Friday, 28 October 2016

Be a Man! - Fr. Larry Richards - Becoming the Man God Created You to Be

Be a Man!
Becoming the Man God Created You to Be
Fr. Larry Richards
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781586174033

This book was an incredible read. But to be honest I have had a hard time figuring out how to review it. Fr. Larry Richards in this book, challenges us to be real men, authentic men, men of God. It is a call to be true Christian men, to be a Catholic gentleman.

When I first read this section it had an instant impact:

"I make this very explicit when I am preaching at a marriage ceremony. I start with the bride and I say, "Sweetheart, you read the Bible every day, don't you?" At first I usually get a "Yes, Father", and then I say kiddingly, "If you lie to a priest, you know, you go to hell." Then she will usually quickly say, "Okay, no, Father." Then I continue, "Well, there is a verse in Ephesians that says, 'Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as to the Lord.' " And then I ask, "Do you think it means what it says?" And I always get an emphatic "No, Father!" Then I literally jump up and down and scream, "Yes, it means what it says!" When I say this, all the feminists in the crowd become very upset and say things like, "This is another reason I hate the Catholic Church." And the bride thinks, "Why did we ever get this priest to marry us?" I love this!

Then, as anyone who knows me knows, I am an equal opportunity offender, so I turn to the groom, who usually likes all of this. Once I said to a groom, "That will cost you another hundred dollars", and he responded, "That would be the best one hundred dollars I ever spent!" But now it is time for the other shoe to fall. I then ask the groom, "You read the Bible every day, right?" He always responds, "No, Father." Then I ask, "Well, do you know what it says in Ephesians after 'Wives, be submissive to your husbands'?" The groom always shakes his head and says, "No." Then I continue, "It says, 'Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.' " Then I ask, "Do you know what that means?" I then continue kiddingly, "Your life is over!" Then I tell them that every day they need to be more concerned about each other than they are about themselves! That is what marriage is about!

So you need to start to do at least one unselfish act for your wife every day. Surprise her. When was the last time you treated her the same way you did when you were still trying to get her to marry you?" -"

The chapters in this book are:
Chapter 1: Be a Man Who Stays Focused on the Final Goal
Chapter 2: Be a Man Who Lives as a Beloved Son
Chapter 3: Be a Man Who Repents
Chapter 4: Be a Man Who Lives in the Holy Spirit
Chapter 5: Be a Man Who Is Strong
Chapter 6: Be a Man Who Is Loving
Chapter 7: Be a Man Who Is Wise
Chapter 8: Be a Man Who Lives as He Was Created
Chapter 9: Be a Man Who Is Holy
Chapter 10: Be a Man Who Changes the World
Thirty Tasks You Must Accomplish to Help You Become the Man You were Created to Be

Each chapter ends with three tasks, three tasks you must accomplish, and also three questions for reflection and discussion. Not since I read the first promise Keepers book back in the early 90's have I felt a book was so important for men to read, and to implement. I know so many men who should read this book. Friends heading into their second or third marriage, men who have abandoned careers with no goals or prospects, men who seem to shirk all responsibility in order to pursue their own plans and agendas.

Father Larry does not pull any punches, and he is fully honest about his own weaknesses and failings. But in writing to men he draws extensively from the bible. In fact almost every paragraph has at least one biblical reference. This book is not an easy read, for any man who is open and honest while reading this book will find a few areas of his life that needs improvement. For some men it will directly speak to their weaknesses, or failures. For others it will be a guide to help them grow and avoid some of the pitfalls of manhood.

This was a great read, and to be honest I plan to come back to it and read it again in about a year. It is great for person reading but would be even better worked through as a group. I enjoyed the writing style so much I have added a few of Father Richards books to next year's reading list. As men you owe it to yourself and the people in your life to read this book!

Non-Fiction Books by Fr. Larry Richards:
Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be
Surrender! The Life Changing Power of Doing God's Will
Spiritual Warfare Jesus' Way: How to Conquer Evil Spirits and Live Victoriously
Satan Exposed: Defeating the Powers of Darkness
Becoming One in the Spirit
Men of the Bible
The Essential Guide to Deliverance: Finding True Freedom in Christ

Smart Guide to the Bible Series:
How to Read (and Understand) the Bible: Meeting God in the Book You Love But Never Fully Understood
The Book of Revelation
Prophecies of the Bible - Smart Guide
The Book of Romans
Men of the Bible
Women of the Bible
Paul and the Prison Epistles

The Invisible War Series:
The Day of the Others
The Blind Prophet
The 69th Week
The Third Temple

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

Thursday, 27 October 2016

We Hold These Truths - Andrew Clements - Benjamin Pratt & Keepers of the School Book 5

We Hold These Truths
Benjamin Pratt & Keepers of the School Book 5
Andrew Clements
Adam Stower (Illustrator)
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A Division of Simon and Schuster

ISBN 9781416938903
eISBN 9781442498983

I have now read 13 books by Andrew Clements in about 6 months. And this is the only series of his I have read. I thought this series was good while reading through the 5 volumes but after finishing this one I really think it is an awesome series.  These 5 books span 28 days and each book follows directly after the other. They really do pack a lot of action, adventure, and personal growth.  

If you have been following these reviews starting with Fear Itself, then We the Children, followed by The Whites of Their Eyes, and then In Harm's Way you will know that Ben was entrusted with a gold coin and made a promise to protect the Oakes School. As time has gone on, he has enlisted the help first of Jill and later Robert. With an encounter with a former janitor they start adding adults to their team. And by the beginning of this book there are 13 keeps. With some quick thinking Ben adds 7 more students to their ranks. So we have twenty keeps working against the two agents from the Glennley  Group and the massive corporate threat they are up against.

Captain Oakes had left clues, 5 riddles that will each reveal something that could save the School. But with just a few days to go the Keepers are getting desperate. Ben, Jill and Robert find the 4th clue and though it is incredible, they know it is not enough to save the school at this late date. For his clues warned "Seek the final safeguard ONLY IF YOU MUST-for once it is found, our school will change forever. And the large iron key they'd found in the same place? Almost the same words were scratched into the metal: USE ONLY IF YOU MUST." But they were at the point where they must. And with an elaborate plan with many adults playing roles, and even roping in the librarian they go after the 5th and final clue right under the noses of the Gleenley goons, Mr, Lyman and Wally.

The way this series build is great. They tension between our three main characters and their own personal growth is interesting to watch. Especially when set against the back drop of trying to save their historic school. And believing they have been called across time to take up the mantel of being keepers of the school.

As mentioned I have read 13 of Clements books over the last 6 months and already have a few more than that in my current to be read pile. I can highly recommend him as one of the best middle grade authors currently writing books. And this series is pretty awesome. In Many ways it reads like the National Treasure movies with a trio of children thrust into the role of saving the historic and bringing what has been hidden back into the light. An awesome series!

Books by Andrew Clements:
Bird Adalbert
Noah and the Ark and the Animals
Santa's Secret Helper
Temple Cat
Mother Earth's Counting Book
Billy and the Bad Teacher
Who Owns the Cow
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers
(Adapter)Philipp's Birthday Book
Riff's BeBop Book
Real Monsters Go for the Mold
Things That Go EEK on Halloween
Real Monsters Stage Fright
Music Time, Any Time
Double Trouble in Walla Walla
Gromble's Haunted Halloween
Hey Dad, Could I Borrow Your Hammer
The Landry News
Look Who's in the Thanksgiving Play
The Mouse Family
The Janitor's Boy
Circus Family Dog
The Christmas Kitten
The School Story
Things Not Seen 
The Jacket 
A Week in the Woods
Slippers at Home
Naptime for Slippers
The Report Card
The Last Holiday Concert
Slippers at School
Slippers Loves to Run
A Million Is a Lot of Dots
Lunch Money
Things Hoped For
Room One: A Mystery or Two
No Talking
Things That Are
Lost and Found
Extra Credit
About Average
The Map Trap

Pets to the Rescue Series
Ringo Saves the Day!
Brave Norman
Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends
Delores and the Big Fire

Jake Drake Series
Jake Drake Know-It-All
Jake Drake, Bully Buster
Jake Drake, Teacher's Pet
Jake Drake, Class Clown

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School Series
We the Children
Fear Itself
The Whites of Their Eyes
In Harm's Way
We Hold These Truths

Reading program Books
Karen's Island
Three Wishes for Buster
Bill Picket: An American Original, Texas Style
Hurricane Andrew
Ham and Eggs for Jack
Life in the Desert
Desert Treasure
Inventors: Making Things Better, Steck-Vaughn
Milo's Great Invention

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

Saint Damien Prayer

Damien, brother on the journey, happy and generous missionary, who loved the Gospel more than your own life, who for love of Jesus left your family, your homeland, your security and your dreams.

Teach us to give our lives with joy like yours, to be in solidarity with the outcasts of our world, to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist as the source of our own commitment.

Help us to love to the very end and, in the strength of the Spirit, to persevere in compassion for the poor and forgotten so that we might be good disciples of Jesus and Mary.

From the Diocese of Honolulu.

I became fascinated with Saint Damien the Leper a few years ago. My Introduction with a Michael W. Higgins lecture on hagiography given while at retreat at the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre, In Niagara Falls. We watched the film Mololai. And since then I have read a number of books about Saint Damien. Recently I discovered this prayer and have added it to my daily devotions.

Henry Spaloosh! - Chris d'Lacey and Philip Reeve - A Young Hippo Funny

Henry Spaloosh!
Young Hippo Funny
Chris D'Lacey (Author)
Philip Reeve (Illustrator)
Young Hippo Funny
Scholastic UK
ISBN 9780590193863

This book was a wonderful little surprise. I have been slowly tracking down and reading all of Chris d'Lacey's books. I fell in love with his writing less than a year ago and have now read 20 books by him. And to find that Philip Reeve did the illustrations for this book almost 20 years ago only added to the delight. In some ways this books reads like an Adrian Plass or Adrian Mole journal, except it is written by about a school aged boy and not told in first person. But the style has a lot of that feel to it.

My son and I have read through this book twice now and he loves it. He loves the story of Henry, he love the black and while pen and ink style illustrations by Philip Reeve. And I believe this is one of the earliest books Reeve is credited as illustrating.

Henry does not like Wednesdays, and that might be the biggest understatement. The reason being is water. And not just water but specifically physical education and swimming lessons. But soon Henry discovers he has an amazing skill, he can hold his breath for long periods of time. So he starts sitting on the bottom of the pool and ignoring class, skips doing lengths. But all good things do come to an end, one fateful day so entrenched in his game his misses everyone else getting out of the pool. So soon his problems start piling up.

This was a very humorous little read. Chock full of illustrations on every page and some whole pages also. It is in part a story about overcoming, and learning to believe in yourself. But for the most put it is just a great clean fun read. Excellent for reading with children or to them.

Spaloosh, Spaloosh, Spaloosh! Hazah! 

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
1 A Dark Inheritance (2014)
2 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, 24 October 2016

Year of Faith Treasury: Holy Communion - Francis Fernandez

Year of Faith Treasury: Holy Communion
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Publishing

This is the second book in this wonderful collection of 6 that I am reviewing. And I have read three of the six and can state that they are amazing little volumes. These books are each excerpts from a forthcoming longer volume. But each of these books encapsulates teachings and reflections on a single topic. For this volume the topic is Holy Communion. And to be honest communion is one of the core things that makes us Catholic, our beliefs around it and our practice of it.

The preface states: "This collection of quotations aims to be useful to someone looking for points to ponder in prayer, for those preparing a homily or a talk, or an article for publication. The Introduction offers a short reflection on the theme which can serve as a basis for a homily or a talk. Then follow some references to Sacred Scripture, followed by quotations from the Magisterium, the Fathers of the Church, and the saints. This publication is taken from an Anthology [in preparation] and paragraph numbers are the ones used there." And to be honest that is exactly what the book provides. It is an excellent tool for personal devotion or study, it can also be a great resource in preparing talks or meditations. And can be used as a resource in writing drawing together numerous sources for us on this incredible topic.

The chapters in this book are:
References to Sacred Scripture
From the Magisterium, the Church Fathers and the saints
Preparation of Body and Soul: "To make a good communion . . ."
"Why when you are cold do you move away from the fire?"
We receive Christ Himself
The effects of Holy Communion in the soul
Institution of the Sacrament
We receive the very Fount of all sanctity
Frequent Communion fortifies us against temptation
Spiritual Communion
The responsibility of those who administer or receive this sacrament
To be able to communicate is a great honour which Christ bestows on us
Holy Communion - the paschal precept
Holy Communion, the pledge of eternal life
Our weaknesses ought to lead us to seek strength in Holy Communion
Frequent Communion
Thanksgiving after receiving this Sacrament
The worship and veneration proper to the Blessed Sacrament
The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament

In the introduction Francis states "Our communion has thus to be frequent, "and, if worldly people ask you why you receive Communion so often, tell them that it is to learn to love God, be purified from your imperfections, delivered from misery, comforted in affliction, and supported in weakness. Tell them that two classes of people should communicate frequently: the perfect because being well disposed they would be very much to blame if they did not approach the source and fountain of perfection, and the imperfect, so that they rightly strive for perfection; the strong lest they become weak, and the weak that they may become strong; the sick that they may be restored to health, and the healthy lest they fall sick. Tell them that, for your part, you are imperfect, weak, and sick and need to communicate frequently with him who is your perfection, strength, and physician."" In part quoting St. Francis ds Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, points 11,12. I believe the greatest give we as Catholics have is that we can go to communion almost any day. Even with a family and 3 young children for the past year I have managed to attend mass at least twice a week. We go often because we can and because we need to. And this book reinforces that point throughout.

After the introduction that has 4 longer points there are 80 quotes that form the rest of the book. They are drawn from church history, church teachings, Church Fathers and saints. Many of the sources I was familiar with but a few were new to me and have left me pursing new authors to read. I hope a short sampling of the quotes will whet you appetite to pursue this book either for your own personal development or as a tool for sharing your faith.

966 Love the Mass, my children, love the Mass. And be happy to receive our Lord in communion, although you may be cold inside, although your emotions may not correspond to your desires. Receive communion with faith, hope, with burning charity. - St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 91

986 First of all, the holy council teaches and openly and plainly professes that after the consecration of bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly really and substantially contained in the august sacrament of the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of sensible things. - Council of Trent, Session 13 chapter 1

994 The proper effect of this sacrament is the conversion of man into Christ, to be able to say with the Apostle: I live, not I, but Christ lives in me". - St Thomas Aquinas, Commentary IV on the Book of Sentences, d12, q2, al

1007 The Body of Christ is not offered to us (in Communion) as a reward but as a bestowal of grace and heavenly life. - St Ambrose, in Catena Aurea, vol 6

1011 When we receive Jesus Christ, our soul becomes stronger; we are more resolute in our struggles; our actions are inspired by the purest of intentions and our love begins to become more and more ardent. - Curé d'Ars, Sermon on Holy Communion

As can be seen from these 5 quote, and it was very hard to narrow it down to 5 the variety of sources used in the compilation. I have read through the 7 volume series In Conversation with God, edited by Francis Fernandez a number of times. And I have now read through half of this series. I can emphatically state for the price these are incredible books that will nurture and nourish your faith and help you grow in knowledge and practice of your faith. Another great book edited by Francis Fernandez.

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Roman Pontiff 
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:

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Overcoming Lukewarmness
Through The Winds and Waves

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