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Showing posts with label ScepterPublishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ScepterPublishing. Show all posts

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:

Foreword
Introduction
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.





Monday, 7 September 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13 - 18 - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13 - 18
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138908
ASIN B006O1W7WS


It has been eight years since I have purchased this volume, I have now read this edition eight times. There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions direct from Scepter. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now I love these Kindle editions. 

I have been reading this series for 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in the individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset, twice. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local schoolteacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love these newer eBook editions. And have read them every years since getting the eBook editions.

I have said it before, and will say it again, but there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also always like having all the volumes on me. As mike Aquilina stated:

“Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria.”

And I always appreciate having them all on me. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally with my dual form of dyslexia

When these books were originally released in English this was the first half of the fourth volume. This volume consists of 54 meditations for Weeks 13 through to 18 of Ordinary Time. A sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year are:

“So many people have their own plans for their own well-being that only too often they look on God simply as someone who will help them to carry out those same plans. The true state of affairs is just the opposite. God has his plans for our happiness, and He is waiting for us to help him accomplish them – and let us be quite clear about it: we cannot improve on God’s plans.”

“Simplicity means having rectitude of intention and behaving with firmness and consistency. Prudence always points out to us the most appropriate means of achieving our end.”

“In the society in which we live we will have to speak out with the certainty and firmness that truth unfailingly gives. We will have to talk about many subjects which are of transcendent importance for the family, for society and for the dignity of the human person. Take the indissolubility of marriage. Freedom in education. The Church’s teaching on the transmission of human life. The dignity and beauty of purity. The excellence of virginity and celibacy for love of Christ. The consequences of social justice in relation to thoughtless spending or unjust wages ... There may be occasions when out of prudence or charity we should keep quiet.”

“The prayer of the Liturgy on this day invites us to exclaim: Lord, may our voices, our spirits and the whole of our lives be a continual praise in your honour ... May our conversations be always truthful, proper to a child of God.”

“When one freely decides to follow Christ completely it takes preference over other plans: one’s father or mother, one’s boy-friend or girl-friend. God’s call comes first, and everything else has to take second place to this.”

“To follow Our Lord properly calls for a completely unfettered detachment, a freedom of heart that is not hampered by sadness or regret, which would only lead to a half-hearted self-giving; the person concerned also needs to have the necessary autonomy to fulfil God’s will. Nothing is gained by half measures, by a decision made with a divided heart.”

“Good parents always want the best for their children. Since they are capable of making great sacrifices for their material welfare, why not too in the case of their supernatural well-being? They sacrifice themselves so that their children grow up healthy, and do well at their studies, and have good friends; and likewise so that they live as God wants them to, leading a life that is Christian and honourable. This is the mission that God has called parents to in matrimony – the education of their children. It is the express will of God for them, and a consequence of the Natural Law.”

“What are the acts of penance that are pleasing to God? They are: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, small mortifications, putting up patiently with the disappointments and difficulties of life, being ready to accept the monotonous aspects of our job and the tiredness that is part and parcel of work.”

“God wants us to bear difficulties peacefully and firmly, being happy to place our trust in him. He never lets his friends down, especially when their only care is to do his will.”

“Denying oneself means refusing to be the centre of one’s own attention. The true disciple must be centred on Christ, to whom must be directed all thoughts and cares, so that our entire day truly becomes an offering to God.”

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. And as mentioned this is part of 1 volume 4 dedicated to Ordinary time weeks 13 through to 18. 

These books are incredible for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. As stated this is my eighth time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books, I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. A few years ago I was asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. This is one of my all-time top Christian reads!


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

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
...

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138687
ASIN B006DJYIQE


It has been four years since I have purchased this volume, and I have now read this edition four times. There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now I love these Kindle editions. 

I have been reading this series for 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in the individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset, twice. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local schoolteacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love these newer eBook editions.

I have said it before, and will say it again, but there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also like having all the volumes on me at all times. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally with my dual form of dyslexia

When these books were originally released in English this was the second half of the sixth volume. Both Volume 6 and 7 are focused on special feats. Most of the days in these editions are Date specific feasts. This one goes from Saint Mark the Evangelist o April 25th to The First Martyrs of the Church of Rome on June 30th. This volume also contains a Corpus Christi Octave set of reflections. And some for specific days after Pentecost. A sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year are:

“The Christian knows that God works miracles, that he performed them centuries ago, and that he still works them now. Each one of us, with God’s help, will work miracles in the souls of relatives, friends and acquaintances as long as we remain united to Christ through prayer.”

“Countless pilgrims daily make their way to the innumerable shrines dedicated to Our Lady to discover God’s ways or to undertake them anew, to find peace of soul and consolation in affliction. In these places of prayer, the Blessed Virgin makes the soul’s encounter with her Son easier and his presence more accessible. Every Marian shrine is a permanent antenna of the Good News of salvation.”


“Consistency between our teaching and our behaviour is the very best proof of our conviction and of the validity of what we proclaim. It is often the one essential condition for talking to people about God.”


“God asks something similar of us: no less than to pass unnoticed whilst doing good and carrying out our obligations with human perfection.”


“Each of us, in his or her own different way, has received a specific call to serve God. And throughout our lives we receive new invitations to follow him in our own circumstances, and we have to be generous with Our Lord in each new encounter with him. We have to know how to ask Jesus in the intimacy of our prayer, like Saint Paul: What shall I do, Lord? What do you want me to leave for your sake? What do you want me to improve in? At this moment of my life, what can I do to serve you?”


“With their lives and their words, they considered themselves very much part of this world, of which they were convinced they were destined to be salt and light. An early writer summed it up as follows: Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body.”


“Do we edify others by our sobriety, by the way we spend money, by our unquenchable cheerfulness, by doing our work well, by keeping our word, by the way we live justice at work with our subordinates and our peers, by carrying out works of mercy and by never having a bad word to say about anybody at all?”


Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. And as mentioned this is part of 2 volumes dedicated to special feasts, novenas, Saints, and holy days that fall on specific calendar days. 

These books are incredible food for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. This is my fourth time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books, I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. A few years ago I was asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. This is one of my all-time top Christian reads!


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

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
...

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 3 Part 2 Weeks 7-12 Ordinary Time - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 3 Part 2 Weeks 7-12 Ordinary Time
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138892
ASIN B006IBUVIQ


It has been four years since I have purchased this volume, and I have now read this edition four times. There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now I love these Kindle editions. 

I have been reading this series for 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in the individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset, twice. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local schoolteacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love these newer eBook editions.

I have said it before, and will say it again, but there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also like having all the volumes on me at all times. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally with my dual form of dyslexia

When these books were originally released in English this was the second half of the third volume. Ordinary time Weeks 7-12. For each of the volumes in this series, and each reading in this book is about 6 pages long. Each Day is broken into three sections. And there are 49 reflections I this volume. There are numerous references. But I want to give you a sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year. This year when I read it, I highlighted 32 passages. 

“They all continue to be children of God, capable of conversion and of reaching eternal life. Trusting in everyone’s capacity to rectify his errors, charity will impel us to devote ourselves to prayer, to give good example and to do apostolate and practise fraternal correction. If at some time we suffer through particularly painful offences, injustices or calumnies, we should ask for Our Lady’s help.”

“What a good act of faith this is for us to pray many times!: Jesus, I believe, but grant firmness to my faith! Teach me to back up my faith with deeds, to weep for my sins, and to trust in your power and mercy!”

“Faith is a gift of God, and only He can increase it in the soul. He is the one who opens the heart of the believer so that it can receive supernatural light, and that is what we should be praying for. But at the same time, certain interior dispositions are necessary: they are dispositions of humility, of purity, of openness ... of love which opens the way to a greater and greater security.”

“What care ought we to take of the frequent confession of our faults and sins, if this sacrament cleanses us and disposes us to see the Lord more clearly already here on earth!”

“The Cross in our mind, on our lips, in our heart, in all our works: this is the weapon of conquest – a sober and mortified life lived without fleeing from the lovable sacrifice that unites us with Christ.”

“Mortifying the imagination in order to live in the present: hic et nunc.”

“If we live in the present, we will succeed in rejecting unreal fears of imagined future dangers which our fantasy enlarges and distorts. At times, too, the conjectured crosses our imagination depicts put us out of touch with reality. Then we suffer uselessly, instead of joyfully accepting the little crosses God offers his children to carry each day, crosses that can fill them with peace and joy.”

“God’s plans do not always coincide with ours, with those we forge in our imagination, in our dreams. God’s plans, in one way or another, always demand detachment from everything that enchains. If we are to follow Christ, our soul must be free.”

“We should eliminate all useless expenditure, avoiding what can be called impulse spending. We will require to use our time well and generously in the affairs of God. We must be generous also in supporting works of charity, taking good care of clothes, furniture, household utensils and so on ...”

“If we give attention to little things, we will live each day to the full, and will know how to fill each moment with the sense of preparation for eternity. To do this, let us frequently ask Mary for her help: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us ... now, in every ordinary little situation of our life.”

“Beside Mary we will always find Joseph, her most faithful spouse, who knew how to carry out especially well and so promptly what God manifested to him by means of an angel. We can turn to him throughout the day, and ask him to help us to hear clearly the voice of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the many details of our workaday life that are sometimes so very small, and ask for the fortitude to put these divine promptings into practice.”

“Sanctity requires a fight against conformity, against lukewarmness, against an easy-going worldly attitude. It demands heroism – not in extraordinary situations that we are unlikely to encounter, but in continual fidelity to our task in the unremarkable duties of each day.”

“To share the Redemption, to co-operate in the sanctification of the world, to save souls for eternity: could there be a greater ideal to fill one’s life?”

“To celebrate or attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar properly is the best service we can offer Jesus, his Mystical Body and the whole human race. Next to Mary, in the Holy Mass we are particularly united with the whole Church.”

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. There are also 2 volumes dedicated to specific feasts, novenas, Saints, and holy days that fall on specific calendar days. 

These books are incredible food for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. This is my fourth time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books, I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. A few years ago I was asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. This is one of my all-time top Christian reads!


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

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
...

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent & Holy Week
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138861
ASIN B006GHNB66


It has been four years since I have purchased this volume, and I have now read this edition four times. There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now I love these Kindle editions. 

I have been reading this series for 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in the individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset, twice. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local schoolteacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love these newer eBook editions.

I have said it before, and will say it again, but there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also like having all the volumes on me at all times. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally with my dual form of dyslexia

When these books were originally released in English this was the first half of the second volume. Lent is such an important time in in our life and in the church year. If you only pick up one of these books make it this one! Each volume in this series each reading in this book is about 6 pages long. Each Day is broken into three sections. And there are 46 reflections I this volume that go from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday. There are numerous references. But I want to give you a sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year. This year when I read it, I highlighted 42 passages. 

“We must love God with our whole heart and soul, and flee from any deliberate sin in our lives. Each of us must do this whatever his personal circumstances may be as regards work, health, family, age and so on.”

“Now is the time when this beginning again in Christ is going to be sustained by a special grace from God, proper to the liturgical season that has just started. That is why the Lenten message is replete with joy and hope, even though it is a message of penance and mortification.”

“One of the clearest symptoms of lukewarmness having entered into a soul is precisely such an abandoning of the Cross, a contempt for little mortifications, a scorning of anything that in some way involves sacrifice and self-denial.”

“We need penance for our life as Christians in order to make reparation for so many sins of our own and of others.”

“These are: mortification of the imagination – avoiding that interior monologue in which fantasy runs wild, by trying to turn it into a dialogue with God, present in our soul in grace.”

“The best way we have of showing that we want to replace the non serviam of the devil with our personal Serviam: I will serve you, Lord, is by making a special effort this Lent to improve in our faithfulness to what we know God wants of us.”

“There are countless good things that God wants us to ask him for, so that he can give them to us, material and spiritual goods, all of them ordered to our salvation and that of our neighbour.”

“If other people have witnessed our bad temper or our lack of love or our laziness, or other sins of ours, it should not matter to us if they know and see that we are making reparation for those weaknesses.”

“A Christian’s life can be filled with this penance that God sees. It could be the offering up of an illness or just tiredness; giving way and surrendering our own opinion; putting everything into our work, which we do well and finish off for love of God, imposing order on our effects and personal things ...”

“During these forty days of preparation for Easter the Church reminds us in many different ways that God expects much more of us – He expects a serious determination on our part to struggle for holiness.”

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. There are also 2 volumes dedicated to special feats, specific feats, novenas, Saints, and holy days that fall on specific calendar days. 

These books are incredible food for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. This is my fourth time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books, I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. A few years ago I was asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. This is one of my all-time top Christian reads!


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

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, 23 March 2020

Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer - Jacques Philippe

Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer
Jacques Philippe
Timothée Berthon (Editor)
Neal Carter (Translator)
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 
9781594173363
eISBN 9781594173356
ASIN B07NBVWJRN


My introduction to the writings of father Jacques Philippe was Time For God, which I first read 12 years ago. I have reread that book four times now and every time I read it, I get something more out of it. And when he has a new book come out in French, I eagerly await it being available in English. This time it looks like the two editions are publishing at the same time, and this is the second book I have read in the Nine Days Series. Nine Days to Welcome Peace, was an excellent read, and this one was also. I picked it up even before I finished this one, and will be extra diligent about keeping my eyes open for other books in this series. Father Philippe states about this series that:

“The “Nine Days to” collection offers a guided retreat to be lived at home or on vacation, in the subway or on the train, for people who have little time but wish to devote ten minutes a day to spiritual growth.

Each book in the collection offers nine days of inspiring meditations that surround a specific theme for advancement in the spiritual life. Each serves as both a school of prayer and an authentic tool of self-transformation.

Two meditations are offered for each day. One can be experienced in the morning and the other at any opportune moment during the day or evening.

The journey includes reflection exercises, the Word of God, a meditation from a saint or another great spiritual author, and a resolution—all geared to help the participant dive into an authentic spiritual experience.”

When I read this book the first time time I did part in the morning and part at lunch. Returning to it at lunch helped to focus my afternoon in a new way. 

The chapters in this volume are:
First Day:
Responding To A Call
Second Day:
 Putting God First
Third Day:
 Praying Freely
Fourth Day:
 Living Heaven On Earth
Fifth Day:
 Prayer Makes Me Know God
Sixth Day:
 Discovering My Profound Identity
Seventh Day:
 Prayer Makes Me Capable Of Loving My Neighbor
Eighth Day:
 The More I Pray, The More I Become Free
Ninth Day:
 Unifying My Life

And each of the nine days follows this pattern:

Introduction
Invitation To Contemplation
Sign Of The Cross
Prayer To The Holy Spirit
The Word of God
Meditation From Fr. Jacques Philippe
Prayer
Light From A Faithful Witness
The Light Of The Saints

The sections in each day vary slightly from the other volume currently available in the series. The section The Light of the Saints sometimes comprises quotes from more than one source. Each day is preceded by a full color photo and in this volume, they appear to all be photo’s of mosaics. We are not told where the excerpts from Father Phillipe are from, or if they were written specifically for this book, or this series. But in the grand scheme of things that does not matter. In the preface to the other volume it states that these meditations are available as a pamphlet or on CD. So I assume the original French versions come from retreats that Father Philippe has lead. And even if in English we do not have access to the audio, the book itself makes a wonderful 9-day personal retreat. Or it could even be used by a group or family. 

This is another wonderful resource for spiritual growth from Father Philippe. And I know I will be reading them all as the series becomes available and will return to them again and again. An excellent little volume. I highly recommend this and also the other Nine Days book that is available.

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

Other Books By Fr. Jacques Philippe
From Scepter:

Called to Life
Time For God
Interior Freedom
In the School of the Holy Spirit
The Way of Trust and Love - A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux
Thirsting for Prayer
Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust

Fire and Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God
The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes
Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer
Nine Days to Welcome Peace


St Paul's Alba House:
Searching for and Maintaining Peace
Discerning Your Vocation: A Catholic Guide for Young Adults (Forward)

Pauline Books and Media:

Time For God

SingTala:
Time For God
I Choose to be Free: the Power of Faith Hope & Charity (a different edition of Interior Freedom)

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Mystic Informant - Carissa Douglas - Douglings Adventures Book 1

Mystic Informant
Douglings Adventures Book 1
Carissa Douglas
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594173639
eISBN 9781594173646



This was the first book by Carissa Douglas that I have read but not the last. It looks like she has a series geared for younger readers with the same characters. It is a pity they are not available as eBooks. But I will track down physical copies. This first book is geared for middle grade readers and it is an excellent book and beginning to a series. I really can’t wait to find out what will happen in the next adventure.

This volume reminded me of The Relic of Perilous Falls by Raymond Arroyo Will Wilder Book 1 but geared for a younger audience. That one is for tweens and teens, and this story would be great for middle grade and younger tweens.

This story is well written and has some excellent illustrations. The writing is tight. The plot moves along at a breakneck pace. The mystical elements, and history of saints and miracles they performed is wonderfully woven into the tale. As is the element of a saint from heaven, and Angels showing up to help a family in need face an ancient evil. The story has a wonderful family dedicated to god and devoted to each other. A family friend ensnared by darkness who has lost much including hope and is being manipulated and controlled. We have a saint guiding the family. And The saint seeking guidance from God and leading through example of faith and prayer.

The description of the volume is:

“Join the fun and brave Douglas siblings Liam, Christian, Allora, Mary, Angelica, and Serena as they go on an adventure that leads them to an encounter with St. Pio of Pietrelcina better known as Padre Pio. They will come to love this wonderful saint, learn from his amazing knowledge of good and evil, help fight against the powers of a dark and looming enemy, and learn lessons about God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.”

So, this is the first book of the Douglings Adventure Series, and it is a great beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and could not put it down. I started it to see which of my kids it would be good to read with and ended up finishing it in a single sitting. I plan on rereading it with my youngest two. Or maybe having the oldest read it to the other three of us. A great read, and fiction that will inspire faith.

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

Books by Carissa Douglas:
Little Douglings Series:

I Go To Jesus
A Gift of myself
All Things new


Douglings Adventures Series:
Mystic Informant






Saturday, 22 February 2020

No Small Goals - Thomas A. McDonough - The Life of Dr. Ernesto Cofiño

No Small Goals
The Life of Dr. Ernesto Cofiño
Thomas A. McDonough
Scepter
ISBN 9781594173455

 


This book took me completely by surprise. I had not ever heard the name Ernesto Cofiño, but once I started reading this book, I was amazing by his life, and could hardly put the book down. The subtitle of this book is ‘Guatemalan Physician, Humanitarian, Pioneer in pediatric medicine, and Servant of God. I believe this is the first biography of Ernesto Cofiño that has been written or published in English.

The book opens with a quote from the good doctor:

“Let’s not limit our goals to some small achievement. Our ambitions should always be marked by greatness. It’s not right to act timidly, avoiding great effort, not complicating one’s life, fleeing from burdens or demands. Everything we undertake should be accomplished with enthusiasm, for high and noble ideals. Then God will grant us his help, and the possibilities will be opened up, based on the virtue of hope.”

The concept of ‘No Small Goals’ was evidenced in all areas and stages of Ernesto’s life. This man dreamed more and did more in almost any stage of his life then most people in their entire lifetimes. The chapters in this colume are:

Part One: GOALS OF SERVICE
1. Return
2. Earthquake
3. A Most Noble Profession
4. I Always Wanted to Marry a Guatemalan Woman
5. To the Peripheries
6. All the Mayas around Here Know Dr. Cofiño
7. Social Pediatrics
8. The Centro Educativo Asistential
9. Teacher
10. Blessed Are the Merciful
11. Climate Change

Part Two: GOALS OF SANCTITY
12. The Great Encounter
13. A New Meaning to Life
14. The Retirement of a Child of God
15. Comings and Goings
16. The Battle for Life
17. An Opulence of Friends
18. Adventures of Fundraising
19. Final Rosary
Abbreviations

Each of the two parts begins with quotes from Ernesto himself:

“To put some order into the memories of my life,
I divide them into two great periods
of unequal duration and importance.
The first is 1899–1953, a long journey of preparation
with uncertain goals.
I was sure that there was a better way,
a surer path, but not an easier one.”


And

“And then there is the period since 1953 . . .
The call—the vocation—arrives like a living light
that makes you see the meaning of your life.”


The change was Ernesto met a priest of the work of Opus Dei, Fr. Antonio Rodríguez Pedrazuela, and began spiritual formation, spiritual direction with the priest. Ernesto was buried on the same day that he died, and we are told that despite the short notice over 600 people attended his funeral. In quoting one of his own children we are told:

“So that’s what we did, with all our affection. In those moments, I felt a great pain while at the same time an inexplicable joy. I had the intimate conviction that he was already enjoying God. A saint has died, people were saying. I was thrilled to hear it, because I was, I am, totally convinced of that reality: my father was a saint.”

And that is what we see of this man’s life. He was a man who lived to serve others, and once his spiritual formation began, he lived to serve God but living for and serving others. We are informed about private devotion to Ernesto from around the world.

This book draws extensively from a Spanish biography, from the various documents, and speeches of Ernesto himself. And rom sources that knew him in life. The book ends with these words:

“The reputation of the holiness of Ernesto Cofiño led the Church to open his cause for Canonization on July 31, 2000. Many people—family, colleagues and acquaintances—gave testimony during this process. In 2001, the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City closed the testimonial stage and sent the documents to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome, where they are studying his heroic virtues and several possible miracles and favors attributed to his intercession.”

After reading this volume I hope to see the day when this man is canonized. A many of medicine, a man of science, a man who lived to server and improve the lives of all who came into contact with him.

This is an incredible story about a man who Transformed medicine, especially pediatric medicine in Guatemala, Latin America, and around the world. And a man who after his encounter with Opus Dei live to transform spiritual lives as well as providing medical care and training.

I was blessed by reading this volume and I am certain you will be as well. So pick it up and give it a read.

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


Monday, 17 February 2020

The Well Of Life - Georges Chevrot

The Well Of Life
Georges Chevrot
Translated by J. Ardle McArdl
Scepter
ISBN 9781594173493
eISBN 9781594173509



This book was originally published in English in 1960, by Scepter Dublin. There was an edition available from Sinag-Tala in 1983. And now again after 60 years it is back in print from Scepter. I have read The Prodigal Son a few times and loved it but could not find any of his other works available in English. So when I found out that this book was available I immediately added it to my to be read pile. And it did not disappoint.

Monsignor Chevrot in the introduction states:

“The episode of the Samaritan woman in St. John’s Gospel (John 4: 1-42) is a passage that is most dear to those familiar with the Gospel. In a wonderful short sketch, St. John lays before our eyes the whole personality of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Man so far above us, and the God so close to us.

All the tenderness in the heart of Jesus is revealed in his unforgettable appeal by which he shows us the need that he feels to give himself to us. And can we resist his advances, when we see how they transform the heart of man?

Here we see the immediate and unexpected conversion of a woman who gives up indifference and sin in order to become the Savior’s apostle. Here we see a crowd of her compatriots who in the space of a few hours pass through all the stages of life. Here, in the background, are the Lord’s first disciples who are preparing for the time when the Gospel must be sown.

No one will ever exhaust all the riches of this episode in the life of Jesus. We, no more than anyone else, can claim to have done so. In these pages you will thus find neither an academic commentary on the thought of the sacred writer nor any strict sequence among the subject dealt with. I have simply followed St. John’s text, verse by verse, trying to extract from it, for the Catholics of the present century, some useful thoughts and images.”


And that is exactly what he does in this volume. He breaks down that passage verse by verse. Providing historical context. And illuminating the relevance to us today.

The chapters in the volume are:
Introduction
1 Tired
2 Providential Meetings
3 The First Steps
4Prejudice
5 The Gift Of God
6 Who This Is
7 Our Need Of God
8 Of What Use Is Religion?
9 The Knowledge Of Sin
10 The New Worship
11 Unity In Truth
12 Adoration In Spirit And In Truth
13 The Messiah’s Work
14 Do Not Be Shocked
15 God’s Pardon
16 Confession Of Our Sins
17 Our Reason For Living
18 Christian Obedience
19 Christian Optimism
20 Sowers And Reapers
21 Witnesses To Christ
22 Prayer And Faith
23 Experience Of The Faith
24 The Savior Of The World
Epilogue: The Supreme Testimony

This book will draw us deeply into the story of the woman at the well. It will open our eyes to the story in a deeper and fuller level. And in doing so will help us encounter Jesus in anew way ourselves. The most powerful part of this boo was the Epilogue, the ‘what happened afterwards’. Drawing from church tradition and the Roman Martyrology We are told what happened next. We are told of her persistent faith and that of her children. And that is an example we can try and emulate.

“By a virtuous life, by a noble apostolate, let us preserve in our hearts, as the Samaritan woman did, an ardent love for the Savior. Let us be from now on truthful witnesses of Jesus Christ.”

This book is a wonderful little read. And I can only hope that Scepter bring back to print his other titles in English.

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

Books by Georges Chevrot available in English:
On the Third Day
Simon Peter
The Eight Beatitudes
The Gospel in the Home
The Prodigal Son
The Well of Life