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Lenten Reading Suggestions

Lenten Reading

Looking for inspiring books that will enhance your Lenten journey? We asked a few prolific readers within the Norbertine community for suggestions. Below are their recommended titles.

Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection

By Pope Benedict XVI

Recommended by: Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem., and Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Pope Benedict takes his readers through the familiar stories surrounding our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection while adding unique reflections and insights earned from a lifetime of study, prayer, and reflection. This book not only makes you rethink what you know of Jesus of Nazareth but also fall in love with him again.

Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter

By Hans Urs von Balthasar

Recommended by: Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Named a cardinal of the Church by Pope (Saint) John Paul II shortly before he died, Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) was one of the great theologians of the post-Vatican II Church. Mysterium Paschale is one of Balthasar’s most influential works, especially for its unique take on Christ’s decent into hell. At times, this work can be a bit jargon-filled and difficult to read, but for those comfortable with theological language, it is a profound and worthy book.

Fr. Michael Weber, O. Praem.

Fr. Michael Weber, O. Praem.

Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI

By Pope Benedict XVI

Recommended by: Fr. Michael Weber, O. Praem.

I’ve used Pope Benedict’s devotional throughout the last couple of years for reflection. Although these are daily meditations throughout the year, they are particularly powerful, well written short reflections on Scripture passages—including Lenten messages.

Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.

Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully

By Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B.

Recommended by: Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.

Grace and wisdom flow from some 40 short essays. A rich source of reflection for anyone approaching or experiencing the elder years.

Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

i am through you so i

By Brother David Steindl-Rast

Recommended by: Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

Brother David, one of the most significant spiritual teachers and international speakers of our era, tells his incomparable rich story spanning the nine decades of his life.

Brother David and his TED Talk also can be found online.

Written for Our Instruction: Theological and Spiritual Riches in Romans

By Thomas D. Stegman, SJ

Recommended by: Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

This book sets forth and makes accessible an under-appreciated aspect of St. Paul’s theology on the life of the Spirit. In his letters, Paul often reminds his readers/hearers about the gift of the Spirit they have already received.

Everything Ablaze: Meditating on the Mystical Vision of Teilhard de Chardin

By David Richo

Recommended by: Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

Richo describes our calling to discover the sacred heart of the universe, grow into planetary consciousness, and participate in the great work ahead of us. A rich resource for meditating.

—Ursula King
Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

By Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams

Recommended by: Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

The author invites these two spiritual leaders and close friends to share their experiences of deep and abiding joy, most particularly in the face of profound suffering. This book has both confirmed and challenged my understanding of hope, joy, and suffering amidst the blessedness and brokenness of our shared humanity.

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your TransformationThe Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

By Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell

Recommended by: Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Fr. Richard Rohr invites us to enter into one of the central tenets and mysteries of Christianity: our God is relationship, our God is community. Made in this image and likeness, we are invited to be transformed by our God, who constantly calls us into relationship. I’ve had this book on my shelf since late last summer; perhaps Lent will be the perfect time to jump in.

Between the Pages Book Discussion

Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 10-11 a.m.

Tony Pichler, director of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality at St. Norbert Abbey, is facilitating a book discussion on The Divine Dance. Details and registration »


Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

iBreviary—Office of Readings

Recommended by: Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

When I start my day reading the Office of Readings, my heart is much more open to God’s presence throughout the day. Simply download the iBreviary app, click on “Breviary” and then select “Office of Readings.”

Hope for the Flowers

By Trina Paulus

Recommended by: Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

This simple book tells a beautiful allegory of letting go of our comforts in life and finding the courage to move through death to a life greater than anything we could have imagined. I find this book so insightful in reflecting on my own struggles, identifying what comforts I am holding on to that I may need to let go of, and visiting anew the need to give my life completely to God.

Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

The Way of Gratitude: Readings for a Joyful Life

Editors: Michael Leach, James Keane, Doris Goodnough

Recommended by: Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

The Way of Gratitude is a treasure trove of writings that inspire and prod one to think seriously about things that most of us just take for granted. The editors have assembled the writings of well-known authors who open the meaning of “gratitude” to make its practice useful and joyful. Authors such as James Martin, SJ, Henri Nouwen, Joan Chittister, O.S.B., and even David Brooks help you rethink your own response to gratitude.

Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

The Magnificat Lenten Companion 2018

Recommended by: Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

This booklet contains reflections and short prayers for every day in Lent and helps keep one focused through one’s Lenten journey.

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

The Long Loneliness: An Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

By Dorothy Day

Recommended by: Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

Through Dorothy Day’s autobiography of her life as a devout Catholic, a lover of Christ, and a tremendous champion for the poor, we gain insights regarding the call of true discipleship within our lives and the beauty of the Paschal Mystery.


More opportunities to celebrate the season of Lent at St. Norbert Abbey »

Episode 006: The Deeper Meaning of Tradition

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem., lights candles in the Church of St. Norbert Abbey.

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem., lights candles in the Church of St. Norbert Abbey.

Christmas is a time filled with heartwarming traditions—within families and within the rituals of the Church. But what are traditions really about and how do we remain open to their transformative power and meaning in our daily lives?

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Heart & Soul: Norbertines and St. Norbert College Share Charisms, Values

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 4-5)

By Gina Sanders Larsen and Judy Turba

(L-R) Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. (front), Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., President Brian Bruess, Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., Fr. James Herring, O. Praem. (standing), Fr. Tim Shillcox, O. Praem.

(L-R) Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. (front), Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., President Brian Bruess, Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., Fr. James Herring, O. Praem. (standing), Fr. Tim Shillcox, O. Praem.

They exist on opposite sides of the Fox River in De Pere, Wisconsin, but the unwavering bond between the Norbertines of St. Norbert Abbey and St. Norbert College is strong and unambiguous. A new college president, a re-energized campus parish, and an innovative first-year student experience illustrate the institutions’ steadfast connection, “to be of one mind and one heart on the way to God” (The Rule of St. Augustine).

With a warm and gracious greeting, Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem., and Judy Turba met with Brian Bruess, recently named president of St. Norbert College (SNC), after his first month in office. During their time together, this most impressive 1990 SNC graduate shared thoughts about his journey, his vision for the college, and its connection to the Norbertine community, as well as what it means to come home.

Being an alum, I believe the stakes are higher for me as I serve in this role as president because St. Norbert College is not only a place I love but also a place that formed me.

—Brian Bruess

Brian Bruess, Ph.D., 50, eighth president of St. Norbert College, is only the second alumnus ever to serve in this role; Fr. Dennis Burke, O. Praem., was the first, and the similarities are striking. “Fr. Burke also followed an exceptional leader, Abbot (Bernard) Pennings, the founder of St. Norbert College,” said Bruess. “I, too, am following an outstanding and tremendously successful leader, Tom (Thomas) Kunkel. Needless to say, their extraordinary leadership is both intimidating and inspiring.” In fact, the year Bruess was born, Fr. Burke was retiring. Bruess remembers vividly from his years at the college a painting of Fr. Burke walking across the campus with then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. “The image has stayed with me all of these years.”

Bruess’ excitement is palpable and contagious. He realizes he is inheriting the helm of one of the top-ranked Catholic liberal arts colleges in the country. “Being an alum, I believe the stakes are higher for me because St. Norbert College is not only a place I love but also a place that formed me. Here I began to contemplate a career in higher education through the encouragement of faculty and administrators. I have had opportunities to serve elsewhere, but I honestly feel called here. It’s my vocation.”

Bruess shared his deep commitment to the college’s mission: “St. Norbert College, a Catholic liberal arts college embracing the Norbertine ideal of communio, provides an educational environment that fosters intellectual, spiritual, and personal development.” The mission statement emphatically stresses the tripartite—Catholic, Norbertine, liberal arts—all of which are inseparable and equally important. “This is the only Norbertine college in the world, and society has never needed St. Norbert College graduates more than now. The charism here is rich and powerful, distinctive and transformational.” Through regular meetings with the abbot and members of the abbot’s council, he will envision with the Norbertine community how best to sustain this mission. “I feel significantly responsible to represent Norbertine values and ensure that these values are woven within all aspects of our education.”

Given Bruess’ experience in higher education, his highly regarded expertise, commitment to Norbertine values, and passion for his alma mater—the sky is the limit. He is ready to serve.

Meet Brian Bruess, SNC College President and Alumnus

President Brian Bruess

President Brian Bruess

President Brian Bruess received bachelor of arts degrees in sociology and psychology from St. Norbert College with master’s and doctoral degrees from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. He most recently served at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, as executive vice president and chief operating officer. During his 21-year tenure there, he also was involved with enrollment management, finance, student affairs, and information technology. Bruess and his wife, Carol, also a 1990 graduate of St. Norbert College and most recently professor of communication and journalism at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, have two children: Gracie, a high school senior, and Tony, a Stanford University senior.

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