Monday, 19 March 2018

Feast of Saint Joseph 2018 Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary Principal Patron of Canada

Feast of Saint Joseph 2018
Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Principal Patron of Canada

In Canada we have 4 Patron saints, but the principal Patron Saint is Saint Joseph. The others are:
Saint Anne, Mother of Mary
Saint Jean de Brébeuf
Canadian Martyrs, a group comprised of:
St. René Goupil (1642)
St. Isaac Jogues (1646)
St. Jean de Lalande (1646)
St. Antoine Daniel (1648)
St. Jean de Brébeuf (1649)
St. Noël Chabanel (1649)
St. Charles Garnier (1649)
St. Gabriel Lalemant (1649)
Those Canadian Martyrs are sometimes known as the North American Martyrs. But today is the universal feast of Saint Joseph and also a mass with special readings in Canada, from the Canadian Council of Bishops. 

First Reading 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-15, 16
Responsorial Psalm 80: 1-4, 26, 28 Response 36
Second Reading Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Gospel Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

As a husband and father I find that my devotion to saint Joseph is constantly growing. I need to turn to him for help. And though we do not know a lot about him directly from scripture, we know much about his character. And many books have been written about him. There are different theories about Joseph being an older man, and a celibate marriage not being a big deal. There are some who believe he was the normal marring age and the celibacy was more of a factor. And to be honest I do not know. But I know he cared for the woman he loved in very hard circumstances. I know that he accepted the role of foster father to the son of God. I know that he was anguished when Jesus was missing and they found him in the temple. I know that he listened to God's promptings in his dreams, and messages from angels, and did all he could to protect, and provide for Jesus and Mary. I know that he worked hard and was known to be skilled at his trade and an honest and hard worker. 

And all of those are traits I can strive to emulate. And I often fail. Yesterday I worked 11 and a half hours, and worked 30 hours over time this week. Not my normal practice any more, and thankfully not something I need to do often. But I was tired and ended up being short with my youngest. When she came back downstairs, I apologised for hurting her feelings. We hugged for a long time. It is not something I talk about often but I am often in pain, daily pain with bad knees and bad shoulders. For months now I have woken in pain and done to bed in pain. I did a lot of stupid things when I was younger. I played a lot of sports. I was hurt at work and kept working … the list goes on. But I am finding in this new state I can pray more often. Each time I am in pain I can pray, pray to draw closer to God, pray to be a better husband, and pray to be a better father, better son, better brother, better friend, and better employee. I can offer it to God. Because of the division of labour in our home I get up most days at 5, and leave by 5:50 to walk 20 minutes to my bus for work. My wife does the whole morning routine and gets our kids and half the time 2 other kids fed, read, and off to school. But I am home before they arrive home. I prepare the afternoon snacks, suppers, get ready for karate, music lessons, … I pray while walking home every evening for my kids and on those days the other two that will be here. 

And so today I am thankful for Saint Joseph and his example that I in my shabby way attempt to learn from and emulate.

So to all my friends who are father, and my fellow Canadians, blessed feast of saint Joseph!

Prayer to Saint Joseph:

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. 

Books about Saint Joseph:
Joseph of Nazareth - Federico Suarez
Devotion to St. Joseph - F. Declaux
Go to St. Joseph: Do Whatever He Tells You -  Brian Kiczek
Seven Saints for Seven Virtues - Jean M. Heimann

Related Posts:

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2018

This is the last week of lent where there are two set of options for readings. I did not know what our church would be doing so I have read each a few times this week. But it is also a deepening of the season of lent. There are no plants on the altar. Christ is covered up, both behind the altar and the cross used in the procession. In a way the altar feels stark and bare. But in that paring down we are drawn into the upcoming passion. Next week is psalm Sunday, a great celebration, but also the beginning of the passion week.  

The first is:

First Reading Jeremiah 31:31-34
Responsorial Psalm 51: 1-2, 10-13 Response 10
Second Reading Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel John 12:20-33

And the second is:

First Reading Ezekiel 37:12-14
Responsorial Psalm 130: 1-8, Response 7
Second Reading Romans 8:8-11
Gospel John 11:1-45

In the sermon tonight at mass Deacon Ed MacIntosh, spoke powerfully about how our culture prepares for almost everything, except death. And death indeed is coming for us all. In Catholic theology there are numerous books, and talks about the four last things; Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. In fact a quick search on Amazon.ca turns up almost 300 books, Amazon.com is almost 1200. And google turns up almost 4 million results. And that is part of our focus this week. As Catholics, as Christians we believe in a life here after, and we believe that what we do here should be preparing us for that. And lent is our annual refocus.  

The response today from the first reading options is:

Create in me a clean heart, O God.

That is my prayer, today and every day. As lent is drawing to its conclusion let us indeed prepare him the way and be preparing for the four last things.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Trials of Saint Patrick - Paul McCusker - The Augustine Institute

The Trials of Saint Patrick
Paul McCusker (Author)
John Rhys-Davies (Narrator)
Sean O Meallaigh (Narrator)
Dame Sian Phillips (Narrator)
Guy Siner (Narrator)
Ian McNeice (Narrator)
The Augustine Institute

One of the biggest advantages of a parish subscription to Formed is all the great content. I wrote a review of Formed and love it more every week. And this audio drama on the life of Saint Patrick is an amazing presentation. It is 3 hours and 21 minutes in length. It brings to life this saint, in a vivid way. Having read a few versions of Patrick's The Confessions of Saint Patrick and Letter to Coroticus, it would appear to serve as source material. This presentation presents an man, a man who made mistakes, a man who found God, and a man who spent his life in service of God. It is told from the perspective of Patrick being under trial, and his role as bishop in jeopardy. The story is told back and forth from the trial to Patrick's memory spanning his whole life.

Two different actors play the voice of Patrick; John Rhys-Davies as Patrick the elder and Seán T. Ó Meallaigh as young Patrick. The story begins on the day of his capture by Pirates and goes until he is preparing to head to an island on Lough Derg. It was awesome just closing my eyes and listening to this presentation. My son who is 10 came in when I was almost done and asked if I could start over and listen to it with him. (One of his middle names is Patrick and he has a devotion to the saint.

This story presents not just the great saint but the man. His trials in school, in ministry and even the literal trial he underwent. It is very well done and I am thankful to have listened to such an excellent production. If you are a fan of the Saint, or just love all things Irish you should give this story a listen.

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

Other articles about Saint Patrick:
The Confessions of Saint Patrick and Letter to Coroticus
Happy Saint Patricks Day 2012 With Saint Patrick Prayers
Patrick and The Fire - Cornelia Mary Bilinsky and Maggie Coburn
Twenty Tales of Irish Saint - Alice Curtayne
More Tales of Irish Saints - Alice Curtayne
The Secret of the Shamrock - Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower
Brigid and the Butter - Pamela Love and Apryl Stott
Prayer of the day - Saint Patrick's Rune

The Trials of Saint Patrick.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Becoming Madeleine A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters - Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy

Becoming Madeleine
A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters
Charlotte Jones Voiklis
Léna Roy
Farrar Straus Giroux
ISBN 9780374307646
eISBN 9780374307653

I was introduced to the works of Madeleine L'Engle in the fall of 1995, as the age of 25 I was a little older to be discovering the woman and her works. But within three years I would have read 33 of her books. Reading all the local library had, and any I could get through interlibrary loans. And then I got to spend a weekend with L'Engle at a conference / retreat where she was the keynote speaker. I have been fascinated with the woman and her works since I first encountered them and have been a fan for nearly 25 years now. So, when I found out that there was a new biography coming out to celebrate the centenary of her birth and that it was written by two of her granddaughters I was extremely excited.

This book did not disappoint. The book is written with insight that only close family members would have. It celebrates the life and the works of Madeleine L'Engle 1918-2007. It is written with a middle grade audience in mind, but to be honest is so well written any fan of L'Engle or her works will appreciate the history. L'Engle herself wrote many non-fiction books and a number of those were autobiographical in nature. But this book looks at her life from a very different angle. The book begins with a quote from Circle of Quiet, one of L'Engle's autobiographical works:

"A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming."

And the prologue begins with these words:

"We were young when our grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle, started sharing with us the patchwork of events, relationships, and emotions that shaped her into the person she was always becoming. She described her childhood as solitary, and we thought it must have been lonely-after all, even we, who had each other, had periods of loneliness. But her stories about growing up and becoming the writer and grandmother we knew gave us the assurance that, just like her, we could survive the hurts and joys of childhood and adolescence."

The chapters in this volume are:
Before Madeleine
A New York City Childhood
Trouble at School
From Child to Teen
The Eustace Affair
Senior Year
The College Years
The Best School for a Writer
Making a Living
Work and Love
Marriage and Children
Making the Leap
Authors' Note

The authors note at the end of the book begins with this:

"Writing this book has been quite a journey. We were reluctant at first to try to tackle our grandmother's biography. After all, she herself spoke and wrote about her life a good deal, and we were aware of the fact that the lines between fiction, nonfiction, and memoir can be blurry, for our grandmother no less than for everyone else. How could we write about her in a way that would bring her to life in all her contradictory richness? That would do her justice and honor? That would be honest and fair?"

But their fears were unwarranted. They have written a wonderful book. It is open and honest. It shares L'Engle's troubles, sorrows, triumphs and maintains a balance I believe many would find hard to achieve. The only regret I have about this book is for the most part it ends with the publishing of A Wrinkle in Time. The rest of her life is summed up very briefly. I only home that there will be a second volume that continues in more details like the majority of this book but begins with the publishing of A Wrinkle in Time and goes unto her passing.

Madeleine did write about life, and for her that line between faith, fiction and autobiography were often blurred. Maybe for that reason Canon Tallisis one of my favorite characters, like Madeleine put parts of her self and her story in many of her characters and stories, Tallis crosses all the lines in the stories, he appears in the Kairos books, the Chronos books and in the autobiographical works. The authors of this work state:

"As we read more and more of her books, and heard more and more of her own personal stories, we began to see how connected they were. Many of her own experiences were given to Camilla in Camilla Dickinson, Katherine in A Small Rain, and Flip in And Both Were Young. Many of her own characteristics were given to Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and Vicky in Meet the Austins." 

I throughout my university career, which spanned 20 years, I often quoted L'Engle, form my notes of her speaking at a conference and from many of her works. This is a book I would have drawn from to write about life, about faith and about art. I will likely circle back in a few years after reading some of L'Engle's works with my children and reread this book with them.

This is a wonderful book about an amazing woman. If you are a fan in any way shape or form, you owe it to yourself to read this book!

Related Articles:
Madeleine L'Engle Bibliography

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Ginger Raspberry Squeeze Smoothie

Ginger Raspberry Squeeze Smoothie

The juice of:

1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
1 grapefruit


1 cup frozen raspberries
3 drops doTerra Ginger Essential Oil
1 tbsp maca powder
1 tbsp goji berries

Hand juice the citrus fruit and add to blender. Add all dry ingredients, then add the frozen raspberries, and 1-5 drops of ginger essential oil. (Start low and add each time you make it until you find your perfect taste.

This smoothie has amazing flavor and taste. Fit is the first time that I have added oils to a smoothie but will not be the last. Up until now I had just been adding them to room temperature water, or in my favorite hot drink, Lemon Lime Peppermint Water.

I love making smoothies and the wonderful thing about a simple one like this is it is so easy to make variation. Below are some optional ingredients to add or swap out.

Optional Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients:

1tbsp Chia Seeds
1tbsp Flax Seeds
1tbsp Hemp Hearts
1tbsp coconut flakes

Frozen Ingredients:
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen kale
1 cup frozen mixed berries

You could also swap out one or more of the citrus fruits for juiced carrots. I have so many new smoothies I want to try and many doTerra oils to experiment with. I will continue to post new recipes from time to time as I experiment with Smoothie and Juice recipes. And I collect mine and favourites from around the web you can find them shared here in a OneNote notebook, there are subsections for Juices, Smoothies, Gluten Free Options and Other. I also have another notebook for my essential oils research and notes.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Time Bomb - Joelle Charbonneau

Time Bomb
Joelle Charbonneau
HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN 9780544416703
eISBN 9781328476869

I have not kept up on all of Joelle Charbonneau's books, but after reading this one I was reminder that I should be! This was the fifth novel or novella that I have read by Charbonneau and all of them were excellent. This is one of those novels that could be taken from the news headlines. But it has a number of unique twists in the plot. I will warn you once you start reading this book you will not want to put it down. Charbonneau's The Testing, was in excellent dystopian novel, and beginning of a trilogy. Her book Need, pushes the bounds of social experiments, and how far someone would go to get what they want. And in this book a thriller with more than one big bang.

The dedication of this book is: "To the students and teachers of Fenton High School - you taught me first impressions are never as important as what comes after." And that sentiment will play a major role in this story. And this story begins with a quote from George R.R. Martin "Nobody is the villain in their own story.", and we see that play out in the unfolding of this story as well. The first chapter of this book is title 1:51 PM, but then flips to earlier that day 8:35 AM and the 45th chapter begins at 2:05 PM. The majority of this story takes place over those 6 hours. 

Our Cast of Characters are:
Diana - congressman's daughter
Rashid - young Islamic teen
Z - mother has just passed away, and is being evicted  
Tad - a gay football player
Cas - musician, overweight, outcast, bullied
Frankie - captain of the football team, had a moment with Tad
Kaitlin - badly injured

Around 12:03 PM a bomb goes off in the school. From the introductions to most of our characters it is possible they were responsible. Kaitlin is the only one who does not seem a possible suspect. But once the bomb goes off each of these 7 are trying to survive and as they are making their way through the wreckage a second bomb goes off. Emergency responders are injured in the second blast, thus slowing the search and rescue efforts. Also, they have heard that a bomber was caught, but one of the 7 is also in on the plot. 

This book takes the high school experience to the most intense levels. It looks are very real situations that students face every day. It has questions about religious persecution, bullying, taking responsibility, wanting to kill yourself and more. And Puts it all in a very tense and stressful situation. And it des it very realistically.  

As stated this is a book that once you begin reading you will not want to stop. It was very hard to put down. And the only thing that helped me do so was the requirement to begin my day at work. You will find yourself connecting with the characters, you will also think on your own interactions with others and the impact your words and actions have. Another great read from the pen of Charbonneau, she has an ability to craft addictive stories and this is one of them. 

Books by Joelle Charbonneau:
Time Bomb

Dividing Eden:
0.5 Into the Garden
1.0 Dividing Eden
2.0 Eden Conquered 
2.5 Forbidden Fruit 

The Testing:
The Testing Guide - Short Story Prequel
The Testing - The Testing Book #1
Independent Study - The Testing Book #2
Graduation Day - The Testing Book #3

The Skating Series:
Skating on the Edge
Skating Over the Line
Skating Around the Law
Skating Under the Wire

The Glee Club Series:
Murder for Choir
End Me A Tenor
A Chorus Lineup

Contributed to:
Among The Shadows: 13 Stories of Darkness & Light
Terminal Damage: A Do Some Damage Collection
Collateral Damage: A Do Some Damage Collection
Crime Factory Issue 7

Author Profile and Interview with Joelle Charbonneau

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Another Modest Proposal - Lucien Guillaume

Another Modest Proposal - Lucien Guillaume

(Note: From Steven R. McEvoy, please see the not at the end of the essay, to explain its origins, and some other titbits.)

An Essay on Time: The Plan
Step One: eliminate Daylight Saving time change
Step Two: expand use of 24-hour clock
Step Three: Select one standardised time, eliminate time zones, International Date Line.

2018 Version

The Fourth Dimension

The continued progress of existence and events:

This essay presents a proposal for a different view of visualising, interpreting, and displaying time. It aims at simplification and standardisation, the elimination of arbitrary constraints which complicate the existing approaches. At first it may seem bizarre to people who are quite used to, and accepting, the current environment they happen to find themselves in. However, as an educational exercise, it provides food for thought regardless of whether it may develop into an actual change or not. Your comments, if any, regarding this seminal stage will be appreciated as a valued contribution to help me refine and modify my approach as well as to contribute to its further elaboration

This is in the spirit of Occam's razor (in Latin: Lex Parsimoniae), a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), stating that “among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

STEP ONE: Eliminate the Daily Saving Time.

Currently: We advance the clocks by one hour (or fraction thereof) from a date in the spring to a date in the fall. The initial idea or pretext used to justify the move was to save energy by benefiting more from the natural sunlight hours.
Besides the fact that this is an arbitrary decision trying to offset a natural phenomenon, it has disadvantages in application. The dates do vary from one country, or province to another. The case for the energy saving has not been proved. On the other hand a peripheral consequence is that there is a proven increase of traffic accidents and heart problems around the start and end dates.
In addition it has some logistical implications: Some institutions and companies do not reduce salary entitlement when the shift is reduced by one hour, but pay overtime when the shift is increased by one hour.

It creates a lot of work for many individuals when we consider the number of clocks, watches, etc., which have to be reset twice a year all over the world. And besides the number of people who, by inadvertence, do not comply properly, there is also some information which fails to be updated in time, on the Internet for instance, such as the schedule of periodic events.

There is no perceived concrete benefit except for the authority who feels that his/her signature on a decree has the power to have the sun rise and set one hour earlier or an hour later.

We might wonder why this change takes place twice a year, and not, for example, four, six, or eight times, or even on a weekly basis, thus reducing the amount of time change.

A more logical approach is to do away with this arbitrary procedure, retain the standard time throughout the year and leave the initiative to companies and institutions to decide whether they decide to change their operating hours,
For instance, a company with currently operating hours “9:00 to 17:00” may decide to switch to “10:00 to 18:00” (or “9:30 to 17:30”) for a specific seasonal period. The core period throughout the year becomes known as “10:00 to 17:00” with additional scheduled periodic availability “9:00 to 10:00” or “17:00 to 18:00”, depending on the season.

This scheme can be implemented with a wide flexibility within an area or an industry. If the various entities do not synchronise their operating hours, the rush hours are spread out and the traffic becomes lighter and more fluid.
Going back to basics, farmers will keep on performing their work according to the position of the sun, regardless of what it might be called.

This Daily Saving Time approach is reminiscent of Y2K, the numeronym for the Millennium bug which created a wave of concern at the time. We take note of the date and wait for something important, potentially catastrophic, to happen. To use a metaphor popularised by Jean de la Fontaine in one of his fables: “La montagne accouche d’une souris”, or as Shakespeare’s expressed it in his comedic play “Much ado about nothing”. The fact that you do not want to miss the date may create some stress regardless of what may, or not, in fact happen.

Elimination will remove a conversation topic (reminders in the media, “we are losing/gaining an hour”). We can converse about something more useful.
The elimination is a step towards simplicity, a return to a natural process without arbitrary constraints. It adds a measure of flexibility in application.

STEP TWO: Expand the use of the 24-hour clock.

Currently, we mostly use the full 24-hour clock or a duodecimal clock of twelve hours being repeated and qualified by reference to 12 o’clock which therefore gets an increase in relevance. (Besides Navy bells, monastery times, etc.). The day seems unnecessarily centered, focused on the period of lunch time.
This is the result of an arbitrary decision. And we may wonder why the duodecimal was chosen in the first place: (actually quite handy, divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6.), as opposed to another number, instead of 2 x 12 hrs, 3 periods of 8 hours, 4, periods of 6 hours.

The 12-hour clock requires an alphanumeric notation (am/pm suffixes) which introduces a level of complexity in order to avoid potential ambiguities, and the need to differentiate between Noon and Midnight by specifying 12-noon, or 12-midnight., while the 24-hour clock is used extensively quite successfully and efficiently in domains such as the military, transportation and scientific fields.
It does not require redesign of a dial which would necessitate a narrower segment of 15 degrees to display a succession of 24 hours, harder to read. The existing layout showing paired, for example concentric, combinations 1.00/13:00, 2:00/14:00, etc. is quite suitable without any change. Furthermore the trend nowadays is to shift to digital timepieces.

I would suggest that the use of the 12-h be phased out progressively into complete elimination.

This does not seem to be quite revolutionary. A more drastic change which is not considered here, would involve decimalisation which was actually implemented in a previous historic event: Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Clocks were manufactured to display this decimal time, but it did not catch on. Mandatory use of decimal time was officially suspended 7 April 1795, although some cities continued to use decimal time as late as 1801 [Wikipedia]

STEP THREE: Universalise one standard time.

The third step consists in adopting world-wide one unique, standard time, such as the already existing UTC/GMT and eliminating the plethora of local times.
[Quote] Wikipedia: UTC is the time standard commonly used across the world. The world's timing centers have agreed to keep their time scales closely synchronized - or coordinated - therefore the name Coordinated Universal Time. [Unquote].
This approach represents a step towards the overall aim of standardisation and simplification. It enables the straightforward calculation of flight times without reference to local times based on time zones. It is also more accurate than the latter. For example:
Toronto, ON, longitude 79 west, is 316 min, i.e. 5 hr 16 m1n, behind UTC/GMT
Vancouver, BC. Longitude 123 west is 492 min, i.e. 8 hr 12 min behind UTC/GMT
AC181 leaves Toronto 10:00 + 5:16 = 15:16 UT, arrives Vancouver 12:08 + 8:12 = 20:20 UT
Duration of flight: 20:20 -15:16 = 5 hr 4 min
AC116 leaves Vancouver 10:00 + 8:12 =18:12 UT arrives Toronto 17:25 + 5:16 = 22:41 UT
Duration of flight 22:41 – 18:12 = 4 hr 29 min
In addition, these results, based on longitudes, are more accurate than those published in the schedule, based on time zones (5:08 and 4:25 respectively). This is a neat, straightforward approach, compared to the complex method of time zones which incorporate many exceptions and deviations.
Furthermore, it eliminates the need for the IDL (International Date Line) concept, and therefore the resulting necessity of adding /subtracting one day when crossing the antemeridian (180 degrees) in one direction or the other, which may create some confusion, although it enabled  the story behind Jules Verne’s :”Around the World in Eighty Days”
We may expect some reluctance to accept this revolutionary concept (except perhaps in the GMT time zone).  I can imagine the reaction of people missing the point: “You want me to have lunch at 12 noon (UTC/GMT), at the same time as the people in London, while here in New Orleans, the sun has not risen yet!” “No, you still have lunch when the sun passes your meridian; you may call it your lunch or noon meal, but the UT will be 18:00 like everywhere else on the globe. You keep on getting up when the sun rises at 12:00 at your place, go to work from 15:00 to 23:00, have dinner at 01:30 and retire when you feel like it.
[Subsidiary question, why did I select New Orleans for this example?]
When such an approach becomes an accepted standard practice it will not appear any stranger than our denomination of summer and winter in relation to the mental images that these terms may evoke. People in the Southern Hemisphere do not object to the fact that their winter is the warm season while their summer is their cold season.
[Quote] Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology: In Australia, the seasons are defined by grouping the calendar months in the following way:
Spring - the three transition months September, October and November.
            Summer - the three hottest months December, January and February.
            Autumn - the transition months March, April and May.
            Winter - the three coldest months June, July and August. [Unquote]


On the surface this initial essay describes a logical sequence of three consecutive steps aiming at simplification and standardization of the ways we describe time:
(1) Eliminate the Daily Saving Time methodology,
(2) Extend the use of the 24-hour while abolishing that of the 12-hour clock, and
(3) Adopt one world-wide standard time. Bingo!
But, reading between the lines, besides being a form of mental exercise on known concepts encountered in everyday life, its discussion, through the reactions it may inspire, may be seen as a tool to dissect the attitudes of individuals, ranging from clinging to unquestioning acceptance of the status quo, to open-mindedness to new ideas, and potential adaptability to change.

And to end on a lighter note of whimsicality, here is a jocular afterthought: After quoting Wikipedia: The 24-hour clock … system is the most commonly used time notation in the world today, and is used by international standard ISO 8601. It is popularly referred to as military time in the United States, English speaking Canada, and a handful of other countries where the 12-hour clock is still dominant. Zulu Time Zone is often used in aviation and the military as another name for UTC +0:00.
And, in this year MMXVIII,
Let us keep things clear and simple,
Not occasionally, but XXIV / VII

This essay is a theoretical exercise that my uncle has revised a number of times over the years. This year he shared it with select family members. As a father of children, I have observed the impact of time shift, year after year. I would love to see it go the way of the dodo. I have written about Lucien twice before:

Possibly the oldest active student at UW (2006-09-01)
The Undergrads: Who Are You? (2006-09-01)

This essay is posted here with permission. I greatly enjoy the chances I have to spend time with Lucian. He is bar far smarter than I. And have a wealth of experience. I hope you enjoyed this sampling of his thought. And yes he still continues to take courses every year.

(I ran into Lucien walking back from Kitchener to Saint Jacob's last summer and we chatted in the street.)

Monday, 12 March 2018

St. Robert Bellarmine - Shaun McAfee

St. Robert Bellarmine
Shaun McAfee
Proving Press
Enroute Books and Media
ISBN 9781633370807

After I finished reading Reform Yourself! How to Pray, Find Peace, and Grow in Faith with the Saints of the Counter-Reformation, I immediately picked up this book to read. I loved that book and I loved this one. I did not even read what the book was about. Shaun wrote it and I wanted to read it. And because I got the eBook I was able to start reading right away. The description of this book is:
"St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was a prolific author of the Counter Reformation and great defender of the Catholic Church. This book tells the story of the great saint who went from obscure title to become one of the most famous saints of his time."
But this book is more than just a biography it was also written as a history of a specific parish for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska. The sections in this book are:

St. Robert Bellarmine Parish History and Timeline
St. Robert Bellarmine: Saint and Doctor
Die as You Were Living: Bellarmine's Teaching on a Proper Death
Prayer to St. Robert Bellarmine
Special Thanks

And the prayer to St. Robert Bellarmine is:

V. The Lord loved him, and adorned him, alleluia.
R. He clothed him with a robe of glory, alleluia.
O Doctor right excellent, O light of Holy Church, O blessed Robert, lover of the divine law, entreat for us the Son of God. Alleluia.
Let us pray.
O God, who didst adorn blessed Robert, thy Bishop and Doctor, with marvelous learning and virtue to expose the deceptions of error and to defend the rights of the Apostolic See, grant by his merits and intercession, that love for the truth may increase in us, and the souls that do wander may return to the unity of thy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
V. Right dear in the sight of the Lord, alleluia.
R. Is the death of his saints, alleluia.

This book is a slim volume coming in at just under 100 pages. But it is also a wonderful little book. Even though I am unlikely to visit the specific parish, reading its history was fascinating. And reading about Saint Robert Bellarmine was inspiring. And reading about his teaching was challenging. After reading this book I will be reading more about and by Saint Bellarmine, but also keeping an eye out for anything that comes from the pen of Shaun McAfee. And to be honest I am likely to go back and reread this little volume again, and in a few years with my children, especially my son who has been saying for a few years that he wants to be a priest.

The dedication to study, of both Saint Bellarmine and Shaun challenge me to become even more focused and determined in my own studies. Shaun states of the saint:

"To continue his devotion to study, he rigorously took up the study of Hebrew in order to gain better insight into the original meaning of Old Testament Scripture. This was an impressive undertaking. First, Bellarmine did not have the time to learn, study, and apply his findings. What's more, he lived in the sixteenth century! This would be a hard enough undertaking with the Internet, or for the generations before us, with lexicons, dictionaries, catalogs, and so forth. Bellarmine completed all of this with a high standard and a high dose of independent judgment, remarking once that the Scripture master St. Jerome's interpretation of the first word of the Bible was "non valde probabilis," "not very likely." His determination for scholarship was meticulous."
And on his works, he states:
"Among the literary and academic saints are those whose work has been so important that these saints have been elevated to Doctors of the Church. They receive this recognition for their particular contribution to the study of theology and doctrine. Robert Bellarmine, for his exceptional defense of Catholic theology and doctrine during the Counter-Reformation and for his continued devotion to academic and spiritual works, was named Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. St. Robert's works are vast, but his works that are most popular today were completed at the end of his life and were less academic and more devotional in substance and style. One need not read very far into these works to find that Bellarmine is a master of eloquence and communication. His stirring words reveal a man truly versed in the literary arts."
As stated this is a wonderful little volume. I recommend it for the last two sections of the book alone. But the whole book is excellently written. The only thing I wish was that it has more photos of the church to go with the first chapter. And I give it my highest recommendation.

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

Books by Shaun McAfee:
Reform Yourself! How to Pray, Find Peace, and Grow in Faith with the Saints of the Counter-Reformation
Filling Our Father's House: What Converts Can Teach Us About Evangelization
St. Robert Bellarmine

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

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Fourth Sunday of Lent 2018 Laetare Sunday

Fourth Sunday of Lent 2018
Laetare Sunday

This is the second week of lent where there are two set of options for readings. I did not know what our church would be doing so I have read each a few times this week. Most of the reflections I have read for today's readings follow the first option. The first is:

First Reading 2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 29-23
Responsorial Psalm 137: 1-6 Response 6
Second Reading Romans Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel John 3:14-21

And the second is:

First Reading 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Responsorial Psalm 23: 1-6, Response 1
Second Reading Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel John 9:1-41

Related Posts:

Friday, 9 March 2018

Smoke Eaters - Sean Grigsby

Smoke Eaters
Sean Grigsby
Angry Robot Books
ISBN 9780857667731
eISBN 9780857667748

That was the first book I have read by Sean Grigsby, but it will not be the last! I was looking for some action and some humour in this book. I was thinking along the lines of the Stainless Steel Rat or Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. And it did not disappoint. This book contains more than a little action, but what would you expect in a firefighters vs dragons story. But it also has a lot of humour, and most of it comes from our main character Firefighter Cole Brannigan.

But first let's get a bit of back story. At some point in the near future Dragons awake and come to the surface of the earth. They bring destruction, devastation and death. Most of the world's governments have collapsed, a lot of infrastructure has been destroyed, and each state runs sort of as an independent jurisdiction. Cole Brannigan is a firefighter, just a regular old firefighter who has been on the job for almost 30 years. He is about to retire, but on his last call there is a dragon attack and the Smoke Eaters (Dragon Fighters) are not there yet. So he goes in to rescue his crew members. That night he found out he was immune to dragon smoke. And was almost immediately drafter into the Smoke Eaters.

It was not what he had planned, and definitely not what his wife had planned. So after 30 years on the job he was a bit of a smart mouth, and had a big attitude, but he also knew how to investigate and had a hunch that something strange was going on, will he be able to figure it out before the mayor finds a way to fire him, or before he ends up dead? In fact he reminds me a lot of Lt. Stephen "Bull" McCaffrey from Backdraft. As a matter of fact take the movie Backdraft and drop in Dragons and you have a pretty good picture of this book. And oh by the way this book would make an amazing movie.

In the story there are a lot of side characters that we do not get to know that well. But the main characters are very well written, and fleshed out. The pace of the novel of breakneck, it was very hard to put it down the few times I needed to. And to be honest I hope we see more stories in this world. This story is wrapped up, but there are a lot of different places Grigsby can take the story in future works.

For fans of classic science fiction this book will be like reading an old favourite. It is much like reading Heinlein, Harrison, Robinson, and Herbert. It is a fun read and I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Books by Dean Grigsby:
Smoke Eaters
Daughters of Forgotten Light
Eternal H
Torches and Pitchforks for Sale

Contributed to:
Christmas Is Dead: A Zombie Anthology
Children of the Moon

Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body - Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Image and Likeness
Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Erin McCole Cupp (Editor)
Ellen Gable (Editor)
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915351

I am a big fan of anthologies. First I find they are a great way to meet new authors. Second I find the skill needed for shorter prose is greater. Third it is a great change of pace from non-fiction, and fiction. And this one was excellent on many levels. I had read 4 books by Full Quiver authors over the last year and decided this Anthology might be a great way to be exposed to some other authors to explore. Now to be honest I was familiar with a number of the authors and had read books by three of the seventeen. 

The contributors are:

Michelle Buckman  
AnnMarie Creedon  
Karina Fabian 
Anne Faye 
Ellen Gable (Hrkach) 
Barbara Hosbach 
Dena Hunt 
Katy Huth Jones 
Antony Barone Kolenc 
Theresa Linden 
Leslie Lynch 
Erin McCole Cupp 
John D. McNichol
Damon Owens 
Arthur Powers
Gerard D. Webster 
R. Elaine Westphal 

And the contributions are:

Foreword by Damon Owens
Venus if You Do by Arthur Powers
Thou by Gerard Webster
No Turning Back by Leslie Lynch
Purple Hearts by Tony Kolenc
Cries of the Innocents by Karina Fabian
Victorious by Katy Huth Jones
Movements by Michelle Buckman
Full Reversal by Theresa Linden
In the Death of Winter  by Arthur Powers
Guess Who's Coming to Sunday Brunch by Erin McCole Cupp
Nice by Gerard Webster 
My Pot of Gold by R Elaine Westphal
Claudio by Arthur Powers
This is My Body by AnnMarie Creedon
Good For Her by Erin McCole Cupp
Pear Trees by Dena Hunt
The Walk by Anne Faye
Two Kinds of People by John McNichol
Hard Choices by Barbara Hosbach
MS by Arthur Powers
Made For Love by Theresa Linden
The Death of Me, The Life of Us by Ellen Gable

But this is more than just a collection of stories with a theme, or unifying thread running throughout them. As Damon Owens in the introduction states: 
"The power of stories on people is a fascinating phenomenon. A poem, anecdote, short story, biography or novel can engage our imagination, intellect, emotions, and memory in transformative ways. We truly are "hard-wired" for story. As a Catholic speaker and evangelist for over twenty years, I have witnessed how a well-told story can build rapport, engender trust, and influence even the most reluctant listener."
C.S. Lewis in On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature stated: "It is very rarely that a middle-aged man finds an author who gives him, what he knew so often in his teens and twenties, the sense of having opened a new door." But this book did that. This book is not just a great collection of stories and it is that. Because the theme central to the stories is The Theology of the Body, the stories have incredible impact. I have already started reading through this a second time, taking a slower pace, and just one story every other night. I also have plans to read books by a number of the contributors, the ones I was already familiar with and some new authors to check out.

This book has punch, from the first story by Arthur Powers, which literally has a fist fight. And it is the not the only story to see actual punches thrown. These stories included unexpected pregnancies, the military's don't ask don't tell, vigils at abortion clinics, cancer. There are stories about living in a fallen world, but also stories about a redeemer, and the church that holds his banner high. I especially appreciated Theresa Linden's first contribution Full Reversal, which continues, sometime after her Chasing Liberty trilogy. And Ellen Gable's The Death of Me, the Life of Us is an incredibly moving piece dealing with guilt. And the poem MS by Arthur Powers simply masterful. 

Damon Owens in the introduction also stated: 
"I am indebted to the authors and poets of Image and Likeness for their gifted storytelling of real life "ugly." This book isn't afraid to hold our gaze into the darkness of sin, doubt, and brokenness before the resolution of redemption. Some of these stories are heartbreaking to read precisely because I know this is true. Some of them I will never forget because of their unexpected turn to redemption. Through and through, this is an artistic instruction in TOB that shows us the wounds needing the balm, the balm applied, and the health and wholeness of men and women healed. And, like every well-told story, its penetrating TOB truths will influence even the most reluctant reader."
And I completely agree. And I hope that the editors are considering adding a second volume. This is an incredible collection that I know everyone who gives it a try will be blessed, and likely a little challenged. 

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

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Mindful Catholic Finding God One Moment at a Time - Dr. Gregory Bottaro

The Mindful Catholic: Finding God One Moment at a Time
ISBN 9781635820171
eISBN 9781929266463

Reading the beginning of this book was great, I loved the introduction, by Dr. Peter Kreeft. I appreciated the first chapter. But then when it came to the first exercise, and I stopped immediately. I immediately stopped reading. I felt a check in my spirit and reached out to a spiritual director I really respect, he confirmed that this would be a spiritually risky read. I would recommend anyone interested in this book check out A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness by Susan Brinkmann if this is a topic they are interested in.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for The Maccabee Society called Yoga Not Worth The Risk. And this book brought up the exact same uneasiness that had developed around the practice of Yoga. So I did not finish this book and stepped back from it. Peter Kreeft in the introduction says "Try It. You'll like it."  But that is the same thing drug deals say when they offer the first hit free. 

There are many great books on Christian or Catholic meditation. This is not one of them. It is the first book from Beacon Publishing, and Dynamic Catholic that I have not finished. It is the first book by them that I did not enjoy. It is the first book in a long time that I wish there was a way to give 0/5 stars when writing a review. 

I will state it again, this book is just not worth the risk! 

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

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Author Profile and Interview with Theresa Linden

Author Profile and Interview with Theresa Linden

In the last year Theresa Linden has become one of my all time favorite authors. Linden is a Secular Franciscan, and a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association. Linden has been a lifelong avid reader. She grew up moving every few years because of her father's military career. She believes that living a faith filled life is the greatest adventure. Her writings combine that believe with the goal of arousing the imagination f the readers to realities both visible and invisible. Her works remind me strikingly of Madeleine L'Engle's. I love that she is a practicing Catholic, who takes her faith seriously and incorporates that faith into her writings. Her writing is masterful! Recently she took some time out of her busy schedule from; being a mother, wife, homeschooler, …. to answer 20 Questions for the readers here at Book Reviews and More. So here is her own words Theresa:

1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

Hmm…well, I'm also a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. So even if I hadn't become a writer, I would still be at home with our three boys. But they are teens now, so if I didn't have writing, I might think about doing something outside the home.

I love learning about and sharing our Catholic faith. If I didn't have writing as a way to dive into Christian themes, I would need another outlet. Several years ago, I obtained a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University. And I also have a degree in electrical-mechanical drafting (making technical drawings). Is there a way to combine those interests into an actual paid job? Maybe a job at the parish as a catechist/drafter. 

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?

A combination of things led to my becoming a writer. My father was in the Coast Guard and we moved every couple of years, leaving me with the impression that life was an adventure. Then in grade school, my sister and I made up role-playing games that were filled with adventure. As we got older, we used the characters from our games and took turns writing chapters of an ongoing story. 

Once my dad retired in Ohio, life got hard for me. I was a teenager, attending a school where it wasn't easy for me to make friends. And the weather got colder than I'd ever experienced in my life-having only lived in warm places. Knowing that we would never move again, I felt like the adventure had stopped. 

Then I joined a Catholic youth group and our group leader opened my eyes to an even greater adventure than I'd ever known-the adventure of faith! As a young adult, I realized that I could reclaim the adventure by writing stories that brought to light the amazing mysteries of our faith.

3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

My husband has always been a strong supporter, encouraging me over the years, even when I didn't make a penny from my writing. But in the beginning, few others knew that I wrote. I suppose I felt a bit insecure and wanted to make sure I could actually do it before I told anyone that I was a writer. So I spent years writing in secret and reading books on writing. 

I really grew as a writer once I joined writing groups and began exchanging chapters with critique partners. The first online group I joined was Critique Circle. Later, I joined the Catholic Writers Guild and met writers and critique partners who have helped me fine-tune my skills over the years. (Shout out to all my CWG friends!)

4. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?

Find writing groups, in person and online. Years after I started writing, I joined a writing group at our local library, in addition to the online writing/critique groups. (Shout out to the gang at Elyria Public Library!) Here I began to see that everyone went through similar ups and downs along their writing journey. I wish I would've joined this group sooner, so that I wouldn't have gone through so many periods of discouragement alone. The support of fellow writers, sharing your work and goals, is indispensable. I've learned so much from other writers. 

5. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

I like to use a strong writing style-which as a writer means strong verbs and tight sentences that convey ideas in the fewest possible words. And I want my writing to be visual, appealing to as many senses as possible. 
My writing style has also been influenced by almost every author whose work I've read and enjoyed. I'll name two of my all-time favorites. 

1. J.R.R. Tolkien-influenced by his beautiful character and setting descriptions that transport you into the story, I try to make sure readers can visualize the scenes in my stories. However, I also try to do it in as few words as possible. I also love how Tolkien develops characters, gradually revealing things and leaving a reader to believe there is so much more to each one. 

2. Louis de Wohl-while I don't write stories about saints-not yet, anyways-I like to capture moments of profound grace in all my stories.  Wohl introduces flawed characters in historical settings and shows them facing trials and eventually coming face to face with the love of God in a life-changing moment. 

But over the years, my writing style has been influenced even more so by writers from the Catholic Writers Guild critique group, especially Susan Peek, Carolyn Astfalk, and Don Mulcare. Susan has great insight into developing threads in a story, deepening the theme. Carolyn is able to identify where characters need to show more emotion or other reactions, and she always offers well-worded suggestions for those reactions. And Don helps me to keep the characters "in character." I am so thankful to have met them-even if only online-and for so many other CWG authors.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

1. Ideas come to me all the time, while watching the news, driving to the store, or listening to a homily at Mass…. So I try to keep a notebook on me wherever I go. I don't want to lose my ideas, even though I have so many that I could never follow through on all of them. 
2. Some ideas then grow into more and beg to become stories, so I begin an outline and character profiles. 
3. While I'm doing the outline, I also start the research needed for the story. 
4. Once the outline is complete, I write the first draft. When I allow myself to make a sloppy first draft, I can write a story in a short period of time. I slow the process when I start agonizing over better wording-which is a second-draft step for me. 
5. After the first draft is complete, I go back through several times making sentences stronger, filling in missing details, and reworking dialog.
6. The story has now been through several drafts and is ready for my critique partners! They go through chapter by chapter and help me catch things I hadn't noticed, keep my characters "in character," and develop threads.
7. Once the critique stage is done, I find a few beta readers. They read the whole story from beginning to end and often find overused words, inconsistencies, and places where the story drags.
8. Next, the manuscript is ready for an editor. 
9. If I plan to query publishers, I'll start doing that too. This involves researching agents and publishers, writing query letters, synopses of various lengths, and an outline that I can send to agents or publishers. Otherwise, I'll set a tentative release date and start creating promotional images and maybe even a book trailer.
10. I also design my own book covers, but I don't do this at any particular stage-just whenever I feel inspired. 
11. Once the edits are complete, I format the manuscript for paperback and ebook, and I create the cover and interior files for the printer.
12. Then it's time to start promoting. And that's a huge process too. All along I've been keeping my newsletter subscribers posted on my progress! Maybe someday I'll blog about all these steps.

7. What books are currently in progress for you? Writing, researching, planning or even just ideas that you would like to work on?

I am working on several books, all in various stages of completion. Tortured Soul is a story about a woman who is visited by a soul from purgatory. I am waiting to hear back from a publisher, but I've only submitted to one publisher so far. If it's rejected I'll need to decide what to do next, approach other publishers or agents, or self-publish. 

I am in the later stages for Anyone But Him, my first New Adult mystery romance! I am looking forward to receiving my proof copy of the book from the printer, and I am working on promoting this book now. 

At the same time, I am writing the first draft of the next book in the West Brothers series, Roland West, Outcast and I am getting ideas for the Confirmation-themed West Brothers book that will come next. I want to release that one before May of 2019, so I need to get a move on!

8. Some authors use playlists when working on specific books or series. Do you write to music? If so, do you use different play lists for your two series?

I don't have a play list for any of my stories, but I do often write to music. I choose songs depending upon the type of story, the mood of the scene, and the point-of-view character. Sometimes I listen to classical songs, like "Pachelbel's Canon"-if you've read Fight for Liberty you know the scene-other times Christian music, classic rock, or newer songs that capture particular moods. I don't want my stories to sound like I wrote them, so music often helps me step into the scene and the minds of the characters.

9. Your two series Chasing Liberty and West Brothers are very different. One is a dystopian science fiction type series, and the other is realistic contemporary religious fiction. These two series remind me markedly of Madeleine L'Engle's Kairos and Chronos series. How did you come to write series on such opposite ends of the fiction spectrum?

Just wait until you see what else I have planned! I enjoy reading different genres and I want to write in different genres too. I even have a fantasy story on the back burner. 

When I first felt inspired to write, I came up with the characters and a few ideas for the West Brothers series. The dystopian storyline came from watching the news and was developed by research into actual special-interest groups. Government overreach and unethical scientific developments had me questioning where humanity was headed. As a writer, these thoughts turned into a story. So Chasing Liberty was born and published even before Roland West, Loner, which is actually the first book I wrote. 

10. Speaking of L'Engle I once heard Madeleine state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated, "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

Yes, my characters are real to me too! They have complete pasts. Their parents have stories and their grandparents-going back for several generations. I doubt I'll have time to write all those stories. And I also know what direction my characters are headed in, once they grow up. And what their children will end up doing…you know, like, the Sons of Liberty...?

11. One of the greatest strengths in your books are the characters, they are so solid and believable, in both series. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations? 

Thank you! All my characters have little bits of me and of people I know-yes, even the bad ones. I want them to be as realistic as possible, with strengths, weaknesses, habits, hopes, and dreams. To create realistic emotional, verbal, and active responses, I try to dig deep into how I've felt in various situations. I also consider how others with different personalities seem to view life, respond to challenges, and enjoy themselves, etc. 

Toby, for example, in the West Brothers series, is based on my son Joseph, who has autism. So all of the quirky dialog, mannerisms, and behaviors are things Joseph has said and done when he was Toby's age. And Peter's responses to Toby are partially based on how Joseph's brothers have responded to him. 

I am always trying to look beneath the surface, because then I can create characters that people can identify with and that come alive in the story.  

12. If Roland West was to make a recommended reading list for your readers, what books would make his top ten list? 

Roland loves antiques, castles, and history related to his family genealogy, so he might have a few non-fiction books on his list. But I'll focus on the fiction. Roland loves a good mystery, adventure, medieval story, or a story with a strong main character who steps up to the challenge. And finally, his recent experiences have opened his eyes to the saints. So here is Roland West's list, in no particular order:

1. Amazing Adventures of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton (or, when he was a bit younger, the Father Brown Reader by Nancy Carpentier Brown and Ted Schluenderfritz) 
2. 7 Riddles to Nowhere by A. J. Cattapan (a favorite that he read in junior high)
3. The Sacketts by Louis L'Amour (and the rest of the series)
4. Crusader King by Susan Peek (and all her other saint books)
5. The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl
6. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
7. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8. Lord of the Rings by Tolkien 
9. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
10. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Howard Pyle

13. Of all the characters you have written who is your favorite? And why?

How can you ask me to choose between my children? I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to come up with an answer.

Okay, I'm going to say Dedrick from the Chasing Liberty trilogy. Dedrick is a twenty-two-year-old colony boy who comes from a big family. A member of the underground group who risk their lives to rescue people, he is a man of few words but with a lot of skills. He's good at leading, orienteering, and finding creative solutions to problems. And while he has his share of faults, his love of family and community motivate him, making him willing to sacrifice himself for others and to strive for high ideals. He's not the kind of guy who falls in love with a girl simply because of her looks. He finds himself drawn to Liberty because of her strength, courage, and determination, and because she puts others before herself, especially the old and weak. He only wishes he could change one thing about her: the idea that she must do it all alone.

I've chosen him as my favorite because he brings out the best traits a man can have, especially devotion to family, perseverance, and a willingness to lay down one's life.

14. What were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?

J.R. Tolkien and Louis de Wohl influenced me as a young person because of the strong themes present in their stories and messages I took away from them. The Lord of the Rings trilogy inspires one to believe that no matter how small and unimportant a person feels, each of us has a purpose. This "sense of purpose"-this something that could be accomplished only by me-was very important to me as a young adult struggling to find my place in the world. This series also fed my longing for adventure. It hints at the greatest adventure, the spiritual side of life.

And while the history got a bit deep in Louis de Wohl's stories, I read almost every one of them because I was moved by the unique way each of the saints said "yes" to God. Having trials and failures of my own, I wanted to see them overcome personal obstacles to holiness and to see how God never ceases to give up on a person.

15. Who are some of your favorite contemporary religious authors to read? Either fiction or non-fiction?

Some of my favorite religious non-fiction authors:

I was really moved by Jean Heimann's book Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World. While I already knew much about Fatima, she renewed my interest and approached the subject in a new and thorough way that spoke to my heart and soul. I want to see what else she's written.

Matthew Kelly writes great motivational books that help me to keep my faith first in my life. 

I can read anything by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

And St. Pope John Paul II can get deep in his writings, but I always get something wonderful from them. 

I also love Joseph Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy

Call me boring, but I also love a good encyclical!

When I think of contemporary religious fiction, my thoughts go to all the wonderful authors I've discovered through the Catholic Writers Guild. I love that I can find Catholic fiction in so many genres, every story containing an element of faith, a moral message, or something thought provoking. And I don't have to worry about unwanted content.

I recently read the totally laugh-out-loud romance The Grace Crasher by Mara Faro and look forward to more from her. 

Erin McCole Cupp is another author that I follow. I especially enjoyed her Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan trilogy, a dystopian "reboot" of literary classic Jane Eyre. 

I love the way Carolyn Astfalk weaves JPII's Theology of the Body into her inspirational romances, a perspective which is so beneficial to understanding authentic love.

And maybe I'm biased, but I enjoy all the books that I've read by the authors at www.CatholicTeenBooks.com. Cynthia Toney's latest release, The Other Side of Freedom, a historical young adult novel, is enjoyable to read and thought-provoking. Carmela Martino also has a new release, a beautiful historical fiction, Playing by Heart. Susan Peek recently released a heart-pounding, action-packed saint story The King's Prey, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

And finally, I also like books by Dean Koontz (his later works). He writes suspense thrillers with elements of mystery and humor. And his more recent books, especially his Odd Thomas series, contain thought-provoking, religious themes.

16. Will we see more stories in the world of Chasing Liberty?

I like where this trilogy ended, but I miss the characters. If I do write more about this dystopian future, I think I'll jump several years into the future and Liberty's children will be the main characters.

17. Are there more books planned for the West Brother Series?

I have two more books planned for this series. I am currently working on Roland West, Outcast. Roland and his friend Peter Brandt are the main characters, and the theme of this story is speaking the truth with courage, in season and out. I am also planning a Confirmation story in this series and really look forward to writing this one. 

18. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

Higher education should help students to develop their God-given gifts and talents and, yes, I agree that it should teach a person to think for themselves. I also think higher education should continue to develop a student's love of learning, promote a spirit of striving for excellence, and develop values that will help a student to succeed in the ways that really matter. In one way or another, education should point students to the One who knows all things and who imparts all knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. 

19. If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

Stuck on a deserted island, with no distractions or obligations other than staying alive-and maybe trying to get off the island-I would want books to help me grow in faith. Thus, my list contains mostly non-fiction books for the soul. 
1. The Douay Rheims Bible
2. The Ignatius Bible (yes, I want two Bibles!)
3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. Man and Woman He Created Them by John Paul II (because, alone on a deserted island, I might have the time and attention-span for this 735-page book) 
5. The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila 
6. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A'Kempis
7. An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales 
8. The Little Blue Prayer Book (can't live without this one!)
9. Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI
10. Lord of the Rings trilogy (I must have at least one fiction for fun)

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?

First, pray about your aspirations, in thanksgiving and for direction. God has given you the gifts and the desire to do something with those gifts. Allow Him to lead you in every stage, from developing themes to finding great critique partners, and everything else in the process. Writers and other artists spend an incredible amount of time refining their craft, so this close relationship and openness to the Holy Spirit are vital for perseverance. 

Second, keep at it. Read books on writing, join critique groups-both online and in person, where you can give and receive critiques and advice. Read a lot. And write a lot. And then use your gift to set the world on fire!

Thank you, Theresa, for taking the time to answer the 20 questions. And you have given us much to think about, and many other authors to check out. And if you have not read any of Linden's books I highly recommend that you give them a try!

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

Books by Theresa Linden:

Anyone But Him

Chasing Liberty Series:
01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story

West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong

Other Books:
A Symbol of Hope - Short Story
A Battle for the Faith (with John Paul Wohlscheid)

Books contributed to:
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Author Profile and Interview with Theresa A. Linden