Monday, 30 January 2023

Willie Doyle SJ Much in the Presence of God - Patrick Corkery SJ

Willie Doyle SJ: Much in the Presence of God
Patrick Corkery SJ
ISBN 9781788125512

This is the second volume I have read from the pen of Patrick Corkery SJ, and it is one of a few I have read about Fr. Willie Doyle SJ. My son and I have become fascinated by stories about heroic Military Chaplains. We have read a number of books about them, and my son is set on being one himself. I finally picked up a physical copy of this to read, after waiting over half a year for the promised eBook edition to show up. But back to this volume. The description of this booklet is:

“Willie Doyle SJ was born in Dalkey on 3 March 1873 to an affluent Catholic family. Willie entered the Society of Jesus in 1891. taking vows, Fr. Doyle embarked on a period of Jesuit formation known as Regency. Fr. Doyle worked in two Jesuit schools Clongowes Wood College and Belvedere College. He was ordained in 1908. His prayerful nature took him into Retreat Ministry after ordination. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are a popular way of praying in our time. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, they were almost the exclusive preserve of priests brothers and religious sisters. The Exercises made such a profound impact on Fr. Doyle that he felt they should be available to the largest audience possible. Fr. Doyle also had a great interest in vocations to religious life, and produced two bestselling pamphlets on the priesthood which were published by the Sacred Heart Messenger. In 1915 he volunteered as a Chaplain in the First World War. His time in the war saw him demonstrate great acts of heroism. His death in August 1917 came as a great blow to those who had known him. He died attempting to save injured soldiers from the battlefield at Ypres. His body was initially recovered, but subsequently obliterated by a German shell. Interest in his life was sparked by a book written by Professor Alfred O'Rahilly, which became a bestseller. The book went on to inspire future saints, like Mother Teresa. The desire to have Fr. Doyle declared a saint received much traction in the 1930s, but it lapsed as the Irish Jesuits preferred to give their energies to the cause of Fr. John Sullivan. In recent years the cause has begun to get traction and a lay Association of the Faithful is working to have it promoted.”

Another description is:

“As time goes on and the culture changes, some people find themselves trapped in the past. The name 'Willie Doyle' is often associated with the strict, penitential spirituality of times gone by. Yet Willie Doyle the man was also brave, tender and joyful. He was, as his contemporaries remember him, an arch prankster both loved and loving.

Drawing on contemporary accounts of Doyle, Patrick Corkery SJ offers a multidimensional portrayal of a man who touched the lives of so many. Joker, teacher, Jesuit, chaplain in the trenches of the First World War, Doyle comes alive as a complex and moving figure for our time.

Packed with biographical detail, points for reflection and an exploration of Doyle's significance for Christians today, Willie Doyle Sf is the perfect introduction to the man whose heroism and charisma continue to inspire.”

The chapters in the booklet are:

Willie Doyle’s Early Life
Willie Doyle Joins the Jesuits
Willie Doyle’s Journey to the Priesthood
Willie Doyle’s Discernment and Spirituality
Willie Doyle and the First World War
What Can Willie Doyle Teach People Today?

Even though this is a small volume; meant as a brief biography, introduction, or overview of Father Willie Doyle SJ, it is an excellent volume, no matter how familiar you are with the subject matter. I highlighted many passages while reading this book, some of them are:

“While some people might find novenas twee or think them out of kilter with
contemporary spirituality, it is clear that Fr Willie Doyle has an attraction for people and devotion to him remains strong.”

“At times his penances were off-putting, but one could not help but admire how dedicated he was to the people he served, and how Fr Doyle desired to make God known to those with whom he interacted.”

“At the beginning of regency, my provincial asked me to assist a lay group formed to promote Fr Doyle's canonisation cause. I don't know if the provincial knew about my interest in Fr Doyle, but it certainly helped strengthen my devotion to him and helped me see that Ireland potentially has a great saint relevant for our time. In being asked by Messenger Publications to write this booklet, I hoped t capture something of Fr Doyle's significance for a modern

“From a young age, he took a strong interest in the local poor; he would visit their homes and even parted with his meagre pocket money to ensure that they were able to enjoy some small luxuries. Stories of young Willie's generosity entered in family lore and were recounted later in his brother Charlie's biography of Willie, Merry In God.”

“Even domestically, Willie sought to make life easier for the family's servants. He would often rise early in the morning before the domestic staff and complete some of the tasks allotted to them. This was never done in a showy way but always quietly and never seeking any reward. His care and concern for others and his desire to be of service were evident early in life.”

“Young Willie appears to have had an easy-going nature that attracted others to him, and they enjoyed being in his company. This ease in the company of others seems to have been a trait from early on.”

“WILLIE FINISHED at Ratcliffe in 1890, and no one was surprised when he announced he wanted to be a priest; the question that followed was where would he serve as a priest? Of the seven Doyle children, four opted for religious
life, including Willie. His oldest brother, Fred, had initially been a Jesuit but left to join the Archdiocese of Dublin. Charlie, who was his closest sib ling, had entered the Jesuit novitiate and persisted in that vocation, becoming a priest and at one point was assistant to the Jesuit provincial in Ireland. He would also play a role in helping to develop the spirituality of Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary. Willie's sister, May, entered the Sisters of Mercy, taking the religious name Benedict. Having multiple children was not uncommon in Irish families at this time, and it was considered a mark of great pride to have children enter religious life. The prayerful atmosphere of the Doyle home no doubt contributed' to multiple vocations.”

“The Jesuits had been at Tullabeg since 1818 and St Stanislaus College had served in a variety of different capacities. It had been a boarding school, house of formation for Jesuits and eventually served as a retreat house before it closed in 1991.”

“For some, the Jesuit formation process may need some explanation. There are multiple stages to Jesuit formation: novitiate, juniorate, philosophy, regency, theology, and if one opts to be a priest, there is ordination. The Jesuits also have lay-brothers who do not get ordained.”

“On 15 August 1893, Willie Doyle took his vows and became a Jesuit. Earlier in that year he had made his own personal vow to Mary, writing, 'My Martyrdom for Mary's Sake. Darling Mother Mary, in preparation for the glorious martyrdom which I feel assured thou art going to obtain for me, I, thy most unworthy child, oh this the first day of thy month, solemnly commence my life of slow martyrdom
by earnest hard work and constant self-denial. With my blood I promise thee to keep this resolution, do thou, sweet Mother, assist me and obtain for me the one favour I wish and long for: To die a Jesuit Martyr. May God's will, not mine, be done! May 1st, 1893. Amen.'”

“Hot tempered by nature, I believe, he never allowed himself to be carried into arbitrary action by the intemperate or unreasonable conduct of those in his charge. He was firm, but never unjust; indeed, if he erred at all, it was on the side of leniency. But apart from his self-control, the quality that struck me most was his optimism, his breezy cheerfulness in the midst of difficulties. He never lost his good spirits; he never seemed to be he never appeared to consider for a moment how trouble in his department affected himself; he was intent always on setting others on the right track.’”

“Another of his students echoed these sentiments, 'Fr Doyle's example worked good. His cheerfulness, his energy, his enthusiasm were infectious and inspiring. His whole conduct was marked by gentleness and a kindly thoughtfulness that gained him loyalty and affection. In the playing fields he was a tower of strength. I can still recall the admiration with which I watched him play full back,
or stump a batsman who had his toe barely off the ground. But above all he gave the impression to us boys of one who lived much in the presence of God. I know one boy, at least, who entered the Society ofJesus, partly, at any rate, because Fr Doyle was such a splendid man and splendid Jesuit.'”

“It is important to note that Willie often clashed with his superiors. He could sometimes be stubborn, and his sense of humour was not always appreciated. For one thing, he would mimic other Jesuits.”

“Hope also notes some other transgressions, 'On another occasion he was ordered to his room by his Superior, a school boy's punishment for a man just into his third decade! Willie obeyed: but instead of shutting his door, he piled up chair, table, priedieu, etc., at the entrance and during the evening interviewed and entertained friends and sympathisers from behind the barrier.'”

“His desire to go to the Congo never materialised. Even though he desired to be a missionary, Willie understood that God's will was paramount. This is not an uncommon feature of discernment. In such cases the discerning person must trust that whatever happens is the will of God, though they may not see it in that moment, and hand themselves over entirely in God's providence. Sometimes you and I may be more inclined to pray that 'my will be done' rather than 'thy will be done'.”

“One source of controversy attached to Willie was his penances. These are a continuing source of fuel for would-be critics. His penances were severe, but
they were not different from the kind of penances adopted by other holy people throughout history, such as John Vianney or Matt Talbot. Willie's penances are often challenging because they show a level of fortitude that others may not readily share in.”

“The prolonged nature of the conflict meant the British government wanted spiritual succour for its ever-expanding army. In these circumstances, Willie Doyle offered his services as a chaplain. In the early days, volunteering was
at a high in both Ireland and Britain, and the presence of chaplains was recognised as a beneficial aid to the morale of the soldiers. Chaplains would provide spiritual accompaniment with liturgies and sacraments where necessary. Some, like Willie Doyle, would go a step further and live with the men in the trenches. This was not a general requirement of chaplains, but it was certainly common among the Jesuit chaplains. Such acts of sacrifice did a lot to endear these chaplains to the men they served alongside.”

“His one idea was to do God's work with the men, to make them saints. How
he worked and how he prayed for this!”

“OVER ONE hundred years on from his death in the First World War, Willie Doyle, continues to fascinate people. Some have focused on his tenderness, others his sense of humour; for some his bravery is inspiring, and others are
interested in his spirituality. Looking back ac Willie's life, what lessons does he have for the world of today?”

I hope those quotes show you some of the value of this great little volume. It is a great volume. It does not matter if you only know the name, or are well versed in works by or about Fr Willie this is an excellent little edition to the canon of work about him. And I am greatly interested in following the cause of his canonization that as mentioned in the quotes is underway. I can easily recommend this volume. It is a great read about a truly inspiring life.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Patrick Corkery SJ:

Books about Father Willie Doyle SJ:

Reviews of other books about Military Chaplains:

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Jake Drake, Bully Buster - Andrew Clements - Jake Drake Book 2

Jake Drake, Bully Buster
Jake Drake Book 2
Andrew Clements
ISBN 9781416939337
eISBN 9781442462311
ASIN B007108P0E

When I started reading this I thought it was book one in the Jake Drake quadrilogy. I was mistaken. But that being said it is an excellent volume. Before I was even a third done the book, I recommended it to my son. My son is in grade 9, and yes, the volume is below his reading level. But he has been dealing with some serious bullying for a number of years now. Most of it instigated by the same ring leader, a boy that would give Link Baxter, Super Bully, more than a run for his money. My son started it the day after I did and loved the story. And even though the other Jake Drake books do not deal with bullying, we plan on reading them together in short order.

Six years ago, I discovered the works of Andrew Clements. I was instantly hooked and have now read almost 25 books from his masterful pen. Many consider him the ‘master of school stories’, and I would agree. I have a dual form of dyslexia and did not learn to read until after grade 7. So I never read ‘school stories’ when I was young. That combined with having my own school aged children has instilled a great appreciation for the genre and specifically for the works of Andrew Clements. Clements passed away in 2019 his last novel was The Friendship War, which is another excellent volume. He writes amazing stories for children, but they are also stories that any of us can learn from. Back then I set the goal of reading all of his works, but as my own children have outgrown these books and they had slid by the wayside. I have now returned to them yet again. I have read 1 a week over the last several weeks and plan to do so for a while yet.

I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up. I grabbed it based on the author alone. I just thought it was the first in a series and based on the covers thought it was for a younger audience than many of his books I have read. It was a great read and one I wish we had read with my son years ago. It is an excellent read. The description of this book is:

“Meet Jake Drake.

He's not the toughest kid in fourth grade or the fastest kid or the funniest. But he's got ideas -- big ideas, and boy, does he have stories to tell about what really goes on in school. Like bullies, for instance. Jake wants to know "if everybody who works at school is so smart, how come they can't get rid of the bullies?...Because every year, it's the same thing. Bullies."

So it's up to Jake Drake to take matters into his own hands when Link Baxter, SuperBully, moves into the neighborhood. Link's reign of terror must be stopped...if only Jake can figure out how.”

I was not a bully magnet like Jake, but I can recall the kids who were from early grade school all the way to the end of secondary school. Some of them were hounded for years, and though many school boards have a zero tolerance policy that has not been our experience. In fact we got an email from a grade school principal this week that included:

“-we (school name redacted) will no longer be dealing with any of these issues moving forward unless they involve 'real' safety, bullying, or threats
-just because you feel bad or are crying does not mean that what you are dealing with is a 'real' problem that needs to be addressed”

But the book does bring home ways that Jake deflected the bullying, and how he learned to be a bully buster. Will they work in all cases, no! But there are some good tools mentioned in the books, and especially havening someone to talk to about it.

The chapters in this volume are:

From Bad to Worse
What Abby Said
Playing It Cool
Learning My Lesson
Dangerous Duo
Surprises and Questions
Busted Link

This is another wonderful offering from the masterful pen of Andrew Clements. This is a great early chapter book. An excellent book for young readers, and for those of us who just love a great story!

Books by Andrew Clements:
Bird Adalbert
Noah and the Ark and the Animals
Santa's Secret Helper
Temple Cat
Mother Earth's Counting Book
Billy and the Bad Teacher
Who Owns the Cow
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers
(Adapter)Philipp's Birthday Book
Riff's BeBop Book
Real Monsters Go for the Mold
Things That Go EEK on Halloween
Real Monsters Stage Fright
Music Time, Any Time
Double Trouble in Walla Walla
Gromble's Haunted Halloween
Hey Dad, Could I Borrow Your Hammer
The Landry News
Look Who's in the Thanksgiving Play
The Mouse Family
The Janitor's Boy
Circus Family Dog
The Christmas Kitten
The School Story
Things Not Seen 
The Jacket 
A Week in the Woods
Slippers at Home
Naptime for Slippers
The Report Card
The Last Holiday Concert
Slippers at School
Slippers Loves to Run
A Million Is a Lot of Dots
Lunch Money
Things Hoped For
Room One: A Mystery or Two
No Talking
Things That Are
Lost and Found
Extra Credit
About Average
The Map Trap
The Friendship War
The Losers Club

Pets to the Rescue Series
Ringo Saves the Day!
Brave Norman
Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends
Delores and the Big Fire

Jake Drake Series
Jake Drake Know-It-All
Jake Drake, Bully Buster
Jake Drake, Teacher's Pet
Jake Drake, Class Clown

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School Series
We the Children
Fear Itself
The Whites of Their Eyes
In Harm's Way
We Hold These Truths

Reading Program Books
Karen's Island
Three Wishes for Buster
Bill Picket: An American Original, Texas Style
Hurricane Andrew
Ham and Eggs for Jack
Life in the Desert
Desert Treasure
Inventors: Making Things Better, Steck-Vaughn
Milo's Great Invention

Friday, 27 January 2023

Main Street D.O.A. - Declan Finn - White Ops Book 3

Main Street D.O.A. 
White Ops Book 3
ISBN 9798985670837
eISBN 9798201715038

I have read 26 books by Declan Finn and 25 of them in the last 8 months. I have greatly enjoyed books in several other series. This is one In the White Ops Series and at the writing of this review two more has been announced.  I have been working through Finn’s back catalogue. This was an excellent story, I had not read any description or reviews before picking it up. I am currently cycling through a few of his series and just decided this one was up next, do not even have one chose for on deck when I started this one. The description of this story is:

“Sean Patrick Ryan's White Ops team has survived two wars, pirates, a cannibalistic alien horde from another galaxy, space jihadis, and political maneuvering. Their boss thinks they deserve a break and sends them to the "happiest place in the galaxy."

Luckily for Sean, terrorists take over the amusement planet before he can lose his mind.

To stop the terrorists, White Ops will have to battle a weaponized planet, including cloned dinosaurs, giant sharks, animatronic amusements and a doomsday device that will destroy the planet.

And when the deadliest assassin alive joins the fray, whose side will he be on?”

This story takes the action to a whole new level. Sean Patrick Ryan and his team of totentanzers – Rangers – are on an assigned vacation. But Ryan is a magnet for trouble and soon the vacation planet has been taken hostage. The demands are a little crazy. And the threat is to wipe out everyone on the planet and destroy the planet. Also on planet for very different reasons is John Hugh Watson, a professional assassin, maybe the best in the known universe. 

Ryan and his team must traverse the globe, fighting human Vigiles still loyal to the ousted president, animatronics with extra abilities, animatronics that include raptors, a giant squid, a Megalodon or two, and replica entertainment characters from a variety of shows and era’s. They need to diffuse fusion reactors all over the planet, evacuate billions of people, prevent a scorched earth scenario, and climate controls set to unleash natural disasters on a biblical and global scale. Not the quiet vacation for having saved the universe twice … But would Sean really want it any other way?

Towards the end of the book Sean is giving a welcome speech to a new Rangers class, he states:

““Before I finish, I would also like to ask you all one very important question: Why are you here, now, willing to join us? Why do you want to risk your life for someone else? Do you want to do it because it’s the right thing to do, or do you have a very personal reason? I want you to have a damn good reason before this year is out. I want you to think of why you’re going into all the dark places no one else will. I want you to have a reason to sustain you and keep you going when you’re taking fire from an enemy or waiting to die cold and alone in the middle of the darkness.

“We are the sentinels who keep watch in the night. We keep away the monsters. We are the dragon slayers and the knights-errant. This is who we are. Is this who you want to be?

“Welcome to Ranger training.””

Between the above quote and a the last page of the book we are staged from some excellent action in the next instalment. This story is packed full of action. It has great characters. An excellent pace. It is just a really fun story. 

This was a very entertaining story with Finn’s usual sense of humour! I really enjoyed with this offering from the masterful pen of Finn. It is a great read. And leaves you wondering what happens in book 4. An excellent read I can easily recommend this book, this series and all of the books from Finn I have read to date!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Declan Finn:
Love At First Bite Series:
Short Stories:
Bad Date 
Blood Stained Cliffs of Dover
Honor at Stake
Demons Are Forever
Live and Let Bite
Good to the last Drop
Mad Dog Moon

The Last Survivors Series:
Codename: Unsub

Convention Killings Series:
Set To Kill

Pius Series:
A Pius Legacy
A Pius Stand
Pius History
Pius Tales (Anthology)
Pius Trilogy Short Stories:

St. Tommy Series:

Top Secret Service Series:
Too Secret Service 2
Too Secret Service 3

Dances with Werewolves Series:
Dances with Warewolves
Dances with Werewolves Volume II
Dances with Werewolves: Omnibus Edition

White Ops Series:

Other books:
Arresting Merlin
Sad Puppies Bike Back

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Holy Is His Name - Scott Hahn - The Transforming Power of God’s Holiness in Scripture

Holy Is His Name: The Transforming Power of God’s Holiness in Scripture
Scott Hahn
Emmaus Road Publishing

ISBN 9781645852551
ISBN 9781645852568
eISBN 9781645852575

When I first returned to the Catholic Church about 25 years ago, Scott Hahn’s works were instrumental in my being a revert. A few different priests at recollections or on retreat recommended his books. I have greatly benefited for everything of his I have read, and this one is another amazing read. Scott Hahn is a masterful writer. With every book I read I have a greater appreciation for his skill, as a wordsmith, for his faith, and for his ability to unpack topics and make them accessible to reader in the general public, or in other works for the staunchest academic. This book is written for the general public, but I hope it will grab hold in the halls of academia and theological schools, and for commentators on our culture. The description of this volume is:

“Catholics are taught to prize holiness—to admire it in others and to strive for it in their own lives. But we’re never quite told what holiness is. In Holy Is His Name: The Transforming Power of God’s Holiness in Scripture, Scott Hahn seeks to define the term in order to help us better understand our relationship with holiness. Tracing the meaning of holiness first through the Old Testament and then the New, Hahn masterfully reveals how God gradually transmits his holiness to his people—through creation, right worship, and more—and ultimately transforms them through the sharing of his divine life.”

And the chapters are:

Luv Is Not All You Need
The Genesis of Holiness
The Holiness Explosion
Holiness in the Kingdom
Not Wholly Holy
Holiness in the Prophets
Holiness in Person
Becoming Holy, Becoming “Gods”
The Body of Holiness
His Type of Holiness
Holiness and Priesthood
Holiness in Hebrews
Holiness Today

Several authors and clergy I greatly respect have already given this book a recommendation. Such as:

“We don’t have to learn to be frightened, but as loving children of a loving God, saved through the Cross of Christ, we do need to learn how to fear God. Scott Hahn’s Holy Is His Name explains for priests and lay people what it means to be holy, to realize how distant we are from God’s holiness, how we must be in awe and wonder at his transcendence and majesty and recognize our worth and our smallness before his all-knowing compassion.”
George Cardinal Pell

“Holy Is His Name offers a profound and thorough reflection upon the mark of holiness which belongs properly only to God but which belongs, by participation, to every Christian in virtue of the immeasurable and unceasing love of God for man. We are deeply indebted to Hahn for his labor of love of Christ and of his Church, which offers to us the great gift of Holy Is His Name.”
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

“Catholics are taught to strive for holiness. But what does it actually mean to ‘be holy’? In this captivating book, Dr. Scott Hahn traces the theme of holiness in Scripture and shows how it is about so much more than good behavior and doing good Catholic things. True holiness is ultimately about God’s very divine life dwelling within us, changing us, and making us ever more like him, so that we can be healed of our many sins and weaknesses and can begin to love with God’s own love. And this transformation is not just for priests, religious, or exceptional lay people; it is what God desires for every human person. Read Holy Is His Name and you no doubt will be inspired to deepen your own personal encounter with the power of God’s holiness.”
Edward Sri

“Scott Hahn presents, with a style both theological and masterful, the rich biblical spirituality of holiness. Taking us from the ‘luv’ generation of the 1960s and the Jesus Movement back through the Hebrew Scriptures to the New Testament and Christian experience, he ushers to the mystical heights of authentic holiness in Christ. This is a must-read.”
John Michael Talbot

And many other recommendations on the books site, inside the volume, and on the dust jacket. I am just a small time Catholic Book Blogger. I love reading and reviewing books I love. So this is my plug for this excellent volume.

This is a volume I wish had been around when I was in high school. If I had read this book in my teens or even my early 20’s. It is a book that would have saved me years away from the church, years of struggles, and likely many sins. This is a book that can be read by a high school student or from the most learned theologian. It is a volume that will transform lives. I could see it becoming a classic. It is a book that will open the eyes, encourage the heart, and challenge the mind. And it does it through the lens of scriptures. It is another excellent offering from Hahn’s masterful pen and a book I can easily recommend.

If you wish to buy the book directly from The St. Paul Center do so here

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

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

The Kingdom of God As Liturgical Empire
The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
Understanding "Our Father"


Wednesday, 25 January 2023

World's Greatest Liar - Barry Hutchison - Beaky Malone Book 1

World's Greatest Liar
Beaky Malone Book 1
ISBN 9781847156730
eIBSN 9781847157607

Several months before reading this I encountered the works of J.D. Kirk I also discovered that Kirk publishes children’s books as Barry Hutchison, and other adult fiction as Barry J. Hutchison. I have read 20 stories published under the Kirk Name and am now branching out to the ones under the Hutchinson names, this is the 6 under that name. He is coming up on 175 books across the three pen names. If I had known that or I might not have picked up this first one. But I am very thankful I did. Friends call me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author I like, I try to read everything they have published. I have enjoyed all I have read from his pen and this one was no different.

The description of this story is:

“Dylan Malone, aka Beaky, has a habit for telling porkies – every time he opens his mouth, out pops a whopper… But then his long-suffering sister shoves him into the truth-telling machine at Madame Shirley’s Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities. Now Beaky can't tell a lie – not even a teeny-weeny one – and a truth-telling Beaky is even worse..."

This story is an early chapter book. Or middle grade read. It is in a series that currently has four titles:

The World's Greatest Liar
Worst Ever School Trip
Super Creepy Camp 2017
Weirdest Show on Earth

It appears that some of the four are also available in French and German. It is an interesting story. At first I was unsure, for me it started a little slow. Yea Beakey told lies, in fact he seemed to hardly ever tell the truth, maybe never. But after the experience truth-telling machine at Madame Shirley’s Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities he cannot tell a lie, and even has a compulsion to answer questions. To answer them as bluntly and honestly as possible., for example:

“No, no, wait,” said Dad, holding up a hand. “I’d like to hear Dylan’s thoughts.”

I shook my head quickly. “No, you wouldn’t.”

“Yes, I would.”

“Trust me, you definitely wouldn’t.”

Dad smiled. “I can take a bit of criticism, Dylan. Don’t worry. Go for it.”

“OK. You asked for it,” I said. I took a deep breath, then launched into a detailed review of Dad’s book. I tore apart the flimsy characters, the boring writing, the non-existent plot. I ripped into his mixed metaphors, his rambling sentences, and the fact that none of the story – not one thing – made the tiniest bit of sense whatsoever.

“Oh,” Dad said, but I wasn’t finished.

“And you’ve got a really boring reading voice,” I added, “which made the whole awful experience ten times worse. I even tried faking a nosebleed at one point, but that stupid machine wouldn’t let me.”

Slowly Dad sat down, his face an ashen grey. I looked around at the rest of the family. Everyone – even Max – was staring at me in disbelief. I smiled weakly. “Well, he did ask.””

And things go from bad to worse from there. Soon Beaky and his sister are working together to try and find a way to stop his truth telling. And even though this new Beaky causes some problems his truthful ways also seem to be having some positive effects.

This book marks the 28th offering from Hutchison I have read in the last 10 months, under the three names he publishes under. They have all been entertaining reads. Some have been excellent. This story was an entertaining read, but with the ending it will leave you desperate for the next instalment. Another good read from the pen of Barry Hutchison, aka Barry J. Hutchinson aka J.D. Kirk.   

Books by J.D. Kirk:

DCI Logan Series:
One for the Ages

Robert Hoon Thrillers:

Contributed to:
Everyday Kindness: A Collection of Uplifting Tales to Brighten Your Day

Books as Barry J. Hutchison:
Dan Deadman Space Detective Series:
Dead Inside
Dead in the Water

Space Team Series:
The Wrath of Vajazzle 
The Search for Splurt 
Song of the Space Siren 
The Guns of Nana Joan 
Return of the Dead Guy 
Planet of the Japes 
The Time Titan of Tomorrow 
The King of Space Must Die 
Sting of the Mustard Mines 
Sentienced to Death
The Hunt for Reduk Topa
A Lot of Weird Space Shizz: Collected Short Stories

Sidekicks Initiative Series:
The Sidekicks Initiative

The Bug Books Series:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Complete Season One

Other Books:
World Killer

Children’s books as Barry Hutchison:
Invisible Fiends Series:
Raggy Maggie 
The Crowmaster 
Doc Mortis 
The Beast 
The Darkest Corners 

The Missing Remote of the Apocalypse
The Book of Doom 

Benjamin Blank Series:
The Shark-Headed Bear Thing 
The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing 
The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing 

Beaky Malone Series:
Worst School Trip Ever
Super Creepy Camp
Weirdest Show on Earth

Generator Rex Series:
The Trade
Mirror Mirror

Living Ted Series:
Night of the Living Ted
Revenge of the Living Ted
Invasion of the Living Ted

Spectre Collectors Series:
Too Ghoul for School
A New York Nightmare!

Other works:
Rise of the Rabbits

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Chiara Lubich Servant of Unity - Jim Gallagher - CTS Biography

Chiara Lubich: Servant of Unity
CTS Biographies
Jim Gallagher
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784690786
eISBN 9781784694838
CTS Booklet B764

Over the last 5 years I have reviewed over 330 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. I stumbled upon them while researching works by a specific author. And I love these books and booklets. All the biographies in across a few series series have the CTS Booklet B### format. I loved the books in the CTS Biographies and have read over 75 to date; this is the second from Jim Gallagher. I have enjoyed all of these books and booklets and have benefited from reading them. This volume is another excellent read, in a wonderful series! 

The description of the book is:

“Jim Gallagher tells the powerful story of the founder of the Focolare movement, who dedicate their lives to the poor and the unity of all people.

As a teenager on pilgrimage to Loreto at the start of the Second World War, Chiara Lubich had a premonition of a “whole host” of other young women who would follow her way of total dedication to God. Today the movement she began – the Work of Mary, commonly known as the Focolare – is present on every continent on earth. Encouraged by every Pope since Pius XII, they seek to be a presence of Mary in the Church and the world, and to live and realise Our Lord’s final priestly prayer; “May they be one Father, as I am in You and You are in Me”.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

A Precious Spiritual Legacy
“I will be your teacher”
Finding Companions
Creating Unity
The Little House
Invitation to Rome
From the City to the Mountains and back
First Focolarino Priest
Another Day, Another Soul
Always a Woman Leader
A Wider Community
Steps prepared for us by God’s love

I highlighted several passages during my first read of this book. Some of them are:

“And at that funeral Mass, celebrated by four cardinals, forty bishops and several hundred priests, thousands of people clamoured to pay tribute to this unassuming woman who had inspired them to follow God ever more closely. With the basilica full to capacity, the crowds gathered outside could follow the ceremony on giant video screens normally used at large papal events. Around the world, many thousands of gatherings were held to follow events on the live internet link - up and satellite broadcasts.”

“The reigning pontiff at the time, Pope Benedict XVI, sent his Secretary of State to celebrate Chiara’s funeral Mass. The cardinal also read out a personal message sent by the Pope himself. So many are the reasons for giving thanks to God for the gift given to the Church in this woman of dauntless faith, a gentle messenger of hope and of peace, the foundress of a vast spiritual family which encompasses multiple fields of evangelisation.”

“Chiara remembered that from the age of six, probably as she began being prepared for her First Holy Communion, she began praying intensely before the Eucharist. Gazing at the tabernacle or at the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar, she would pray, “ Lord, you who are light and warmth, enter me through my eyes. ” For the rest of her life she would nurture a burning devotion to Jesus present in the Eucharist and she would do much of her studying and her writing on her knees before the tabernacle.”

“About five minutes later this young woman came in. I realised that her whole demeanour was in fact the complete opposite of mine. Who was she ? I was struck by a harmony about her which was even reflected in her dress. As people were arriving and we were waiting for the start of the day, I sat and watched her.”

“I was transported. I felt as if I was being lifted up - right into the heart of God. Everything in my life was being turned upside down and a great love of God was being awakened in me.”

“It was playtime for the children, and Chiara told me to stay with her for a while to have a chat. Although she was completely available to me, I could see that she was still attentive to the children running around. As different children would come up to her to show her something, or ask a question, or just for a hug, you could see that she loved each one of them equally.”

“I asked her why she could not teach this to the whole world. “ Yes,” she said, “the world is waiting. We won’t preach it - we have to witness to it. If we can live this moment by moment, if we can live like Jesus would live, the world will believe.””

“The increasing number of young women who were drawn to Chiara were living through the worst days of the Second World War for the city of Trent. From one moment to the next they could see their homes destroyed, their friends and loved ones annihilated. They came to realise that there had to be more to life, something permanent, transcendent even; their Ideal; God.”

“The women were stupefied. The very Son of God experienced being abandoned by God the Father; all for love of us, to accomplish our salvation. From that moment on Chiara and the ever - growing group of young women would do everything for Jesus Forsaken. Indeed, being part of the Body of Christ, they would somehow live in Jesus Abandoned.”

“When asked for a name of their group, Chiara said they were merely Christians trying to live in unity like the Holy Family. They became known as the focolarine, that is, those who gathered around the hearth. The group and later the large movement became, and is still nicknamed, the Focolare, that is the fireside, the hearth of a home.”

“The page of Unity is for everyone. For me and for all those in the front line of Unity, Jesus Forsaken is our everything.”

“His perception of the twenty - eight - year - old Chiara at that first meeting was that she was someone “who put holiness within reach of everyone. She tore down the grille which separated the world of the laity from the mystical life. She rendered God near, she caused people to discover him as father, brother, friend, present to humanity.””

““ Her answer hit me like a ton of bricks,” recalled Pasquale, “because in that instant I understood that in order to have the Eucharist you had to have the priesthood, the hierarchy. I understood then that you could not separate the Church from Christ. I realised also that we are all Church. It was not ‘the Church ’ that had to change, or ‘the others’ that had to change. I had to change. I had to start a new life.””

“Various restrictions were put in place during those ten years of investigation. Chiara might not speak in public. For some time she could not even have contact with her young male focolarini who were studying for the priesthood. Eli remembered, half a century later, that Chiara was never actually called in to the Holy Office to be questioned. The officials always came to see her, at her residence. They always left in tears, moved by the simplicity, limpidity and evident holiness of this young woman.”

“Pope Pius XII died in 1958. It turned out that he had left a note regarding the Focolare and his wish to see it officially approved. After discussion at the Italian Bishops’ Conference in 1960, Pope St John XXIII appointed a papal commission to oversee the process of fully integrating the movement into the structures of the Church. Once the commission had completed its task, Pope St John XXIII officially and publicly approved the Focolare Movement on 23rd March 1962. All restrictions on its public activities were lifted.”

“Again in Stuttgart, in 2007, another Together for Europe day was held. It produced a type of manifesto. Known as the Stuttgart Message, it comprised a seven - fold Yes: Yes to life; Yes to the family; Yes to creation; Yes to a just economy; Yes to solidarity; Yes to peace; Yes to our responsibility towards the whole of society.”

This is an absolutely fascinating little read. I knew nothing about Chiara or the Focolare Movement when I began this book. It is an excellent introduction to this Servant of God, her life, and her ongoing influence. It is a very accessible read. It will encourage, surprise and challenge readers of all ages. 

I hope those few quotes above will inspire you to pick up this excellent volume and give it a read. It seems every time I read a book from the Catholic Truth Society I find 2 or three others I want to read. I added a few of Gallagher’s other volumes to my to be read pile, after finishing this the first of his I read and have 2 more to go. I have an ever growing wish list of eBooks, books in print, and books out of print from the Catholic Truth Society I want to track down. I greatly enjoyed reading this volume. I learned several things about this woman and the Focolare. This is another excellent read, in a great series. Like the previous volume from Gallagher this book is very well written, and leaves me wanting to find the others from this author in the series. It is another great Biography from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Jim Gallagher:
Padre Pio: The Pierced Priest
Mother Teresa – The Life of the famous “Saint of Calcutta”
John Paul II: The Road to Sainthood
Serving the Young: Our Catholic Schools Today
Our Schools and Our Faith: A Pastoral Concern and Challenge

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin