Wednesday, 18 July 2018

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

The Life and Letters of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers
Joseph Damien De Veuster
Auguste Pamphile De Veuster (Editor)  
Paul E. Nowak (Introduction) 
Robert Louis Stevenson (Afterword)
Eternal Revolution (eBook Edition 2013)
Catholic Truth Society (First edition 1889)

This book was first published in 1889, by the Catholic Truth Society. That edition appears to be long out of print. But if you search you can find multiple used copies some even at reasonable prices. This reprint eBook edition appears to be out of print now as well, it can be found on Amazon but no longer purchased, and even the editor does not have it listed on his website. But if you can track it down it is an excellent read. The chapters in the book are:

Introduction to the Digital Edition
Introduction by Father Pamphile
Chapter 1: Early Life and Entrance Into Religion
Chapter 2: Mission to the Sandwich Islands
Chapter 3: Work in Hawaii
Chapter 4: Molokai: The Leper Colony
Chapter 5: His Last Years and Death
Afterword by Robert Louis Stevenson

But it should be noted the 1889 edition does not contain the afterward, but that letter is in the public domain, and or you can get it in a different volume from the Catholic Truth Society. The preface begins with these words:

"The issue of the following volume would have been impossible without the kind assistance and encouragement of Father Damien's brother, Father Pamphile. It is he who has furnished us with the interesting letters it contains. It is he who has supplied the notes which form the substance of it. It is he who has written the Introduction, which is literally translated in the following pages."

Over the years I have read numerous books about Father Damien and watched films about his life. This volume is the most complete collection of his own words that is available in the English language. As such it is a fascinating read, especially for anyone with a devotion or affinity for Father Damien. It is wonderful to read him, in his own words, to hear his voice after a fashion. As compared to the stories about him, no matter how good those books are The eBook edition also contains an afterwards 'An Open Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Reverend Charles McEwan Hyde'. But as that is in the public domain numerous copies are available.

After all the books I have read about Father Damien in was truly a blessings to be able to read his personal letters. This is an excellent little volume, weather you track down the original or the reprint.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here. And if you need it this one can be found online here.

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin
Father Damien de Veuster Apostle to the Lepers - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
The Life and Letters of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers - Edited by Pamphile De Veuster 


Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Saints of Africa - Jean Olwen Maynard - Catholic Truth Society

Saints of Africa
Jean Olwen Maynard
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781784690373
eISBN 9781784693428

This was the third book I have read by Jean Olwen Maynard and it will not be the last. There are three books in this specific series from the catholic Truth Society and they are: Saints of North America, Saints of South Asia, and Saints of Africa. But there are some significant differences across the books. The one on North America Focused on regions and time and grouped numerous saints in each chapter. Where this book, and in the book on South Asian Saints, each chapter is dedicated to a different person, one is on a specific saint, seven are blessed, and a chapter on the Martyr Saints of Uganda. This book and the whole trilogy are incredible reads.

In this specific book the chapters in this are:

Christianity in Africa
Blessed Ghebre-Michael
St Josephine Bakhita
The Martyr Saints of Uganda
Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo
Blessed Isidore Bakanja
Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa
Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi
Blessed Clementine Alphonsine Anuarite Nengapeta
Further Reading

The description of this book is:

"The African saints that Catholics are most likely to have heard of even if they don't know much about them lived a very long time ago, and often in parts of Africa which are no longer Christian. In our own time, and in the more recently Christianised parts of Africa, the Catholic Church is growing faster than perhaps anywhere else in the world but what do we know about the modern saints of Africa such as Daudi Okelo, Clementine Anuarite, Ghebre-Michael, Victoria Rasoamanarivo, to name a few? Here's a chance to find out."

Of the saints and blesseds in this volume I was only familiar with one before reading this book. This book opened my eyes to a region of the world ,where my knowledge of saints and even church history was greatly lacking. This book begins with this statement:

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ began to be proclaimed in Africa at a very early date, but eighteen centuries were to pass before it made any significant impact on the sub-Saharan region. Why was this? There's no easy answer, but we know that God is the lord of history, and even when we can't fully understand the how or the why, it's important to know something of the course of events."

There are many saints, desert mothers and fathers from the Saharan region, but this book focuses on the sub-Saharan, and unless you have spent specific time studying that region I am sure this book will be full of surprises. The brief biographies in this book span from the late 1700's right through to modern times. Though the majority are from the 1800's. In the chapter on Blessed Clementine it states: 

"During a visit to Kisangani in 1980, Pope John Paul II met with Sr Clementine's parents. Julienne could hardly believe what was happening "I'm a poor woman and I've spoken to the Pope… Was it really me that gave birth to this saint?" During the beatification ceremony, in Kinshasa in 1985, the Pope repeated in the name of the whole Church her words of forgiveness for Pierre Olombe."

The stories in this book are an inspiration. The faith of the women and men presented in this book will challenge your own faith. The stories will motivate you. And each chapter ends with a prayer, a few I have copied into my prayer notebook for regular use. A sample prayer is:
"Blessed Daudi and Jildo, in your hearts burned an ardent desire to proclaim the Gospel, and through your martyrdom you strengthened the early growth of the Church in your homeland. Help us to become strong in our faith, and to share it with our brothers and sisters. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."
This book is a little gem. As are the three in the series. After reading this book I have ended up adding a few books to my to be read pile, I want to go deeper and learn more about a few of the saints and blesseds presented in this book. I earnestly hope that this series will be continued possible with a volume on Saints of South America, Saints of Latin America, or Saints of Central Asia as a few possible future titles. I loved this book and all three volumes that are currently available. And am reading this book currently with my youngest daughter. I give this book and this series my highest recommendation. Another great read from the Catholic Truth Society!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Jean Olwen Maynard:
Saint Josephine Bakhita: A Survivor of Human Trafficking
Saints of North America
Saints of Africa
Gianna Molla
The Atlas Martyrs
Margaret Clitherow
Saints of South Asia
150 years of Mercy. A History of the Sisters of Mercy
The 'Saint Of Hoxton' Father Michael Kelly OSA
A History of St Mary's and St Michael's Parish
The Gypsy Saint Ceferino Jiménez Malla, El Pelé

Monday, 16 July 2018

Pope Francis I Believe in Mercy - Regina Doman and Sean Lam

Pope Francis: 
I Believe in Mercy
Regina Doman
Sean Lam

Manga Hero
ISBN 9780983639787
ISBN 9780983639794

I need to state that a physical copy of this sat on my bedside table for a few years. The problem is not the book, it is me, with my dual form of dyslexia I really prefer reading eBooks, even for graphic novels. I had picked this book up a few times, but never got very far, and by the time I came back to it I started over again. But I recently read the eBook edition of Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI, written by Doman and illustrated by Lam. And though the style is not my favorite, it is so well done I have give both books a 5 out of 5 star ratings. This was an excellent read!

The style of the art in the two volumes is a little different. And because of the lives being portrayed the stories are very different. But both stories are told with jumping back in time and then up to the present. This one is written with underlays of excerpts from Pope Francis's writings. The book gives us great insight into the man and his journey, that ultimately lead to his becoming pope. I have read a number of books about and by Pope Francis since his election, but even with all of that reading there were a few surprises in this volume. 

Before I even finished this book, my children showed great interest in it. I have now read it with my youngest daughter and am currently reading it for a third time with my son. The story and artwork hold up over multiple readings even back to back. My children love the graphic novel format. My only wish is that it would come out in an eBook, that way they can each have it on their device without having to buy a second copy, currently they are debating who should keep it on their bookshelf and why. 

The illustrations in this volume are wonderful. I especially loved the illustrations of mass or times in prayer. There is so much to appreciate about the artwork, and the written story. This book provides excellent insight into the man, the priest, and now our Pope. 

This book is a great read for anyone who would like a glimpse into the life of Pope Francis before he ascended to the throne of Peter. It is an excellent read for teens, and even to read to younger children. It was instantly a family favorite. And we give it the McEvoy family seal of approval. I would love to see what Doman and Lam would do telling the story of other Pope's or saints, because this is an excellent read.

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

Book by Regina Doman:
Fairy Tales Retold:
Snow White and Rose Red (1997)
Shadow Of The Bear (2002)
Black As Night (2004)
Waking Rose (2007)
Midnight Dancers (2008)
Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyber Thieves (2010)

Rapunzel Let Down (2013)

Other Books:
The Story of Job

Graphic Novels:
Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Francis: I Believe in Mercy

Contributed to:
Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut
Catholic Philosopher Chick Comes on Strong
The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide
The Chestertons and the Golden Key

Picture Books:
Angels in the Water (2004)
Fairy Tale Novel Paper Dolls (2009)

Our Fairy Tale Romance - Andrew Schmiedicke (2009)

Author Profile Interview with Regina Doman

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Amos 7:12-15
Responsorial Psalm 85: 8-13 Response 7
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3-14
Gospel Mark 6:7-13

Two weeks ago, our Pastor’s mother passed away. Father had to return to Poland. As a family we have been praying for him, his family and the repose of the soul of his mother. We had visiting priests cover for mass last weekend and again this weekend. Last Saturday evening, Sunday Evening and tonight was Rev, Rafal Tomon from Our lady of Lourdes Waterloo. Last week before mass the children and I all went to the sacrament of reconciliation. It was interesting two of the children and I all noticed a significant difference in the penance given. Father Tomon also brought prayer cards from his parish, and my children love prayer cards. One was a photo of Our Lady of Lourdes and the typical Lourdes prayer. The second was a photo of a statue of saint Joseph and the prayer is, St. John XXIII’s prayer for the fathers.

St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect all the fathers who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, and their hopes.

They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor, and weariness. But amid the worries of material life your soul was full of deep peace and dang out in true joy through intimacy with God’s Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labour alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over him faithfully as you have done. 

St. John XXIII

Since we were at church last week a new statue has appeared on the altar at church. I do not know where it came from or why it is there. My son loved the statue, and said while he was serving mass he could look at Mary the whole time. 

So this week I offer prayers for you my readers, and for all priests. 

Related Posts:

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Reading the Catechism How to Discover and Appreciate its Riches - Petroc Willey

Reading the Catechism: How to Discover and Appreciate its Riches
Petroc Willey
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784691028
eISBN 9781784692476


Back in 2006 shortly after I started blogging I was involved with a project called the Catholic Catechism Dialogue Blog, it was an ambitious effort across the 10 or 12 contributors we were going to try and have a blog post nearly every day that followed the schedule or reading through the Catechism in a year. I did make it through the Catechism in a year, and then barely touched it. Late in 2016 I was challenged to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a Year, not only did I make it through the Catechism, but also:

The Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
DOCAT Catholic Social Teaching for Youth
YOUCAT: The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church

This year I am reading through the Catechism again, but at a slower pace, usually around 10 points a day. When I saw this book from the Catholic Truth Society I had to pick it up. That being said, even with having read through the Catechism a number of times this book was an excellent little read and a great resource. The Chapters in this book are:

The Character of the Catechism:
An Annunciation
The Structure:
Four Dimensions of the Christian Life
The Presentation:
the Beautiful Way of Faith
The Centre:
A Faith about Persons
The Living Sources:
Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition

The introduction of this book begins with these words:

"This booklet has been written to help you to appreciate and to enjoy with peaceful certainty the unchanging truths of the Catholic faith, presented to us for our time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This Catechism was approved with the authority of all of the bishops of the world in union with Pope St John Paul II and under the direction of the future Pope Benedict XVI. Not only does it represent the mind and heart of the Catholic Church at the start of the third millennium, it also provides us with the face of the Church throughout her Tradition, from the time of the apostles and their successors, with a text that draws from popes, saints, Church Councils and the liturgy.

The purpose of this work, then, is to facilitate the reading of the Catechism by drawing attention to its purpose and intended use, as well as its key features. You will find it most helpful if you have a copy of the Catechism with you when reading this short work. This will enable you to take your own journey of discovery through its pages."

This book is much more than just a guide on how and why to read the Catechism. Each chapter ends with a 'Consolidation Exercise' these exercises draw you to other church documents, the bible or specific sections in the Catechism and help you go deeper. It will help you see how central this document is to church teachings since it has come out, and how the Catechism itself is drawn from the bible, and church history.

This book was an excellent little read. I highly recommend it for both personal and or group study. I cannot wait until my children are a few years older and I can work through this booklet with them as a way to get them reading the Catechism themselves. I wish there had been a book like this available back in 2006, it would have made my own contributions and I am sure my fellow contributors to that ill-fated blog. And this is a book that I will likely end up working through a number of times on my own.

I have read numerous books from the Catholic Truth Society so far this year, and this is one of the best to date. I give it top marks.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Petroc Willey:
Reading the Catechism: How to Discover and Appreciate its Riches
A Year with the Catechism: 365 Day Reading Plan
Become What You Are: The Call and Gift of Marriage
The Pedagogy of God: Its Centrality in Catechesis and Catechist Formation
The Joy of the Gospel: A Companion Guide to Evangelii Gaudium

Friday, 13 July 2018

Saxum The Life of Alvaro del Portillo - John F. Coverdale

Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo
John F. Coverdale
Scepter Publishing
ISBN 9781594172144


This was the second book on Blessed Alvero del Portillo that I have read in the last few weeks. The other one was a short introduction and overview of the man, his life and his work. This one goes into much greater depth. Reading this book, you cannot but grow in appreciation of this man, who is now beatified and will likely be canonized in our lifetime. There are not many books about Don Alvaro in English, and even fewer of his own works are available in English. But this book is a great addition to information about this saintly man that is available to English readers. Coverdale in his note on sources states that the most important sources for this book are four Spanish biographies and extensive interviews with the now deceased Bishop Javier Echeverría. He also did extensive research in the Opus Dei Prelature archives. In reading this book and 40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva by Cesare Cavalleri, It seems impossible to look at the life of Don Alvaro outside of his friendship with saint Josemaira Escriva and his lifelong role in Opus Dei. In fact, in this volume after a brief summary of his early life and overview of the times the fourth chapter begins looking at his early involvement with the work. The chapters in this book are as follows:

Note on Sources
1. Finding the Meaning of His Life
2. Early Life
3. Political and Social Background
4. First Steps in Opus Dei
5. Fugitive and Prisoner
6. Refugee
7. Engineering Officer
8. Saxum
9. A Priest of Opus Dei
10. Winning Vatican Approval
11. Building Opus Dei in and from Rome
12. The Second Vatican Council
13. The Post-Conciliar Decade
14. Succeeding the Founder
15. A Man of Prayer and a Father
16. Serving Opus Dei and the Church
17. Reaching Out to Crowds
18. Friend of Gardeners and Popes
19. Finding a Safe Harbor
20. Beatification of the Founder
21. Final Days

Over half of the book focuses on his life with Escriva, and then the final third on his life after Escriva passed away and he became the prelate of Opus Dei. But as you read this book you will realize that his work, his service was so much more than just that single focus. He was involved greatly with preparation for and contributing to documents from Vatican II. He had close relationships with pope, many bishops and cardinals. But he was also dedicated to the members of the work. Some of the stories in this book come from ordinary laymen who had personal encounters with Alvaro that had deep and lasting impact on their lives. And reading this book you will encounter the man in a similar personal way.

His service will amaze you. His dedication and focus will inspire you. And his devotion to Our Lady will challenge you. But it was his personal touch that encouraged so many in their life and faith.

"Don Alvaro's love for the Church and his theological appreciation for the role of bishops led him to pray for them and try to support them. A few months before the assassination of Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, del Portillo wrote to him: "I assure you that I will pray for you daily at holy Mass, for you and for all the work of souls you carry out." When visiting cathedrals and shrines of Our Lady, he often sent postcards to friends in the hierarchy assuring them of his prayer and affection. Many recipients commented on how much good this simple token of friendship had done them."
He left an impact on all who met him. And most considered his as a friend. He was sought out for advice and guidance by people from all walks of life.  Don Alvaro's simple and intense piety is an inspiration. This was one of the simple prayers he learned in childhood that he prayed all his life:

Sweet Mother, never go away.
Keep watch over me both night and day. 
Accompany me wherever I go,
And never, ever leave me alone.
Since you protect me so carefully
As my true mother,
Win for me the blessing of God
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

His devotion to Our Lady is an inspiration to me and to my children. Saxum means rock in Latin, and Don Alvaro was a rock for everyone he encountered. And through this book he can continue to be a rock for us and our faith.  This book does a wonderful job of providing us with a greater glimpse into the life of Don Alvaro. It is very well written and extensively researched. I believe that anyone who read this book will be challenged in their faith, but also will be greatly inspired and encouraged!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Scepter Publishing.

Books by John F. Coverdale:
Putting Down Roots: Father Joseph Muzquiz and the Growth of Opus Dei, 1912-1983
Uncommon Faith: The Early Years of Opus Dei, 1928-1943
Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo
On the Vocation to Opus Dei

Books about Alvaro del Portillo:
Alvaro Del Portillo The Power of Humility - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo - John F. Coverdale
40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva - Cesare Cavalleri

Books by Alvaro del Portillo:
Like Salt and Like Light: Anthology of texts compiled by Jose Antonio Loarte
Faithful And Laity In The Church; The Bases Of Their Legal Status
Journey with Jesus

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Living Fruitfully Chastity Learning from the Saints - Fr John McKeever

Living Fruitfully Chastity Learning from the Saints
Fr John McKeever
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784692001
eISBN 9781784694593

This is the fourth book in the Living Fruitfully series and 15th book from CTS that I have read in the last few months. These are great resources for personal, family and community use. This book, and the others in the Living Fruitful series are especially needed with all that is going on in the world today. The description of this book is:

"This latest title in the Living Fruitfully series addresses the provocative and often misunderstood subject of chastity. Too often considered an exclusively 'religious' option, the author makes the case for chastity, showing us that as a Christian virtue, we are all called to lead a chaste life in keeping with our particular state of life: whether married or single, ordained or lay, young or old.

The work draws heavily on the teaching and example of the saints, beginning with a retelling of the story of St Augustine and weaving gems from St Thomas Aquinas, St Philip Neri and many others. There is a specific chapter on tools and spiritual weapons for the fight against temptation, and a short selection of prayers to help readers striving for chastity."

And it is a fascinating little read. I have a religious studies degree with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought. I could have used this booklet as a resource during my university years. I would have drawn from it for several essays that I wrote. The chapters in this volume are:

A Moral Miracle
Life in the Spirit
The Beauty of Chastity
In Every Walk of Life
Weapons and Remedies
     Appendix 1: Examen
     Appendix 2: Prayers

This book opens with these words:

"Chastity is a term that is rarely heard nowadays. It may seem dated or even irrelevant in an era when sexual attitudes and behaviour are liberal and very much regarded as one's own business. The idea of having a set of rules or even a virtue to regulate sexual behaviour is unthinkable to many. Moreover, chastity is sometimes confused with celibacy, which is the choice not to marry and therefore to abstain permanently from sexual relations. Chastity does not mean simply not having sex. It means living sexuality in accordance with the truth of our human nature as it was created by God. This includes avoiding sex with anyone who is not one's spouse. But it also means knowing how best to love one's spouse, regulate one's fertility in a moral manner, and to live one's sexual identity as a man or woman in a way that respects one's own dignity and the dignity of everybody else. It is a way of loving that gives joy and life. As Pope St John Paul II said, "Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love"."

And it goes from there to explore what the church teaches about this fruit, chastity. It draws extensively from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from YOUCat the youth Catechism. And also makes reference to the church documents; Humanae vitae, Gaudium et spes, Familiaris consortio, and Deus Caritas Est

The final section of the book Weapons and Remedies begins with these words:

"In previous chapters we have already examined some ways of exercising chastity. Some ways, for example, prayer, are indispensable and are suitable for every person in every walk of life who wants to be chaste. Others might work for some but could be totally counterproductive for others. The main rule here is the rule of prudence, the mother of all virtues. St Augustine gives a very succinct definition of prudence as "love choosing wisely between the helpful and the harmful". It means applying our knowledge of moral principles to the individual situation at hand so that we can find the right means to achieve a good result."

What I love about this book is it is not a simple self-help book, do these 10 tings to be chaste. But it does provide a number of tools and tips and provides some guidance, so you can discern what methods work for you and encourages you to strive to live in that way.

Another amazing resource from CTS that I give my highest recommendation. A great book in an excellent series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan
For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the Living Fruitfully Series:
Self-Control - Fr John S. Hogan
Chastity - Fr John McKeever
Joy - Mgr Paul Grogan
Generosity - Fr John S. Hogan
Patience - Christopher Mc Camley

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI - Regina Doman and Sean Lam

Habemus Papam!
Pope Benedict XVI
Regina Doman
Sean Lam

Manga Hero
ISBN 9780983639756

I need to preface this review with two facts, first I am a huge fan of Regina Doman's prose. He fiction is among my all time favorite books. Second, I do not read a lot of graphic novels. Graphic novels especially in the manga style are typically not my thing. Fortunately, this volume only uses the characteristic oversized heads and super sized eyes for children, so for the most part not an issue. That being said I really enjoyed this book. Over the years I have read much written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Both prior to and after his election to the seat of Peter. But this is really the first time I have read much about him. And there was so much in this volume that surprise, amazed and even astonished me that I plan on reading more about the man that I believe will one day be named a saint. 

This book was an incredible read. There is so much information in this graphic novel. Situations and events in his life that were not part of my knowledgebase. I was totally unaware of his sister's role in his life and ministry. I had encountered stories about his brother in numerous readings, but the role Maria played. Even though she worked other jobs, she was his secretary, editor and support throughout her life. She followed his as his role within the church changed all the way to the Vatican. 

The book is written as a series of reflections back in time. It begins with Joseph being told by another cardinal either at the conclave or before it that he must become pope. From ether the story goes back to childhood memories, memories of John Paul II's election. Different roles and responsibilities he had that lead to this point. The story is masterfully told. Readers will come to see and appreciate the humble and gentle nature of this man that was known for so long as Pope John Paul II's rottweiler. Readers will encounter the man who was humble enough to step down from the seat of Peter. The man who was misunderstood through most of his public life, and yet a man who served God, the people and the church with all his heart.

The illustrations of the children as mentioned are not in a style that I am a fan of. But, even with that being stated this book is wonderfully illustrated. The spirit of Benedict is captured in both the words and the illustrations. Honestly anyone could read this book, no matter their knowledge of graphic novels or Pope Benedict XVI and appreciate it. Learn from it and grow from what they learn.

I could not put this book down, I devoured it in a single reading. And have already started reading it again with my youngest two children. And it has lead to me picking up another book on Benedict XVI already and likely more future readings.

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

Book by Regina Doman:
Fairy Tales Retold:
Snow White and Rose Red (1997)
Shadow Of The Bear (2002)
Black As Night (2004)
Waking Rose (2007)
Midnight Dancers (2008)
Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyber Thieves (2010)

Rapunzel Let Down (2013)

Other Books:
The Story of Job

Graphic Novels:
Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Francis: I Believe in Mercy

Contributed to:
Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut
Catholic Philosopher Chick Comes on Strong
The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide
The Chestertons and the Golden Key

Picture Books:
Angels in the Water (2004)
Fairy Tale Novel Paper Dolls (2009)

Our Fairy Tale Romance - Andrew Schmiedicke (2009)

Author Profile Interview with Regina Doman

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle - Anne Eileen Heffernan and Charlie Craig - Encounter the Saints Series Book 32

Blessed James Alberione: 
Media Apostle
Encounter the Saints Series Book 32
Anne Eileen Heffernan, FSP
Charlie Craig (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819812131
eISBN 9780819812148

This book is an excellent edition to the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media, and in fact is about the founder of the Daughters of Saint Paul. My children and I have been working our way through this complete series. And many of them have been read more than once. Sometimes I read ahead and then reread the books with one or more child. Currently I am rereading this one with my son. After reading almost 30 books in this series, I am impressed with the staying power. And even after reading some of them upwards of 4 times. This is an incredible book about an amazing saint, that in al reality is the reason we have such an excellent series and so many incredible books from Pauline Books and Media.

The chapters in this book are:
1. Farm Boy 
2. "That's Who I Want to Be!" 
3. "Mary Will Help Me" 
4. Surprises 
5. Slippery Slope 
6. What Next? 
7. A Mysterious Invitation 
8. The Hand at the Plow 
9. "This Must Be a Mistake!" 
10. God Is the Light 
11. Beginning from Bethlehem 
12. The Second Step 
13. Slowly but Steadily 
14. A Grain of Wheat 
15. Challenges 
16. Riding Out the Storm 
17. "Where Am I Leading Them?" 
18. A Dream 
19. Branching Out 
20. More Steps 
21. To the Ends of the Earth 
22. It Was the Right Road 

This book follows the format of others in the series. We have the biography of Blessed James Alberione, followed by a prayer and a glossary. There are also five illustrations in the book by Charlie Craig, whom I believe illustrated the volume, Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid, as Charles Craig.

James Alberione knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a priest. In fact, he was only 6 when he first said he wanted to be a priest. But he had a hard road ahead of his as a farm boy. He had to work to overcome early opposition in his own family. And even had to learn to conquer himself. His road was not a straight path to the priesthood. He was asked to leave the first seminary he attended because he had slacked off his studies so much. But once he knew where his passion truly laid he stopped at nothing from pursuing that, which he believed was God's will. 

The prayer in this book is:
"Blessed James, like St. Paul, you had one Love-Jesus Christ-and one burning desire: to bring him to everyone. Help me to love the Lord Jesus as you loved him. Teach me how to show my love for him by the way I live. I do not yet know what my vocation in life will be, but pray for me, that I may be open to using my gifts so that others may know Jesus better. Help me to always trust God and his plan for me. I look forward to someday meeting you and all the saints in the joy of the Blessed Trinity. Amen."
This is an incredible story. And I pray I live to see the canonization of James Alberione. James worked as a teacher, spiritual director, editor, and he did it all with vigor. He pushed himself so hard that more than once he was ordered to take a break and ended up coming back and taking on even more than before. Reading this book helped me understand why as a family we love the books from pauline so much. My children love this series. This volume is in my opinion a pivotal book in the Encounter the Saints Series; from Pauline Books and Media. As a family we can recommend this book and the whole series for readers of all ages.

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

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

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

Monday, 9 July 2018

Doors in the Walls of the World Signs of Transcendence in the Human Story - Peter Kreeft

Doors in the Walls of the World:
Signs of Transcendence in the Human Story
Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781621642282
eISBN 9781681498010


Just looking at the cover of this book evokes the imagination. It immediately calls to mind, C.S. Lewis's The Magician’s Nephew,  J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and more recently N.D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards. But the book also takes me back. When I was in university as a mature student it seems that every month or two my spiritual director was recommending another book by Peter Kreeft. In fact, when I check I had read 14 books by Kreeft in 4 years. But I was greatly surprised to find out that It had over a decade since I had read one of his works. If his works in the last few years are as excellent as this, I need to add them all to my to be read list. This book was an absolutely wonderful read.

Kreeft begins the introduction when addressing how many philosophies of life there are begins with two answers; Answer 1 Three Philosophies of Life, and answer 2 there are only two philosophies. In the first answer the three types are:

1. Wonder begins in surprise.
2. This second kind of wonder-questioning-is wonder in the intellect, guided by the will (the "will to truth", which is far from automatic).
3. Wonder is consummated in contemplative awe.

And then he states:

"Philosophy not only begins in wonder (#1), it also proceeds by means of wonder (#2) and ends in wonder (#3). This book is about the third kind of wonder."
But then he goes on to give a second answer. Again he states:
"When you think about it logically, there are two and only two philosophies of life. For either there are or there are not doors in the walls of the world. Either there is Nothing or Something outside Plato's Cave."
And from there Kreeft goes on to explain that premise which is the basis for the rest of the book. He declares:
"A wall is a limit. A door in a wall is a way of overcoming that limit, a way out of the place confined by the walls. The walls here symbolize the physical universe. The doors symbolize escapes from that limit, "morenesses", transcendences. The point of this book is that there are many doors through the walls of the world, many Jacob's Ladders through the sky."
Kreeft then goes on a romp through literature to look at elements of story and elements in stories that breach that wall. The sections in the book are:

I. The Plot: Story as Life
II. The Setting: The Fragility of Time
III. The Characters: The Real Presence of Invisible Friends
IV. The Theme: Joy
V. The Style: Art

But the sections are not weighted equally. In the first section Kreeft gives 10 examples from 10 stories.

Story #1: The Colorado Water Droplet
Story #2: The Bouncing Acorn and the Bouncing Sperm
Story #3: One Grain of Sand
Story #4: The True Causes of World War III
Story #5: The Cheap Egyptian Tailor Who Saved the World
Story #6: Thornton Wilder's Tapestry
Story #7: Mark Helprin's Perfect Painting
Story #8: William James' Dystopian Utopia
Story #9: The "Ridiculous" Point of The Brothers Karamazov
Story #10: H. G. Wells' "The Door in the Wall"

The section on Characters has four chapters, God, angels, Saints and extraterrestrials. Both the sections on Theme and Style have 5 chapters. But the section on Setting is just a single chapter.

This book was an incredible read. I could hardly put it down. It has made me reflect more on some of my favorite fiction, and inspired me to add some of them back into my to be read pile along with some of the other books Kreeft drew examples from.

This is one of those books I know I will end up reading again. Much like Kreeft's own Between Heaven Hell, which I read every year for several years in a row. Any series fan of fiction will benefit from read this book! And Christian's especially will see the veil pulled back a bit and experience fiction, the world visible and the world invisible in a new way after reading this excellent book!

Note: If you are looking for a great Anthology that captures what this book talks about check out Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books.

Other Kreeft Reviews:
Socrates Meets Jesus
The Sea Within
Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics
The Journey
The Unaborted Socrates
The Best Things In Life
Between Heaven Hell
Doors in the Walls of the World

Articles That Mention Kreeft:
Opus Dei
Opus Dei Part II
Catholic Catechism Dialogue blog
4 Resources

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Ezekiel 2:3-5
Responsorial Psalm 123:1-4 Response 2
Second Reading 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Gospel Mark 6:1-6

What really struck me from this week's readings was a passage from the second reading. Paul states:
"Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."
This is the passage where Paul is speaking about the thorn in his flesh. Theologians have put forth theories about what it was. Some theologians insist we cannot know for certain but that does not stop others from speculation. The most popular theories are an ailment of the eyes, or a physical disfigurement that lead to ridicule, epilepsy or even persistent fever. During the reformation there was a belief that it was a temptation to unbelief. 

But what strikes me most is Paul prayed about it three times, and then just accepted the outcome. I know that sometimes people say we should remain persistent in prayer. And I must admit I find it easier to pray for friends and family, than for myself. So I am left wondering how did Paul know that God had answered him 'No' three times. You see when I was in university and involved with Campus ministries we were taught there are three answers to prayer: Yes, No, and Not Right Now . Thinking on my own prayer life, and this passage, am I open to an answer of No, or do I just assume it is an answer of 'Not right now.' and keep praying. Am I open to the "No's"? I have felt the need to pray for healing for my eyes, I have been doing so for a several years now. And they have slowly gotten worse. Has god been saying 'No' and I am not listening or is he saying 'Not right now'. I have also been praying for a few years to learn to live more joy. I do not want to be the grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. But my inner geezer is there. I stumbled across a book by Frank J. Sheed called Saints Are Not Sad I have not read it yet but it struck me. If my goal as a Christian, as a Catholic is to strive for sainthood I need to live more joy. It is not that I am sad, but I am not also joyful. I do not emote much and people often read my default as dour. But that is not how I wish to come across. Should I keep praying to live more joy? 

I do not really have answers to these questions. But I am thinking about them and have been all week. I truly wish I knew when to stop praying for some things because the answer has already been given. Or for greater discernment to know if the answer was

Yes - No - Not Right Now

And that is my prayer for me and for you my readers this week. That we will grow in discernment, and like Paul we can pray for God to work in our weakness. Blessings on you and your household.

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