Monday, October 25, 2010

Beyond Blue Question: Other Catholic Books, Resources on Facing Adversity?

I feel grateful to have the chance to review and write about Beyond Blue  this month, and interview author Therese Borchard.  But there are many, many books that approach depression, mental health and promote healing from a Catholic perspective.  Many books were recommended to me, and I searched around for what would be good.  I was surprised at only having a few that I found good reads & worth recommending.  I know that many people would find different books helpful in different ways, so feel free to add your suggestions.

Here are several books I found most helpful and best reads:

*Surviving Depression:  A Catholic Approach by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, (a sister in the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Paul) writes a beautiful account of her own struggles with depression, and tells the stories of others, in giving hope and a spiritual blueprint for healing and progress against mood disorders.

The book now comes with a companion prayer book:  Prayers for Surviving Depression and a companion journal, Surviving Depression Journal, making this an excellent series for those grappling with depression.

*Safely Through the Storm: 120 Reflections on Hope by Debra Herbeck is a slim but rich volume of quotes, reflections and poems from saints and spiritual writers on hope in the midst of suffering.  The book is divided into three sections:  "The Quotes," "The Voices" (short description of each writer), and "The Sources" (for each quote).  My only tiny quibble is that the voices (listed alphabetically), do not refer back to the numbered quote, so I can't look up, say, Caryl Houselander's quote.  Still, a wonderful, beautiful selection of voices, in quotes of varying lengths that provide hope and healing.   This would be a great book to have on hand for times of Adoration or for quiet reflection on one or two quotes.

Here's one example, from St. Thomas More,:  "I will not mistrust (God), though I feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear ... I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning."

*Another recently released compendium is Hidden Graces: Poems for Crisis, Struggle and Renewal selected and introduced by Gretchen L. Schwenker, Ph.D. and Matthew J. Kessler, a Redemptorist priest.  The poems are selected primarily to help those who have experienced loss, providing a way to navigate your emotions through the "hidden graces" of crisis, the authors explain. Poets from Christina Rossetti to Wendell Berry and many others, both classic & modern, provide space and reflection for those in grief and in the process of recovery.

*Prolific author and trained psychologist Father Benedict Groeschel wrote a book in the 1990s that has enduring appeal:  Arise from Darkness:  What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense.  The book handles grief, depression and other issues from Father Groeschel's sensible Catholic approach.   Father Groeschel writes in such an easy-to-read and conversational style, making it well worth a look.

Do you have a favorite read or resource to recommend in this area?

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