Saturday, 6 March 2021

And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street - Dr. Seuss

And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street
Vanguard Press 
ISBN 081490890X
ISBN 9780814908907

Recently because of some media spotlight on Dr. Seuss and his works. I decided to reread the 6 books in question and two others. But alas only had 5 of the 6 on hand. This is the first of the reviews.

Dr. Seuss is famous for his many children’s books. Books that spark the imagination. Surprise, and amaze. There is a large collection of old animated shorts based on them. And these has been several movies both animated and life action. He also wrote two books that though written and illustrated in a similar style and format are considered adult books they are The Seven Lady Godivas and The Butter Battle Book. Butter Battle is a commentary on war and is often found in the children’s sections in bookstores and libraries. Godivas I believe is long out of print, I believe the last printing was in 1988. And I am only aware of it because it is the favorite book of a friend.  

I do not know a child who has not engaged with these books on some level. My youngest and my wife have a few of them memorized. And recite them to each other before bed, as much as read. My children loved the old, animated shorts, and like most of the movies. I was less fond of the live action movies but appreciate most of the animated ones. But back to this book.

This is a story, about a story or use of imagination. Marco is walking home from school and knows his father will want to know what he saw. Apparently his father was teaching him to be observant. He only sees a horse drawn card. And the story is his imaginings of how it could be something else. Getting bigger, better, and grandeur with each revision. There are some hilarious interpretations. My favorite is the elephant and 2 giraffes’ pulling it. The illustrations are fun and whimsical. The book is easily read in a short sitting.  

A fun read.

Note: I recently heard that 6 of the books by Dr. Seuss were being taken out of print. The 6 are: And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat's Quizzer. We had 5 of the 6 in our collection so I gave them a reread. The 6th The Cat's Quizzer I can only find used in Canada, the lowest price is $740. 

Books by Dr. Seuss:
And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street 
If I Ran the Zoo 
McElligot's Pool 
On Beyond Zebra!  
Scrambled Eggs Super! 
The Seven Lady Godivas 
The Butter Battle Book   
The Cat's Quizzer

Friday, 5 March 2021

St. Philomena: The Wonder-Worker - Father Paul O'Sullivan

St. Philomena: The Wonder-Worker
Father Paul O'Sullivan
ISBN 9780895555014
eISBN 9780895551382

This was the fifth book I have read by Father Paul O’Sullivan over the last 5 weeks. The first few were short booklets. Then a much longer work. And then this one. I also still have two of his books on my wish list that I hope to read in the coming weeks. I picked the first book up because it was promoted by TAN books in an email blast. They were promoting a bundle of books by Father Paul O'Sullivan. I know I have seen the covers before. And based on when the books were first published maybe even back to the Catholic Book Stores of my youth. A few of the titles piqued my interest. And books form TAN never disappoint. But I was not read to buy the whole bundle. I should have. As I have now read 5 of the 6 in the bundle.

For those not familiar as I was not:

“Fr. Paul Henry O'Sullivan, O.P., S.T.L., P.G., E.D.M., was born in Tralee, Ireland in 1871 and died in Lisbon, Portugal in 1958.”

The description of this volume begins with:

“St. Philomena is perhaps the most extraordinary Saint in the history of the Catholic Church. When the relics of this 13-year-old Virgin Martyr were discovered in the Roman Catacombs in 1802, she became almost overnight one of the most popular saints in the Church, earning the nick-name of “The Wonder-Worker” because of the countless remarkable favors that she sent to those who prayed to her. For a century and a half there was a worldwide Catholic devotion to St. Philomena, approved by many Popes. But amazingly, since the 1960’s, she has been almost forgotten.”

And it ends with:

“God obviously wishes to give out His gifts and favors through the hands of St. Philomena, and it is His will that we ask her for them. These pages will give new hope to all who need a special friend in Heaven to answer their prayers.

May this little book help to open up the floodgates of heavenly gifts so that once again this sweet young Saint will become known by that beautiful title: Saint Philomena — The Wonder-Worker!”

This book was very hard to put down. Once I started reading I became completely enthralled and captivated by the book, the saint and all the stories surrounding her. I have even suggested to my youngest daughter that she consider taking her as her confirmation Saint in 2 years time. 

The chapters in the book are:

Publishers’ Note
  Letters of Cardinals and Bishops
  Foreword: A Priest and a Soldier
1.The Catacombs
2.The Finding of the Body of St. Philomena
3.The Marvels of Mugnano
4.The Great Miracle of Mugnano
5.A Visit to Mugnano
6.The Curé of Ars and St. Philomena
7.Other Favored Sanctuaries
8.The Sovereign Pontiffs and St. Philomena
9.The Intercession of the Saints
10.Who Was St. Philomena?
11.How to Honor St. Philomena
12.What the Thaumaturga Does for Schools
13.Answers to Prayer
Supplement No. 1
  St. Philomena Vindicated
Supplement No. 2
  Letters from Readers

The publishers note dated October 26, 1993 begins with:

“Sometimes a question arises about devotion to St. Philomena being no longer acceptable in the Church. This question comes up because on February 14, 1961, just prior to Vatican Council II, the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome issued an instruction that St. Philomena’s feast day, August 11, was to be removed from all liturgical calendars (which would include the liturgical calendar of the universal Church as well as calendars of particular dioceses or congregations which might include special feast days). A number of other feast days were likewise dropped at that time.”

And it ends with:

“In any case, private devotion to St. Philomena is still very praiseworthy. It is our hope that a renewal of devotion to St. Philomena will lead to a great shower of graces and favors from Heaven—to lead, in turn, to the restoration of the Feast of St. Philomena throughout the universal Church.”

And after reading this book, it is our great loss that devotion to this saint has fallen by the wayside. For me reading about the saints is like encountering holy friends. Some I am familiar with, some I know well and spend time often with, and some are mostly new to me. Prior to reading this work I have only read Alice Curtayne’s short volume, simply called Saint Philomena. Yet this volume goes well beyond Curtains work both in depth, in details, and in sheer number of stories about the saints favor and even a few cases of displeasure. This volume has an Imprimatur issued in 1925.

While reading this book parts reminded me of Curtayne’s work, but there was so many more wonderful miracles recounted in this book. I literally could not put it down. And have talked to my youngest about it, so that we can plan to read it together soon.  

Father O’Sullivan states in the foreward:

“The writer of the following short sketch [that is, this book] was himself at one time very little in sympathy with the “dear Little Saint,” as the holy Curé of Ars loved to style St. Philomena. In fact, he strenuously opposed the erection of her statue in the church then under his direction. Happily, however, the Saint, in her own inimitable way, overcame with a sweet violence this unworthy opposition and transformed her would-be antagonist into one of her most grateful clients. This fact will go far to show how impartial is the testimony he bears to her.”

This sets the ground for us. Fr. O’Sullivan was not a fan and became a big devotee. And he was converted to her cult. The stories will amaze, surprise, and entertain. A few will make you weepy, and a few will likely inspire laughter. 

There is a collection of prayers at the end of the book, and it is worth picking up just for these prayers. There are also letter from readers of the book who have had answered prayers that are now included in the reprint. 

An excellent read about an amazing saint. It is well written. Nearly impossible to put down. I highly recommend it to you. It will change your life. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Father Paul Henry O'Sullivan, O.P:
All About the Angels
An Easy Way To Become A Saint
How to Avoid Purgatory
My Lord and My God, Or, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
Our Lady of Fatima
Read Me or Rue It
St. Patrick and the Irish
The Divine Office: How to Say it Devoutly, How to Make it a Pleasure
The Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Secret of Confession: Including the Wonders of Confession
The Story of a Great Man: Doctor Antonio de Oliveira Salazar
The Ten Commandments: For Real - For Now
What Ireland Owes to Portugal

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Understanding the Rosary - Father John Flader - CTS Devotions

Understanding the Rosary
CTS Devotions
Father John Flader
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784694975
CTS Booklet D717

Over the last several years, I have read over 175 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This however is the first by Father John Flader that I have read. The description of the booklet is:

“The Rosary remains one of the most popular and enduring Marian devotions, especially since the addition of the Luminous Mysteries by Pope John Paul II. This booklet traces the origins of the Rosary prayer, explains the meaning, value and different ways of praying it, answers objections to it, and finally provides simple themes for meditation.”

And the chapters on facing pages in Latin on the left and English on the right are:

Where did we get the Rosary?
Popes have encouraged the Rosary
Our Lady encourages the Rosary
The Rosary is a rich prayer
The Rosary is a powerful prayer
The Rosary in different situations
The Family Rosary
Different ways of saying the Rosary
Objections to the Rosary
Meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary
     The Joyful Mysteries
     The Sorrowful Mysteries
     The Luminous Mysteries
     The Glorious Mysteries
How to say the Rosary

This booklet was originally published in 2010 by The Catholic Truth society, it Had previously been published in Australia in 2008. And the eBook edition was released in 2017. I have read several books about the Rosary. And to be honest have been blessed by each of them. In the introduction to this booklet we are told:

“The purpose of this little booklet is to shed light on these and other questions in order to facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation of the Rosary and with it, God willing, a greater frequency and fruitfulness in its recitation.”

The book provides a brief history of the Rosary. Then a section on the popes and the Rosary. Both about their personal devotion and their writings about the rosary. This book will serve as a great refresher for those who want to go deeper with the Rosary again. It will also be excellent for those just beginning to make it a regular part of their spiritual exercises. I can easily be read in an afternoon over a big mug of tea. And it can be returned to again and again as needed. An excellent little book that I highly recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Devotions series click here.

Books by Father John Flader:
Why go to Confession?
A Tour Of The Catechism - The Creed

Question Time Series: 
150 Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith
150 Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith Volume 2
150 Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith Volume 3
150 Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith Volume 4
150 Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith Volume 5

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

If Wishes Were Dragons - Karina Fabian - A DragonEye, PI Story

If Wishes Were Dragons
A DragonEye, PI Story
Karina Fabian
Dawn Grimes (Illustrator)
Laser Cow Press
ISBN 9781733447171

This is the fourteenth book I have read by Karina Fabian. Thirteen of them in the last 8 months. In fact, I have had to be intentional to make sure I read at lease a book or 2 between reading another one of hers. I love her style, her sense of humour, and the variety of stories she writes. This is the first stand alone piece set in the DragonEye PI series that I have read. I have encountered Vern previously in anthologies. And what a wonderful take this one is.

For those not familiar with the DragonEye PI series, Vern is a Faerie dragon currently stuck on our side of the barrier. He is a Private Investigator he fights crimes both human and Fairy. But in this tale things go very sideways for home and some of his close friends. Very and the gang are at a renaissance faire. Several in the group make wishes, and then a lantern is pulled from a shopping bag. And thus, begins the adventure. 

“I wish I knew how Saint George handled you.”

“Wouldn’t it be fun, though? I mean, to have a real adventure instead of playing at it? I wish there was a way to make it happen.”

“How about you, Sam? Don’t you wish you could actually be a fairy knight with real magical powers?”

“Too late. Suddenly, I, Father, my friends, even the corgi, were engulfed in blue smoke. Then, we were gone.”

Be careful what you wish for. Especially at a fair with real faerie’s. The description of the book states:

“When Vern's gaming friends find a genie's lamp, they wish for a real-life adventure - and boy, do they get it! Vern's party is transported to Faerie to fight monsters, crawl dungeons, rescue fair maidens...and deal with some of Vern's old schemes that have come back to bite him in the tail. Vern even gets his secret wish fulfilled when he sees his dragon kin for the first time in centuries.”

This time Vern does not have a mystery to solve. He has wishes that need to happen so that the Genie can end his work. But this Genie sees himself as Rembrandt and Vern and his crew are his masterpiece.

Soon we have a re-enacted battle of Saint George that Vern soon realizes just what is happening. A fairy queen, giant spiders, and a deception of epic proportions by Puck. So in this story we have battles. Mysteries, and puzzle that Vern must solve to save his friends and others dear to him. 

This story is fun, it is a really fun read. I have encountered Vern a few times and I love his humour and his wit. But I also appreciate the friendships in the group. And how they work together. 

Fabian has written another excellent story. So give it or one of the other DragonEye PI stories a try, I am sure you will be entertained. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karina Fabian:
Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Perfect Ten

Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland

DragonEye Pi Series:

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem 
Live and Let Fly
Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella
Murder Most Picante
If Wishes Were Dragons

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind

Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II

Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Oriens A Pilgrimage Through Advent and Christmas 2020 - Father Joel Sember

A Pilgrimage Through Advent and Christmas 2020
ISBN 9781681926599
eISBN 9781681926605
ASIN B08D5863B4 

I greatly enjoyed this book. My one regret is that this is a once and done. It is set up to a specific Advent for a specific year. The print edition is set up with space for journaling. The eBook had pictures of those spaced but not much use. The formatting could have been much better on the eBook. But the contents more than made up for that shortfall. I would have preferred if it was more generic so that it could be reused again. Either next year or the year after. 

I do not even recall how I stumbled across this Advent devotional. But in the book the author states:

“Thank you to the priests and people of the Diocese of Green Bay, in particular published authors Fr. Edward Looney and Julianne Stanz, who inspired and encouraged me to see this project through.”

And I have read, loved and reviewed a few volumes from Fr. Looney. We are told about the author that:

“Fr. Joel Sember was ordained a priest in 2007 for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. He has extensive experience as a parish priest and served two years in campus ministry. He made a thirty-day Ignatian silent retreat and later completed the Spiritual Direction Training Program through the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.”

The chapters in the volume are:

Suggested Calendar for the Advent and Christmas Season 
Blessing of an Advent Wreath 

WEEK ONE (November 29–December 5) Lectio Divina 
WEEK TWO (December 6–12) Relational Prayer (ARRR) 
WEEK THREE (December 13–19) Imaginative Prayer 
WEEK FOUR (December 20–26) Announcement of the Birth of Christ 
WEEK FIVE (December 27–January 2) When to Use Each Form of Prayer 
WEEK SIX (January 3–9) Well Begun Is Half Done Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany 
WEEK SEVEN (January 10–16) When Does Christmas Really End? 
WEEK EIGHT (January 17–23) A Sparkler Send-Off for Christmas 
WEEK NINE (January 24–30) The Feast of the Presentation 
WEEK TEN (January 31–February 2) The Journey Continues 

Once a Pilgrim, Always a Pilgrim 

Each week has an introduction to the week’s theme, then devotions for each day. The daily devotions follow the following format:

Biblical Passage
Journal Space
Time for Reflection


Questions for Journaling

A sample Sunday is:

January 24 — Sunday 
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Preparation: Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten the eyes of my heart. 

Be present to the God who is always present to you. Call to mind his loving care for you, and spend the first minute of your prayer resting in the unearned gift of loving and being loved. 

Set the Scene: Let us return to the shores of Galilee. We meditated already (January 11) with this passage of Jesus’ calling of his first disciples. But in the past week, you may have noticed Jesus calling you to a deeper conversion. He is inviting you to follow him ever more closely. 

Picture the sea and the fishermen as you read the passage. Use your imagination to set the scene. 

Mark 1:14–20 

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” 

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him. 

Action! The Gospel that Jesus proclaims is exactly what we have been learning about: God created the world and made human beings to be in union with him. Through the envy of the Devil, sin entered the world and divided us from God and from one another. But God prepared a Savior for us, the Word made flesh, who sacrificed himself for our sin. 

Read the passage a second time, using your imagination to see Jesus reaching out to you and inviting you into a relationship with him. He wants you to follow him, to remain with him. 

Acknowledge: The fishermen believe; they follow. How do you feel called? Read the passage a third time. What thoughts, feelings, and desires arise in your heart? 

Relate: Respond to God’s call. If you are struggling with leaving your “boats and the nets,” talk to Jesus about it. 

Receive: What does Jesus want to say to you? What does he want to give you? Can you open your heart to the gift of his friendship? 

Respond: You cannot fulfill the mission on your own, but Jesus and Mary will help you say yes to God’s call. Respond in whatever way you are able at this time. 

Questions For Journaling 
1. Compare this week’s meditation to the one on Monday, January 11. 
2. God has been giving me more … 
3. God is asking me to … 
4. My deepest desire is … 
5. I ended prayer wanting …

Close with a brief conversation, giving thanks to God for your prayer experience. Then pray an Our Father.”

Now some might ask why review a devotional that is a once and done. For a few reasons. First it was very well written and deserves that acknowledgement. Second if someone was willing to spend the time, they could use it on a different year and just shift some readings around as needed. Especially after Christmas. And Third because if Father Joel writes another one it will give you a feel for it.

This book was a blessing to read this year. And I loved that it does the whole season of Christmas. And I will be willing to read another volume from him next Advent, or for Lent if one were to become available. An excellent book!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!