Wednesday 31 January 2018

From Islam to Christ One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God - Derya Little

From Islam to Christ: 
One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God
Derya Little
Ignatius Press

ISBN 9781621641124

This was the third book by Derya I have read in the last month. The other two were her fiction series, and as much as I loved those stories. This story is incredible and proves yet again that real life is stranger than fiction. This is a powerful story, and I am very thankful to have read it. This book is an easy read from a reading level, but at parts is very hard to read about what Derya went through on her journey to Christ, and then into Catholicism. For an academic this book is very accessible. In fact, in many ways it reminded me of reading C.S. Lewis's religious writings.

The stories of the people God brought into her life. And the path she traveled to become a person of faith is incredible. I also appreciate her little weavings of her love of fiction into her story as examples. Such as early on she says:
"Most importantly, that Turkish young woman did not want anything to do with God, yet I was filled with gratitude and hope at the sight of a crucifix in a garage. Little by little, I had traveled far, not only physically but also spiritually. Thankfully, as wise Gandalf says in The Lord of the Rings, "Not all who wander are lost.""
Or later when she exclaims:
"I was a new creation, and I could not wait to learn all about my new life. When my journey began, I was a reluctant traveler like Bilbo Baggins, who was jostled and annoyed by uninvited guests in his house. That evening I made the same discovery eventually made by Bilbo-that I was being led on a thrilling, life-changing adventure."
For much like Bilbo her life has been an incredible journey. Both spiritually and physically. She travelled from a culturally Islamic family in Turkey. To England for grad studies, where she became Roman Catholic. And finally, on to the United States to become a wife, a mother and author. She first became a Christian through the influence of evangelical Christians. Later when a friend from those circles became Catholic she decided to study Catholicism to refute his positions. But few people begin their study with the theology of Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger. Finding it a stretch she returned to Mark Shea's 'By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition' She states:
"To be honest, after reading Shea's book, I was not suddenly convinced of the Catholic Church's authority over all Christians, but I found a giant hole in my arguments against all things Catholic."
And thus, began her study in earnest. She had to convince the staff at a Catholic church in Turkey that she was serious. Her persistence eventually led to a pivotal turning point.

Later she says:
"I would love to hop into TARDIS and travel back in time to have a chat with my twenty-year-old self, telling her that in seventeen years she would be Catholic, married to an American, raising four children, and writing on the side. She would not believe it. She would more readily believe in a time machine and an alien race with two hearts than in the version of herself that I have become."
And I wonder how many of us would like the chance to go back and tell our younger selves something. And she concludes the book with these words:
"It occurs to me that little by little, I traveled far.It occurs to me that God is forever faithful.It occurs to me that I was lost, but now I am found."
Now this story is not all sunshine and roses. Derya came from a very dysfunctional family. Her parents were divorced at a time and place where that was not the norm. Her mother checked out, and her father focused his time, attention and money on his new wife. She experienced years of rejection and rebellion in her own life, and those choices had consequences. Some that would bother her for years. But God proved to be with her always guiding and leading her.

This book is a powerful read, but it is not all rainbows and candy. I found that my own faith was inspired and encouraged by Derya's story. And my prayers for my own children has redoubled. I highly recommend you give this book a try. And if you love a good fiction story check out her Kayan Kronicles!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Derya Little:

From Islam to Christ: One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God

First Editions Kayan Kronicles:

The Manual Beyond
The Ambit Above

Second Editions Two Fallen Words Kayan Kronicles:

Author profile and interview with Derya Little.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

6 Dates to Disaster - Cynthia T. Toney - Bird Face Book 3

6 Dates to Disaster
Bird Face Book 3
Cynthia T. Toney
Write Integrity Press
ISBN 9781944120245

The title of the first book in this series, 8 Notes to a Nobody, really grabbed my attention. And to be honest I had bought books 2 and 3 before even finishing book 1. So this book is my third by Cynthia T. Toney, that I have read, but it will not be my last. I know that as a middle aged man I am not the default audience for these books. But as a father of a son, and of daughters this is the type of book I need to read, and reread with them. There are great lessons in these books, and the characters struggles with their faith and life can serve as example and motivation for readers of any age. 

What I love most about the books by Cynthia T. Tooney is that they are good clean reads. They do not preach, but they do teach a lesson, they show honest struggles. The characters do have struggles and they often make mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes. And those mistakes have consequences. However there reads are not smutty, they do not portray alternative lifestyles just for the sake of having it in the book, or being politically correct. I classify these books as realistic fiction much along the lines of Madeleine L'Engle's Chronos books. Now in this book we do have a blended family, but one that was approved by the Church. We also have a family facing hard times. The father has been laid off from work. Both the father and mother are looking for jobs now. And the older kids need to help more around the house especially with their younger brother that has extra needs. 

Wendy Robichaud's life that came together in a way that it has never been, is now falling apart in an entirely different way. Her step father has lost his job. And the family needs to make some tough decisions. They are all going to need to cut back, and the plans for the summer now seem completely out of reach. So when Wendy is approached to tutor a popular girl but keep it secret it seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. She can make the money she needs for the trip to Alaska. Soon however she has a whole slew of girls she is helping with their papers. And when things come to the light, Wendy is thrown to the wolves by the popular girls. 

Wendy was just a girl with a dream trying to work hard and make it happen. But will she be able to prove that her help was just that, help and not work for pay. Will she be able to save face? Will she make it to Alaska? Read to find out!

This book was a great read. It did an excellent job of capturing High School life. And also family life when facing financial hardships. It has some twists that will catch most readers by surprise.  

I have a few criteria for how I judge books.  The first is could I see myself rereading it. Second can I think of people I would recommend it to right away. And finally would I want to see my children read it when it is age appropriate. This book scores very well in all three categories. It is a great read. And I hope we see more books in this series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

(Original cover and title of 8 Notes to a Nobody)

Monday 29 January 2018

Twenty Tales of Irish Saints - Alice Curtayne

Twenty Tales of Irish Saints
Alice Curtayne
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781928832386

This book was a wonderful surprise. I came across it browsing the resources on the Formed website. I was immediately captured by the subject. I have found that whenever I read about Celtic saints my faith is challenged and inspired. And it proved true this time also. The author herself notes in a forward to the book:

"All the stories in this book are about real people who lived long ago in Ireland. But even though these people really lived, the stories about them are just legends. Whether such things really happened or not, I am sure you will agree with me that the stories in this book are lovely, interesting, and worth knowing."
And having read this book myself and now starting to read it with my children I completely agree.

The Saints in this book are:
1 Patrick
2 Brigid
3 Brendan
4 Finnian
5 Columcille
6 Colman of Kilmacduagh
7 Adamnan
8 Benignus
9 Ciaran
10 Cormac
11 Modomnoc
12 Flannan
13 Finbarr
14 Colman-Elo
15 Canice
16 Columbanus
17 Laurence O'Toole
18 Thaddeus MacCarthy
19 Gall
20 The Young Monk

After the stories about the saints there is a section of the book with a brief, and I mean very brief biography about each of the saints. Two or three lines at most, and key dates.  I loved this collection and can see myself going back to it from time to time for inspiration and encouragement in my own faith. And I pray my children will love this book as much as I do. It is an incredible little collection of stories of faith and courage and a few miracles.

I love this new edition of this book published by Sophia Institute Press, and I hope they bring out her other volume of about saints for young readers, More Tales of Irish Saints. For if it as anywhere as good as this volume it will be another wonderful read. My only regret in discovering this wonderful book is that so many of the authors other works are currently out of print. Thankfully this incredible volume is available both as a physical and eBook. A wonderful read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books and Booklets by Alice Curtayne:
A Recall to Dante
Francis Ledwidge: A Life of the Poet
Lough Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory
Patrick Sarsfield
Saint Anthony of Padua
St. Bernard Doctor of The Church 1933

Books Edited by Alice Curtayne:
The Complete works of Francis Ledwidge

Books Translated by Alice Curtayne:
Labours in the Vineyard by Giovanni Papin

Books Contributed to by Alice Curtayne:

Sunday 28 January 2018

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 

I have been slowly getting sick again the last few days. At the time of writing this, I have read through this weeks readings a few times, and yet cannot come up with a clear though to expand and reflect upon them.

First Reading Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Responsorial Psalm 95:1,2, 6-9 Response 7c,8a
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Gospel Mark 1:21-28

Both the second reading and the gospel continue directly from last weeks readings. Jesus's first miracle in Mark's account takes place. Paul in the second reading warns about what not to worry about. Paul appears to realize that no matter our station in life we will have worries and anxieties, what he seems concerned about is our being anxious about the right things. And in our first reading Moses warns about prophets, and listening to real ones and the judgement that will fall upon false ones. There is a lot going on in these three readings. 

My prayer for blessings on you this week, may the Lord keep you, and watch over you, may he be a hedge of protection around you. May he set a guard around your intellect, your heart and your spirit. In the name of the Father, and of the Son,and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Related Posts:

Saturday 27 January 2018

Product Review Speck Candy Shell Case iPhone 7/6S/6

Speck Candy Shell Case
iPhone 7/6S/6
ASIN B01K0945X8

I have been using Speck phone cases for almost 10 years now. I started with the Speck Candy Shell on my iPhone 4 and eventually switched to the Candy Shell Grip. I have owned this case for iPhone 4/5/6/6s and now 7. It has never let me down. I have used a few different color options with this case. The pictures attached to this review show a Black case that is almost 6 years old and a while one that is approaching 2 years.

I have had the misfortune of dropping a phone a few times. It has slipped out of my hands, my holster has broken and fallen to the ground. Or slipped when pulling it out of the holster. I have never seen physical damage on any of the devices protected by these cases. One time I replaced a case because of a big scratch on the case. When I took it out the phone looked brand new.

Prior to using this style case I had tried a number of cases with a number of different devices. And to be honest this is the best case I have ever used. I have been impressed with it, raved about it and finally decided to write a review about it.

The features I like best about this case are:
1. The rubber lip prevents the glass from sitting directly in surface
2. The 'grip' design of the rubber ridges on the back
3. Between the ridges on back and lip around the front this case will not slide, it does not slide on leather, dashboards, pillow … when you put it down it stays where you put it.
4. The drop test rating has lived up to the promise across a number of cases

If you are looking for a case for your phone check out the Speck line. They are worth every penny!

(Note: black case is the 6/6s and white case is the 7/6S/6)

Friday 26 January 2018

Stealing Jenny - Ellen Gable

Stealing Jenny
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780973673623


This is the second book by Ellen Gable that I have read in the last year it is also the fourth by Full Quiver Publishing. Full Quiver Publishing has a tag line of their website of "Theology of the Body Fiction", and after reading these four books published by them I greatly appreciate that goal. This book was definitely a page turner. I could hardly put this book down. This may have only been the second book by Ellen that I have read but it will not be the last!

I am having a hard time classifying this novel. It is part crime fiction and police procedural. It is part Christian fiction as it revolves around a family of great faith going through a very hard time. I would put it in the genre of realistic fiction. Much Like Madeleine L'Engle's Austin Family chronicles. In fact, this book could be a sort of next generation for some of those books. It sort of feels like reading about Vicki Austin's children or grandchildren. 

As a husband, as a father it was hard to read this story. The description of the book is: "After three heartbreaking miscarriages, Tom and Jenny Callahan are happily anticipating the birth of their sixth child. A neighbor, however, is secretly hatching a sinister plot which will find Jenny and her unborn baby fighting for their lives.". It is a very intense read. The story is told from the perspective of a number of characters. Jenny Callagan a young mother expecting her 6th child, and very excited after three miscarriages. Her husband, Tom. Denise Kramer a divorcee who cannot conceive a child on her own. Sargent Romano of the Ontario provincial police. But the story is not linear, each of the main characters remembers back, to earlier times in their lives. To some of the events and situations that have brought them to this time. Some of those memories are good, and some not so good. Each of the characters have made mistakes, and most have learned from them. 

As can be guessed by the title and description Jenny is kidnapped just days before a planned C-section because of complications in her pregnancy. The play moves at a quick pace, and even with the 'flash back' moments the story proceeds well. The main story takes place over a few days. But the flashbacks encompass almost two decades of time. The main story is set just outside Ottawa, and some of the flashbacks are to Tom's time in Kingston, while at Queen's University. Having grown up in Kingston, and spent a lot of time in Ottawa playing sports, it was so easy to picture the settings and places in this story. But that also made the story hard thinking about my family, my friends, or my own mistakes when I was younger.

The story has a decidedly Christian feel, and Tom and Jenny are Catholic and faith is very important to them. The parish priest makes a few appearances, and there is mention of mass and continual adoration taking place until Jenny is found. There are memories of bullying in high school. And there is also premarital sex, talk about abortion, and for one character an actual abortion. There is a lot in this book that would make for great discussion material with older teens and young adults. Or it can be read as a crime thriller by just about anyone who enjoys the genre.    

This book was an excellent read. It was hard to put down. It draws attention to many real life issues. And it places them in a frame work that will make you think. I am glad I gave this book a read and think you will be if you give it a go! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Ellen Gable:

O'Donovan Family Series:
On Name Only
A Subtle Grace


Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts
Charlotte's Honor

Ella's Promise

Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny


Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Ashes Visible & Invisible 10 Stories for Teens

Reviews of other books from Full Quiver Publishing:
Dying for Compassion - Barbara Golder
Dying for Revenge - Barbara Golder

Thursday 25 January 2018

The Faith Of A Child Or In This Case Children

The Faith Of A Child
On This Case Children

I am often amazed by the faith my children exhibit. I find that I am encouraged by it, inspired by it,and often challenged by it. My son is awaiting a medical procedure. A few weeks ago he came home having drawn his own copy of a divine mercy painting. 

His sister loved it so much he made one for her. 

I believe they are modeled after the one in our church. 

He also did an advent wreath this year in school in chalk.

 And last year did a nativity. 

I love when my children pray, and especially when it is spontaneous. after at bed time when i pray over them they ask to pray for others. Or when we see emergency vehicles with sirens and lights on they immediately pray in the car, for what ever the situation is.

Last week my son was visiting his grandmother who is sick. He was ready to leave, but took off his boots, went back to the living room, put his hands on my mother-in-laws head and prayed for healing for her. 

I try and learn from their faith and trust. And I try and model and teach them the practice of our faith. But I am amazed by the faith the three of them exhibit. 

Praise be to you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Modo Ember's End - Arthur Slade and Christopher Steininger - A Mission Clockwork Graphic Novel

Modo Ember's End 
Hunchback Assignments Graphic Novel
Mission Clockwork Graphic Novel
Arthur Slade (Author)
Christopher Steininger (Illustrator)
Orca Publishing
ISBN 9781459817210

This book is a stand alone graphic novel. It was written by Arthur Slade, and illustrated by Christopher Steininger. But it is based in the world of Arthur Slade's Hunchback Assignments, that series has been rebranded a few times now. First in Canada it was published as The Hunch Back Assignments, and there were four novels. Later it was rebranded as Modo: Mission Clockwork, and now it is currently being rebranded again as Mission Cloclwork. But no matter what it is called the 4 novels are great reads and this fifth story set after the novels and as a graphic novel is an excellent addition to Modo’s story. I read this book first back in 2014 when it came out as part of a kickstarted campaign. And have just reread it again. 

Modo is such a great character. You cannot help but love him. And seeing Modo in this adventure fleshed out the images I had in my mind having read the novels about him. And this story is masterfully done. And the combinate of old west, steam punk, and spy story make for a very interesting read. Slade is one of the few authors I was reading almost 2 decades ago that I am still reading today. He writes an intriguing tale in this volume. And the illustrations by Christopher Steininger bring to life some of the most memorable characters that I have read in the last twenty years. Seeing Modo and Octavia at work in this book was very exciting. 

I am thankful this book is being released to a wider market. The Modo books are wonderful stories for young readers, or those with an adventuresome heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read any of the other Modo books, or who loves a great graphic novel.

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)
Mr. Universe (2021)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

Northern Frights Reprint Editions:
Draugr (2020)
Drang (2020)
Loki Wolf (2020)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Feast of Saint Vincent Pallotti Celebration of Pallottines

Feast of Saint Vincent Pallotti
Celebration of Pallottines 

Last night Liam and I went to a celebration of the feast of Saint Vincent Pallotti (April 21st 1795-January 22nd 1850). Vincent Pallotti was the founder of the Pallottines. Our Parish of Saint Agnes is staffed by a Pallotine from the Ukraine, as are 4 other parishes in the Diocese of Hamilton. The mass tonight was at Saint Clements Church in St. Clements Ontario. We were blessed to have 7 priests and 2 deacons celebrate mass tonight. Liam loved the church. So after mass we took some pictures. Last summer I posted a photo essay of Saint Clements, but tonight took some pictures inside the church after dark. It was a blessing to be there with congregants from all over Ontario.

St. Clement's Parish
3619 Lobsinger Line
St. Clements
N0B 2M0

Monday 22 January 2018

Product Review - Formed - Augustine Institute

Augustine Institute

Formed is a Catholic Online Resource that is presented by Augustine Institute. It is sort of like a Catholic Netflix and yet it is much more than that. It is a collection of materials for study, entertainment and spiritual growth and nourishment. It contains material for study, watching, listening or reading. Currently the content is predominantly available in English, with a growing selection of Spanish offerings.

Each week there is a video available with a brief teaching for the upcoming Sunday's mass readings. There are sections for Sacramental preparation, bible study, current topics and youth resources. Under the movies there are sub sections for movies, documentaries, apologetics and youth. The audio section contains talks, audio dramas, and audio books. And the book section contains nonfiction, fiction and youth resources. The movies and audio resources are available through the website or apps on both Android and iOS. The books are available to download in .EPUB (Android, Nook, iBooks) or a .PRC (Kindle, will work on Kindle on other operating systems.)

And our parish has purchased a parish wide subscription. That means each family, each individual in the parish has access to all of these resources. To sign up you go to a custom web address and register. The access code is available via the church office, or posters around the church.

And if you need assistance figuring out how to access or uncertain resources the link has all you need. Once you are registered you use the app or web browser to access the resources. In 2015 Lighthouse Catholic Media merged with the Augustinian Institute, so many of the lighthouse resources are available through Formed. And many of the books are from Lighthouse, Ignatius Press, Sophia Institute Press and more. There are some incredible resources for your personal or group study, entertainment and edification.

I have been testing it for two weeks now and have watched an amazing movie about Pope Saint John XXIII, read a book about Celtic saints, and one by Dr. Peter Kreeft, and am currently reading another. I have listened to some amazing talks especially by Father Mike Schmitz. I have also watched two movies with my children. My son loves it so much that we put it on his iPod and he has watched a few children's movies on his own. It is available to members of the parish through a parish membership at no cost to each family. But even if your parish does not choose to purchase a Parish subscription the cost is reasonable and the benefits amazing.

The content changes and on the homepage is a video lesson for the upcoming weekends mass readings. It includes a section highlighting the most popular content, including a pick of the week. There is also section focusing on the recently added content. The video and audio content will work on any device with an internet connection and a web browser. There are apps for iOS and Android. And the apps indicate that offline play is in development.

This is an incredible resource for any individual; but especially if purchased at the Parish level so check it out! And if you are still not certain you can get a free 7 day trial so you have nothing to lose. So go five Formed a try!

Sunday 21 January 2018

Feast of Saint Agnes Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 A Reflection

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 
And Memorial of Saint Agnes Virgin and Martyr
A Reflection

Lent begins in three and a half weeks. The church has returned to Green vestments. But already I am thinking head to lent. This year Ash Wednesday is also Saint valentine’s day February 14th, and Easter is April first, or April Fools day. We begin our Focus on the gospel of Mark this week. The majority of the Gospel readings this year will be from Mark, and as such today we beginning with Mark’s account of Jesus calling his first disciples.

First Reading Jonah 3:1-5,10
Responsorial Psalm 25:4-9 Response 9
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Gospel Mark1:14-20

The first reading is the second calling of Jonah. Not the story that all kids love about his being swallowed by the whale. It is the second time that God calls upon him. But what really catches my attention is:

“And the People of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.”
But one of the verses that we skip is about it starting with the King. Leadership began with the head, and spread down from there. I think there are considerations around this passage in our own day. Would a prophet be recognized if he appeared today? Would Jesus be recognized if he were to come back? Muck like in the Joshua books by father Joseph F. Girzone. And would the repentance start at the top, our prime minister’s, our premier’s, and our presidents? Or would it be a more grass roots movement.

The responsorial Psalm this week was an interesting passage:

From the United States Liturgy it is:

R. (4a) 
Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
and teaches the humble his way.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

From the Canadian liturgy the the response is 'Lord, Make Me know your ways.' I much prefer the translation the US uses. There is a big difference between'teach' and 'make' but there are times that I need God to make his will known to me. So maybe the language that makes me uncomfortable is the one I need most. 

I pray this every day for my children and for myself. I want to grow in His ways. To learn to love Him more and through that to love and server others more. And from today’s gospel the fact that both pairs of men immediately left what they were doing and followed Jesus. We see the calling of Simon, Andrew, James, and John. They began a lifelong response to follow Jesus, just as we are on a life long journey to follow Jesus, to be his disciples, to live for him.

But today is also the feat of Saint Agnes Virgin and Martyr. And the readings for that mass are:

First Reading Hebrews 5:1010
Responsorial Psalm 110:1-4 Response 4B

Gospel Mark 2:18-22.

Saint Agnes is the patron saint of my parish.She was killed at a young age for her faith. Blessings on you and yours this week.

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