Monday, 10 December 2018

Father Damien's Letters - Joseph Damien De Veuster

Father Damien's Letters
Joseph Damien De Veuster
Congregation of he Sacred Hearts SS.CC.
788 p

I have been fascinated by Father Damien for many years now. When I heard about this book I searched and searched but could not find out any information about it. I went back and asked the author who had mentioned it. He told me about where it came from. I reached out to a few sources and finally was gifted a copy, I just had to cover the postage from Ireland. The book is not available commercially. But if you can lay your hands on it, it is a treasure. I typically do not keep physical books, instead donate most to school libraries. But this is one that will be going on my favorites shelf. I have read it once and am now reading it again at a much slower pace.

The note on the inside back dust jacket is:

In Jesus we find everything!
Father Coudrin, the Founder of
The Congregation liked to repeat
Those words. Surely, this was true
Also of Damien. In Jesus he found
The way to savor God along the
Journey of his life, and t hrough
Jesus he became an inspiration for
Others, Many join the
Congregation because of his
Example and many others,
Christian and those belonging to
Other religions, have been inspired
By his generous gift of self to serve
Those marginalized and ostracized.

A quote by Javier Alvarez-Ossorio ss.cc., Superior General taken from the preface. Speaking of the preface the chapters in the book are:

A Synopsis of the Times of Father Damien's Ministry 
A Chronology of Father Damien's Life
     Part I. Europe (1848-1863)
     Part II. Hawai'i (March 1864- May 1873)
     Part III. Moloka'i (May 10, 1873 - 1885)
     Part IV. Kalawao (1886-1889)
     Part V. Cards and Fragments
     Part VI. Appendices 
Index of Names
Statistical Overview
Chronological List of Father Damien's Letters

The volume contains 354 letters with footnotes, beginning in December of 1848 with a letter to his parents and concluding with a letter dated April 17th, 1889 written by Father Wendelin ss.cc. on Damien's last days. The last letter by Damien is dated March 15th 1889. There are 8 cards or fragments of letters

The read the words of this saint, is inspiring to say the least. And to date this is the most comprehensive section to date, and maybe that we will ever see. I have a feeling that this is a book I will read again and again. My only wish is that eventually an edition will be published for the general public, and that at that time there is an eBook edition. But this limited edition is a beautiful book. And I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to encounter it, and read it. It has already been a blessing.

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

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
The Life and Letters of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers - Edited by Pamphile De Veuster 

Father Damien's Letters

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary & The Second Sunday of Advent 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary & The Second Sunday of Advent 2018

The readings for the Immaculate Conception Saturday December 8th:

First Reading Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Responsorial Psalm 98: 1-4 Response 1a
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 
Gospel Luke 1:26-38

The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent:

First Reading Burach 5:1-9
Responsorial Psalm 126:1-6 Response 3
Second Reading Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11 
Gospel Luke 3:1-6

What really spoke to me from the readings from both masses this weekend are the responses for the responsorial psalms.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.”


“The lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

I have written several times in these reflections on the mass reading about my desire to live more joy. Seeking to live joy and striving for a saintly life have been the quest. And each year that passes I feel the need for both more keenly. Each day I pray a “Consecration To Merciful Love” from the study 33 Days to Merciful Love by Father Michael E. Gaitley. Part of that prayer is:

“Finally, I believe, my God, that you can and will make me into a saint, even if I won’t see it, even if I have to struggle all my life against vice and sin, even if I have to wait until the very end. This blind hope in your mercy, O Lord, is my only treasure.”

I also pray that my actions live up to my theology. The last two decades have been a process of learning to be and learning to be better at being. Part of the growth over that period, is due to honest self examination, and daily examination of conscience. I am no where near where I would like to be as a husband, as a father, as a friend, as a man. But I am working on it. And the progress may be slow, and there may be back steps. But I pray, I seek, I hope, and I trust in God. 

And how does that tie to our readings this week? The Lord has done marvelous things, and great things for us, and in us. I am not where I want to be, but I have seen growth. And true growth not just change. I am not the man I was last year, or 10 years ago, or 25 years ago. Heck there are times I am not the man I was last week, or even yesterday. But I do sing to and for God. I do celebrate the joy coming into the world. And for the last few weeks I have been listening to Matt Maher’s new album ‘The Advent of Christmas’ I usually struggle during the holiday season. More a season of blues and looking back with regret. But this year is different. It is more purple and hope, then blues and despair. 

Ans so I pray: Lord fill us with your joy, help us to recognize all you do for us, and have done for us, and help us to sing a new song unto you. Forever more. 

Note: Link to all posts about St. Agnes Parish.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Product Review - Coast Protein Cricket Protein Powder Chocolate

Coast Protein Cricket Protein Powder,
Chocolate, Dairy Free, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO,
454g /1lb
20 Servings
Coast Protein

Chirp, Chirp. My first thought when I saw this product was to wonder how many crickets it takes to make a pound of protein powder. After it arrived, I posted a picture of the packaging. It got mix responses, most negative. But the more I read about this product, and this company the more intrigued I became. Some facts about Cricket’s from the back of the packaging:

Crickets are 67% Protein
Crickets are Very High in B12
Crickets are High in Iron.

Compared to Cows for other sources of protein and protein powder:

2000 times less water use
100 times less emissions
13 times less land usage

So if you are of a more environmental mindset there are some extra perks right there. If you want to try something different this is a good place to start. A single serving of this powder has 140% of your B12, and 29% of Magnesium, 90 Calories and 20 g of protein. It also has a wide range of 9 different amino acids.

I have tested this mixed with just water (a little chalky).
With milk (pretty good).
As a smoothie with chocolate milk and ice cream (very good).
And as a smoothie with Chocolate milk, frozen raspberries and blueberries (also very good).

The companies stated purpose is to: “normalize insect protein for a healthy and sustainable future.” Their cricket powder is good for the planet and good for us. There is one discrepancy on amazon it states 20 servings per package, and the packaging states 13. So depending on how many servings you get it will be between $2-$3 per serving.

Overall, I was very impressed with the product. Normally chocolate protein powders usually smell grate but have not so good taste. That was not the case. My 10 year old son did not like It but I have had a number of servings now and have had a little after taste from the stevia, but other than that no issues. It does get a bit chunky towards the bottom of the glass, but no more so than some other powders I have tried. And no you will not be picking legs or wings out of your teeth. On the company website there are numerous recipes, for cookies and smoothies. The powder also comes in a Vanilla Flavor and Peanut Butter. If either are as good as this then they are worth checking out also.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Ornamental Graces - Carolyn Astfalk

Ornamental Graces
Carolyn Astfalk
Full Quiver Publishing

Multa Verba Publishing
ISBN 9780997971804

This was the second novel by Carolyn Astfalk that I have read this year, I have also read her short story in the collection, Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories. At the time of writing this review this book is ranked in the following categories:

Religious & Inspirational

Now as a middle-aged guy I do not normally read romances. Some of the other YA Books I have read have a romance element, but usually written around adventure or mystery. As far as I can recall of the thousands of book I have read this is the first I would classify as romance. And yet, even with that being stated, I could hardly put this book down. This story is good clean Catholic, Christian fiction. It is the story about relationships, about family, about mistakes. And about learning to forgive ourselves. As a guy who did not always live his faith well this story was an incredibly powerful and moving read. And to be honest I wish there had been Young Adult books like this when I was much younger, maybe reading a story like this would have helped me avoid some of the mistakes, some of the sins in my own past. 

There are several strengths to this novel. The first are the characters. Astfalk does such an amazing job creating realistic characters. They are fully fleshed out. Dan Malone is a man trying to put his life back together. He hates who he was, and the things he has done. He is working hard, rebuilding his business and his name. By a chance encounter he meets Emily Kowalski, at his Christmas tree lot. They both discover eventually that they have feelings for each other, but because of their own personal struggles they keep messing it up. Dan has become friends with Emily’s brother, and is called uncle by his kids. Dan does not feel worth of Emily because of his past, a past that keeps reeling it’s ugly head. 

Astfalk also does an incredible job capturing the human condition. Dan’s angst over his past sins, and his sense of self worth. Emily’s self doubt. There is so much to rave about with this novel.

I could hardly put this book down. It is a true page turner. You will find yourself drawn in, and the characters will become like friends, and you will find yourself invested in what is happening to and with them. It is a very realistic read. 

This is an excellent read. It is a wonderful Christian novel, with a cautionary tale, and a story of redemption and recovery. I am very thankful I gave it and read and I am sure you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.

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

Books by Carolyn Astfalk:
Rightfully Ours
Stay with Me
Ornamental Graces

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Prayer of the Day To Mary, Mother Of Perpetual Help

A Short Prayer To Mary, Mother Of Perpetual Help

Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favoured by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but Mother of the redeemed as well.

We come to you today as your loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and God's mercy is from age to age on those who love God.

Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help.