Friday, 23 March 2018

A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness - Susan Brinkmann

A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness
Susan Brinkmann
Dr. Anthony E. Clark, PhD. (Forward)
Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation
ISBN 9781976532795

This book was recommended to me by a spiritual director, it was recommended after I had concerns about another book I had been asked to review. I am so thankful I have read this book. This book put into words a lot about the unease I was feeling about the other title in my spirit. I am grateful I no longer feel the need to finish every book I start, and very thankful I did not finish, The Mindful Catholic: Finding God One Moment at a Time by Dr. Gregory Bottaro. And I want to begin with what this book has that that book did not. This book has both a Nihil Obstat by Colin B. Donovan, S.T.L. and an Imprimatur: + by Robert J. Baker, S.T.D.. The Nihil Obstat is a certification by an official censor that this book is not objectionable on doctrinal or moral grounds from a Catholic theological perspective. And the Imprimatur is a license to print an approved ecclesiastical or religious book. Not only did those two items give me confidence in this book, I could hardly put this book down once I started. It was such a balanced and honest examination of the topic of Mindfulness and the compatibility with Catholic teaching and practice.

Dr. Clark in the introduction uses an analogy of a car:

"Common sense tells us that the direction one drives a car determines the place one arrives at, and spiritual practice is no different. When one understands well the intentions of Christian prayer and mindfulness, it is clear that, at their root, they point in contrasting directions. Buddhist techniques aim entirely at the locus of human experience, while Christian prayer is directed through and well beyond the human experience toward God. The fifth century Theravada monk, Buddhaghosa, is one of the most influential Buddhist writers on the intention and meaning of meditation practices such as sati, or mindfulness. Mindfulness, he suggests, is intended to remove one from the external world; it is largely anti-relational, for relationships bring about attachment, and attachment causes suffering."
So, if as a Christian you are driving the car of your mind, are you driving it towards God, or are you driving deeper and deeper into yourself. You can only be heading one direction. And as this example clearly indicates, Mindfulness practices in the Buddhist styles are leading you away from God!

Clark then states:

"Certainly, a relative or friend is capable of being unkind, and it is wise to avoid the abuse of others, but the goal of Buddhist meditation, according to Buddhaghosa, is to become entirely self-focused and free from the joys and attachments of relationships so that one can escape from pain and the misery of reincarnation."
And he contrasts that with Christian mental prayer:
"Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything."
Just from those few quotes from the introduction we clearly see where this book is coming from and why it is so needed today. And that is just the introduction the chapters in this book are:

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness Goes Mainstream
The Science of Mindfulness
Do Buddhism and Catholicism Mix?
Mindfulness and Christian Prayer
Christian Alternatives to Mindfulness

This book starts with a history of mindfulness, both traditionally and as it has slowly gained popularity in the west. It also provides a clear history of how it spread in the west, including deliberate deceptiveness from it's early proponent and teachers. Then once it has established the origins of mindfulness, and it's infusion into western culture, and western psychology, it then proceeds to look at if that practice is compatible with Catholicism. From the conclusion that:

"The last chapter made it quite clear that mindfulness has no place in Christian prayer, either as a prelude, component, or adjunct. But that doesn't mean it's easy to resist. Mindfulness has become the latest fad, and all fads are accompanied by a certain amount of pressure for the individual to conform in order to be reap the social benefits of those who tend to follow fads. And fads are usually very profitable for those who promote them, which explains why mindfulness is surrounded by more hype than fact."
It then concludes with offering Christian alternatives to mindfulness. Brinkmann States:
"On this path, we learn that Christ comes to us in a new and living way every day, and in every moment of every day. For this reason, our attention must remain focused on all of the events that occur, minute-by-minute, from the trivial to the sublime, because this is how God speaks to us."
And that is really what it is about. Will mindfulness draw us closer to God or not. If it will not as Christians, as Catholics we should not be engaging in it, no matter how popular, who is teaching it, or who is encouraging it. If we return to the forward Clark stated:
"This timely book provides answers to the many Catholics who have asked priests, sisters, and scholars whether such practices as mindfulness are appropriate or helpful to Christian spiritual growth and personal peace. The author Susan Brinkman has not written this book to create antagonisms between Catholics and Buddhists or those who practice mindfulness, but rather to objectively explore the truth claims of both and reveal whether or not they are compatible, particularly with respect to the growing fad and focus on mindfulness."
And that is exactly what this book delivers. It is not written to pick a fight. It is not written to criticize specific people, institutions or practices. It is written so that we can know the truth, and as Jesus stated in John 14:6 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but through me.' And as this book clearly demonstrates Mindfulness does not focus on Jesus and therefore should be avoided!

This is an incredibly well written book. It is not a large volume coming in at 126 pages. But it packs a lot of meat. I really believe that every Catholic, every Christian should read this book, and they would have their eyes opened especially on the westernization of this Buddhist spiritual practice. I am very thankful this book was recommended to me and I recommend it to you.

Books by Susan Brinkmann:
We Need to Talk: God Speaks to a Modern: God Speaks to a Modern Girl
The Kinsey Corruption
A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Revisionary - Kristen Hogrefe - The Rogues Book 1

The Revisionary
The Rogues Book 1
Kristen Hogrefe
Write Integrity Press
ISBN 9781944120290
eISBN 9781944120375


I must first start by stating that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A few months ago, I read the prequel novella A Cord of Three Strands and appreciated it. At the time I added this one to my wish list a sort of forgot about it. I really wish I had read them closer together. As I was reading this book it felt really familiar, I am sure some readers will compare it to The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, and as much as I did enjoy that book, there is something different about this one, that draws me in more. This was a book that I really did not want to put down.

This story is set in the futures. The United States has been devastated by a Electromagnetic Pulse that wiped out most of infrastructure. Now the country is broken into several cubes. But as with most things in life, all is not as it appears. Portia Abernathy has been working hard because she wants to go to the Crystal Globe and achieve the role of Revisionary. She wants to have access to the Codex, so she can change the laws and allow her brother to cone back from exile in the satellite's. But from her first moments in this new place she realizes that are many layers of observation, and that they do not want people there to learn, they want good obedient puppets.

Portia is head strong, determined and very smart. And even though she stirs conflict early and often. She experiences mind control correctives. Physical discipline. But She also discovers a trove of knowledge from before the ASU in the special archives. She joins a fraternity and ventures out hopping trains and catching tidbits of things that seem odd. Soon she realizes she will need to choose sides, either she will become the ideal citizen and try and change things from the inside. Or she will risk it all and work to bring about change outside the structures of the law. She has new friends in her roommate, and a classmate, and Luther Danforth, a boy she was once close to at home. But even as she is learning what friendship is about again, she might need to let them all go for what she really believes in.

The strengths of this story are the characters, you cannot but find your self cheering for and encouraging on Portia. And you will be intrigued by the strangers who keep seeming to be around when she needs protection and cover. The pace is also excellent. But to be honest I am very glad book 2 released before I finished book 1 or I would have hated waiting for the next installment. So, let that be a warning once you start reading you will not want to stop so you may as well pick up both books 1 and 2, and hope we do not have long to wait for the third in the trilogy.

Write Integrity Press they believe in the inspired word of God, and their books are in alignment with their beliefs. There is not gratuitous sex, violence just for the sake of violence, no alternative lifestyles just to diversify the book. This is the fifth book by Write Integrity I have read, the other four were all by Catholic author Cynthia T. Toney, the faith element was more obvious in her books, but this was an excellent read and I look forward to reading more from Hogrefe and from Write Integrity! And I cannot wait until my girls are a little older to introduce them to Portia.

Books by Kristen Hogrefe:
The Rogues Series:

0.5 A Cord of Three Strands
1.0 The Revisionary
2.0 The Revolutionary
3.0 ???

Wings of the Dawn Series:
1.0 Captive Beneath the Bahamian Sky
2.0 Secrets Beyond Lake Winona's Shore
3.0 Awakening Sun

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Margo's Diary & Notebook - Corinna Turner - I Am Margaret Book 5.0

Margo's Diary & Notebook
I Am Margaret Book 5.0
Corinna Turner
UnSeen Books an Imprint of
Zephyr Publishing, UK
eISBN 9781910806159
ISBN 9781910806043

First I need to state, I am typically an eBook guy, but you really need to get this in a physical book. And specifically, with a fifth book in a series, I bought the eBook first. But the formatting is so much better in the physical book. In the physical book it is either written or typed by Margo, and then has notes, and annotations by both Bane and Margo. So, until the eBook technology formatting is improved I highly recommend the physical book. But now onto the content of the book. 

(Sample from Physical book)

(Sample from eBook Formatting)

This book has journal entries that span from 27th October (20) to 20th October (26) So the journal spans nearly 6 years. And a lot takes place over those six years. Margo and Bane are living in the Vatican free state still. Their family is growing. And they are still fighting for what they believe in. The fight has just now become political, for the most part. In this book we see weddings, births, and funerals. There are several surprise visitors.

This book also contains sections for:
Underground Latin primer
Favorite Psalms
Important prayers
Squire Thane and the Dragon

When reading this series, I and changes in legislation both in Canada and Europe as the series came out I cannot but be a little concerned that this is fiction predicting a likely future. This specific book and to be honest the whole series is very intense. What is at risk, what is true, what is right are all being questioned? I was greatly impressed with Turner's debut I Am Margaret. And I have enjoyed the whole series, including the few short stories released giving more information around specific events or other characters.

Because this book has at times large gaps in the journal. We are often left to assume what has happened. Or filled in bits and pieces. This works well with what Margo, Bane, and the crew are trying to do to change the world. And stay safe while doing it.

This book does a nice job of continuing the story without launching another series. And I do look forward to more of the short story tie in books. This is an excellent book in a great series.

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

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.5 Brothers (Prequel)

1.0 I Am Margaret
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
How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
1.0 Drive!
1.1 A Truely Rapror-Ous Welcome

Other Books:
Mandy lamb & the Full Moon

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.


Prayer of the Day - Saint Robert Bellarmine

Prayer to St. Robert Bellarmine

V. The Lord loved him, and adorned him, alleluia.
R. He clothed him with a robe of glory, alleluia.

O Doctor right excellent, O light of Holy Church, O blessed Robert, lover of the divine law, entreat for us the Son of God. Alleluia.
Let us pray.

O God, who didst adorn blessed Robert, thy Bishop and Doctor, with marvelous learning and virtue to expose the deceptions of error and to defend the rights of the Apostolic See, grant by his merits and intercession, that love for the truth may increase in us, and the souls that do wander may return to the unity of thy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

V. Right dear in the sight of the Lord, alleluia.
R. Is the death of his saints, alleluia.

I first encountered the above prayer in the book St. Robert Bellarmine by Shaun McAfee. It is a marvellous prayer and and I wanted to share it separately from the review. Shout out to Shaun for introducing me to the Saint and the prayer. You should check out the link to the review! Ans below is a second pray I have found to this saint.

Prayer to Saint Robert Bellarmine

God our Father,
you gave Robert Bellarmine
wisdom and goodness
to defend the faith of your 
Church. By his prayers may
we always rejoice in the
profession of our faith.
We ask this through our Lord
Jesus Christ, your Son,
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Feast of Saint Joseph 2018 Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary Principal Patron of Canada

Feast of Saint Joseph 2018
Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Principal Patron of Canada

In Canada we have 4 Patron saints, but the principal Patron Saint is Saint Joseph. The others are:
Saint Anne, Mother of Mary
Saint Jean de Brébeuf
Canadian Martyrs, a group comprised of:
St. René Goupil (1642)
St. Isaac Jogues (1646)
St. Jean de Lalande (1646)
St. Antoine Daniel (1648)
St. Jean de Brébeuf (1649)
St. Noël Chabanel (1649)
St. Charles Garnier (1649)
St. Gabriel Lalemant (1649)
Those Canadian Martyrs are sometimes known as the North American Martyrs. But today is the universal feast of Saint Joseph and also a mass with special readings in Canada, from the Canadian Council of Bishops. 

First Reading 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-15, 16
Responsorial Psalm 80: 1-4, 26, 28 Response 36
Second Reading Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Gospel Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

As a husband and father I find that my devotion to saint Joseph is constantly growing. I need to turn to him for help. And though we do not know a lot about him directly from scripture, we know much about his character. And many books have been written about him. There are different theories about Joseph being an older man, and a celibate marriage not being a big deal. There are some who believe he was the normal marring age and the celibacy was more of a factor. And to be honest I do not know. But I know he cared for the woman he loved in very hard circumstances. I know that he accepted the role of foster father to the son of God. I know that he was anguished when Jesus was missing and they found him in the temple. I know that he listened to God's promptings in his dreams, and messages from angels, and did all he could to protect, and provide for Jesus and Mary. I know that he worked hard and was known to be skilled at his trade and an honest and hard worker. 

And all of those are traits I can strive to emulate. And I often fail. Yesterday I worked 11 and a half hours, and worked 30 hours over time this week. Not my normal practice any more, and thankfully not something I need to do often. But I was tired and ended up being short with my youngest. When she came back downstairs, I apologised for hurting her feelings. We hugged for a long time. It is not something I talk about often but I am often in pain, daily pain with bad knees and bad shoulders. For months now I have woken in pain and done to bed in pain. I did a lot of stupid things when I was younger. I played a lot of sports. I was hurt at work and kept working … the list goes on. But I am finding in this new state I can pray more often. Each time I am in pain I can pray, pray to draw closer to God, pray to be a better husband, and pray to be a better father, better son, better brother, better friend, and better employee. I can offer it to God. Because of the division of labour in our home I get up most days at 5, and leave by 5:50 to walk 20 minutes to my bus for work. My wife does the whole morning routine and gets our kids and half the time 2 other kids fed, read, and off to school. But I am home before they arrive home. I prepare the afternoon snacks, suppers, get ready for karate, music lessons, … I pray while walking home every evening for my kids and on those days the other two that will be here. 

And so today I am thankful for Saint Joseph and his example that I in my shabby way attempt to learn from and emulate.

So to all my friends who are father, and my fellow Canadians, blessed feast of saint Joseph!

Prayer to Saint Joseph:

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. 

Books about Saint Joseph:
Joseph of Nazareth - Federico Suarez
Devotion to St. Joseph - F. Declaux
Go to St. Joseph: Do Whatever He Tells You -  Brian Kiczek
Seven Saints for Seven Virtues - Jean M. Heimann

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