his readers of what St. Jerome once said, that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
The second is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “The CCC is the menu guide to the Catholic faith. Every Catholic should own a copy and read it!” he says. He furthermore calls it “one of the greatest works of Catholic theology in recent memory.”
The third is actually a duo of books: Butler’s Lives of the Saints and Introduction to Mary by Mark Miravalle. With regard to Lives of the Saints, Perna points out that the saints themselves read about the lives of other saints as examples, and he recommends that his reader look for a recently published version since so many saints have been canonized in recent years. As for Introduction to Mary, he specifies that chapter 10 is particularly useful for refuting non-Catholic arguments against devotion to the Mary.
The fourth book Perna suggests is an aid to prayer—Praying in the Presence of Our Lord, by Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., whom he calls “one of today’s living saints.” The book includes both traditional and contemporary prayers for Eucharistic Adoration, as well as writings from the saints on the Eucharist. He adds that it is small enough to fit into a back pocket or a purse.
The final book that he recommends is not specifically Catholic, but he nonetheless hails it as a “life-changing book.” Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, according to Perna, “will help you grow as a human being and to always remember there is hope even in the most desperate of situations. You can’t read this book soon enough!” He also specifies that it is particularly helpful in the transition out of college and into the working world.
Perna insists that “The best way to defend your faith is to know your faith,” and that these books form a broad basis for doing so. He finishes by encouraging college students also to get involved in their Catholic campus ministry and to seek out Eucharistic Adoration wherever possible.
Tom holds several degrees, including an M.A. in theology from the Newman Guide recommended Franciscan University of Steubenville, and according to his blog seeks “the education and engagement of the Catholic faithful in the New Evangelization by the JPII generation.”
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