Friday 30 November 2018

To Raise the Fallen: A Selection of the War Letters, Prayers, and Spiritual Writings of Fr. Willie Doyle - Edited by Dr. Patrick Kenny

To Raise the Fallen: A Selection of the War Letters, Prayers, and Spiritual Writings of Fr. Willie Doyle
William J.G. 'Willie' Doyle
Dr. Patrick Kenny (Editor)
US Edition
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781621642565
eISBN 9781642290585
UK Edition
ISBN 9781847308078

Over the last few years I have read several biographies of military chaplains. I read a biography of Fr. Willie Doyle and want to read more about him. This book is an excellent starting point. This book contains a brief selection with an outline of Fr. Doyle's life. Sections for letters from different points in his life. And an appendix with testimonies about his military service and valour. The chapters in the book are:

1. Letters from the Front
2. The War Within
3. Spiritual Advice
4. Priesthood and Vocations
5. Meditations on the Stations of the Cross
6. Personal Prayers
Appendix: Testimonies

This book was hard to put down. To read about this man of God in his own hand is both a blessing and a challenge. I do not know how anyone could read his letters and not be challenged in their faith. The book is drawn from his letters and his personal journals. Journals that he wished to have destroyed upon his death but that he superiors saw the value of and they were preserved. The introduction begins with this personal contract that he wrote in his journal in May of 1883:

"Darling Mother Mary, in preparation for the glorious martyrdom which I feel assured thou art going to obtain for me, I, thy most unworthy child, on this the first day of thy month, solemnly commence my life of slow martyrdom by earnest hard work and constant self-denial. With my blood I promise thee to keep this resolution, do thou, sweet Mother, assist me and obtain for me the one favour I wish and long for: to die a Jesuit Martyr."

And he lived that spirit for the next 24 years. He lived to serve. And as a young man that needed to take a break from his studies more than once because of ill health, it was surprising that he achieved ordination. And yet at each impasse in following his vocation, he seemed to grow in stamina, resolve, and fortitude. The booklet he wrote on vocations and becoming a priest are still available today. He had immense impact during his life, and also since his death. This volume spans samples from his published writings, his private journals and his letters.

The first of the testimonies in the appendix is from Major General Sir William Bernard Hickie:

"Father Doyle was one of the best priests I have ever met, and one of the bravest men who have fought or worked out here. He did his duty, and more than his duty, most nobly and has left a memory and a name behind him that will never be forgotten. On the day of his death, 16 August, he had worked in the front line, and even in front of that line, and appeared to know no fatigue-he never knew fear. He was killed by a shell towards the close of the day and was buried on the Frezenberg Ridge. . . . He was recommended for the Victoria Cross by his commanding officer, by his brigadier, and by myself. Superior authority, however, has not granted it, and as no other posthumous reward is given, his name will, I believe, be mentioned in the commander-in-chief's dispatch. . . . I can say without boasting that this is a division of brave men; and even among these, Fr Doyle stood out."

This is an excellent read. I encourage you to give it a read and let the life of this man encourage and challenge you. For I am certain it will.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For all reviews and articles about Military Chaplains click here.

Books by and about Fr Willie Doyle:

Thursday 29 November 2018

Power Up Your Self-Talk - Michal Stawicki - 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life

Power Up Your Self-Talk: 
6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life
Michal Stawicki
ISBN 9781790130917

Over the last three years I have read many books by Michal Stawicki, it started with a recommendation from amazon, and I have been hooked since. I have even read books on topics that do not specifically apply to me, Learn to Read with Great Speed! Only 10 minutes a day!, just because he has written them. In fact checking my reading list I have read his books a total of 23 times across the 13 books that I have read. And this is one of the best. In fact, going forward this will be the book of his I recommend first, because the advice in this one, will make applying the wisdom in any of the other easier. The book I would most closely relate this one to would be Matthew Kelly's Resisting Happiness, except this volume is written for a general audience, and not aimed specifically at Christians or Catholics. 

I have read through this volume twice now. The advice was very timely. With Michal's books there is not often a lot of new advice. But it is an excellent distillation of wisdom and are presented from Michal's personal experience. One of the things I love best about his books that they are less how to, and more a blueprint of what works. In fact, he often states what worked for him might not work for you, but he gives a few options, so you can discern your own path forward. I have loved most of the books by Stawicki I have read, and yet with that being said, this is his best book yet. And to be honest one I really needed to read. I really like the themes of the chapters all being the power of … I admit the opening really took me by surprise. It was a shock but that was the intent.

The book begins with these words:

"Hey, you worthless piece of shit! Yes, I'm talking to you! 
Are you mad at me? 
What kind of self-help book is this, if an author starts it that way? 
Maybe you are outraged. How dare I say such heinous things about you? How dare I judge you so harshly and obscenely? 

"The way you talk to yourself is worse, certainly, than the way anyone else talks to you." - Seth Godin"

I was completely shocked by these words even the second time I read the book. But it was a shock I needed. For years I have been working toward finding balance between mind, body, and spiritual disciplines. And I realized I had developed a lot of negative self talk in one of these three areas. 

The sections in this book are:

Chapter 1: The Powerful Problem 
It Won't Be Easy 
But It Will Be Simple 
Chapter 2: The Power of My Story 
Progress Not Perfection 
Chapter 3: The Power of Joy 
Leverage the Power of Habit 
For the Sake of Mood 
Action Plan 
Chapter 4: The Power of Focus 
Don't Try; Do 
You Have a Problem 
Action Plan 
Chapter 5: The Power of Silence 
The Mind-Tongue Motorway 
Spiritual and Tangible Benefits 
Steer the Traffic of Your Words 
Action Plan 
Chapter 6: The Power of Gratitude 
You Aren't Realistic, You Are Negative 
Google in Your Head 
Gratitude Equals Results 
Action Plan
Chapter 7: The Power of Journaling 
The Subject Matter: You 
Self-Talk on Paper 
Action Plan 
Chapter 8: The Power of Your Words 
Track Your Words 
Govern Your Tongue 
Action Plan 
Chapter 9: The Power of Planning 
Rule Number One: Never Give Up 
Rule Number Two: Create Your Plan of Action 
Chapter 10: The Power Is Yours 
Take Over the Steering Wheel 
Change Your Interpretation 

Connect with Michal 
More Books by Michal Stawicki

The Action plan sections at the ends of the chapters are pure gold. I wish I had read something like this years ago. But I will take advantage and apply its wisdom where I am at. The book is worth far more than the price just for those exercises. If you are going to read only one book for personal development in the next year. Start here! It will make any future endeavours easier. This is an excellent read by and author I have come to trust, respect, and greatly appreciate. You owe it to yourself to read this book. 

Books by Michal Stawicki:
The Art of Persistence: Stop Quitting, Ignore Shiny Objects and Climb Your Way to Success
A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness
Trickle Down Mindset: The Missing Element In Your Personal Success

Slicing the Hype
99 Perseverance Success Stories: Encouragement for Success in Every Walk of Life
Power up Your Self-Talk: 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life
99 Habit Success Stories

Six Simple Steps to Success
Simplify Your Pursuit of Success - Book 1
Know Yourself Like Your Success Depends on It - Book 2
Bulletproof Health and Fitness: Your Secret to High Achievement - Book 3
Making Business Connections That Count - Book 4
Directed by Purpose: How to Focus on Work That Matters, Ignore Distractions and Manage Your Attention over the Long Haul - Book 5

How to Change Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day Series:
The Fitness Expert Next Door - Book 1
Learn to Read with Great Speed! Only 10 minutes a day! - Book 2
Release Your Kid's Dormant Genius In Just 10 Minutes a Day: Parenting Your Smart Underachiever With Consistency and Love - Book 3
Master Your Time In 10 Minutes a Day: Time Management Tips for Anyone Struggling With Work-Life Balance  - Book 4
From Shy to Hi: Tame Social Anxiety, Meet New People, and Build Self-Confidence  - Book 5

Author Profile and Interview with Michal Stawicki

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Irish Litany of Saints - Prayer of the Day

Irish Litany of Saints

All The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland pray for us.
The Litany of Irish Saints
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us
St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Killian, pray for us
St. Rumold, pray for us
St. Livinus, pray for us
St. Oliver, pray for us
All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us.

St. Celestine, pray for us.
St. Patrick, pray for us etc.
St. Malachy,
St. Macnise,
St. Finnian,
St. Mel
St. Macartan,
St. Eugene,
St. Colman,
St. Felim,
St. Eunan,
St. Laurence,
St. Conleth,
St. Laserian,
St. Aidan,
St. Kieran,
St. Albert,
St. Ailbe,
St. Colman,
St. Finnbarr,
St. Flannan,
St. Munchin,
St. Fachtna,
St. Otteran,
St. Carthage,
St. Jarlath,
St. Nathy,
St. Asicus,
St. Nicholas,
St. Colman,
St. Muredach,
St. Declan,
St. Virgilius,
St. Senan,
St. Frigidian,

St. Cuthbert,
St. Rupert,
St. Celsus,
St. Cataldus,
St. Donatus,
Blessed Thaddaeus,
All ye Holy Pontiffs and Confessors, pray for us.
St. Columba, pray for us.
St. Kevin,
St. Brendan,
St. Canice,
St. Kieran,
St. Columbanus,
St. Gall,
St. Fursey,
St. Fintan,
St. Comgall,
St. Fiacre,
All ye Holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
St. Brigid, pray for us.
St. Ita,
St. Attracta,
St. Dympna,
St. Lelia,
All ye Holy Virgins, pray for us.
All ye Holy Saints of God, Intercede for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, all you Saints of Ireland.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray

Grant, O Lord, an increase of Thy Grace to us who celebrate the memory of all the Saints of our Island; that as, on earth, we rejoice to be one with them in race, so, in Heaven, we may deserve to share with them an inheritance of bliss. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

The Litany of Irish Saints was approved by The Holy See as a special favour to Ireland, for public prayer in all catholic churches in the land. The Irish Bishops, at the time requested the national litany be prayed as a novena for peace up to the feast day of all the Saints of Ireland and that it be included in all future prayer books for use in churches in Ireland so that our people become familiar with the names of the Irish Saints and pray to them.

St. Colman is mentioned 3 times in the Litany as he is patron saint of 3 dioceses. St. Enda of Aran is not mentioned in the prayer. The Litany pre-dates the canonisation of St. Charles of Mount Argus.

Irish Ecclesiastical Record Vol 18 (1921), 433-435; 532-536.

Note: there are a few different versions of this litany online. Since I encountered it this fall I have loved praying it. This specific version was shared by the Our Lady of Knock shrine.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Michael O'Neill
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570363
eISBN 9781683570370
eISBN 9781683570387

As of the writing of this review there are currently 29 books in the 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers. The original 20, and over the last two years there are been 3 more sets of three released. Of the 26 books I have read I given 5/5tars to 22 of them and the other 4 received 4/5. To say that this is a great series would be a huge understatement. This is the only book by Michael O'Neill to date. I read this book last year and did not get around to reviewing it. I have reread it in order to be able to write this review. 

This is one of the books in the series that all Catholic’s should read. There are so many Catholics I have encountered that could benefit from reading books from this series, and specifically this book. As this volume covers topics that often cause such contention and misunderstanding with other Christians. 

The Questions answered in this volume are:
1. What is private revelation?
2. Why would God work in this way?
3. What does Scripture teach us about private revelation?
4. What are some examples of private revelation in history?
5. Aren’t stories of private revelations merely remnants of a more credulous, unscientific age?
6. How should we approach claims of private revelation?
7. How does the Church judge claims of private revelation?
8. What are some of the characteristics of authentic private revelations?
9. Do we have to believe in approved private revelations?
10. What are Marian apparitions?
11. How many times has Mary appeared?
12. What are the common themes and messages of Marian apparitions?
13. What is the Miraculous Medal?
14. What happened at Guadalupe?
15. What happened at Lourdes?
16. What happened at Fatima?
17. What happened at Zeitun?
18. Are private revelations happening in the world today?
19. What is happening in Medjugorje?
20. How can approved private revelations help me grow closer to God?

I doubt you could find a Catholic who is not familiar at least with the names Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe. And in fact, many non-Catholic Christians are familiar with those names. But what about Zeitum, Medjugorje and others? There is so much information packed into this little volume.

I was specifically appreciative of O’Neill’s handling of Medjugorje. He begins with stating:

“The most controversial alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Church comes from the small town of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mary—the Gospa, as she’s affectionately known there—allegedly promised ten secrets to the six seers who were children when they claimed to have begun receiving daily visions in 1981. They have continued to report them on a less frequent basis since 1989, depending on whether they had already received the full set of secrets.”

In the final question answered he states:

“For all the dangers that looking for private revelation may involve—ranging from engaging with something that is contrary to the teachings of the Church to simply being distracted from a healthy practice of faith centered on Jesus Christ—these special instances of God’s benevolent interference in our world can be a great jumping-off point for strengthening our faith.

For those times when we have spiritual doubts, or simply need that extra push toward God, miraculous events can quench a deep and authentic thirst to know what is good and true. Miracles remind us that God is truly there, looking out as a father for the well-being and protection of his children.”

This book is another excellent volume in this incredible series. 

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


20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers Bible Prophecy - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Homosexuality - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Reformation - Steve Weidenkopf
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll

20 Answers Bible Difficulties - Jimmy Akin  
20 Answers The Reformation - Steve Weidenkopf
20 Answers- Bioethics - Stacy A. Trasancos  
20 Answers Conversion - Shaun McAfee
20 Answers Faith and Works - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Anti-Catholic Myths - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers The End Times - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers The Rosary - Tom Nash
20 Answers Seasons & Feasts – Michelle Arnold
20 Answers New Age -  Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Catholic Social Teaching – Mark Brumley
20 Answers Prayer – Hugh Barbour O. Praem and Sebastian Walshe O. Praem
20 Answers Faith & Reason – Christopher Kaczor
20 Answers The New Testament – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Protestantism – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Marriage & Sex – Todd Aglialoro
20 Answers The Early Church – Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Old Testament – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Judaism – Michelle Arnold
20 Answers The Sacraments – Father Mike Driscoll

Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons
What the Saints Never Said - Trent Horn

Monday 26 November 2018

Thanos Titan Consumed - Barry Lyga - MARVEL's Avengers Infinity War

Thanos Titan Consumed 
MARVEL's Avengers
Barry Lyga
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN 9780316482516
eISBN 9780316482585

To say I am a fan of Barry Lyga’s work would be an understatement! But even as a megafan I was amazed by this book. From the masterful pen of Lyga comes an origin story of one of the most hated villains’ in the comic universe. And yet while reading this book I could not help but find myself feeling empathy, sympathy, and even compassion for Thanos of Titan. I could not put the book down and read it in three sittings. It is a page turner, and to be honest has eclipsed all other comic novelizations I have ever read.

This book follows the life of Thanos of Titan, from infancy to learning about the infinity stones. From his first friend, to a first kiss, to killing a friend with his bare hands. It is hard to write about this book with out spoiling the story. But we read about his rejection from birth, by his mother, and his whole society, just because of the color of his skin. We read about his vast intellect, and his realization that his own people were doomed. And yet unbale to save them. Forced into exile, rescued and forced into near slavery. His first battle with asgardians. We read about the first few true friendships the titan had. And we read about his loss time and time again. The authors favorite line in the book is:

““Thanos!” His Lordship boomed with exhilaration. “You marvelous lavender bastard!”

And the book begins with these words:

“There are as many tales of the origins of the Mad Titan, THANOS, as there are stars remaining in the sky. This is but one of them. 

It is also the truth.”

As truth it does not pull any punches. He clearly shows the rumours and legends that surround Thanos. But it does so through his eyes and his reasoning. It sheds a very different light on the man, the legends, and the rumours. 

The story is tightly written. It was near impossible to put down, and for an hour after finishing it I just sat in silence thinking about it. In fact, I spent the whole rest of the day thinking about it. Since then I have shared with several friends and many are intrigued and picking up the book to read for themselves. Lyga has written a story in the Marvel Universe that is exceptional. It is exceptional in the quality of the story. It is exceptional in portraying characters we know, a few we love, and one till now we have hated, in a whole new light. 

I read over 100 books a year. This story has surprised me more than any other fiction book I have read in the last few years! But even with as much as we learn about Thanos in this book, there are still many unanswered questions. And to be honest could not but hope that Lyga writes more backstories in this universe … Gamora, Yondu Udonta, Wong, so many more characters that it would be thrilling to read how Lyga would handle the stories. 

But let me be absolutely clear, this is an exceptional read. Excellent for fans of the comic books, and stories, or the more casual fans of the movies. If you have been following the MCU at all you owe it to yourself to give this book a read! I am certain you will not be disappointed!

Books by Barry Lyga:
I Hunt Killers:
I Hunt Killers (2012)
Game - I Hunt Killers #2 (2013)

Blood of My Blood - I Hunt Killers # 3 (2014)

I Hunt Killers Short Stories:
Down Time (2018)
Lucky Day (2014)
Career Day (2012)
Neutral Mask (2013)
Blood Boy (2014)

Brookdale High:
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (2006)
Boy Toy (2007)
Hero Type (2008)
Goth Girl Rising (2009)

Bang (2017)

Archvillain #1 (2010)
The Mad Mask - Archvillian #2 (2011)
Yesterday Again - Archvillian #3 (2013)

The Flash Series:
Hocus Pocus (2017)
Johnny Quick (2018)
Tornado Twins (2018)

Other Books By Barry Lyga:
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center: A definitive Guide (with Alison A.W. Lyga - 2004)
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever (2009)
MangaMan (with Colleen Dorren 2011)

Unsoul'd (2013)
After The Red Rain (2015)
The Secret Sea (2016)
Thanos Titan Consumed (2018)
The Hive (2019)


Short Story Project 2017
The Ghosts at 95
Loving The University
The Ideas of March
Four Minutes
Pulse vs. the Killing Fiend
Her Decade
The Life Cycle of Stars (Ignition)
Trading Worlds
When I Die
The Autopsying of Michael Edward Morgan
Meet Me Tonight

Contributed to:
Geektastic (2009)
Who Done It? (2013)

Author Profile and Interview with Barry Lyga

Author Profile and Interview with Randall Banner

Sunday 25 November 2018

Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Daniel 7:13-14
Responsorial Psalm 93:1-2, 5 Response 1a
Second Reading Revelation 1:5-8 
Gospel John 18:34b-37

It is the beginning of the last week of the church year. Next week is the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new church year. This is the time of endings and the time of beginnings. The transition. Advent is the time of preparation and waiting. And this last week has that sense to it both personally and liturgically.

This weekend the children and I are traveling to my home town. I am to be the confirmation sponsor for my youngest sibling. She is 35 years younger than me. I am excited that she is being confirmed into the church on this final Sunday of the year. When I was young that diocese did the confirmations in the spring. But I think it would be great to be confirmed and immediately begin the liturgical year. But back to this week’s readings.

From the end of the first reading we are told:

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall not be destroyed.”

This is a hard passage for us to relate to. Looking back on history all kingdoms have either collapsed or are currently in decline. At one point in time the Dutch Trading Company controlled and influenced trade on a global scale. After that the British Navel ruled the seas. Colonization and collapse of the colonies has led to much of the strife in the world today. But the kingdom being talked about her, is that after death and judgement. The end of the second reading ties into this, we are told about Jesus:

“I am the alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

And two excerpts from the gospel reading:

“My kingdom is not from this world.
You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me voice.”

And that is our hope, we hope in him who can save our soul. And the glory and beauty of the mass her is but a shadow of the celebration in heaven. And so as the church year ends begin to prepare for the coming of Christ as the new born baby. 

I pray that your years ends on a beautiful spiritual note. And that Advent alights afresh a new flame of love for God and the church in your heart, in your spirit and in your mind. 

Note: The church we are visiting is St. Paul the Apostle, in Kingston Ontario, part of the Archdiocese of Kingston.

Related Posts:

Saturday 24 November 2018

White Smoke Times Young Adult Interviews Part 1 - Theresa Linden

Warning: if you have not read the earlier books in the West Brothers series, this interview may contain spoilers! Note: The following is a transcription of interviews with 4 young adults that are part of the St. Michael's Parish. Normally the interviews are reworded into a flowing article. But author Theresa Linden did such an intriguing job capturing the session we are sharing it in the entirety. 

Per Steven R. McEvoy's request, the West brothers and Peter Brandt have been called to meet at the Wests' castle-like house for an interview. Peter hasn't arrived yet and Keefe and Jarret are playing a game of pool, so Roland gets to go first.

Due to Roland's shy personality, author Theresa Linden is having to spend an incredible amount of time explaining that this interview is important and might even help others. At long last, finally convincing him, she leaves him alone-sweating and pale-at the little kitchen table. Steven R. McEvoy soon joins him and after a few polite introductions, Mr. McEvoy asks his first question. 

1. For a quiet kid you seem to have a knack for ending up mixed up with controversy. 

"Uh, yeah. I-I don't know why that is. If you figure it out, tell me." Roland shifts in his seat and glances at the doorway to the hall. "I really like to avoid making a scene, stay under the radar, as my friend Peter would say…. But trouble seems to follow me. So, where are you posting this interview?"

2. Your faith seems to mean a lot to you. What does being a part of the 'Fire Starters' mean to you? Why is it important?

"Yeah, my faith does mean a lot to me. Now anyway. Since last fall. Things happened that kind of changed me, jumpstarted my faith. But I'm still new at this, so I like to hear what Father Carston has to say to the Fire Starters. And I like being around kids that share my faith. Everyone's pretty nice and I don't feel compelled to hide in the shadows so much."

3. What is it like having two older twin brothers that seem to have all the success in school?

Roland shifts in his seat again and slides the salt and pepper shakers to the center of the table. "Yeah, they're pretty popular, outgoing, confident . . . Kids are always talking about them; not all of it's true. But I think people admire them, and when they realize I'm their younger brother, they wonder why I'm so . . . quiet. So, I get a lot of unwanted attention over that. It's hard when people start comparing us. I'm definitely not like my brothers."

4. What was the hardest part of the transition from working with private tutors to going to public school?

"I'm a private person, very happy doing things on my own. And I liked doing schoolwork at home and on the road. Our father travels to interesting places, and we used to go with him most of the time. So, I miss that adventure. But public school is hard-the worst part-because of the gossip and the bullies. Some kids can be cruel. Not just to me but to any of us outcasts. If you don't look like them, think like them, talk like them . . . you become a target. I don't want to deal with any of that. I just want to do my schoolwork."

5. You typically wear all dark colors. What is up with that? 

Roland tugs at the hem of his shirt and then combs a hand through his wavy dark hair as he straightens up. He shrugs. "What's wrong with dark colors? I guess, I kind of identify with them. Shadows are dark and largely unnoticed. Some people like the spotlight. I just want to go through life unnoticed." 

6. If you could only recommend 3 books for our readers what books would you recommend?

"I like mysteries. I think one day I'll be a detective. So, I'd recommend G. K. Chesterton's Amazing Adventures of Father Brown, Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I like Leslea Wahl's mysteries. She's a contemporary author, got a new one out, Where You Lead." 

7. You gave an amazing speech about a saint. What other saints did you consider? And why?

A hint of pink colors Roland's face and he shifts in his chair again, making the chair legs squeak on the tiled floor. "Uh, thanks. The Fire Starters decided on the martyr theme, so I was looking for a martyr. But I really like Franciscan saints now, because of Saint Conrad of Parzham, I guess. Thomas More was a Third Order Franciscan. I considered talking about him. As the chancellor of England, he was called upon to support King Henry VIII's divorce and to acknowledge him as the head of the Church. Of course, Saint Thomas wouldn't do that. So, they put him on trial, where he had to state his faith before everybody. He didn't want to cause trouble, but he couldn't deny his faith, so they sentenced him to death. I've struggled with saying what I need to say at times. So, I admire saints that speak out, especially when it's the hardest. I mean, I've never been threatened with death over my faith, but many saints have."  

Once Mr. McEvoy sets his notebook down, Roland seems to assume the interview is over. He jumps up and speed-walks from the kitchen mumbling, "I'll get Jarret or Keefe." A few minutes later, Jarret West struts into the kitchen. He greets Mr. McEvoy with a nod on his way to the refrigerator. Then he carries back two cans of Coke and sits across the table from him. Mr. McEvoy says, "Thank you," but he doesn't open the can.

1. It has been said that you have a hard time letting go. There is a rumour that has gone around school about your car and cheese. Very stinky cheese. Care to tell us your side of the story?

After taking a swig of Coke, Jarret huffs and narrows his eyes. "A rumor, huh? Probably started by my ex-girlfriend. I didn't think she noticed the smell." He shakes his head, teeth gritted, and then bursts out with, "Okay, yeah, I'll tell you what happened. Do you know Peter the Brat, uh, Brandt? That kid really gets under my skin. He's just asking for a fight. Especially when he's around me. It's best if we don't ever cross paths. I've gotten in enough trouble at school." He leans back in his chair, taking his attitude down a notch. "Peter's a jerk, that's all. It's not the first prank he's pulled on me, but it sure the . . . the heck better be the last." 

2. There was a time not so long in the past when you would have been the first to pick on your brother Roland. And yet you were suspended from school for fighting with friends because of what they did to him. What is up with that?

Jarret's leg starts bouncing and his eyes narrow again as if simply remembering the event irritates him. "He's my brother. No one messes with my family." Jarret points at Mr. McEvoy, his interviewer, but then he slouches back and folds his arms across his chest, looking a bit sulky. "Messing with a member of my family is the same as messing with me. And, yeah, I haven't been the best brother to Roland. But I'm trying to change that. He's a good kid. No matter how I've treated him, he's always been . . ." He shuts his mouth for a second, a wave of emotion visible on his face. "He deserves better. And even before I felt that way, I don't like people messing with my family."

3. Jarret, you are known as the bad boy both in the family and at school. But people have started noticing some differences. To what do you attribute the changes?

Jarret stares at Mr. McEvoy for a full second, as if deciding how much to share. "Well, God. I . . . was selfish. A real jerk sometimes. I'm workin' on that. But that's personal." Jarret quirks a grin. "And Roland. He sorta changed me. Treated him like crap and he . . . forgave me." Jarret's gaze turns distant.

4. You seem to do well academically without much effort. How was the transition from private tutors to being in public school?

Taking a breath, Jarret sits forward and focuses on his interviewer. "Huh? Oh, yeah, school is a breeze for me. We had it tough with the tutors. I mean they just had us to worry about, not a whole classful of kids, so they pushed us as hard and fast as we could go. We were way ahead when we got to public school. I'm sure it's like that with other homeschoolers too. One day those kids will rule the world." Jarret gives another crooked grin.

5. What was the biggest hurdle with the switch to public school?

He laughs, his crooked grin growing. "Girls. You know, so many hot girls. What's a guy to do? I mean, at home, there's no real distraction from school. When we're traveling, it's a different story. I've always found a few distractions. But nothing like a whole school full of hot girls."

6. If you could only recommend 3 books for our readers what books would you recommend?

"Oh, books, huh?" He rubs his stubbly jaw. "Roland and Keefe are more into reading. I'm more into physical things like weightlifting, archery, fencing, that kinda stuff. But if you really press me, I guess . . . I started reading the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It's kind of creepy, like it's all from some devil's perspective, but it's probably not far from the truth. People should read that book; might change the way they look at things. And I hear there's a Faith and Kung Fu series by T. M. Gaouette. I might try that."

7. All people live with regret to some extent. But based upon all the rumours that swirl around you, what one thing would you change if you could go back and change something?

Jarret's expression falls. He slumps forward and sinks his hand in his hair, a dark curl escaping his ponytail. "Only one thing?" He sits thinking for a moment. "I ain't gonna talk about it. It's personal." He scrubs a hand over his face. "Maybe someday. For now, I'm just thankful God doesn't give up on me."
He gets up without making eye contact. "Nice to meet you, Mr. McEvoy, but I gotta go." 

Mr. McEvoy flips to the next page in his notebook, and a few seconds later Keefe West strolls into the room. Keefe's gaze snaps to the unopened can of Coke, and he offers Mr. McEvoy his choice of something to drink. After bringing two mugs of steaming coffee to the table, Keefe sits down.

1. Keefe, ever since you were dressed as a monk at the fall costume party there has been a marked difference in you. What inspired the costume?

"A difference in me? Since then?" He smiles, a gleam in his eyes. "You're probably right. I could tell you I just wanted to try something different-Jarret wanted me to be a musketeer like him-or I could say that Halloween is really All Hallows Eve, you know, the night before All Saints Day, and so a saint costume works, but you can probably see right through me." He turns his gaze to the steam rolling off his coffee. "My reason was more personal. Ever since that trip with my father to Italy, I've felt different. I was a bit of a follower before that, so I never really knew who I was. But after that, well . . . I'm kind of finding out. And, bottom line, the life of a monk kind of appeals to me." 

2. Rumour has it you went on a discernment retreat. What was the highlight of that time?

"That was a profound experience. Even the trip there was like part of a pilgrimage. I mean, I didn't think that way at the time. It was pouring down rain and I stopped to help this girl, arrived at the retreat way late, wasn't even sure if I was at the right place. I kept thinking I was making a mistake and should've stayed home. Even on the retreat, I kept reading things the wrong way. But it all worked out, like that verse in Romans: All things work together for good for those who love God. And the best moment for me, the highlight, was when I played a game of archery and my arrow hit the target dead center. That probably doesn't make sense to anyone, but it was the moment I let go of a lot of false ideas and I trusted God with what He's given me and what He's calling me to." 

3. Your faith seems to mean a lot to you. What does being a part of the 'Fire Starters' mean to you? Why is it important?

"I really like our Catholic youth group. Everyone there shares my faith or at least they don't have a problem with anyone expressing it. I'm going through so much right now, facing a lot of crossroads, and I really rely on having friends to share it with. It's nice to have support. I haven't been able to talk Jarret into joining. But I think he'd like it too." 

4. Describe one event in your life that really challenged you and prompted personal change?

Keefe takes a breath and stares at his coffee again. "My biggest challenges came when I decided I wanted to change some things in my life. I didn't want to go along with things that were wrong. But everyone was used to me going along with things, especially Jarret, and some people had a hard time seeing me any other way." Keefe twists his coffee mug. "It was really hard this one day, er, night . . . I took a girl to a party at Jarret's girlfriend's house, thinking her parents would be there. But they weren't. And I knew I should take the girl home, but Jarret talked me into staying. And it only got worse from there. We finally left, but I hated myself for not doing it right away." He looks Mr. McEvoy in the eyes. "That night made it clear to me. I can't serve both God and . . . well, Jarret."
5. What is it like being Jarret's younger twin brother?

"How'd you know I was younger? He used to rub it in that he came first." Keefe glances toward the hallway, perhaps checking that no one is eavesdropping. "A year ago, I would've avoided answering this question or given a vague answer that cast a good light. But honestly, I like being his twin. We have a strong connection that maybe only twins can have. Ever since I can remember, I could practically read his mind. And he might've been born a minute earlier, but I've always felt like the older twin. Always felt protective of Jarret and tried to get him on the right path. I've steered him away from some bad ideas, but I wasn't really successful in helping him because I needed a lot of help myself." 

A contemplative look overcomes him. "Then things changed between us. We went through a rocky period where he pretty much hated my guts, but we got through that. There's a bit of distance between us now, and I'm not his follower anymore, but in other ways our relationship is better than it was before." He took a breath. "I believe that's because now I'm following the One I should've been following all along."

6. If you could only recommend 3 books for our readers what books would you recommend?

"Hmm, only three?" He rubbed the hint of scruff on his chin. "One, the Bible. Everyone should read at least a line or two of that a day. I mean, it's God's love letters to us, right? For the second book, I'd recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, to be honest, I've just picked up myself. There's a lot about my faith that I never knew, and maybe some people would think it's boring but it's not. It speaks to your soul. And then, three, The Little Flowers of St. Francis. It's amazing to read about the stories of Saint Francis and the other brothers. I know my three books are all about faith, but that's what I'm reading right now."

7. What saints do you have a particular devotion to? Or what is one of your favorite prayers to pray?

"My favorite prayer lately is a simple one. I kneel before the San Damiano Crucifix and I say the 'Anima Christi' and then I rest there a moment and think about how many others before me, sinners and saints, have knelt before this same crucifix and said this same prayer. But those words say it all because it's only in Jesus that we can finally be who we're meant to be."

Before Mr. McEvoy can ask another question, hurried footfalls sound in the hall and Peter Brandt-pink faced and winded-bursts onto the scene. "Sorry I'm late." 
Jarret's voice, low and grumbling, comes from the hallway. Peter turns to look. Before he can respond to Jarret, Keefe jumps up and offers his seat to Peter. Mr. McEvoy greets Peter and flips a page in his notebook.

1. Peter, you have been known to pull a prank or two in your day. And apparently there is a story about stinky cheese. Can you tell us your side of the story?

"The cheese?" A slow grin stretches across Peter's ruddy face. "Oh, you mean the Limburger-wait. Is Jarret still lurking about?" He leans to get a look past Mr. McEvoy, at the open doorway to the hall. "No? Okay, so look, between you and me, he totally deserved that. Me and Roland were fencing out in the front yard." He swings an arm out. "They've got really cool swords, you know? And Roland was giving me lessons. Anyway, Jarret shows up and acts like he's gonna show me some moves, but then he gets all Zorro on me, knocks me over, and kicks my butt. With his boot. I landed right on my face. But he's always doing things like that. And not just to me. So, he totally deserved the cheese prank. But . . . I-I didn't know the smell would stay in his car for so long. I maybe should've used something else or not put it in his car. He loves that thing." 

2. Your faith seems to mean a lot to you. What does being a part of the 'Fire Starters' mean to you? Why is it important?

"Uh, yeah. I guess it does. I mean, of course it does. You know. It's fun hanging out with kids that share your faith. So, like, if you've got a problem, you know they're gonna point you in the right direction. And you can do fun things together like working on a neighbor's house and not getting paid. Or praying together in the middle of summer instead of just goofing off all day. Or trying to organize a camping trip when nobody knows what they're doing. Or . . . Am I making this sound not fun? But it is. Trust me. Or you didn't really ask me if it was fun, did you? What was your question?"

3. Tell us the story of the relic you came across. And about how it healed your friend?

"Oh yeah, that. So that was . . . like nothing I've ever experienced before. My grandpa died and left me this old locked box as sort of an inheritance. Took forever to get the key and find out what was inside. And we weren't the only ones interested in it. But that's probably a whole 'nuther story. Anyway, inside was an old book with all this writing in another language-German, we found out later-and an old rosary was in the box, and a piece of cloth. Turns out these were Saint Conrad's things, so, you know, like, second-class relics. And the old book listed all these miracles from Saint Conrad's intercession, so we decided to pray for my friend's healing. And . . . well, I still get kinda choked up over it. We were praying really hard and touched the cloth to his legs and, well, God healed him. It was like nothing I've ever experienced, and it changed the way I look at prayer and the saints' intercession, I guess."

4. You have a reputation of being able to fix anything electronic. What started this obsession? 

With a smug look on his face, Peter polishes his nails on his lemon-yellow Sioux Falls Canaries jersey. "I've always been curious about things. I guess I like to know what makes things work. So as soon as I could use my hands as a baby, I started taking things apart. And as I got older, Dad realized I wasn't just destructive-I mean, I was that too-but he bought me some building toys and electronic kits. It's my thing now." 

5. What is your greatest invention, and what inspired it?

"It's hard to rate my inventions. I say with profound humility: they're all great. And they all serve a purpose. The ones I like the best are the ones that I can use to help other people. Like when Roland was trying to spy on Jarret, and I modified a tracking device-okay, maybe that one didn't have the best reach. But I also made a transmitter and receiver, which came in handy when our History teacher showed us he had a few screws loose . . . up here, you know?" Peter points to his head. "But I've made all kinds of things. What are you looking for?"

6. If you could only recommend 3 books for our readers what books would you recommend?

"Eh . . ." Peter scrunches his face. "I mean, I do like to read. When I have the time, but then we've got to read all this boring stuff for school. So, I don't find myself picking up a book for leisure, if you know what I mean. But I like to watch movies. How about I give you my favorite movies that came from books?" He nods and waggles his brows. "So like Star Wars, the first three, which were actually the second three . . . an interesting marketing concept, right? And then The Last Jedi; that was pretty good. Did Star Wars movies come from books? Maybe those don't count. Let's see . . . The Lord of the Rings, Narnia . . . I guess I did read that book." His gaze returns to Mr. McEvoy. "How am I doing? That count as three?"

7. Which saints do you have specific devotion to and why?

"Well, obviously, Saint Conrad of Parzham. Because of my family's history with him. He's been a family favorite, you could say. But I also like Saint Philip Neri, the patron saint of practical jokers. There are quite a few humorous saints. Did you know that? Who's your favorite saint?" 

Peter sits back and waits for Mr. McEvoy's answer.

I would say my devotion to saints has changed over the years. If you had to nail me down to one I would say Saint Damien the Leper, every time I read another book about him, I am challenged again. Being of Irish descent I love the Celtic saints, and lately Saint Brigid of Ireland, my oldest picked her as a confirmation saint, and it is great learning about Brigit with my daughter. And finally I would say Saint Josemaria Escriva, I started studying him and Opus Dei for a school paper, and it has now been a part of my life for almost 20 years.  

And Join us in our next issues for the interview with Father Carston and how he discerned his call to the priesthood.

Note: This interview is the final stop on the Roland West Outcast Blog Tour follow the tour over the rest of the month.

Saturday, November 17 
The Lounge
Check out the Author Interview and look for the 1st GIVEAWAY! 
Sunday, November 18 
Franciscan Mom
Monday, November 19 
Book Reviews & More 
Tuesday, November 20
Monthly Book Review 
Wednesday, November 21
Faith, Inspiration, and a Cup of Tea 
Thursday, November 22
My Scribbler’s Heart Blog 
Friday, November 23
T.M. Gaouette Writer, Blogger, and Author of Catholic Fiction
Saturday, November 24 
Book Reviews & More - Interview with 4 characters from the series.

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