--> Saving page now... https://www.bookreviewsandmore.ca/search/label/Catholicism As it appears live September 28, 2020 12:29:20 AM UTC

Showing posts with label Catholicism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholicism. Show all posts

Friday, 25 September 2020

Prayer of the Day Saint Edmund Arrowsmith Prayer

Saint Edmund Arrowsmith Prayer

Jesus, grant us the virtues of courage & prudence so we may live and 
profess your Gospel to the people of our time. As your Holy Spirit 
guided St Edmund in his ministry, so may the same Spirit be our Lord 
and Teacher in all we do.

Saint Edmund Arrowsmith Pray for us. 

Reviews of books about Edmund Arrowsmith:

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Frightliner and Other Tales of the Supernatural - Karina Fabian and Colleen Drippe

Frightliner and Other Tales of the Supernatural
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ISBN 9781733447164

Over the last several weeks I have read 3 novels, and 2 collections of short stories edited by Karina Fabian. Prior to that there had been a n 8 year gap in my reading one of her offerings. That was my loss. And I am making up for lost time. I cannot seem to put her books down. Now I need to note that there are 2 editions of this volume, the original was released in 2010 and this new edition was released in 2020. This new one contains the following stories:

The Lobby
Accidental Undeath
The Women of Rattlesnake Hill
My Big, Fat Zombie Wedding

The original edition only contains the first three stories. So even if you have read the previous version it is worth picking up again for the 2 extra stories. This is a fantastic collection of frightful tales. Some dark and disturbing and some very humorous. I have read much by Fabian, but I believe this is the first I have read by Drippe. But for both it will not be the last. I have already picked up 2 other volumes from Fabian and added one by Drippe to my wish list.

The title story was cowritten by the two authors, and from there the stories alternate authors. I loved the first story. A haunted rig, prowling the highways and byways. Seeking victims, and needing to be fed. A man of faith, a lawman, and a roadside church. The story brings to mind the Tarantino’s from Dusk to Dawn, but with a different twist. It is an excellent work, that I would love to see expanded into a novel. More of the backstory and history. It is excellently written. I also wonder if the two hunters go on to more adventures. Would love to come back to these characters in a future offering.

The second story will leave you thinking. Thinking about what matters. And What things cost. About what you would be willing to give, or what you are willing to lose. It is a story that needs more than one reading. But having read both editions of this book I find I find myself like the gentleman, sitting waiting, thinking. What is the lobby you are in?

Accidental undeath. Wow, a vampire truck driver. Desperate to save a young woman his rig hit. Remembering his own conversion. And debating what is best. Desperate to make a good choice even in in his current state. 

The women of Rattlesnake Hill know how to take care of business. There have been issues since they settled here and the women know how to deal with it and pass on that knowledge. And the women keep the men in the dark. They work together to do what must be done. Even when it is not easy or pleasant. 

I will be honest, I laughed out loud twice while reading this story. I could see this being done as an episode of Strange Stories or the Twilight Zone. Taking her boyfriend home and stating:

“Mortimer—Mort—is... life-challenged.”

But boy oh boy where this story will take you. Another excellent read from the creative pen of Fabian.

Overall a great collection of the strange, spooky, scary, and wacky. 5 great stories to entertain and amuse. Well worth picking up, but make sure you get the new edition, so you get the 2 extra stories. And settle in with a coffee, mug or beer or glass of wine for an evening of tales of the strange and supernatural.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karina Fabian:
Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Perfect Ten

Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland

DragonEye Pi Series:

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem 
Live and Let Fly
Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella
Murder Most Picante

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind

Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II

Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity

Books by Dolleen Drippe:
Sunrise on the Icewolf
Mystery at Miner's Creek
Frightliner and Other Tales of the Supernatural

Star Brothers Adventures:
Vessel of Darkness
Vessel of Darkness

Contributed to:
Glimring Night and Other Tales of Fantasy (Dark Regions #4)

 Original Cover

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

If You Can Get It - Brendan Hodge

If You Can Get It 
ISBN 9781621643456
eISBN 9781642291278

This book took me by surprise. Once I started, I could hardly put it down. I read it in three sittings over three days, but most of it was read in one sitting, while the kids were out on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I just sat in a chair in the sun and read. There has a been a lot of great fiction coming out from Ignatius Press over the last few year, like Ceremony of Innocence by Dorothy Cummings McLean or Do No Harm by  Fiorella De Maria. And in general a lot of great Catholic fiction, and this reminded me of some of the works of Carolyn Astfalk. This story is very well written for a debut novel. And I know I will pick up anything else released by Brendan Hodge. 

The story is much like books in Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘Chronos’ stories, in that its as she stated: defined as "ordinary, wrist-watch, alarm-clock time." Or as can be restated realistic fiction. And this is the fiction of life. Of learning, growing, discovering. It is fiction that will likely cause you to reflect upon your own life, and those of your close friends. And it is fiction that will inspire and uplift. Even if it begins a bit rough. It is the story of family, friendship, career, and figuring out what matters most for you in life. 

The main part of the story focuses on two sisters. Two very different sisters. Jen Nilsson has her MBA, a series of every more important jobs, a great condo, sleek BMW. And she hopes is weeks away from the coveted Director title at work. Katie is her younger sister who shows up on her door after not being able to hack being back home after college. She seems to lack direction, focus, and even basic responsibility. But as we all know, life does not always go according to plan. And soon Jen’s life is turned upside down, a corporate buyout, being laid off, and a new role she is hesitant about all lead to a horrendous long business trip to China. But after weeks abroad she finds some clarity on the long flight home. She makes some decisions and changes that would surprise many. 

The story looks at life in the twenty-first-century. It looks at work, family, friends and technology. And as the two sisters grow, they also grow closer. It closely examines what we take for granted, and how easy it is to go with the status quo. Both of which should be challenged and examined, and this book helps us to see that. But to find out all that happens to them, you will need to pick up and read this excellent novel. 

This debut novel was an excellent read. It is the type of story I hope my girls read when they are a little older. And it is the type of story that can inspire any reader to look at the world a little differently. And maybe let faith slip into that worldview. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Brendan Hodge:
If You Can Get It 

Monday, 21 September 2020

The Church and the Modern Era 1846–2005 - David M. Wagner - Reclaiming Catholic History Series Book 7

The Church and the Modern Era (1846–2005)
Pius IX, World Wars, and the Second Vatican Council
Reclaiming Catholic History Series Book 7
David M. Wagner 
Mike Aquilina (Editor)
Ave Maria Press
ISBN 9781594717871
eISBN 9781594717888

I have greatly enjoyed the other two volumes in this series that I have read. The Church and the Roman Empire by Mike Aquilina and The Early Church by James L. Papandrea. The books are be released out of order. There will be seven volumes in this series. Mike Aquilina is the general editor of the series. But I must admit that I had some trepidation as I approached this volume. It seems that if you mention Vatican II these days you will have either complete support, or ravings that it is invalid and destroying the Catholic Church. However, this volume was an excellent read. This book and the whole series today are excellent reads. I spent 20 years as an undergraduate, for the most part because I loved learning. My last degree was in Religious Studies with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought. I would have loved this book and those I have read in this series as resources.   

Many years ago when I did an Introduction to Church History course at Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo, our professor, Arnold Snider, often said throughout the year, “I do not care as much about dates and names and places, as the story of Christianity. On your final exam the main question will be ‘Your uncle Billy at Christmas dinner says: ‘I hear you did the history of Christianity, tell us the story in your own words?’” And that was one of the essay questions on the exam. This book and the two others I have read in the series would have been great resources for that course. And If I had had them they would have been pulled out often for essays, papers and research. This is a great read in an excellent series. But the books are written in such an engaging manner that any Catholic could pick them up and benefit from reading them. And this one is on one of the hardest periods of Church history. 

This third volume published in this series, Reclaiming Catholic History, though it is the seventh book in the series. The series is being edited by Mike Aquilina and the first published volume is by him as well. About this series we are told by Aquilina:

“The history of the Catholic Church is often clouded by myth, misinformation, and missing pieces. Today there is a renewed interest in recovering the true history of the Church, correcting the record in the wake of centuries of half-truths and noble lies. Books in the Reclaiming Catholic History series, edited by Mike Aquilina and written by leading authors and historians, bring Church history to life, debunking the myths one era at a time.”

And each of the three I have read today are excellent volumes. The chapters in this volume are:

Reclaiming Catholic History: Series Introduction 
Chronology of The Early Church (33–313) 
Introduction: When Does Something Become “History”?

Chapter 1: The Modern Church 
     Up Close and Personal: St. John Henry Newman 
     You Be the Judge: Wasn’t the declaration of papal infallibility just a power grab? Chapter 

2: Democracy and the “Social Question” 
     Up Close and Personal: St. Josephine Bakhita 
     You Be the Judge: Doesn’t Catholic “social teaching” amount to an endorsement of socialism? Chapter 

3: A Crisis in Theology 
     Up Close and Personal: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 
     You Be the Judge: Isn’t the Catholic Church opposed to scientific research and technological advancement? 

Chapter 4: The War to End All Wars 
     Up Close and Personal: The Message of Fatima Chapter 

5: Totalitarianism 
     Up Close and Personal: St. Faustina Kowalska and Divine Mercy 
     You Be the Judge: Didn’t the Catholic Church sign agreements with European dictators? 

Chapter 6: World War II 
     Up Close and Personal: St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) 
     You Be the Judge: Should Pius XII have spoken out explicitly against Nazi treatment of the Jews? 

Chapter 7: The Cold War and Age of Benign Liberalism 
     Up Close and Personal: St. Josemaría Escrivá Up Close and Personal: Padre Pio 
     You Be the Judge: Did the Soviet Union plot to tarnish the reputation of Pope Pius XII and the Church? 

Chapter 8: The Second Vatican Council 
     Up Close and Personal: Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 
     You Be the Judge: Isn’t Vatican II universally hailed by theological liberals and disparaged by theological conservatives? 

Chapter 9: Civil Unrest and the Return of Radicalism 
     Up Close and Personal: Mother Teresa of Kolkata 
     You Be the Judge: Doesn’t the Church oppose feminism? 

Chapter 10: A Culture of Life 
     Up Close and Personal: More Saints than Ever 
     You Be the Judge: Didn’t the Church completely mishandle clergy sexual abuse? 

Series Epilogue: A Change of Age

This book is an excellent resource. It can be read by late high school students or undergrads and used as a resource. It can be read by anyone interested in church history. It is engaging and entertaining. An excellent resource! And with all the vitriol in Catholic social media today it is a book many should read. Most chapter’s follow the same format or the main history. Then two focused sections. The first is Up Close and Personal and is a profile of a specific person or people. Usually saints or blessed. The next is a section called You Be The Judge, which goes deeper into a question, point of interest or conflict. The book would be worth reading for either of these sections. But The whole thing is very well written. David M. Wagner does an excellent job of presenting a balanced view. Well researched, and presented inline with Church teachings. He tackles probably the toughest period in the series. The era of two Vatican councils, two world wars, political upheaval around the world. He draws extensively from the encyclicals that guided and led us through this period.    

I greatly benefited from reading this volume. And I am certain you will as well. I know that I will be reading the remaining four volumes in the series as they release. And will likely circle back and reread them in order. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books in the Reclaiming Catholic History Series:
The Early Church - James L. Papandrea
The Church and the Roman Empire - Mike Aquilina
The Church and the Dark Ages
The Church and the Middle Ages
The Church and the Reformation
The Church and the Age of Enlightenment
The Church Facing the Modern Era

Friday, 18 September 2020

Prayer of the Day Robert Southwell's Prayer for the Church

Robert Southwell's Prayer for the Church 

We therefore are under an obligation to be the light of the world by the modesty of our behaviour, the fervour of our charity, the innocence of our lives, and the example of our virtues. 

Thus shall we be able to raise the lowered prestige of the Catholic Church, and to build up again the ruins that others by their vices have caused. Others by their wickedness have branded the Catholic Faith with a mark of shame, we must strive with all our strength to cleanse it from its ignominy and to restore it to its pristine glory. 

Reviews of books about Robert Southwell:

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

I Am Margaret The Play - Corinna Turner and Fiorella de Maria

I Am Margaret The Play
Fiorella De Maria
Corinna Turner
UnSeen Books 
ISBN 9781910806845
eISBN 9781910806852
Director’s Edition
ISBN 9781910806548

I had no idea this volume was in the works. And to be honest it had been many years since I have read a play or other script. Once upon a time when I was involved with productions in High School and University, I often read plays, and of course the Greek classics. But it has been years since I picked up a play to read. But upon hearing of this one I not only picked it up, but devoured it in 2 sittings, one late at night and the other early the next morning. This is a work by two of my favorite contemporary Catholic authors. Fiorella de Maria I discovered a year ago and devoured all her fictional works. I have been a fan of Corinna’s works for years and have read most of her offering. The I Am Margaret book and series is a magnificent piece of fiction, and a warning. And this is that story in play format by the masterful pen of de Maria. 

The I Am Margaret book is a warning to all people, but especially Christians and Catholics. And this play brings it to life in a new and powerful way. Reading this play the story came alive in my minds eye in a completely new way. Part of the description of the book is:

“In Margo's World, The 'Imperfect' Are Recycled. Literally.

Margaret Verrall dreams of marrying the boy she loves and spending her life with him. But she’s part of the underground network of Believers – and that carries the death penalty. But before she can be unmasked as a Believer, she fails her Sorting and is reassigned as spare parts. Bane swears to rescue her before she can be dismantled, but a chance to take on the system ups the stakes beyond mere survival. Now she has to break out of the Facility—or face the worst punishment of all: Conscious Dismantlement.”

I first read I Am Margaret five years ago. It was a story that had an immediate impact but also a story that has stuck with me. It is a series I have shared and recommended with countless people. And this new play version is just as powerful. I would absolutely love to see a production of this play or see it on film. I was amazed at how deMaria captured the novel across three acts and a total of 21 scenes. 

Note there are two editions of this play. A standard edition for personal use and a director’s edition that includes:
- Photocopying/Printing and Sharing rights for 1 production
- Free eBook and PDF file 

If you are a fan of the I Am Margaret books you owe it to yourself to give this play a read. And if you love reading plays or scripts, I strongly encourage you to give this a try. And if you are involved with a youth or community theatre group, I would encourage you to give this consideration for your next project.

A fantastic read, and should make for an deeply moving production. A powerful story in an amazing new format.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! 

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.0 The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles (A prequel)
0.5 Brothers (Prequel)
1.0 I Am Margaret
1.5 How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)
2.0 The Three Most Wanted
3.0 Liberation
4.0 Bane's Eyes

5.0 Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook
5.5 An Unexpected Guest
6.0 The Siege of Reginald Hill
6.5 Buttons (Short Story)
7.0 A Saint in the Family
I Am Margaret The Play

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
0.0 Breach
0.5 A Mom with Blue Feathers
1.0 Drive!
2.0 A Truly Rapror-Ous Welcome
3.0 Panic! 
4.0 Farmgirls Die in Cages
5.0 ???

Mandy Lamb Series:
Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon
The Wolf The Lamb and the Air Balloon

Elfling Series:
The Most Expensive Alley Cat in London

Other Books:
Three last things or The hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin
The Raven & The Yew

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.

Books by Fiorella De Maria:
The Cassandra Curse
Father William's Daughter
Poor Banished Children
Do No Harm
We'll Never Tell Them
A Most Dangerous Innocence
I Am Margaret The Play

Father Gabriel Mysteries:
The Sleeping Witness
The Vanishing Woman
See No Evil

Robert Southwell – CTS Saints of the Isles

Books as Fiorella Nash:
The Abolition of Woman: How Radical Feminism Is Betraying Women

Author Profile and Interview with Fiorella de Maria.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Abba Moses Notorious Robber, Desert Father - Andrew Votipka - Mr. Baker’s Book Series Book 1

Abba Moses:
Notorious Robber, Unlikely Desert Father
Mr. Baker’s Book Series Book 1
Andrew Votipka
ISBN 9780578738710

This book was a most excellent read. I have read a few books about Abba Moses or Moses the Black. One by Bishop Serapion tries to separate and distinguish between three possible different Moses’s. The one by Jared Zimmerer was suppose to be the first volume with a new one released each month but the follow up stories never happened. I hope that does not happen with this series. We are informed that this is the first book in a series called Mr. Baker’s Book Series. And if there are future volumes and they are as good as this we are in for some excellent reads. In some ways this story reminded me of the Chime Travelers series by Lisa M. Hendey but geared for an older audience. And in some ways it reminded me of the Douglings Adventures by Carissa Douglas. And fans of both of those series will love this book. Though this is geared more for an older reader, late middle grade, tweens or teens. And as stated it is an excellent read. 

The description of this volume is:

“Chris, Theo, and Laura have been forced to attend Sunday school classes for seven years. They get it! Read the Bible, go to church. But now their long tenured teacher has moved to Florida. Roger Baker is an oddball, but when no one else steps up, the pastor reluctantly lets him teach. Mr. Baker shows up to class with a thick book. This book isn’t just full of adventures, it transports the class into the adventures! Theo, Chris, and Laura suddenly find themselves in the year 350 A.D. in the deserts of Egypt. Join them as they battle highway robbers, visit a remote monastery, and meet the unlikeliest Desert Father, Moses. Bandit, monk, saint.”

And are the trio ever in for a shock this year. In their first class they have a journey through space and time, and the faith is brought to life right before their eyes. 

The chapters in the story are:

1. Mr. Baker 
2. Lost in Egypt 
3. Alone in the Desert 
4. Guests 
5. A Band of Robbers 
6. Party to a Crime 
7. A Traveling Caravan 
8. Across the Way 
9. Swimming the Nile 
10. Hidden in Plain Sight 
11. The Monastery 
12. A Place to Lay Your Head 
13. Seeing the Light 
14. Good News 
15. The Desert Mother 
16. Filling in the Gaps 
17. A Good Man is Hard to Fight 
18. The Grand Entrance 
19. The Last Chapter 
20. Class is Back in Session 
Afterword: The Religious Education Committee

The author states in the preface that:

“I’ve imagined this book as a family read aloud. The reader may feel free to add, edit, delete, and supplement. You can make the Egyptians sound like British villains or Irish leprechauns (those are my personal go-tos). You can talk about the differences between a cenobitic and an eremitic monk if you happen to know the difference. You can buy a prayer rope and teach your kids how to use it. Be creative!”

And further on he says:

“Many Christians, myself included, suffer from what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. We tend to think of Christianity in whatever modern and regional form we experience it. My hope for this book series is that it will act as a springboard for families to discover the fascinating people, places, and events that make up this 2,000 year old faith. It’s a religion that can at once conjure up images of casseroles and cathedrals. Hopefully by the end of this book you’ll also think of camels and the hot desert.”

And the preface concludes with:

“And finally, to answer the question, “Is this a book about a Catholic saint?” Catholics do call him a saint, though if anyone has a claim to Moses, it would be the Egyptian Copts or Eastern Orthodox. Moses lived when the church was still unified, so in a perfect world, he would be familiar to all Christians. I hope Mr. Baker helps make that a reality.”

This book delivers on all three of those things. It is a great story to be read or read aloud. It helps bring part of the long history of Christianity to life and bring awareness to a younger generation. I know that when I was young I never heard or read about the desert mothers or fathers. And Andrew introduces young readers to them in an amazing and very fun way. So pick it up and give it a try and join the three youngsters as they get transported back and experience the desert and some early saints in a fascinating first hand way.

This book was a wonderful read. I greatly enjoyed it, and plan on rereading in with my younger children in the next week or two. I know I will pick up any future offering in this series. This book brought to life this specific saint and the reality of the life of the desert mothers and fathers. I highly recommend this volume. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Andrew Votipka:
Mr. Baker’s Book Series
Aloysius Gonzaga

Other books about Moses the Black:
The Strong Saint Abba Moses - Bishop Serapion Of Thmuis


Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Woman in the Trees - Theoni Bell

The Woman in the Trees 
A novel about America's first approved Marian apparition
ISBN 9798665546919

This was an amazing novel for many reasons. First it is the debut novel from the pen of Theoni Bell, and if it any indication we are in for some amazing stories. Second it was a story I was unaware of. It is a Marian apparition that I was hardly aware of and the way the story is presented in this novel is incredible. I read this book in one sitting, I could not put it down, and I stayed up much too late reading. I have a few contemporary Catholic authors that I cannot wait for them to release another book so I can read it. Theoni was added to that list based on the power of this story! 

Last year I read a book about Our Lady of Good Help by Father Edward Looney Our Lady of Good Help: Prayer Book for Pilgrims. And loved the prayers. This novel brings it to life in a very powerful way. This novel gives us much of the background and a very personal way. This historical fiction novel follows Slainie a Belgium immigrant in the 1800’s. It follows her immigration, her travels across America and her struggles with faith and family. It is a deeply moving story. 

As we find out about the Woman in the Trees and the mysterious seer. We follow Slainie and her family. He fathers embracing the apparitions, and her mother’s resistance and confrontational nature. The characters are masterfully written. The story will grab you and not let you go. 

This book would be an excellent read for a book club, youth group, or classroom. It could also be read and discussed as a family. Reading this book really made me think of my impact upon my children and their faith. About how much a parent’s actions can either help or hinder our children and their spiritual life. The book inspired me to pray in a new way for my own children, and their relationship with Our Lady. 

This is an excellent read for tweens, teens and adults. I can honestly say this is one of the best debut novels I have read in the last few years. I highly recommend this book!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Virtues of Holiness - Juan Luis Lorda - The Basics of Spiritual Struggle

The Virtues of Holiness: 
The Basics of Spiritual Struggle
Juan Luis Lorda 
Juan Luis Lorda Iñarra
ISBN 9781594170904
eISBN 9781594171338
ASIN B0045Y26K4

This book is an amazing read. It is a book I really needed to read, and one I greatly benefited from reading. And I certain the same will be true for you also. This is a book all Christians would benefit from read. And a book that should be in all Catholic school and church libraries. The description of this book is:

“The Virtues of Holiness offers a road-map for navigating our everyday activities: work, family, leisure pursuits. It shows how we can reach the heights of Christian life in and through these activities. For many people this is unfamiliar territory, and the author has written this book just for them. Fr. Lorda offers his readers a daily spiritual plan and describes strategies for gaining the virtues needed for following Christ closely. The next steps are familiarity with the life of Christ and developing a deep interior relationship with Him. Although its path is challenging, The Virtues of Holiness leaves no doubt that the struggle to stay close to Christ lies within the reach of every Christian. The author draws on a wide range of Christian apologists from the Church Fathers to St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the 16th century Spanish mystics, John of Avila, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila. The result is a book that is accessible to readers of all ages, and especially young believers.”

And the virtues and mysteries Lorda examines are:

Part I Virtues
1. The Sense of the Presence of God
2. Self-Knowledge
3. The Ascetical Struggle
4. Fortitude
5. Detachment
6. Chastity
7. Humility
8. Simplicity
9. Cheerfulness
10. Prudence
11. Integrity
12. Living for Others
13. Work

Part II Mysteries
14. Identification with Christ
15. Love of God
16. Prayer
17. The Eucharist
18. The Sense of Sin
19. Confession
20. Death and Life
21. Love for the Church
22. Mary, the Mother of God

It was nearly impossible to put this book down. We are informed in the forward that:

“The spiritual life—or asceticism, it is sometimes called—is an experience of the life of faith that the Church has been accumulating and transmitting from the beginning. This book contains what I have received from others, especially the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría Escrivá. The rest comes from classical authors—Fathers of the Church, especially St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. ca. 386), Sts. Augustine and Cassian (d. 430 and 435), St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), and St. Gregory the Great (d. 604)—and writers such as St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of Avila, and St. John of the Cross (all sixteenth century), St. Francis de Sales (d. 1622), and many others. Among more recent authors I have made use of the writings of John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Ronald Knox, Romano Guardini, and Josef Pieper; I also owe something to spiritual writers such as Eugene Boylan, Georges Chevrot, and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, among others.”

And further on we are told:

“This book is divided into two parts. The first deals with the manner of acquiring virtues. The second presents more directly some features of the life of Jesus that a Christian should conscientiously try to imitate.”

This volume is not a step by step guide. Do these 6 things and grow in virtue. It is an examination of the virtues through the lives and writings of saints and other Christians. This book is easy to read. Any high school student could engage with the text. But it is not just a book to be read and put down. It is to be prayed over. To be worked through again. To be learned and lived. This is a book I wish I had read in my teens, even my twenties, or thirties. I would be a much better man today if I had. But I am starting where I am and working on living it out.

At the beginning of the second part of the book we are told:

“This second part of the book concerns aspects of the spiritual life more closely related to the action of God’s grace. The first chapter deals with the central mystery of grace, the presence in us of the Holy Spirit and “Identification with Christ.” From this arises the way of living described in the next chapter, “Love of God.””

This book was so good that I already put it back in my 'to be read pile' to be read again. And also picked up the only other book by Lorda available in English. I will state again this is an indispensable volume. I strongly encourage you to give it a read. I guarantee your life will not be the same!  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Juan Luis Lorda:
Beyond Good Intentions: The Art of Christian Living

And he has many other books available in Spanish.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Prayer of the Day Prayer to Saint Agnes

Prayer to Saint Agnes 

St. Agnes, although you were only a child, you believed that Jesus was always with you; help us to remember that he is also with us, and to remain true to his presence. 

St. Agnes, you refused to give up your faith; help us to be proved of our faith, to love it, to be strong in it, and to give witness to it daily. 

St. Agnes, patron saint of children, watch over the children of the world; keep them safe from harm; be with them in their hour of need; and always pray for them. 

St. Pray for us. 

Note: Feast January 21st  

(The artwork is oil on canvas, in the backstairs at our parish.)

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

I Heard God Laugh - Matthew Kelly - A Practical Guide to Life's Essential Daily Habit

I Heard God Laugh
A Practical Guide to Life's Essential Daily Habit
Matthew Kelly
Blue Sparrow Publishing 
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781635821383
eISBN 9781635821390

Over the last 6 years I have read books by Matthew Kelly 29 times, and that does not count some of his children’s books that have been read many times over.  I am always excited when a new volume from Matthew is coming out, and eagerly await its release. This was the second of two that released around the same time, the other being Coach 365 Days of Inspiration for Coaches and Players. Next to Rediscover the Saints, this is my favorite book by Matthew Kelly, that I have read to date. This is one of those books that every Catholic, nay every Christian could benefit from reading. It is a fantastic read, and as soon as I finished it, I put but in my 'to be read pile'. It will be a book I know I will return to again and again. The description of this volume is:

“Is Your Life Working? Most of us are trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle we call life without a very important piece. Over time this becomes incredibly frustrating. In this extraordinary book, Matthew Kelly powerfully demonstrates that we cannot live the life we have imagined, or experience the joy we yearn for, unless we learn to tend the soul. From there, with his classic style of practical wisdom, he teaches us how to remedy this problem.

When our bodies are hungry, our stomachs growl. When our souls are hungry, we become irritable, restless, confused, overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, discontent, and tend to focus on the things that matter least and neglect the things that matter most.”

I highlighted several passages on my first reading of this volume and some of them are:

“We cannot live without the hope that things will change for the better, and we are not victims of our circumstances.”

“You are who and what you are still capable of becoming. You are your realized and unrealized potential. God sees you and all your potential, and he aches to see you embrace your best, truest, highest self. He yearns to help you and to accompany you in that quest.”

“Wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, however life has surprised and disappointed you, I want to remind you of one thing: The best is yet to come! There are times in life when this is easier or harder to believe, but the best is truly yet to come.”

“The essential piece most people are missing is a vibrant spirituality.”

Nothing will change your life so completely, absolutely, and forever like learning how to really pray. In prayer we learn who we are and what we are here for, what matters most and what matters least. Through prayer we discover the-best-version-of-ourselves, and are given the courage to celebrate and defend it in each moment of each day. In prayer we learn how to love and be loved, because we discover that we have been loved, are loved, and will continually be loved by God.”

“If you truly want to seek and find these answers, this is work for the soul. These are matters that are between you and God.”

“The essential practical virtue of prayer is patience—which is also the essential practical virtue in all relationships.”

“I am often asked: “Why do you pray?” I pray because I cannot thrive without it.”

Those few samples will give you an idea of the worth of this volume. This is a book about making prayer central to your whole life. It teaches, it encourages, and it challenges it. Matthew outlines:

The Prayer Process:
1. Gratitude
2. Awareness
3. Significant Moments
4. Peace
5. Freedom
6. Others
7. Finish

The book also contains the prayer of surrender. The chapters in this volume are:

Part One: The Unexpected Life 
A Question to Begin 
The Missing Piece 
The Habit 
The Promise of This Book 
Finding Your Reason 
Habit and Potential 
The Challenge 
Soul Note 

Part Two: My Spiritual Journey 
The Invitation: Ten Minutes a Day 
The First Surrender 
The Day My Life Changed Forever 
My Hope for You 
Soul Note 

Part Three: Life’s Essential Habit 
Teach Us to Pray 
Sharing the Joy 
The Prayer Process 
Your Best Days 
The Basics What Is Your Image of God? 
There Is Power in a Name 
Begin Today 
Soul Note 

Part Four: Six Powerful Spiritual Lessons 
The Longest Journey 
Six Seismic Shifts 
The First Shift: Begin the Conversation 
The Second Shift: Ask God What He Wants 
The Third Shift: Give Yourself to Prayer 
The Fourth Shift: Transform Everything into Prayer 
The Fifth Shift: Make Yourself Available 
The Sixth Shift: Just Keep Showing Up! 
Six Life-Changing Awakenings 
Soul Note 

Part Five: The God Who Gave Us Laughter 
Does God Have a Sense of Humor? 
I Heard God Laugh 
The Deep Waters 
The Delight of God 
Busy Is Not Your Friend 
Soul Note 
Epilogue: Do You Hear That?

This is one of those books I wish I could put in the hands of all my friends. A book I would love to have given to my daughter’s grade 8 graduation class last year. And especially in 2002 it is a book many of us would benefit from reading. I strongly encourage you to order 2 copies of this book, one for yourself and one to pass on.

This book is one of Kelly’s best and one all Christians should read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Matthew Kelly:
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
The One Thing
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Perfectly Yourself Discovering God's Dream For You
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
Beautiful Hope
Beautiful Mercy
The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity
Why I Love Being Catholic
Good Night, Jesus
In a world where you can be anything ...
I Heard God Laugh: A Practical Guide to Life's 

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality