Monday, 21 January 2019

The Lamb Will Conquer Reflections on the Knock Apparition - Father Nigel Woollen

The Lamb Will Conquer:
Reflections on the Knock Apparition
Father Nigel Woollen
Veritas Publications
ISBN 9781847307897

The apparition in Knock has always fascinated me. Likely in part because of my Irish heritage, and in part because it was talked about so much less then Fatima and Lourdes, when I was growing up. This apparition happened almost a ninety hears before I was born, and yet learning about it is one of my earliest memories. I remember our teacher talking about it as we prepared for our first communion. When I first saw this specific book, I had just finished reading The Story of Knock by Alice Curtayne and was doing some research for reviewing that booklet. I immediately wanted to read this volume, but it was hard to track down in North America. I have since read this volume twice and will likely read it again at a latter date.

Father Nigel Woollen has written a wonderful little volume. And of all the readings I have done on Knock it is the one that turns it into a devotion, and not a historical study. The book begins with these words:

“‘You’re mad to go to Knock!’ the kind lady said, chuckling. I was a bit taken aback. Where I come from, this means: you’re crazy or stupid to go to Knock. She hastily explained that in West of Ireland parlance, it signifies: you really want to go to Knock – you simply can’t wait to go! And indeed I couldn’t. From my first visits to Ireland, this village in County Mayo has held a deep fascination for me; it’s a place in which you feel at home straight away, but also sense something quite unique. There’s an atmosphere of peace rarely found elsewhere, a feeling that heaven touches earth in a particular way. So, for the many of us who are ‘mad to go to Knock’, it’s worth exploring in depth the meaning of the Knock event, to understand something of what God wanted to reveal to those witnesses of 1879, and what he wants to say to us today. ‘I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace’ (Psalm 84:9).”

I have never been to Knock, and I might never make it there. But that does not mean I cannot learn from the events there and use them to help me grow in my faith and in living out that faith. I want to pull out one phrase from the above quote to emphasise the point:

“So, for the many of us who are ‘mad to go to Knock’, it’s worth exploring in depth the meaning of the Knock event, to understand something of what God wanted to reveal to those witnesses of 1879, and what he wants to say to us today.”

I might not be mad to go to Knock, but I am mad about Knock, and this book is a wonderful read to help stoke that madness. Father Woollen further in the introduction declares:

“To ask God to reveal himself is a risk! He always answers our prayers – yet not always in the way we think: ‘the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:9).”

And that is in part what we do when we explore the apparitions of Mary, and specifically Knock, we are asking God to reveal himself to us. We open ourselves to the greater spiritual reality. The chapters in volume are:

Tear the Heavens Open!
Joseph: Icon of the Father
John: The Beloved Son
Mary: Bride of the Spirit
The Lamb: Love Conquers All
Conclusion: A New Creation
Appendix: Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Knock

There are chapters on each of the figures who appeared, except for the angels. One of the things that has always fascinated me about this event was the silence. And Father Woollen states:

“In order to hear God speaking to us we need silence. A key element of the Knock apparition was its silent nature; neither the Lamb, nor Mary, nor Joseph nor John the Apostle say one word (even though the Evangelist appears to be preaching), yet this silence speaks volumes! Silence – not just an absence of words, but a loving desire to adore the Lamb – begets a joyful expectancy that God will speak to us. Within silence, we encounter the presence of the one who is Love, we can experience a glimpse of heaven: ‘there was silence in heaven for about half an hour’ (Revelation 8:1).”

I think this message of silence is even more important in our world today. How many of us really get time to silently reflect, and to listen? Without a device, without words, maybe even without others. Father Woolen says:

“We could describe the Knock phenomenon as a divine secret. In its biblical sense, a secret (or mystery) is something that is incomprehensible to us human beings without a special light from God. The secret of the Knock apparition, this vision without words, is awesome in its depth and radiance: as we’ll discover, it reveals the Trinity, the mysteries of our redemption, the sacraments and, above all, the beauty and splendour of Jesus the Lamb of God, our Bread from heaven, the one who gives himself completely to us, and invites us to give ourselves to him, in a covenant relationship of mutual sacrificial love.”

And from there walks us through the apparition, with a focus on Joseph, Mary, and John the disciple. And as he leads us in reflection on these three and the Lamb as Jesus we will grow. Later in the book he says:

“It’s good to come back home after a trip, especially when you’ve been away a long time. For some, it might be the family home, that contains many happy memories; for others instead, it would be a place they felt an affinity with, even if far from their origins – for some of us, a place such as Knock becomes a home, because that’s where we’ve found something that seems to correspond to the deepest yearnings of our hearts.”

And that sums up a feeling I have had about Knock for most of my life. But was not something I could ever have put in words. At my confirmation I received a print of the apparition in Knock, it was on my wall for a few years and was lost during one of my moves during my university years. I can still recall reflecting and meditation on the image and feeling a sense of peace, of belonging of homeness. In the conclusion Father Nigel writes:

“To sum up, the secret of the Knock Apparition is manifold. It affirms our redemption by the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, the Lamb of God, who is in his own flesh our gateway to heaven. It presents his closest friends, who seem each in their turn to reflect in a particular way one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. St Joseph shows us how we can become merciful like the Father, while St John encourages us to live as a beloved son or daughter, as a true child of God. And Mary, Bride of the Spirit and Woman of the Eucharist, shines out for us as she stands beside our crosses, imparting to us the faith and the hope she lived to the utmost on this earth, so that we can experience the joy of the resurrection and a new Pentecost of love, in the Holy Spirit.”

This book is a wonderful read. For people who already have a devotion to the apparition at Knock it will deepen your knowledge. But it will also serve as an excellent introduction to Knock for those less familiar. I believe that anyone who reads this book with an open heart, will be challenged, will be encouraged and will grow. As mentioned, I am already planning to read this book again, and am looking foreword to reading Father Nigel’s new book, Learning to Love: Journeys Through Life with the Rosary. I give this book my highest recommendation it is an excellent read.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Nigel Woollen:
The Lamb Will Conquer: Reflections on the Knock Apparition
Learning to Love: Journeys Through Life with the Rosary

Other Books about the Knock Apparition:
The Story of Knock – Alice Curtayne

Other Books About Marian Apparitions:
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
Those Who Saw Her: Apparitions of Mary - Catherine Odell
Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World – Jean M. Heimann
Apparitions of Mary: Their Meaning in History - Donal Anthony Foley

Encounter the Saints books that Include Apparitions:
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes - Anne Eileen Heffernan, Elizabeth Tebo and Mari Goering - Encounter the Saints Series Book 2
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto: Shepherds of Fatima - Anne Eileen Heffernan and Patricia Edward Jablonski - Encounter the Saints Book 6
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady - Zerlina De Santis - Encounter the Saints Series Books 9
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal - Marianne Lorraine Trouvé and Cathy Morrison - Encounter the Saints Book 30
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus - Emily Beata Marsh and Dani Lachuk - Encounter the Saints Series Book 37


Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Second Sunday In Ordinary Time 2019

The Second Sunday In Ordinary Time 2019

It is interesting that we have no First Sunday of Ordinary Time, the readings go from the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2019to Monday of the first week of ordinary Time. So, this is the first Sunday after the season of Christmas. Our readings this week are:

First Reading Isaiah 62:1-5 
Responsorial Psalm -Psalm 96:1-4, 7-10 Response 3
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Gospel John 2:1-12

This year is year C in the cycle of readings. After this year the weekend readings circle back to year 1. But because of the shifting seasons, seldom do the weekends end up on the same day especially at this point in the calendar. Just this week I reviewed, The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ by David W. Fagerberg from the CTS Deeper Christianity Series. And I posted pictures of Church from last weekend, mentioning the end of the Christmas Season. It caused quite the controversy in a specific Catholic Facebook group. And I for the most part just watched the comments. My understanding is Christmas ended last week, and ordinary time began. Some more traditional parishes, especially those that follow the extraordinary form argue Candlemas ends on February 2nd. I did not want to get in the middle of it, and it is splitting hairs. So, for those who follow the ordinary form, the default since 1969 Christmas ended last weekend. Candlemas is 40 days from Christmas day and the 40 days of Lent, 40 years of wandering in the desert both have meaning. But from where I sit it is not worth fighting over. Personally, having been born after Vatican II, and being a revert to the Catholic faith, I know what I grew up with, and do not long for the Latin mass of either variation. But I can respect and appreciate those who appreciate it. But enough about when Christmas ends and let us look at this week’s readings.

The first reading is about the end of the exile. Both for Israel, and for us a followers of Christ. We are strangers in a strange land, and we look forward to a future home in heaven. Three phrases from this reading strike me:

“You shall no more be termed Forsaken.

For the Lord delights in you,

And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

If I am completely honest with you, for most of my life I felt and believed the opposite of these phrases. I believed I was forsaken and living under a curse. A curse of things that had been done to me, circumstances, and my own mistakes. I could not imagine God delighting in me, or rejoicing over me. Having worked through several of John Eldredge’s book a few years back, and having been through deliverance ministry, I prayed a prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ bring me fully alive,
Lord Jesus Christ restore me to glory.”

Praying and trusting that as Jesus stated in John 10:10 ‘I am come that you might have life and have it abundantly.’ I prayed the above prayer like the Jesus prayer, I prayed it while walking to and from campus, I prayed it while working out, while walking to and from work. And though I still struggle at times with believe God would want me, I trust it now and strive to live it out, in my work, in my family and with my friends. And this takes us to this week’s response:

“Declare the marvelous works of the Lord among all the people.”

That is what I attempt to do with these weekly reflections. With reviewing Catholic books. With opening up at times about my own faults and failures. God is so good. And I sing his praise, or in my case I write in praise of him and his works. The second reading is one I have studied often, both when a student leader at Queen’s University and later at the University of Waterloo I have lead several series of bible studies on the gifts of the spirit, and on the spiritual disciplines. And in my own life different gifts have been predominant at different points in my life. I love even just listing the gifts in this passage:

Discernment of Spirits
Interpretation of Tongues

All from the same spirit, all for the common good, a variety of gifts, services, and activities. But we are all one body. One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church!

And this week my prayer for you my readers is that your faith is sparked afresh, anew. That you are renewed this week and begin the fight again. Carry on, battle on, and persevere. 

Related Posts:
The Second Sunday In Ordinary Time 2019

Note: Link to all posts about St. Agnes Parish.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Smart Egg Labyrinth Puzzle - Product Review

Smart Egg
Labyrinth Puzzle


As a family we currently have 8 of these toys. They are puzzles that are enjoyed by the whole family. It began when my youngest brother bought one for my son. Instantly my son, both daughters and me all loved doing the puzzle egg. There are twelve eggs in the starter series.

Level 1 Eggs:
The first 6 eggs each teach you tricks but the stick basically moves through, up, down, back and forth. The eggs in this series are:


Level 2 Eggs:
The next 6 eggs get a little more complicated, you have all the movements of level 1 eggs, but there are internal pieces in the egg that you can move with the stick. Once those ‘tumblers’ are moved the stick has new paths open up and are required to complete the eggs. The eggs in this series are:


Space Capsule

Level 3 Eggs or 2 Layer Eggs:
These eggs get a lot more complicated. Not only do you have all the movements of level 1 and 2 eggs. But the egg itself has a core that slides down and rotates left and right. The first time I did one of these it took about 40 minutes and even with that there was a move in the middle I wasn’t sure how I did. The three eggs currently in this series all look the same from the outside but the insides are very different. The eggs in this set are:

Blue Dragon
Red Dragon
Black Dragon

There are several cool features to these toys. First each egg can be solved from top to bottom and from bottom to top. Then once you know an egg you can race and time yourself. There is an app with an electronic version of puzzle eggs, and a timer to keep your records with physical eggs. The first smart eggs were hand crafted of wood and limited in number (and limited editions). But as the popularity grew, they expanded into plastic eggs. And now there are tournaments and competitions. Please note level 1 and 2 eggs look the same, same size only difference is if they have internal pieces that move. Level 3 eggs are much bigger and easy to tell apart.

Note: We have eggs not listed above, those are from the official website which is outdated. And if you are local to Kitchener-Waterloo we get ours at J&J Cards and Collectibles. (And if you want, they do ship. I checked before posting this review and at that time they had stock of about 10 different ones on hand.)

Of the eggs listed above we have the 5 that are blue text, and we have three that are not listed. But I am sure we will have more soon.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Be Who You Are: Developing Your Christian Personality - Wenceslau Vial Editor

Be Who You Are:
Developing Your Christian Personality
Wenceslau Vial
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594173226


This book was not what I expected. When I first came across it I did not realize that it was an anthology and that Wenceslau Vial was both an editor and a contributor. In fact, Wenceslau contributed three of the 11 pieces in the collection. The description of this volume is:

“As St. Catherine of Siena so aptly stated, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!" Despite our fallen natures, we have the ability, through the solid Christian understanding of the human person—body and soul—how we can rise above it all. The authors guide us towards spiritual maturity, by teaching us how to improve one's personality, self-esteem, and virtue, without imitating models that distract us from our own identity. We learn how to live a happier and more coherent life, and how to acquire greater empathy with others—especially with our own family members and those in our immediate environment.”

And this book draws from several disciplines, and ten contributors to probe the depths of understanding self in growth in becoming better at being. For almost 30 years now my email signature has begun with ‘Yours, learning to be’, and it has been a life long endeavour to learn how to be, and to be good at being. This is a book that will assist with that process no matter where you are at in your life’s journey. This book would be a great read from late teens through to centenarians. There are many books I read and plan to read again, this might become one of those books that I read annually.

The sections in this volume are:

1. A Personality Identified with Christ
     Javier Sesé
 2. Authors of Our Own Lives
     Juan Ramón García-Morato
 3. A Healthy Self-Esteem
     Javier Cabanyes
 4. Character Built on Virtue
     José María Barrio and Rodolfo Valdés
 5. Building Interior Order
     José Benito Cabaniña and Carlos Ayxelá
 6. A Life in Dialogue with Others
     Alfonso Aguiló
 7. Sharing Others’ Feelings
     Javier Laínez
 8. Growth: A Family Project
     Wenceslao Vial
 9. Details of the Home
     Wenceslao Vial
10. The Others and I: Verses of the Same Poem
     Carlos Ayxelá
11. The Ripe Fruit of Personal Identity
     Wenceslao Vial
Works Cited
Recommended Reading

The contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds. A life long educator specializing in education and anthropology. A priest with degrees in the humanities, journalism, and a doctorate in philosophy. Degrees in philosophy, journalism, theology, mathematics, psychology and even a doctorate in medicine with a focus on neurology. The forward begins with these words:

“History recounts that in the times of ancient Rome pirates gradually took control of the Mediterranean Sea. Pompey the Great, consul of Rome, acted vigorusly to end this scourge, but he also tried to treat the pirates in a humane way. The outlaws, surprised by the leniency shown them, praised the Consul: “The more you act like a man, the more you resemble the gods.”

These words from the distant past can help us reflect on our own life. The first requirement for an upright character is acting as a human being. It is only on this foundation that a mature personality can be forged—a strong and friendly way of being that becomes the support for a rich spiritual life redounding to the benefit of many other people.

This book arose from an interdisciplinary group that gathered together ideas on how to develop a healthy, well-rounded personality.1 The fact that the contributors come from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, has greatly helped to enrich the book’s content. As theologians, philosophers, priests, doctors, educators, and psychologists, they have all made contributions based on their own experience and expertise.

The book focuses on the features proper to a mature personality, with special attention to a Christian’s spiritual life. The Catholic Church has a long tradition of teachers of the spiritual life who provide a coherent synthesis of the various factors that converge to form a healthy personality. Among these, St. Josemaría Escrivá has been a key source of inspiration. The teachings of this saint contain valuable advice on the importance of strengthening human virtues as the foundation for the supernatural virtues, on the need to form Christians with their own criteria and standards, and on the essential requirement for “unity of life” in each person.
Although the book discusses a wide variety of circumstances, its focus above all is on those going through crucial phases in personality development, especially between the ages of fifteen and thirty (adolescents and young adults), and on those who in one way or another are involved in their formation.”

But as one who has been in a decades long quest of personal growth, I can state this book will benefit readers of all ages. It will be excellent for those in those developmental year, and those who work with them. But all of us can learn from this volume, and through that learning become better people. I loved how the Christian Virtues were woven throughout the book. And the Epilogue states:

“We have considered in the pages above some of the signs of maturity, by which we build up our life brick by brick. Psychological concepts have gone hand in hand with the virtues, which ennoble our being because they draw out what is best in our humanity. Like a pyramid, the apex of Christian maturity rises high above the broad and strong foundation of faith. Our faith tells us that we are creatures, and that an all-knowing and loving God has given us a mission in life. He offers us the best human identity possible, and fills us with a joy that has no merely human explanation.”

This collection is masterfully executed and was well planned. It is a book that will serve generations to come. I truly believe growth is a lifelong journey. And this is a book that we can use to help us, and to help us help others. An excellent read. And of all the books both Christian and secular I have read on personal development one of the best!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Firefly Big Damn Hero - Nancy Holder and James Lovegrove - Firefly Book 1

Firefly Big Damn Hero
Firefly Book One
Nancy Holder
James Lovegrove
Joss Whedon
Titan Books
ISBN 9781785658266
eISBN 9781785658273

This book is the first in a new series of official Firefly novels. They are endorsed by Josh Whedon and planned and coordinated by Nancy Holder. And this specific novel is written by James Lovegrove. So, in a manner these are official Firefly Canon. The dedication of this book states:

“This novel is respectfully dedicated to the supremely talented artists, technicians and craftspeople who created the ’verse, peopled it with such memorable characters, and left us wanting more.”

And that would be a fact. I believe we are long past the time of getting the gang together and doing more TV shows or even another movie. But The characters, the people, the places, and even the ship, Serenity, can live on in this and other stories. This is a first book in a series, and as such it sets a tone. As such it is hard to write a review of this book.

I read this book in three sittings. But I paused about a third of the way through and read two other books. When I came back to it I seriously considered leaving it in my ‘did not finish’ pile. But decided to give it another chance. I am glad I did. Buy the ends of the book I was very thankful that I stuck it out. And it ended up being a great story. But it begins slow, and with the flipping back and forth in time, with Mal remembering back to his youth, it starts off slow or at least unfocused. For fans of the series this will be a good read. For those who like the space western genre it will be entertaining.

The Good:
Some great back Story information on Malcolm Reynolds.
More info on Preacher Book’s back story.
Seeing Zoë step up and take the lead.
Some good ideas from Jayne Cobb.

The Bad:
The story is very slow at some points.

It took a long time to really buy into it.
Wincing as Zoë plods along on a wrecked leg.

The Ugly:
Zoë and Wash pretending to be adopted siblings.
Wash wanting to turn that into a game in the bedroom.

Overall, I give the book a 4/5 stars. I debated 3 but by the end was entertained and enjoyed the way all the plot elements were wrapped up. I enjoyed the book enough that when I finished it, I added the next volume ‘The Magnificent Nine’ to my wish list to pick up once it is released. Looking forward to seeing where the story goes in this initial trilogy.

Sometimes it is hard with books about characters you know and love. It doesn’t matter if it is Star Trek, Star Wars, and now Firefly. You come to expect the characters to interact in a certain way, we know their personalities, and also their story. New authors coming in and writing with these characters need to be careful. They stray too far, and we lose the continuity of the characters. They stay to close to home, and they are just retelling old stories. This book finds a good middle ground. I especially like learning more about Book.

A good science fiction story worth the read.

Other Firefly Books:
Firefly Series:

Big Damn Hero
The Magnificent Nine

Other Firefly Books:
My Own Kind of Freedom – Steven Brust

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ - David W. Fagerberg - Living the Liturgy Series

The Church's Year
Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ 
Deeper Christianity Series
David W. Fagerberg
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860828942
eISBN 9781784693718
CTS Booklet LT06

I love that we have a liturgical year. And in fact, personally, consider the beginning of Advent, the beginning of the church year more important than the calendar new year. I love the changing colors, the focus in the readings and prayers at mass. And this is a wonderful little book that give an overview of the seasons and major transition days. The description of the book is:

“The Church’s Year is often something we live through without noticing its importance. From Advent to Christmas, from Lent to Easter, and into “Ordinary Time”, the calendar unfolds in a spiral, teaching us the mysteries of our faith. Studded with the celebrations of the saints as the sky is studded with stars, the sacred calendar is an essential element in Catholic life. This book is designed for catechists, teachers, and ordinary Catholics, to explain the purpose and meaning of the calendar and how we can use it to draw closer to Christ.”

And it the chapters in this book are:

Why Have a Liturgical Year?
Following in Christ’s footsteps
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
The Season of the Incarnation
The Nativity of our Lord
The Season of the Paschal Mystery
Holy Week
Easter and the fifty days
The Season of Pentecost and the Church
Ordinary Time
Seeing Jesus in His Friends
Why saints?
Our Holy Lady
Further Reading

The first chapter ‘Why Have a Liturgical Year?’ has a powerful image of the church year, and how we interact with it.

“Perhaps you have had the experience of standing on the seashore and throwing a stick out into the waves. The stick eventually works its way back to shore, but not quickly or directly. The stick is pushed to shore eventually, but only by riding the peaks and troughs of successive waves. To an impatient observer it can look as though the stick is barely moving forward at all, and instead is only rising and falling on cyclical waves. But in actual fact, the energy of the waves does move a small amount of water forward in each cycle, eventually bringing the stick back to land.

I would like to propose this as the image behind this booklet concerning the liturgical year. We may not pay close attention to the liturgical calendar because it is so predictable - indeed, a new one comes by every year! We tend to only remember exceptional individual days, like a Christmas Day from childhood or a special family Easter, while the whole year itself escapes our attention by its repetition. We have lived through so many Advents and Lents that we may not give them attention any more. Nevertheless, I propose that like that piece of driftwood moving forward on the cycle of rising and falling waves, our souls are carried forward, toward heaven, on cyclical liturgical seasons. Each liturgical year pushes us toward the shoreline where God awaits us. There is a swell to each liturgical season, and with each rising and falling we are moved a little bit forward.”

Each year at the prior to Advent and lent I make plans, on what I will read, what I will read with my children, and what devotional practices I plan to do. And this book is an excellent tool to help all of us go deeper into the Church year and grow with it year by year. 

Fagerberg states:

“We will repeat the liturgical seasons again next year and there is a risk that we will become bored by the repetition. G.K. Chesterton tries to startle us out of this state of mind by suggesting we adopt the mind of a child: “They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.” This repetition comes from a rush of life and he imagines God having this rush of life.”

And he concludes the book with these words:

“Each liturgical year is an annual spiritual track through sin and holiness, death and life, from earth to heaven, from sorrow to beatitude. We are not just examining Jesus’ historical steps in the New Testament, we are putting our feet in his footprints and following him to his throne. We are not just remembering his deeds in the past, we are putting on those deeds as our cloak of righteousness. The liturgical year is not a tour through a museum, it brings us further up and further in. Each annual cycle moves us forward, if we would let it.”

I believe that no matter how deep your spiritual life, or how faithfully you practice your faith, this wonderful booklet will help you grow and deepen your faith. It is an excellent little read and is deserving of your time. I know it is one I will likely return to again. A very solid 5/5 stars!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by David W. Fagerberg:
C.S. Lewis: An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Narnia
Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology
The Church's Year: Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ
Liturgy outside Liturgy: The Liturgical Theology of Fr. Alexander Schmemann
Around Chesterton: An Adventurous Tour Through the World of G.K. Chesterton
The Size of Chesterton's Catholicism
What Is Liturgical Theology? A Study In Methodology
Why do we need the Mass?: Asceticism, Sanctification, and the Glory of God
On Liturgical Asceticism
Theologia Prima: What Is Liturgical Theology?
Christian Meaning of Time
Mary In The Liturgy

Books contributed to:
Holy Eros: A Liturgical Theology of the Body (Forward)
Understanding the Diaconate: Historical, Theological, and Sociological Foundations (Forward)
Suspended Between Two Abysses: Meditations on Freedom (Preface)
The Liturgy Documents, Volume Three: Foundational Documents on the Origins and Implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium
Between Being and Time: From Ontology to Eschatology

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Who's in Charge - Courtney Sheinmel and Jennifer A. Bell - Stella Batts Book 5

Who's in Charge
Stella Batts Book 5
Courtney Sheinmel (Author)
Jennifer A. Bell (Illustrator)
Sleeping Bear Press

ISBN 9781585368501
eISBN 9781627530439

My oldest daughter and I just finished this book for the second time. And this time She read it out loud to her younger brother, sister, and me. My oldest daughter and I had read all 10 Stella Batts books in 2016 and 2017. Back when we first started reading them, they were a real struggle for her. At that time, I was reading two pages for every page she struggled through. Now she has read us this whole book in two sittings. It is a great book and wonderful series. She loved these books, and it was her request to go back and reread the whole series.  Rereading the series together is proving to be a lot of fun. And with almost 2 years between when we last read this one and now, it is amazing to see the progress in her ability and comprehension. 

This book has turned the Stella Batts books into a family favorite, this one has been read twice now, and is likely to be reread again soon. This time through the illustrations really captivated the attention of my girls, both the oldest and youngest stopped our reading a few times to go over the pictures. Maybe it was the dog, or maybe it was the giant mess in Stella’s room, but something this time really captivated them. Jennifer A. Bell has done some wonderful illustrations in this book and throughout the series. 

This book is the midway point in the Stella Batts series, in the volumes before this one, she wanted a new name, had an incident with hair and gum, had a best friend move away, and met a new close friend, and dealt with a bully. In this book shortly after the birth of her little brother, her grandmother gives her permission to bring home a dog and dog sit for 4 days. Some conflict ensures between Stella’s mother and grandmother. Including Stella noticing her mother uses the same tone and looks on her mother when she is upset, that have been used on Stella herself. In this book it is interesting to watch the intergenerational interactions. But the main plot line is that Bella escapes, and Stella is heartbroken.

My oldest loves that these books are written as if Stella is writing them herself. She appreciated Stella’s mother coming around even though she is not a pet person. And She loved that Stella’s little sister tried to share her stuffie and climbed in bed to comfort her older sister. My youngest loves the bit about the middle child feeling left out and trying to act like a baby and act out. And both the girls could not believe the mess that was made in Stella’s room. (I had to be firm that this was not an idea to be copied, there are better ways to get attention.)

Overall it is a great Middle Grade read, in the realistic fiction genre. We love that the events in these books could easily happen in our home, or with friends, or family. We love watching the changes in the family as the stories progress. And the great things about these books is that my oldest, my most reluctant reader loves them and wanted to read them again. And not only that but she cant stop reading them we are doubling her minimum required reading time because she wants to keep reading.

A great read in an excellent series!

Books by: Courtney Sheinmel:
Stella Batts:

Stella Batts Needs A New Name
Stella Batts Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Pardon Me
Stella Batts A Case of the Meanies
Stella Batts Who's in Charge?
Stella Batts Something Blue
Stella Batts None of Your Beeswax
Stella Batts Superstar

Stella Batts Scaredy Cat
Stella Batts Broken Birthday

Other Books:
My So-Called Life
All the Things You Are

Monday, 14 January 2019

Saints of the Roman Calendar - Nicholas Schofield - CTS Living the Liturgy Series

Saints of the Roman Calendar
CTS Living the Liturgy Series
Nicholas Schofield
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860827907
eISBN 9781784694081

This book is a companion volume to 'Saints of the Roman Canon' by Julien Chilcott-Monk and like that book this book was not exactly what I was expecting. I picked up both books last summer after discovering the Catholic Truth Society Booklets. It was a great read. The description of this volume is:

“The Church sets aside special days throughout the year to remember particular saints with feasts, memorials and solemnities. From the best-known reformers, founders and Doctors of the Church, to lesser-known saints and martyrs, each has been carefully chosen by the Church to be celebrated for his or her life and works. These texts help us to discover more about these holy men and women and why they are so important. It is an invaluable tool for daily prayer and a helpful introduction to those who loved Christ in a special way. This eBook includes brief biographies of all the saints of the new General Roman Calendar celebrated by the universal Church and those of the national calendars of Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.”

And that is exactly what you get. I really wish they had included the Saints specific to the Canadian church also. But even with that being said; this is a good book to read. Over the last few years I have been reading more and more about saints. A wide range of books from young adult titles, children’s series, historical fiction about the lives of specific saints, biographies, and autobiographies. The book is broken into chapters for each month, and then Saints based on the day of the year. And a total of 340 saints are profiled in this book. The introduction begins with these words:

“Scattered across the liturgical year, interwoven through the seasons, are the feasts of the saints. As can be seen by flicking through the pages of the Roman Martyrology, the official book listing these anniversaries, every day of the year is dedicated to the memory of saints who lived in diverse times, places and conditions. The dates chosen are typically that of the saint’s death (dies natalis), burial (dies depositionis) or translation of the relics. In the case of Our Lady and St John the Baptist the date of their earthly birthday is also marked year by year. In some instances another significant day is chosen: thus, Blessed John Henry Newman is commemorated on the anniversary of his reception into the Church. The resulting ‘sanctoral cycle’ presents us with a rich cloud of witnesses who continue to inspire us and intercede on our behalf.”

And later states:

“This booklet is not meant to be a comprehensive dictionary of saints; these are readily available elsewhere. Rather these brief biographies are intended to be a companion to the liturgical year and an aid to prayer. They originally appeared in the Daily Missal published by the Catholic Truth Society and are here presented in a more convenient format. If thought appropriate, the texts could be used by the celebrant at the beginning of Mass or even in the homily. In summarising the lives of the saints, an effort has been made to provide only the essential details and to avoid anything that is historically dubious.”

If the feast is optional or specific to a regional church that is stated for example:

11 February
Our Lady of Lourdes
Optional Memorial
The feast marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old St Bernadette Soubirous. There were eighteen apparitions in all, the last of which was on 16 July 1858. The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer and charity. In a special way, the shrine has become closely associated with the sick.

In Ireland
Saint Gobnait, Virgin
Optional Memorial
St Gobnait or Gobnet (sixth century) was probably born in County Clare and, according to legend, studied with St Enda on the Aran Islands. Medieval sources claim she founded churches at Dunquin, County Kerry and Dungarvan, County Waterford and a monastery at Ballyvourney, County Cork. She is remembered for her love of bee-keeping and her care of the sick.”

As a quick brief introduction to a lot of saints this is a great little volume. I enjoyed working my way through it. And could see myself reading it again with my children when they are a little older. Another excellent resource from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Nicholas Schofield:
The English Cardinals
Saints of the Roman Calendar
A Brief History of English Catholicism
The English Vicars Apostolic (1688-1850)
Roman Miscellany
History of the Papacy
William Lockhart

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Baptism of the Lord 2019

The Baptism of the Lord 2019

The readings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2019, note there are alternate readings for both the first and second readings, and the Responsorial Psalm:

First Reading Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 or 
                     Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 
Responsorial  Psalm 1-4:1-4, 24-25, 27-30 Response 1a or
                     Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10 Response 11b
Second Reading Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7 or
                         Acts 10:34-38 
Gospel Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Including the three optional readings we have a lot of content that we can use to reflect upon this week. In fact, we could spend several weeks reflecting on these passages and still not do them justice. But I will in this short reflection, try and bring us so paints that struck me and will hopefully be of value to you. 

From the opening of the first option for reading one we have:

“Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

These are the words of the good shepherd to his flock, we are that flock. God is the creator and in this case restorer of life. God is encouraging us to hope, to believe. We might me strangers in a strange land, but God is with us. And in his compassion, he promises to alleviate sadness and send forth his mercy. Jesus came to renew the people of God, he came to fulfill what the prophets had foreseen. We are God’s people. When we turn to the second option for the first reading God states:

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him.”

Jesus came and as God’s son he provides the redemption we need. He healed both physically and spiritually. And he can still heal us body, mind, and spirit. If we are open to him and his will. He came that we might have freedom and that we could become children of God. But we are in training, we are called to be saints. We are called to reject evil and pursue good. And we are reminded in the reading from Acts that Jesus will ultimately bring peace and justice to the earth, even if we never see it in our life time. And finally, we come to this weeks gospel reading:

“John answered all of them saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’”

Can you picture it, Jesus in line, awaiting his baptism and he hears these words? Then the crowd parts and it is Jesus’s turn to be baptized. After Jesus was baptized, he spent time in prayer. Do we take time after communion to pray, do we take time after mass to pray? Do we use prayer to bookmark mass, our day our week? We are called to live reconciled to God, we are called to strive to be saints. We are children of God, and our sacramental reality of communion and confession should be ever drawing us nearer to God, and to becoming the best version of ourselves. 

And that is my prayer for you my readers this week, that you will feel the call, take up the challenge and work out becoming saints, work at becoming the best version of yourself.

Related Posts:
Note: Link to all posts about St. Agnes Parish.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Lesson Learned A Story about Pineapple, Sour keys and Lindor Chocolates.

Lesson Learned A Story about Pineapple, Sour keys and Lindor Chocolates.
(Or why I received 150 Red Velvet Chocolates for Christmas)

This is a story about a Christmas present, a box of 150 Lindor Chocolates all of the Red Velvet flavor, but before I can tell that story I need to go back in time 16 years and tell two other stories. Stories from shortly after I was married, and adjustments to married life. So here are the back stories.

Shortly after we were married my wife was visiting her office in Toronto and was asked a lot of questions about what married life was like. Now, before we were married my wife lived alone, so it was a big adjustment, being married and living with someone again. Her complaint to her coworkers was “He ate my pineapple!” The girls were surprised, and my wife explained, when you live alone if you buy something it is there. Apparently, a couple of times I had consumed the last of the pineapple. For her if she bought pineapple, she expected it to be there, even if it had gone bad. As the oldest of three boys, and often living on a tight budget, if food was starting to go, I was used to eating it, so it wouldn’t be wasted. One co-worker asked; “Why don’t you buy two pineapples?” And I was told the story shortly there after.

Shortly after the ‘pineapple’ incident there was another event. At the time I was working as a shift supervisor at Starbucks and arrived home late one night. My wife was in bed, and I decided to watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies before bed. On the table was a bowl of sour keys; there was only one type left in the bowl. I assumed my wife ate the flavors she liked and left the ones she did not like. I started snacking and consumed the bowl. The next morning, I awoke to a scream. Apparently, my wife had eaten all but her favorite, expecting to have those later.

My wife and I both learned lessons at that time in our marriage. She learned to buy more and to tell me if something was for a specific purpose. I learned, or thought I had learned, to ask if I was about to consume the last of something, or at least something my wife likes.

Now let’s fast forward almost 16 years. And It seems I ended up in hot water again because of my mouth. Not for what came out of it, but for what I put into it. You see my wife had a friend who had been down in the States. She returned a container for my wife filled with, Lindor Champagne, and a small box shaped like a piece of cake, with at the time limited edition Red Velvet Lindor. It sat on the counter in a bag for a couple of days. I was working from home on the Friday and filled a bowl on the counter with the Champagne ones, and tried one of the red Velvet with my coffee. It was good, and before I knew it the box was empty and in the recycling.

The next morning lying in bed chatting, my wife mentioned she was going to put away the Champagne ones, so the kids did not eat them thinking they would like them. And I replied “Ok”. She asked about the other ones and I got a sheepish look. And I meekly stated, “They’re gone.” She burst out “GONE??? How can they be gone they have only been there a few days.” I happened to have mentioned that “my only defense would not help me”. She asked what it was, and I replied, “They were so good!” She said there must have been 10 in the box, and I said no, maybe 8. She looked it up online and there were 12. I heard about it, and heard about it, and heard about it. I even reached out to a couple of former co-workers in California to see if they could find a box to send to me, to no avail.

Then on Christmas morning I opened a present. It was a big box of Lindor, 150, all the Red Velvet, now available in Canada. And hopefully this time I have learned my lesson. And that is my story of pineapple, sour keys and Lindor.

Friday, 11 January 2019

New Mediterraneans Discoveries Which Change The Landscape In The Interior Life, Under The Guidance Of St Josemaría - Lucas Buch

New Mediterraneans: Discoveries Which Change The Landscape In The Interior Life, Under The Guidance Of St Josemaría
Lucas Buch
Opus Dei


This book is currently being offered for free, on the Opus Dei site. It is one of several books being offered for spiritual growth for free. Last year I read a few of the others being offered and they have all been excellent. And to be honest you cannot beat the price. These are great resources, and this is a wonderful little book. The description of the book is:

“The lives of the saints act as a light that illuminates the path of our lives when night falls. They have travelled the same path as us, and have known how to reach the goal: the Love of God which is in our origin, and which desires to embrace us for all eternity.

In these pages we are going to look at the holy life of St Josemaría Escrivá; in particular, at some of the discoveries he made during his years as a young priest. As many people who knew him pointed out, he was a lover of God who taught many souls “to understand more profoundly the love of God, so that we are able to show that love to other people through what we do and say” (Christ is Passing By, 97). This is the path of the Christian life, which we too wish to undertake.”

And the contents are:

I. "That First Prayer of a Child of God"
Interlude: “Having the Cross means being identified with Christ”
II. "Jesus is my dear Friend"
III. "From the Wound of the right hand"
IV. "Don't speak: listen to him"
V. "To Jesus, Through Mary"

The book draws heavily from the writings of Saint Josemaria Escriva, books about Escriva, the popes, and other church documents. Each chapter has between 16-38 quotes. This is an excellent little book so pick it up and give it a read.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Pardon Me - Courtney Sheinmel and Jennifer A. Bell - Stella Batts Book 3

Pardon Me
Stella Batts Book 3
Courtney Sheinmel (Author)
Jennifer A. Bell (Illustrator)
Sleeping Bear Press

ISBN 9781585361946
eISBN 9781627531108

My oldest daughter and I read all 10 Stella Batts books in 2016 and 2017. Back when we first started reading them, they were a real struggle for her. At that time I was reading two pages for every page she struggled through. Now she has read me the whole book in three sittings. It is a wonderful book and great series. Full review to follow. She loved these books and going back and rereading the series together is a lot of fun. And with a little over a year between when we last read them and now, it is amazing to see the progress in her ability and comprehension. 

One of the strengths of this series is that the cooks can really be read in any order. My daughter and I jumped around when we read them the first time and we are doing so again this time. Now they do tell a continuous story, but each book has reminders of what went before. And the books are presented as through Stella is writing them herself. The first time we read them I only reviewed about half of the books, and Abby wrote her own review for a school project of book one, Stella Batts Needs a New Name. So as we reread the books together I will finish reviewing all the books in the series. But back to this specific book.

Stella Batts Pardon Me, is a book about friendship and about animals. It also has a great sub plot about misunderstandings. In this volume Stella is trying to find a new best friend. Willa has moved away, and because of something she overhears on the phone she assumes Willa no longer wants to be friends at all. There are also miscommunications between a child raised in Britain and the American students because of different language usage. Stella would also love a pet dog. But that seems unlikely. So, the story revolves around friendships both old and new. 

The few illustrations spattered throughout the book add to the story. My girls love going over the pictures. And when there are group shots trying to figure out who is who. The pencil drawings by Jennifer Bell are wonderfully done and add a nice element to a chapter book at this level.

This is an excellent book in a wonderful series. I am loving having my oldest daughter read them to me and look forward to reading them again a third time in another year or two with my youngest daughter. The fact that I have already read it twice and am looking forward to reading it again speaks to the quality of the writing. The fact that my daughter is very excited about rereading this book and the series speaks to their staying power with children. 

Courtney Sheinmel has written a wonderful book, in an excellent series. Fully endorsed by my reluctant reader and our whole family!

Books by: Courtney Sheinmel:
Stella Batts:

Stella Batts Needs A New Name
Stella Batts Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Pardon Me
Stella Batts A Case of the Meanies
Stella Batts Who's in Charge?
Stella Batts Something Blue
Stella Batts None of Your Beeswax
Stella Batts Superstar

Stella Batts Scaredy Cat
Stella Batts Broken Birthday

Other Books:
My So-Called Life
All the Things You Are