Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent
St. Francis de Sales
TAN Books
ISBN 9780895552600

Over the last few years I have been reading more and more by and about St. Francis de Sales. This volume the third in this series of collected sermons focuses on Lend. These specific sermons in this collection were given in the year 1622. This series was originally published in 1987 and the eBook editions were released in 2015.

The topics for these specific sermons are:

 1. Fasting
 2. Temptation
 3. Faith
 4. Eternal Happiness
 5. Election and Reprobation
 6. Mutual Charity
 7. Proper Conduct in Illness
 8. God's Spiritual Providence
 9. Proper Fear of Death
10. Hearing the Word of God
11. Humility and Obedience
12. The Passion of our Lord and What It Means

These sermons were compiled from the Saints working notes, tests. And this collection highlights the Saints dedication as a Bishop to preach. We see his preaching style, and the sound presentation of theological truths. As a Bishop St. Francis de Sales preached 20 series over lent, and those in this collection were given to cloistered religious. But any reader today will see their value and how applicable they are to the life of any Christian. And this collection was taken from and translated from the Annecy edition of his sermons volume X.

In the introduction Rev. John A. Abruzzese, S.T.D. states: "The Lenten sermons which follow, translated by the Visitation Sisters and edited by Fr. Lewis Fiorelli, O.S.F.S., were obviously meant to be heard, not read. Therefore, a great part of St. Francis' "heart to heart" preaching which made them so effective is undeniably and regrettably lacking. However, the fact that these sermons result from the loving efforts of persons intimately living St. Francis de Sales' spirit, as his spiritual sons and daughters, can be perceived as something issuing from his own heart. If it were not for their labor of love, very few indeed would have even this opportunity of experiencing the personal charism of the saint." SO I took his words to heard and worked through this book twice. The first time I read through the book. The second time I used text to speech in the Kindle application to listen to the sermons. When reading the sermons there was an immediate impact, but when I took time and listened to the same sermon, I found it even more impactful. A few of the sermons I went back and listened to a second time after about a week because of the impact it had on me.

A few quotes from the sermon on Fasting  as samples of some of what you will encounter in this book.

"To treat of fasting and of what is required to fast well, we must, at the start, understand that of itself fasting is not a virtue. The good and the bad, as well as Christians and pagans, observe it. The ancient philosophers observed it and recommended it. They were not virtuous for that reason, nor did they practice virtue in fasting. Oh, no, fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner."

"The first condition is that we must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, whole-heartedly, universally and entirely."

"It is thus reasonable that, in order to make our fast complete and meritorious, it should be universal, that is to say, practiced in both body and spirit. This is the first condition to be observed in order to fast well. The second condition is never to fast through vanity but always through humility."

This book was a wonderful read. It challenged me personally and I know it will do the same for you. I am thankful for having read and to be slowly applying the lessons from this Saint and Doctor of the church. And I look forward to the other three volumes in this series. I highly recommend this book and the series of 4.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Saint Francis de Sales:
Introduction to the Devout Life
The Sign of the Cross
The Art of Loving God
Roses Among Thorns
Finding God's Will for You

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales:
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Prayer
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hit the Ground Running - Mark Burley

Hit the Ground Running
Mark Burley
Blue Moon Publishers
ISBN 9781988279473
eISBN 9781988279480

This book was addictive from the first chapter. In some ways it reads like the 39 Clues, and in some ways it reads like Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord.  Or another way to maybe describe it would be a cross between a young Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones. And I do not throw out those three names lightly. This book has action, adventure, anthropology, archaeology and a mixing in of various mythologies and legends.

This book begins with Eric Bakker getting a video message from his older brother, it begins with "Eric-Mom and Dad are gone. I don't know what happened, but I'm going to find out." And ends with the sounds of a gunshot after a chase. And it seems like it is up to Eric to figure it out. Eric is at a new school in Canada, he has not made any friends yet, he has not even really tried. But between this message and his own uneasiness soon he finds he is relying on people he has just met and in much deeper than he ever expected.

In this first volume in the Hit The Ground Running Trilogy the action goes up and down the west coast, and then the climax is in Montana. Eric is our main protagonist but his new friend who joins him on the adventure is Tess Edwards, and she draws into their circle two geniuses Seth and Lakey Sawatzky. While Eric and Tess are gallivanting from Victoria to San Francisco and back the Lakey's are manning the computers, enhancing videos and photos and breaking into secure networks to help their friends out.

But this story is more than just grand adventure. There is a lot of internal dialogue as Eric tries to figure things out. Why he made the decisions he has made. How he is processing what is going on now. But there are some serious thugs, a very rich eccentric maybe bordering on madman, and some unknown forces all at play on the board. Soon Eric must make a choice about who to trust, even though his brother said to trust no one. For Eric is running out of options, all the key people he knew his parents trusted cannot be reached. So after figuring out where his brother is being held, and hoping his parents are there also, he must risk it all on a daring rescue.

The characters in this story are great. In fact the characters are one of the greatest strengths in the novel. But the pace of the action is also excellent, and the descriptions during some of the chase scenes, especially Eric's parkour, is thrilling and really helps transport the reader into the action. I average over 100 books a year, and this is an excellent fiction read. I know the marketing is towards the Young Adult but I am planning on giving it to my father who is 70 this year because I know he will love it. A great book and I look forward to the rest of the series!

Books by Mark Burley:
Hit the Ground Running Series:

Hit the Ground Running
Book 2 2018
Book 3 2019

Friday, 17 February 2017

Product Review - Q-bitz Game

Visual Dexterity. Cubed.
Mind Ware

I received this game a year ago for my birthday and from the day it entered the house it has been a family favorite. This is a great game for cognitive development. We have played it often. This game comes with:

4 game play trays
16 cubes of each color
80 Q-bitz cards

The box says it can be played with 2-4 players but you can play solo. The game also has 3 modes of play in the rules that come with the game:

Round one of this game is all about speed as players race to manipulate their cubes to copy the pattern on the Q-bitz pattern card.

Round two players roll all of their cubes on the table like dice. Then using the cubes as rolled players place as many cubes as possible in the tray to recreate the pattern shown on the card. And then it is a race to see who can complete the pattern card rerolling as many times as needed.

Round three really tests memory skills, players study the pattern card for ten seconds, flip it face down and then create the pattern from memory.

But the new Q-bitz Extreme has a fourth way to play and our family has a fifth which is most often used with our youngest.

Round four players race to do the reverse or negative image of the card.

Round five one player at a time creates a pattern, then the others race to copy the pattern.

This game is designed to teaches symmetry, help improve visual dexterity and provide friendly competition. It also stimulates the brain by use of spatial reasoning and memory skills. And it is super fun.

The other day I was wondering if they had release an expansion pack of cards for this game yet. When I went searching I found Q-bitz Solo Orange and Q-bitz Solo Magenta both of which come with an additional 20 unique cards that can be used for solo play or added into the base game back. I also found out there is a new Q-bitz Extreme that I have already picked up, and it is pretty amazing, but that is for another review!

Overall this is an amazing game the recommendation is that players be aged 8 and up, but we have played with our youngest even when she was 5 and it still works well. It is a lot of fun for the whole family. Can be taught in under a minute and is easy to introduce to new players or visitors to the house. They also have a classroom set that has 12 player trays and 120 cards, which would be great for larger families, or campus game nights. We absolutely love this game and hope that they release more expansion cards in the future!

Note: If you are local to Kitchener Waterloo you can get this and many other amazing games at J & J Super Store!

Games by Mind Ware:
Q-bitz Solo Orange
Q-bitz Solo Magenta
Q-bitz Extreme
Q-bitz Classroom Set

Cool Circuits Puzzle

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Archbishop and I: My Childhood Friend Fulton J. Sheen - Margo Weber Nassar

The Archbishop and I: My Childhood Friend Fulton J. Sheen:
Discover the personal side of this legendary Catholic archbishop in this newly revealed story!
Marguerite (Margo) Weber Nassar
ISBN 9781536856804

I have known about Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for a number of years, but it has only been the last year that I have taken to reading his books. Having read a number of books by the Archbishop this one ended up recommended based on other reads, so I thought I would give it a try. It is a little volume but adds some interesting insight into the man and the legend that is Archbishop Sheen. In the preface the author states: "I never intended to write this. This short read began when I was writing my autobiography. The section on my childhood friendship with Archbishop Sheen, however, took on a life of its own. I realized I had written a piece shorter than a book and longer than an article-a perfect short read." And that is exactly what this little volume is.

Margo was a very lucky young lady, for at the age of 11 she encountered the Archbishop for the first time and he befriended her and her family. She says: "I was an eleven-year-old schoolgirl from Oregon when I had the good fortune to meet Fulton J. Sheen. We became friends and pen pals in his sunset years, and we connected in uncommon circumstances. With age, I began to understand how lucky I was to have met such a human being. I have heard it said that his combination of virtue, intellect, and charisma comes along about once a millennium."  About the chance encounter that sparked an unlikely friendship.

The sections in the book are:
Section 1: Leaving Oregon
Section 2: Arriving in Virginia
Section 3: Visiting New York
Section 4: Coming Back to Virginia
Section 5: Returning to Oregon
Life Lessons
About Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Closing Message
About the Author

It is clear from reading this book that Margo had a special relationship with Archbishop Sheen. It is also clear that he continued to shape and have influence on her life after he had passed away. As a reader who is just beginning to really engage with Sheen's writings I found this book insightful, encouraging and at times very entertaining. From the story of their first encounter to 1974 when Sheen baptized Margo's little sister this is an encouraging story. Especially looking back almost 40 years after his passing, the image of Sheen as a media personality, as the first televangelist, as a theologian sometimes we lose sight of the person. This book brings Sheen back down to earth.  Like that friend of the family that is as close as blood. 

This book was a great little read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the life or works of Archbishop Sheen. It will shed a little light on him that you may not get from other sources.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
The World's First Love
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen
God's World and Our Place In It

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:
The Archbishop and I

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Quote of the Week - 2017-03-15

In Conversation With God
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
ISBN 9780906138519


I really love this series. And a section I highlighted yesterday keeps coming back to mind. So I am sharing it with you even though I will be reviewing this volume next week.

"We need to make God a participant in the thousand little moments of ordinary life. This can be done by the way in which we offer up our work, the manner in which we take our vacations, how we choose to rest. The Faith should penetrate all of our actions so as to enrich them and make them pleasing to God. We will find that this supernatural effort will help to make our activities more human."

From the reading on February 14th SAINTS CYRIL, MONK AND METHODIUS, BISHOP Co-Patrons and Evangelizers of Europe Memorial. Would love to know your thoughts and reactions  to the quote?

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 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:
Overcoming Lukewarmness
Through The Winds and Waves