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Showing posts with label Catholic2016. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic2016. Show all posts

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Live Well Today - Fr. Thomas Dailey - St. Francis de Sales's Simple Approach to Holiness

Live Well Today:
St. Francis de Sales's Simple Approach to Holiness
ISBN 9781622823017
ASIN B011PX9SNA


To be honest I picked up this book based on the title 'Live Today Well', and did not even notice the subtitle 'St. Francis de Sales's Simple Approach to Holiness' until I went to read it. But having read one book by de Sales last year and having two on my reading plan for this year I was very eager when I began the book. For almost 20 years now I have signed off my personal emails with 'Peace and Strength! Yours, learning to be'; I have seen my life purpose as learning to be and to become good at being. Or as Mathew Kelly puts it so often 'to become the best version of myself'; and therefore the title of the book grabbed my attention, but the subtitle fits with my daily goals, each day to be better than the day before, to grow in holiness and God's grace. And this book really lives up to my high expectations. 

The sections in this book are:
Introduction
Part 1 Salesian Spirituality
The Devout Life
St. Francis's Spiritual Directory
Part 2 Our Daily Routine
Our Daily Routine
On Rising: Starting Your Day Right
On the Day's Preparation: Looking to Be Holy
On the Direction of Intention: The Key to Spiritual Perfection
On Meals: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
On Work: And Taking Spiritual Repose
On Leisure: Interacting with Others
The Examen: Reviewing Our Daily Progress
On Retiring: Practicing Detachment
Part 3 Sacred Moments
Sacred Moments
Prayer: Communing with the Divine
Living the "Little Virtues"
Confession and the Grace of Reconciliation
Mass and the Grace of Encounter
Conclusion
The Universal Call to Holiness
The Spiritual Directory
Helpful Resources for Living Well

This book begins with an excellent quote: 

Let us be firmly resolved to serve God with our whole heart and life. Beyond that, let us have no care about tomorrow. Let us think only of living today well, and when tomorrow comes, it also will be today and we can think of it then.

- St. Francis de Sales, letter CXC, to Mademoiselle de Soulfour, July 22, 1603

And the book only gets better from there. Father Dailey states: "The seminal insight of the Salesian tradition remains as relevant today as it was in the saint's time - namely, that a life of devotion is a universal human calling, that holiness is possible in all walks of life, that a meaningful and fulfilling existence awaits all those who live well." And the book goes on from there to give real, concrete examples of what this spirituality is, and how to live it out, and through living it out learning to live today well.

This book does an excellent job of giving guidance in living a spiritual life, but balancing that with living in the world and all of our responsibilities. The book is very well written. It is not a complicated theological treatise, it is intended as a simple guide and it meets that goal. There are tricks and tips for the spiritual life. You will learn about overcoming your greatest temptation, yow to make good confessions, yow to manage your time, and different ways to become aware of God's presence. 

This book is an excellent read. It is a great introduction to Salesian spirituality. It was way more than I expected and I was hoping for a lot from this book. Father Thomas writes in a very engaging manner. This is another excellent resource from Sophia Institute Press and I commend it to you if you are serious about growing in your spiritual life!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Saint Francis de Sales:
Introduction to the Devout Life
The Sign of the Cross
The Art of Loving God
Roses Among Thorns
Finding God's Will for You


Sermons of St. Francis de Sales:
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Prayer
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Distractions - Philip Kosloski - A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Stay Focused During Prayer

Distractions: 
A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Stay Focused During Prayer
Schedule That Will Change Your Life
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski



Over the past year I have read 5 books by Philip Kosloski. I stated in another review that his book read like a university paper. That cannot be said about this one. This is more like a spiritual classic. In some ways it reminds me of the writings of Brother Lawrence or Saint Patrick's writings. It is short, to the point and yet with a lot of meat. This is the third book on prayer by Kosloski that I have read, the other two on prayer are; Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice and 3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life were available from Kindle. But he also has three great books that are currently only available through his website. They are: Serviam, Distractions and Horarium and each of the three were excellent reads!

Kosloski's major focus in his writing is prayer and discernment. Both are great themes. For those of us who wish to grow and deepen in our spiritual life. The sections in this book are:

Introduction: 
Are You Distracted During Prayer? 
I. Go To Your Inner Room 
II. The Secret to Praying Without Looking at the Clock 
III. How to Stay Focused During Prayer and Reduce Unnecessary
Distractions 
IV. Is God Distracting Us During Prayer? 
V. The Battle of Prayer: Why We Shouldn't Lose Heart If We Fail 
Appendices
Resources on Prayer 

In the introduction Kosloski states: "In this eBook I will cover some of the most common distractions that we all experience and offer simple, clear advice that will help you overcome these obstacles to a fruitful prayer life." And that is exactly what he does. The Four key distractions he tackles are:

1. Place
2. Time 
3. Exterior Concerns 
4. Wandering Thoughts 

So this book focuses on human distractions. Distractions of our own making. But He also gives in this book some quick guidance on discernment about if something is from God, ourselves or the enemy. But this book is also part workbook. At the end of each chapter is reflection and then space to journal on some guiding questions. 

One of the key passages that really hit me was "The key is to balance our time of prayer with the right amount of spiritual reading, devotions and mental prayer. I have learned that it is much more of an art, than a science." In my own life I have oscillated between too much reading and not enough. In the spiritual life it is about finding the balance. Another key point is "Remember, Prayer is Not All About You"! 

Another great quote is "Prayer is a "battle" and the battlefield is in our hearts. Will we give-up and run away or fight until the last breath leaves our body?" As usual Kosloski draws extensively from church documents and other writings. He also gives a list of great resources to take what we learn here to another level.

Another great book from Philip Kosloski give it a try I am sure you will not be disappointed!











Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Advent Meditations - Fulton J. Sheen

Advent Meditations with Fulton J. Sheen
Fulton J. Sheen
Liguori Publications
ISBN 9780764816581
ASIN B008Y1PSL8


 
I bought this book even before I had finished Lenten Meditations with Fulton J. Sheen, The two books are set up in the exact same way. Each day you get a topic, a short quote from Fulton J. Sheen, these quotes vary from single sentences to longer paragraphs. And then the devotion ends with a bible quote. There are meditations from the First Sunday of Advent through to the Fourth Saturday of Advent. 

A sample devotion is:

Monday Fourth Week of Advent 
God’s Unconditional Love 

Many people nowadays want God, but on their terms, not on his. They insist that their wishes shall determine the kind of religion that is true, rather than letting God reveal his truth to them. So their dissatisfaction continues and grows. But God finds us lovable, even in our rebellion against him. 

Lift Up Your Heart 
I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you. 
Isaiah 42:6

This booklet has by far the shortest Advent devotions I have ever encountered. And Yet it also has great impact. The selected quotes from the works of Fulton J. Sheen all seem to speak to the heart. I highlighted part of or the entire quote almost every day. And I added a few of the books the quotes were drawn from to my reading list for the next year. This booklet is excellent for the advent season or to be honest could be read almost any time as a 4 week devotional or primer on Fulton J. Sheen’s writings.

I enjoyed this devotional so much I already plan on rereading it next year during advent again.  And I can highly recommend it. 

(If you are not convinced yet you can see another sample meditation here.)






Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
You
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen
God's World and Our Place In It
The World's First Love

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:
Fulton Sheen - Louise Merrie - CTS Biographies
...

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Serviam! - Philip Kosloski - A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will

Serviam!
A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski



This past year I read 5 books by Kosloski at this will be the fourth that I review. The first two on prayer, Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice and 3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life were available from Kindle. The next three: Serviam, Distractions and Horarium are available only through his website. Each of these three are excellent reads. They are each short guides on specific topics of the spiritual life. But the themes that run through all of Kosloski's writings are prayer and discernment. Both are vital topics to anyone who wishes to be growing in their personal spiritual life, and in their witness to the world around them. 

Many of us make hundreds of decisions every day. Many are trivial but again many are not. If we really want to make progress in our life either physically, spiritually or mentally we need to be making the correct small decisions over and over again. And yet so often we seldom really give them much thought.

The sections in this booklet are:
Introduction: The Journey of Discernment 
I. Jesus, I Trust in You: Building a Firm Foundation 
II. The Little Things: Following God's Will Every Day 
III. In the Stillness: The Best Place to Discern God's Will 
IV. Following the Good Shepherd: Characteristics of God's Voice 
V. A Fork in the Road: Which Path Should I Take? 
Appendix
i. Additional Resources 

This book focuses on discernment for the spiritual life. And no matter what our spiritual calling; priest, religious, married, single we all must use discernment to live out that calling well.  As Philip Kosloski states: "There is no "once and done" when it comes to following God's will. It is a lifelong adventure, one that can take many unexpected twists and turns." So we should all be working at getting better at using our discernment! 

Kosloski always writs in a clear crisp manner. I am sure he could fatten up his books and booklets. But instead he writes with an economy of words. And in doing so his books, and this one in particular are great resources. This book will help us to learn how to pay attention, to seek God's leading and to follow where he leads so that we are using our gifts and talents. Kosloski wrote this book not just to help us reach our eternal home of Heaven but to find joy in the journey there by learning to listen and be of service. 

At the beginning of the second chapter Philip says: "The next step in following God's will (espeically in the "big" things, like vocational discernment for example) is by obeying God in the "little things" on a daily basis. If we are obedient in small things, we will be better prepared to follow God in the "big" things." And it is from learning to do the little things well and follow in them day in and day out that we will really accomplish good things for God. Phikip also has 7 points to recognise the voice of God and * for discerning the voice of Satan. 

The list of resources in the appendix is also a great tool. For this booklet was well researched and written, but even with that some of us might wish to go deeper. Overall this was another excellent read from Kosloski and I highly recommend it!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2016

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2016 

This was a near record year for my reading. I ended up with 272 books on my reading list and 268 on Goodreads (Goodreads does not allow you to count books that are reread). But before I get down to my top ten list let’s take a look at some statistics. First I started the years with a Catholic Reading List of 32 books, that list was ever expanding. And over the year I managed to read 73 Catholic books. 

272 Books Read
154 Fiction
118 Non-Fiction
73 Catholic
11 by Matthew Kelly
 7 by Fulton Sheen

So looking at those numbers it was very hard to narrow down to a top ten non-fiction reads this year! But here goes.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2016

1. Resisting Happiness - Matthew Kelly
2. Real Mercy - Jacques Philippe
3. Father Michael E. Gaitley 33 Days Books
33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in preparation for Marian Consecration
33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration
4. Beautiful Mercy - Pope Francis et al.
5. Here. Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good Life - Amy Welborn
6. How God Hauled Me Kicking And Screaming Into The Catholic Church - Kevin Lowry
7. The Life God Wants You to Have - Gregory K. Popcak
8. Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit - Kevin Vost
9. The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living - Kevin Vost
10. 40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemaria Escriva - Cesare Cavalleri

It was no easy task making this list. So if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996




Tuesday, 27 December 2016

In Conversation With God Volume 1 Part 1 Advent - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
ISBN 9780906138847

ASIN B006C33IF8



I first reviewed this series almost 10 years ago.  And have been reading them off and on for over 26 years now since they were first released starting in 1989. And to be honest I have been waiting for eBooks or an app version to come out for a number of years. There are many things I love about the eBook editions. First I can have the whole series with me all the time. So not only can I read the daily devotion for that day and for any special feasts that day. But I can use them for study and use the extensive indexes to read specific points or search for something I read before. The biggest difference with the eBook editions is each of the 7 volumes is split in two parts.

I have read through this whole series 6 or 7 times and every time I get something more out of them. I have owned 3 copies of the physical books and now own the eBooks. I find that starting them again this year in ebooks, with no underlining of passages or notes in the margins that they are new and fresh.  Though to be honest over the 4 weeks of Advent I highlighted over 20 passages my first time through in the eBook. I will share some of those passages to show you the power in these devotions:

"Holy purity entails a daily self conquest, for it is not acquired once and for all. There may be times when the struggle becomes more intense, so that it is necessary to have more frequent recourse to the Blessed Virgin and to use, perhaps, some more unusual remedy."

"Other ways of caring for and cultivating this virtue are those small, customary mortifications which help to keep the body under control. If we want to keep intact the most beautiful of all the virtues, which is chastity, we must realise that it is a rose that only blooms in the midst of thorns, for which reason it is only to be found, as are the other virtues, in a mortified person."

"To become like children at heart while remaining adults can be costly. It requires real determination and strength of will, and a total abandonment to God. To become children we must renounce our pride and self sufficiency, recognising that we can do nothing by ourselves. We must realise that we need grace and the help of God our Father to find our way and keep to it. To be little, you have to abandon yourself as children do, believe as children believe, beg as children beg."

"For each one of us, our vocation is the central theme of our lives. It is the axis around which everything else turns. Everything, or almost everything, depends on our knowing and carrying out what God asks of us."

"Our Lord calls every one of us by our own name, today as much as ever. He needs us, it seems. Furthermore He calls all of us to a holy vocation, a vocation to follow him in a new life whose secret He alone possesses."

"The humble person knows his place, however exalted or lowly it be. He feels he belongs there and is happy in his work. He knows his limitations and possibilities, and does not allow himself to be deceived by mere ambition. His qualifications are the right ones for his job, to a greater or lesser degree: he is never a dead weight, holding others back. He carries out his work as well as he might, as a member of a team."

"The Christian way of life demands a radical change in attitude towards earthly things; they should be procured and used, not as an end in themselves, but as a means of serving God. Because they are only a means they are not worth putting our hearts into; true goods are something else altogether."

I am greatly looking forward to reading this series with fresh eyes this year. And doing so through the eBook versions. These devotions all follow the same format. Each day has about 6 pages of readings broken into three sections. In the past I have read the whole thing at once in the morning, or broken it up and read part in the morning, part at lunch and part in the evening. There is so much great material in these books. I know people who have read them every year for decades now and they still get something more from them each year.

It is my prayer that these book will enrich my life this year and if you give them a try that they will be of abundant spiritual blessing to you also.




(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Through The Winds and Waves
The Day that Changed My Life


Monday, 26 December 2016

The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God - Fulton J. Sheen

The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 
Fulton J. Sheen
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781586174743
eISBN 9780898705973
ASIN B002T7DE2S


This was the fifth book by Fulton J. Sheen that I read this year. With each book that I read I find that with each book I read the more of his writings I add to my reading list. This book was an amazing read. It was very interesting reading Sheen's theology of Mary our Mother and her role in leading people to Christ Jesus. And this book with its focus on Mary and Marian theology is inspiring.

The Chapters in this book are:
PART I THE WOMAN THE WORLD LOVES
 1 Love Begins with a Dream
 2 When Freedom and Love Were One: The Annunciation
 3 The Song of the Woman: The Visitation
 4 When Did Belief in the Virgin Birth Begin?
 5 All Mothers Are Alike-Save One
 6 The Virgin Mother
 7 The World's Happiest Marriage
 8 Obedience and Love
 9 The Marriage Feast at Cana
 10 Love and Sorrow
 11 The Assumption and the Modern World
PART II THE WORLD THE WOMAN LOVES
 12 Man and Woman
 13 The Seven Laws of Love
 14 Virginity and Love
 15 Equity and Equality
 16 The Madonna of the World
 17 Mary and the Moslems
 18 Roses and Prayers
 19 The Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary
 20 Misery of Soul and the Queen of Mercy
 21 Mary and the Sword
 22 The Woman and the Atom

It was very interesting reading about Sheen's focus on Mary in relation to the former Communist regime. But also his thoughts on Islam. For he states: "If Islam is a heresy, as Hilaire Belloc believes it to be, it is the only heresy that has never declined. Others have had a moment of vigor, then gone into doctrinal decay at the death of the leader, and finally evaporated in a vague social movement. Islam, on the contrary, has only had its first phase. There was never a time in which it declined, either in numbers or in the devotion of its followers." And from this his focus on the need to pray to Mary as an example to witness to and bring about the conversion of this group. 

This book does an excellent job of explaining Mary's role within the Catholic church, and through her appearances, messages and ministry the job of drawing all of us home to God through Jesus. Sheen draws us in through the history of Mary and the church. And shoes her central role in history.

This was another excellent read. The book concludes with these words: "O Mary, we have exiled thy Divine Son from our lives, our councils, our education, and our families! Come with the light of the sun as the symbol of His Power! Heal our wars, our dark unrest; cool the cannon's lips so hot with war! Take our minds off the atom and our souls out of the muck of nature! Give us rebirth in thy Divine Son, us, the poor children of the earth grown old with age! "Advance, Woman, in thine assault upon Omnipotence!" Shame us all into enlisting as thy warriors of peace and love!" And this book will inspire us to grow in our faith and through that move is to action from the place of love. I highly recommend this book!

Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
You
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen
God's World and Our Place In It
The World's First Love

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:
Fulton Sheen - Louise Merrie - CTS Biographies
...


(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)