Thursday 31 May 2007

Meme - 8 Random Things About Me

I've been tagged!! Eight things about me meme. Ebeth from A Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars tagged me on this meme…list 8 things about myself. I am supposed to list 8 things about me and then tag 8 others to continue the meme. Everyone who gets tagged must do the same, however, I will just leave it open and let whoever wants toplay, just talk about yourself for a minute and enjoy the moment! Here goes!
  1. I struggled with wanting to be a priest for over a decade.
  2. I have a dual form of dyslexia.
  3. I collect Nalgene water bottles. (Photo of my Nalgene Stained Glass)
  4. I collect rosaries, and when people I know travel I often ask them to bring them back from shrines and other sites.
  5. If I was independently wealthy I would go to school till I die.
  6. I have filled 24 volumes of journals since August 1994.
  7. I love to cook, and make an amazing Irish Soda Bread from scratch.
  8. My wife is wonderful and incredibly patient with me and my obsession with reading, writing and school.
So if you want to play just link back here, thanks Steven. I did a different version of this meme called 5 Random things about me a while back. I tried not to duplicate answers.

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Catholic Carnival 121

The Carnival is up at 'just another day of Catholic pondering...' this week is 'better late than never! Check it out.

Check out the Catholic Carnival submission form complete with screenshots in this post: Submission form.

Or join the Google group to be made aware of call for submissions and when new Carnivals are up and where they are up.

The Catholic Carnival FAQ.

Sunday 27 May 2007

In Conversation With God: Volume #2: Lent and Eastertide By: Francis Fernandez Carvajal

In Conversation With God
Volume #2: Lent and Eastertide

By: Francis Fernandez
ISBN 0906138213

Scepter Press

7 Volume Set

ISBN 0906138191

Sometimes when I start to read a book, I know it will be so good I do not mark in it the first time I read it through. This series falls into that category. However, this being my second time through these books for the second year in a row, I am now underlining, making notes in the margins and reading much deeper than my first time through last year. These books are an awesome devotional ser
ies of books and deserve the time and attention of a 6 or 7 page devotion each day. They will help you grow closer to Christ, and through that, to the other people in your life.
This volume spans the time from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday. Therefore this book will lead you through Lent, Easter and the 5 weeks of Easter leading up to Pentecost. If you cannot afford the whole set, start with this volume and the Advent and Christmastide volume, then add the others over time. It is usually cheaper to buy the boxed set but sometimes that amount of money is not available up front.

My review of the whole series highlights some of the aspects of the series as a whole. Here I will just give you some sample quotes:

"Each of us must draw up a specific plan of mortification to offer to God every day during this Lent."

"The person who abandons mortification is inevitably ensnared by his senses and becomes incapable of any supernatural thought."

"Let us make up our minds to keep close to Our Lord during these days by contemplating his most Sacred Humanity in the vivid and memorable scenes of The Way of the Cross. Let us see how, for our sakes, he wakes along the Path of Sorrows."

"It is not only the person who never falls who sanctifies himself, but the person who always rises again. Having defects is not what is bad - all of us have defects - but making a pact with them and ceasing to fight. Christ then, the Physician, cures us and then helps us to struggle."

"The devil exists and acts in people and society. His activity is mysterious, but real and effective."

"We are all children of God, and being children, then heirs. The inheritance is the sum of incalculable good things God has prepared, and of the limitless happiness He has willed for us."

"This is how we must travel along the way of self-giving: the Cross on our shoulders, a smile on our lips and light in our hearts."

Hopefully those few samples will draw you in and inspire you to work your way through these books.

Scepter Press in North America has just reprinted them again last fall.

About the Complete Series:

The complete series is worth the money, time and effort. This is an amazing Catholic meditation and daily reflection series. The seven volumes have daily readings for each day of the church year, as well as volumes 6 & 7 being special Feast Days. The readings draw heavily upon the writings of Josemaria Escriva the founder of Opus Dei, Pope John Paul II, and the daily readings from the common liturgy for that day. The Sundays have three sets of readings, depending on whether we are in year A, B, or C in the church readings. These devotions are all about 6 pages long and divided into 3 sections. They can all be read as a complete section, or part in the morning, midday and evening as they each have three sections. I find that with every day there is so much meat in these devotions that I am already planning on reading them again next year.

This series was originally published in Spanish and was completed in January 1991; the English translation was completed in 1993. It has been immensely popular since they first started coming out in1988. They are published around the world, and have helped thousands of readers in enriching their spiritual lives.

There is a complete subject, and biblical reference index in volume 7; unfortunately the earlier volumes' indexes only go as far as that volume #. The indexes are subject and reference quoted by church Fathers, Popes and Saints. These books will draw anyone deeper into a faith and a life of action based upon that faith.

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Catholic Carnival 120

The Carnival is up at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars the theme this week is 'The Catholic Worldview'! Check it out.

Check out the Catholic Carnival submission form complete with screenshots in this post: Submission form.

Or join the Google group to be made aware of call for submissions and when new Carnivals are up and where they are up.

The Catholic Carnival FAQ.

Monday 21 May 2007

Meme: A Book Meme

Catholic Mom has posted this book meme.

How many books do you own?

Around 1300 at the moment, less than recent past I purge about once a year.

Book(s) I am reading now:

1.Sherman Oak and the Magic Potato - S. William Shaw
2. Memorize the Faith - Kevin Vost, PSY.D.
3. Searching for Meaning and Peace - Fr. Jacques Philippe
4. In Conversation With God Volume #2 - Francis Fernandez
5. Morte D'Urban - J.F. Powers

… plus about 20 others. All the books in the coffee table are on the go.

Books I've read recently:

1.Socrates Meets Jesus - Peter Kreeft
2.The Sea Within - Peter Kreeft
3.The Witch of Portobello - Paulo Coelho
4.The Singer - Calvin Miller
5. The Way - St. Josemaria Escriva

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:

1. My Bible
2. Space Trilogy - C.S. Lewis
3. Wheat the Springeth Green - J.F. Powers
4. Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. LeGuin
5. An Unacceptable Time - Madeleine L'Engle

This was fun! Instead of tagging, I will just invite anyone else who would like to play to post a link to your answers in the comment box so we can all take a look. Yet it would be nice to Shelly's answers at Shelly's Bookshelf.

Sunday 20 May 2007

The Singer by: Calvin Miller

The Singer
Calvin Miller
IVP (InterVarsity press)
ISBN 0877846391

This is one of those books I read over and over again. I have read it probably 20 times since my first reading. Calvin Miller puts biblical stories into narrative poems that are so well written they force you to turn the page again and again. This book is the first in the Singer Trilogy, followed by The Song and The Finale. It is a poetic retelling of three bibli
cal books: The Singer parallels the 4 Gospels, The Song retells the story of Acts, and The Finale is Miller's version of the book of Revelation.

Miller writes explicitly Christian fantasy in these books. He is also widely known for his non-fiction AND Christian life application books.

The Singer is a powerful retelling of the life of Christ, where instead of Jesus and The Gospel you have the Singer and his song. His song, if you are open to it, can bring healing and restoration. The World-Hater, wants to destroy both the Singer and his star song. Miller's words moved me to tears the first time I encountered them. The story is so well written, it can be read over and over without losing its freshness. The book is also excellently illustrated by Chicago artist Joe DeVelasco. The drawings done in pen and Ink style add to the power of the story by transporting you into the events.

No matter how many times over I reread this book, it is always fresh and new and draws me into the story of Christ in a different way. It is truly a classic and a treasure for any bookshelf. Each time I pick these up and reread them, I find a deepening of my relationship with Christ, and of my prayer life.

Miller also has a Symphonic Trilogy that retells different stories from the book of Genesis. The two I owned were A Requiem for Love and A Symphony in Sand. As far as I can tell, there are also 2 stand-alone books by Miller in this style that are often compared to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Lewis's Narnia. They are The Valiant Papers, an account of a guardian angel's experiences, and The Philippian Fragment, the retelling of the book of Philippians from the New Testament. I have owned most of these and lent them out to not be returned. I now have The Singer Trilogy, Valiant, and Singer Trilogy 3-in-1 hardcover. Over the next few weeks I will review those I still have, but cannot encourage you strongly enough to pick them up if you find them in a used bookstore. They are all great.

Over the next few weeks, I plan on reviewing some of the others that I still have from this author. And if I find the others again, I will review them. (It has just been too long since I lent them out and did not get them back for me to review them from memory.)

Other Miller Books:
The Singer
The Song
The Finale
The Valiant Papers
The Philippian Fragment (Currently OP)

Friday 18 May 2007

The Witch of Portobello by: Paulo Coelho

The Witch of Portobello
Paulo Coelho
Harpers Collins - Browse Inside

ISBN 9780061338809

Paulo Coelho of international fame for his book The Alchemist has here in The Witch of Portobello has woven a very unique and compelling tale. Part of what draws the reader in is the story itself and part is the very unique way it is written. Rather than a straight forward narrative, or a dialogue or even a series of letters this is a unique narrative technique. It is written as a series of first person accounts of individuals interactions with our unusual heroine Athena aka the Witch of Portobello.

These stories, taped interviews and letters have been compiled by a narrator we do not know until the end of the story. He has decided to let Athena's story be told as other's tell it, through their own words, and with all of their emotions, anger, support, respect or disgust. What we learn from these accounts is not only is Athena a bit of an enigma, from these accounts we could almost assume that almost every person encountered a different Athena, an Athena of the making in their own mind. The way the 'biography' is written it allows us to draw our own conclusions, rather than a traditionally researched biography that is colored by the lenses that cloud the vision of the biographer. Much as each of us look at the world through a series of lenses of our experiences, and cultural biases.

Athena is a young woman who tries to fill the spaces, the silences in her life. The more she tries to fill them the more dissatisfied she becomes. Until she learns that it is the silences between the notes that make the music so powerful. When she learns to embrace the silence, the spaces, she finds a power an energy. She becomes a spiritual leader, some see her as a saint and some see her as a sinner. She is both revered and feared. A saint and a demon. The compiled documents help us to see Athena for who she was.

So join our unknown biographer as we trace the life of a murdered young woman and journey around the world and into an unseen spiritual world. This book is better than some of Coelho's more recent offerings, and the narrative tool will draw you in and keep you turning the pages.

A warning though the book deals with earth religions and has some new age ceremonies in it, therefore it will not be for all readers.

(First Published in Imprint 2007-05-18 in the 'Book Review Column.)

Thursday 17 May 2007

Meme - About Me

I was tagged by Jayne at So Many Devotions with the About Me Meme. It has been a busy couple of days so it is late but here goes:

1. Male or Female:

2. Married or Single or Religious:

3. Dream vacation:
Personal: Antartica, or a great desert.
Family: Ireland and Scotland to visit site's from my family's past.

4. Birthplace:
Kingston, Ontario, Archdiocese of Kingston.

5. Area I live in currently:

6. Someone you wish you could meet:

7. Biggest "pet-peeve":
Drivers who don't signal turn's or lane changes.

8. Favorite Religious devotion:
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or The Stations of the Cross.

9. Favorite Saint (besides the Blessed Mother):
Reciently St. Josemaria Escriva, since I was a teen Alphonsus Mary de' Liguori.

10. Favorite sport that you play:
Hockey, Rugby.

11. Favorite food:

12. Tridentine or Novus Ordo:
I dont know latin and was born post Vatican 2.

13. Would you (or are you) home schooling or public school:
Were talking about home schooling, but if not we have a Catholic School System in Ontario.

14. How many kids do you have:
Abby is 8 Months, and one on the way.

15. Ever been in an auto accident:
I have been hit while riding a bike a number of times. And a few Car accidents when i was a child. I have never been driving during one.

16. Ever seen a Pope in person:

17. Languages that you know fluently:
English. French.

18. Last movie you saw in theatres:
The Reaping.

19. Favorite Blog:
Almost anything on my blog roll. If I didnt like it It would not be there.

20. Your thoughts on Barney, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus: I really don't mind Barney. Barney and Sponge Bob are the only 2 shows on the Kids channel I dont let Abby watch. Havent got to the others yet.

My other blog Book Reviews and More has all the non mem posts from here and also general fiction and general book articles. I also post cover art with all reviews.

I wont tag anyone specific but if you want to play post a comment or link back.

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Response to Vehige: The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America

Response to: Vehige at Thursday Night Gumbo Who wrote an excellent post. My responses are the blue to his points in black.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Vehige: The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America

In alphabetical order . . .
1. Biblical illiteracy -- Not only for the sake of defending the faith against Protestant fundamentalism, but for the sake of spiritual health, for the Bible teaches us something that nothing else does: that though we may not be the center of the physical universe, we are the center of the spiritual universe . . . and that's all that matters.

I completely agree. I have read the bible cover to cover a number of times. In the last few years I have read a different translation each year.

2. Birth control -- Sooner or later, Catholics will realize that they do not have a choice when it comes to contraception, and they'll have to face the fact that contraception is the handmaiden of abortion and the culture of death.

I agree but did not till after we had our first baby.

3. Catechetical illiteracy -- We're never going to have a mature Church that can stand up and respond to modern ideas until we have an educated one.

I am a Confirmed Catholic who attended Catholic School from Kindergarten to grade 13(It was an Ontario thing) and have never read a Catechism until 2 years ago. Now I did have a very good knowledge of the Bible and the faith from having religion classes from grade 1 to grade 12. Here is a link to a reading plan to read the Catechism in a year. I am also planning on reading the Baltimore Catechism's this year when I can afford to get them from this site.

4. Ecclesial indifferentism -- Perhaps the worst of all ten, because it makes people forget why they're Catholic, and why they should be thankful they are Catholic.

5. Education of the youth -- How should the Church meet the needs of young people today, particularly when their Protestant friends have such fun on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Is Life Teen really the answer? I think not.

I would go so far as to include education of adults. Especially here in Canada, there is often a sense that once you are confirmed your done. You are now a Catholic adult, and there is nothing more to learn. Spiritual reading should be part of everybody's life, each day.

6. The Laity -- Just what is the role of the laity? So long as it's defined by volunteering to be lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, and parking lot attendants, there's a serious problem.

We are called to be Prophets, Priest and Kings, We are adopted brothers of Christ and as such should life as witnesses to our Fathers love.

7. Liturgical reform -- The Mass is what the Church says the Mass is, and I don't see how permission to celebrate the old Latin Mass is going to help matters any; but, then, I'm not the Pope . . . and let's all say a word of thanks for that.

I agree, I was born post Vatican II, have never seen a Latin mass and do not have much interest. Some churches do a great job of a reverential holy mass, and some are not very different from evangelical services. If I wanted to be an evangelical I would. But I love Mass, especially when it is more reverential.

8. Married priests -- We'll see an increase in the clamoring for a married clergy so long as the priesthood is advertised as a job and not a vocation.

This is a bit of a stickler for me. I find the double standard hard to take. It you were a minister or priest in another denomination sometimes you become ordained as a Catholic priest and can serve mass and everything, and have your wife and kids. Nothing against any men who fall into this category; but there is more than just a bit of jealousy on my part, for they seem to get their cake and eat it too. I struggled for years with a desire to serve and not believing I had the gift of celibacy. I even left the church for a while and served in an evangelical organization. Yet I could not stay away from the Rosary and Mass.

As an aside, back in the mid '90's I confessed this struggle between wanting to serve as a priest and not believing I had the gift of celibacy and not wanting to hurt the churches name by becoming a Priest and then messing up. In confession I was told 'All it's going to take is a puff of white smoke!'

9. Parish administration -- Should the Church start requiring their priests to get an M.B.A. instead of an M.T.S.? When are priests going to be pastors again? There's an easy solution to this: hire and train retired businessmen to run the parish, and let the pastors be pastors again.

Here in Canada you can do a M.T.S. with a specialization in Church Admin, I believe that churches should have priests and then have administrators as a separate roll. Free up our priests to minister and have other people do the books, the maintenance schedule … A few local protestant churches with multiple pastors on staff even now have a Pastor of Administration who oversees the physical and financial elements of the church. I would love to do this it is part of the role I had when I worked for the Navigators of Canada.

10. Pop-psychology vs. authentic spirituality -- I've heard enough talks that claim that birth order, family of origin, the four humors, journaling, etc. are legitimate means of spirituality that if I have to hear another one I'm going to superglue my ears shut. Whatever happened to prayer, almsgiving, fasting, self-denial, and advancement in the virtues?

The spiritual disciplines is a specific field of interest in my study over the years. Here is a list I compiled as part of a hand out in a series of talks I gave years back. I find that at different times in my life different disciplines are more central than others. But bible reading and work on developing the virtues and prayer are constants.

According to Foster, 3 Types

According to Willard, 2 Types, with both corporate and personal components:
Disciplines of Abstinence
Disciplines of Engagement:

Finally According to Whitney: A list and study of disciplines:
Bible Intake, Prayer, Worship,
Evangelism, Serving, Stewardship,
Fasting, Silence, Solitude,
Journaling, Learning.

Selected Bibliography: (For further reading or Research)
On the Disciplines:
Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney (NavPress)
Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life Study Guide, Donald S. Whitney
The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard (HarperCollins)
Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster (Harper Collins)
Spiritual Discipline Series, Richard peace (NavPress)
Spiritual Formation Series, Richard peace (NavPress)
Practicing Our Faith, Dorothy C. Bass (Josse-Bass)
The Reflective Life, Ken Gire
Healthy Habits for Spiritual Growth, Luis Palau
The Aesthetics of Silence, Susan Sonlong

Biography's Pertaining to The Disciplines:

The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila
The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer

These responses are just off the cuff as I thought about Vehige's post.

Monday 14 May 2007

Catholic Carnival 119 the 6th Week of Easter

Catholic Carnival 119 the 6th Week of Easter

The calendar of readings for Canada and the States is different for this week. Tuesday May 15th in the US is a feast of St. Isidore the Farmer, A Man known for his piety and good works, Isidore was a laborer his whole life. To some extent that is what we all are, we are laborers in the fields of the world. One of my favorite parts about being Catholic is our recognition of sins both of commission and omission. By our words and our silences, things we have done and things we should have done. St. Isidore is an example of that we have to work hard each day, do our labor and labor also for God. Thank each of you for sharing your thoughts, writings, musings and life with us as examples of how to live out our faith in the world.

(An apology from me and from St. Blogs. Eric at St. Blogs for being slow in processing submissions and me for missing his submission so it gets bumped here to the top.)

Eric at Ales Rarus Writes to us about Ladder of Divine Ascent: Vainglory and Pride he provides for us some edification and meditation on some quotes from "The Ladder of Divine Ascent".

Eric also stated "I'm the admin for the St. Blog's Parish Aggregator. Please add a notice to the Catholic Carnival informing folks that I'm sorry for being so behind on processing submissions. Grad school (among other things) has been keeping me quite busy of late." So let's extend to him the grace we would like to receive.

"You don't conquer yourself, you don't practice self— denial, because you are proud. You lead a life of penance? Don't forget that pride is compatible with penance... Furthermore: your sorrow, after your falls, after your failures in generosity — is it true sorrow or is it the petty disappointment of seeing yourself so small and helpless? How far you are from Jesus if you are not humble..., even though your disciplines each day bring forth fresh roses!"
-St. Josemaria Escriva The Way #200

Bryan McKenzie at THEOdssey Blogger writes about how reality is beginning to imitate fiction in his post on Down Syndrome and Gattaca.

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do."
-Pope John XXIII

Liza from Ever hopeful Ever Thankful writes in Just Follow The Signs that "Directions to how we should live our lives have been laid out for us, if we believe and just follow the signs." What signs are in your life currently.

"I, like god, do not play with dice and do not believe in coincidence"
-V for Vendeta

At Deus Caritas Est we have a great essay about John Paul's Legacy It is a look at the life of John Paul II and his illness through the lens of his teaching on human dignity.

"And yet I do not altogether die
what is indestructible in me remains…
what is imperishable in me
now stands face to face before Him Who Is!"
-John Paul II

At Deep Furrows Fred has some quotes on 'Humanity, the question that Christ Answers' that will really make you think. With Link to the full source of the quotes.

"Jesus for you I live,
for you I die;
I am yours,
in life and in death. Amen."
-Prayer of Pope Benedict XV

Ebeth writes "A Word about the question, "Are you Saved?" from her blog A Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars it has some great idea's for dealing with protestants who doubt the salvation of Catholics.

"Words and concepts can only point to the Mystery of God; they cannot express it, explain it or prove hat it exists."
-Irma Zaleski

Red Neck Woman at Postscripts From the Catholic Spitfire Grill shares about Her Prayer Book and some specific prayers. She was encouraged to do this by some friends and now it is a resource for us all.

"Prayer begets faith,
faith begets love,
and love begets
service on behalf of the poor."
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"The wish to pray is prayer itself."
-Georges Bernanos

Next kevin at HMS Blog writes about Christ and the Christian it is a
reflection on what the Mass readings for the sixth Sunday of Easter tell us about how we should put Christ at the center of our lives.

"Help me to cry: Jesus, souls! Apostolic souls! They are for you, for your glory. You'll see how in the end he will hear us."
-St. Josemaria Escriva
-The Way #804

Tom at
Fighting Irish Thomas writes about Blessed George Preca: The Maltese Beacon whom I must find out and read more about after reading this post.

“Anything that doesn’t lead us to that – to better know and serve God – is a waste of time.”
-Charles de Foucauld

Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae declares 'Maybe they've bought into the myth that Catholic isn't Christian' in a post about criticism of liturgical music that makes no mention of God.

"Should you eat only once a week? How could you live? The same goes for your soul. Nourish it with the Holy Eucharist if you want to live."
-Brother Andre

SFO Mom asks us Do You Hear What I Hear? and helps us look at our motivation for working on chnages in ourselves.What do we say? And how do we say it? Do we speak differently to our family members if we think no one else can hear? Are but some of the questions this book will leave you with.

"What do I want?
What do I desire?
What do I burn for?
Why do I live?
There is only one reason: so that together we might live with Christ."
-Augustine of Hippo

And last but not least Melissa at A Third Way writes about her 'well-worn friend'. A well-worn and well-prayed prayer booklet is a true friend. And I would say one indespensable to living the life we are called to live.

"It is when things go wrong, when the good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly."
-Madeleine L'Engle

A late edition, from Catholic Fire with a post called: '15 Ways to Purity for Men' which is about some15 ways men can become more manly men by cultivating purity.

"Locked inside each of us is the person we want to be. Others might not recognize it yet, but I'm telling you, it's in there. The passion shouldn't die before we do. Even against rediculous odds, what propels you forward and seperates you from the rest? P.R.I.D.E., which stands for perseverance, Responsibility, integrity, determination, and excitement. If you have these five elements in your life, you can accomplish almost anything."
-Sylvester Stallone - Sly Moves p. 201

(P.S. This one was not submitted but it was so good when I read it I had to share it here.) Jeff Vehige at Thursday Night Gumbo writes a great piece called 'The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America' Well worth your reading.

"Among all the aims of our lives, there is only one which is truly necessary: it is to reach the goal which God has set for us; to attain to heaven, by living our own individual vocation to the full. In order to achieve this we have to be ready to lose everything else, to clear away anything which would obstruct our way. Everything must be a means for reaching God, and if anything whatever proves not to be a means but an obstacle, then we must put it right or give it up in sacrifice."
-Francis Fernandez

This is my first time hosting so any errors and omissions are solely my responsibility. Thanks for the opportunity and all the great submissions, I will have to be adding a few of these to my blogroll.

Yours Steven

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left over I buy food and clothes!"

Sunday 13 May 2007

Quotes of the Week - 2007-05-13

"Humanity is fickle. They may dress for a morning coronation and never feel the need to change clothes to attend an execution in the afternoon.
So Triumphal Sundays and Good Fridays always fit comfortably into the same April week."
-Calvin Miller
-The Singer

"Institutions have a poor safety record. The guillotines of orthodoxy keep a clean blade that is always honed for heresy. And somewhere near the place where witches die an unseen sign Is posted whose invisible letters clearly read:
-Calvin Miller
-The Singer

"Where do the old gods live?
In temples tended by old, old men.
And the Young gods?
In young men who dream of building temples so that they
Will have something to tend when they are old, old men.
It is better to belive than dream.
For dreams grow old and so do dreamers.
Dreamers die but not believers."
-Calvin Miller
-The Song

"At stoning angels stand apart
And weep above the martyrs' groans.
But demons always grin, and keep
Both hands grasping - filled with stones."
-Calvin Miller
-The Song

"A God too large to walk in human shoes
Has outgrown every home of human use.
And heavy skeptics weighted down with doubt
Can never rise to find what God's about."
-Calvin Miller
-The Finale

"A humanist in choking sea
Called for help presently
Received in full intensity advice.
'You must swim, if you would be.
Rescue breeds dependency;
Self-reliance makes one free.'
'That's nice!'
He said,
And floated easily
And dead."
-Calvin Miller
-The Finale

"Socrates: Just quoting your Scriptures. I suppose I should not insult the academy. It was the invention of my favorite pupil, after all. But when it talks about a grape, I wonder why it has to squeeze out the juice and turn it into a prune."
-Dr. Peter Kreeft
-Socrates Meets Jesus

"1. What priority does the Bible hold in my personal schedule?
2. Am I involved in a church where I will learn truth on which to build my life?
3. If I stumble spiritually, are there people in my life who will hold me to what I say I believe?
4. If I'm overwhelmed with sorrow, will the people in my life comfort me with a godly perspective?
5. When I hear a conversation that contradicts the clear teaching of God's Word, how do I respond? Do I withdraw? Do I ignore it? Do I step up?
6. Am I committed to living the truth? If I'm in a situation that evolves in such a way that it is not pleasing to the Lord, am I committed enough to the truth to speak up for what is right?
7. Am I promoting the Book God wrote among the people I love? Do I talk about what I'm learning? Am I passing along the treasure?
8. Do those who know me agree that God's Word is the source of my wisdom for decisions and choices?
9. Do I have an immovable commitment to God's truth as the primary resource for my whole life? Do I evaluate all other sources of knowledge and wisdom through the grid of Scripture?
10. Which question above do I need to specifically work on? Am I willing for the Spirit of God to show me what I need to change? Will I start today?"
-Dr. James MacDonald
-The Weekly Walk 2007-05-14

"O Mary concieved without sin,
pray for those who turn to you.
-Paulo Coelho
-The Witch of Portobello

Saturday 12 May 2007

Meme Booked by 3 - May From Shelly's Bookshelf

Meme Booked by 3 - May From Shelly's Bookshelf She adapted this month's questions from a Newsweek feature.

1. Name up to 3 books you think everyone should read.
The Bible (Modern Translation)
In Conversation With God - Francis Fernandez Carvajal

The Best Things in Life - Peter Kreeft

Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

2. Name up to 3 authors you think everyone should read.
St. Josemaria Escriva (esp. The Way, Furrow and The Forge)
C.S. Lewis (Both Fiction and Nonfiction)
J.F. Powers

Dan Millman
Daniel Quinn
Sven Lindqvist

3.Name up to 3 books no one should read.
The Sea Within - Peter Kreeft
Their Kingdom Come - Robert Hutchinson

Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
The Forever War - Joe Haldeman

I specifically tag Vehige at Thursday Night Gumbo, and Jim at Real Life Rosary because there answers are always so interesting, and I also tag Keith Little at The Corch. If you want to play leave your answers in the comments or leave a link back to your answers on your blogs. Have fun and thanks to everyone who plays.

I did two different versions of this meme one for my Catholic Blog and one for my General Blog.

(I have linked to my reviews of that book or other books by the same author.)

Thursday 10 May 2007

Catholic Carnival 118

The Carnival is up at Postscripts From The Catholic Spitfire Grill the theme this week is 'Prayers of the Faithful'! Check it out.

Check out the Catholic Carnival submission form complete with screenshots in this post: Submission form.

Or join the Google group to be made aware of call for submissions and when new Carnivals are up and where they are up.

The Catholic Carnival FAQ.

(Next weeks will be hosted here.)

Sunday 6 May 2007

Your Computer Just Died! Don't Panic!

Your Computer Just Died! Don't Panic!

What do you do if your computer dies midterm or starts getting more 'blue screens of death' than used to film 300? It's time to get a new machine. There are many issues to consider when getting a new machine:
laptop vs. desktop, Mac vs. PC, if a PC XP vs. Vista and many, many more. In this article we will explore some of these questions and you can journey with me in the process of replacing a seven-year old laptop.

Unfortunately, I went through this trauma last term. It started with a crash from time to time and worked up to my machine rebooting more often than running. So I was desperate for a computer, but not so desperate I ran out and bought the first machine on sale at Future Shop or Staples. Don't Panic! Take a deep breath -- you can survive without a functioning computer for a day or two if need be.

First, talk to your friends and find out what computer store they use. Here in Waterloo, there is a large variety from which to choose. My old laptop was seven year's old and had served me well, but I had not bought a computer or components in a number of years. Seek the advice
of people who have purchased recently, or who know computers. Talk to the geeks in your life and ask questions, especially if you're an artsy who doesn't know what the specs on computers mean.

Next, you have to look at your budget, what you can afford or what you are willing to spend. This will greatly affect your decision. If your budget is limited, or funds are at a premium, you eliminate Mac almost from the top. PC's and Windows-based laptops are significantly cheaper in general. You can also get significantly more computing power from a PC over a laptop for the same price. The second advantage, if money is an issue, is PCs upgrade far more easily than either Macs or laptops. Therefore, I had narrowed the decision to a clone PC.

The reason I went with a clone, is that Dell, Compac, HP and some IBMs all require proprietary hardware like an Apple. You have to go back to the original company for parts and work down the read. For a clone PC, you can pick up a Hard Drive or Optical Drive almost anywhere and pop it in to upgrade or expand your computer. Not so with these name brands.

But where to purchase in Waterloo? There are pages of Computer places in the Yellow pages. I started calling around and building quotes online at different sites. PC Waterloo is convenient, close to campus and used to have the best service in town. Yet a few people warned me off of them because of bad recent service experiences, including a machine not being ready 10 days after the date they were told it would be ready. Also, sometimes it is hard to get service while in PC Waterloo. Second, I check Vision Computers, at Philip and Columbia. It is also close to campus and was close in the ballpark for price. Yet the winner in my shopping experience was the Computer Service Depot. They took the best quote I had, and beat it. Their service was impeccable. Their communication was clear, they compensated when the computer was a day late and were very apologetic. While I was waiting at CSDepot to pick up my new machine, an older couple came in with a tower. They inspected it in front of them, then installed a new power supply, booted the machine and showed them it worked, and only charged for the power supply - not a service charge for 2 minutes to put it in. My respect for them went up immediately. They did not try to up-sell me just for the sake of a bigger sale. The only drawback is that they are on Lodge across from Benny's which is a little further from UW. But I have already sent 2 friends there who were just as happy as I was. I also compared spec for spec machines from a few of the independent resellers in Toronto and CSDepot always came in as the best bang for the buck.

That however does not answer all of our questions. Now that I had a new PC, I had to decide how to run it. At CSDepot they said the cost for various editions of XP or of Vista was the same. I decided to give Vista a try and see what it was about. (I could always install my old version of XP if needed.) I also upgraded to Office 2007 from the old 2000 version I had been running for a while now.

Whenever you upgrade programs or operating systems, there will be changes you like and changes you don't. It is taking me a while to get used to the new version of Office. Having no drop-down menus is pretty sweet; finding where stuff is, is taking some time. Some of the changes in Vista are just 'Eye Candy'. My wife loves the sidebar - I don't use it. Yet overall I am very happy with the upgrade. So far only two small applications will not run on my Vista Machine. One of the things that made this transition easiest is a tool downloaded from the Microsoft site, the Easy Transfer Companion. It is a tool that transfers installed programs from an XP machine to a Vista Machine. It saved hours in transferring about 90% of my installed applications, and only three of them did not work and needed to be reinstalled or upgraded to the newer version.

So I survived my computer dying in the middle of a term, and so can you. So don't panic! Yes - thanks to some friends I now have a new machine and it is very sweet, but that is another story. (You can check it out on my blog here.)

(This is a photo of my laptop and new PC running the Windows Vista Easy Transfer Companion that transfers installed programs from an XP machine to a Vista Machine.)

(This article was written as an op-ed piece that got bumped twice now.)

Saturday 5 May 2007

Socrates Meets Jesus: by Peter Kreeft

Socrates Meets Jesus:
History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ
Peter Kreeft
InterVaristy Press
ISBN 0830823387

This is another in a series by Kreeft that has Socrates reappearing in a modern day s
etting to challenge people with what they believe or why the live the way they do. So, much like his other books The Best Things In Life and The Unaborted Socrates, the names of people and places in this book are a series of puns and jokes. In this book, Socrates wakes up from what he assumed was his suicide in the 'Broadener Library at Have It University', which is supposed to be a renowned hub of learning in 'Camp Rich, Massachusetts'. Sound familiar?
It appears that he has been registered at the Have It Divinity School. The characters he interacts with are varied and interesting. The first student he meets is Bertha Broadmind, then Thomas Keptic, Professor Flatland who teaches 'Science and Religion'. Then Socrates encounters Professor Shift who teaches 'Comparative Religions'. Next Socrates encounters the claims of Christ in Professor Fesser's 'Christology' seminar. This is the purpose of the book - to have Socrates encounter the claims of Christ. The rest of the book takes place around these seminar classes.

Kreeft has a very interesting book here, in that he tries to answer
the question of what would happen if Socrates of Athens were to reappear today and interact with a modern university crowd. Socrates has not changed much from dying and reappearing somewhere and some time else. He is still the ultimate questioner and his questions will challenge what people believe and why they believe.
The first time I read Kreeft's Socratic style, a book written directly as dialogue, I was not all that enthusiastic about it. But now that I have read a few books in this style, I really enjoy it. It makes the reading of philosophy very quick and painless. That, combined with Socrates method of asking questions, lets you read more serious philosophy in an easier-to-approach method.

Kreeft is known as a great scholar who specializes in apologetics (the defense of the faith), also C.S. Lewis and Socrates. This book brings together two of those passions of his academic life and highlights them in a fun, uncomplicated way. Kreeft has a knack for taking very difficult topics and making them far more approachable.

This is a great book to encounter the claims of Christ and the modern academic setting. Though a little kitschy with all the puns, that just makes it more fun and memorable.

So pick up this book and join history's greatest questioner as he confronts and challenges the claims of Christ and the modern academic environment - especially in religious schools, colleges or seminaries. My recommendation would be to give it a try even if you just want to broaden your knowledge of Christianity or to learn how to ask the right questions to get the answers you are looking for. A great scholar, Dr. Peter Frick, once said, 'Life is not about knowing all the answers but about learning to ask the right questions.' This book will help you learn how to do that. Therefore, I can only say this book is definitely a 'Love It'.

(First Published in Imprint as 'Love It' in the 'Love It / Hate It' book review column 2007-05-04.)

Other Kreeft Reviews:
Socrates Meets Jesus
The Sea Within
Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics
The Journey
The Unaborted Socrates
The Best Things In Life
Between Heaven Hell
Doors in the Walls of the World
Catholic Christianity