Friday 31 August 2018

100 Books You Really Should Read - Catholic Truth Society

100 Books You Really Should Read
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784694418


As a confirmed bibliophile I never shy away from looking at booklists. In fact I have collected a number of recommended Catholic Book lists over the years, One of my favorites is by Fr. John McCloskey his 'A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan'. So when I came across this book while researching a different title from the Catholic Truth Society, I had to take a look. But this book is much more than just a list. This book was created by compiling data from 25 contributors who each listed their 10 favorite books, that would enrich and nourish their Catholic and Christian faith. One of the things they did in compiling the book, is if one of the books is out of print at the time of publication it was marked with a (P). But the list also contains a brief summary of the book, a paragraph or two per book.

As can be gathered from the title this book contains a list of 100 books. They are broken down into the following categories and counts:

Biography - 28 Books
Fiction - 26 Books
History - 9 Books
Spiritual Reading - 19 Books
Theology, Teaching The Faith - 18 Books

In the introduction we are told:

"Ever wanted to get hold of some really good fiction, biography, history or general spiritual reading to broaden your mind and support your Christian faith? Apart from suggestions from a colleague or friend who knows it all, how can you make a systematic and informed start? Well, here it is: a listing and brief review of 100 good books you really should read. Title and author details are followed by a summary of the book and recommendation as to why you should read it. You can search by title or author. Ranging from great classics to more modern works, this little guide will get you reading!"

Even with all of the reading I have done, averaging over 100 books a year since I started keeping track, I had only read 24 of the 100 titles in this book. I had another 16 already in my to be read pile and have added another 26 to that pile. So I would agree this book is a great start or jumping off point. This book was compiled with the help of the following 28 contributors:

David Baldwin
Ashley Beck
Martin Blake
Joanna Bogle
Vivian Boland OP
Richard Brown
Stratford Caldecott
Nick Donelly
Piero Finaldi
Patrick Fleischer
Donal Foley
Marcus Holden
Mark Langham
Amette Ley
Fergal Martin
Barry Midgley
Jennifer Moorcroft
Fiorella Nash
Charlie O'Donnell
Susan Parsons
Helena Scott
Peter Sefton-Williams
Ethel Tolanski
Brendan Walsh
Stephen Wang
Richard Whinder
Eldred Willey
Petroc Willey

I have read books by a few of these contributors and would have loved if we had the list of 10 each contributor had submitted, but then the list would have been 280 books long, and not been the great little volume we have available now. This is a great book. I really enjoyed reading the summaries of the books, even those I had already read.

This book is an excellent resource and give it my highest recommendation!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Thursday 30 August 2018

The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity - Matthew Kelly - How the Modern Culture Is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness

The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity: How the Modern Culture Is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness
Matthew Kelly
Wellspring Publishing
for Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781635820409
eISBN 9781635820614

I have been a fan of the works of Matthew Kelly since I first read one of his books late in 2015. Since that time, I have read a book by him a total of 18 times. I have been bouncing around his different titles randomly pickling what to read next. This book is his most recent publication, at the time of writing this review. This book has a densely packed 15 chapters:

1. Life Is A Puzzle 
2. Your Happiness Project 
3. The False Promises And Lies Of This World 
4. I've Been Lying To Myself 
5. So Many Lies About Christianity 
6. The Biggest Lie 
7. Prove It! 
8. One Beautiful Truth 
9. The World Needs Changing 
10. It's Been Done Before 
11. History Is Presenting Christianity 
      With A New Opportunity 
12. Everyday Miracles 
13. Live An Intriguing Life 
14. Our Dirty Little Secret 
15. Now Is Your Time! 

After the last book I reviewed by Matthew Kelly a reader reached out to me and asked if Kelly was just a Catholic version of Max Lucado. I thought about that for a while, when I was involved with non-denomination campus ministries I read a lot of Lucado. Eventually I stopped because it all felt the same. It came to feel like Lucado just continued to present variations on a theme without having much real new content. And I feel the same way about Mark Batterson. But with Matthew Kelly I have not felt that at all yet. Yes Kelly writes with a great deal of passion, and he does sometimes use the same illustrations. And his catch phrase: 'Becoming the best version of yourself' appears often in his writings. But even with all of that with each new book by Kelly that I read I have a renewed interest in reading more of his works. Every time I finish one I go and pick one I have not read and add it to my to be read pile. 

In this book Kelly states:

"Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God's plan for the world. It is also essential to developing dynamic marriages, loving families, vibrant Christian communities, thriving businesses and economies, and extraordinary schools and nations. If you get the man right (or the woman, of course), you get the world right."


"The thing is, our deep yearning isn't for momentary pleasures; it is for lasting
happiness in a changing world. The world is always changing; we cannot control every situation. Situational happiness is easy. It is easy to be happy lying on an exotic tropical beach all day for a week. But so much of this happiness is dependent on the situation. What we are really hungry for is a happiness that is independent of the situation."

Matthew also shares with us form his personal experience. He states:

"Through my own quest for happiness, there are a few things I
have learned:

 Happiness and pleasure are not the same thing.
 Getting what I want doesn't make me happy.
 Focusing on myself almost never leads to happiness.
 I am never happy when I pretend to be someone I am not.
 Too much of the happiness I experience is dependent on unsustainable circumstances or situations.
 The more I help others in their quest for lasting happiness, the happier I seem to be.
 Lying never makes me happy.
 Happiness is always found by embracing the present moment.
 It is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.
 Anything that helps me become a-better-version-of-myself makes me happy, even if it is difficult or painful.
 Happiness is contagious."

And he shows us that the way we find true happiness is by pursuing answers to four questions. 

"Who am I?
What am I here for?
What matters most?
What matters least?"

He also shares with us that:

"It is this fact-that we lie to ourselves-that is of particular importance
here. Humanity's ability to deceive itself knows no limits."


"Whenever and wherever Christians have taken the idea that holiness is possible seriously, Christianity has thrived. Whenever and wherever the biggest lie in the history of Christianity has prevailed and everyday holiness has been set aside, Christianity has fumbled along clumsily with limited impact or become stagnant."

"I don't like alarm clocks. Just the name disturbs me. Who wants to start the day alarmed? But when you check into a hotel, they often ask you if you would like a wakeup call. I like that. We all need a wakeup call from time to time. I needed one last year. Maybe you need one right now. It is just so easy to fall into the mode of sleepwalking through life."

I hope that those few quotes will help you appreciate some of the message that is in this wonderful book. Of all the books I have read by Kelly this is the best so far. I highly recommend it.

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

Books by Matthew Kelly:
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
The One Thing
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Perfectly Yourself Discovering God's Dream For You
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity
Why I Love Being Catholic
Good Night, Jesus
In a world where you can be anything ...

Beautiful ... Series:

Rediscover Books by Matthew Kelly:
Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose
Rediscover Advent
Rediscover Lent
Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation
Rediscover the Rosary: The Modern Power of an Ancient Prayer
Rediscover the Saints

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Prayer of the Day Daily Study Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI

Daily Study Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI

"Lord, you are my strength and my guide. 

Grant me wisdom and understanding. 
Help me to do the best I can, and 
to enjoy this day you have given me. 
Help me to be kind and considerate 
to the people you send into my life, 
and not to give up if things seem difficult.

I first encountered this prayer in the book Finding Life's Purpose: Inspiration for Young People, I have been praying it daily since I read the book. Often more than once a day. It is a wonderful little prayer. Especially with all that is currently going on I believe this is a prayer we could all use in our life daily!

Pope Benedict XVI pray for us.

Books by Benedict XVI:

Way of the Cross Meditations and Prayers
Way of Calvary: Stations of the Cross 
Spiritual Masters Fathers and Writers of the First Millennium 
Spiritual Masters Medieval Fathers and Writers

Books About Pope Benedict:
Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI - Regina Doman and Sean Lam
Benedict XVI - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
A Pope of Surprises: The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky

Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI - Amy Welborn and Ann Kissane Engelhart

Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion – Amy Welborn and Ann Engelhart
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris Stubna
Related Articles:
Daily Study Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI
Which popes do you have a devotion to and why?

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Looking Up - Sally Murphy and Aska

Looking Up
Aska (Illustrator)
ISBN 9781925164572
eISBN 9781925164602

I have been a fan of Sally Murphy's works for a half dozen years now. The problem is, is that, many of them are not available in North America. When I came across this one, I was very excited that the eBook edition was available in Canada at the same time the physical book was published in Australia. In the three books I have read by Sally Murphy she has a way or penetrating to the heart of a matter. And this book hits on the hearts mark. 

This is a very powerful book, in part because in society today we could see these events happening. A child caught in a struggle either between parents or between parents and grandparents. Part of the description for this book is:

"Looking Up by Sally Murphy is a moving story about family, forgiveness and the stars. Pete lives with his Mum. His dad lives far away and, as far as Pete knows, that's all the family he has. Until one day, just before Pete turns ten, a birthday card arrives in the mail with stars on the front and signed 'Love, Grandad'. Mum reveals the card is from her own father, but when she won't give Pete more information he decides to locate this mysterious Grandad for himself. Pete and his best friend Tyler use the phone book to find Grandad and even visit his home. When Grandad insists they need Mum's okay to meet, Pete spills all to Mum."

It is not a long book, and it has wonderful illustrations by Aska. But it is the story that has the most impact. Pete has loved the stars his whole life, and all he really wants for his birthday is a telescope. But days before his birthday the mysterious card appears, addressed to Pete, and he never gets mail. The writing he does not recognize, and when he reads the card and it is signed 'Grandpa' it sends his mind reeling. So, he decides to take matters into his own hands. And that is when he slowly learns the whole story.

This story captures what a child can feel and experience in the middle of struggle between adults. It also captures what happens when people say things in pain and hurt, and those issues get left unresolved for years. It shows how we can make mistakes in our grief, mistakes that will haunt us for a long time to come.

This book is masterfully done. It is just so sad that we need books like this. Another excellent read by Sally Murphy and as mentioned the illustrations by Aska are wonderful.

Books by Sally Murphy:
Verse Novels
Pearl Verses the World, illustrated by Heather Potter
Toppling, illustrated by Rhian Nest James

Picture Books
Snowy's Christmas, illustrated by David Murphy
Pemberthy Bear, illustrated by Jacqui Grantford
The Floatingest Frog, illustrated by Simon Bosch
Meet Mary MacKillop

Chapter Books
The Big Blowie, illustrated by Craig Longmuir
R is for Rolf, illustrated by Trevor Pye
Bugged, illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
Stuck, illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
Doggy Duo, illustrated by Teresa Culkin-Lawrence

Educational Titles
Two Tricky Tales
Marty's Birthday
Buzzy Fly
Be Careful
Remember Me
Over the Fence
Sonoran Desert Animals
The Extraordinary House
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Desert critters
Frogs: Awesome Amphibians
Aussie Authors
Aussie Authors 2
Writing the News
Speak Out
Speak Up
The Book Book
Assembly: Poems to perform

Monday 27 August 2018

We Are All Jacob's Children: A Tale of Hope, Wisdom, and Faith - Noah benShea - Jacob the Baker Book 4

We Are All Jacob's Children: 
A Tale of Hope, Wisdom, and Faith
Noah benShea
Number Nine Media
ISBN 9781732476004
eISBN 9781732476011

The book Jacob's Children is an incredible read. But before I get to it let me give you some back story. Jacob the Baker has been a part of my life for the better part of two decades. My introduction to Jacob was during a retreat at an inner city church in Toronto. A masters of theology student, who had formerly been a street person, read us a few sections from the Jacob the Baker book. This man spoke about the ministry of Sanctuary within the inner city community; soup kitchen, clothing exchange, drop in centre, and just out and about on the streets. Jacob immediately spoke to me. While still in Toronto I tracked it down in a used book store and found the second volume Jacob's Journey, and found out about the third Jacob's Ladder. I have read each of these books many times over the years. Jacob the Baker was the first book I ever read to the woman who is now my wife. We have each read all three books many times over. I read these three books at least once a year. I have read this book through three times now, and it is incredible. My wife and I have been married 13 years and she has only seen me cry twice, I do not produce much in the way of tears, but I cried twice while reading the book. 

This book is set many years after Jacob's Ladder, Jacob is a widow, and Jonah has moved away to lead the Council of the Sages. And Jacob is finding himself drawn back into the limelight and controversy. He is approached to teach the school children after the normal school day. Some men see it as a trap to expose Jacob. Jacob in his prayer and reflection speaks to both his departed wife and grandfather, seeking wisdom and guidance. In my first reading through this book I highlighted 32 passages. Some of them were so incredible I shared them with friends and family, even though the book was as of yet unpublished. Some of those quotes, those gems of wisdom are:

"In gratitude," said Jacob, "find prayer. "In prayer find faith. "In faith find grace. "In grace find peace. "In peace find gratitude."   

"When you can't change events, change you."

 "Prayer isn't supposed to make you feel better but be better," said Jacob.

"No," said Jacob. ""Most of us don't lack for information. What most of us lack is the character to act on the information at hand."

"We are not in charge of what the world delivers to our door," said Jacob. "We are in charge of our response."

"And our work in this life is not what we do but who we are."

"The greatest opportunity in life," said Jacob "is daring to be the person you might yet become."

This book like the whole Jacob series will help you look at the world in a new way. But it does that by helping us look at ourselves, and really see what is there. For only once we are open to who we are, can we really start working towards becoming who we can be we need to be honest about who we are. Jacob helps us see who we are but also have compassion on ourselves. 

This book is simply incredible. I love the whole series; I reread them every year and have now started reading them with my oldest child. I believe that anyone can become better at being from an encounter with Jacob. As such I highly recommend this book. 

Books by Noah Ben Shea:
Jacob Series:

Jacob the Baker
Jacob's Journey
Jacob's Ladder 

We Are All Jacob's Children

Other Books:

The Journey to Greatness and How to Get There
A Compass for Healing
A Compass for the Classroom
Great Quotes to Inspire Great Teachers
Great Jewish Quotes
Inspire, Enlighten & Motivate
The Word: Jewish Wisdom Through Time
What Every Principal Would Like To Say … And What To Say
A World Of Ways To Say I Do: Wedding Vows, Readings, Poems, and Customs from Different Traditions and Cultures
Remember This My Children
Dear Mom
Dear Mom 2nd Edition
Dear Dad
Deae Dad 2nd Edition
Dear Teacher
Dear Friend
Prayer for Your Newborn

Author Profile interview with Noah benShea.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18
Responsorial Psalm 34:1-2, 15-22 Response 8
Second Reading Ephesians 4:32-5:2, 21-32
Gospel John 6:53, 60-69

It has been a long week. In some ways a very long week. I am sitting here and feeling tired and sore. And am tired of being tired and sore. A lot of it is problems of my own making. Last week I missed Sunday obligation for the first time in a long time. Saturday, we had company, and then Sunday evening my wife ended up being out. I sort of felt it all week. Like something nagging at the back of my brain, but unable to remember what it is. That is what my week felt like. The second part is about my health, I know I would feel better if I got back to being gluten free, but after falling off the wagon it has been very hard to get going again. Every day it feels like a new start, and then I give in and say tomorrow. The last factor is my weight. I have slowly been gaining back weight that was shed several years ago. I am not back to my highest weight but much higher than I like and between the weight and gluten I have been having a lot of issues especially with my ankles and knees. 

I wrote a few weeks back about how attending mass sets us up for a good week, and often we make mass 2 or even three times over the weekend. This week has reminded me of how important that is. From the first reading this week:

“He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

And from the gospel reading:

“So Jesus asked the twelve, 
“Do you also wish to go away?” 
Simon Peter answered him,
“Lord, to whom can we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and know 
that you are the Holy One of God”

And so it is time for personal renewal and commitment. To refocus spiritually, and physically. To work on developing personal discipline in mind, body and spiritual development. Jesus is the key to life and I need to give it all to him. 

As always I am praying for you and ask for prayers. 

Related Posts:

Saturday 25 August 2018

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

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

I have a habit of coming across writers, falling in love with their works, trying to track down all of their works. The three authors featured in this piece are writers I consider to have exceptional skills. But other than powers most of their works are out of print, and proving hard to track down. I will give some brief information on each of the authors, and provide links to any reviews I have written, and I strongly encourage you to track down some of their writings and sample them for yourself. I am going to present the authors in the order I encountered them.

J.F. Powers
July 8th 1917 - June 12th 1999

My introduction to the works of J.F. Powers was a short story The Warm Sand, it was a story that really stuck with me, in fact I stated that it haunted me. I wrote about this story and eventually tracking it down again here. It stuck with me and once I found out it was part of a larger story I devoured the works of Powers. I was so intrigued by the works of Powers that in my final year of university I made arrangements to do an independent reading course on his life and his works. He published 2 novels 25 years apart, and both won the National Book award. He also published 4 collections of short stories with some overlapping stories.  Currently both his novels and a collected volume of stories and available in print and electronic formats. In a previous essay I quoted Joseph Bottum who stated that J.F. Powers was: "'The greatest Catholic Writer of the 20th Century'. Up until encountering the following two authors I would have agreed, now I consider the three of them excellent and could not pick a favourite.

Alice Curtayne
November 6th 1898 - 1981

I first encountered the writings of Alice Curtayne through an eBook of Twenty Tales of Irish Saints. I immediately loved it and started researching the author and her works. The hard part is that many of her works did not have North American printings, and all but 2 are currently out of print. I believe she wrote 23 books and 10 booklets. Her booklets were published for the Catholic Truth Society and other publications. Of the 33 works I have identified to day I have been able to track down 17, and have read and reviewed 9. He writing about saints is masterful. And her collections of short stories about Irish Saints are wonderful, and loved by my children and I. The rest of her works are not available in Canada through inter library loan. So I am slowly working on purchasing scanned copies from libraries in Australia, Ireland, England, and Scotland. One book I have tried to purchase used three times, the first was the wrong book when it arrived, the second time it disappeared in the mail, and the third the book seller cancelled because they could not find it after it was ordered. Everything of hers that I have read is excellent. 

Daniel A. Lord
April 23rd 1888 - January 15th 1955

A priest and author posted about Daniel A. Lord and piqued my interest. My first foray into his works is a booklet called I Don't Like Lent, it is simply brilliant. I read it three times this past lent, and have sent a download link to numerous friends. In the introduction to his autobiography Played by Ear I was astonished to read: "He wrote exactly thirty adult books and twelve booklets. His pamphlets must number nearly three hundred. He wrote forty-eight children's books. He wrote twenty-five plays, twelve pageants, three musicals; and he published five separate musical compositions, not to mention the tunes incorporated in his pageants, some written in collaboration with others." If Powers is known by the sparseness of his published works, Lord takes the cake for his prodigious output. Currently all of his fiction seems to be out of print, as well as his booklets. But 45 of his pamphlets are available electronically on Kindle. And numerous are available through The Australian Catholic Truth Society Archive. From what I have read to date, his works like the authors above are well worth tracking down.

So there you have an introduction to three great Catholic authors, leave a comment with who you would recommend. My to be read pile is so high now there is no harm adding to it.

My Reviews and Articles on Powers:
1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers
J.F. Powers Selected Bibliography
J.F. Powers Book Covers
That Elusive Story
The Warm Sand
Meme Booked By 3 May 2007
Meme Book Meme
Meme Booked by 3 February 2007

RS398 Directed Reading - The Religious Fiction of J.F. Powers
Essay - Why J.F. Powers
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
The Presence of Grace
Morte d'Urban
Look How the Fish Live
Wheat that Springeth Green
Essay - J.F. Powers Literary Life and Legacy

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
The New Woman Transcript of a Talk
The servant of God, Mother Mary Aikenhead
The Story of Knock
The Trial of Oliver Plunkett
Twenty Tales of Irish Saints

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:
The Irish Way

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:

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

Friday 24 August 2018

John XXIII The Universal Parish Priest - Josephine Robinson - CTS Biographies

John XXIII The Universal Parish Priest
CTS Biographies
Josephine Robinson
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860824234
eISBN 9781784694166

I have had an affinity for Pope John XXIII, now Saint pope Join XXIII since I was young. Some of my earliest memories are from attending a primary school named after this Pope. While reading other books in the CTS Biographies Series that were on popes I came across this one and immediately picked up the eBook version. Other books on popes in this series I have read include: Pius XII, Benedict XVI,  Paul VI, and now this volume. Though I should admit I already have three others on order. The description of this book is:

"Angelo Roncalli, intelligent, modest, joyful and from the humblest of origins, became Pope aged 78. Yet his short papacy (1958-1963) inaugurated the most significant event in Church life for centuries: the Vatican Council II. The moving spiritual journey told here - his ambitions and failures, his family and the years overseas as a papal representative - reveal the gentle heart of a true pastor."

And the sections in the book are:

Early Life
The seminarian
To Rome
Ordination to the priesthood
Don Roncalli, Priest
St Charles Borromeo
Apostolic visitor to Bulgaria
Apostolic Delegate in Istanbul
Nuncio to France
Patriarch of Venice
The Universal Catholic Priest
Papal election
The great plan
Mater et Magistra
Global anxieties
The Council opens - October 11th, 1962
The Cold War intervenes
The Council gets down to work
Contacts with the Soviet Union
Pacem in Terris
The Pope faces death

Prior to reading this book, I have read another biography of this saint, and also a few books by John XXIII himself. I have also recently watched a wonderful film about his life. But this little volume is now my favorite. I was reading this, and my son who is 10 started asking some questions, so after I finished reading it I went back and am now rereading it with him. This book is an easy read. It does an excellent job of portraying the life of a simple farmer who became pope by following God, and always saying yes, when God led him. It is honest about some of his disappointments.  We are told:

"In 1933, he wrote in his Journal, 'My prolonged mission ... in this country often causes me acute and intimate suffering. But I try not to show this; I bear and will bear everything willingly, even joyfully for the love of Jesus in order to resemble him as closely as I can. ... these people so simple and good, but also so unfortunate!' The promises that his time there would be short were not fulfilled."

And I believe that is the great witness of this man, this pope, this saint. That we bear everything willingly and with joy. That we strive to live as Jesus, and that we live for others. This biography will encourage you in your faith and challenge you. It is another great read from CTS and one of the best in the CTS Biographies Series.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Other CTS Biographies of Popes:
Pius XII - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Paul VI - Anthony Symondson
John XXIII The Universal Parish Priest - Josephine Robinson

John Paul I - Stephen Dean
John Paul II The Road to Sainthood - Jim Gallagher
Benedict XVI - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Pope Francis - Dushan Croos

Other books about Pope John XXIII:
Pope John XXIII: The Good Pope - Wyatt North