Thursday, 18 April 2019

Fruits of the Spirit - Stratford Caldecott - CTS Deeper Christianity Series

Fruits of the Spirit
CTS Deeper Christianity Series
Stratford Caldecott
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860826610
eISBN 9781784692919
CTS Booklet SP31

I have a friend who calls me a ‘completionist’ because when I find an author I love I try and read everything they wrote. I have come to realize that with books from the Catholic Truth Society that is likely impossible. Nearly every time I finish one I find 2 or three more I want to read. And so many are out of print and hard to track down. In just the last year I have read over 60 books from the Catholic Truth Society, I discovered them by accident doing research on an Alice Curtayne, and have fell in love with the books and booklets I have read. This book is the sixth book I have read in the Deeper Christianity Series. Up until recently I believed there were 16 books in the series and that 15 of those 16 were available as eBooks. I was mistaken. There have been 52 books in this particular series over the years. And most are now out of print. And from a contact at CTS, for many of the out-of-print volumes the CTS no longer holds the rights, therefore it is unlike they willcome back into print either as physically or eBooks. Tracking down those older volumes is proveing difficult. The Catholic Truth Society has been publishing books and booklets for over 150 years, they add many new titles each year, and many drop into the out of print category. Of the 60 titles I have read so far all have been 4 or 5 Stars our of 5. And I loved the books in this series.

The description of this volume is:

“This booklet explores the imagery of trees and fruitfulness in the Bible, and offers a sketch of Christian morality based on the relationship of spiritual fruits to the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues. The result is a kind of rough map, a guidebook of sorts to a life in the Spirit, inspired by teachings that we find in Holy Scripture and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The chapters in the book are:

Nostalgia for Paradise
The Tree of the Cross
The Pattern of the Moral Life
Dividing the Fruits
Fruits of Prudence
Fruits of Justice
Fruits of Fortitude
Fruits of Temperance
The Healing of the Nations

This book in many ways was much more academic than others in the series. Reading it, the book had a very different feel than others in the series. The fruit of the spirit and the spiritual disciplines are something that have fascinated me for over 30 years now. Stratford in the introduction states:

“This booklet is about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It explores the imagery of trees and fruitfulness in the Bible, and offers a tentative sketch of Christian morality based on the relationship of spiritual fruits to the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues. The result is a kind of rough map, a guidebook of sorts to a life in the Spirit, inspired by teachings that we find in Holy Scripture and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

He also says:

“The translation of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible lists the fruits of the Spirit as nine: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But the older Vulgate and Douai versions give twelve: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para 1832) follows the older tradition, and lists twelve:

“The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: ‘charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness [benignity], goodness, generosity [longanimity], gentleness [mildness], faithfulness [faith], modesty, self-control [continency], chastity’.”

Guided by the Catechism, it is this list of twelve that will be followed in what follows. But whether nine or twelve we need to remember that all these diverse fruits are aspects of the one fruit that is mentioned at the beginning of all three lists; namely love, or charity.”

After that he goes on to speak about symbols in the bible, about ways of interpreting symbols. And then he looks specifically at the symbols of trees, light, lamps and boats. One of the great sections in this book was a look at the differences between fruits and virtues. He states:

“One thing that many find confusing is the distinction between virtues and fruits. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are the result of the virtues. To put it more poetically, the virtues are the blossom on the tree of life, which we see in springtime, and the fruits are what come from these flowers at the time of ripeness. So at this point we need to consider the virtues. What are they, and how do they grow?”

In the next section ‘Dividing the Fruits’ Stratford declares:

“How are we to understand the fruits of the Holy Spirit in detail? What can we say about them? In what follows I have been very specific - perhaps too specific for some people. But I want to show that the twelve fruits are not just vague terms to describe the attributes or behaviour of a typically nice person; they are the actual results of the four cardinal virtues being energized by the Holy Spirit through the three theological virtues.”

And in part that is what I mentioned earlier. This book is much more detailed then others in the series. That is not a bad thing, but it is not what I was expecting. But it was a book I am blessed to have read. And it is another great read 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 in the Deeper Christianity Series:
7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 Deadly Sins Learning to Defend the Life of Grace
Christian Fasting Disciplining the Body, Awakening the Spirit
Deepening Prayer Life Defined by Prayer
Desire & Delight
Faith, Hope and Love The Theological Virtues
Fruits of the Holy Spirit 
Living a Happy Life
Lectio Divina Spiritual Reading of the Bible
Making Sunday Special

Mary in the Liturgy
Mary Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Providence and Prayer
Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance
Purgatory A Mystery of Love
Spiritual Warfare Fighting the Good Fight

The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ
The Name of God The Revelation of the Merciful Presence of God
Understanding The Story Of The Bible
Union with God

Books by Stratford Caldecott:
Secret Fire: The Spiritual Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien
All Things Made New: The Mysteries of the World in Christ
The Radiance of Being: Dimensions of Cosmic Christianity
The Tumbler of God: Chesterton as Mystic
Not as the World Gives: The Way of Creative Justice
A Hidden Presence: The Catholic Imagination of J.R.R Tolkien
Eternity in Time
Understanding The New Age Movement
Catholic Social Teaching

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

An Arrow In Flight - Jane Lebak - Seven Angels Book 1

An Arrow In Flight
Seven Archangels Book 1
Jane Lebak
Philangelus Press

ISBN 9781942133032
eISBN 9781942133148

I have read 15 books or published short stories by Jane Lebak in just under a year. But this is the first novel I have read in the Seven Archangels series. And what an incredible read it is. Some fiction that I read is just simple entertainment. This book on the other hand will make you think, will cause you to reflect and now almost 2 weeks after finishing the book I am still thinking about this story. Lebak’s examination of the lives of angels is incredible. I do not know if Lebak has been divinely inspired in writing these books. But they have caused me to reflect upon angels far more. And to be praying the Saint Michael and guardian angel prayers far far more often. 

This novel is a series of events and stories that span time, space, and overlaps with biblical events. The sections in the book are:

Heartless City 1415 BC
Holiday 1236 BC
Stones 1015 BC
In Carnation 973 BC
Pomegranate 960 BC
A Fish Story 637 BC
Irin 614 BC
Wanderer 593 BC, 
Children In Hell 576 BC
The Epilogue 3 BC and Year Eighteen

Reading this story will stir something visceral in the readers. If you are a person of faith, a Christian or a Catholic there is so much to appreciate and that will resonate with you. If you are not it might stir things you are not aware of. The presentation of the spiritual battles. The story spans from events at Sodom and Gomorrah through to the early life of Christ. The interactions between angels and humans, and angels and fallen angels is captured in a stunning fashion. 

Lebak does an amazing job of representing angels. The friendships and relationships between angles, and the different orders of angels. Also her portrayal of angels and their work for humans, is moving to read.

It has been a long time since I was a bright eyed 19 year old in my second year in university and leading a spiritual warfare prayer meeting weekday mornings at 630am. Over the years as my faith became more and more academic spiritual warfare interests have waxed and waned. But this fictional novel has stoked my prayer life. And it has left me desperate for book two. An excellent speculative fiction novel. 

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

Books by Jane Lebak:
Pickup Notes
Love's Highway
Forever And For Keeps
Half Missing

Relic of His Heart
With Two Eyes Into Gehenna

Father Jay Series:
Bulletproof Vestments
The Boys Upstairs
A Different Heroism


Seven Archangels:
1.0 An Arrow In Flight
2.0 Sacred Cups
3.0 Shattered Walls
4.0 The Wrong Enemy
5.0 Annihilation

Seven Archangels Short Stories:
2.1 Damage
2.2 Even A Stone
2.3 Hired Man
2.4 Winter Branches
5.5 Once Only

Seven Angels Short Story Bundle 2.1-2.4

The Adventures of Lee and Bucky:

0.5 Upsie-Daisy
1.0 Honest And For True
2.0 Forever And For Keeps

Rails of Sweet Grove:
2.0 Love's Rules of the Road

Carrying to Term: A Guide for Parents after a Devastating Prenatal Diagnosis

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Transfer Complete - Jorge Sáez Criado - Memories of Twilight Book 1

Transfer Complete
Memories of Twilight Book 1
J.S. Criado
Jorge Sáez Criado
Ana María Fernández Gutiérrez (Translator)
Lisa Nicholas (Translator)
ISBN 978-1790983346

I was introduced to the words of Jorge Sáez (J.S.) Criado through a fellow bibliophile. At the time none of Criado’s works were available in English. I started following the author and once I found out that this volume was available in English, I picked it up right away. I devoured it twice today. The first time I read it during my lunch break at work. The second I used adaptive technology and listened to it on my way home from work. My only complaint is that it is too short. But a bit about that, the author in the introduction to the book states:

“Memories of Twilight is an experiment and an adventure—a science fiction story about a powerful, out-of-control artificial intelligence, robots with unimaginable abilities, and humans who are more and more dependent on technology. This story required something special, to be written not as a novel but as a series of small, key fragments, each offering its own vision of the whole, a vision of the twilight of humanity.”

The story is written as a series of separate pieces, and the 9 pieces in this volume span more than 15 years in time. The sections in this volume are:

About Memories of Twilight
The Turing Test
What Have We Done?
Best Friend
Transfer Complete

In some ways the story reads like classic science fiction. It called to mind Frank Herbert’s stories The Green Brain and The Eye's of Heisenberg. The story begins with two programmers David and Billy who want to create an AI that can pass the Turing Test. They do too good a job and soon Amy has infected every internet aware device on Earth, and maybe even some no longer on the third rock from the sun. In an event similar to Ultron, spreading around the world, Amy is soon almost everywhere, and her security protocols are protecting her from being removed.

From there the story jumps in time, and place. We jump to different characters in different places at different times. We see follow the spread of robots from novelty items for the rich, to becoming standard household items. And All this time David and Billy are trying to find a way to put the lid on the Pandora’s box that they opened, because they were too smart and not cautious enough.

The Spanish edition of the book comes in at 120 pages, and the English print edition is just under 100. It is more of a novella. But it is also a collection of short stories. Each story could be read on its own. But together they weave a larger tale, a tale that is very well written, and as stated will leave you desperate for more. Book 2 is available in Spanish, and I hope we will not have too long a wait for it to be available in English. The way the story ends we are left hanging, wondering what happens to Billy and David. And I keep wondering what is going on, on the surface of the red planet.

A great story that will start you thinking, and one that you will not easily be able to stop thinking about. Very well written! I give it a solid 5/5 stars and encourage you to give it a try.

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

Books by Jorge Sáez Criado:
In English:

Memories of Twilight:
Transfer Complete


In Spanish:
Llorando sangre
Apocalipsis: El dia del Señor
Cartas desde el corazón a un hijo no nacido
La Escala de la Felicidad


Memorias del ocaso:


Meditando el Santo Rosario:
Misterios gozosos
Misterios dolorosos
Misterios luminosos


Monday, 15 April 2019

Forgiving Mother A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace - Marge Steinhage Fenelon

Forgiving Mother: 
A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace
Marge Steinhage Fenelon
Servant Books
Franciscan Media
ISBN 9781632532275
aISBN 9781632532282

I have read this book through and am already reading it a second time. When I was reading My Queen, My Mother, by Fenelon I came across this book and immediately bought it. I kept it toward the top of my screen on my Kindle but was hesitant to open the book. I debated starting it several times, and yet could not bring myself to flip open the cover. But once I started reading, I could not put it down. The first time through the book I highlighted 27 passages before getting to part 2 of the book, the novena, which is about a third of the book. This is a book that anyone who had a less than perfect relationship with their parent could read and benefit from. The sections in this book are:

Introduction - Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Part One: Learning to Forgive
Yes, You Can Heal
Why Is Mary the Answer?
It’s Okay to Look Back
You Are a Child of God
She Is a Child of God
You’re Just Like Your Mother
Mom! I Need You!
Who Will Be a Mother to Me Now?
I Forgive You
Part Two: Novena
Lord, Give Me the Grace to Want to Heal
Mary, Let Me Grow Closer to You
Mary, Help Me Look Back
Mary, Let Me See Myself as a Child of God
Mary, Let Me See My Mother as a Child of God
Mary, Let Me Be Transformed in the Spirit
Mary, Draw Me into Your Heart
Mary, Let Me Grow
Mary, Let Me Be Healed

In the introduction Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle states:

“I can guarantee it. I also believe that Forgiving Mother will edify any reader, helping them to understand the need to love and nurture one another as well as learn more about Mary’s essential role in our lives.”

And the book lives up to that prediction. This book spoke directly to my heart, and to my experience. Even in my years away from the Catholic church, I maintained a devotion to Holy Mary, always kept Rosaries and often prayed to Mary. And I had many issues with my earthly mother. We were estranged for a few periods in our life. And my children do not even know her name. But being inspired by this book, I have not only started praying for the repose of my mother’s soul, have had mass intentions offered for her. But back to this amazing book.

Fenelon states in the preface:

“Perhaps you see my dilemma. I am sure beyond doubt that I’ve been called by God to share with you my childhood in light of healing from the effects of an abusive mother and about the miracles Mary has done in my life and will do in yours.”

And also:

“More than anything else, I hope and pray that, by daring to share my story, I will be helping you to open up channels of forgiveness, healing, and peace for you as well as for your mom. May our Mother Mary bless, guide, and comfort you!”

Marge writes this story from a very transparent and vulnerable place. She is open and honest with us about some of the abuse and mistreatment she received at her mothers’ hands. She shares her journey to healing and eventually forgiveness. It is a powerful read. But the book is also much more then biography both family and spiritual. It is an example that can offer tools for those of us who need to heal from our relationships with our mothers, or grandmothers. It does an incredible job of showing the love and protection of Mary. About the relationship you can have with Mary and through that healing and growth in your personal spiritual life.

I will share a few random quotes from the sections I highlighted:

“In spite of the difficulties, I was brought up in what I consider a fairly Catholic home, and my three siblings and I all received a Catholic education.”

“I want you to know and feel that you are a child of Mary and that she loves you tenderly. She really, truly is your mother—given to you by our Lord as he hung dying on the cross. Jesus wants you to accept his mother as your own and to develop a deepening relationship with her so that she can fill the void that the past has left inside of you. And in her kind, motherly way, she will. What’s more, she will lead you to her son, who, as God, is the ultimate source of all healing and peace.”

“Healing is a process, not a project, and you must, through prayer, allow God’s grace to work in you.”

“Do you want to be well? Do you really want to be well? Are you ready to go through the work of affecting that healing? I think you are; otherwise, you never would have picked up this book.”

“As our mother, she cares about every aspect of our lives, past, present, and future. She cares about our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, dreams and desires. She cares about where we have been and where we are going. She cares about who we are and who we would like to become. She cares about the seemingly insignificant details of our daily routines and the huge life events. She cares about all that is important to us and even about what is not so important. She cares about everything.”

“No matter what you lack from your childhood, it can be recovered with the Blessed Virgin’s help. Mary is the answer.”

In the last few weeks I have read two books by this author. Both were excellent reads. And before I had even finished this volume, I picked up two others by this author to read. This is an amazing read and I highly recommend it.

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

Books by Marge Steinhage Fenelon:
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
My Queen, My Mother
Imitating Mary
Forgiving Mother
When’s God Gonna Call Me Back?
When’s God Gonna Show Up?
Reveille for the Soul
Strengthening Your Family: A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home
10 Promises of Jesus: Stories and Scripture Reflections about Suffering and Joy


Friday, 12 April 2019

Night School - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 21

Night School
Jack Reacher Book 21
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780804178808
eISBN 9780804178815

I can freely admit I have become addicted to the Jack Reacher novels. As a guy who is almost 50, I should know better than to stay up too late reading, especially the night before a big presentation at work. And yet with this novel, I kept finding myself saying ‘1 more chapter’, again and again. The window for my sleep kept dwindling to less and less sleep. I could just honestly not put the book down!

I am beginning to see Reacher a bit like Captain Kirk in the original TV series of Star Trek. He sleeps with a different woman in almost every novel. He is very good at what he does, and mainly because he doesn’t quite follow all the rules. He has a great instinct. And has confidence that if he has the facts, he can figure it out. As of the writing of this review I had read 7 Reacher books in 7 weeks and believe I might be able to get caught up and read all the books in the series before the end of the year. I still struggle a bit with the change of voice between first person and third person narratives. I had thought that maybe he had something to do with if the book was set while he was still in the military or after he left. But this book dispelled that theory. I just did not have a large enough data set. So, now I have no theory around the changing voice. I have used a couple of different websites that have recommendations for which order to read the Reacher books, but I have just been jumping around. Sometimes picking the chronological one that follows the one I just finished, and sometimes the next one published. But now back to this specific novel.

This novel is set in 1996, Reacher is still in the army And just off a mission that leads to the short story, The Fourth Man. The story begins with Reacher receiving a medal in the morning for undisclosed work overseas. And in the afternoon, he is very publicly sent back to school. He is being sent to a school for interagency cooperation. When he gets there, he meets an agent from the CIA and from the FBI and immediately realises this will not be a normal school. And his hunch proves correct. They are working together and trying to find out what a Jihadi sleeper cell in Hamburg is willing to pay 100 million dollars for.  They need to figure out who the payment is for, and what it is for and the clock is ticking. Can Reacher and the others figure it out before the clock runs out?

With 23 novels, several short stories, Jack Reacher's Rules, and offerings in anthologies and mush up short stories there is a lot in the Reacher canon to read, and if we are lucky there will be many more offerings yet to come. I very much enjoyed this novel and have already picked which of the remaining books will be my next sleep killer. Another great read from the pen of Lee Child!

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
The Enemy
One Shot
The Hard Way
Bad Luck and Trouble
Nothing to Lose
Gone Tomorrow
61 Hours
Worth Dying For
He Affair
A Wanted Man
Never go Back
Make Me
Night School
The Midnight Line
Past Tense
Blue Moon

Jack Reacher's Rules

Reacher Short Stories and Novella’s:
No Middle Name – Complete Collected Short Stories
Stories in No Middle Name Collection:
Too Much Time
Second Son
Deep Down
Guy Walks into A Bar
James Penney’s New Identity
High Heat
Everyone Talks
Not A Drill
Small Wars
Maybe They Have A Tradition

No Room At The Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner

Other Short Stories:
Good and Valuable Consideration
The Fourth Man
The Christmas Scorpion
Faking a Murderer with Kathy Reichs