Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Finnian and the Seven Mountains Issue 1 - Philip Kosloski and Michael Lavoy

Finnian and the Seven Mountains Issue 1 
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski

Michael Lavoy (Illustrator)

I need to state two things at the beginning of this review. First is has been over 20 years since I have purchases a serialized comic as each issue came out. I tried last year when Cecil Castellucci’s Shade the Changing Girl Came out, but just find it hard to get into a weekly serial. If I am reading this format, I prefer the anthology format, or compiled graphic novel versions of story arcs. I am pretty sure the last comic I picked up an entire series for was Frank Miller’s Batman Year 1 that came out in 1987. But if the other volumes in this series are as good the counter on that might just reset.

Having read and loved Philip Kosloski’s The Last Monks of Skellig Michael, I was already familiar with the setting of this story, and it’s ties to the latest Star Wars movies. Over the last year I have also read numerous books by Alice Curtayne including a few collections of stories about Irish Saints. So the setting, characters and events, in this story are even more familiar. As such it is great to see this story come to life in a new format.

Philip Kosloski does a great job with the story, and Michael Lavoy does an excellent job with the illustrations and the lettering. The text is easy to follow, and the illustrations done with a bright vibrant pallet. It is interesting that based on the art and the story Brandon is portrayed or appears older and more mature than Finnian, when historically Brandon was about 15 years younger. 

I have read through this story twice now, once by myself and once with my son. He loved the illustrations, especially of Saint Michael the Archangel, he also asked a lot of questions about the Star Wars link. At 10 years old and determined to become a priest, he was familiar with both Brandon and Finnian from other books we have read this year.

This story is based on legends about Skellig Michael, and tales of historic Saints. It will bring to life, in a new way, saintly men who many might be unfamiliar with. And even if the reader is familiar with the stories to see it rather than just read it. I know my son would prefer a physical copy, but I am a devotee of the electronic format. It is a great beginning and we look forward to the continuing story. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Philip Kosloski:
Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice
3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life
In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II's Visit to Wisconsin
Star of the Sea: A Mariner's Journey
A Practical Guide to Discern God's Will
Serviam: A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will
Distractions: A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Stay Focused During Prayer
The Horarium: A Simple Guide to Creating a Daily Prayer Schedule That Will Change Your Life
The Last Monks of Skellig Michael


Finnian and the Seven Mountains:
Issue 1

Monday, 13 August 2018

Catholic Christianity Getting Started - Catholic Truth Society

Catholic Christianity: Getting Started
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860828614
eISBN 9781784694029

Since discovering them earlier this year I have read over 25 books from the Catholic Truth Society, have another 25 to read and double that on my wish list. I have read some incredible books and nearly every time I write a review, while researching for the review, I find another 2 or 3 I want to read. I have read books in the CTS Biographies Series, Living the Liturgy Series, Living Fruitfully Series, Saints of the Isles Series, books on reading the Catechism, and some YOUCAT resources. Of the 27 books I have read so far 25 get 5/5stars. I had pretty high expectations for this book. This book opens with these words:
"Many people find it hard to believe in a loving God. They doubt his existence altogether, or their experience of suffering and human tragedy make them doubt his love. Scientists seem to be solving the great puzzles of the universe, and psychologists seek to unlock the deepest mysteries of the human heart. 
But there are some questions that don't go away. 
     What caused the whole universe to exist in the first place?    
     Why is there so much suffering in the world?      
     What is the meaning of human life?   
     What is the point of my own individual life?      
     Is there such a thing as life after death? 
These are huge questions. You would be suspicious if someone claimed to answer them with any certainty. There is a limit, surely, to what we can discover for ourselves, and very often we need to admit that some questions are simply beyond human understanding."
This book addresses those questions and More. The sections in this book are:

The Heart of Christianity
A Guide for Christian Living
What is the Catholic Faith?
How to Become a Catholic
Signs and Symbols Inside a Catholic Church
How to Pray
Everyday Catholic Prayers
Further Reading

This is not a long volume, it comes in at under 50 pages in the print edition. But there is a lot of great information. This book would be excellent for a spouse who is not Catholic, for a teen looking to be able answer questions about their faith to friends and families. The chapter on How to Become a Catholic, is particularly good. And would be worth reading for someone returning to the church. 

One of the paragraphs in this book that had particular impact on me is:
"The journey doesn't end with Confirmation. As Catholics we should pray every day, take part in the Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, live the seasons and feasts of the Church's life, receive the sacraments and live a life of Christian charity towards our fellow man. Christ invited us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. You are special and unique in the sight of God. He wants the best for you and is leading you to himself. As you reflect on how to become a Catholic, try to be open to God's will."
Except for the last line I transpose it as 'As you reflect on your life as a Catholic, try to be open to God's will.' As such any Catholic Christian can read this book and benefit from it. This is a wonderful little read, and the teaching on different types of prayer and the small collection of prayers just add to the overall benefit of this book.

Another great read from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading 2 Kings 19:4-8
Responsorial Psalm 34:1-8 Response 8
Second Reading Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Gospel John 6:24-35

This is the third week we encounter the same story in the gospels. That tells us how important this message is. Jesus was preparing the disciples for the last supper, and the establishment of the communion celebration. Jesus states:
"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors are the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever' and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
I can attest to the power of communion. The handful of times I have missed mass over the last four years, the week after has always been a much bigger struggle. And the weeks where I make it to mass more than once, usually go much better. In fact I wish my work and home schedule allowed for more of the week day masses. 

But this week's readings are about more than Jesus being the bread of life. In the first reading we see Elijah being fed miraculously by an Angel, and not just once, but two meals to sustain him for a 40 day journey. This echo's how communion sustains us through our week. And it has not been provided by an angel but by the very Son of God, and is the Son of God. 

Again this week we have Paul, this still in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul is reminding us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. To live the life we have been called to and marked with the seal. He call for forgiveness where it is needed, and that we live to imitate Christ. This verse ties in well with the ongoing explosion of the clergy scandal in the United States and other countries. I do not know how a priest could preach on these words and live the life that is now coming to light. I am asked again and again about why I am Catholic in light of the current news. My answer is that I believe in the Catholic church, and I believe anyone can become a saint, or a sinner.  I believe the keys of the kingdom were given to Peter and been passed down, through history there have been great popes saintly men, and there have been scoundrels. And I believe that the Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals that have sinned and failed to live up to their celibacy, and abused their positions will be held accountable in the next life unless they truly repent. But looking back on my own life, my failures, my sins, I can state I would not cast the first stone. 

And with that I want to draw us back to the responsorial Psalm, For we cannot focus on the failures of men within the institution. We need to keep our eyes on God:

"R. Taste and See that the Lord is Good.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall be ashamed.
The poor one called, and the Lord heard,
and saved that person from every trouble.

"The Angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him,
and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."

I love being catholic. I love that there are masses multiple times a day every day in my town. I love that the Catholic church founded schools, hospitals, and feeds the hungry around the world. Yes there is a need to clean house in the leadership, especially at the moment in the US. I think about the often touted future prediction of Father Joseph Ratzinger from 1 radio broadcast in 1969. From that longer piece I always come back to this quote:
"Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge - a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship."
And further on:
"And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death."
And so I try each day to learn to be, and learn to be better at being. I strive to live my faith, and teach it to my children. To each day try and be the best version of myself. And through that to let my Catholic faith be a witness. And as always I pray for you my readers, and ask you to pray for me.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Product Review Literary Book Gifts and Discount Code

Discount Code and Product Review

The about us page on Literary Boog Gifts states:

“For book lovers and readers of all ages.

High quality items with a passion for all things literature, ideas, and reading.

Most designs are unique to Literary Book Gifts, you won't find these products anywhere else.”

And the offerings life up to that name. Currently they offer a wide range of shirts, totes and backpacks. I was very intrigued by some of the designs, and especially the choices made. I loved the choice of Bagheera on a rock for the Jungle Book shirt. And the Moby Dick one is hilarious. There are some great designs and numerous options for the style of shirts. Check them out I am sure you will find something that piques your interest.


Note: I did not receive a free product, and do not receive anything when the discount code is used. I just think these products are cool. You can read my default disclaimer here.

Friday, 10 August 2018

A Light So Lovely The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle Author of A Wrinkle in Time - Sarah Arthur

A Light So Lovely:
The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle,
Author of A Wrinkle in Time
Sarah Arthur
ISBN 9780310353409
eISBN 9780310353423


I was introduced to the works of L'Engle in my 20's and that was 20 years ago. In the last 20 years I have read over thirty of her books, and few authors have had such a huge impact on my life, my faith, and ironically my returning to the Catholic church. But I read most of her books before I got into reviewing, and have yet to write a review of any of her work. And for the most part that is what this book is about, it is about the impact L'Engle has had on art and artists. Earlier this year I read Becoming Madeleine A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time written by L'Engle's granddaughters Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy. The two books are completely different and yet both give us greater insight into L'Engle the woman, the artist, and the icon.

There is of course great interest in all things Madeleine L'Engle of late, as we are fast approaching the centaury of her birth, November 29th, 1918. And the release early in 2018 or the politically correct adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. Likely part of the reason both books include in their subtitle 'Author of A Winkle in Time'.  The chapters in this volume are:

Foreword by Charlotte Jones Voiklis
1 Icon and Iconoclast
2 Sacred and Secular
3 Truth and Story
4 Faith and Science
5 Religion and Art
6 Fact and Fiction
7 Light in the Darkness
Epilogue: Tesser Well
Recommended Books

But what makes this book unique in the emerging field of L'Engle Studies is that it was written after a series of interviews. Charlotte Jones Voiklis in the forward writes:

"… as Sarah asked me questions and shared her thoughts about my grandmother, I knew I'd met someone with deep compassion, curiosity, and intellect. We talked about my grandmother's life: her habits, milestones, and challenges, and what we each knew to be her impact on others. As we spoke, what moved me to tears was Sarah's willingness to look at Madeleine and accept her as a full and flawed human being; an icon and iconoclast, not an idol."

And that is what we get in this volume, an honest look at L'Engle flaws and all. Not a Saint placed upon a pedestal, but a human, and a human that had faults. Arthur presents L'Engle not in an intentionally unfavorable light, but also not glossing over faults and failures. She presents the artist who lived blurry lines between art and reality, between what she believed and what actually happened. But someone who strived to live her life in line with her faith. Arthur states that her purpose was to trace L'Engle's journey, and the impact of her works. She decided to do so through Seven themes:

"Chapter One-We'll survey her life and works as a whole, attempting to identify her spheres of influence, both as a cherished friend and mentor as well as a complex, flawed human being.

Chapter Two-We'll dive into her story where many readers do, with A Wrinkle in Time-a book that, like Madeleine herself, somehow bridges the often vastly different worlds of sacred and secular in American culture.

Chapter Three-We'll step back and trace her own spiritual formation as a child through the influence of great stories that gave her hints and glimpses of God's truth.

Chapter Four-We'll track the life-changing
impact of scientists on her conversion to Christianity when she was a youngish write-at- home mom.

Chapter Five-We'll chart her profound spiritual influence on others during her prolific middle age, particularly her continued assertion that artistic practice is a religious vocation.

Chapter Six-We'll make the difficult turn toward her personal challenges later in life-the loss of her son, among other things-and her troubling propensity to blur fact and fiction.

Chapter Seven-Finally, we'll identify the ways that Madeleine attempted to battle the darkness, especially in her own soul, and to cling with resolute desperation to the light."

As such the book is a great addition to the growing canon of work on L'Engle's life and influence. It is well written and engaging. It can easily be read by older teen fans of L'Engle's works, and those of us even older than that will appreciate it greatly. Personally, as a fan of all of her works, especially her religious works this book sheds so good light on the icon and her process. L'Engle was an enigma in her lifetime, many Christians disliked her work as not orthodox enough, and non-Christians and the intelligentsia looks at her works with suspicion because of all the religious content. This book in part looks at how she handled that, and how the artist in her continued on and continued to create. Well worth the read for any fan of her works, and looking for a glimpse of the impact she has had on authors and artists over the last 60 plus years.

Note: I in part owe my own writing reviews to L'Engle, I met her at a conference in 1997, I grew up with a dual form of dyslexia and was told by a high school teacher that half of what I wrote was worth publishing, the other half for wiping his a.. L'Engle encouraged me to write, and I have published over 2000 reviews and written for 8 different publications.

Related Articles:
Madeleine L'Engle Bibliography
Becoming Madeleine A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time - Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy
A Light So Lovely The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time - Sarah Arthur