Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Fourth Cup: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion - Scott Hahn

The Fourth Cup:
Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion
Scott Hahn
Image Books
IBSN 9781524758790
eISBN 9781524758806

Over the last 25 years I have read about a dozen books by Scott Hahn, and each and every one of them I found helped my spiritual life. They have helped my understanding or God, Mary, the Church, or a specific theological point. But of all his books I have read this is one of my favourites. In fact it was so good it inspired me to add a couple of his others I have not got around to reading back towards the top of my to be read list. The description of this book is:

"Well-known Catholic theologian Dr. Scott Hahn explains Christ's Paschal sacrifice on the cross as the fulfillment of the traditional fourth cup used in the celebration of Passover, drawing symbolic parallels to the Last Supper and Christ's death on Calvary. Through his scholarly insights and important biblical connections, Mass will come alive for you as never before!"
And does it ever live up to that promise. I found that while I was reading this book I did not want to put it down. I have noticed a marked difference in my participation at mass in the few weeks since I have read this book. I read a good number of books, and of those many are excellent. But this book moved me in a way that is hard to describe. It was a very moving work; it stirred my spirit and my desire to draw closer to God through the mass.  The chapters in this book are:

What Is Finished?
Passover and Covenant
A Typical Sacrifice
Rite Turns
The Paschal Shape of the Gospels
Behold the Lamb
The Lamb from the Beginning
Unleavened Bread
The Cups
The Hour
The Chalices and the Church
The Paschal Shape of the Liturgy
The Christian Passover
The Paschal Shape of Life
Works Consulted

The way that Hahn ties the Passover, the last supper and the Eucharist together in a study of the Jewish practices of the time will open the reader's eyes. Now much of the material in this book has appeared before. Hahn states that:

"In 1989 at Marytown in Chicago I first gave a talk titled "The Fourth Cup." It was about some of the studies that had led to my conversion to Catholicism just three years before. I was, at the time, an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. I wasn't earning much. I had no tenure or publications. But I was a happy man because I was Catholic, and I wanted to tell the world. Now I had an opportunity."
He goes on to say that he has given this talk, and talked about the Fourth Cup many times over the years, but he always gives slightly different versions of the talk. And that this book is the culmination of telling this story over the last 29 years since Hahn became Catholic, and his processing of this information for the over the 7 years before that as he made his way from being a pastor and academic who was being convinced by this specific study of the validity of the Catholic faith.

It all began with an Easter Sunday sermon, and a professor and mentor paused after stating "It is finished" but did not come back to it. It began the quest for Hahn to determine what was finished. Scott was upset by this question and challenged by the pastor to answer it. And ultimately this book is that answer. And it is a question and answer that is one of the foundations of Catholic belief. At nearly the end of the book Hahn says:

"This entire book is the story of my conversion. I wish I could say my conversion to Jesus was complete when I first encountered him, but that would be untrue. Conversion is never a one-time event. It's ongoing and ever-deepening. It was for Saint Peter. It was for Saint Paul."
And his search for answers will inspire us and draw us deeper into the mass, and deepen our relationship with God. An incredible read! Thank you.

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

Books by Scott Hahn:
A Father Who Keeps His Promises
A Pocket Guide to Saint Paul
A Pocket Guide to the Bible
Angels and Saints: A Biblical Friendship with God's Holy Ones
Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins's Case Against God
Catholic for a Reason
Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church
Covenant and Communion
Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization
First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity
Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
Hope for Hard Times
Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything and Still Does
Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises
Letter and Spirit : From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy
Living the Mysteries - A Guide for Unfinished Christians
Lord Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession
Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood
Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace
Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700
Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
Rome Sweet Home
Scripture Matters
Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots
Swear to God : The Promise and Power of the Sacraments
The Creed: Professing the Faith Through the Ages
The Fourth Cup
The Kingdom of God As Liturgical Empire
The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
Understanding "Our Father"

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Peace Promise: Trusting God to Solve the Unsolvable - John Kuypers

The Peace Promise:
Trusting God to Solve the Unsolvable
John Kuypers
Beacon Publishing for
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781635820225
eISBN 9781635820294

This book was an incredible read. In fact, before I had even finished it, I was recommending it to others. This is one of those books that I believe anyone would benefit from reading. I should note this book was formerly published as: The First Rule of Inner Peace: Jesus' Sensible Way to Be Happy. And I know that it is a book that I will be reading again, and likely again after that. But this is one of those books that is hard to describe or write a review for. I have been trying to word this review for over a week now. The description of this book, the write up on the back-cover states:

"How much time do we spend scrutinizing others, judging them, finding fault with them, being disappointed in how they've treated us? How much unhappiness could be avoided if we had a different way of dealing with the anxiety, stress, and broken relationships in our lives? In this new book, author John Kuypers shows how Jesus' teaching in the gospel of Matthew can revolutionize our relationships and our approach to the issues that trouble us. If we stop and get rid of the log in our own eye first, we will reach a place of peace even before we know how to deal with the speck in our neighbor's eye. And in that place of peace, the Holy Spirit can reveal what needs to be done to resolve things. 
Whether you're a spouse, a parent, a teacher, an employee, or an employer, this is a practical, real-world teaching anyone can apply in any situation. Experience for yourself the wonderful peace of seeing clearly and its transforming effect on your relationships."
The way I summed this up to a few people when talking about it, is that, it teaches us to stop focusing on the speck in other people's eyes and more on the plank in our own. Or another focus of the book is that our attachment to thinks, situations, or perceptions. And it all started with his own personal changes. At 34 John blacked out and after the fright of that event started a journey toward physical and emotional health.

The chapters in this book are:

PART ONE: Admit You Lack Peace
One: The Peace Promise
Two: How to Recover Your Peace
Three: Your Soul's Deepest Fear

PART TWO: Get Committed
Four: Four Ways to Get Committed
Five: Why You Can't See Clearly
Six: The Rewards of His Peace

PART THREE: Let His Peace In

Seven: Hundreds of Hidden Beliefs
Eight: The Three Nothings
Nine: Two Ways to Successfully Apply the Peace Promise

PART FOUR: Stop Resisting
Ten: Experiences of Others
Eleven: Do You Want Results or Peace?
Twelve: You Are Lovable

This book begins with these words:

"Jesus promised us life's greatest reward: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27). But there is a catch. "I do not give to you as the world gives." A friend once said to me, "That's exactly the part that troubles me!" In this book, you will see how radically true that is. It takes courage to receive the peace of the Lord because his ways are not our ways. Only by personal experience will you discover that his ways are also better than our ways."
I found that I was applying lessons from this book as soon as I had finished specific chapters. This book is full of examples from the authors life and from the lives of people he has worked with or who have read his earlier books. The concept of people reacting as either the hammer or a doormat really hit home for me. The premise is that people often overreact in one of two ways they become a hammer trying to force their view or decision, or they act like a doormat letting people walk over them and not even respecting their selves. I have come to realize that if either of these are happening then that person or I am not acting and living from a place of peace.

As I stated this book is hard to describe, but it is an incredible read! One of the best books I have read for personal and professional growth in years!

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

Books by John Kuypers:
The Non Judgmental Christian: Five Lessons That Will Revolutionize Your Relationships
What's Important Now: Shedding The Past So You Can Live In The Present
The First Rule Of Inner Peace: Jesus' Amazing Remedy For Unhappiness
Every Couple's Dilemma: To Be Truthful Or Protective
Who's The Driver Anyway? Making The Shift To A Collaborative Team Culture
Pay Now, Fly Later With Time Frame: Why Your Long Term Success Is Hidden In Your Organization Chart
Comfortable In Your Own Skin: What It Means To Be Present
The Peace Promise: Trusting God To Solve The Unsolvable

Monday, 19 February 2018

I Don't Like Lent - Rev Daniel A. Lord S.J.

I Don't Like Lent
Rev Daniel A. Lord S.J.

This was my introduction to Daniel A Lord’s works, this booklet was originally published in 1937 by The Queen’s Work, St. Louis, USA. It is currently available as a Kindle eBook. It was such a great read that as soon as I finished reading it, I read it through a second time and picked up about a dozen of his other booklets to read. According to Fr. Edward Looney, Daniel Lord wrote over a million words in his lifetime. Currently about 40 of his booklets are available as eBooks. But I have not found much of his other works still in print. And from just this first booklet I am addicted.

The introduction to this booklet states:

“Reading this pamphlet today, when the Church insists on such tiny penances, during Lent is a sobering reminder to good Catholics that their ancestors were willing to undergo far more stringent deeds of self-sacrifice than appears to be common among us, their children. May the reading of this pamphlet encourage us to be more zealous in the service of the Lord.”
And to be honest that is in part what it spurred in me to refocus just 4 days into lent this year. The booklet is a conversation that takes place after dinner one evening. The participants are:
A Maid
Mr. Bradley
Mrs. Bradley – our hostess
Father Hall
Grace Melville – Young and charming
Old Mrs. Harrison
Dr. Allenby – non-Catholic Professor of History
Shirley Green

At one point in the discussion Father hall states when it is implied he did not come up with the idea of lent: “And maybe that’s just where you are wrong. Maybe if I had the doing of it, I’d have put in two Lents a year, one in winter for the good of your souls, and one in summer for the good of your bodies. The fact is, I thoroughly approve of Lent. I think it’s a noble institution.”

The booklet is such an easy read. And it was a great read at that. I loved that it was written as a dialogue with numerous characters who were part of the conversation. I highly recommend this book!

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

Books by Daniel A. Lord:
Father Finn, S.J., The Story Of His Life Told By Himself For His Friends Young And Old

Red Arrows in the Night

Our Nuns: Their Varied and Vital Service for God and County
I can read ANYTHING!? All right! - then read THIS!
Confession is a joy?
Religion and Leadership
Fashionable Sin - A Modern Discussion of an Unpopular Subject
My Mother, The Study of an Uneventful Life
You Can't Live That Way
The Call to Catholic Action
Our Part in the Mystical Body
I Don't Like Lent

Sunday, 18 February 2018

First Sunday of Lent 2018

First Sunday of Lent 2018 

We are less than a week into Lent. and to be honest I have really struggled with what I chose to give up this year. I wrote a post last week about 'Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent 2018' It is not too late to pick up something to read during the rest of lent this year. lent is my favorite liturgical season. I appreciate the discipline, the spiritual focus, the sacrifices.

First Reading Genesis 9:8-15
Responsorial Psalm 25: 4-9 Response 10
Second Reading II Peter 3:18-22
Gospel Mark 1:12-15

Today we had another session training new altar servers. During the first practice I 'acted' as Father. And we did a full dry run of a mass. I am always uncomfortable with this part of teaching new altar servers. But it is necessary. Then Father joined us and we did another walk through. The children are doing a wonderful job picking it up. and my oldest two have given up 4 Saturday afternoon to help, even though they are already trained. Today we has a new server ask us some really tough questions:

What if your parents do not want you to be an altar server?
What if your parents do not want you to go to church?
What if your patents do not want you to be Catholic?

They were hard questions especially from a student in grade 4, 5, or 6. and I am not sure if their parents are separated and this is coming from one side. or if both of the child's parents feel that way. My children and I have been praying about this and it has been on my mind all afternoon and evening. 

The first hymn we sang tonight was Again We Keep This Solemn Fast

Again we keep this solemn fast,
A gift of faith from ages past,
This lent, which binds us lovingly
To faith and hope and charity

The law and prophets from of old
In figured ways this lentforetold
Which Christ, all ages' Lord and Guide,
In these last days has sanctified

More sparing, therefore, let us make
The words we speak, the food we take, 
Our sleep, our laughter, ev'ry sense;
Learn peace through holy penitence

Let us avoid each harmful way
That lures the careless mind astray;
By watchful prayer our spirits free
From scheming of the enemy.

We pray, O blessed Three in One,
Our God while endless ages run,
That this, our Lent of forty days,
May bring us growth and give you praise.

The text to this is ascribed to Saint Gregory the Great circa 540-604. Translated by Peter J. Scagnelli in 1949, and taken from the Catholic Book of Worship III. We only sang the first three versus for the entrance. But It struck a cord with me and after my time of prayer at the end of mass, while my children were clearing the altar and going to confession I reread it a few times and copied it down. I have been reading a lot this week about how Roman Catholic lent post Vatican II is so easy. Comparing it to current orthodox practices or pre-Vatican II requirements. Amy Welborn wrote an excellent piece this week. One of the key takeaways for me was that the requirements are minimums. To quote Welborn:
"The whole idea of the post-Conciliar changes to penitential fasting and abstinence was to present, as it were, a minimum on paper, with the expectation that the individual, flush with the glory of the Freedom of the Christian (and the Spirit of the Council), would take it from there. 
The legal minimalism was supposed to unleash an internal maximalist lurking in all of us who had just been waiting to be treated like an adult instead of a child defined by adherence to rigid rules."
From there I got to thinking about my observance. To be honest my goals this year were easier than many years in the past and event recently. And yet I find that i am struggling with them more than I normally would. Maybe I aimed too low and that is why I am struggling. Maybe I need to dig deeper and like the word of the hymn states my growth will come through holy penitence, not through being a slacker. 

The responsorial psalm for this weekends mass is:

R. Your paths, Lord, are love and faithfulness for those who keep your covenant.

Make me to know your ways o lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation.

Be mindful of your mercy, O lord, and of
your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
According to your steadfast love 
remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
he leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.

We are only 4 days into lent, there are still 43 days left counting the Sundays. I need to focus on god, and draw nearer to him. and it is my prayer that you are drawn to him this lent and that his Holy Spirit is poured out afresh on you as you seek God this lent. Blessings on you and your family.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Amber Fang: Revenge - Arthur Slade - Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 3

Amber Fang: Revenge
Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 3
Arthur Slade
ISBN 978-0995288751

Before we get to Amber Fang, let's discuss Arthur Slade for a moment. I first started reading his books back in 2002 when I was a bookseller and a mature student in university. I read two of his books that year, one as personal selection for a Children's lit course. I have been a big fan ever since reading that first book Dust, and have read all of the books he has published both as Arthur Slade and as Stephen Shea. But I am always hesitant to read the last book in a series, in part because some have gone downhill, and also because some stories you just do not want to end. But Arthur has hinted enough that thill will likely be other Amber Fang stories in some format, so that fear is alleviated. This story was so entertaining that the first fear was also extinguished. 

In my review of book 1 I stated that this series "reads like a cross between the TV series Dexter with Angel except the lead is a woman, and an aspiring librarian at that. Or a mash up of Tom Clancy, Anne Rice but with more than a little humour smattered in." And after book two I would say even more so. Though maybe a dash of Spider Robinson thrown in this time just to mix it up. But first some back story. Amber is a vampire with ethics. Her mother raised her to only take victims that are responsible for terrible crimes and who feel no remorse for it. After her mother disappeared she continued to work on her Masters of library science, research her meals, and search for her mother. Then things changed when she was recruited by a government organization. She became an assassin on contract. That organization has nearly been wiped out. She has discovered a secret organization of librarians around the world who know about the vampires, about Amber and her mother. They try not to interfere but have run a catch and release program.

These books span the globe, and Amber has certainly travelled a lot since learning her studies in Montreal. In the beginning of this book Amber is in Belize, then she journeys to Sweden, climbs a mountain, storms a hidden fortress, battles an intelligent computer. And makes a promise we might all regret. Because of her code of ethics she must keep her promise even if it is to an AI. 

Will amber rescue her mother? Does Dermot survive? Will the librarian guild break their rules and help her? There are a lot of questions before we begin this third book and a few new ones that arise.

What is there not to like about Amber, she is a librarian, she is beautiful, and she has a code of ethics. She keeps her promises, and she is devoted to those she cares about. She just happens to be an ex-assassin, and a vampire. 

This book was a great wrap up to the first Amber Fang series. From the hints by the author will be producing more works with Amber as a character. As readers we can only hope so. In my reading list I have read books by Arthur Slade a total of 34 times. And the humour and action in this series is very different from anything else he has written. So pick up this book or the whole series the trilogy is worth sinking your teeth into!  

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

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

Flickers (2016)

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

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

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

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

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

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

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

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 


Friday, 16 February 2018

Sitting Alone In A Dark Church Thursday After Ash Wednesday 2018

Sitting Alone In A Dark Church
Thursday After Ash Wednesday 2018

Sitting alone in a dark church. Tonight, I was reminded of a time many years ago, more than half my lifetime ago, I lived in a rectory for a few months. And yes, that is a long story, maybe a story for another time. And I had had keys to the church. I would often go over last at night, or early morning and just spend time in the dark church and pray. Or sit quietly in the presence of the blessed sacrament. 

Tonight, after mass, and after the parish council meeting I went back out through the church. I sat for a few minutes and prayed. I prayed for my wife, and my children. I prayed for a number of extended family members. I prayed for some friends, and coworkers. And I prayed to be able to forgive old wounds. This ties to the reason I lived in that rectory so many years ago. It was a very fearful time in my life. I was living somewhat in hiding and off the grid. But I also lived in the church. I severed mass every day. I spent time with a few seminary students. I served many funeral masses. I had a prie dieu kneeler in my room, and between time praying in my room or the church it felt like my days were filled with prayer.

And tonight, I was thankful for a few minutes in prayer before mass, and my moments alone in the church after the meeting. I brought back memories of a very hard time, but what was also a very good time. 

Related Posts:

The Colors of the Church Year
The Privilege of Altar Serving
Serving God, Altar Serving and Learning to Listen
Saturday 18th Week or Ordinary Time
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017
Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2017

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

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Divine Mercy in My Pocket - Marianne Lorraine Trouvé

Divine Mercy in My Pocket
Marianne Lorraine Trouvé
Mary Joseph Peterson (Illustrator),
Laura Rosemarie McGowan (Assistant Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819819130

This is a wonderful little booklet. It does an excellent job of explaining Divine Mercy to children. But it can really be used by anyone. My son was fascinated by this booklet from the moment we opened the package. He has an audio version of the divine mercy chaplet that he prays way most days. He loved the explanations in this book both of why and how to pray it but also of the works of mercy.

The sections in this booklet are:
What Is Divine Mercy?
Who Is Saint Faustina?
How Do I Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet?
What Do the Three Prayers Mean?
What Is Divine Mercy Sunday?
How Can I Share Mercy with Others?
Corporal Works of Mercy

  1. Feed the Hungry
  2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
  3. Clothe the Naked
  4. Shelter the Homeless
  5. Visit the Sick
  6. Visit the Imprisoned
  7. Bury the Dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
  1. Instruct the Ignorant
  2. Counsel the Doubtful
  3. Correct Sinners
  4. Bear Wrongs Patiently
  5. Forgive Offenses Willingly
  6. Comfort the Afflicted
  7. Pray for the Living And the Dead
Each of the works of mercy has a nearly full-page piece of artwork. And below it an example a child can follow to live that work of mercy. the illustrations and the samples are wonderful. This is an awesome little booklet. My children love it and I enjoyed reading it with them.

A wonderful little booklet that we recommend!

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

Books by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé:
Mary: Help in Hard Times
A Scriptural Rosary
Sacred Heart of Jesus Prayer Book
Angels: Help from on High
Novena St Thomas Aquinas: Patron of Students and Catholic Schools
Divine Mercy in My Pocket
Purgatory Purifying Power
My Favorite Prayers & Novena
Praying Mysteries of Light
Praying the Rosary for Priests
Our Lady Undoer of Knots: Novena and Prayers
The Rosary with Pope Francis

Consecrated Life: John Paul II
Saint Thomas Aquinas: Saints By Our Side

Encounter the Saints Series:
Saint Catherine Labouré: And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi: A Light for the World
Saint Thomas Aquinas: Missionary of Truth

Books contributed to:
The Catholic Answer Book of Mary
Honoring Mary with the Holy Father
Pope Francis in the U.S.: Words of Mercy and Hope

Books Edited by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé:
Mary Leads Us to Jesus
Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church: Documents on the Blessed Virgin Mary

Ordinary Grace Daily Reflections:
Ordinary Grace, Weeks 1-17
Ordinary Grace, Weeks 18-34
Easter Grace

Translated by:
Adventures of Saint Paul

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ash Wednesday 2018 A Reflection

Ash Wednesday 2018 A Reflection

Lent begins today. Last week I wrote a post 'Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent 2018' I appreciate the goals and focus of Lent. I find it an annual time of spiritual renewal. Both from what I am more intentional about and also what I am intentional about limiting or eliminating from my life. 

First Reading Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm 51:1-4,10-12,15 Response 1a,4a
Second Reading 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Gospel Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

The first reading today begins with these words:

"Even now, says the Lord
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts, and not your clothing."

And that is the call to each of us each year at lent. This prophetic call for repentance echos down through the ages. It is a universal call and it is a timeless call. The response for the responsorial psalm today is:

"Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned."

and it is true all have sinned and fall short. But many in this day and age do not admit their sin. In fact many try to erase even the concept of sin from our society today. We need to admit our sin, and turn to God. It is the only healthy way to move forward. In the second reading we have Paul say to us:

"For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.
See, now is the acceptable time;
see, now is the day of salvation!"

Today's gospel reading provides strong guidance to our Lenten practices. It is said that Saint Augustine declares that this passage is the perfect standard for the Christian life. But combining Jesus's words with those of Joel in the first reading and guide us to turn to God with all of our heart! In the gospel Jesus exclaims:

"But when you fast,
put oil on your head and wash your face,
so that your fasting may be seen not by others
but by your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

So no matter what you decide to do this Lent, I encourage you to do it for God. Do it for your personal sanctification. Do it to learn to Love God more and through that growth to love and server others!  

Blessings on you this Lent and I pray that you draw nearer to God.

Related Posts:

The Colors of the Church Year
The Privilege of Altar Serving
Serving God, Altar Serving and Learning to Listen
Saturday 18th Week or Ordinary Time
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017
Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2017

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

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Super Girls and Halos - Maria Morera Johnson - My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue

Super Girls and Halos:
My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue
Maria Morera Johnson
Ave Maria Press
ISBN 9781594717550
eISBN 9781594717567

As a father of daughters this book immediately caught my attention. And even though the reading level is above where they are currently at. I cannot wait to read it again with them when they are a little older. And yet there was a lot I could take from this book and apply to my life. Lessons I can live by, in how I treat my wife and daughters. How I interact with women at work. And How fiction can be icons for mirroring the saints, virtues and for right living.

This book ties together Maria's own story and journey with heroines and with saints. The heroines are drawn from the Marvel universe, DC, and many other movies and books. In part this is a who's who of contemporary fiction, Black Widow, Rey, Katniss, Wonder Woman, and more. And uses them as a means of unpacking the cardinal virtues. But each of these characters from fiction is also paired with a Catholic Saint.

The sections in this book are:

Heroines, Heroic Virtue, and the Quest for Good
Part I: Seeking Justice
1. Crusaders of Justice and Learning: Wonder Woman and St. Katharine Drexel
2. Beacons of Strength and Light: Rey and St. Clare of Assisi
Part II: Seeking Prudence
3. Imparters of Mercy and Service: Black Widow and St. Mary Magdalene
4. Paragons of Wisdom and Truth: Scully and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Part III: Seeking Fortitude
5. Guardians of Dignity and Culture: Storm and St. Cunegunde
6. Defenders of Fairness and Honor: Granger and St. Marguerite d'Youville
Part IV: Seeking Temperance
7. Champions of Caring and Compassion: Katniss Everdeen and St. Mary MacKillop
8. Explorers of Peace and Faith: Lt. Nyota Uhura and St. Kateri Tekakwitha
The Quest for Good Leads to God: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe

This book is great as a standalone read. But it would be even better in a group study. This book is full of a vibrant faith. It is practical. It is a modern wisdom book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it two thumbs up.

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

Books by Maria Morera Johnson:
My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live
Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue

Monday, 12 February 2018

More Tales of Irish Saints - Alice Curtayne

More Tales of Irish Saints
Alice Curtayne
Brigid Rynne (Illustrator)
The Talbot Press Limited
Eighty-Nine Talbot Street Dublin
First Edition 1957
ISBN 0861670183

I discovered the writings of Alice Curtayne just a few weeks ago. I came across a new reprint edition of Twenty Tales of Irish Saints, and it was a wonderful read. Before I had even finished reading it I started trying to track down other works by Curtayne. I can only find 2 eBooks in print in North America, and a few others available in reprint in the UK. I have even had a very hard time finding used copies of her works for a reasonable price so read this one through an interlibrary loan and currently have them looking for Irish Saints for Boys and Girls, to read next. And I truly wish that many of her other titles would be republished in eBook editions. From what I have been able to determine many of her books were published by The Talbot Press Limited, which closed its doors in November of 2002 after publishing books for 85 years.

My children and I have loved the two books by Curtayne that we have read. This particular book was dedicated to the Gannon children of Boston and the Burke grandchildren of Chicago. It was dedicated to 23 children with a writer's love. And having seen my children's reactions to the stories 61 years after it was first in print; I believe those children would have loved this book also. This book contains 21 short tales about various Irish saints. Some saints appear more than once. 

The chapters in the book are:
Patrick's Rushes
The Robber Who Became a Bishop
Carthage and the Druid
Ciaran's Blackberries
Berach and the Bear
Brendan and the Whale
Why Brendan Hated Music
Columcille and the Flounders
Faelain's Three Wishes
Brigid and the Minstrels
Moling and the Wild Dogs
Moling's Pet Fox
Gall's Disobedience
The Priest and the Bees
Aengus and the Schoolboy
Eugene and the Pirates
Colman and the Swans
Loman, the Saint Who Would Not Lend Books
Macanisius and the Child
Molua and the Scholars
Finbarr's Hazelnuts

There is also a smattering of ink sketches by Brigid Rynne. I have been unable to find out much about the illustrator but the kids and I loved the illustrations. Every story has at least 1 illustration. The copy of this book I could get my hands on did not have a dust jacket, and there is no information about the illustrator in the book. In fact there is no introduction, do about the author, just a brief dedication and immediately into the stories.

And what wonderfully fun stories they are. This book reminded me a lot of Andrew M. Seddon's Saints Alive Volume II - Celtic Paths, but written for a younger audience. I read this book with my children ages 11, 10, and 7. My oldest could read it without difficulty. My middle child needed some help with words, especially names. And my youngest loved listening to the stories, no matter who was reading them to her. 

This is a wonderful book and if I can find a reasonably priced good condition copy I will add it to the family library immediately!

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

Books by Alice Curtayne:

St. Catherine of Siena 
A Recall to Dante
Labours in the Vineyard 
Saint Brigid of Ireland
Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Columcille: the Dove of the Church 
St Francis of Assisi: Founder of the Franciscan Order
St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland
House of Cards 
Borne of the Wind 
Lough Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory
Twenty Tales of Irish Saints
More Tales of Irish Saints

Irish Saints for Boys and Girls
Jean-Baptiste Debrabant
Patrick Sarsfield
The Trial of Oliver Plunkett
The Irish Story
Francis Ledwidge: A Life of the Poet

Books Edited by Alice Curtayne:
The Complete works of Francis Ledwidge

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 

Lent begins in a few days. I wrote a post this week about 'Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent 2018' This is the last few days of ordinary time before that season begins. Even as we are spending time thinking ahead to Lent, we need to live each day to the full.

First Reading Leviticus 13:1,2,45,46
Responsorial Psalm 32: 1,2,5,11 Response 7
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Gospel Mark 1:40-45

In today's gospel the man cured of leprosy was told to tell no one and go make the offering for having been healed. And yet he went and proclaimed to all who would listen. So many listened that Jesus had to move his ministry to the country side. I wonder if the same thing would happen today. If we as Christians, as Catholics would proclaim all that God has done for us, day by day, week by week. The small victories and little things and the big miracles. Would so many people flock to the church that we would need to add more services, or build more churches? Would I witness bear fruit? Or would the people who know us at work, in our communities look at us and compare the witness of our words with how we live, work, and play?

As an aside I have been helping to teach a class of new altar servers. We meet for a few hours each Saturday afternoon this month. Today we did a full walk through of mass. It is a very different perspective in a dark church, and facing out, at empty pews. It is a privileged and a blessing to help train altar servers and to serve myself when needed.  

I leave you with this thought and it has been on my mind often this week, our life is a witness, but what is it a witness to? Do people see Christ living in us? The Holy Spirit working through us? The love of God in our deeds, actions and words? I know that when I reflect upon those questions I have a long way to go. But I struggle and strive each day to be a better follower of Jesus. 

Related Posts:

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent 2018

2018 Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent

I have used all of these books at least once in the past. Some I use annually. Links on the titles go to full reviews of the books if I have written them.

Francis Fernandez
ISBN 0906138205
Scepter Press
ISBN 0906138191
In Conversation with God Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
In Conversation with God Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide

This volume spans the time from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday. Therefore this book will lead you through Lent, Easter and the 5 weeks of Easter leading up to Pentecost. If you cannot afford the whole set, start with this volume and the Advent and Christmastide volume, then add the others over time. It is usually cheaper to buy the boxed set but sometimes that amount of money is not available up front. You can read my full review of this book here. And these are now available in ebooks. The eBook edition is split into 2 volumes.

Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter 
ISBN 9780764826870

I have read Amy's Reconciled to God Daily Lenten Devotionsand her contributions in other devotionls. I am looking forward to reading this new offering from her. The Description of this volume is "This Lent and Easter season, author Amy Welborn shares her own struggles and triumphs of trying to live Lent and Easter spirituality year-round. She shares how small moments of frustration can turn into small lessons of grace. We carry our own crosses alongside Jesus this season. But as we drop worldly concerns to pick up our cross, we may realize our burden has actually been lightened."

This series comprises 26 Books, 26 Topics, and 20 Questions on different aspects of Catholicism or Catholic answers to other religions. I recently read a challenge to read all 26 books in this series over lent. I was originally planning on reading them over a year, but after reading this volume I am up for the challenge. To read them all over lent would be about 25 pages of reading a day. Here is the list of books in this series.

Best Lent Ever - Matthew Kelly
The Dynamic Catholic Institute

This is a series of daily messages and videos delivered directly into your mailbox. Last year I did the lent and advent series and really got a lot out of them so I am looking forward to the lent messages again this year.

Rediscover Lent
Matthew Kelly
St. Anthony Messenger Press
ISBN 9781616362379
eISBN 9781616364236

I have yet to read anything my Matthew Kelly that did not help grow my faith. I love the daily email from The Dynamic Catholic Institute, and I really look forward to reading this book over lent. I know that this book is a series of excerpts from Rediscover Catholicism, but I have yet to read that book. This should be an awesome tool this year.

Welcome Risen Jesus
Sarah A. Reinhard
Liguori Publications
ISBN 9780764820748

Last year I read the book Sarah edited, Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary and absolutely loved it. And this past advent we read Welcome Baby Jesus with the kids and it was amazing. I am really looking forward to her insights on lent and the reflections and action points for the kids.

Lenten Meditations with Fulton J. Sheen
Fulton J. Sheen
Liguori Publications
ISBN 9780764816840

Last year I finished listening to Life Changers by Greg Willits, in it he focuses on knowing the faith, living the faith and sharing the faith. A few different times he recommends reading something by Fulton J. Sheen, so I picked up this devotion for Lent. Now to be honest I was a little disappointed, at first, it is only a short quote and a related bible verse. But after reading a few, even though it will be the shortest daily resource I expect some real gem's from this book.

If you have some must have recommendations for Lenten readings please add them in the comments.

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