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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Advent 2017 Reading Plan Preparing for the Season

Advent 2017 Reading Plan

I have been thinking about the season of advent that begins on Sunday December 3rd, 2017. My understanding is that is the latest possible date it can start. It is a season of preparation, and a season of celebration. It is the season of beginnings. It is the beginning of the liturgical year, and we have many beginnings each year. For me having spent 20 years in university September is often when I think of a new year. And for many January first the beginning of the calendar year is a new beginning. It is a time to prepare for the birth of Jesus, a time to prepare by working on myself. Working to become a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better brother, and a better man. I have been thinking about this season often over the last few weeks, especially with how late the first Sunday of Advent is this year. I have decided what resources I am going to use this year. I have narrowed down my list for the season to the following:



Best Advent Ever - Matthew Kelly
The Dynamic Catholic Institute


This is a series of daily messages and videos delivered directly into your mailbox. I have been getting the Best Advent and Best Lent Ever emails for a few years now. I find they are a fantastic way to start the day. The video's, and personal stories in this series are incredible.




Welcome Baby Jesus
Sarah A. Reinhard
Liguori Publications
ISBN 9780764819971


This is the book I have decided to incorporate into my reading with my children, again. We read through it two years ago and the kids loved it. Especially the daily exercise. Each day is broken down into three sections based on that reading. They Are Think, Act and Pray. Having read the book Sarah edited this year, Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary I am really looking forward to her insights and reflections for the kids.




In Conversation With GodVolume #1: Advent and Christmastide
Francis Fernandez
ISBN 0906138205
Scepter Press
ISBN 0906138191


I love this series, It is intensive 6 pages for each day of the year a 2 volumes of special feasts with 6 pages each for those. I have read through this series a few times and now it is available in eBook formats which make it much easier and portable. This series was originally published in Spanish and was completed in January 1991; the English translation was completed in 1993. It has been immensely popular since they first started coming out in1988. They are published around the world, and have helped thousands of readers in enriching their spiritual lives. You can read my full review of this book here.




Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings, 1941-1944
Alfred Delp
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781586170813
ASIN B003TFEFV8

I have not read this one before but really look forward to reading it based on other samples of his works I have read in translation. A few years ago I read With Bounds Hands by: Mary Frances Coady and was amazing by the story of this man's faith.

Those are the resources I am using this year. How are you preparing for the coming of Christ Jesus? And if none of those grab you attention then there is an amazing resource by Felix Just SJ available at Catholic-resources.org. It has an extensive list of resources at the bottom of the article. So prepare to prepare the way for celebrating Jesus coming.

Related Articles:
Advent Reading 2012
Thinking About Lent 2015
Advent 2015 Reading Plan Preparing for the Season


All Advent Articles




Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center - A Photo Essay Part 2

Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center - A Photo Essay Part 2

Back in the summer of 2002 I spend the better part of August in Colorado springs at Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center helping to run an international conference for work. The conference center is right next to the garden of the Gods. I captured some amazing photo's. (Part 1)














Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Rockcrok Root Vegetable Stew

Rockcrok Root Vegetable Stew

This Slow Cooker Stew recipe is thick and filling, wonderfully flavourful, and made nice and easy in the slow cooker!

Total Time: 4 Hours 10 Mins

Prep Time: 10 Mins
Cook Time: 4 Hours On High, 8 Hours On Low

Ingredients:
• 3-4 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
• 6 potatoes (Any Variety)
• 3 Large sweet potatoes
• 4 Large carrots
• 1 Large onion
• 1 Head of garlic
• 2tsp Butter
• 1 tsp Pink Salt
• 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
• 1 tsp white sage
• 1 tsp Oregano
• 1/3 cup coconut flour (can substitute regular if desire)

Optional Ingredients:
• 6 slices cooked sliced bacon
• 3 cooked and diced Chicken Breast
• 3 cooked and sliced sausages
• optional toppings: thinly-sliced green onions or chives, extra shredded cheese, extra bacon, sour cream
• You can add other root vegetables to make variations on the soup, beets, turnip, parsnips … Experiment, test have fun.

Directions:
• Sautee garlic and unions until transparent and add to crock pot
• Dice all root vegetables and add to crock pot
• Add all seasoning and broth to crock pot
• Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the vegetables  are tender and cooked through.
• Once the soup has slow cooked and is about ready to serve, make a roux by mixing the flour with water into a paste and adding to crock pot. Stir recover on low for 20 minutes.
• Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note this recipe will not freeze well.
• Bowl and serve. Garnish with some of the options listed in the optional ingredients.

Raw Ingredients in the Pot.




Finished Stew.


Variation 1 with added Pepperettes.


My first new fall soup creation of 2017. Started with this as inspiration.

You can find other recipes, juices, and smoothies that I have created or collected here.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Storm of Fire and Blood - Taylor R. Marshall - Sword and Serpent Book III

Storm of Fire and Blood
Sword and Serpent Book III
Taylor R. Marshall
Saint John Press

ISBN 9780988442597
ASIN B077QVGDYR


I have finished this book twice now. I have read it and I have listened to it. I wanted to read it a second time before writing my review because I did not want to come off too much as a Fan Boy. My first thought when I finished it, was that it was incredible. Maybe even the best trilogy I have ever read! At the time of writing this review I have read 331 books so far this year, and 2238 books in the last 10 years, and this book is one of the best, and the series is by far the best series I have read in that time frame.  

Trilogies can be tricky business. Too many authors want to write a trilogy out of the blocks, and the story just does not have the staying power. Other authors do not know how to count, and you get trilogies of 9 books like the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, or Xanth that is now up to 40 published and 2 forthcoming in the series.  Obviously Piers Anthony and Douglas Adams cannot count.  I did finish the first of those series and gave up before 10 books on the second.  This series is finished at three books. It is a trilogy and it is an incredible trilogy. In Fact the only trilogy I liked as much were The Lord of The Rings by Tolkien, and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, and for vary different reason.

 In my review of Sword and Serpent I stated: “I believe that this would have been a book that both Tolkien and Lewis would have loved. I can picture the Inklings sitting with a pint discussing the story and speculating where it would go next.” And in my review of The Tenth Region of the Night I added: “I believe they would have loved this sequel and be eagerly awaiting book III.” And from where I sit it was worth the wait. It really is rare for books in a trilogy to get better with each book. Most authors cannot sustain that level of surprise, at least from the thousands of books I have read. But this series gets exponentially better with each book. And maybe that is due to the fact that this was his first foray into fiction. And as much as I love his theology, these historical fiction novels are incredible reading! 

In this book, and this series, Dr. Taylor Marshall writes in and around the lives of saints, drawing us back in time to when Christianity was a feared and persecuted religion. He has drawn extensively from historical sources and written this incredible tale around truth, and around the legends. He weaves together the stories of many well know saints and also a number of lesser known saints. This story focuses around Jurian (Saint George), his friend Minas (St. Christopher), but we also encounter Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Helena, and a young man who will eventually become Saint Constantine. And the incredible character of Saint Nicholas or Myrna. This novel continues directly from book two. Jurian has been exiled, and he is heading north with Constantinus, he has a mission to return the sword. But after he receives a word of knowledge he knows that the future he had hoped for might not be, for he will be forced to choose between his faith, and his life. The snake Casca plays a major role in this book, but there are some incredible plot twists and surprises in this story, and is one of those who will surprise readers of the series. 

This book is an amazing mix of history, legend and myth. While reading it you are transported to ancient Rome, North Africa, and Britannia. We travel by boat, sea, and by foot. We follow the stories of numerous characters, in different locals who are all being drawn to the Diocletian and a conflict between earthly and heavenly powers. Even with having read it twice I know I will read this book again. Maybe over the Christmas holidays read the whole series again. 

As stated this book is the best of the last 2200 books I have read in the last 10 years! It is incredible. It will be appreciated by fans of historical fiction. Also by those who are Christian or Catholic and want a real glimpse of what like would have been like prior to Christianity becoming an approved religion. It is an epic story and that really is the best kind! And though we will not have more stories about Saint George, I can only hope we will have more stories with some of the other characters in this book. Not since reading the Sky Stone series by Jack Whyte have I encountered such an incredible story that touches on Arthurian Legend, but this book and series is so much more than just that! If you enjoy a good read, you must read this series!

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


Books by Taylor R. Marshall:
Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages: The Layman's Quick Guide to Thomism
Saint Augustine in 50 Pages: The Layman's Quick Guide to Augustinianism
God's Birthday: Why Christ Was Born on December 25 and Why it Matters


Sword and Serpent Series:
Sword and the Serpent
The Tenth Region of the Night
Storm of Fire and Blood

The Origins of Catholic Christianity Series:
The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity
The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholic Christianity
The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity






 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

34th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2017 Christ the King – Solemnity

34th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2017
Christ the King – Solemnity


The time between. That is what this week feels like for me. Today and this week at daily masses the white vestments will be used. But next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, and the move to Purple vestments. I often this of this as waiting for New Year’s. It is the new church year. As someone who spent over 20 years in university I have three New Year’s each year. There is the new school year and as such September feels like a beginning to a year (even though I have not taken courses for seven years now.) The second New Year’s is the traditional calendar new year of January 1st. Though to be honest this one has the least meaning or impact on me. And the third is the movable First Sunday of Advent, also known as Advent Sunday.  But it is a week of waiting a week of preparing. A week of anticipation.  The new year is just around the corner. How are you preparing?



Note: The above image is from my children's school board. We are moving from the year of Hope to the year of Faith. My prayer for you my readers is that you will be blessed and challenged this year.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Today ... 2017-11-25

Today ... 2017-11-25

Today was a great day! My son was present with his orange belt at Karate. My oldest daughter tested for her orange belt. And I prepped for my upcoming test. It was my second class back after missing more tan two months between being sick, and some project work. 

Then this afternoon and evening we had an amazing visit with family. We ended up going out for Chinese food at Tien Lee's in Elmira. and then just hanging out and chatting. There were 5 kids from ages 6-14 and 6 adults. It was a blast.

And I just got off a long phone call with my aunt, and godmother. We chatted for a while and it was wonderful to catch up. 

And have been diffusing some amazing blends from doTerra all day.  






Some daily reflections from Beacon Publishing for Dynamic Catholic that I have saved recently. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Amber Fang: Betrayal - Arthur Slade - Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 2

Amber Fang: Betrayal 
Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 2
Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises
ISBN 9780988013933
ASIN B077J2G5B4


There are few contemporary Canadian authors who are always on my must read list; Arthur Slade, Cecil Castellucci, and Kenneth Oppel. So when a new book by Slade comes out it immediately jumps to the top of my reading pile. Since I was captivated by Dust, back in 2002 I have read or reread one of his books over 30 times. And this series if fun, and whimsical, humorous and a lot of action all mixed up in one. In my review of book 1 I stated that this series "reads like a cross between the TV series Dexter with Angel except the lead is a woman, and an aspiring librarian at that. Or a mash up of Tom Clancy, Anne Rice but with more than a little humour smattered in." And after book two I would say even more so. Though maybe a dash of Spider Robinson thrown in this time just to mix it up.

This book, and this series, has a little something for every reader. You have a secret government organization, that has been nearly wiped out. The lead character is a young beautiful vampire, but her mother raised her with a conscience (she only hunts murders and only if they have no remorse), you have academia. There is also a billionaire trying to create super soldiers. And a secret society of librarians around the world who are aware of the government organization, Aware of Amber and her Library studies, and aware of the conflict currently going on. But they want to stay impartial and just document. 

Amber Fang has been hunting, but not for her next meal. She is trying to find her mother. He mother has been missing for a while now, and has become Amber's first priority. But things do not always go as expected. 

In a novel that starts in Antarctica. And journeys around the globe. Amber Fang has a revelation that will change her world forever. But Sometimes it is worse when you find something you were not even aware you were looking for, and then have it turn out to not be what you though. 

But be warned this book ends with a huge cliff hanger! This book continues the wonderful Amber Fang series, vampire, assassin, librarian.  Now amber has gone from being a girl just trying to finish grad school and find her next meal. To a woman of the world, seeking answers and battling bad guys from more than one side. 


Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)


Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge
... 

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 


 



Thursday, 23 November 2017

Drive! - Corinna Turner - unSPARKed Book 1

Drive!
unSPARKed Book 1
Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
eISBN 9781910806623
eISBN 9781910806630
ASIN B077927BDS



And now for something completely different or at least that was my first thought as I started reading this book. This truly is a completely different type of story for Corinna. It sort of feels like a cross between Jurassic World and Mad Max! The story is set in a future when scientists have created dinosaurs and humans are no longer top of the food chain. Most humans live inside walled cities, the walls being layers of electrified fences.

This book was a lot of fun to read. In fact I read it three times over 2 days. Or I should say I read it twice and listened to it once. This is the story of a family that is in transition. Darryl, her brother Harry and their dad are farmers, they raise dinosaur meat. That means they live outside the safe cities. They live on a fenced farm. The farm is surrounded by a double electric fence. But their life has changed drastically. The last time their dad came home from the city he announced he was married. And this book is the story of their trip to the city to get Carol, a fashion designer, and bring her home to the farm. But things do not go as planned.

The family’s worst ever encounter with predators happens on Carol’s trip to the farm, and it just so happens to be her first trip on a highway outside the city. She encounters a stampeding group of longnecks. Sees a T.Rex take one down and block the highway right in front of them. And then Raptors attack. And these smart beasts are intent on getting in the truck. Not the quiet ride home for the new bride, to the new frontier. Not at all. 

I loved the brief story about St Desmond:

“Who… who’s this guy?” she quavers as Dad pulls away, indicating St Des. 
“That’s St Desmond,” says Harry eagerly, finding his voice. “Patron saint of people who live out-City. He was one crazy dude. But a really holy crazy dude!” 
Carol looks perplexed. “Why was he crazy?” 
“Because he lived unSPARKed in a cave, in raptor country.” 
Carol looks like she might faint. “He what?” 
“Yeah, he was a hermit,” says Dad. “Lived like that for twenty years, then just dropped dead one day from an undiagnosed illness. In all that time the raptors never ate him. Which is generally considered to be a miracle.”

This was a fantastic read. I am looking forward to sharing it with my son. It was fun, fast paced. And sets up an incredible new world. My understanding is that this is the first in a series of short novellas set in the world of unSPARKed, and if the rest are as entertaining as this one, than we are in for some great reads. And I hope at some point we get a story dedicated to Saint Desmond. A great little read, it is FANtastic!

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


Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.5 Brothers (Prequel)

1.0 I Am Margaret
2.0 The Three Most Wanted
3.0 Liberation
4.0 Bane's Eyes

5.0 Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook
5.5 An Unexpected Guest
How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:
Someday

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
1.0 Drive!
1.1 A Truely Rapror-ous Welcome

Other Books:
Elfling
Mandy lamb & the Full Moon

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Reform Yourself! - Shaun McAfee How to Pray, Find Peace, and Grow in Faith with the Saints of the Counter-Reformation

Reform Yourself! 
How to Pray, Find Peace, and Grow in Faith with the Saints of the Counter-Reformation
Paul Thigpen (Foreword)
ISBN 9781683570547
eISBN 9781683570561
ASIN B077F4TCPH


As soon as I saw the title and cover of this book I wanted to read it. And to be completely honest I did not know what it was about, other than the words REFORM YOURSELF! screaming at me. Part of the description for the book is:
"The sixteenth-century Catholic Church was definitely in need of reform. Too many of its leaders were worldly and corrupt; too many of the faithful were living in laxity or ignorance. Unfortunately, Protestantism brought revolution rather than reform, but the saints who rose up in response to it helped renew and transform the Church for generations to come.  
Our own souls, too, are in constant need of reform, of re-conversion to God and his will for us. We struggle with sin, we become distracted in prayer, we find it hard to be loving and easy to be selfish. In Reform Yourself!, Shaun McAfee (founder of Epic Pew and author of Filling Our Father's House) shows you how these magnificent saints can be guides in your own personal transformation." 
So drawing from saints from the Counter Reformation he does that. He gives clear concise guidance on how to work on yourself. For nearly 20 years my tag line in emails has been 'Learing to be' and when I was asked about it I would say I am striving to learn to be, and be good at being. This book uses the examples of 10 Saints to help us do just that. The saints that Shaun calls out in this book are:

St. Francis de Sales: The Apologist Next Door
St. Ignatius of Loyola: Reformer of Education and Spirituality
St. Teresa of Ávila: The Mystical Reformer
St. Robert Bellarmine: Our Model Apologist
St. Aloysius Gonzaga: Reformer of Youthful Piety
Pope St. Pius V: Reformer of Faithful Leadership
St. Philip Neri: Reformer of Solemn Humor
St. John of the Cross: The Contemplative Reformer
St. Jane Frances de Chantal: The Simple Reformer
St. Charles Borromeo: Our Consummate Pastor

Paul Thigpen begins the forward with these words:
"More than thirty years ago, I was a Protestant pastor working my way through a Ph.D. program in Church History at a Methodist university. The process was an essential factor in my eventually becoming Catholic. As Blessed John Henry Newman famously observed, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."  
As I studied, I learned almost daily not only how much I didn't know, but also how much of what I thought I knew was actually untrue. 
One of the great surprises awaiting me when I studied what Church historians call the "Reformation Period" was the Catholic movement known as the Counter-Reformation. Many prefer to call it the Catholic Reformation, and for good reason: it was not just a reaction, a "counter," to the Protestant revolt. The spirit of genuine reform within the Catholic Church, as opposed to her attempted reform through fragmentation, long preceded Martin Luther's posting of the Ninety-Five Theses on October 31, 1517-the episode commonly considered the birth of the Protestant movement."
And looking back on this the 500th anniversary of the reformation One can only hope and pray for the unity that Christ called for among his followers. And Thigpen ends the forward with these words:
"In these pages you'll read about ten of these genuine spiritual heroes and what they have to teach us today. Their stories should stir us with admiration for their exceptional holiness, wisdom, courage, and perseverance-and often a fine sense of humor as well. But the author has given us much more than simple biography; he connects these stories to our everyday work of self-reform, of ongoing conversion, as well as to our baptismal call to explain and defend the Faith. Always, he approaches these saints with an essential question in mind: What can we learn from their example?  
I trust this book will find a wide audience. My hope is that readers will respond eagerly to the challenges it issues through its perceptive look at ten extraordinary saints with profound lessons for ordinary Catholics."
And after devouring this book I agree. I can think immediately of numerous friends and family who would benefit from reading this book. And I will likely read it again within the next few months. Shaun in the forward states:
"It is said that if you want to become a saint, you must read the saints. But I say, if you want to become a saint, you must do more than read: you must study the saints! You must read the saints in detail, analyzing them to the degree to which you come to know your own friends and family, taking an interest in every detail of their characters. To know these saints, we must devote ourselves to them. Only when we do this can we become like them." 
And this book is the beginning of that journey. The first saint covered in the book is St. Francis ds Sales, his feast day is my birthday and this chapter begins with this quote from him "Be who you are and be that well". Then the chapter on St. Ignatius of Loyola begins with this quote "To conquer himself is the greatest victory that man can gain.". Each chapter of this book begins with the key dates for the saint. It starts with a quote. Outlines the example that saint is in our process of reforming ourselves and then each chapter ends with one or more prayer. 

This book is very well written. It was hard to put down. The bibliography at the end it excellent for going deeper with one or more of the saints highlighted in the book. The only thing I fell the book really needed was a conclusion. It has a wonderful forward, and great introduction, incredible teaching and then just ends. But even with that it is a great read that I highly recommend.

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

Other Books by Shaun McAfee:
Filling Our Father's House: What Converts Can Teach Us About Evangelization

Contributed to:
Surprised By Life: 10 Converts Explain How Catholic Teachings On Life Led Them To The Church

Other reviews of books from Catholic Answers.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Thoughts and Quotes on Prayer


Thoughts and Quotes on Prayer

I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.
- C.S. Lewis

Prayer is the raising of the mind to God. We must always remember this. The actual words matter less.
- Pope John XXIII

"Now -- here is my secret:
    I tell it to you with an openness of heart I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God - that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; to help me to be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond able to love."
- Douglas Coupland - Life After God

"Pray, and pray more. It may seem odd to say that now when you are taking examinations and working harder. But you need prayer, and not only the habitual prayer as an exercise of devotion; you also need to pray during odd moments, to pray between times, instead of allowing your mind to wander on stupidities. It does not matter if, in spite of your effort, you do not manage to concentrate and be recollected. That meditation may be of greater value than the one you made, with all ease, in the oratory."
- Saint Josemaria Escriva - The Furrow 449

"Praying actualizes and deepens our communion with God. Our prayer can and should arise above all from our heart, from our needs, our hopes, our joys, our sufferings, from our shame over sin, and from our gratitude from the good. It can and should be a wholly personal prayer."
- Pope Benedict XVI

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul."
- Matthew Kelly

I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen miracles, some that took time and some immediately. I believe there are only three answers to prayer; yes, no, and not right now. In my own life and the lives of others I know I have seen too often someone stop prayer believing the answer was no, when in fact it was a 'not right now'. I think about the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge. Luke 18:1-8. What if she has not been as persistent, would she have received her judgement?

The older I get, the less answers I have. But the more I trust and the more I pray. At times praying is all I can do, and I do it throughout the day. I have some prayers I try and pray every day. And others I pray from time to time. But I pray. I pray for every friend's birthday that comes up on Facebook. I pray for everyone woman I find out is expecting. I pray for the all the birth and death announcements that come out from our school board. And I pray for my wife and children, my family, my friends. And I pray to become a better man. To become the best version of myself.



Monday, 20 November 2017

Motherhood isn't for Sissies


Motherhood isn't for Sissies

My wife wrote this earlier today. I share it here with her permission. 


"A friend said to me recently that Motherhood isn't for Sissies. Man, was she right. Motherhood is taking your child to a specialist appointment out of town at a terrible time of day, only to get news you don't want to hear. Motherhood is hiding your tears so that your child doesn't also get upset. Motherhood is driving home again in heavy traffic while your child throws up in the back. Motherhood is trying to tell your child that the paper bag they just threw up into is going to burst all over them. Motherhood is trying to get your soiled child out of their pants and into another seat while driving down a busy highway (o.k. traffic was basically stopped, but still). Motherhood is getting your sweater off so that your pantless child behind you can stay warm while you drive home with the windows down in 6 degree weather. Motherhood is not getting upset at having to clean the soiled car so that your child will not feel worse than they already do. Motherhood is summoning the ability to be interested in your other children when your brain just wants to shut down for a few minutes. Motherhood is beautiful, difficult, rewarding, exhausting and it is not for Sissies."

2017-11-22 An Update from Andrea now that we have been able to let family and some close friends know.

"To add to my post from the other night: Motherhood is abut sharing your struggles so you can get the support that you need!! I want to thank everyone for their unbelievable support, encouragement and prayers. Just to give you all a little more information: Liam has a significant case of Scoliosis. We knew he had a curve, but it was a bit of a shock to see the X-rays. The next step is an MRI to see if there are tumours along his spine causing the curve (these would be from the condition he was born with, Neurofibromatosis). When those results come in they will be able to determine the next steps. We are believing with all of you for protection and healing of our sweet little boy."



Sunday, 19 November 2017

DOCAT: Catholic Social Teaching for Youth - YOUCAT

DOCAT: Catholic Social Teaching for Youth
YOUCAT
Bernhard Meuser (Editor)
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781621640493
eISBN 9781681497051
ASIN B01M10336X




This past year I decided to read through the Catechism in a year. And I ended up ahead of schedule, so when I finished the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I moved on to The Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So I decided to read DOCAT: Catholic Social Teaching for Youth and I really enjoyed it. In fact I enjoyed it so much I am now reading YOUCAT: The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. But back to DOCAT: Catholic Social Teaching for Youth.

Like many other Catechisms this one is in the question and answer format. The subtitle of this book is ‘What to do?’ It focuses on the social teachings of the Catholic Church. There are four symbols in the book. A Bible which highlights passages from the bible. Quotations which highlights specific meanings in the church. A Picture of a church which contains magisterial teachings. And an Exclamation Mark where words are defined or explained. There are also three colored arrows blue for the Compendium of Social Doctrine, grey for the Catechism, and Yellow for quotes from YOUCAT.

Each chapter has a number of points the questions and answers, And then there are a number of quotes from church documents to highlight those teachings. The chapters in the book are:

1 God’s Master Plan: Love 1-21
2 Together We Are Strong: The Church’s Social Mission 22-6
3 Unique and Infinitely Valuable: The Human Person 47-83
4 The Common Good, Personhood, Solidarity, Subsidiarity: The Principles of the Church’s Social Teaching 84-111
5 The Foundation of Society: The Family 112-133
6 Occupation and Vocation: Human Work 134-157
7 Welfare and Justice for All: Economic Life 158-194
8 Power and Morality: The Political Community 195-228
9 One World, One Humanity: The International Community 229-255
10 Safeguarding Creation: The Environment 256-269
11 Living in Freedom from Violence: Peace 270-304
12 Personal and Societal Commitment: Love in Action 305-328

Though this book is written for youth and young adults, I found it well worth the time and effort to read it. The social teachings of the Catholic Church have been a growing focus for a long time now. In this book you will get a concise clear picture of those teachings, and though the quotes from church documents see some of their progression and refinement over time. This is the first book from the YOUCAT series that I have read but I know I will be reading many more. And in fact I cannot wait for the last few to be available in English in North America.

A great read, informative and challenging. This book was so good that before I even finished it I had picked up YOUCAT and the YOUCAT Bible to have to read as soon as I finished this one. It is a wonderfully informative book and part of what looks like an incredible series!

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

Books from YOUCAT:
YOUCAT: The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church
YOUCAT: Study Guide
YOUCAT: Youth Prayer Book
YOUCAT: Confirmation Book: Student Book
YOUCAT: Confession Book
YOUCAT: Bible
DOCAT: Catholic Social Teaching for Youth
DOCAT Study Guide: What to Do?










Saturday, 18 November 2017

Some Days

Some days ...

...no matter how much goes on you can only smile, be thankful, and pray.
Today was one of those days.




Friday, 17 November 2017

Holy Desperation: Praying as If Your Life Depends on It - Heather King

Holy Desperation: Praying as If Your Life Depends on It
Heather King
Loyola Press
ISBN 9780829445145
ASIN B06XQ7619T



The title of this book ‘Holy Desperation’, grab my attention immediately. Also the subtitle of the book ‘Praying as If Your Life Depends on It’ spoke to me. There have been times where all that has kept me going is prayer; even times when my faith was a struggle, prayer got me through some really tough times. So I dove in with great anticipation. But the book was not quite what I expected. But the book was not as what I expected it to be. The book was far more autobiography, and about service, reaching out and going beyond your comfort zone than it was a guide to praying especially in hard times. Now don’t get me wrong there was a lot about praying. And specifically praying when you don’t think you should, or don’t feel you should.

The chapters in this book are:
About Fr. Damien
Part One Crisis.
1 The Prayer of Desperation
2 Grabbed by the Throat
3 What Do We Mean by God?
4 The Set-Aside Prayer
Part Two Death: To Our Old Ideas and Supposed Unlovability 
5 “Stay Awake!”.
6 Where Two or More Are Gathered in My Name
7 I Call You Friends .
8 Go to Your Room and Pray in Secret
9 Let Him Who Is without Sin Cast the First Stone .
Part Three Resurrection: Getting Radically in on New Life
10 You Cannot Serve Both God and Mammon
11 Tempted in the Desert
12 Store Up Your Treasure in Heaven.
13 Unless a Grain of Wheat Fall to the Ground
Endnotes
About the Author

The author writes from personal experience. And it is experience that is very different than the road most of us will walk. But heathers vulnerability, openness, and transparency about her own struggles and the way her own prayer life has changed and progresses serve as an example to us all. It serves as an example of not just wanting prayer in our life, but about walking the walking. Growing prayer as part of our life, day in and day out. About waling prayer.

This was my introduction to the writings of Heather King. But it will not be the last. The writing style is very engaging. It is easily accessible. I really enjoyed this book and immediately though of a few friends who would enjoy it and a few others who would really benefit from reading it. So sometimes when you get what you are not expecting it is exactly what you need, and that is how I feel about this book!

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


Books by Heather King:
Holy Desperation: Praying as If Your Life Depends on It
Parched: A Memoir
Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux
Redeemed: A Spiritual Misfit Stumbles Toward God, Marginal Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding
Stumble: Virtue, Vice, and the Space Between
Stripped: Cancer, Culture, and the Cloud of Unknowing
Loaded: Money and the Spirituality of Enough
Holy Days and Gospel Reflections
Devil's Hoof

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Mystery of the Honeymoon - Manuel Alfonseca - The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition Book 4

The Mystery of the Honeymoon
The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition Book 4
Manuel Alfonseca
Schedas 

ASIN B0762TRYLG




So far this year I have read five books by Manuel Alfonseca, and of those five four are from this series. I have greatly enjoyed these books and look forward to reading many more books by Manuel in the years to come. This specific series The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition has been wonderful to read. And this fourth volume just recently became available in English. I have really enjoyed this series, and was hoping there would be more books. The good news is there is a fifth book coming. The bad news is that is the planned end of the series.

This book is set several years after the first book in the series. Gonzalo has finished his studies. And as can be guessed by the title this mystery takes place during his and Vicky's honey moon. It seems that mysteries keep finding them. In this case as they are leaving for Paris on their honeymoon they are approached by Inspector Gutierrez, and he asks them the favour of delivering a package to an Inspector Lemoine. Gutierrez is pressed for time on a case and cannot wait for normal post, and does not trust a standard messenger. But he does trust the young couple who have helped solve some cases with him in the past.

From the moment they accept the little package things change. From someone trying to slip into their birth on the train, and an attempted purse snatching as they arrive at their hotel, to their new hotel room being ransacked while they are both out. They meet a rich British benefactor who appears to be helping them. They hear rumours about a master criminal. And all the while they find themselves deeper and deeper in the case and less on a honeymoon away together.

In this case both Gonzalo and Vicky need to use all their skills. Each of them have second languages and needs to carry on some of their conversations while traveling. Both must use all their reasoning to piece together the clues, especially once they are separated. They need to solve the mystery before they become either the next victims or take the blame for the crimes. 

This was another really fun read. And I eagerly anticipate book 5. This book is available in English and is translated by the author himself. I still wish and hope that the series will be extended beyond the current 5 planned and penned volumes. They are great clean fun mysteries to read! 

I continue to stand by my statement that if you are a fan of Coelho, Marquez or Saramago you owe it to yourself to give this author a try! And if you are not fans of those three buy love a great adventure or mystery novel, give this series a go, they are great reads and I am sure you will not be disappointed! I must state clearly that I highly recommend this whole series, and specifically this book.

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

Books by Manuel Alfonseca in English:
Descent into the Hell of Venus
Jacob's Ladder
Under an Orange Sky
The History of the Earth-9 Colony
The Ruby of the Ganges
The Last Dinosaur
Ennia in Faerie
The Heirloom of King Scorpion
Beyond the Black Hole
The Water of Life

The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition Series:
Quetzalcoatl's Zahir

The Mystery of the Haunted House
The Mystery of the Sapphire Bracelet
The Mystery of the Honeymoon
The Mystery of the Egyptian Vulture Country House
...

Chronicles of the Magic Jigsaw Puzzle Series:
The Journey of Tivo the Dauntle
The Mystery of the Black Lake
The Silver Swan
The Secret of the Ice Field

Non-Fiction:
Human Cultures & Evolution
World Population: Past, Present, & Future