Friday, 2 December 2016

The Horarium - Philip Kosloski - A Simple Guide to Creating a Daily Prayer Schedule That Will Change Your Life

The Horarium:
A Simple Guide to Creating a Daily Prayer
Schedule That Will Change Your Life
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski


This is the third book by Philip Kosloski I have reviewed and the fifth that I have read this year. The first two on prayer, Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice and 3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life were available from Kindle. The next three: Serviam, Distractions and Horarium are available only through his website. These last three are incredible reads. And each of them is a short succinct guide to growing in different areas of your spiritual life. This one has to do with creating a daily routine, in the seminary called the Horarium.  Each of us has the same amount of time we have 7 days a week, 25 hours a day, 168 hours a week and 1440 minutes a day. But many of us do not take advantage of the time we have because we do not have a plan.

Why do some people have amazing prayer lives? Great times of devotion and closeness with God and the saints? And others seem to be very spiritual dry. In part it is intention, and in part it is a plan of life. This book takes the tool of the Horarium, the daily prayer plan.

The chapters in this booklet are:
Do You Feel Like You Have No Time to Pray?
I. The "Horarium:" A Mighty Weapon Against Satan 
II. What Mother Teresa, Fulton Sheen,
and J.R.R. Tolkien Have in Common 
III. There and Back Again: The Adventure of Prayer 
IV. The Secret to Finding Time for Prayer in a Busy World 
V. Serviam! Finding the Courage to Pray Every Day 
VI.What to Do During Prayer 
VII. How to Develop a (Nearly) Unbreakable Habit of Prayer 
i. Resources on Prayer 
ii. Developing a Personal "Horarium" Worksheet

Philip shares his own experience, from leaving high school and being in Seminary and having the structure of his day, devotions, prayers, planned out for him and his spiritual life flourished. When he went home for the summer things began to slide. He stated: "Finding time to pray is not easy outside of seminary life." Later married and with young children. He came to the realization that he needed to create his own prayer schedule his Horarium in order to grow his prayer life. And it is not a set do this at this time. This book knows that there are different kinds of people, night hours and early birds. What the book does is provide tools so you can figure out what will work best for you and then move forward to work on it.

This book has a few things that make it really great. First is Philip's vulnerability, writing from his own experience. Second the exercises that help you work through the teaching and figure out how to apply the teachings. And Third an amazing list of resources if you want to go even further in your learning.

The Horarium can be a compass for your daily life.  And this booklet can help you not only grow in your knowledge about what it is but gives you tools and exercises to create this practice and discipline in your own life. As stated this is an awesome read. I highly recommend it. No matter where you are in your spiritual life, we all have room for improvement. And this book will help you achieve that growth.

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
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

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Moses the Black: Thief, Murderer, Monk , Saint - Jared Zimmerer

Moses the Black Thief, Murderer, Monk , Saint 
Moses the Black #1
Jared Zimmerer
Zimmerer Books
ISBN 9781539481973

This novella is the first instalment in a 10 part series. Picking a lesser known Saint to be the focus of his first foray into the field of fiction was a bold move for Jared Zimmerer. But as they say 'either go big or go home', and Zimmerer pulls it off. This book delivers on its commitment to present saints in all their grittiness, rawness and without a rose filter. Saint Moses the Black is to have lived from 330-405AD. He is also known as Moses the Robber, the Abyssinian or the Ethiopian.  

But our introduction to this man is at a time when he is no saint. In fact he is a slave, accused of murdering another slave. And though he is big and strong and worth a lot as a slave and worker his owner decides to condemn him to death. On the morning of his execution he escapes, and flees into the dessert in order to try and save his life. Meeting an old man in the desert who provides water and a meal, he is saved for the moment but must continue on. Finally reaching Lucrim, Moses and there he joins a band of ruffians, but one that has found a way to buy his freedom. 

Who is this strange patron that wanted Moses in his band? They have been promised riches, robbery and an exciting life, but at what cost? 

This book was a great read. Part history, part mysticism, part speculation but it delivers a thrilling story and leaves you desperate for volume 2. This story will be told over 10 short volumes. In some ways reviving the old serial novelization format, The advantage of this serial release is that we should get new instalments fairly regularly, thus not having to wait long periods for new novels. And as this book is part of a series about lesser known saints once can only speculate on other saints Zimmerer will present in this format. The drawback is that if the others are like this as soon as you finish a volume you will want the next.

An awesome novella that will hook you and you will be addicted waiting for more in the series. Well done Jared well done!   
Books by Jared Zimmerer:
The Ten Commandments of Lifting Weights
Man Up!: Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man
Building A Classic Physique

Moses The Black:
Moses the Black Book 1

(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Joy of the Gospel - Pope Francis- Evangelii Gaudium

The Joy of the Gospel
Evangelii Gaudium
Pope Francis
ISBN 9780553419535

I really loved this book while reading it. But as I prepared to write a review I kept asking myself number of questions:
Who am I to judge a book by Pope Francis?
Who do I review a papal letter?
As well as many other questions. But I came to the conclusion that by engaging the writings of Pope Francis I was deeply challenged by this work, and other writings of Pope Francis. For a while now I have been struggling with and praying to live more joy. I do not want to be the grumpy old man sitting on the porch yelling at kids, like Clint Eastwood in the movie Gran Torino. And realizing I do not exude joy and happiness I thought this Apostolic Exhortation would be a good place to begin. And to be honest it has been in my to read pile since before it came out. 

This edition of this book has a forward by Bishop Robert Baron, whose works I am very familiar with and respect. And an afterward by James Martin SJ who I am much less familiar with. But the key player is Pope Francis himself. Now to share a personal story, my wife is not Catholic, she comes to church with the kids and I, but she is not Catholic. Around the time this book came out the was a photo that went viral of the pope hugging a disfigured man. The man has neurofibromatosis, a condition that my son has been diagnosed with. My wife had an appreciation for Pope Francis, but after that photo went viral he held a close spot in her heart. My wife shared the photo saying that this is what our son has, and she can only hope if his goes active that he is as respected and cared about. 

Now to be honest I started this book a few times, and never finished it. Then recently I picked it up and read it through. I do not believe that anyone can read this book and not be touched. Readers will be challenged to grow in joy by encounters with Jesus, and through that joy to witness to the world. This is a call to love and be loved. To be transformed by the power of Jesus and through that transformation to be a tool to the world. If we are Jesus hands, feet and mouth in the world, then this book shows us the importance of living a good witness, but also calls us out of our comfort zone.

I read this book after starting a new job. Each day I pray to live more joy, and to do good work for God. In my new role I can also walk to noon hour mass at the University I went to. Both a co-worker and my boss have found out I do so and have shown interest in coming to mass. And I attribute their attraction to weekday mass to the changes this book are helping to happen in me.

If you want to keep going through life living day in and day out as you are then do not read this book. But if you are open to being challenged, moves, stirred and likely even made uncomfortable then this book is for you. It is an excellent read and I really wish I had read it sooner.

(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Shrinking Ralph Perfect - Chris D'Lacey

Shrinking Ralph Perfect 
Chris d’Lacey
Orchard Books
ISBN 9781843626602
eISBN 9781408314432

This book was a really fun read, even though it was a bit predictable. I have read 24 Chris d’Lacey books in just over a year. And this is one of the standalone novels for young readers. The story is entertaining and engaging. My son is just a little young to read it but we have it on the schedule to read together next year. 

From their first meeting Ralph Perfect knows that there is something up with Jack Bilt, when he buys a house on Ralph’s street strange things just keep happening. First a mansion up north has disappeared; a local bully, and also a workman that came to see Jack have gone missing also. But no one else seems to notice the odd things. Jack has fooled Ralph’s mother. Soon Ralph is acting much braver than he actually is. The mini men have epic battles with dust mites, flies and a mad professor.

Jack Built has a plan to get rich, he has a miniaturized house, and a mini crew to work on the house and make it the perfect freak show attraction. But he never expected the local kit to be able to rally the troops and attempt an escape and rescue.

One of the best parts of the book is Ralph’s indignation at three months in a government facility after the ordeal, being tested, poked and prodded. This is how he describes the experience: “Imagine this: being taken to a secret laboratory, deep underground below a moor in Northumberland. You’re locked in a room where cameras watch your every move. Even when you’re sleeping. Even when…yes, that too. You have plenty to eat and are well looked after, but every day, for three months, scientists hook you up to strange machines that make your head buzz while they record any interesting changes in you, scratching out results on rolling charts, in looping graphs, in diverse colours. They put needles in your arms and draw your blood. They take snippets of your hair. They bottle your wee. They monitor your dreams, especially your nightmares.” 

This book is a very interesting read. Not the normal d’Lacey fare, no dragons, no bears and no crows. But still a very enjoyable read.

Books by Chris d'Lacey:
Dragons of Wayward Crescent
Gruffen (2009)
Gauge (2008)
Glade (2009)
Grabber (2010)

The Erth Dragons
The Wearle (2015)
2. Dark Wyng (2016)
3. ... 

The Last Dragon Chronicles with David Rain
The Fire Within (2001)
Icefire (2003)
3 Fire Star (2005)
4 The Fire Eternal (2007)
5 Dark Fire (2009)
6 Fire World (2011)
7 The Fire Ascending (2012)
Rain and Fire: A Guide to the Last Dragon Chronicles (2010)

The Unicorne Files
A Dark Inheritance (2014)
Alexander's Army (2015)
3 A Crown of Dragons (2016)

Fly, Cherokee Fly Series
Fly, Cherokee Fly
Pawnee Warrior

Other Books
Henry Spaloosh! 
Shrinking Ralph Perfect
The Snail Patrol
The Table Football League
Riverside United
From E to You
Scupper Hargreaves, Football Genie
The Salt Pirates of Skegness
Falling for Mandy
The Prompter

Picture Books:
A Hole at the Pole
Juggling with Jeremy
A Break in the Chain
Read With Bubble and Float
Dexter's Journey
Frankin's Bear

Contributed to:
On Me ‘ead, Santa
Nice One, Santa
The Usborne Book of Christmas Stories
Heroes and Villains
In the Frame
Midnight Feast

Author Profile and Interview with Chris d'Lacey.

Monday, 28 November 2016

The 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage - Allen R. Hunt - Taking Your Relationship to the Next Level

The 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage:
Taking Your Relationship to the Next Level
Allen R. Hunt
Beacon Publishing for
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781942611134
eISBN 9781942611257

This was the second book by Dr. Allen Hunt that I have read this year and it was an incredible read! This book was written from Dr. Hunts extensive experience as a counsellor, He draws from decades of experience working with couples, speaking at events and observing marriages both successful and those that were not. I believe that no matter how good a marriage you have it can always be better. This book will be a great resource for you no matter what state your marriage is in. Hunt takes examples from real life couples, and presents his 21 Secrets in an easy to read and digest way. The advice is easily applied and will help couples strive to achieve God’s plan for their marriage.

The Sections in this book are:
The Reason
The Inspiration
Mysterious Secrets
01. The Secret of Purpose
02. The Secret of Sacrament
03. The Secret of Synergy
Revolutionary Secrets
04. The Secret of Bedrock
05. The Secret of Little Things
Daily Secrets
06. The Secret of the Love Bank
07. The Secret of Romance
08. The Secret of the Best Friend
09. The Secret of Ages and Stages
10. The Secret of the Bed
Crucial Secrets 11. The Secret of Priorities
12. The Secret of Separation
13. The Secret of Insiders
14. The Secret of Attention and Affection
15. The Secret of Women
16. The Secret of Men
Grace Secrets
17. The Secret of Sacrifice
18. The Secret of Children
19. The Secret of Life
20. The Secret of Forgiveness
21. The Secret of 8

Each chapter is written in the same way. Each section begin with a quote, from a saint, church documents, and even Shakespeare. Then we have a main teaching section, which is followed by Real-Life Help. But the book begins with Hunt’s reason for writing the book, and he states it took him 25 years of marriage to realize this: “What’s the secret? Your decision to marry will almost certainly be the most significant and influential decision of your life.” Expanding upon this declaration he says: “Why is your marriage decision so important? First, because your marriage will bind you in a relationship so close and so intimate that it will profoundly shape your whole future. Second, because your marriage will also deeply impact and affect the lives of the people around you for the rest of your life. In fact, this one crucial decision—the selection of your husband or wife—will not only influence every aspect of your life; it will also affect your entire family (your parents, your siblings, your children, all of them) in ways you cannot anticipate, well after you are dead and gone.” Our marriages have impact every day, on the lives of our friends, on our families, the examples we set for our children. The question is what sort of influence we are having. Through reading this book and applying some of the exercises we can help each other grow, and through that growth to have a better impact on those who witness our marriage.

In speaking about the Sacrament of marriage hunt says: “That mystery is the secret of sacrament. Two lives really are becoming one. Husband and wife are joining together, not only physically but also emotionally, spiritually, and in every way. Husband and wife will live together, create a life together as a couple, and they will have the potential to partner with God to create new life through children. Husband and wife will rejoice together, suffer together, and age together. Their lives and experiences will become as one, a mystical union. A sacrament. Remember again the words of Saint John of the Cross: God’s purpose is to make your soul great. The sacraments are intended to do just that. In other words, the Holy Spirit desires to use your marriage to share invisible grace and inward holiness with your soul. That’s what a sacrament does.” How many of us see our marriage as a tool to help us get to heaven. As a source of true life. As a tool to help us become the best version of yourself. That is the biggest lesson I learned from this book.

But I must warn you, if you are not reading this together with your spouse and try to implement some of the exercises you might freak your spouse out. One of the Real-Life Help’s in the book is: “Lie on the bed together as a couple. Do not touch each other. Say nothing. Just look each other in the eyes. Do this for three full minutes, eye-to-eye, next to each other, on the bed. You are re-establishing a deeper bond. Build this simple practice into your life as a couple several times a year. And the mystery of the secret of the bed will begin to find its way into you.” Now I normally get up well before my wife and have often left the house before she is awake. After reading this exercise, the next time we were in bed and both awake I tried it. After About 30 seconds my wife became uncomfortable, wanting to know what was going on. After I explained she said I should have told her first.

This is another great book by Allen Hunt, and from Beacon Publishing. It will help you strive to become the best version of yourself. But you do so by doing so through growing and developing your marriage. In some ways this book reminds me of Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? By Gary L. Thomas, both Thomas and Hunt have a similar focus and direction in their teachings. But I loved the practical helps in each chapter of this book. It is an excellent read and I can highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take their marriage to the next level.

Books By Allen Hunt:
Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor
Life's Greatest Lesson
Everybody Needs To Forgive Somebody
Nine Words
The Inspired Body: Paul, the Corinthians, and Divine Inspiration
Fruit-Full Living: A Guide for Life in God's Spirit
The One Thing to Know Before You Die
21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage

Contributed to:
Beautiful Mercy

(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)