Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Maximilian Kolbe, Franz Jagerstatter, Karl Leisner, and Rupert Mayer Victims of the Nazis - Edited by M.N.L. Couve de Murville - CTS 20th Century Martyrs

Maximilian Kolbe, Franz Jagerstatter, Karl Leisner, and Rupert Mayer
Victims of the Nazis
M.N.L. Couve de Murville (Editor)
Mary Craig
Bruce Kent
Paul Riesterer, SJ
Catholic Truth Society
CTS Booklet B449

This booklet is part of the CTS 20th Century Martyrs Series. To date I have read 312 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society, and this is the tenth in this specific series. I believe I only have 3 left to track down in the series, Isidore Bankanja, Pedro Poveda and The Gypsy Saint 'El Pele' Cerefino Jimenez Malla. Reading about Martyrs, and especially martyrs under the Nazi regime is not an easy thing. But I believe it is an important thing for us to do. Thank and many other books in the CTS Biographies are amongst my favourite reads over the last few years. The version I tracked down was a first edition published in 1997, and we are informed in the introduction that it draws from previous books and booklets from the CTS. I believe there are two volumes by Archbishop M.N.L. Couve de Murville, bishop of Birmingham that was published by the Catholic Truth Society, though a few of his other titles have really grabbed my interest. And he was editor and contributor for this booklet.

The description of this volume is:

“The stories of four people whose hope and faith bore fruit amidst the darkest times of this century Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest; Franz Jagerstatter a young Austrian farmer with a wife and three young daughters. Karl Leisner grew up in Germany in the years Hitler rose to power. Rupert Mayer had met Hitler in the political arena in 1919 and quickly realised that a German Catholic could never be a Nazi. Their lives were inextricably sucked into the tentacles of the evil men can do. Each refused to condone a wicked political system, so raising up the light of Christ crucified and risen in the total darkness. Pope John Paul II invites us never to forget these modern martyrs of our own time.”

The chapters and sections in the volume are:

Maximillian Kolbe 
     Ordination and Crusade 
     Knight of the Immaculate 
     Missionary work in Japan 
     Imprisonment .. 
     Killed in Auschwitz 
     Saint of our times 

Franz Jagerstiitter 
     Farmer and family man 
     Prison and execution 
     Conscientious objection 
     The right not to kill 
     Question of conscience 
     The message for us 

Karl Leisner 
     National Socialism
     Early life and seminary 
     Freiburg and Elisabeth
     Tuberculosis and prison 
     His ordination 
     Freedom and death 

Rupert Mayer 
     Early life as a priest 
     War chaplain 
     A parish in Munich 
     Works of charity 
     Catholic can never be a Nazi 
     Arrest and imprisonment
     Concentration camp 
     After the war 
     Apostle of Munich 

I am well versed in the life of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, but must admit I know far less about the other three martyrs profiled in this volume. Once I started reading this booklet I could hardly put it down. I read it in two sittings over my lunch breaks at work. M.N.L. Couve de Murville who edited this volume, also contributed a piece and wrote the preface. In that preface he states:

“As the Pope says, "the martyrologium of the first centurie was the bas is of the veneration of the Saints. By proclaiming and venerating the holiness of her sons and daughters, the Church cave the supreme honour of God him elf; in the martyrs she venerated Christ, who was the origin of their martyrdom and their holiness." (Tertio Millennio Adveniente.)”

And also:

“That is why the CTS is republishing the lives of seven victims of the Nazi regime in Germany. As recorded in the two booklets Victims of the Nazis, these are the stories of on German Jewess, two German priests, two laymen one Austrian the other French) and two friars (one a Pole and the other a Dutchman). They all chose to lay down their lives rather than accept an evil political system based on totalitarianism and racism. They died because of their fidelity to Christ and his Church. Their witness must not be forgotten.”

And that is why I state this is a volume we must read. And these are stories we should be aware of. I highlighted many passages while reading this volume. I will share some of them below with section heading of the person and author. 

Maximillian Kolbe by Mary Craig

“In his infancy Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but we are told that one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child's behaviour. Later he explained this change. 'That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding twin crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.’ Thus early did the child believe and accept that he was destined for martyrdom. His belief in his dream coloured all his future actions.”

“The love of fighting didn't leave him, but while he was in Rome he stopped seeing the struggle as a military one. He didn't like what he saw of the world, in fact he saw it as downright evil. The fight, he decided, was a spiritual one.”

“The fight was still on, but he would not be waging it with the sword. At that time many Catholics in Europe regarded freemasonry as their chief enemy; and it was against the freemasons that Maximilian Kolbe began to wage war. On 16 October 1917, with ix companions, he founded the Crusade of Mary Immaculate (Militia Immaculatae), with the aim of 'converting sinners, heretics and schismatic, particularly freemason s, and bringing all men to love Mary Immaculate'.”

“His love of Mary Immaculate now became the devouring characteristic of his life. He regarded himself as no more than an instrument of her will, and the only time he was known to lose his temper was in defence of her honour. It was for her that he strove to develop all the good that was in him, and he wanted to encourage others to do the same.”

“1922 he began to publish a monthly review, the Knight of the Immaculate, in Cracow. Its aim was 'to illuminate the truth and show the true way to happiness'. As funds were low, only 5,000 copies of the first issue were printed. In 1922 he removed to another friary in Grodno and acquired a small printing establishment; and from now on the review began to grow. In 1927 70,000 copies were being printed.”

“Years later, after the war, the Polish bishops sent an official letter to the Holy See claiming that Fr Kolbe' s magazine had prepared the Polish nation to endure and survive the horrors of the war that was soon to follow.”

“Just before the Second World War broke out Fr Maximilian spoke to his friars about suffering. h y must not be afraid, he said, for suffering accepted with love would bring them closer to Mary. All his life he had dreamed of a martyr's crown, and the time was nearly at hand.”

“The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them, and brought all their machinery into use in their service.”

“On 28 May Fr Maximilian was with over 300 others who were deported from Pawiak to Auschwitz. There he received his striped convict's garments and was branded with the number 16670.”

“Fr Zygmunt Rusczak remembers: ‘Each time I saw Father Kolbe in the courtyard I felt within myself an extraordinary effusion of his goodness. Although he wore the same ragged clothes as the rest of us, with the same tin can hanging from his belt, one forgot this wretched exterior and was conscious only of the charm of his inspired countenance and of his radiant holiness.’”

Franz Jagerstatter by Bruce Kent

“He is better and better known as a Catholic Christian who was prepared to follow his conscience and say 'No' to the orders of an unjust state whatever the cost.”

“His was the simple brave story of an ordinary man who refused to conform to the standards of society of his day because he thought that what was asked of him was against the will of God.”

“This unknown man, in the face of quantities of well-meaning advice, persisted, because he was a Catholic Christian, in refusing to fight for Hitler's Germany in a war which he knew to be unjust, even if it meant his own execution.”

“If this was a conventional account of a holy youth then Franz's early life would leave very much to be desired. Though he is well remembered and well liked he must have been very often a thorough nuisance in the village. He was a member of the local gang of lads, and violent battles with boys and young men of other villages were not unknown. He was clearly 'one of the boys', often in the village inn and always after the local girls.”

“In 1936 he married and became in time the father of three little girls. As part of the honeymoon he and his wife went to Rome and though opinion varies about the speed of the change there is no doubt that after marriage his attitude to his religion changed considerably.”

“As a farmer hi compulsory military service was twice deferred but finally he was ordered to report on 25 February 1943 at the recruiting centre. A few days later he answered the call but only to register an unconditional 'NO!'.”

“Unfortunately, such recognition has not been achieved everywhere. Amnesty International has expressed concern that hundreds of young people are in jail in more than a dozen countries because of their refusal to perform military service on grounds of conscience. These countries have included Cyprus, Finland, France, both East and West Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the USSR. Some young people refuse to fight on political grounds (for example, some of the young whites who were called up in South Africa). Many of them are also Christians who believe that militarism is not a long term Christian answer to the problems of the world.”

“By refusing certain fields of research, inevitably destined, in the concrete historical circumstances, for deadly purposes, the scientists of the whole world ought to be united in a common readiness to disarm science and to form a providential force for peace. (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 12 Nov. 1983.)”

“But the message of Jagerstatter for us is that whether it is remembered in history or not, no act of witness is lost. In one way or another, we are all called to bear witness to God and to the truth he shows us. Christians today have a special duty to listen to the voice of conscience on matters of life and death.”

“But work for peace does not start only when war breaks out. It was Pope Paul VI who said that peace was the fruit of anxious daily care to see that everyone lives in the justice that God intends. Peace is not just an easy word, but a commitment to work for human rights everywhere in God's family.”

Karl Leisner by M.N.L. Couve de Murville

“The first concentration camps for political dissidents were created and by July 1933 all other parties had been outlawed.”

“For Catholics of the post-Vatican II era, Karl' s story has an additional message. He was a priest for such a short time and he only said Mass once; he never preached or heard confessions. He was never well enough to exercise a parish ministry, and yet who can doubt that priesthood was at the centre of his life and fulfilled the aspirations of his ardent soul. The priesthood cannot be understood only in terms of ministry and effectiveness; it cannot be reduced to a function. At its centre there is a unique consecration of the person to Christ; once given it can never be taken away; once accepted it is fruitful, whatever the circumstances. In preparing to offer the
Eucharistic sacrifice, and in his one celebration of that mystery as a priest, Karl found the supreme meaning of his own self-sacrifice. He was conformed in a way that is exemplary for all, but especially for priests, to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary, a sacrifice ever continued in Christ's intercession before the Father and sacramentally present in the Eucharistic offering of the Church. It was from the power of the Son's self-gift in love to the Father, a power released into the world as the Holy Spirit, that Karl drew his strength, and was able to share it with others.”

Rupert Mayer by Paul Riesterer, SJ

“When the First World War broke out he immediately volunteered as an army chaplain, serving with such outstanding courage and devotion that he received four decorations including the Iron Cross 1st class, which in those days was the equivalent of the V.C. He was the first chaplain to be given this and there was some opposition from anti-clerical quarters.”

“During his trail Father Mayer once said: 'Some are going to say, 'This Father Mayer's a fighting cock. First he attacks the Communists and now he's going for the Nazis. Some people always have to be fighting something." A trouble-maker as I was once kindly called. That just suits me!'”

I hope those quotes will give you a sense of this volume. It is well worth tracking down. These are amazing stories and it is well worth the read.  It is an excellent volume in an important series. I highly recommend it, and encourage you to track it down and give it a read.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Oscar Romero: Martyr for Faith - Ashley Beck
Pedro Poveda - Bernadette Lally
The Gypsy Saint 'El Pele' Cerefino Jimenez Malla - Jean Maynard

Other CTS Martyrs Books:
Martyrs of Nagasak - Lucian Hunt  
Martyrs of Uganda - Joanna Bogle   
Martyrs of Vietnam - Bob Bloomfield  

Books by M.N.L. Couve de Murville:
The Man Who Founded California: The Life of Saint Junipero Serra
Catholic Cambridge
Slave from Haiti: Saint for New York? - Life of Pierre Toussaint
John Milner: A Study of One of the Most Notable Bishops of the Midlands
The Unsealed Fountain: Essays on the Christian Spiritual Tradition
Christians in China: A.D. 600 to 2000
Niels Stensen: Scientist and Saint

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Hussar - Declan Finn - Saint Tommy NYPD Book 8

Saint Tommy, NYPD Book 8
ISBN 9798821255075
eISBN 9798201771799

I have read 12 books by Declan Finn in the last few months, and 1 prior to that. I have love what I have read to date. I have plans to read all that I can lay my hands on. Both the Saint Tommy and the White Ops series are greatly entertaining, and I cannot wait for the Pius trilogy of 5 books to be back in print. This is another great story in an always entertaining series. These books just keep getting better and better. Part of the description of this story is:

“Detective Tommy Nolan NYPD is no longer a detective. In fact, three years after the events of Coven, Nolan has actually been promoted to Lieutenant. That means that life has been much less exciting for a while. Rather than walking the streets and getting shot at by everything from street gangs to reanimated zombies, Nolan now spends more time at his desk, keeping the department together, making sure procedures are followed and ensuring that internal affairs investigations are conducted as they should be. While Tommy is normally more of a hands-on person, the slower life agrees with him since he’s over the hill now and has started to feel age creeping up on him. Put that together with the fact that his oldest son Jeremy and his not-officially-adopted daughter Lena are in Europe to visit an old friend, and things are as calm as they could be.

That is, until he and Bokor Baracus are sent to Texas to investigate a child trafficking operation which the Texas Rangers are about to bust. While it might seem odd that an NYPD Lt would be sent to Texas for any reason, Lt. Nolan is no ordinary cop. He’s been gifted every saintly charism you can think of, from flying to literally smelling evil. Over the course of his adventures, he’s picked up a couple of other accessories: a ring with an antediluvian artifact, powered by the spiritual energy around it; and a suit of armor made from the pieces of fallen golems. He’s also run afoul of a great many politicians by taking down a death cult masquerading as a women’s health clinic and unmasking a mayor who turned out to be a warlock. So any chance his bosses have to send Nolan away on assignment as part of the NYPD’s intelligence department is welcomed.”

I said this about book 7, and say it again about this story in some ways it reminds me of Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger, in that there are several different subplots that start out separately and come together in the end. Tommy and Bokor heading to Texas to tackle a human trafficking ring. There they encounter Texas Ranger, Lloyd Lerman, who joins them on a trip back to New York and then overseas as they follow the evidence trail. Tasking resources from an old friend in Europe, and performing a miracle or two always changes the landscape of these stories, but this time in a very different way. Tommy’s son, Jeremy, his ward Lena and their friend have been getting in on the action as well. 

This story is action packed. From beginning to end the story races at a break neck from beginning to end, and I will be honest it leaves you wanting to jump into the next story right away. The story is fiction but deals with some very heavy themes. Themes not often talked about in mainstream media and often not even society. Finn does an excellent job of weaving current events into this Catholic Action Horror novel. The characters are masterfully written. Seeing Jeremy and Lena come into their own is fascinating, and leaves the reading wondering what they will be up to next. 

I have read books from three different series by Finn and can say I enjoyed them all. The books in this series should be read in order as they are a continuous story. I can easily recommend this book and these stories to mature readers. Finn does a masterful job of blending faith and fiction and thereby crafting excellent stories! It is an intense story in a great series. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 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: Winterborn
Codename: Unsub

Convention Killings Series:
It Was Only On Stun!
Set To Kill

Pius Series:
A Pius Legacy
A Pius Stand
Pius History
Pius Tales (Anthology)

St. Tommy Series:
Dark Web
Blue Saint

Top Secret Service Series:
Too Secret Service
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:
Main Street D.O.A.

Other books:
For All Their Wars Are Merry
Arresting Merlin
Sad Puppies Bike Back
The Pirate King

Monday, 3 October 2022

A Snowball's Chance in Hell - J.D. Kirk - DCI Logan Book 9

A Snowball's Chance in Hell
DCI Logan Book 9
ISBN 9781912767281

I skipped this book by accident and jumped to book 10. Some things in that story make a lot more sense now. I should have realized when reading book 10 when there were a few references to things I did not recall. So now I have had to go back and read this story, before continuing on. This was a great story! Even if I have ended up reading them out of line. It is another excellent read in a great series! This is the fourteenth volume from J.D. Kirk that I have read in as many weeks. I have enjoyed all that I have now read, the first 10 in the DCI Logan series and the first 3 in the Robert Hoon series, and a stand alone VIP exclusive short story

The description of this novel is:

“Which list are you on? When a young man is found frozen to death on a Highland street in mid-December, DCI Jack Logan initially puts it down to a Christmas night out gone tragically wrong. 

But, when a post mortem reveals something more sinister, Jack discovers he is dealing with a cold, calculating killer with a long line of victims, a talent for torture, and a perverse sense of justice.

Half a decade ago, the press dubbed him ‘The Iceman’ - a twisted vigilante who successfully evaded capture for two years, before melting away into the night.

Now, The Iceman has come back. His naughty list is longer than ever.

And it contains some worryingly familiar names…A Snowball’s Chance in Hell is the ninth book in the internationally bestselling DCI Jack Logan Scottish crime fiction series. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart Macbride, and Val McDermid.”

I would add that it is perfect for fans of JE Mayhew, Alex Smith, Andre Grant, Lee Child, and Maureen Jennings. Much like the Murdoch Mystery books and TV Series these book tell a continuous story. They follow a timeline. But this one stretches back to a case 10 years earlier. A Case before Logan ever came up north. A case that DI Ben Forde and Hamza Khaled and former DSI Robert Hoon had worked, that case was disturbing and this one is proving even more so. For 10 years ago they believed they caught a serial killer called 'The Iceman'. But details that were left out of the media are back and a chilling piece of evidence. Two quotes early from the book set up the story:

“They said that it was fire that cleansed, but that had never felt quite right. Fire consumed. The cold, on the other hand, stripped you bare. Left you exposed. Made you face up to all the things you were.”

“Fire could take you in seconds. But the cold? The cold took hours to wear you down, whittle you away, breath by agonising breath. Cold gave you time to think. To reflect. To regret. Cold preserved your pain, froze it in time, each painful second staying on long past its welcome, as extremities rotted and internal organs slowed, before shutting themselves down one by one.”

And one of the most chilling lines in the story:

“I am the Iceman. I have always been the Iceman, it read. I killed all those people.”

It appears more than once and it becomes more chilling each time it is repeated. Either vocally or in print. And the final chapter, wow! And though I know the cliff hanger from this story is not resolved in the next it only heightens the tension. In this story we find out some more about the past of the team members. We also learn some about their families. We get some great insight into them as people and why the team works so well together. But could this case destroy them all? To find out you will need to read this story.

I picked the first DCI Logan story for a few reasons, but mainly because authors Alex Smith and JE Mayhew have both recommended the author and series. I am a big fan of Smith’s DCI Kett novels and Mayhew’s DCI Will Blake Series. I had no idea how addictive Kirk’s books would be. Like Mayhew and Smith, Kirk publishes under various names. Kirk publishes children books as Barry Hutchison, and other adult fiction as Barry J. Hutchison. He is coming up on 175 books across the three pen names. Seriously! If I had known that or I might not have picked up this first one. Friends call me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author I like, I try to read everything they have published. For now I will try and read the remaining books published as Kirk. Kirk’s books are very dark and at times over the top. They are not for all readers. But for those who like a Mystery/Thriller with a bit of Crime procedural mixed in these are really good reads. This is another great read in a dark crim thriller series! 

Books by J.D. Kirk:

DCI Logan Series:
An Isolated Incident
Colder than the Grave
Come Hell or High Water
City of Scars

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:
Dial D for Deadman
Dead Inside
Dead in the Water

Space Team Series:
Space Team
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:
Mr Mumbles 
Raggy Maggie 
The Crowmaster 
Doc Mortis 
The Beast 
The Darkest Corners 

The Missing Remote of the Apocalypse
The 13th Horseman 
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:
The World's Greatest Liar
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!
Rise of the Ghostfather!

Other works:
Rise of the Rabbits

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Markmaker - Mary Jessica Woods

ISBN 9781941720950

This is a stunning debut novel from Mary Jessica. My son and I listened to this story during a long road trip using adaptive technology. The story was fascinating from start to finish. And we both hope it will be the first of many stories set in this world. We listened to the story over almost 7 hours during a trip and the journey back. When we stopped on the way there the first thing my son asked was if we were continuing the story when we got back in the car. The description of this book is:

“He swore to paint the truth. Now he is living a lie.

For the Noxxiin people, tattoos define identity: they commemorate birth, ancestry, accomplishments—even crimes. As a tattoo artist living on an ancient generation ship, Mariikel Serix has sworn to record the truth. So when he becomes an unwilling accomplice in the banishment of an innocent man, he is horrified that he has broken his oath—and his eyes are opened to the misery of the Underbelly, the realm of the outcasts.

Despite the risk to himself, the young markmaker begins secretly helping the ship’s exiles. But more trouble is brewing. The Serix guild, which regulates the ceremonial tattoos, engages in a power struggle with the Ascendance, a domineering political faction—and the conflict threatens to destroy the fragile peace among the Noxxiin clans. Amidst this discord, an enigmatic artist named Haza’ruux singles out Mariikel to be his apprentice, for hidden reasons of his own. As Mariikel ventures deeper into a maze of political strife and ancient clan secrets, he realizes that his pursuit of justice may not only cost his reputation—it may cost him his life.”

My son commented that the story had a bit of a Babylon 5 feel to it, especially comparing the exiled to people in down below on B5. He loved the concepts of clans, and factions, and family as presented in the story. And he was intrigued by the idea of a life told in ink, your successes and failures, achievements and punishments. Family, clan, marriage, children all inked in the skin. My son loved that Mariikel was not really ashamed of being a skin changer. How he believed that his work for those in exile was a different sort of honourable task. That he was trying to make up for a wrong he feels he committed. We both loved the concept of the mad markmaker, his role and slowly unfolding history and position of true authority. Is it wrong to do something that is a crime if it gives dignity to a baby and mother abandoned by society? It is a sin to try and make up for mistakes from our past, even if they cross societal rules, laws, and expectations?

We really could not stop listening to this amazing story. The characters are well thought out and crafted. The world is nearly unique. The concepts presented are masterfully written. The pacing is excellent. The tension starts with the opening words and builds throughout the novel.

My grandfather was a military lifer and was covered in tattoo’s from his time in service. When I was four my letter to Santa asked for a tattoo to be link my grandfather. My son when he was little would tap the wolf on my back and howl, and then tap his back and say ‘me’! My deceased brother was nearly covered in ink, and my other surviving brother has ink representing his wife and children. This story played close to our heart strings. Ink as truth, ink as history, ink as reminder and challenge, it is in our skin and blood. And it is written about in a wonderful way in this story.

The story is not implicitly Christian or even Catholic Fiction, for that matter, but the faith of the author is woven between the pages, in the underlying currents of emotions, feelings, and intentions of Mariikel. As a debut novel it is one of the best I have ever read. And having read this I would pick up the next offering from Woods’ pen without hesitation. It was an easy 5/5 stars for this from both my son and I. He even restarted reading it the day after we finished. He loved the story so much he wanted to reread it on his own. An excellent science fiction novel that crosses over into epic fantasy along the way of the telling.

A fantastic read that I can easily recommend! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Saturday, 1 October 2022

The Bible in a Year Companion Volume II Days 121-243 - Fr. Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins - Ascension Press

The Bible in a Year Companion 
Volume 2 Days 121-243
Kara Logan
ISBN 9781954881150
eISBN 9781954881167

I completed the Bible in a Year in 2021. Then early in 2022 I attended the The Bible in a Year Retreat, and absolutely loved it. When I found out about the three volumes of companions for the Bible in a year I picked up Volume I Days 1-120 right away. The eBook only released a day or two before it began for this volume and for Volume III it was available several days early. I was surprised by where the splits came. They did not split the year equally in 3, or break them at ends of periods. That is the only thing odd of off about these books. Other than that I find them excellent resources for working through the Bible in a Year, following along with Father Mike and the Ascension Podcasts. I really believe that these volumes make the Bible in a Year an even better experience. 

The description of this volume states:

“The Bible in a Year Companion guide takes Catholics through the award-winning Bible in a Year podcast with summaries, transcripts of Fr. Mike’s daily prayers, and extra content for each episode. It’s the perfect way to remember what you’re hearing, as well as learn even more about each part of Scripture!

The Companion presents daily content for each episode of the podcast, including:

- The proprietary Bible in a Year Reading Plan
- Reflect on the Word, where readers will find a summary of the key points and highlights of Fr. Mike’s commentary on the daily readings
- Take It to Prayer, where Catholics will be able to pray the daily prayer alongside Fr. Mike and the rest of the BIY community
- Dive Deeper, which features unique content surrounding each day’s readings, from images and Q&As to prayer prompts and ways to live out the Scriptures in real life

In addition to the daily content, each time period will have a Time Period Introduction and Review. Written by Jeff Cavins, these will help Catholics to know what to look for in the days ahead, and to recall what has happened in the days completed.

Volume II of The Bible in a Year Companion covers Days 121–243 of The Bible in a Year podcast. For Days 1–120, visit here, and for Days 244–365, keep an eye out for Volume III, which will be announced and available in summer 2022. If you’re going through the podcast starting on January 1, 2022, it will be available before you need it!

This sought-after guide to the award-winning podcast The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)TM featuring Jeff Cavins is coming to you thanks to many collaborators including:

Fr. Mike Schmitz
Jeff Cavins
Bobby Semendy
Members of the Ascension Catholic Bible Studies Facebook group
Kara Logan
& many more!”

And father Mike states at the end of the introduction of the first volume:

“I believe that this Bible in a Year Companion is a great tool to take you deeper. It is one thing to be exposed to the Story, but it is another to remember it. This Companion will help those who are so quick to forget—which is all of us! … In this world, where we are so tempted toward distraction and distress, we now have a resource to understand how the story of salvation unfolds and how we can fit into that story today.”

And towards the end of the introduction to this volume he states:

“We have been through a lot over these first hundred days or so. We have been challenged quite a bit. God has confronted us with his true character. God has revealed to us who he is. He has revealed a heart for those who are lost. In addition, we have seen the fickleness and failings of God’s Chosen People—as well as our own.

And yet, just like the people of Israel, we keep walking. Our journey with the Lord continues. We have learned that perseverance is more important than perfection. So we keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

Each time period begins with an introduction by Jeff Cavins. This is where Jeff explains the colour of that period, what it means and why. He gives a brief overview of key events, people, and changes from period to period. And each period ends with a recap and summary from Jeff. Each day has a two page spread. The first page Had the Day number and title, and a section called Reflect on the Word. The Second page has the Passages read at the top and two more sections; Take It To Prayer and Dive Deeper. A sample day is:

Day 126: David’s Victories

Reflect on the Word
• At first, the twelve tribes of Israel were a loose federation.
• In 2 Samuel 8, we see that David works to bring the twelve tribes together in a united kingdom. He seeks to accomplish this by conquering the nations around them.
• There is a reason the stories of Saul and David are repeated in Chronicles: their author, Ezra, writes of the past to give the people a vision for the future—with a king and Temple worship.
• Ezra seeks to give Israel a clear sense of God’s presence, both in the past and the present.
• He reminds them of their pedigree, of where they came from. He writes not only about David but of the other mighty men of the time.
• One of these men is Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba, with whom David will commit adultery. David will arrange for Uriah to die in battle.
• The events described in the Bible are not incidental or arbitrary. They are meant for our direction, our education, and our vision.
2 Samuel 8, 1 Chronicles 10–11, Psalm 60

Take It to Prayer
Father in heaven, we give you praise, and we do know that with you we can do valiantly. Without you we can do nothing. If we remain in you, then all things are possible. If we remain in you, then we can bear fruit, fruit that will last. And yet if we remove ourselves from you, if we remove ourselves from your presence and from your power and from your help and from your holiness, then there is nothing that we can do. We can bear no fruit, and we can make no difference in our lives. So we need you, God, not only for our existence, but also for perseverance. We need you not only for fruitfulness but also for faithfulness. So please, Lord God, help us to be faithful and fruitful. Help us to persevere and to be yours forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Dive Deeper
By recounting their past, Ezra reminds the Israelites of God’s presence then and in the present. In your prayer today, recall a significant moment in your relationship with God that reminded you of his presence. Thank the Lord for his presence in your life.”

It is an excellent resource. Most days I have listened to the podcast in the morning. And then on my first coffee break at work, I read through the two pages for that day. I love praying the prayer that Father Mike prayed that day, and I love the going deeper sections. I believe this is a must have resource to support your Bible in a Year journey. This is my second time through the podcast, and I see it being an annual journey going forward. If you are listening to the BIAY pick this up as a supplement to that adventure. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

The Bible in a Year Resources:
The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume III

Books By Father Mike Schmitz:
Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church
Quick Catholic Lessons with Fr. Mike
The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume III

Contributed to:
Pray, Decide, and Don't Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God's Will
Don't Be Afraid to Say Yes to God! Pope Francis Speaks to Young People

Audio Talks by Father Mike Schmitz:
Living Life by Design, Not by Default
Love - Sacrifice - Trust He Showed Us the Way
From Love, By Love, For Love
True Worship
The Four Last Things
Jesus Is …
Changed Forever - The Sacrament of Baptism
We Must Go Out - The Sacrament of Confirmation

Books by Jeff Cavins:
My Life on the Rock
When You Suffer
I'm Not Being Fed
Praise God and Thank Him
Adventures In Revelation
Insight Journal
The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume III