Saturday, 29 April 2006

Furrow by: Josemaria Escriva


Furrow
Josemaria Escriva

This is one of three great little books by Josemaria Escriva’s The Way, Furrow and The Forge. Each of these three volumes are collections of thoughts, pense’s musings and meditations. They can be read from beginning to end or randomly opened and read just as you find them. Some of the reflections will require more thought and work then others. Some examples that particularly grabbed my attention are:

“As soon as you willfully allow a dialogue with temptation to begin, the soul is robbed of its peace, just as consent to impurity destroys grace.”
#836

“Prayer is the humility of the man who acknowledges his profound wretchedness and the greatness of God. He addresses and adores God as one who expects everything from Him and nothing from himself. Faith is the humility of the mind which renounces its own judgement and surrenders to the verdict and authority of the Church. Obedience is the humility of the will which subjects itself to the will of another, for God's sake. Chastity is the humility of the flesh, which subjects itself to the spirit. Exterior mortification is the humility of the senses. Penance is the humility of all the passions, immolated to the Lord. Humility is truth on the road of the ascetic struggle.”
#259

“Being faithful to God demands a struggle. And it means close combat, man to man — the old man against the man of God — in one small thing after another, without giving in.”
#126

Each of these three little books will help you grow deeper in the Christian life. They will challenge you every time you pick them up and read. I have gotten to the point that I always carry one of them with me, and while waiting for a ride, or before class, or in any spare moment open it and read, and through that reading I pray. Through that prayer I hope to become a better Christian and a better person.

Friday, 21 April 2006

More Reviews

Greetings friends and readers:

I am part of a team writing book and movie reviews for another blog. My reviews will be cross posted. (At least some of them) The new blog has a team of writers and reviews reviewing movies and books from a Traditional Catholic perspective. What is Traditional Catholic? It is a group of people who have questions about Vatican Council II. Do I fit that definition, well no not really but I review books in a wide enough range that some of mine are acceptable to them. The rating system is on the side of the blog. So come check it out! (I have withdrawn from this effort, my reviews are not of traditional catholic books or from the traditional catholic perspective. But you might find some interesting stuff.)

Traditional Catholic Book and Movie Reviews


Thanks Steven.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

God Is Not Reasonable: and Other tales of Mother Macrina

God Is Not Reasonable: and other tales of Mother Macrina
By: Irma Zaleski
New Seeds
ISBN: 1590303032
March 2006

This is an updated and expanded edition of the great book Mother Macrina that was published by Novalis press in 2000. This Version has nearly twice as many stories and bits of wisdom to pass on the the earnest reader.

This is an inspiring little volume that focuses on the wisdom of Mother Macrina, a wise woman who left a hermitage and settled in a small town in northern Ontario. Her wisdom became known, and as her reputation spread, more and more people came to her door, and her door was always open. She invited them in to have tea and talk.

When she passed away, people were surprised by how many came to her funeral. These stories are the collection of some of her wisdom and guidance, the tales that people still tell.

These stories read like the wisdom of the desert fathers, or the Zen mystics. The book is a collection of short thoughts and its wisdom and guidance is penetrating. Mother Macrina relates this about being sorry:

Be Sorry!
A woman came to tell Mother Macrina about a quarrel she had with a friend. She explained in detail how it came about, and how difficult her friend had been. She was sorry she got so angry, but still…

Mother listened patiently till the women ran out of breath. Then she asked her, “Why don’t you tell your friend you are sorry and be done with it?”

“But Mother,” the woman exclaimed, “did you not listen to me at all? It wasn’t my fault; I explained it to you already!”

“So you did,” answered Mother Macrina. “What a strange thing it is that to say one is sorry takes only a moment, but to explain why one should not say it takes over an hour!” p.16

That is just a taste of the wisdom for life that you will glean from this little gem. These brief parables will make you laugh, smile, and pause to reflect upon your own life and maybe it will help you grow. Pick it up and I am sure you will enjoy it. Zaleski is also the author of Living the Jesus Prayer and The Way of Repentance.

Irma Zaleski is one of those hidden treasures in literature you only find by chance or luck. A number of years ago I ran across one of her books by chance, I only picked it up because Michael W. Higgins had been quoted on the cover promoting the book. Since then I have fallen in love with her writing style and her works. I have tried to track down all of her writings that I could find. Each one is a gem that will enrich your life.

Zaleski, who was born in Poland in 1931, she escaped to England after the second world war, and came to Canada in 1952, she has led a vivid and diverse life. She has been a professor at the University of Toronto, a translator and a writer. In 1986 she moved to Combermere, Ontario. In her youth she practiced Buddhism and has studied Christian traditions from both the east and the west. As such she brings a breadth and depth to her writings that only comes with such diverse experience.

(First Published in Imprint 2006-05-05 as 'Macrina's Wisdom Lives On'.)


Friday, 14 April 2006

God and I Broke Up by: Katarina Mazetti

God and I Broke Up
Katarina Mazetti
Groundwood Books
ISBN: 0888996179

This book translated from the original Swedish will bring you to tears. It’s the story of Linna an outsider in her school she is a tall, awkward, miserable, loner who’s parents are divorced and just happens to be 16 years old. Then she meets Pia who is just as tall but does not lack self-confidence. Linnea and Pia become best friends. The spend hours and hours together talking about everything, God, boys, parents, politics just about everything.

The story recounts the 120 days that the two know each other. For now Pia is dead, and it is a suicide. Linnea’s world has collapse and it is worse then before she had a close friend, for now she has tasted friendship and lost it and her loneliness and isolation is worse then before.

Most of the story takes place in Linnea’s grandmother’s closet. She is suffering and her Grandmother tells her to talk to God to recount the story of her friendship. So she is in the closet telling herself the story of the 120 days that she knew Pia.

Readers will relate to Linnea's introspective ramblings, and be drawn to a story that is very emotionally engaging. This is a great resource for teens who have lost someone, and will help in the grieving process. It will help them learn how to cope with loss.

This is one of this little known treasures.

Thursday, 13 April 2006

Mariette In Ecstasy by: Ron Hansen

Mariette In Ecstasy
Ron Hansen
Harper Collins - Browse Inside
ISBN: 0060981180

This is a book by an author best know for western’s however this is not a western. It is a spiritual story and a spiritual story with a major twist. It is the retelling of the life story of Saint Terese Martin aka Terese de Lisieux. But this story is told in a generic religious order set in Quebec.

This book deals with many large questions:
The Stigmata
Faith
Healing
Love
Science

And how these five things meet in the life of Mariette with ambiguity and how that ambiguity mirrors our own lives. The interesting thing about this book is it is about the world of women, the convent is a microcosm of the real world. The only two men in the book are Mariette’s father and the priest at the Convent.

Mariette received the stigmata while a novice at the convent, the Prioress was her older sister. This is a story of faith versus adversity even in one’s own tradition. It is the story of a girl who desires to love God with all of her heart. Yet the depth of her devotion arouses the suspicions of those around her.

A film was made of this move with many big name star’s Rutger Hauer as the priest, Geraldine O'Rawe as Mariette, Mary McDonnell as the prioress. Michael W. Higgins was the Historical consultant on the film. Though filmed in 1996 it has never been released. The studio did not like the ending and the author and producer would not change it.

Dealing with many deep questions this book leave’s the reader with more questions than answers but with a sense of hope and a desire to know more. Hansen has created a masterpiece.



Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Handbook for Today's Catholic


Handbook for Today’s Catholic
Revised Edition
A Redemptorist Pastoral Publication
ISBN: 0764812203

This little volume has sold over 5 Million copies in four different editions since 1978. It is indexed to the Catechism written in easy to read language. This book is clear, concise and coherent. It looks at major doctrine’s of the Catholic faith, traditions and practices as well as a section on traditional prayers. It has easy to implement ideas for how to integrate your faith into day-to-day life.

The book is composed of 4 sections:
  1. Beliefs
  2. Practices
  3. Prayers
  4. Living the Faith

This is one of those little book's you will reference again and again.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

The Way of the Cross Part II

This is a continuation or an earlier article that received a lot of positive feedback. The Way of the Cross is an old tradition within the church but the number of variations of this form of meditation and prayer.

Way of the Cross
Pope John Paul II
Pauline Books & Media
ISBN 0819839701

These are the meditations led by Pope John Paul II at the Colesseum from Good Friday 2000. The late pope had a great devotion to the stations and to the rosary. Both are evident in these heartfelt meditations and prayers. The images for each station are from classical art, such artists as: Andrea Solario, James Stanfielding, Giotto Di Bondone, Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, Giovanni Battiste Tiepolo, Fra Angelico, Tiziano, El Greco, Giovan Fracesco Da Maineri, Simone Martini, Hans Memling, Cornelis Van Haarlem Cornelisz, Rembrandt Van Rijn and Carl Bloch. This is a treasure from Pope John Paul II. This edition also contains Pope John Paul II's easter message from April 23rd 2000.

Sign of Contradiction: Way of the Cross
Pope John Paul II
Pauline Books & Media
ISBN 0819883050

This collection of prayers and meditations were led by his holiness John Paul II at the Colosseum in 2003, but was originally given in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. It was revived for John Paul II’s fiftieth anniversary as pope. The images accompanying the meditations are from Marble surrounded mosaic’s from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Imogene, Iowa.

The Way of the Cross in Times of Illness
Elizabeth Thecla Mauro
Liturgical Press
ISBN 0814629695

Elizabeth is a Benedictine oblate and a licensed massage therapist, these meditations are written by one who has a great sensitivity to illness, disease and suffering. It is written for those who are undergoing treatment for physical or emotional assessment and treatment. Yet anyone who has suffered or journeyed with those who have suffer with physical or emotional illness can benefit from this version of the Stations of the Cross.

Way of the Cross with Oscar Romero

Available online at the link above. March 2005 was the 25th Anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. This edition of the Stations of the Cross is taken from the writings and sermons of this famous Archbishop.


Way of the Cross for Social Justice

Available online at the link above. Focusing on poverty and debt it examines the stations as a way of looking at the global community.


No matter how many different versions of this I find I learn from each of them. Each one can draw you closer to God and through that to other people. Here is the earlier article of more editions for you to check out The Way of the Cross.

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Understanding “OUR FATHER”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer by: Scott Hahn

Understanding “OUR FATHER”:
Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer
Scott Hahn
Emmaus Road Publishing
ISBN 1931018154

Depending on who you talk to Scott Hahn is either a hero or a turncoat. He was raised Presbyterian, and was even on the fast track to be a president at a Presbyterian seminary when he began to doubt two protestant main stays: ‘by scripture alone’ and ‘by faith alone’. So he did what any academically trained person would do, he decided to research and went back to school to do a masters in Roman Catholic thought, eventually converting to Catholicism. Since then he has been a prolific writer and speaker on things Catholic, and why the catholic faith is the one true valid faith.

This book is part academic treatise and part faith discovery. The book will lead you through each of the different petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, both in historical perspective and in reflection for what it should mean for us today. The sections are:

Part 1 Contemporary Reflections by Scott Hahn

0. Introduction
1. Our Father

2. Our Father … In Heaven
3. Hallowed Be Thy Name
4. Thy Kingdom Come
5. Thy Will Be Done
6. On Earth As It Is In Heaven
7. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
8. Forgive Us … As We Forgive
9. Lead Us Not Into Temptation
10. Temptation Part II
11. Deliver Us from Evil
12. The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
13. Last Words

Part 2 Wisdom From The Fathers Of The Church

14. Saint Cyprian: Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer
15. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem: Mystagogic Cathechesis
16. Saint John Chrysostom: Homily XIX on the Gospel of Matthew
17. Saint Augustine: Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount

Hahn open’s up this prayer in ways you could never imagine. I have been serious about being a Christian for nearly 20 years and this little book helped me to see this prayer in a whole new light.

Why Bother?
Still, it’s fair to ask, Why Bother to pray, ‘Thy will be done’? Isn’t it presumptuous, or even redundant? Isn’t God’s will what happens anyway? Why pray for God’s will? It Seems like praying for gravity to continue.

The answer is simple. When we pray. ‘Thy will be done,’ we do not change or strengthen the will of God, but we do change and strengthen ourselves. Such prayer disposes our hearts to de the will of the Father.” p31,32

Hahn goes on to say later: “Often, it seems that people pray in order to change God’s mind. But God is eternal, perfect, unchanging, and unchangeable. We pray so that God can change our minds.” p74 what would our lives be like is we truly prayed for the fathers will to be done. Later Hahn states: “First in importance is the centrality of divine fatherhood and our share – our real participation – in Christ’s divine sonship.

Next, notice how the Fathers insist that our goal is virtue, and not mere learning.” p75 That is why the second part of the book goes into the writings of the church fathers. To show us that intellectual understanding is not enough, it must impact our hearts and move us to action and a deeper relationship with God. This book will help you move from your head to your heart, but it will feed both mind and spirit.

Other Reviews of Hahn's Books.

Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei
Letter and Spirit (Version 1)
Letter and Spirit (Version 2)
Understanding “OUR FATHER”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer

Monday, 3 April 2006

Stand Against The Wind by: Erwin Raphael McManus

Stand Against The Wind
Erwin Raphael McManus
J. Countryman Press
March 2006
1404102965

This is one of those little gift books that you observe a proliferation of in spring as people are preparing for graduation and other changes in life. It is truly meant as a gift, and as such it is a great little book. It is almost a work of art; most pages could be reprinted and framed as inspirational art. Most of the material appears to be new work, unlike most books of this type that are a rehash or synthesis of the author’s thought or other books.

The way this book is set up you can read it from beginning to end the first time through, then go back to specific chapter’s from time to time as a reminder, a challenge or an encouragement. The specific chapters deal with the topics as follows:
  1. Freedom – Running Free
  2. Truly Human – The Drowning Pool
  3. Humility – Rising Out Of The Ashes
  4. Grateful – Creating Out Of The Pieces
  5. Perseverance – Coming Out Of Nowhere
  6. Integrity – The Unifying Power Of Believing
  7. We Need God – The Healing Power Of Belonging
  8. Perseverance – The Sustaining Power Of Becoming
  9. Courage – The Warrior’s Heart
  10. Generosity – The Generative Spirit
  11. Fear God – The Divine Imagination
  12. Servanthood – The Greatness of Servanthood
      Even though this book comes in at under 120 pages it will help to call you to a deeper relationship with God and to a life lived for others. Some great quotes from the book are:

      “Life is most enjoyed when we give ourselves away. Generous people give more than their things; they genuinely give themselves. In the most marvelous of ways, those who give most freely live most freely.”
      p.98

      “When you fear God and nothing else, you discover the freedom to pursue great adventure.”
      p.105

      “The scriptures remind us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Then what exactly does this mean? When we fear God, we fear nothing else. It is only in the fear of God that we find ourselves free from the fear of death, of failure, and all the other fears that bind us.”
      p.112

      “We were created to be free. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you’re also called to be free. Yet to experience this freedom, there must be an uprising – a revolution of the soul.”
      p.7

      “An overwhelming number of us feel trapped in the lives we’ve created. The irony is that we are the cruel tyrants who hold ourselves captive, and the tragedy of our imprisonment reaches into the deepest caverns of our souls. Our passion to be free both ignites us and betrays us, and more often than not leads us to be consumed by an unforgiving fire.
      The very fire that burns within us can destroy us.”
      p.13

      “YOU CANNOT FOLLOW JESUS AND REMAIN THE SAME!”
      p.26

      “Talent without character is a dangerous thing. Talent fueled by character is a gift from God.”
      p.51

      These are but a few samples of the great gems you will find within this book. Pick it up, you will not be the same.

      Sunday, 2 April 2006

      Michael W. Higgins

      Waterloo Looses a Good Man

      I had the privilege of meeting Michael W. Higgins in the classroom back in the spring of 1998, I had just returned to school as a part-time mature student and to be honest did not expect to do well. I had been out of university for about 5 years and was lacking in confidence. I took two courses that term, RS 209 Paul’s Life and Letters with Peter Frick and RS100C Faith Quests with Michael W. Higgins. Both of these men are scholars, professional and men of devout faith. Both of these men have been involved internationally in scholarship and promoting specific area’s of focus in their studies.


      Yet here in this article I want to focus on Higgins, for the primary reason that he is leaving us. In almost every public lecture I have attended of Higgins since that first class he almost always quotes Donald Nicholl’s article ‘Scientia Cordis’ an article about the science of the hart, and people who go on faith quests. Yet one of the quotes from that book can sum up Higgins for us. “Hence the characteristic medium of the scientia cordis is neither a principle nor a law but a story – a story that will move the heart.” Donald Nicholl Beatitude of Truth p.161. Higgins is a man who open’s up what ever he is teaching or talking about through story, and he always speaks so passionately that the audience is drawn in and captivated by his topic and talk.


      Higgins who has a breadth of experience and role’s to equal ten lesser men. CTV Vatican Correspondent, Toronto Star Columnist, a regular contributor to The Record. He has authored numerous scripts for the CBC’s Idea’s program former Editor of Grail: An Ecumenical Journal. As well as author of many books, Stalking the Holy, Power and Peril, Heretic Blood, The Jesuits… These and many more roles has he balanced while remaining an active member in his faith community, a public speaker, and husband and father. Last year he was named one of the “Top Ten” lecturer’s in Ontario.

      Currently Higgins is the President at St. Jerome’s University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, but he is leaving Waterloo to pursue the same rolls at St. Thomas University in Fredericton New Brunswick . The Maritimes gain is truly our loss. Waterloo is loosing a world class scholar, a man who served in and around his community and a person of character faith and integrity. So thus we must bid him fair well we will have no choice but to follow his future exploits from afar.