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Monday, 31 July 2017

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before - Edward Sri - Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before:
Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth
Edward Sri
Servant Books a division of
Franciscan Media
ISBN 9781632531780
ASIN B072XSL71K



For the last couple of years I have had a few books by Edward Sri on my to be read list, but had not got to them yet. After reading this book they have jumped way up in that pile of books waiting to be read. Dr. Edward Sri packs a lot of material into this short volume on the Rosary. In 12 chapters and under 200 pages this book is about encountering Jesus, engaging Jesus through Mary and being encouraged in our faith through this devotion. Dr. Sri encourages us by unfolding this simple prayer and taking the intimidation factor out of this practice. Throughout the book we are inspired to engage with Jesus and Mary and the biblical narrative. And Through the reflections, and meditation we will encounter Jesus and be drawn closer to him.

The book opens with a quote from Pope Saint John Paul II: "These words express, so to speak, the wonder of heaven and earth; they could be said to give a glimpse of God's own wonderment as he contemplates his "masterpiece"-the Incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary.… The repetition of the Hail Mary in the Rosary gives us a share in God's own wonder and pleasure: In jubilant amazement we acknowledge the greatest miracle of history." And that is Sri's starting point. He outlines how the Rosary can be integral to our faith, and how it can draw us home.

The chapters in this book are:
Why Pray the Rosary?
The Wandering Mind and Other Struggles
Too Much Attention to Mary?
The Hail Mary: Jesus at the Center
Repetition: You Can Never Say "I Love You" Enough
The Origins of the Rosary
More than Words: Ten Ways to Encounter Jesus More in the Rosary
Seeds for Contemplation: Biblical Reflections on the Joyful Mysteries
Seeds for Contemplation: Biblical Reflections on the Luminous Mysteries
Seeds for Contemplation: Biblical Reflections on the Sorrowful Mysteries
Seeds for Contemplation: Biblical Reflections on the Glorious Mysteries
A Scriptural Rosary
Notes
How to Pray the Rosary

In the preface Sri states:

"A good Catholic friend of mine summed up what I think is the sentiment of many: "If you could help a simple, ordinary guy like me understand what the rosary is all about and inspire me to find time to pray it, that would go a long way. I just need to figure out how to pray it in a way that will be meaningful to me." 
That's what this book aims to do: inspire ordinary Catholics to turn to their beads more often and help them pray the rosary in a way that is meaningful for their lives-in a way that is truly life-giving. And in the process, I hope they'll discover what many great saints and ordinary folk throughout the centuries have experienced: a deeper peace, joy, and encouragement that comes from the subtle but profound encounter one can have with Jesus and Mary in this prayer."
And that is what he does throughout the rest of the book. As you work through the book either on your own or in a group, each chapter ends with a series of questions. They are intended for group study but can also be worked through individually. Each chapter has either 4 or 5 questions in this section. The chapter that had the greatest impact on me was "More than Words: Ten Ways to Encounter Jesus More in the Rosary" The questions from the end of this chapter as an example are:

"Group Study Questions
1. Why is the Glory Be a fitting finale for each decade of the rosary? How does this prayer relate to the mysteries we contemplate?
2. How do the beads aid your prayer of the rosary?
3. Pope St. John Paul II wrote, "It is clear…that many people will not be able to recite more than a part of the Rosary" every day, and hence comes the practice of reciting different sets of mysteries on different days. Some people might find it difficult to recite even five decades at one sitting-or kneeling. What are some ways of incorporating the rosary into a busy schedule?
4. The pope suggested that reciting different mysteries throughout the week "has the effect of giving the different days…a certain spiritual 'color'" (RVM, 38). How can the Joyful Mysteries color your Mondays and Saturdays? The Luminous, your Thursdays? The Sorrowful, your Tuesdays and Fridays? The Glorious, your Sundays?"

The four chapters going deeper in the bible on each of the different mysteries are wonderful. And overall it is an excellent book. I would see it becoming a spiritual classic on the Rosary over the next few decades. It is a wonderful book and a great tool for our spiritual life. I highly recommend it!

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


Books by Edward Sri:
Mystery of the Kingdom: On the Gospel of Matthew
Follow Me: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John
Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary's Queenship
Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture
A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In The Liturgy
Men, Women and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility
Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross
The Bible Compass: A Catholic's Guide to Navigating the Scriptures
The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries
The Real Story: Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible
Who Am I to Judge? Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love
Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture
Love Unveiled: The Catholic Faith Explained
The Advent of Christ: Scripture Reflections to Prepare for Christmas
Pope Francis and the Joy of the Gospel: Rediscovering the Heart of a Disciple
A Guide to the New Translation of the Mass
Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth
The Da Vinci Code and the Bible: Separating Fact from Fiction
The Da Vinci Deception: 100 Questions about the Facts and Fiction of the Da Vinci Code

Contributed to:
Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God
Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God
Catholic for a Reason III: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mass
Scripture & the Mystery of the Mass
Letter & Spirit, Volume 8: Promise and Fulfillment: The Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments


Sunday, 30 July 2017

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2017

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2017 




Slowly church renovations taking place. The old polished concrete ceiling and rough border have been painted. New AC Units, and soon new flooring. You can see other posts of photo's of St. Agnes Parish here, or 'The Colors of the Church Year'.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Product Review - Viva Naturals Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Pine Tranquil Model

Viva Naturals Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser
Pine Tranquil Model
Viva Naturals
ASIN B01MRXUVKA





I recently picked up three different diffusers from Viva Naturals to try. This one my mother in law loved so I gave it to her. And I had this model in the Espresso color. I already had two makes at home but was attracted to the design and style of the Viva diffusers and this specific style. It took my mother-in-law a while to figure out the settings because of the light lettering on the light wood finish. But other than that she loved it and we as a family love ours. 

One of the things  that we really like about this one model  is the larger capacity. Most of the other diffusers I have tried have between 200-300ML basins and this one has a 400ml basin. After filling it the first time I ran it for almost 18 hours before having to add water.

The features the product boasts are:

Helps You Experience Aromatherapy's Health-Boosting Benefits
Enhance your mood, fight mold and pathogens, relieve sinus ailments, improve energy and focus and savor other wonderful benefits that aromatherapy has to offer.

Elegant Wood Grain Finish
Espresso-brown, flower vase-like design looks beautiful and enhances any room

Whisper-Quiet
The diffuser is extremely quiet with very little operating noise. You'll never be disturbed at work or while sleeping.

Sensory-Boosting Lights
Choose from 7 different LED modes to match your mood and create a powerful experience that soothes all your senses.

Automatic Shut-Off
The diffuser automatically shuts off once all the oil is dispersed. So you'll never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off.

4 Mist Modes
Diffuse and unwind at your own pace. Viva Naturals' Ultrasonic Diffuser disperses cool, aromatic, energizing, and calming oil droplets at 1-, 3- and 6-hour intervals, and includes a continuous mist cycle that runs up to 12 hours.

90-Day, 100% Money Back Guarantee
We offer a full 90-day, 100% money-back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with your diffuser for any reason during the first 90 days, simply return it and we'll refund you 100% of the price you paid. You risk nothing.

It lives up to those claims; or at least the ones I can verify. A number of friends and family have comment on the style and design of it since we got it. It works really well. The kids love that there are 7 colors to choose from or you can  allow it to transition through them. The only real drawback is that the lids does not firmly affix, it just sits in the basin, so if it is knocked the is usually a mess. Because of this we had to put ours up on a mantle so it would be less of a temptation for the children to keep switching the lights. It is a really good product, at a good price point, that was immediately a favourite with the nuclear and extended family. And I love the pine finish on this model, you actually need to pick it up to confirm that it is not real wood. 

Viva Naturals products are now available in Canada currently through the Amazon Marketplace. 


Viva Naturals Reviews:
Supplements and Nutritional:
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 32 Ounce
Organic Ground Flax Seed
Organic Goji Berries
Maca Powder
Coconut Flour: Non-GMO and Gluten-Free
Royal Quinoa Whole Grain
Chia Seeds
Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

Cacao Powder
Krill Oil 1250 milligram



Essential Oil Difusers:

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 300ml, Ash Zen Model
Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 400ml, Pine Tranquil Model
Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 400ml, Espresso Tranquil Model






Friday, 28 July 2017

Product Review - Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - Viva Naturals 32 Ounce

Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
21 Ounce
Viva Naturals

ASIN B00HNTPEWU




Viva Naturals is a company that has been around since 2011, but are only now expanding into Canada. They have been working hard to become an all-around health and wellness company. Their products range from nutritional supplements, organic food, and beauty products to essentials oils. Their focus is to help you with your wellness goals, and now we are fortunate that they are expanding into the Canadian market place. I have the benefit of receiving a number of their products to try at the same time. And I must say I have been impressed with them all. 

How I tested this product:
Bullet Proof Coffee
Oil Pulling
To cook chicken
To cook eggs
On top of Popcorn
In smoothies
On skin irritation

Base in hand scrub

Product Specifics:
Gluten Free
Kosher
Non-GMO
Cold Pressed
Certified Organic

Pros:
Lighter packaging
Great taste
Smaller packaging for ease of access
Non-GMO

Cons:

Could not think of any.

I really have enjoyed the two different containers of Viva Naturals Coconut Oil that I have had. And the concerns that I had about the 16oz container are eliminated when you go to the 32 oz. My only real complaint is that there is not a larger size available, at least in Canada at the time of writing this review.

I am very impressed with this product. Over the past 5 years I have used mainly two different brands of Coconut Oil, mainly because of availability and also because of taste. But during that time I have tried about a dozen different brands. This one beats all of those other brands hands down. It is a very mild taste. And works well across numerous testing's, tested in use for prepping food, in food, or topically. This 32 oz product comes in a thicker opaque which is similar to most other brands that do not use glass. For a few years now I have been buying very large containers from a whole sale store, it is nice having smaller packaging so that it is easier to manage especially towards the bottom of the container. This product was amazing in smoothies and worked great for cooking. So why not give it a try.

As stated these products are now available in Canada currently through the Amazon Marketplace. This is a great products at good prices, looking forward to trying more products in the line.


Viva Naturals Reviews:
Supplements and Nutritional:
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 32 Ounce
Organic Ground Flax Seed
Organic Goji Berries
Maca Powder
Coconut Flour: Non-GMO and Gluten-Free
Royal Quinoa Whole Grain
Chia Seeds
Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

Cacao Powder
Krill Oil 1250 milligram



Essential Oil Difusers:

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 300ml, Ash Zen Model
Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 400ml, Pine Tranquil Model
Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 400ml, Espresso Tranquil Model




Thursday, 27 July 2017

Product Review - Organic Maca Powder - Viva Naturals

Organic Maca Powder
Gelatinized for Enhanced Bioavailability
Viva Naturals
ASIN B00HES7572




Over the past few months I have tried numerous products from Viva Naturals. To date I have tried 8 health food products, 1 supplement and 3 essential oil products. I received these products in order to test and review. And I have been very impressed with all of the Viva products that I have tried. I have been using one or more every day for almost a month now and see them staying as staples n my cupboard. In a month of daily usage I have already seen progress in my health and fitness goals. Viva Naturals was founded in 2011, since that time they strive to be an all-around health and wellness company. They have products that range from nutritional supplements, organic food, beauty products, and essentials oils. Their goal as a company is to help you with your wellness goals. Thankfully now they have expanded into the Canadian market place. And this Maca Powder is amazing. I have tried them numerous times, and in a few different ways.  I am almost through my first 1 pound bag so it is time to restock!

How I tested this product:
In Smoothies (Amazing)
Added to homemade salad dressing
In Water just by itself
In Coffee (not my thing)
In Tea (pretty good)

Product Specifics:
Certified Organic 
Gluten Free
Non-GMO
Vegan

The Listed Benefits:
Enhanced Bioavailability - maca powder is gelatinized in order to improve the absorption of this renowned root. Gelatinization ensures indigestible starch is removed by applying low heat to raw maca roots, resulting in a highly absorbable powder that eliminates any digestive discomfort.
Adaptogenic Qualities - maca has been shown to help support healthy hormone levels, enhance vitality and sustain energy levels, naturally. We recommend using 1 teaspoon per day for feelings of tranquility and relaxation.
Promotes Radiant Complexion and Glowing Skin - gelatinized maca is a nutritious source of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and plant sterols offering a wide range of benefits, particularly helping to improve the look and feel of skin.
Impeccable Versatility - maca can be used to enhance a variety of recipes including smoothies, baked goods as well as savory items. This delectable superfood will enhance the taste and flavor of any modern-day recipe, while increasing the nutritional value of your meals.

I cannot speak to most of those listed benefits, but I can state that since using it almost daily I have noticed a greater level of energy. I girls that are 10 and 6, both love smoothies, especially if they have spinach in them. I have tried a variety of smoothies with Maca powder and they have always enjoyed them. I have also tried it a number of ways. 

When I first got this product to test I had to google it. I was aware of it for years but had never got around to giving it a try. My initial search returned 1,440,000 for ‘Maca Powder Benefits’ and 142,000 for ‘Maca Powder Usages’. It was a little overwhelming so I just picked the top few and gave them a try. And to be honest if I never used it outside of smoothies it is worth more than it’s cost for the benefits received. 

Pros:
Great taste
Convenient
Versatile
Lots of document health benefits (especially for this Peruvian variety)

Cons:
The reseal feature on the pouch does not work well
Just a little too sweet when taken with just water

I have stated this about other Viva products but must state it again the packaging is the only real drawback of this product, it just does not reseal properly. My workaround is to put in inside a different container, but would really like to see that resolved in the future. But I still give it 5 stars based on the product itself and not the issues with the packaging. 

I do not see myself experimenting with more ways to add them into my diet, I am more than happy to add it daily to smoothies. It will be something I use almost daily. Which makes me thankful that these products are now available in Canada through the Amazon Marketplace, it is easy to stay stocked up. I highly recommend the Viva Maca Powder, and to be honest all of the Viva products that I have tested to date! 



Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Product Review - Thule Versant Men's Backpacking Pack Fjord 60 L

Versant Men's Backpacking Pack
Fjord 60 L
Thule
ASIN B01ADPSH8S





I have been using camping backpacks since the late 70’s back when I was involved with Scouts Canada. Over that last 4 years I have had 8 hiking packs. My all-time favorite is the Asolo Navigator 80, but this bag comes in a close second.

Like all Thule products that I have encountered this Backpack is made with exceptional craftsmanship. It is a very well-crafted bag even if some of the design features are not what I would expect. First the day pack that comes off from the main pack is the hood for the main pack. It comes off and becomes a sling pack for day hikes, or summit climbs. I am not a fan of sling bags so would be unlikely to use it. But it is there for those who wish. The other surprise was that the rain cover is stored in a pocket on the bottom front of the bag. It is clipped into the bag, and can be installed and stay clipped it. But it can also be removed completely for a little extra storage if desired. The ran hood uses an elastic edge to wrap around the top and sides, but two toggle style buttons to affix to the bottom front of the bag. The feature I would have really liked to see on this bag is a cover for the straps. My current main bag had a flap that hides in a pocket on the bottom that comes out and zips around all the straps sealing them in. This is a much better option for air travel than putting the backpack in a plastic bag at the airport. So if air travel is not a consideration this is a great pack, but if it is, be careful. I have seen more than a few destroyed packs on airport carousel where the straps got caught either in loading, flight or unloading.





Features:
Top comes off and becomes a sling pack for day hikes.
Waterproof roll top pocket on hip belt keeps electronics protected
Customizable hip belt with 3 interchangeable versa click pockets (3 different configurations)
3/4 rain cover combined with waterproof liner creates a fully waterproof bag
Hip belt and torso adjustability for perfect fit

I have loaded and unloaded the pack a few times now. I find it a little small for what I would use for a longer excursion; but too big for a weekend trip. At 60L it is a strange middle size in my opinion. I really like my 80L and 50L bags. I also had a friend test the bag, at over 6 feet in height he could not get the bag adjusted so it would sit well on him. So the bag will not be a good fit for taller guys. I am 5 foot 9 and it fits perfectly so below 6 foot the bag is a good option.

This pack also comes in two other colors:
Bing – Red
Mikado – Yello
Fjord – Blue (the one reviewed)



Overall a very well made bag but with a few concerns. I would recommend the brand, and as stated the craftsmanship is excellent. But depending on usage might not be ideal.

Reviews of other Thule Products:

Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll
Versant Men's Backpacking Pack Fjord 60 L
Subterra 30 L Backpack Dark Shadow

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life - Susan Helen Wallace and Patricia Edward Jablonski - Encounter the Saints Book 29

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
The Gift of Life
Encounter the Saints Series Book 29
Susan Helen Wallace
Patricia Edward Jablonski
Rick Powell (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819872388
eISBN 9781306806725
ASIN B007ZENASS



With each of the books I read in the Encounter the Saints Series, from Pauline Books and Media, I am more impressed with the series. There are currently 37 books in this series, including The Saints Pray for Us, and I have read about a third of them. I have read book 1 and book 36 and a sampling in between. I have been reading these books with my three children, but I must be honest and say I am reading them on my own. Because I cannot seem to stop reading these books, and I do not want to wait for the pace I am reading them at with my children. Every time I finish one I cannot wait to start the next. And a few of them have been read two or three times through now. The books in this series are written with a target audience of 9-12 year olds, and my 11 year old can read them without any difficulty, and my 9 year old needs help with some words. But Anyone who reads these book will have their faith enriched. But on to this specific book about Saint Gianna Beretta Molla.


This is a very powerful story about a strong female role model. Saint Gianna Molla is not your typical saint. She was a doctor, a wife, a mother. She appreciated fashion, she loved the outdoors. She worked hard at her medical practice and saw he medicine as being in the service of God. And then she had to face a very hard decision, she could save her own life and end that of the child growing in her, or risk her own life so that the child might live. 

For her it was not just a decision about a medical procedure. It was a matter of faith. The faith she had lived her whole life. The faith she had modeled in her practice. The faith she was instilling in her other children. She made a choice out of conscience as both a doctor and as a mother.



 The book contains 5 pencil drawings by Rick Powell. This is the only book in the series illustrated by Powell's. But He does a wonderful job. They include Gianna receiving her first communion. The birth of their first child, her treating a patient and two others. But you will need to read the book to find out what they are. 




This book shows us with following God in hard choices could mean. It also shows us a saint who lived in this last century, who lived a life of service and dedicated to God every day. In her work, in her family life and at play. The prayer to this saint in the book is:

Saint Gianna, you've taught us-not only with words, but through your example-some very important truths. One is that God wants all our families to be centers of love. Remind me that the love and understanding I practice in my own family can help to make the world a better place.
You've also shown us that every unborn baby is a precious and unrepeatable gift of God whose life should never be taken away. Saint Gianna, ask God that all people may come to understand and believe this. Remind me to pray every day for an end to abortion. I want to do what I can to respect and protect the life of each and every person because every human being has been created by God in his own image. 
Saint Gianna, you loved life. You knew it was a great gift. Help me to know what God wishes me to do with my life; to spend it well and for the good of others, just as you did. You found joy by trusting God in everything. Help me to do the same. Please pray for me. Amen.

This book as mentioned is part of the Encounter the Saints Series; from Pauline Books and Media. I have now read about a third of the series this year. This is another inspiring book in a wonderful series and I highly recommend both the book and the series. 

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

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:
Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Journey to the Summit
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady
Saint André Bessette Miracles in Montreal
Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light
Saint Bakhita of Sudan Forever Free
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi A Light for the World
Saint Damien of Molokai Hero of Hawaii
Saint Edith Stein Blessed by the Cross

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughter of America
Saint Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Cecchina's Dream
Saint Francis of Assisi Gentle Revolutionary
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life
Saint Ignatius of Loyola For the Greater Glory of God
Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart
Saint Joan of Arc God's Soldier
Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Saint John Neumann Missionary to Immigrants
Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid
Saint John Vianney A Priest for All People
Saint Juan Diego And Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith
Saint Katharine Drexel The Total Gift
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Martin de Porres Humble Healer
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight
Saint Paul The Thirteenth Apostle
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Rich in Love
Saint Teresa of Avila Joyful in the Lord
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Missionary of Charity
Saint Teresa of Kalkota Missionary of Charity
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux The Way of Love
Saint Thomas Aquinas Missionary of Truth
Saint Thomas More Courage, Conscience, and the King
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto: Shepherds of Fatima
The Saints Pray for Us




Monday, 24 July 2017

Crusader King A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades - Susan Peek

Crusader King
A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades
Susan Peek
TAN Books

ISBN 9780895557605
ASIN B00DJGBV1E



This was the third book I have read by Susan Peek over the last few months. I have been greatly impressed by them all. I loved Saint Magnus The Last Viking, and found it very well written. And her handling of mental illness and especially PTSD in The King's Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland was incredible. But this book was incredible. I could barely put it down. I devoured it in two sittings on the same day. And I must admit I went to bed much later than I should have for my alarm goes off at 5am to get up and ready for work. There was not a lot of sleep the night I finished this book!

I found it hard to categorize this book. It is historical fiction. So I count it as a fiction book. But so much actual history is woven into this book and it is so masterfully written I wish I could just call it history. This is the story of the “unusual life of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the leper crusader king who - despite ascending to the throne at only 13, his early death at 24 and his debilitating disease - performed great and heroic deeds in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.” It is the story of faith, a story of friendship, and a story of how Christianity loses its way when corruption spreads within its ranks. From my university church history courses I was familiar with the basics of this story. But most of all it is the story of a man who sought to do God’s will no matter the personal cost and no matter the odds. For Baldwin IV obedience, trust, faith, and courage were the hallmarks of his life and his reign.      

This book is published as teen fiction, but I know many adults who would love to read this book. The facts in this story will remind us that with faith and obedience we can accomplish the impossible. As mentioned this book is very very well written. I average over 100 books a year and this was one of the best historical fiction books I have ever read. It is right up there with Jack Whyte’s Sky Stone series a retelling of King Arthur, and Taylor R. Marshall’s Sword and the Serpent a retelling of Saint George’s life. This is masterful writing and any fan of history, historical fiction or even just great fiction reads will love this book. My only concern is that there are not a lot of Peek’s books left for me to read, I can only hope she publishes more for us to read soon. 

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

Books by Susan Peek:
Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades
Saint Magnus The Last Viking
A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis
Animals of God
Animals of God, Volume Two
The Forgotten Christmas Saint: Saint Anastasia
The Man God Kept Surprising
Small for the Glory of God

The King's Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland


Sunday, 23 July 2017

20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers Press

ISBN 9781683570431
eISBN 9781683570455



This was a harder book to read, and to write a review of. Because of stuff in the part, because of family history this book cuts very close to the heart. This book is one of three that was added to the 20 Answers Series in the spring of 2017. The author who contributes to numerous Christian or Catholic websites has written a very grounded book, on a topic most will dispel with a wave of the hand. Though personally not an easy read, I consider this another important book that I believe all Christians could learn from. And yes I know this book will open a can of worms in many a life, family, parish or community. But the information in this book is too valuable to be ignored by Christians in this age. 

The 20 Questions answered in this volume are:
1. What is witchcraft?
2. Are Wicca and witchcraft different words for the same thing?
3. Are witches Satanists?
4. What does the Church say about witchcraft?
5. Did the Church burn witches during the Middle Ages?
6. Is Halloween really a holy day for witches?
7. In what kinds of practices do witches engage?
8. Is witchcraft dangerous?
9. What do I do if I have dabbled in witchcraft?
10. What can I do if my child or friend is experimenting with witchcraft?
11. What is the occult?
12. What do mediums do?
13. What does the Church say about divination?
14. Can Catholics use the Ouija board?
15. Is yoga a pathway to the occult?
16. What are the dangers of magical and occult content in popular culture?
17. Is there such a thing as ghosts?
18. Can I watch ghost hunter shows on TV, go to a haunted house, or take part in ghost hunts?
19. Should psychics be consulted to help solve crimes?
20. What do I do if I think I am a psychic?

The Introduction of this book states:
"Interest in witchcraft and occult practices is on the rise in our culture. Movies and TV shows feature witches, ghosts, vampires, and werewolves. Bookstores are filled not just with depictions of fantasy worlds in which these creatures exist, but also with how-to manuals for casting spells and discovering your inner goddess. There are groups on social media for practitioners of the occult and conventions around the country for devotees.But do you know what witches actually believe and how they practice it? Do you know what to do if your child professes an interest in witchcraft or starts to play with a Ouija board or tarot cards? Do you know what the Church teaches on witchcraft and the occult? Can you answer charges that the Church burned witches during the Middle Ages?This booklet introduces you to what witches believe and to some of their common practices. It also delves into related topics, such as yoga, the Ouija board, and the work of psychics.Witchcraft and occult activity have been around for hundreds of years-possibly thousands. When people live in uncertain times, they begin to worry that God does not hear their prayers, and so they seek other ways of gaining the knowledge they need to take control of their lives. Recourse to witchcraft and the occult is, primarily, a sign of despair of the goodness of God.In responding to the claims of witchcraft and the occult, it is important not to give in to fear, or to attribute to practitioners more power than they have. It is also important to remember that they are ordinary people leading ordinary lives, and, in many cases, that they hope to find in these practices the means to make the world a better place. It is our task, as Christians, to be ready with the information and assistance that can help them find a safe path to the peace and union with the Divine that they crave."
So many people today turn to other sources seeking power, well-being, health or an advantage in life. The premise of this book is that our job as Christians, as Catholics is to be able to understand the person, and be able to answer them and show them the way to God, and to a practice of faith that leads to life. This book presents a lot of hard facts, and any Christian who wants to bury their heads in the sand about the occult and witchcraft is failing those ensnared by these practices. This book highlights the fact that we should not fear the practices, but we should also not sensationalize them. It does a good job of walking that line.

This is one of the shorter books in the series coming in at an even 60 pages. But the author draw from 70 references in her answers to the 20 Questions. It is an important read. A good book in a great series.

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

Note 2: Currently this series of books is being offered at a 50% discount so get it while you can. That is right you can get all 23 physical books or all 23 eBooks for just $39.95! If you want a way to go deeper this year give this series a try! 


#20AnswersChallenge




20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll


Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons
...

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Product Review - Organic Goji Berries - Viva Naturals

Organic Goji Berries
Viva Naturals
ASIN B00PWW3LQ6




This was one of a number of Viva Naturals products I recently got in order to test and review. Overall I have been very impressed with the products. And see them becoming staples in my working towards health and nutrition goals. Viva Naturals is a company was founded in 2011, they strive to be an all-around health and wellness company. Their products range from nutritional supplements, organic food, beauty products, and essentials oils. Their focus is to help you with your wellness goals, and now thankfully, they are expanding into the Canadian market place. And these Goji Berries are awesome. I have tried them numerous times and am almost done my first 1 pound bag of them, but it will not be my last!

How I tested this product:
Straight up
In Smoothies
Added to Salads
In a trail mix blend

Product Specifics:
Gluten Free
Non-GMO
Vegan
Certified Organic

Now I must state, my three children ages 10 and under were willing to give these a try. Both of my daughters love them straight up. Every time I pull the bag out to make a smoothie, the girls ask for some and eat a small handful each. The girls also love them in smoothies. They are also really good in a trial mix with nuts and seeds and the Viva Cacao Nibs. I am currently snacking on these, the cacao nibs, with macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds as a mix for afternoon snack.

Pros:
Great taste
Convenient
Versatile

Cons:
The foil pouch tears from the rough dried berries
The reseal feature on the pouch does not work well

The packaging is the only real drawback of this product, it just does not reseal properly, and I have noticed that on a number of Viva products. My workaround is to put in inside a different container, but would really like to see that resolved. But I still give it 5 stars based on the product itself and not the issues with the package. 

Prior to giving these a try I have never had Goji berries at home that did not come mixed with something else; either in tea or prepackaged salad kits. I love the sweet-tart taste that they have. And they are very versatile. I know I will be experimenting with more ways to add them into my diet. Since these products are now available in Canada through the Amazon Marketplace, it is easy to stay stocked up. I highly recommend these berries, and to be honest all of the Viva products that I have tested to date! 


Friday, 21 July 2017

The Old Evangelization - Eric Sammons - How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did

The Old Evangelization:
How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did
Eric Sammons
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570301
eISBN 9781683570325
ASIN B072HMZLG6




This book is a brilliant read. Eric writes in such an engaging manner that once you start reading you will have a hard time putting the book down. The main premise of the book is that the personal touch is the best method for lasting evangelization. Eric writes extensively from personal experience; both his experiences evangelizing from within and outside of the Catholic Church. This book is called the Old Evangelization because; it uses Jesus as the main example. It takes the way that Jesus’s ministry worked and translates those into examples that can be tools for us to use in our own life. It does this with plenty of personal and ministry team examples.

Part of the description for the book states:

“It seems like every day somebody comes out with a new trick for bringing people into the Faith. Mixing pop psychology with spiritual fads and marketing jargon, these techniques seem to last only until the next big idea comes around. And despite their hype, they usually don’t win many souls. 
As a diocesan director of evangelization, Eric Sammons saw a lot of these trends come and go, without bearing fruit, until one day he finally had enough. If we’re serious about spreading the gospel, he thought, the first place we should look is to the original master evangelist: Jesus himself.”

And that is really the greatest strength of the book. Eric’s examples of things that have worked well, and also some tat did not go as planned. By using Jesus as the blueprint Eric gets to the heart of the matter. Because of that Christ centered focus the Sections in this book are:

Introduction: An Evangelizing Man
Getting Started

1 Jesus Commands His Disciples to Evangelize
2 Jesus Teaches the Value of Prayer
3 Jesus Does More than Welcome Others

Overcoming Doubts
4 Jesus Sometimes Fails to Bring About Conversion
5 Jesus Makes the Impossible Possible

Joining the Battle
6 Jesus Confronts the Devil
7 Jesus Refuses to Tolerate Sin
8 Jesus Doesn’t Water Down His Teachings

Being a Truly Catholic Evangelist
9 Jesus Proclaims the Fullness of the Faith
10 Jesus Brings About Repentance
11 Jesus Arouses Our Reverence

Conclusion: Jesus, Model Evangelist
About the Author: Eric Sammons


This book begins with these words from Eric:

“If you’re reading this book, you’re interested in evangelization. Perhaps you know that Christ commanded it, but you have no idea how to do it. Perhaps the thought of it makes you nervous, or even downright terrified. I’m here to remind you that evangelizing is an essential task for Catholics, and our Lord never gives us a task we can’t perform. You don’t need a degree in theology, and you don’t need to be an eloquent speaker. You just need to have a love for Christ and a desire to tell others about him.”
And the rest of the book goes on to explain how to do that. One of the paragraphs in the book that I believe is central to the book and to Catholic Evangelization states:
“When it comes to evangelization, many Catholics feel insecure when they compare themselves with Evangelicals, whose very name declares their desire to bring people to Jesus. So we borrow their methodology, thinking we’ll just stick the “Catholic stuff” in at the end. This approach is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that Catholicism is merely “Protestantism Plus.” But in fact, all that “Catholic stuff”—including doctrines such as the Eucharist and the perpetual virginity of the Mary—is essential to the Christian faith. How, for instance, can one teach about Christ’s passion and death without teaching also about our participation in that passion and death during the Mass? Reception of the holy Eucharist is not incidental to the Christian life—it is indispensable: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Doctrine matters.”
And as Catholic’s that last point must remain central. Doctrine does matter and we cannot water down the message to the point that it is no longer the Good News. We must be prepared for failures, for people who will not respond, maybe even people who will respond negatively. The results are not up to us. But our obedience is our responsibility. This book concludes with these words:
“We too have been called to convert the world. Like Jesus, we may never travel much beyond our birthplace, and may never interact deeply with more than a few hundred people. Yet if we model ourselves on Jesus, we can have a life-changing impact on those around us. 
You have a circle of influence—your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, even the people you bump into regularly at the grocery store. You can use this influence to direct people toward Christ and his Church, or you can use it to direct people away from them. If you follow the example of Jesus and the principles of the great Catholic evangelizers of the past, as outlined in this book, you can have as profound an influence as Christ’s first followers, who transformed a pagan culture into a Christian one and saw countless souls turn away from the path of destruction to the path of eternal life in Jesus Christ. 
Now let’s get started!”
So pick up the book, give it a read and get started.

In the past year I have read 28 books from Catholic Answers. They have so amazing books for helping you understand your faith, and to be prepared to share it.

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

Books by Eric Sammons:
Holiness for Everyone: The Practical Spirituality of St. Josemaria Escriva
Who Is Jesus the Christ?: Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did
Be Watchful: Resist the Adversary, Firm in Your Faith
The Jesse Tree: An Advent Devotion
Bitcoin Basics: 101 Questions and Answers

Fiction:
The Profession

Contributed to:
Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue

Other reviews of books from Catholic Answers.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Asking for Prayer for 2 Specific Intentions

Asking for Prayer for 2 Specific Intentions

One for myself and one for my youngest brother. 



Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady - Zerlina De Santis - Encounter the Saints Series Books 9

Journeys with Mary
Apparitions of Our Lady
Encounter the Saints Series Book 9
Zerlina De Santis 
Edwin Lebel (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819839725



At the time of writing this review I have read this book three times now; once by myself, once with my youngest and once with my middle child. With each reading I have a greater appreciation for the book. Even in my years away from the Catholic Church I always had a closeness to Mary, and this book has been a wonderful read for me and my children. 

The chapters in this volume are:
A Note to the Readers
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - 1251
Our Lady of Guadalupe - 1531
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal   - 1830  
Our Lady of La Salette - 1846
Our Lady of Lourdes - 1858
Our Lady of Knock - 1879
Our Lady of Fatima - 1916
Our Lady of Beauraning - 1932
Our Lady of Banneux - 1933
Prayer
Glossary




From the introduction it states:
 "Mary, the Mother of God, has appeared on earth many times and in many different places down through the centuries. She has been called by different titles in different parts of the world. But whenever she has come, Mary has taught us that the way for us to reach God is to follow her Son Jesus.
This book presents the stories of nine apparitions of the Blessed Virgin that have been approved by the Church. These stories demonstrate that Mary continues to watch over and protect us from heaven. Her greatest desire is to lead each of us to God."

And these stories will do just that. The will draw us closer to God through Mary. My children loved that Mary appeared to so many other children. At church on Sunday's they often ask to go an pray at a statue of Mary and after making the sign of the cross, kiss their fingers and touch Mary's feet. This book helped them draw closer to Mary and prayerfully through her to Jesus and the Father. 



It is great that this book focuses upon only approved apparitions of Mary. And they are also in chronological order, rather than order of current popularity. I was aware of many of these appearances, but not all. Hearing Mary's messages down through the ages, and learning to live more fully for God is what I and my children take away from this book. 



My children also loved the wonderful pencil illustrations by Edwin Lebel. I would love to have one of them enlarged to put up on my girls wall. I think trying to dray Mary or Jesus might be the most ambitious task an artist attempts.  But the illustrations in this volume are wonderful. As is the prayer at the end of the book.



Prayer:
"Virgin Mary, Mother of God, you are also our heavenly Mother. 
Thank you for having appeared on earth at different times and places. Your visits have reminded us all the sure way to reach God is to live as your Son Jesus has taught us - in love and obedience to the Gospel. 
You've also asked us to pray for ourselves and the whole world. You've shown us that prayer can change everything! I want to pray, Blessed Mother. Please teach me how. Lead me to Jesus, and help me to bring him to others in whatever ways I can. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! 
Amen."
This book is part of the Encounter the Saints Series, from Pauline Books and Media. I have read about a third of the series already this year. Most of the books are about specific Saints. This one and one on prayer are the two odd one's out. But they complement the series so well. My only regret about this one is that there is no eBook edition, but most in the series are available electronically. This is another incredible book in a wonderful series. 

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

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:
Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Journey to the Summit
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady
Saint André Bessette Miracles in Montreal
Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light
Saint Bakhita of Sudan Forever Free
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi A Light for the World
Saint Damien of Molokai Hero of Hawaii
Saint Edith Stein Blessed by the Cross

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughter of America
Saint Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Cecchina's Dream
Saint Francis of Assisi Gentle Revolutionary
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life
Saint Ignatius of Loyola For the Greater Glory of God
Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart
Saint Joan of Arc God's Soldier
Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Saint John Neumann Missionary to Immigrants
Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid
Saint John Vianney A Priest for All People
Saint Juan Diego And Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith
Saint Katharine Drexel The Total Gift
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Martin de Porres Humble Healer
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight
Saint Paul The Thirteenth Apostle
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Rich in Love
Saint Teresa of Avila Joyful in the Lord
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Missionary of Charity
Saint Teresa of Kalkota Missionary of Charity
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux The Way of Love
Saint Thomas Aquinas Missionary of Truth
Saint Thomas More Courage, Conscience, and the King
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto: Shepherds of Fatima
The Saints Pray for Us