Wednesday 28 February 2018

The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain - Carolyn Huizinga Mills and Brooke Kerrigan

The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain
Carolyn Huizinga Mills
Brooke Kerrigan (Illustrator)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
ISBN 9781554553952

This book was published in the fall of 2017, and is not to be confused with Down The Drain by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko. In fact this is a much better book than that one and most of Muncsch's. My son came home from school and would not stop talking about this book. They had read it in school and he loved it. He kept going on about it. And he was sure the author was not Munsch, but he could not remember who. So the next time we were out at a book store he tracked it down.

We read it sitting there in the store; he could not wait to get home. And when his little sister wandered over, we read it again. And they both love it. Now to be honest they were both a little surprised to see a bare bum, when Sally was laying on her belly in the tub. And they both commented about how many nipples were pictured in the book. They both giggle about it a bit, but it does not stop us from reading the book.

The story is about a young girl named Sally. She has two older sisters and a younger brother. The baby seems to cry all the time and the older sisters will not play with her. Her parents seem so distracted they never have time for her. But Sally comes to believe there is a little boy who lives down the drain. So she starts talking to him. And he is a really good listener. Eventually she believes he tells her to "try something different" and she does. And soon her whole world is turning around.

The illustrations in this book are wonderful. My children love all the details and just going through the book again and again. The story is very sweet and has such a good message. Having three children I think this was a wonderful book for us to pick up, and maybe reread from time to time as a reminder for each of us.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Prayer to the Holy Spirit by Cardinal Mercier

Prayer to the Holy Spirit by Cardinal Mercier 

Holy Spirit, Beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me; guide me; strengthen me; console me. Tell me what I shall do: give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me, and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will.

I first encountered this prayer in the book, Be A Man by Father Larry Richards. I have been praying it regularly now for while. I have been trying to find out some more information on the prayer and have come across a different version of it.

O Holy Spirit
soul of my soul
I adore you.
strengthen and console me.

Tell me what I ought to do
and command me to do it.
I promise to submit to everything
that you ask of me
and to accept all
that you allow to happen to me.
Just show me what is your will.

It is attributed to 
Cardinal Joseph Mercier (1851-1926).  It is a simple prayer to learn. But a hard prayer to live I am striving to do so. I have configured an email reminder so that this pops up early each day. When the email comes in I pause and take a moment to pray and dedicate my day to God.

Monday 26 February 2018

2018-02-25 Tonight ...

Tonight was one of those nights I wish I could have a do over on. If life is like a game of chess, tonight I feel like I was chased all over the board trying to keep one step ahead and force a stalemate. By the end it worked out. But the early part of the evening was very rough. And ended up spinning almost 4 hours on something unexpected. I am in training for work for the next three days starting almost 4 hours later than I normally do. It is going to be an odd week.

And so I end the evening with prayers, prayers over my children before they went to bed. Prayers for them again now as I get ready for bed. And prayers for my friends and family. 

And so I say goodnight and in the words of a friend stay salty

Peace and Strength!
Yours, learning to be
Steven R. McEvoy

Book Reviews and More
McEvoy's Musings

"Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria."
           Mike Aquilina

“No tea cup is big enough nor book long enough for me to be satisfied.” 
           C.S. Lewis

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

Sunday 25 February 2018

Second Sunday of Lent 2018

Second Sunday of Lent 2018 

We are now well into Lent. But we still have 4 more Sundays until Psalm Sunday. This season of waiting is also a time of hope. The threefold focus of Lent is:
How are you doing? If you are being completely honest with yourself, where are you doing well, where could you use improvement? I am struggling with fasting, and it is not one I normally have issues with, either during Lent or throughout the year. But the last week and a half has taken far more effort and focus than I need to give.

First Reading Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Responsorial Psalm 116: 10,15-19 Response 9
Second Reading Romans 8:31-35,37
Gospel Mark 9:2-10

What really struck me from the first reading is what is missing. We do not read the verses about Isaac carrying the wood for the offering. Much as we will read in a few weeks about Christ who will carry his own wooden cross. Maybe this passage is what gave Jesus the strength to pray 'If it be possible let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours be done.'. Isaac was spared and replaced by a substitute sacrifice, and Jesus will die as our sacrifice. 

The Responsorial Psalm today is an excerpt from psalm 116. From the new Jerusalem Bible it is:
Alleluia! I am filled with love when Yahweh listens to the sound of my prayer, when he bends down to hear me, as I call. The bonds of death were all round me, the snares of Sheol held me fast; distress and anguish held me in their grip, I called on the name of Yahweh. Deliver me, Yahweh, I beg you. Yahweh is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness. Yahweh looks after the simple, when I was brought low he gave me strength. My heart, be at peace once again, for Yahweh has treated you generously. He has rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living. My trust does not fail even when I say, 'I am completely wretched.' In my terror I said, 'No human being can be relied on.' What return can I make to Yahweh for his generosity to me? shall take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh. I shall fulfil my vows to Yahweh, witnessed by all his people. Costly in Yahweh's sight is the death of his faithful. I beg you, Yahweh! I am your servant, I am your servant and my mother was your servant; you have undone my fetters. I shall offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of Yahweh. I shall fulfil my vows to Yahweh, witnessed by all his people, in the courts of the house of Yahweh, in your very heart, Jerusalem.
The response from the lectionary is:

"I will walk before the Lord, in the Land of the living." 

But from the New Jerusalem it is:

"I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living."

This response reminds me of our call to be salt and light in the world. And like the whole Psalm we need to be thankful for our physical and our spiritual deliverance. For all the God has given us.

Related Posts:

Saturday 24 February 2018

Testing Liberty - Theresa Linden - Chasing Liberty Book 2

Testing Liberty
Chasing Liberty Book 2
Theresa Linden
Linden Publishing

ISBN 9780996816823
eISBN 9780996816830

Theresa Linden is one of those gems of a find. I only started reading her books last spring, and in under a year I have read 8 of her books. And to be honest if I did not have over 100 books in my to be read pile when I discovered her writings, I would have read all her books by now. I have read two books in each of her series, Chasing Liberty and The West Brothers, I have read a side short story for one of the series and both her other published short stories. I have appreciated everything I have read, and I have loved most of them. Linden's works remind me most of two famous authors, both of whom won the Newbery Medal twice, they are Madeleine L'Engle and Lois Lowry. And I believe that in time Linden's series will come to be considered classics in youth literature. And should be on the curriculum for Children's Lit courses and in schools! Last year I read 380 books, and Chasing Liberty, was number 2 on my top 10 list for the year! In a previous review I stated: "If we were to do a direct comparison between L'Engle and Linden then the Chasing Liberty Series would be the Kairos series and the West Brothers would be the Chronos series. And in many ways Liberty reminds me of Meg Murry in many ways, but in a much more dystopian future. And if we were to compare Chasing Liberty to Lois Lowry's writings it is much like The Giver, except with a clear-cut Christian under pinning. And from what I have read both series are wonderfully written." And the more I read the more I stand by that statement.  

In book one, Liberty 554-062466-84, was rescued from the regime, and was relocated to a colony in the wilderness. But when she found out her friend in the home for older people was not going to be rescued, she decided to take action herself. And it ended with her in prison back in control of Regimen Custodia Terra. And that is where we begin book two.

Liberty is being kept in a cell, sleep deprived, and under nourished. It is phase one of her reeducation. But things are starting to change in Aldonia. When she is rescued she believes all the adults captured from the settlement were rescued, until she finds out who her rescuer is. But almost immediately Dedrick shows up and really rescues her. She begins training wants to join the Mosheh and help to rescue those who were captured because of her, and also to help free other Aldonians who want to leave. They need to stage three rescues that need to take place, with primary children, teens and adults. Mixed in with all of this is Dr. Supero, who is becoming more and more unpredictable as he seeks to find a way to remove his brain tumor. 

The characters in this book, this series are amazing. From Liberty a young woman who is learning what true freedom is, and not just for herself but wanting it for all people. To Dedrick, a young man who has risked his life saving and serving others for almost 4 years. And then we have Dr. Supero a many who is slowly losing everything he believes in, and is desperate to hold on to it, especially his life. And in this book, we learn more about the Mosheh and how their council operates. We learn some of their history. And it is starting to feel like history is about to repeat itself. The question is will it be a totalitarian regime or a revolution? 

This book is an excellent read and part of a wonderful series. It has great characters, fast paced plot, and a very intriguing story. But it will leave you desperate for book three. This book is a great read for pre-teens through to adult. And I recommend it to all who are looking for a great read!

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

Books by Theresa Linden:
Tortured Soul

Chasing Liberty Series:
01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story


West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong
Roland West Outcast
Fire Starters

Armour of God Series:
Belt of Truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Boot of Peace
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
Sword of the Spirit

Armor of God Series Second Edition:

Other Books:
A Symbol of Hope - Short Story
A Battle for the Faith (with John Paul Wohlscheid)


Books contributed to:
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
Treasures: Visible & Invisible 8 Stories for Teens

Friday 23 February 2018

Prayer to the Archangel Saint Raphael

Prayer to the Archangel Saint Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. 

Thursday 22 February 2018

The Dojo Creed and Life An Essay

My oldest two children and I have been Training at Foley's Family Karate for a year and a half now. I wrote a review last year about our experience. All three of us have progressed from white belt to yellow belt to orange belt. For each belt advancement there are two stripe requirements and then the belt testing. The first requirement for the green belt is an essay. This is mine.

The Creed and Life an Essay

By Steven R. McEvoy
For Sensei Steve Foley
Foley’s Family Karate
February 2018

The Dojo creed is central to our study, and if we are serious students it will become central to our life. We recite it at the end of most classes. We have t-shirts imprinted with it. But what does it really mean. In this work we will approach the understanding of the creed in two distinct ways. First what each of the 5 phrases or precepts of the creed mean to me personally, and secondly, we will reflect upon what the world would look like if everyone were to live by this moto. 

But before we begin close your eyes and picture in your mind a gathering of students(deshi), senior students (sempai) and teachers (sensei). The group can be 10, 20, 100 and picture them repeating the following in sync. They are loud, but clear and precise. You can hear the intention in their unified voice as the students repeat it back. 

1) We shall strive to build and perfect our character;
2) We shall be faithful and sincere in our study;
3) We shall endeavor to excel, putting maximum effort into all that we do;
4) We shall respect others and display courtesy;
5) We shall develop self-control, in order to refrain from violence and uncontrolled behavior.

There is a lot to ponder in those 51 words, and 304 characters with the spaces. I want to look at the creed, as a whole, before we begin looking at the pieces. We have two copies of this up in our house. The first is in my son’s room, and the second on the side of the fridge. He was suffering with outbursts. We printed out the creed so that when he got upset he could go and read it and remind himself of his dedication to the study and practice of karate. I found that I started using it also, when I was becoming frustrated or upset I would read it to myself before speaking or reacting. Both copies we have up at home have the numbers. But I put up a copy on my desk at work. If I glance to the right of my monitors it is there. I like reflecting upon it as a single statement. And I have highlighted in bold characters the words that often stick out to me:

We shall strive to build and perfect our character. We shall be faithful and sincere in our study. We shall endeavor to excel, putting maximum effort into all that we do. We shall respect others and display courtesy. We shall develop self-control, in order to refrain from violence and uncontrolled behavior.

Those are the words or phrases we will be looking at as we examine each of the points. 

We shall strive to build and perfect our character.

For me the two most important words in this precept are strive and character. First our character is all that we have. If we are known to lack character, it will be incredibly hard to change that opinion. But if we are known as a person of good character it goes a long way in life. But character is not a once and done sort of thing. It is something we are always working to improve. So we strive, we struggle, we persist in pursuing perfect character. Even if we will never achieve it and always have room for improvement. 

We shall be faithful and sincere in our study.

I have come to realize that this is a corner story of my practice. When I started I started because my children were hesitant. But I have come to practice for myself. My study is for me, to help me develop discipline, focus, to become healthier. So that I can be a better son, husband, father, and a better man. I need to give it my all. And even if old injuries or age slow me down, I should continue to be faithful, determined and dedicated. 

We shall endeavor to excel, putting maximum effort into all that we do.

Every time we say this phrase I picture Dead Pool, ‘Maximum effort’ is one of his mantra’s. And it is something I have taken from Karate and been trying to apply in all areas of my life. I need to give 100% in everything, shoveling snow, doing laundry, caring for my wife and children. Everything worth doing deserves that maximum effort. Like Vincent in the movie Gattaca it is about not saving anything for the return trip. To go and go and go. But not just to do but to do to the best of my ability.  

We shall respect others and display courtesy.

This is one of the corner stones of our practice. We need to show respect at all times to those of a higher belt, those with a lower belt, and those with the same belt. We are all here to learn. We are all here to practice. And It begins with basic courtesy. This includes bowing to partners who are giving of their time and effort. Listening when others are speaking. And paying attention and focusing on the tasks at hand. Basic things that we learn in kindergarten but often slowly forget as we get older. 

We shall develop self-control, in order to refrain from violence and uncontrolled behavior.

Uncontrolled behavior is an epidemic in our day and age. This is seen by examples of road rage on the news. Rampant divorce rates. And so many other symptoms in our culture today. Self-control both developed in class will carry over into other areas of our life. Personally, my uncontrolled anger, comes out in raising my voice with my children, with shouting. With getting upset often over things that an hour or a day latter won’t matter. And self-control will help is live and applied the other 4 precepts of the creed. 

Now that we have examined what the 5 precepts mean to me we will look at the question of what the world would look like if everyone lived these principles. I have been reflecting on this question for a number of weeks now. The simple answer is that the world would be a much better place. But in many ways that would be a copout. But if everyone lived by these 5 precepts the world would be safer. I think about rising crime rates in Europe and specifically the flood of attacks on new year's ever and other public celebrations. If all humans lived by these rules, respecting others would prevent those events. By living a self-controlled life there would be far less crime. There would be less personal conflict and through that less conflict between nations and peoples.  

If all people strived to perfect their character we would be focusing on improving ourselves, and not comparing ourselves to others. We would be working on the plank in our own eye and not making a big deal about the speck in someone else’s eye. We would extend more grace, and we would be more gracious.

So even thought it might be trite to say, if everyone lived by the creed the world would truly be a much better place. For I know that from the impact on my life and the lives of my children that is the case.

Note: You can read my review of Foley's Family Karate here.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

The Fourth Cup: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion - Scott Hahn

The Fourth Cup:
Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion
Scott Hahn
Image Books
IBSN 9781524758790
eISBN 9781524758806

Over the last 25 years I have read about a dozen books by Scott Hahn, and each and every one of them I found helped my spiritual life. They have helped my understanding or God, Mary, the Church, or a specific theological point. But of all his books I have read this is one of my favourites. In fact it was so good it inspired me to add a couple of his others I have not got around to reading back towards the top of my to be read list. The description of this book is:

"Well-known Catholic theologian Dr. Scott Hahn explains Christ's Paschal sacrifice on the cross as the fulfillment of the traditional fourth cup used in the celebration of Passover, drawing symbolic parallels to the Last Supper and Christ's death on Calvary. Through his scholarly insights and important biblical connections, Mass will come alive for you as never before!"
And does it ever live up to that promise. I found that while I was reading this book I did not want to put it down. I have noticed a marked difference in my participation at mass in the few weeks since I have read this book. I read a good number of books, and of those many are excellent. But this book moved me in a way that is hard to describe. It was a very moving work; it stirred my spirit and my desire to draw closer to God through the mass.  The chapters in this book are:

What Is Finished?
Passover and Covenant
A Typical Sacrifice
Rite Turns
The Paschal Shape of the Gospels
Behold the Lamb
The Lamb from the Beginning
Unleavened Bread
The Cups
The Hour
The Chalices and the Church
The Paschal Shape of the Liturgy
The Christian Passover
The Paschal Shape of Life
Works Consulted

The way that Hahn ties the Passover, the last supper and the Eucharist together in a study of the Jewish practices of the time will open the reader's eyes. Now much of the material in this book has appeared before. Hahn states that:

"In 1989 at Marytown in Chicago I first gave a talk titled "The Fourth Cup." It was about some of the studies that had led to my conversion to Catholicism just three years before. I was, at the time, an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. I wasn't earning much. I had no tenure or publications. But I was a happy man because I was Catholic, and I wanted to tell the world. Now I had an opportunity."
He goes on to say that he has given this talk, and talked about the Fourth Cup many times over the years, but he always gives slightly different versions of the talk. And that this book is the culmination of telling this story over the last 29 years since Hahn became Catholic, and his processing of this information for the over the 7 years before that as he made his way from being a pastor and academic who was being convinced by this specific study of the validity of the Catholic faith.

It all began with an Easter Sunday sermon, and a professor and mentor paused after stating "It is finished" but did not come back to it. It began the quest for Hahn to determine what was finished. Scott was upset by this question and challenged by the pastor to answer it. And ultimately this book is that answer. And it is a question and answer that is one of the foundations of Catholic belief. At nearly the end of the book Hahn says:

"This entire book is the story of my conversion. I wish I could say my conversion to Jesus was complete when I first encountered him, but that would be untrue. Conversion is never a one-time event. It's ongoing and ever-deepening. It was for Saint Peter. It was for Saint Paul."
And his search for answers will inspire us and draw us deeper into the mass, and deepen our relationship with God. An incredible read! Thank you.

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

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

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

Tuesday 20 February 2018

The Peace Promise: Trusting God to Solve the Unsolvable - John Kuypers

The Peace Promise:
Trusting God to Solve the Unsolvable
John Kuypers

Wellspring Publishing
Beacon Publishing for
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781635820225
eISBN 9781635820294

This book was an incredible read. In fact, before I had even finished it, I was recommending it to others. This is one of those books that I believe anyone would benefit from reading. I should note this book was formerly published as: The First Rule of Inner Peace: Jesus' Sensible Way to Be Happy. And I know that it is a book that I will be reading again, and likely again after that. But this is one of those books that is hard to describe or write a review for. I have been trying to word this review for over a week now. The description of this book, the write up on the back-cover states:

"How much time do we spend scrutinizing others, judging them, finding fault with them, being disappointed in how they've treated us? How much unhappiness could be avoided if we had a different way of dealing with the anxiety, stress, and broken relationships in our lives? In this new book, author John Kuypers shows how Jesus' teaching in the gospel of Matthew can revolutionize our relationships and our approach to the issues that trouble us. If we stop and get rid of the log in our own eye first, we will reach a place of peace even before we know how to deal with the speck in our neighbor's eye. And in that place of peace, the Holy Spirit can reveal what needs to be done to resolve things. 
Whether you're a spouse, a parent, a teacher, an employee, or an employer, this is a practical, real-world teaching anyone can apply in any situation. Experience for yourself the wonderful peace of seeing clearly and its transforming effect on your relationships."
The way I summed this up to a few people when talking about it, is that, it teaches us to stop focusing on the speck in other people's eyes and more on the plank in our own. Or another focus of the book is that our attachment to thinks, situations, or perceptions. And it all started with his own personal changes. At 34 John blacked out and after the fright of that event started a journey toward physical and emotional health.

The chapters in this book are:

PART ONE: Admit You Lack Peace
One: The Peace Promise
Two: How to Recover Your Peace
Three: Your Soul's Deepest Fear

PART TWO: Get Committed
Four: Four Ways to Get Committed
Five: Why You Can't See Clearly
Six: The Rewards of His Peace

PART THREE: Let His Peace In

Seven: Hundreds of Hidden Beliefs
Eight: The Three Nothings
Nine: Two Ways to Successfully Apply the Peace Promise

PART FOUR: Stop Resisting
Ten: Experiences of Others
Eleven: Do You Want Results or Peace?
Twelve: You Are Lovable

This book begins with these words:

"Jesus promised us life's greatest reward: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27). But there is a catch. "I do not give to you as the world gives." A friend once said to me, "That's exactly the part that troubles me!" In this book, you will see how radically true that is. It takes courage to receive the peace of the Lord because his ways are not our ways. Only by personal experience will you discover that his ways are also better than our ways."
I found that I was applying lessons from this book as soon as I had finished specific chapters. This book is full of examples from the authors life and from the lives of people he has worked with or who have read his earlier books. The concept of people reacting as either the hammer or a doormat really hit home for me. The premise is that people often overreact in one of two ways they become a hammer trying to force their view or decision, or they act like a doormat letting people walk over them and not even respecting their selves. I have come to realize that if either of these are happening then that person or I am not acting and living from a place of peace.

As I stated this book is hard to describe, but it is an incredible read! One of the best books I have read for personal and professional growth in years!

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

Books by John Kuypers:
The Non Judgmental Christian: Five Lessons That Will Revolutionize Your Relationships
What's Important Now: Shedding The Past So You Can Live In The Present
The First Rule Of Inner Peace: Jesus' Amazing Remedy For Unhappiness
Every Couple's Dilemma: To Be Truthful Or Protective
Who's The Driver Anyway? Making The Shift To A Collaborative Team Culture
Pay Now, Fly Later With Time Frame: Why Your Long Term Success Is Hidden In Your Organization Chart
Comfortable In Your Own Skin: What It Means To Be Present
The Peace Promise: Trusting God To Solve The Unsolvable

Monday 19 February 2018

I Don't Like Lent - Rev Daniel A. Lord S.J.

I Don't Like Lent
Rev Daniel A. Lord S.J.

This was my introduction to Daniel A Lord’s works, this booklet was originally published in 1937 by The Queen’s Work, St. Louis, USA. It is currently available as a Kindle eBook. It was such a great read that as soon as I finished reading it, I read it through a second time and picked up about a dozen of his other booklets to read. According to Fr. Edward Looney, Daniel Lord wrote over a million words in his lifetime. Currently about 40 of his booklets are available as eBooks. But I have not found much of his other works still in print. And from just this first booklet I am addicted.

The introduction to this booklet states:

“Reading this pamphlet today, when the Church insists on such tiny penances, during Lent is a sobering reminder to good Catholics that their ancestors were willing to undergo far more stringent deeds of self-sacrifice than appears to be common among us, their children. May the reading of this pamphlet encourage us to be more zealous in the service of the Lord.”
And to be honest that is in part what it spurred in me to refocus just 4 days into lent this year. The booklet is a conversation that takes place after dinner one evening. The participants are:
A Maid
Mr. Bradley
Mrs. Bradley – our hostess
Father Hall
Grace Melville – Young and charming
Old Mrs. Harrison
Dr. Allenby – non-Catholic Professor of History
Shirley Green

At one point in the discussion Father hall states when it is implied he did not come up with the idea of lent: “And maybe that’s just where you are wrong. Maybe if I had the doing of it, I’d have put in two Lents a year, one in winter for the good of your souls, and one in summer for the good of your bodies. The fact is, I thoroughly approve of Lent. I think it’s a noble institution.”

The booklet is such an easy read. And it was a great read at that. I loved that it was written as a dialogue with numerous characters who were part of the conversation. I highly recommend this book!

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

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

Books by Daniel A. Lord:
Father Finn, S.J., The Story Of His Life Told By Himself For His Friends Young And Old
Played by Ear

Children's Books:
The Our Father: Our Prayer to God
The Hail Mary Our Mother in Heaven

Red Arrows in the Night

Our Nuns: Their Varied and Vital Service for God and County
I can read ANYTHING!? All right! - then read THIS!
Confession is a joy?
Religion and Leadership
Fashionable Sin - A Modern Discussion of an Unpopular Subject
My Mother, The Study of an Uneventful Life
You Can't Live That Way
The Call to Catholic Action
Our Part in the Mystical Body
I Don't Like Lent

Three Great Catholic Writers That You Might Never Have Heard Of!  Curtayne - Lord - Powers

Sunday 18 February 2018

First Sunday of Lent 2018

First Sunday of Lent 2018 

We are less than a week into Lent. and to be honest I have really struggled with what I chose to give up this year. I wrote a post last week about 'Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent 2018' It is not too late to pick up something to read during the rest of lent this year. lent is my favorite liturgical season. I appreciate the discipline, the spiritual focus, the sacrifices.

First Reading Genesis 9:8-15
Responsorial Psalm 25: 4-9 Response 10
Second Reading II Peter 3:18-22
Gospel Mark 1:12-15

Today we had another session training new altar servers. During the first practice I 'acted' as Father. And we did a full dry run of a mass. I am always uncomfortable with this part of teaching new altar servers. But it is necessary. Then Father joined us and we did another walk through. The children are doing a wonderful job picking it up. and my oldest two have given up 4 Saturday afternoon to help, even though they are already trained. Today we has a new server ask us some really tough questions:

What if your parents do not want you to be an altar server?
What if your parents do not want you to go to church?
What if your patents do not want you to be Catholic?

They were hard questions especially from a student in grade 4, 5, or 6. and I am not sure if their parents are separated and this is coming from one side. or if both of the child's parents feel that way. My children and I have been praying about this and it has been on my mind all afternoon and evening. 

The first hymn we sang tonight was Again We Keep This Solemn Fast

Again we keep this solemn fast,
A gift of faith from ages past,
This lent, which binds us lovingly
To faith and hope and charity

The law and prophets from of old
In figured ways this lentforetold
Which Christ, all ages' Lord and Guide,
In these last days has sanctified

More sparing, therefore, let us make
The words we speak, the food we take, 
Our sleep, our laughter, ev'ry sense;
Learn peace through holy penitence

Let us avoid each harmful way
That lures the careless mind astray;
By watchful prayer our spirits free
From scheming of the enemy.

We pray, O blessed Three in One,
Our God while endless ages run,
That this, our Lent of forty days,
May bring us growth and give you praise.

The text to this is ascribed to Saint Gregory the Great circa 540-604. Translated by Peter J. Scagnelli in 1949, and taken from the Catholic Book of Worship III. We only sang the first three versus for the entrance. But It struck a cord with me and after my time of prayer at the end of mass, while my children were clearing the altar and going to confession I reread it a few times and copied it down. I have been reading a lot this week about how Roman Catholic lent post Vatican II is so easy. Comparing it to current orthodox practices or pre-Vatican II requirements. Amy Welborn wrote an excellent piece this week. One of the key takeaways for me was that the requirements are minimums. To quote Welborn:
"The whole idea of the post-Conciliar changes to penitential fasting and abstinence was to present, as it were, a minimum on paper, with the expectation that the individual, flush with the glory of the Freedom of the Christian (and the Spirit of the Council), would take it from there. 
The legal minimalism was supposed to unleash an internal maximalist lurking in all of us who had just been waiting to be treated like an adult instead of a child defined by adherence to rigid rules."
From there I got to thinking about my observance. To be honest my goals this year were easier than many years in the past and event recently. And yet I find that i am struggling with them more than I normally would. Maybe I aimed too low and that is why I am struggling. Maybe I need to dig deeper and like the word of the hymn states my growth will come through holy penitence, not through being a slacker. 

The responsorial psalm for this weekends mass is:

R. Your paths, Lord, are love and faithfulness for those who keep your covenant.

Make me to know your ways o lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation.

Be mindful of your mercy, O lord, and of
your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
According to your steadfast love 
remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
he leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.

We are only 4 days into lent, there are still 43 days left counting the Sundays. I need to focus on god, and draw nearer to him. and it is my prayer that you are drawn to him this lent and that his Holy Spirit is poured out afresh on you as you seek God this lent. Blessings on you and your family.

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Saturday 17 February 2018

Amber Fang: Revenge - Arthur Slade - Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 3

Amber Fang: Revenge
Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 3
Arthur Slade
ISBN 978-0995288751

Before we get to Amber Fang, let's discuss Arthur Slade for a moment. I first started reading his books back in 2002 when I was a bookseller and a mature student in university. I read two of his books that year, one as personal selection for a Children's lit course. I have been a big fan ever since reading that first book Dust, and have read all of the books he has published both as Arthur Slade and as Stephen Shea. But I am always hesitant to read the last book in a series, in part because some have gone downhill, and also because some stories you just do not want to end. But Arthur has hinted enough that thill will likely be other Amber Fang stories in some format, so that fear is alleviated. This story was so entertaining that the first fear was also extinguished. 

In my review of book 1 I stated that this series "reads like a cross between the TV series Dexter with Angel except the lead is a woman, and an aspiring librarian at that. Or a mash up of Tom Clancy, Anne Rice but with more than a little humour smattered in." And after book two I would say even more so. Though maybe a dash of Spider Robinson thrown in this time just to mix it up. But first some back story. Amber is a vampire with ethics. Her mother raised her to only take victims that are responsible for terrible crimes and who feel no remorse for it. After her mother disappeared she continued to work on her Masters of library science, research her meals, and search for her mother. Then things changed when she was recruited by a government organization. She became an assassin on contract. That organization has nearly been wiped out. She has discovered a secret organization of librarians around the world who know about the vampires, about Amber and her mother. They try not to interfere but have run a catch and release program.

These books span the globe, and Amber has certainly travelled a lot since learning her studies in Montreal. In the beginning of this book Amber is in Belize, then she journeys to Sweden, climbs a mountain, storms a hidden fortress, battles an intelligent computer. And makes a promise we might all regret. Because of her code of ethics she must keep her promise even if it is to an AI. 

Will amber rescue her mother? Does Dermot survive? Will the librarian guild break their rules and help her? There are a lot of questions before we begin this third book and a few new ones that arise.

What is there not to like about Amber, she is a librarian, she is beautiful, and she has a code of ethics. She keeps her promises, and she is devoted to those she cares about. She just happens to be an ex-assassin, and a vampire. 

This book was a great wrap up to the first Amber Fang series. From the hints by the author will be producing more works with Amber as a character. As readers we can only hope so. In my reading list I have read books by Arthur Slade a total of 34 times. And the humour and action in this series is very different from anything else he has written. So pick up this book or the whole series the trilogy is worth sinking your teeth into!  

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)

Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge
Amber Fang Box Set Books 1-3

Dragon Assassin Series:
Twin Fury
Shadow Hunter
Dark Wings
Elder Magic
Royal Blood
Hidden Powers
Burning Empire
Old Enemies
Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Viper - Short Story

Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea.