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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Take Away the A - Micheal Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo

Take Away the A
Micheal Escoffier
Kris Di Giacomo (Illustrator)
Enchanted Lion Books
ISBN 9781592701568




This books available in English is a translation from the original French book 'Sans le A'. It is a wonderful fun picture book. My youngest two insisted we read it back to back because they wanted to go through it again. My son who is 9 read it the second time through to is 6 year old sister and to me.

This book goes through the whole alphabet and for each letter has a paring of words one with the letter and one without the letter. The book is fun, it is very funny and my kids think it is Fantastic.

The illustrations are wonderful, my kids poured over them for hours without losing interest. Kris Di Giacomo's illustrations are simply wonderful.

There appears to be numerous books from this dynamic duo available in English, and based on how much my children loved this one we need to track more of them down. And to be honest that is one of the best book recommendations for my children they want more books by the same authors or illustrators. So this is one of the best picture books we have encountered this year. And the three of us highly endorse it!


Books by Escoffier & Di Giacomo:
Take Away the A
Brief Thief
The Day I Lost My Superpowers
Where's the Baboon?
Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf
Me First!
Grododo
Sleep Tight, Charlie





Friday, 24 March 2017

A Year of Living Prayerfully - Jared Brock

A Year of Living Prayerfully:
How A Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life
Jared Brock
Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN 9781414392134
eISBN 9781496403636
ASIN B00LPQLIK4



This book was recommended to me by my mother-in-law. She was reading it and loving it. She was laughing out loud, laughing so hard she has to stop reading. The idea of the book I though was really intriguing, travel the world, encounter other faith traditions, focus on how they pray, and learn to find your own way into prayer. When I started the book I was very eager to follow Jared around the world and through the various traditions. And to be honest for the first few chapters the excitement stayed. But slowly it began to feel like a lot of disrespect and insincerity and my reading slowed. In fact the book took me almost a year to the day to finish reading. Each time I picked it up again I was hoping for something more in the next chapter, and with the let-down it was at times months before I gave another chapter a shot.

Now to be fair, 15-20 year ago when I was in university, involved with campus ministries this is the type of book that would have made the rounds and most people would have loved and raved about. The non-denomination, evangelicals would lap this type of book up. But with the passing of time

The chapters in the book are:

Foreword - Mark Buchanan
Author's Note
How My Journey Started
Chapter 1: Hamilton, Ontario
Chapter 2: New York City - Hasidic Jews
Chapter 3: Israel
Chapter 4: Mount Athos, Greece - Greek orthodox
Chapter 5: Italy - Meet Pope Francis
Chapter 6: Spain - Camino de Santiago
Chapter 7: France - Brother Lawrence and Taize
Chapter 8: Eastern USA - Quakers
Chapter 9: The Outer Limits  

     Benny Hinn, Tony Robbins, and Westboro Baptist Church
Chapter 10: Korea
Chapter 11: England - CIM
Chapter 12: Hamilton, Ontario - Read 60 books
An Invitation
Seven Ways to Pray
Acknowledgments

As a person with a religious studies degree, and even though I specialized in Christianity and Catholicism, I was required to take a number of courses outside my areas of focus. I have studies a number of the tradition's that Jared visited, and seems to somewhat mock, or at least not take seriously.

By the time I finished I felt that the book was like reading an Adam Sandler film, some people laugh, some people find it funny, but I just do not get the humour and it comes off more as disrespect and insincere. They only really good thing was the Seven Ways to Pray and that could have been a wallet card without all the extra padding, and even then meh. Overall the book reads like someone with time on their hands, and the means to just travel around and play at being spiritual. I believe the idea behind the book had a lot of potential but just falls flat. I can only think of one or two people I could recommend this book to, one is in campus ministry still and would be able to pull pieces from this book and put together some good talks. The other an ex-evangelical would like to read it just to tear it apart. For my part I finally made it through but sort of wish I had not made the effort. I really struggled with rating it and wish I could give it 2.5 stars out of 5, but because that is not an option err on the side of caution and give it 2. No if you are a fan of Donald Miller, or Robin Sharma, or Mark Batterson, or Rob Bell you will likely love the book so have at it.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers - The Sacraments
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Fr. Mike Driscoll
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570172
eISBN 9781683570196
ASIN B01MG19MT1



This is the sixth book that I have read in the Catholic Answers 20 Answers Series so far each of them have been great reads. During lent I am doing the 20 Answers Challenge from Catholic Answers Series. You can currently get all 20 books for 50% off, what an amazing deal! This is one of two books written by Fr. Mike Driscoll, he wrote this one and also one on Angels & Demons. It is interesting there are only 7 sacraments so how does Fr. Mike come up with 20 Questions. The 20 questions that Fr. Mike Driscoll tackles in this volume are:

1. What is a sacrament?
2. How do sacraments work?
3. Why do we have sacraments?
4. How can words and material objects give God's grace?
5. What is the difference between sacraments and sacramentals?
6. What does it mean for a sacrament to be "valid" and "licit"?
7. Why can only practicing Catholics receive the sacraments?
8. Why are there seven sacraments?
9. What is the sacrament of baptism?
10. What is the sacrament of confirmation?
11. What is the sacrament of the Eucharist?
12. What is the Mass?
13. What are the spiritual benefits of the Mass?
14. What is the sacrament of penance?
15. How is the sacrament of penance performed?
16. What is the sacrament of anointing of the sick?
17. What is the sacrament of holy orders?
18. What is the sacrament of matrimony?
19. What is an annulment?
20. What are some ways I can make the sacraments more effective in my life?

One of the best chapters is the one on 'What is the difference between sacraments and sacramentals?' Another excellent chapter is the final chapter 'What are some ways I can make the sacraments more effective in my life?' Father Mike in his answers draws extensively from the bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Compendium, and also the Canon Code of Law.  

Fr. Mike writes in a easy to read an engaging style. This is a book that a Catholic can read easily in an afternoon in order to be able to answer questions from friends and families. It will give a clear concise view of the Sacramnets, their role in the church and in our own lives. It would also be a great read for those exploring the Catholic tradition.

The introduction of this booklet is:
"A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

This line appeared in the 1885 Baltimore Catechism and was the standard definition memorized by Catholic children for the next eighty years. It is still taught by many Catholic parents, school teachers, and adult education instructors. The fact that it was memorized does not mean it was left unexplained; the Baltimore Catechism had many further questions and answers describing how the outward signs are performed, where in Scripture Christ is seen to institute them, and what is meant by grace.

Christ is the Word made flesh, God the Son who came into the world in a physical body. Though he also ascended into heaven in his resurrected body, he is still present in physical form in the sacraments. These strongest channels of God's grace enable the faithful to love God and neighbor as Jesus commanded. By keeping the sacraments at the center of our lives, we can know, love, and serve God in this world and one day be happy with him forever in heaven."

This is a great book and part of an awesome series. I highly recommend both the book and the series, and I eagerly look forward to read more books in the series, especially Fr. Mike Driscoll's other volume. 

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

Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent 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 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


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Pictures of Me - Marilee Haynes

Pictures of Me
Marilee Haynes
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819860194

eISBN 9780819860200
ASIN B01AH4DODI



This was the second book by Marilee Hayes that I have read in as many weeks. I absolutely love her writing style. She writes in the style of realistic fiction, no fantasy, no science fiction, no super powers, but good clean down to earth stories. Over the last year I have read almost 20 books by Andrew Clements, he writes in a very similar style, realistic fiction, and most of his books teach a lesson in subtle ways. Haynes writing is much like Clements but with the Catholic undertones that just take the stories a little deeper. This story could be about kids you know, in your family or at your parish. The story is realistic, relevant and just an excellent read!

There are 48 days until the end of the school year. Annie, an eleven year old, must complete a self-portrait project for her end of the year project. But two of the girls in her class are bullies and seem intent on being mean to just about everyone. There is a new girl in class, Lacey, but Annie cannot seem to figure her out. Annie feels like it is all going sideways on her. And on top of that her best friend is having problems at home, and Annie seems to be missing the marks on the friendship front. 

In this story we encounter bullying, dealing with embarrassment, family problems and more. And Haynes does it in such a way that you are drawn in and really care about the characters.  And the group study questions at the end of the book can make this a great tool for working through at home or in the classroom. And while the setting in the book is a Catholic school, I really believe that an Christian, or really anyone who interacts with young people could find a place to use this book with the children in their lives.

My only real regret with this book is that to date Haynes only has three books in print! I wish there were more books I could read and pick up for our church and school libraries. But hopefully soon we will have more from this emerging author. This was an outstanding read about friendship, faith, finding your place, and finding your voice to be able to express who you are. I loved reading this and cannot wait to read it with my younger children as they get a little older. This is one of the best middle grade books I have read in years! 


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

Books by Marilee Haynes:
a.k.a. Genius
Genius Under Construction
Pictures of Me






Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Friendship, Mentor, and Teacher - Dr. Peter Frick

Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of my mentors and friends Dr. Peter Frick. I have had a photo of him of my desk for almost 19 years now. today I took a new one to replace the old. I did my first course at UW with Peter in the spring of 1998 and my final course in the fall of 2009. The first course was RS209 Paul's Life and Letters and the last course was an independent reading course on the works and life of J.F. Powers.



I have written about peter before:


It has been a blessing knowing this man, having worked for him part time and getting together from time to time for mentoring, conversation and sometimes just food or coffee. 

If you want to read any of my essays you can find them here. Or my writings on Powers here.




Monday, 20 March 2017

20 Answers God - Trent Horn - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 12

20 Answers - God
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 12
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663653
eISBN 9781941663677
ASIN B01HCJK2HC



This was the second of the 20 Answers series that I have read that was written by Trent Horn. Trent Horn has written almost half of the 20 Answers series books. This lent I am doing the 20 Answers Challenge from Catholic Answers Series. This book on God in particular and the series in general are great reads. And if the other books by Horn in the series are as good as this and the other I have read they will be excellent reads as well. But back to this specific book, the sections in this book are:

1. What is God?
2. What are some false views of God?
3. What are God's key attributes?
4. Isn't it impossible for a being to be "all-powerful" or "all-knowing?"
5. How can God be all-good when there is so much evil and suffering in the world?
6. Hasn't science made God unnecessary?
7. Does the universe provide evidence that God exists?
8. Does the Big Bang provide evidence for the existence of God?
9. Did God create the world?
10. Doesn't evolution disprove the existence of God?
11. Do I need to believe in God in order to be a good person?
12. Does God have a body? Is God a "he"?
13. Is the God of theistic philosophers the same as the God of the Bible?
14. Can human beings become gods?
15. Does God perform miracles?
16. What is the Trinity?
17. How do we know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are divine?
18. How is it possible for God to become a man?
19. What are some common errors about the Incarnation?
20. How can I know that God loves me?

In the introduction Trent states: "This booklet is an answer to anyone with that false, too-small idea of God: to those who say God doesn't exist or that he's just the universe; that God is a physical being like us; that God created the universe but doesn't care about it anymore.
In response to these views and others, I'll explain why Christians believe in the one true God, with evidence from reason, Sacred Scripture, and Sacred Tradition that gives us good reason to believe in the God who is, as the Athanasian Creed tells us, "one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit . . . all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal."" And he goes on to do just that.

In the first chapter Trent states: "According to the Western philosophical tradition, God is necessary (he cannot fail to exist), infinite (without limit), eternal (not bound by time), immaterial (not bound by space), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). Finally, God is all-good: the perfect embodiment of the virtues of love, justice, and every other good we know." He also goes on to highlight the key false views of God, those being Polythiesm, Pantheism, and, Deism. And next he focuses on the key attributes of God Simple, Infinite, Necessary, Immutable, One, Eternal and immaterial, Omnipresent, and All-powerful and All-knowing. He also deals with questions around suffering, creation, evolution, miracles, the incarnation, and the trinity.

Trent Horn in this volume draws extensively from church history, Christian writers through the ages. He also draws from St. Thomas Aquinas and Saint Ignatius a number of times. This book is just under 65 pages. And Trent Horn does a masterful job or presenting arguments for the Christian God. 

This book is an excellent read. I look forward to reading more books in this series and other books by Trent Horn. It is written to help us understand our faith and defend it. Consider taking the challenge and read all 20 books it will change your life!


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

Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent 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 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


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Prayer of the Day - Prayer Of Humility Daily

Prayer Of Humility Daily

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.
From the desire to be esteemed, deliver me.
From the desire to be honored, deliver me.
From the desire to be praised, deliver me.
Teach me to accept humiliation, contempt, rebukes,
being slandered, being ignored, being insulted, being wronged,
and being belittled.
Jesus, grant me the grace that others be admired more than I;
that others be praised and I unnoticed;
that others be preferred to me in everything;
that others be holier than I, provided I become as holy as I should;
that I might imitate the patience and obedience of Your mother, Mary.

Amen.


Note: This is not an easy prayer to pray, it comes from this book, in it Rev Morrow challenges us to pray this prayer. I have prayed it for over a year now. It really helps change our perspective on things.

Overcoming Sinful Anger:
How to Master Your Emotions and Bring Peace to Your Life
Rev. T. G. Morrow
Sophia Institute Press

Catholic Faith Alive
ISBN 9781622822300
eISBN 9781622822317



The photo is Saint Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Alvara del Portillo made by Oremus Crocheted Saints. I believe both of them would appreciate this prayer.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Brigid and the Butter - Pamela Love and Apryl Stott

Brigid and the Butter:
A Legend about St. Brigid of Ireland
Pamela Love
Apryl Stott (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819812339



This book has become an immediate family favorite. We have read it more than a dozen times in under a week. The story and the illustrations are loved by all three of my children ages 10, 9 and 6. In fact I might need to get a second copy of this book because both my girls want to carry it around the house. Pamela Love in her first book for Pauline and from our reading we hope there will be many more.

This is the retelling of one of the legends of St. Brigid of Ireland. And it is wonderfully retold. The story of the young slave girl who must decide between sharing what little she has, or possibly going hungry makes a very hard choice. In part he choice is inspired by a sermon from Bishop Patrick (St. Patrick) preaching on the loaves and the fish.

It is an inspiring story. Every time we read it we end up discussing giving, and giving from what we have. We also talk about sermons and following God's leading no matter the challenge.

The illustrations by April Stott are incredible. My youngest has asked for a framed version of the portrait of St. Brigid from the end of the book. My youngest is constantly carrying this book around and looking at it, and asking someone to read it to her. She just loves the pictures and the story.

My children also love the biography of St. Brigid that is at the end of the book, and also the prayer to Saint Brigid. Overall this is a wonderful book and we highly recommend it.




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

Friday, 17 March 2017

20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 11

20 Answers - The Eucharist
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 11
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663431
eISBN 9781941663455
ASIN B01HDV8ATG



Trent Horn wrote almost half of the 20 Answers series books. But this is the first of his that I have read. This lent I am doing the 20 Answers Challenge from Catholic Answers Series. This book in particular and the series in general are great reads. And if the other books by Horn in the series are as good they will be excellent reads as well. But back to this specific book, the sections in this book are:

1. What does the Catholic Church teach about the Eucharist?
2. How do non-Catholic views of the Eucharist differ from the Catholic belief?
3. Why do Catholics believe the Eucharist is the physical body and blood of Christ when it looks exactly like bread and wine?
4. If the Eucharist contains the physical presence of Christ’s body and blood, doesn’t that mean Catholics who eat it are cannibals?
5. Wasn’t Jesus commanding the apostles to host a perpetual memorial dinner in his honor instead of commanding them to literally eat his body and blood?
6. Is the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 evidence for the Real Presence?
7. What are some common objections to the biblical evidence for the Eucharist?
8. What did the early Church Fathers believe about the Eucharist?
9. Was the Eucharist copied from pagan religions?
10. Why do Catholics sacrifice Christ in the form of the Eucharist when Scripture plainly teaches that Christ has been sacrificed “once and for all”?
11. What happens when the Eucharist is consecrated at Mass?
12. Under what circumstances can Catholics receive the Eucharist?
13. How should we receive the Eucharist?
14. How should unconsumed eucharistic elements be disposed of? What should be done if the body or blood of the Lord is spilled or coughed up?
15. Can non-Catholics receive the Eucharist?
16. What kind of bread and wine can be used at Mass?
17. What did the Second Vatican Council teach about the Eucharist?
18. What is eucharistic adoration?
19. Have there been miracles involving the Eucharist?
20. How can I develop a greater devotion to the Eucharist?

I cannot think of anything more distinctive than the Catholic view on the Eucharist. From the introduction Horn clearly iterates this centrality and also the vehement opposition to the Catholic view. In the first chapter Trent states: “Like baptism or confession, the Eucharist is a sacrament—an outward expression of an inward reception of grace. The Catechism teaches that “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being” (CCC 1325). However, the Eucharist differs from the other sacraments in an important way because it “is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it” (CCC 1324).” Having recently read 1001 Reasons Why It's Great to Be Catholic! by Robert M. Haddad, Which documents numerous miracles surrounding the Eucharist, Horn however focuses on 5 spanning from the 8th century to 2001. 

But this book is not just history. It is about drawing closer to God, and how the Eucharist can and should be key in that process. Horn shows common arguments against the Catholic beliefs, and he refutes them, from scripture, and early church writings. The main chapters for this would be ‘What is Eucharistic adoration?’  and ‘How Can I develop a greater devotion to the Eucharist?’ The book is worth the read even if just for the information in these two chapters. In a book that contains 52 pages of text there are over 85 quotes from the Catechism, church documents, Christian authors, councils and more. 

This book was another excellent read in this series. I highly recommend the book and the whole series. They will help you grow in understanding of your faith and in how to defend it. Consider taking the challenge and read all 20 books it will change your life!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!
Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent 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 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


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Patrick and the Fire: A Legend about St. Patrick - Cornelia Mary Bilinsky and Maggie Coburn

Patrick and the Fire:
A Legend about St. Patrick
Cornelia Mary Bilinsky
Maggie Coburn (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819860378




This book was a complete surprise. The day it arrived in the mail my children ages 10, 9 and 6 wanted to read it right away. We ended up reading it through three times that same day. They loved the story; they loved the prayer to St. Patrick, and the loved the short biography at the end of the book. This book is the retelling of one of the legends surrounding St. Patrick.

This book is very well written and wonderfully illustrated. The palette of colours used and the style of artwork is wonderful for the story of a saint. My children spend hours after reading it, redrawing many of the images from the book.

The story begins with a young man named Bevan who is shepherding a flock of goats. He encounters Patrick upon his arrival in the area. Patrick is looking for the hill of the king to get permission to preach in the area. But it is the festival of Fire of Balor. Patrick decides to build his own fire. This fire will not be extinguished and Patrick challenges the King's beliefs. With permissions Patrick begins his work.

The story takes a legend about Patrick and turns it into a personal encounter. My Son saw himself in the shepherd Bevan, and this man's desire to learn from Patrick. The story is a little legend, a little myth, a little history, some adventure and a whole lot of fun. It is a great read that immediately became a family favourite. And the youngest two have already asked to take it to school so it can be read in their classes.

A wonderful book and we will be looking to read more of the children's books from Pauline soon.

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

Books by Cornelia Mary Bilinsky:
The Saint Who Fought the Dragon: The Story of St. George
Santa's Secret Story
God Is with Me Always and Everywhere
The Queen & the Cross: The Story of Saint Helen
Patrick and the Fire: A Legend about St. Patrick

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

How to Become a Heroic Catholic - Catherine Stewart

How to Become a Heroic Catholic:
A Guide to Defending Catholicism For Teenagers and Young Adults
Catherine Stewart
Rivershore Books
ISBN 9781502706522
ASIN B00OLZYNTE



This book written by a young adult and intended for teens and young adults has a lot to offer for that intended audience, but also for any Catholic adult wishing to go deeper in their faith. As I was reading this book, I kept thinking I wish I had read something like this in my teens, or even my twenties. I believe that if I had read a book like this, my faith that has bloomed and grown since my thirties would have been much stronger much sooner! This was an incredible read.

The first chapter of this book begins with this quote: "The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident but instead we must be Catholics by conviction." Fr. Terrence Henry, TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville. With the changes we have seen in the culture over the last few years. For with the changes in Europe and the events here in North America, this statement is truer every day. Catherine states: "We must be heroic in our faith! We (Catholics) need to be filled with our faith, fully immersed in it, ready to show the world what it truly means to be Catholic in today's society. In order to do that we must be confident in what we believe. We must know all of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of our beliefs. These facts will be questioned and they will be twisted...which is why we must know the Truth." And it is something that each of us must take seriously to heart. From that beginning of Catholics by conviction Catherine goes on to highlight many key doctrines and characteristics of the Catholic faith. The contents of this book are:

Chapter 1: Catholics by Conviction
Chapter 2: Why the Bible?
Chapter 3: The Pope
Chapter 4: Sola Fides and Sola Scriptura
Chapter 5: The Roots of the Mass
Chapter 6: The Seven Sacraments
Chapter 7: Catholics Don't Worship Mary
Chapter 8: The Saints
Chapter 9: Purgatory
Chapter 10: The Church is Pro-Life
Chapter 11: Discussing the Faith
Chapter 12: Closing
Appendix
Recommended Reading

Stewart draws extensively from the bible, the catechism and from church history to argue her points. She writes in a very accessible and engaging manner. In fact it is easy to read through the whole book and immediately want to start reading it again. Her arguments and defences are  based on sound reasons, incredibly well researched, and very well written. Her recommend reading includes what she considers 5 lighter or easier books and 7 deeper books. Ranging from Mike Aquilina and Tomas Aquinas to Kevin Vost and Patrick Madrid.

This was an excellent read, and I hope the author publishes more soon for I will be eager to read it.


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

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A Practical Guide to Discern God's Will - Philip Kosloski

A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski

ASIN B01N703P63



This books a revised and updated version of Serviam: A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will, I loved it the first time I read it, and I love this revised version. 

The sections in this book are:
Introduction: The Journey of Discernment 
Jesus, I Trust in You: Building a Firm Foundation 
The Little Things: Following God's Will Every Day 
In the Stillness: The Best Place to Discern God's Will 
Following the Good Shepherd: Characteristics of God's Voice
A Fork in the Road: Which Path Should I Take? 
Appendix 
Additional Resources

The introduction begins with this statement: "Discernment is a lifelong process. There is always something to discern. Even after finding your vocation in life, there will be numerous decisions that will need to be made, both big and small." Kosloski also states: "In the end, whatever your state in life there is no "once and done" when it comes to following God's will. It is a lifelong adventure, a journey that can take many unexpected twists and turns." And the book goes on to expand upon those points. 

In the first chapter Philip says: "In order to discern God's will in your life, one must build a firm foundation of trust." And he expands upon that by saying "One of the most necessary building blocks to create this firm foundation of trust is fostering a genuine love of God. By developing a lasting love of God, we will be predisposed to trust Him and His divine will." One of the key focuses in this book is about being present; about spending time with God in the here and now, not an excessive focus on the future and not constantly looking back on the past. And the third chapter on Stillness really spoke to me. It is so easy in this day and age to constantly be at the beck and call of devices. To Turn off and spend time alone with God. 

This book focuses on discernment for the spiritual life. And no matter what our spiritual calling; priest, religious, married, single we all must use discernment to live out that calling well.  As Philip Kosloski states: "There is no "once and done" when it comes to following God's will. It is a lifelong adventure, one that can take many unexpected twists and turns." So we should all be working at getting better at using our discernment! 

Kosloski always writs in a clear crisp manner. I am sure he could fatten up his books and booklets. But instead he writes with an economy of words. And in doing so his books, and this one in particular are great resources. This book will help us to learn how to pay attention, to seek God's leading and to follow where he leads so that we are using our gifts and talents. Kosloski wrote this book not just to help us reach our eternal home of Heaven but to find joy in the journey there by learning to listen and be of service. 

At the beginning of the second chapter Philip says: "The next step in following God's will (espeically in the "big" things, like vocational discernment for example) is by obeying God in the "little things" on a daily basis. If we are obedient in small things, we will be better prepared to follow God in the "big" things." And it is from learning to do the little things well and follow in them day in and day out that we will really accomplish good things for God. Phikip also has 7 points to recognise the voice of God and * for discerning the voice of Satan. 

Having done a side by side comparison between this edition and the original, there are not a lot of extensive changes. But there are a number of smaller changes that when combined make this book worth a revisit if you have read the first edition. And if you have not, then I can state it is an excellent read.

The list of resources in the appendix is also a great tool. For this booklet was well researched and written, but even with that some of us might wish to go deeper. Overall this was another excellent read from Kosloski and I highly recommend it!







Monday, 13 March 2017

Question's, Lists, and Daily Goals

Question's, Lists, and Daily Goals

For a number of years I have journaled on these 5 questions:

Who are you?
What do you want?
Who do you trust?
Who do you serve?
Where are you going?

They come from a Science Fiction show called Crusade which was a spin-off of Babylon 5. Each episode of Crusade began with a series of questions being asked by the narrator to the Captain. And those questions struck with me. Then a few years later I came across this list:

Who am I?
What do I want?
What is my purpose?
What am I grateful for?

And then just last year in one of my devotional readings I came across this list:

Who am I?
Where did I come from?
What am I here for?
How do I do it?
Where am I going?

So if you merge them you get these questions:

Who am I?
What do I want?
Who do I trust?
Who do I serve?
Where am I going?
What is my purpose?
What am I thankful for?

The daily goals I have been using as guidelines for living are:

To get enough sleep.
To eat right & exercise daily.
To refuse to be a perfectionist.
To carefully control finances.
To ask for help when needed.
To pray and read the Bible daily.
To not pressure self into planning entire life today.

And then there are principles to live by, which I got from a book by Dr. James MacDonald, which are as follows:

Eight Principles to Live Your Life by:
I will do all things as unto the lord.
I will live in the light of the judgement seat of Christ.
I will consider my weaker brother in all I do.
I will do nothing unless I'm sure that it's right to do.
I will do all things to the glory of my God.
I will avoid what may appear wrong even if I know it's not.
I will abstain from things that could enslave me.
I will seek always to do what I believe Jesus would do.

A lot has changed over the last year for me and for us as a family. Do you think about who you are? How you got to where you are currently? What are you truly thankful for? 

Currently I use Coach.me to track daily disciplines, physical, mental and spiritual. 

If you had to have a list to live by what would it be?



Related Posts:
New Year's Resolutions 2007
New Year's Resolutions 2008
Michale L. Davenport on The Importance of Goals
New Year's Day 2010
Handbook 2010


Other Articles Examining Who I Am:
Mad Celtic Warrior, Poet and Priest! - An Essay - 2003
The Journey of a Quester! - An Essay / Spiritual Biography 2004
New Year's 2006
Who Am I? Who Am I? -2008
Confessions of a Bibliophile #5 - How I Became a Bibliophile, From Dyslexic to Addict - 2009
New Year's Goals 2010
Steven R. McEvoy Interview - 2012
2014 My Goals

Who I Am - 2014


Sunday, 12 March 2017

20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 10

20 Answers - The Papacy 
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 10
Jim Blackburn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663325
eISBN 9781941663349
ASIN B01HDV86WW



This is the third book in the Catholic Answers Series that I have read this lent. To be honest these books are so good, it takes a great deal of restraint to not jump into the next volume right away. Instead I am forcing myself to think about it and write my review before I move on to another. I am still trying to get through all 20 books during lent but am currently a little behind schedule. But back to this specific book by Jim Blackburn.

The 20 Questions answered in this volume are:

What is the papacy?
Why does the Church need the papacy? Can't we just follow Jesus?
Where in the Bible is the papacy mentioned?
Did Christians in the early Church understand Peter to be the "rock" in the same way Catholics do today?
Catholics claim that Peter served his papacy as the first bishop of Rome. But doesn't the Bible say he was never there, since Paul, writing from Rome, says, "Only Luke is with me"
Did the early Christians say that Peter lived in Rome?
What other scriptural evidence is there that Peter was the head of the apostles?
Peter humbly referred to himself as only a "fellow elder" (1 Pet. 5:1). Doesn't this indicate that he didn't see himself as having any "primacy" in the Church?
Did Christians in the early Church recognize Peter as head of the apostles?
Are Peter's papal successors foretold in the Bible?
Did Christians in the early Church recognize the authority of St. Peter's papal successors in Rome?
Wasn't there more than one pope at times during the Middle Ages?
Is there any biblical or historical precedent for the papacy?
What is the charism of infallibility?
What are ex cathedra teachings? Are these the only doctrines Catholics must embrace?
Didn't Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council contradict previous popes regarding the doctrine of "no salvation outside the Church"?
Can the pope infallibly bind all future popes to a specific liturgical discipline?
What other challenges to papal infallibility are there?
Should the pope be called "Holy Father"? According to the Bible, only God is holy and only God is our Father.
Was there once a female pope named Joan?

Now I will state I have a religious studies University degree and a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought. And I loved this book and the whole series! Jim draws extensively from church history, early Christian writings and the bible itself to answer the 20 questions on the Papacy. The chapter I appreciated the most was the one on Pope Joan, or at least the legend around her. At the university I attended, at another church college the dead actually offered a whole course on Pope Joan. I think this book would be an excellent addition to the syllabus of that course even if only for this one chapter.

One of the greatest things about this series is their briefness. Each book is short and to the point. I am sure they could be combined into a single larger volume, but with each book being between 40-60 pages they are short succinct reads. Because of their size they can be reread again and again, to help remind us of these truths, or to help it sink in when we are struggling or doubting. But also because of the 20 Questions and Answer format they can be picked up and just refresh specific points that we need to remind ourselves of, or help another understand the teaching and truth from the Church. This was a wonderful read and is part of  an incredible series! I highly recommend both, the book and the series!


Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!
Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent 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 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


Saturday, 11 March 2017

In Conversation With God Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6 - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6 
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press

ISBN 9780906138885

ASIN B006IBXLNS



I have been reading this series since I was a student at Queen's University back in the late 80's and early 90's. I started reading them as they were coming out. They are an incredible series and I highly recommend them. But I must state I absolutely love the eBook versions that are now available. Mike Aquilina states: ""Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria.".  And I love having my eBooks available any time and where. And with this series I can travel with all of them with me at all times. There are also features in the eBooks that I consider an advantage over physical. I love highlighting when I read the eBook, I also like being able to select from a number of different colors. I use a different color each year I read. I also love that you can click on the link for a reference for a quote and jump to it, and then immediately jump back and keep reading. And with the eBook you can change the font, color, size to make it easier to read, and as someone with Dyslexia this is my favorite feature of eBooks. Another great feature is using accessibility features  on some mobile devices and some dedicated eReaders and use text to speech, and listen to the text.

This specific book, Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6, Has a meditation for each day Monday-Saturday, and three different meditations for Sundays, 1 each for year A, B, and C. Each reading is roughly 6 pages long, and each days reading is separated into three sections, roughly equal in length most days. Reading through it this year I highlighted 54 passages over the 6 weeks. I will share a few of those as samples of the writing in this book:

"He chooses us where we are, and leaves us - the majority of Christians, lay people - just where we were: in our family, in our own job, in the cultural or sports association that we belong to ... so that in the very environment in which we are found we should love him and make him known through family ties, through relationships at work and among friends. From the moment that we decide to make Christ the centre of our lives, everything we do is affected by that decision. We must ask ourselves whether we are consistent with what it means to turn our work into a vehicle for growing in friendship with Jesus Christ, through developing our human and supernatural virtues in it."


"Prayer is always fruitful. It is capable of sustaining our whole life."

"Our world needs men and women who are all of a piece, who are exemplary in their work, men and women without complexes, who are sober, serene, profoundly human, firm, understanding but intransigent in matters concerning Christ's doctrine, courteous, just, loyal, cheerful, optimistic, generous, hard-working, simple, courageous ... In this way they will be good collaborators with God's grace, for the Holy Spirit uses man as an instrument."

"Jesus gives us such a clear example because we have to learn to get on with everyone, no matter what their defects, their ideas or peculiarities. We must learn from him to be the kind of people who are open to others, with a capacity for making friends, always ready to understand and forgive. A Christian, if he really does follow Christ, cannot be shut in on himself without any concern for what is going on around him."

"We need to bear in mind that the principal aim of economic development does not consist merely in the increased volume of goods produced, any more than it consists in profit, or in the enhancement of the employer's prestige; it is directed to the service of man, of man, that is, in his totality, taking into account his material needs and the requirements of his intellectual, moral, spiritual and religious life."


"Faith is not a virtue to be practised just occasionally, during pious practices, but rather during sport, at the office, in the middle of traffic. Much less should faith be reserved, as some Christians seem to think, for a Sunday at the time of fulfilling the Sunday precept."

"The task of a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being 'anti' anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy and peace. We should be understanding with everybody, with the followers of Christ and with those who abandon him, or with those who have never known him at all. Understanding does not mean holding back, or remaining indifferent, but being active"

"Holy Communion is not a reward for virtue, but rather nourishment provided for those who are weak and in need; for each of us, that is."

"We have to do our work conscientiously, making our time fruitful without giving way to laziness. We must sustain our desire to improve our professional preparedness each day, to look after the details of our daily tasks, to embrace with love the cross and the weariness that each day's toil brings with it."

This was the fourth volume that I have finished in electronic format. I am unlikely to go back to the physical ones. In fact if they did not have so much underlining and notes I would pass them on to someone else. 

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. There are also 2 volumes dedicated to special feats, specific feats, novenas, Saints, and holy days that fall on specific calendar days. 

These books are incredible food for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. I was recently asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. So this is one of my all-time top Christian reads!




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

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

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