14 Catholic Novels that Don’t Suck

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  • smk629

    As a Secular Franciscan, I love “God’s Fool” by Julien Green. I have read it many times and I always find something new to consider. The passage about the conversion of Bernard of Quintavalle never fails to move me. Bernard was drawn to Francis’s spirituality, but as a successful, wealthy lawyer, he wanted to be sure Francis was not a crank. So he invited him to dinner and offered to put him up for the night. He fixed a cot for Francis in his bedroom, pretended to fall asleep, and started to snore. After a short time, Bernard saw Francis slip out of bed, fall to his knees, open his arms as if in an embrace, and start his conversation with God. He said it was a cry of love and joy from Francis to God, and from God to Francis. It went on all night long, and in the morning, Bernard asked Francis if he could join his band of brothers, and he immediately began liquidating his considerable wealth to give it to the poor. Every time I read this and other passages throughout the book, I feel I know Francis better, and by extension, Jesus, whom he imitated all his life.

    • TanichcaF

      That sounds AMAZING. I’m at Franciscan University right now, so that would definitely be something to read here, in the Franciscan capitol of the world (it seems!)

  • Howard

    Pierced by a Sword??? Sorry, that novel very much does suck. Most Mary Sues just concentrate on one over-the-top, wish-fulfillment character; this book is chock full of ’em. Much of the cast of Gilligan’s Island appears, only worse-written and under different names. Mr. Howell is there, and so is Ginger. The plot comes from dubious apparitions and inner locutions that made specific predictions that turned out to be completely untrue.

    This is a terrible piece of schlock perpetrated by a guy who is not exactly a poster boy for Catholicism.

    If you really must have a novel by Bud MacFarlane, Jr., go with House of Gold instead. It’s a novel about how several Catholic characters introduced in the earlier Conceived Without Sin dealt with the collapse of society when the Y2K bug essentially destroys everything that has a chip in it, leading to the loss of communications, utilities, food and fuel shipments, and the total collapse of most of society. Of course that didn’t really happen, but you can always think “EMP” instead and carry on with it. It will never make it to a list of great Catholic novels, either, but at least, being a million times better than Pierced by a Sword, it doesn’t utterly suck.

  • J Glenn Campbell

    For the most part I enjoyed Father Elijah, by Michael O’Brien, but suffice it to say that I DID NOT appreciate the desecration of the relic of the Holy Cross. There are some things that do not need to be explicated. The relatively non-obscene language was more than offset by the above scatological depiction. I bought his first 3 novels at a booksigning and have not been especially inclined to go beyond Chesterton and the Inklings.

  • TanichcaF

    OK, OK, OK. I get we all have different ideas of what constitutes a good Catholic novel. These are all reader submissions, and even I haven’t read most of them. Even if a novel didn’t precisely reach *you* that doesn’t mean it didn’t change someone else’s life. There were dozens of submissions, and I pared it down to just 30 that seemed to be most popular, almost half of which appeared here. There is more to come, and if you have a submission, just put it in the comments and I’ll look into it for a future list. 🙂

  • Jenn Erich

    I enjoyed The American Tragedy Trilogy by Brian J. Gail (Fatherless, Motherless, Childless). I could not put them down. It’s enjoyable to read fiction with traditional Catholicism built in to the characters and plot, even locations. Highly recommend them.