Book Marks: New releases on persecution, justice, and irrepressible hope
Here are some interesting new book releases for March:
I wasn’t dead when I wrote this: Advice given in the nick of time
By Lisa-Marie Calderone-Stewart
Author Lisa-Marie Calderone-Stewart offers her final words of wisdom in I wasn’t dead when I wrote this (Loyola Press, 2012) , a collection of helpful advice when it comes to dealing with youth and young adults. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009, Caldrone-Stewart wrote this book during the last few months of her life. With a motto that it is never too late to change your life or to help someone else change theirs, she gives heartfelt guidance for living. As a friend of U.S. Catholic, she has also written as a guest blogger for our website .
Hungering and Thirsting for Justice: Real-Life Stories by Young Adult Catholics
Edited by Lacey Louwagie and Kate Ward
Editors Lacey Louwagie and Kate Ward have compiled a collection of ten stories about the lives of young adults who are dedicated to encompassing their Catholic faith in their daily lives. Hungering and Thirsting for Justice (Acta Publications, 2012)  challenges its readers to a greater dedication, courage, and love for God and others. In stories such as “The Scandal of Our Tradition” and “Laying Injustice Down at the Feet of God,” these young writers show their passion and enthusiasm for Catholicism.
An Irrepressible Hope: Notes from Chicago Catholics
Edited by Claire Bushey
Artwork by Franklin McMahon
Chicago is home to an estimated 2.3 million Catholics. Although these Catholics are devoted to their beliefs, they also respect and celebrate the unity and diversity that both defines and challenges them. An Irrepressible Hope (Acta Publications, 2012)  is a collection of stories, poems, and essays of thirty Catholics who call Chicago home. In their personal reflections, these faithful share their stories as well as their wishes for the church as it moves into the future. From local celebrities to many laymen and women, these authors write about welcome, struggle, and redemption. Artist Franklin McMahon, who has drawn for U.S. Catholic in the past , beautifully illustrates each section.
The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom
By Candida Moss
What if the early stories of Christian persecutions, the incredible stories of saints who gave their lives for their beliefs, were simply fabricated? In The Myth of Persecution (HarperOne, 2013) , author Candida Moss argues that the stories from the “Age of Martyrs” when Christians were thrown to the lions or burned at the stake were overexaggerated to marginalize heretics, to attract new followers, and to help fill the pockets of the church. Moss urges believers to rid themselves of the idea that Catholicism is being attacked by a secular world and to gain the spiritual guidance that these stories can provide for them.
Moss offers a fascinating historical account, tracing martyrdom back to its pre-Christian roots and through some of the most familiar early Christian accounts, such as well-known martyrs Perpetua and Felicity. While not disputing that some Christians did indeed face torture and even death, Moss finds that the evidence of persecution doesn't always match up to the legends that have been handed down through the centuries. But beyond simply recasting ancient stories in a new light, the book provides a hopeful outlook for a world in which modern Christians could drop the myth of their persecuted past.
The First Spiritual Exercises: Four Guided Retreats
Adapted by Michael Hansen, S.J.
Jesuit retreat director Michael Hansen has adapted the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola into an innovative way to find inner peace. The First Spiritual Exercises (Ave Maria Press, 2013)  offers four retreats in an accessible and an easily understood way for everyone. This clear approach allows you to build your Catholic spirituality in your everyday life without needing to use a spiritual director for guidance.
Illustration by Angela Cox