The Joy and Necessity of the Family Library

When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us. – St. Jerome 

by Andrew Knepper

I’ve always enjoyed reading books. But there isn’t a genre that I’ve felt particularly drawn to. I suppose I simply enjoy “good books.” But what is a good book? What does a good library look like?

As a (relatively) young father with a family of six kids under eight, I’ve found that reading books is a luxury that there isn’t a whole lot of time for. But yet, reading to the children is one of the most joyous parts of my life. And I need to make more opportunities for these precious moments. 

When my wife and I got married, some of my books were unceremoniously placed into the garbage bin. But after nine years of marriage, I now see why some of those books belong to the trash heap of history while others offer a transcendent value beyond just being fun reads. 

As our family has grown, so has our library. In fact, my wife would probably consider me to be a bibliophile. In recent years, my family has started to look to books that bring substance to family conversations. Of course, the classics are irreplaceable parts of our family reading time but we have renewed our focus on good, Catholic books that bring out the best of family life. 

One of the best books that we’ve read recently is Cure D’Ars by Abbé Trochu. Masterfully recreated by Baronius Press, this book transcends time as it biographically lays out the life of St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars. The book comprises numerous eyewitness accounts of the great saint, exemplifying his heroic virtue. But of all the virtues, St. Vianney’s humility becomes the most evident. As a priest who ate mere morsels of food, wore cassocks until they were (literally) threadbare, and spent up to eighteen hours in the confessional per day, his existence exemplified his teachings on humility:

“Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is in a rosary: take away the chain and the beads are scattered; remove humility, and all virtues vanish.” – St. John Vianney

The lessons that this book has imparted on my family are innumerable and it should be a treasured part of all Catholic family libraries. I’ll do a more thorough treatment of this book in a future blog, but I wanted to mention it as it is a recent book that my family has enjoyed. 

You are probably asking yourself – so what? Why are you writing about books on a farm blog? Here’s why: As we look around and see the fundamental basis of society crumbling, depravity at every turn, our Constitutional right to free speech being denied, and books being banned – we knew we needed to do something. 

Mary’s Meadow Farm was founded to bring local, natural, healthy food to the family dinner table. But just as we need to feed our bodies, we also need to feed our minds and our souls. We reject the censorship and limitations that corporate America – and unfortunately, our Government – are placing on free speech and expression. So we’re expanding the scope of Mary’s Meadow Farm to more than just bringing good food to your table. We also want to offer goods for your homestead, mind, and soul.

We are proud to announce that we have partnered with several Catholic publishers to bring sound Catholic books to your home. As of this writing, we have become distributors for Baronius Press, Sophia Institute Press, St. Augustine Academy Press, Loreto Publications, Preserving Catholic Publications, and Angelus Press. In the coming weeks we will be putting many more books on our website. But we can obtain nearly all of the offerings from these publishers. If you’re looking for something in particular, please get in touch with us at yourfarmers@marysmeadow.farm and we will do our best. From leather-backed 1962 Missals to beautifully illustrated board books for the youngest ones, we can help you find great books for your family.

Good Catholic books are indispensable to surviving this world with our faith intact. We need these books in our lives and our families in order to keep our moral compasses pointing towards our Creator and to direct us in which paths to take. As St. Alphonsus Ligouri once said, “Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls.” As my family continues to grow, my wife and I are going to strive to incorporate more reading into our family life. Not just because it is a good source of recreation and time together, but because it has an indelible impact on the moral development of our children. And the young children in today’s Catholic families are our hope for the future.

As my family continues to read some of these great books, I will post reviews on this blog in an effort to help you grow your own Catholic library at home, where your families can grow in our great faith with great joy! 

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