Monday, 25 June 2018

Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston - CTS Biographies

Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers
Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860820540
ISBN 9781860826184
eISBN 9781784692612

I have been fascinated by Father Damen now Saint Damien since encountering his story while on retreat with Michael W. Higgins, who was using hos book 'Stalking the Holy' for a series of talks about saints. Wile on the retreat we watched the movie Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, and I have been addicted to books and movies about Damien even since.   Abd this is an excellent little read on Saint Damien. This book has two different sub titles, the title of the eBook is 'Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers' and the physical booklet has 'Father Damien de Veuster Apostle to the Lepers'. But not matter which version you read it is an excellent book.

The chapters in this booklet are:
Early Life
Work in the Leper Colonies
Towards the End
Novena to St Damien de Veuster

With everything I had read and watched about father Damien prior to this book there was still new information I learned. Some of it was about his canonization process, and some of it about his life, times, and legacy. I was unaware that Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote to Pope John Paul II on May 7th 1984 lobbying for the canonization of Father Damien to be the patron saint to lean and protect those who serve lepers today.

Damien was a man dissuaded after in life. He was encouraged not to pursue a religious vocation. Once he was accepted he was told he would not be a priest, but a brother instead. He was denied the chance to go on missions, and then he filled his brother's shoes for the mission field when his brother was already commissioned but became ill and could not travel. He was originally discouraged from his ministry and service to the lepers. He was told not to come back to the main island, and he was told to stop asking for more. But he always asked to give to others.

The novena at the end of the book is from the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Leuven. And to be honest the book is worth owning just for this novena. If you already have a devotion to Saint Damien this book will be a great read, and if you are not familiar with him, please do your self a service and read about his inspired service.

The first edition of this book was published in 2009. A new edition of the print book was released in 2009, it was updated at this time with information on his impending canonization. And the eBook was released in 2017. Coming in at just under 75 pages this book is a quick read, but because of the content is not easy. The book would be accessible to tweens, teens and adult readers. It Can be read alone to help us understand more about this great saint, or be a jumping off point into studies about the man, his life, his work, and the service on Molokai by him and many others. This is an excellent biography and I highly recommend it!

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.

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin
Father Damien de Veuster Apostle to the Lepers - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

Books by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston:
Maria Goretti Teenage Martyr
Pier Giorgio Frassati Inspiration for Students
Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers
Martin de Porres

Prayer Books:
Handbook of Novenas for Feasts and Seasons
Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The Infant of Prague
Handbook of Novenas to the Saints: Short Prayers for Needs & Graces
Handbook of Scriptural Novenas: For Various Needs and Intentions
Devotion to St Jude: Patron of Hopeless Cases

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist 2018

Feast of the nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

This weekend there are two optional liturgies. On Saturday evening it can be the Vigil mass, and then on Sunday the Feast on the day of. There are two sets of readings, but they echo the same messages.

Reading for the Vigil Mass Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist:

First Reading Jeremiah 1:4-10 
Responsorial Psalm 71:1-2, 3, 5-6, 15, 17 Response 6
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:8-12
Gospel Luke 1:5-17

Reading for the mass on the Feast Day of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist:

First Reading Isaiah 49:1-6 
Responsorial Psalm 139:1-3, 13-15 Response 14
Second Reading Acts 13:22-26
Gospel Luke 1:57-66, 80

As I write this I am home with a very sick little boy. It started earlier in the week with his little sister. She was not feeling well Monday or Tuesday Evening, and Wednesday stayed home from school with a fever. Thursday I was home sick, and Friday I worked from home because I still had the fever and other symptoms. And now on Saturday morning, my little guy is home sick, and he seems to have been hit the hardest. We found out that 6 of 19 kids in our youngest’s grade 2 class were out sick this week. The beginning of summer if a terrible time for the flu. But we can comfort and support each other. Yet even with a week of illness we have much to be thankful for. And for this week's reflection I will focus on the two Responsorial Psalms. 

Vigil Mass:

R. From My mother’s womb, you have been my strength.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock for refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
from my mother’s womb you have been my strength.

My mouth will tell of your righteousness acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Feast Day Mass:

R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

O Lord, you have searched me and know me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my laying down, 
and are acquainted with all my ways.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

There is a lot that can be unpacked from those15 versus. I admit I have struggled in life. Emotional struggles, monetary struggles. And some awful messy stuff in my past, from my youth into my early 30’s. But God has always been faithful. God has known me and welcomed me every time I came home. I had a grandmother who thought I would be come a priest, she prayed for me a lot. And even though she was not Catholic, she would take us to mass, or to whichever United or Anglican church she was attending at the time. This photo is of Grandma and I at my confirmation I believe in 1984. 

At the time I chose the gift of Knowledge. There are many times I have looked back on my life and wished I had chosen Wisdom instead. My oldest has started her confirmation preparation, and they must choose a saint that does not match their name. Things have changed. But God has stayed the same. God has been my deliverer, my rock, my refuge. I have been blessed so many ways in life. I will continue to trust god through this phase in life and follow his leadings.

I challenge you to go back and reread the two scripture sections above. Read them slowly, read them and let them sink into your heart, into your mind, and into your spirit. No matter how hard things are now, we have a God we can trust in. 

And next week is the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul, Apostles, again we have two sets of readings for a vigil and a day of mass. Until then know that I am praying for you my friends, family, and readers, and I ask you to be praying for my family and me. 

Related Posts:

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Hangman - Jack Heath

Jack Heath
Hanover Square Press
ISBN 9781335062918
Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760297473

I have encountered many Australian authors who became instant favorites. My first expectations were exceeded, and I tracked down all they had available in North America to read. Authors such as Sally Murphy, Scot Gardner, Marianne de Pierres, to name nut a few. But that was not the case this time. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe the hype and waiting for the book to be available in North America inflated what I was expecting. As a huge fan of both the TV series Dexter, and the I Hunt Killers books by Barry Lyga, I was expecting something exceptional from this book. What it feels like is some Chuck Palahniuk, Tom Clancy, and Irvine Welsh tossed in a blended and slopped together.

The premise of the story is that the FBI have a n ace up their sleeve. Consultant Timothy Blake, codename Hangman. Blake is a genius, with perfect memory and recall. He solves impossible cases. But he is also a sociopath and a cannibal. His payment for every life he saves he gets to take one.

Some books you read, and you need to suspend disbelief. Some you need to toss it out the window. This one you need to jettison it into the sun or a black whole. The characters feel at times week in the writing. The story and premise if intriguing it just really fell flat on the execution. This book likely would have ended up on my 'not finished' pile but I kept expecting it to turn that corner from ok into good or even great. It just never quite made it. I do not regret finishing the read, but only just. It takes a lot to turn my stomach, not even the once chip challenge managed it, but this book came very close.

The story was good enough that I would be willing to try others by the author. But I can only think of one or two friends or acquaintances who would actually appreciate this read. But this book is going to be very acquired taste. It will definitely leave you with some thoughts to chew on. Chew right down to the bone.

Books by Jack Heath:
Deadly Heist
Method Living
The Caretakers
500 Minutes of Danger
400 Minutes of Danger
300 Minutes of Danger
Ink, inc.

Agent Six of hearts Series:
The Lab
Remote Control
Third Transmission
Dead Man Running

Ashley Arthur Series:
Money Run
The Hit Lits

Countdown to Danger:
Bullet Train Disaster

The Fero Files:
The Cut Out
The Fail Safe

The Mysterious World of Cosentino:
The Missing Ace

Scream Series:
The Human Flytrap
The Spider Army
The Haunted Book
The Squid Slayer

Short Stories:
In Case Of Emergency

Friday, 22 June 2018

A Different Heroism - Jane Lebak - Father Jay Book 3

A Different Heroism
Father Jay Book 3
Jane Lebak
Philangelus Press

ISBN 9781942133216

It is with sadness that I begin to write this review. For it is currently the final book in the Father Jay Farrell series. I have read the trilogy in the last week and a half and have loved the concept and execution of these books. I had picked up books 2 and three before even finishing books one. And because of a personal commitment to try and alternate between non-fiction and fiction I picked a shorter volume of fiction to read between book 2 and this volume. The three books in this series are: Bulletproof Vestments, The Boys Upstairs, and A Different Heroism. Each is a powerful story, all three are great Christian fiction. And a wonderful Catholic story. 

Over the last few years I have been reading more and more Catholic and Christian Fiction and less and less secular fiction. As a father with three young and growing children looking back I have read and reviewed a lot of books that I would not read today. This book and this series are examples of what I call clean fiction. Yes, there is some violence in these books, and it is more so in this volume, but it fits the story. It is not gratuitous, and it is not excessive. It is a tale of friendship, loyalty, and a story about a priest who would do anything to protect his charges. 

In this volume the three main story arcs. They are, first father Jay's health, he was severely injured in Iraq and several exemptions had to be made in order for him to be ordained. But Father Jay has been pushing too hard, he has not only been burning the candle at both ends but melted it down and lit the middle. Between housing street kids in the rectory, running a soup kitchen, normal parish duties his health has detreated. Both his doctor and his bishop are telling him to take a rest, and to lighten his workload. If he doesn't he will be dead. The second theme is his strained relationship with his bother who is a police officer. And the third is his kids, a group that call themselves the Archangels, and specifically an escalating conflict with a group of older kids at the local school.  

When there are hostages taken at the school Father jay defies logic and heads into the smoke, noise and shots. He does it because he cares, and because as a former soldier he knows that heroism can take different forms. 

This novel starts with a slower pace than the other two in the series, but it makes up for that in the end. It is a great read. I just hope that at some point we might get more stories with father and Office Farrell. Even if we get no further stories I can give this book and this series a great recommendation. So pick them up and give them a try. You will see that sometimes a hero wears a collar and sometimes a badge.

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

Books by Jane Lebak:
Pickup Notes
Love's Highway
Forever And For Keeps
Half Missing

Father Jay Series:
Bulletproof Vestments
The Boys Upstairs
A Different Heroism


Seven Archangels:
1.0 An Arrow In Flight
2.0 Sacred Cups
3.0 Shattered Walls
4.0 The Wrong Enemy
5.0 Annihilation

Seven Archangels Short Stories:
2.1 Damage
2.2 Even A Stone
2.3 Hired Man
2.4 Winter Branches
5.5 Once Only

Seven Angels Short Story Bundle 2.1-2.4

The Adventures of Lee and Bucky:
1.0 Honest And For True
2.0 Upsie-Daisy

Rails of Sweet Grove:
2.0 Love's Rules of the Road

Carrying to Term: A Guide for Parents after a Devastating Prenatal Diagnosis

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Edmund Arrowsmith - Father John S. Hogan - CTS Saints of the Isles Series

Edmund Arrowsmith
CTS Saints of the Isles Series
Fr. John S. Hogan
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781784691219
eISBN 9781784694722

In the last month I have read 10 books and booklets from The Catholic truth Society, and this was the fourth one by father John S. Hogan. It is interesting, as a Canadian, with mixed Irish and Scottish ancestry, I have been raised with a certain animosity towards the British. And this booklet is one of the first biographies I have read about a British Saint. I encountered the Catholic Truth Society's current offerings while looking for books about Irish Saints by Irish author Alice Curtayne that were written between the 1930's and 1980's. This book really opened my eyes about how Catholics in Britain were treated, and in some ways it appears to be just as bad if not worse than in Ireland.

Being completely honest I must state that I had never heard the name Edmund Arrowsmith before researching books by John S. Hogan when I wrote my first review of one of his books. And other than a brief chapter in a Church History Course in University have not read much about the Catholic suppression in England and Wales. This book was an eye opener. And Will likely lead to me reading much more about Catholic history especially in England and Wales. The chapters in this book are:

Early Years 

The introduction begins with this passage:
"The children stand shivering in the cold. It was well into the night when they were awoken by the banging on the door. Thrown out of bed, now they huddle together disorientated, tied two by two; they watch as their home is ransacked. The priest-hunters tear through the house; swords are applied to every nook and corner, cupboards cleared, walls pounded to see if priest holes have been constructed in the fabric of the building. As usual, they find nothing. No doubt later, as they are cleaning up, certain items will be missing; perhaps they appealed to the searchers and were secreted away or just 'confiscated'. Leaving as suddenly as they came, they take mother and father with them: the children are left standing outside dressed only in their nightclothes. It was not the first time, nor, probably, the last. The eldest, Brian, takes charge of his siblings and leads them to a neighbour's house where he knows they will find refuge, warmth, and a little comfort after the ordeal. Their parents will be back in the morning after they have paid the fine to regain their liberty, and the priest-hunters' wages - they have to be compensated for their night's work and it is the victims who have to pay them. Life will resume its normal course, until another knock is heard in the middle of the night."

I was hooked from these first words. This story is powerful, as are most stories about martyr's. But Reading about a family, about generations that were devoted to the Catholic faith, no matter the person cost is incredibly encouraging. Especially in this day and age, where anger and actions against Catholics and Christians is one of the few politically correct opinions. To read about Edmund's courage, faith, and passion for his mission as a Catholic, as a priest, and as a Jesuit is very inspiring. It is a book that will challenge readers to ask what they are doing for the gospel.  

This book is an excellent read! I only have one disappointment with reading this book, I believe I have read all books currently published by father Hogan and will need to wait for more to be published or to reread this and the other three. This is a great book and I look forward to reading more by Father Hogan (Hopefully), in the CTS Saints of the Isles Series, and other books from CTS. I give this book my highest recommendation. 

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.  

Books in the Living Fruitfully Series:
Self-Control - Fr John S. Hogan
Chastity - Fr John McKeever
Joy - Mgr Paul Grogan
Generosity - Fr John S. Hogan
Patience - Christopher Mc Camley

Other Books by John S. Hogan:
Edmund Arrowsmith (Saints of the Isles)
A Book of Martyrs: Devotions to the Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales