Tuesday 30 April 2019

Introduction to Catholicism for Adults - Rev. James Socias

Introduction to Catholicism for Adults
Rev. James Socias
Midwest Theological Forum
ISBN 9781936045730
eISBN 9781939231901


This book is incredible, I read a few sections each day and it took four months to work through. Each year I read through the Catechism, last year when I finished, I started this volume. It is a masterpiece. The hardcover edition comes in at just shy of 1000 pages, and the eBook edition at 1897 pages. To be honest there were many days when I want to keep reading. But in order to digest this volume it needed to be taken in small bites. And as soon as I finished it, I put it back in my rotation of catechism and catechism like books to be read. And plan to circle back to it again in a few months.

I will include the table of contents as a sort of appendix to this review. It is too long to include in the main body of the review. As it spans over 12 pages. This book is incredibly readable. The format is very conducive to study, and learning. Each chapter is broken into many subsections. Alternating teaching sections, with ‘Close Up’ sections, then draws from further church teachings, then there is a section on ‘living the faith’ with samples from specific saints. This is followed by study and discussion question, practical exercises and lastly sections from the Catechism.

This book is designed and written like a text book, and yet is so readable it is a joy to engage with. I hold a religious studies degree with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought. I wish I had had this book during my university career. I would have used it for the vast majority of my courses and essays as a secondary source. As I mentioned I read the Catechism each year, it is not always an easy read, even after being through it several times. This book however is so masterfully written, I never wanted to put it down!

This is an excellent resource, for any serious student of Catholic thought, high school or university student, and for every Catholic home. I strongly encourage you to pick up the physical volume or eBook and have it as a resource in your Catholic library. And I am sure that once you start reading, you will not want to put it down either!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Book by Rev. James Socias:
Marriage is Love Forever
Our Moral Life in Christ: A Basic Course in Moral Theology (with Aurelio Fernandez)
Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization (with Jeffery Cole)

Books Edited by Rev. James Socias:
The Handbook of Prayers
Introduction to Catholicism for Adults
The Didache Bible: With Commentaries Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Reflections on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Daily Roman Missal

Didache Complete Course:
Introduction to Catholicism: A Complete Course – James Socias
Understanding the Scriptures: A Complete Course on Bible Study – Scott Hahn
The History of the Church: A Complete Course - Peter V. Armenio
Our Moral Life in Christ: A Complete Course - Peter V. Armenio
The Sacraments: Source of Our Life in Christ, Semester Edition – James Socias

Spiritual Game Plan an excerpt from The Handbook of Prayers.

Appendix the table of Contents:
Chapter 1 | Called to Holiness
Thirst for Christ
Called to Be Perfect
Close Up: What Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
Called to Holiness
Close Up: What Was the Second Vatican Council?
Close Up: St. Augustine, the Convert
Called to Be Saints
One Body in Christ
Close Up: St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles
The Gift of Grace
Close Up: Becoming a Saint
The Marks of a Disciple
Close Up: Martyrs for the Faith
Close Up: Evangelization vs. Proselytization
Living the Faith
      St. Josemaria Escriva (1902–1975): Feast Day June 26
Supplementary Reading
      Seeking Holiness in the Twenty-First Century: Pastoral Planning in the New Millennium
      St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte (“At the Beginning of the New Millennium”), 30–31
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 2 | The Existence of God and Divine Revelation
God Makes Himself Known to Us
Knowing God Through the Created World
Close Up: Religion Is for Religious Beings
Knowing God Through the Human Spirit
Close Up: The Problem of Evil
Objections to Belief in God
Divine Revelation and Salvation History
Close Up: Motives of Credibility
Sacred Tradition
Close Up: Scripture Alone? A Fundamental Difference
Sacred Scripture
Close Up: How the Scriptures Came to Be
Establishing the Canon
The Magisterium
Interpreting Scripture
Close Up: The Canon of Scripture
Private Revelation
Close Up: Major and Minor Prophets
Our Response: Faith
Living the Faith
      St. Jerome (347–420): Feast Day September 30
Supplementary Reading
      Handing On Divine Revelation
      Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Dei Verbum (“The Word of God”), 7–10
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 3 | The Nature of God: The Blessed Trinity
Our Mysterious God
The Blessed Trinity
Close Up: A Hierarchy of Truths
One God
God Reveals His Name
Close Up: St. Patrick and the Shamrock
The Trinity Foreshadowed
The Trinity Revealed
The Language of the Trinity
Close Up: Nature and Person
The Trinity in the Early Church
Close Up: St. Athanasius, Defender of the Divinity of Christ
Perfect Attributes of God
Close Up: Knowing God By Analogy
Close Up: A Prayer to the Blessed Trinity
The Blessed Trinity and the Christian Life
Living the Faith
      Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880–1906): Feast Day November 8
Supplementary Reading
      The Athanasian Creed (Quicumque Vult)
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 4 | Creation, Man, and Original Sin
God of Love
God the Creator
Close Up: The Message of Genesis
In the Image of God
Close Up: The Church and Evolution
The Fatherhood of God
Close Up: Called to Be His Children
The Fall
Close Up: One Set of Parents
The Curse of Original Sin
Natural Law
The First Gospel
Preparing for the Messiah
Close Up: Angels in Creation
Close Up: The Problem of Evil and God’s Providence
Living the Faith
      St. Albert the Great (1206–1280): Feast Day November 15
Supplementary Reading
      Understanding Original Sin
      Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI], “In the Beginning . . . : A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall”
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 5 | Jesus Christ Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Honoring the Mother of God
The Redemption Foretold
Close Up: The Suffering Servant
The Blessed Virgin
Close Up: St. Joseph, the Faithful Spouse
The Incarnation
Close Up: Behold, Your Mother!
Attributes and Titles of Mary
Close Up: Why God Became Man
Close Up: The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Litany of Loreto)
Close Up: Two Marian Dogmas
Christ’s Hidden Years
Close Up: Jesus Christ in Faith and History
Close Up: The Titles of Jesus Christ
Close Up: The Eloquence of Christ’s Hidden Life
Living the Faith
      St. andre Bessette (1845–1937): Feast Day January 6
Supplementary Reading
      The New Adam: Man Cannot Live Without Love
      St. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis (“The Redeemer of Man”), 8, 9
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 6 | The Paschal Mystery
To Know Christ
The Evangelists
Close Up: Pharisees, Sadducees, and Samaritans
The Baptism of Christ
Christ’s Public Ministry
Close Up: The Nicene Creed
Close Up: The Twelve Apostles
The Last Supper: The New Passover
Close Up: The Torture of Crucifixion
The Meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice
Close Up: The Origins of the Sign of the Cross
Close Up: The Power of Redemptive Suffering
The Road to Emmaus
Close Up: The Cross Is Christ’s Exaltation
Living the Faith
      Bl. Chiara Badano (1971–1990): Feast Day October 7
Supplementary Reading
      Christ’s Descent into Hell
      From an Ancient Homily On Holy Saturday
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 7 | The Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit
God the Holy Spirit
Descent of the Holy Spirit
Close Up: The Holy Spirit in the Creed
Close Up: The Filioque Question
The Mission of the Holy Spirit
Close Up: Symbols of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church
Close Up: Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Close Up: The Unforgiveable Sin
The Charismatic Gifts
Close Up: The Holy Spirit, the Eucharist, and the Epiclesis
Living the Faith
      Archbishop Luis M. Martinez (1881–1956): Martyred February 9
Supplementary Reading
      St. Justin Illuminates Trypho
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 8 | The Holy Catholic Church
This Is the One Church
What Is the Church?
Close Up: The Doctors of the Church
The Faith of the Church
The Church Is the Work of the Blessed Trinity
Close Up: The Fathers of the Church
Mother and Teacher
Close Up: How a Pope Is Elected
The Magisterium
Close Up: Salvation Outside the Church
Church as Mystery
Close Up: The Precepts of the Church
Close Up: The Consecrated Life
The Marks of the Church
Close Up: The Role of the Laity
Living the Faith
      St. Leo the Great (440–461): Feast Day November 10
Supplementary Reading
      The Dogma of Papal Infallibility
      First Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Dei Filius (“The Son of God”), 4: 1–9
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 9 | The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting
“What No Eye Has Seen”
Death of a Christian
Close Up: The Question of Unbaptized Babies
Christ Will Come Again
Close Up: The Question of Universal Salvation
Close Up: The Scriptural Basis for Purgatory
Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell
Close Up: Waiting for the End of Time
Close Up: The Book of Revelation
Living the Faith
      St. Catherine of Genoa (1447–1510): Feast Day September 15
Supplementary Reading
      On Human Fear of Eternal Life
      Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi (“In Hope We Were Saved”), 10, 12
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 10 | Christian Prayer
Dialogue With God
Close Up: The Battle of Prayer
A Life of Prayer
Types of Prayer
Close Up: The Liturgical Year
Methods of Prayer
Liturgical Prayer
Close Up: The Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church
Proper Dispositions for Prayer
The Fruit of Prayer
The Mass, Our Greatest Prayer
Close Up: Liturgical Symbols and Gestures
Close Up: The Mysteries of the Rosary
The Real Presence of Christ
The Structure of the Mass
Close Up: The Stations of the Cross
Transformed By the Liturgy
Eucharistic Adoration
Close Up: How to Prepare for Mass
Popular Prayers and Devotions
Close Up: The Meaning of the Lord’s Prayer
Sacrifice and Self-Denial
Living the Faith
      St. Justin Martyr (C. 100–165): Feast Day June 1
Supplementary Reading
      On Meditation: Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 11 | The Sacraments
Why We Need the Sacraments
The Meaning of Sacrament
Close Up: The institution of the Sacraments in Scripture
Close Up: Signs of the Sacraments
Ex Opere Operato
Close Up: The Sacraments That Leave an indelible Character
Matter, Form, and Minister
Sacramental Grace
Close Up: The Sacraments Were Tailor-Made for Human Beings
Close Up: Categorizing the Sacraments
Proper Disposition
Close Up; Visible Signs
The Sacraments Are Necessary
Living the Faith
      Bl. Otto Neururer (1882–1940): Feast Day August 13
Supplementary Reading
      Understanding Sacramentality
      Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith, Ignatius Press
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 12 | Sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism and Confirmation
Enter the Spirit
I. The Sacrament of Baptism
Close Up: An Examination of Conscience
Close Up: The Exorcism at Baptism
Celebrating Baptism
Effects of Baptism
Close Up: Baptizing Converts from Among Our Separated Brethren
Close Up: From Catechumen to Neophyte
Divine Filiation
Close Up: Other Types of Baptism
II. The Sacrament of Confirmation
Celebrating Confirmation
Close Up: Soldiers for Christ
Close Up: The Minister of the “Double Sacrament”
Effects of Confirmation
Living the Faith
      St. Therese of Lisieux (1873–1897): Feast Day October 1
Supplementary Reading
      Baptized into Christ’s Death
      Instructions to the Newly Baptized in the Early Church at Jerusalem, office of Readings, Friday of the Octave of Easter
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 13 | Sacraments of Christian initiation: The Eucharist
His Sacred Presence
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
Close Up: An Examination of Conscience
Close Up: Reserving the Blessed Sacrament
Close Up: An Act of Spiritual Communion
Celebrating the Eucharist
Close Up: Miracles of the Eucharist
Close Up: Fragments of the Eucharistic Species
Close Up: Can a “Pro-Choice” Politician Receive Holy Communion?
Effects of the Eucharist
Close Up: “Lo! the Angel’s Food Is Given”
Living the Faith
      St. Pius X (1835–1914): Feast Day August 21
Supplementary Reading
      On the Frequent Reception of Holy Communion
      St. John Vianney, Catechism On Frequent Communion
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 14 | Sacraments of Healing: Penance and the Anointing of the Sick
Christ the Healer
I. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
Close Up: An Examination of Conscience
Close Up: An Act of Contrition
Close Up: Characteristics of a Good Confession
Close Up: Sins of Omission
Close Up: Confessing Mortal Sins
Celebrating the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
Close Up: The Necessity of Confession
Close Up: A Guilty Conscience
Close Up: Indulgences
Close Up: God Stands Ready to Forgive
Effects of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
II. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
Close Up: Prayer for a Happy Death
Celebration of the Anointing of the Sick
Effects of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
Close Up: Testimony of a Dying Cardinal
Living the Faith
      St. John Nepomucene (1345–1393): Feast Day May 16
Supplementary Reading
      On the Importance of Avoiding Even Venial Sin
      St. Teresa of Avila, the Way of Perfection, Ch. 41
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 15 | Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders
At Our Service
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
Close Up: An Examination of Conscience
Close Up: Titles in Holy Orders
Celebrating Holy Orders
Close Up: Symbols of the Ordained
The Three Orders
Effects of Holy Orders
Close Up: The Development of Clerical Celibacy
Clerical Celibacy
Male Priesthood
Living the Faith
      St. John Paul II (1920–2005): Feast Day October 22
Supplementary Reading
      Celibacy in the Priesthood
      Cardinal Avery Dulles, Sj, the Priestly office: A Theological Reflection, 1997
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 16 | Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Matrimony
Love and Marriage
The Sacrament of Matrimony
Close Up: The Blessing of a Large Family
Close Up: Building Up the Domestic Church
Celebrating Matrimony
Close Up: Some Sins Against Marriage
Effects of Matrimony
Close Up: Divorce and Reception of the Sacraments
Marriage as a Path to Holiness
Close Up: A Declaration of Nullity
Marriage Between a Catholic and a Non-Catholic
Submission and the Marriage Covenant
Living the Faith
      Georges (1888–1967) and Pauline (1898–1991) Vanier: Husband and Wife
Supplementary Reading
      The Prophetic Role of Marriage and Family
      St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio (“The Family in the Modern World”), 52
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 17 | Freedom, Morality, and Grace
A Still, Small Voice
What Freedom Is
Close Up: The intellect, Free Will, and the Passions
Freedom Must Be Grounded in Truth
Freedom and God’s Will
Close Up: Prayer to Do God’s Will
Freedom, Sin, and Grace
What Conscience Is
Close Up: Indirectly Voluntary Acts
Formation of Conscience
Obligation of Conscience
Types of Conscience
Close Up: Augustinian Prayer for Discernment
The Moral Act
Close Up: Standards of Morality
The Nature of Temptation
Close Up: Formal and Material Cooperation
Errors of Conscience
The Principle of Double Effect
The Cardinal Virtues
Living the Faith
      St. Katharine Drexel (1858–1955): Feast Day March 3
Supplementary Reading
      On True and False Conscience
      George Cardinal Pell, Address to Members of the Lumen Christi institute at the University of Chicago, Fall 2004
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 18 | The Decalogue and the Beatitudes
Keeping the Law
Close Up: The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments and Christ
The Beatitudes Are the Perfection of the Moral Law
Close Up: The Beatitudes
The Beatitudes in Practice
Close Up: What the Moral Law Is Not
Close Up: Examination of Conscience
Living the Faith
      Bl. Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997): Feast Day September 5
Supplementary Reading
      Loving God, Whom We Cannot See, Through the Neighbor That We Can See
      Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (“God Is Love”), 16–18
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 19 | The First Three Commandments
What God Deserves
Reverence for the One God
Close Up: The Right to Religious Freedom
I. The First Commandment
The Theological Virtues
Sins Against the Theological Virtues
Close Up: Examination of Conscience: The First Commandment
The Virtue of Religion
Sins Against the Virtue of Religion
Close Up: Guarding Against a Loss of Faith
II. The Second Commandment
Sins Against the Holy Name of God
Close Up: Examination of Conscience: The Second Commandment
III. The Third Commandment
Sins Against the Lord’s Day
Close Up: Examination of Conscience: The Third Commandment
Close Up: Worship God Alone
Living the Faith
      Rev. Christian De Cherge (1937–1996): A Life Given to God
Supplementary Reading
      Why There Is a Sunday Obligation
      St. John Paul II, Dies Domini (“The Day of the Lord”), 46–49
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 20 | The Fourth Commandment: Honor Your Father and Mother
Wisdom of Years
The Fourth Commandment
Close Up: Obligations Toward Extended Family
The Old Testament and the Fourth Commandment
Christ and the Fourth Commandment
Parent-Child Relationships
Close Up: Some Benefits of a Two-Parent Family
Close Up: The Common Good
Relationships Between an individual and Society
The Church and the State
Close Up: Duties of the Faithful
Collaboration Between Church and State
Separation of Church and State
Close Up: Examination of Conscience
Living the Faith
      St. Monica (332–387): Feast Day August 27
Supplementary Reading
      Educating Children as a Work of Love1
      Albino Cardinal Luciani [Pope John Paul I], March 1977
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 21 | The Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Kill
The Fifth Commandment
Respect for Life in the Old Testament
Close Up: Abortion and the Life of the Mother
Respect for Life in the New Testament
Respect for Human Life at Its Beginning
Close Up: Abortion in Church Teaching
Close Up: Secondary Victims of Abortion
Respect for Human Life Until Its Natural End
Close Up; Discontinuing Medical Treatment
Self-Defense and Criminal Justice
“Just War” Doctrine
Close Up: Examination of Conscience
Respect for the Health and Integrity of the Body
Living the Faith I
      Servant of God Fathi Abboud Baladi (1961–1980): Witness of Survival
Living the Faith II
      St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922–1962): Feast Day April 28
Supplementary Reading
      The Moral Dilemma of Frozen Embryos
      Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitas Personæ (“The Dignity of a Person”), 2008
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 22 | The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Chastity in Relationships
The Sixth and Ninth Commandments
Marital Love in the Old Testament
Close Up: Chastity, Celibacy, and Marriage
Marital Love in the New Testament
Theology of the Body
Sexuality and Marriage
Close Up: Couples Who Cannot Conceive
Sins Against Marriage
Close Up: The Gift of Natural Family Planning
The Virtue of Chastity
Living the Virtue of Chastity
Close Up: Examination of Conscience
Sins Against Chastity
Living the Faith
      St. Maria Goretti (1890–1902): Feast Day July 6
Supplementary Reading
      On the Regulation of Birth
      Pope Paul VI, Humanæ Vitæ (“On Human Life”), 10–14
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 23 | The Seventh and Tenth Commandments: Theft and Desire
Disordered Wants
The Seventh and Tenth Commandments
Close Up: Lessons in Preferential Love
Stewardship of Goods
Close Up: Socialism and Capitalism
The Just Use of Goods
Sins Against the Seventh Commandment
Close Up: Justice in Practice
Sins Against the Tenth Commandment
Social Doctrine of the Church
Social Justice in the Economic Realm
Close Up: The Trend Toward Globalization
International Solidarity
Justice and Charity: Love for the Poor
Close Up: Examination of Conscience
Living the Faith
      Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901–1925): Feast Day July 4
Supplementary Reading
      Love and the Common Good
      Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), 6–7
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 24 | The Eighth Commandment: Bearing False Witness
Truth and Peace
The Virtue of Truth
The Eighth Commandment
Close Up: Types of Untruth
Truth and the Old Testament
Truth and the New Testament
Close Up: What Is Truth?
Witnesses to Truth
Truth in Charity
Truth and Secrecy
Close Up: Truth in Social Communication
Close Up: The Silent Response
Sins Against the Eighth Commandment
Gravity of Sins Against the Eighth Commandment
Close Up: Examination of Conscience
The Duty to Make Reparation
Living the Faith
      St. Peter the Apostle (D. Ca. Ad 64 / 67): Feast Day June 29
Supplementary Reading
      Curbing the tongue
      St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Chapter 30
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism

Chapter 25 | The Person and Society
Citizens of Two Worlds
Close Up: Christians Are the Soul of the World
Holiness Within Our State of Life
The Vocation of the Laity
Close Up: Blessed Are the Merciful
Living Our Faith in Society
Close Up: Voting With a Catholic Conscience
Faith, Law, and Social Justice
Close Up: The Dangers of Legal Positivism
Responsibility and Participation
Close Up: The Morality of Imperfect Laws
Living the Faith
      Dorothy Day (1897–1980): The Social Teaching of the Church in Action
Supplementary Reading
      The Earthly City and the Heavenly City
      St. Augustine, On the Two Cities, 17
For Study and Discussion
Practical Exercises
From the Catechism
Art and Photo Credits

Monday 29 April 2019

Companion to Saint Joseph - J.B. Midgley - CTS Companions Series

Companion to Saint Joseph: 
Father, Worker and Guardian of our Redeemer
CTS Companions Series
J.B. Midgley
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860821721
eISBN 9781784694364
CTS Booklet DO686

This is the second book by J.B.Midgley that I have read, and it will not be the last. I have greatly enjoyed both books by him that I have read to date. In just over a year I have read 70 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. There has not been a bad book in the lot. And As much as I enjoyed this book by Midgley and look forward to reading others by him, I also look forward to pursuing other books in the CTS Companions Series.

After I became a father, and as my children grow. My fascination, appreciation and devotion to Saint Joseph has continually grown. In the last few months I have come across this book on Saint Joseph and eagerly await the Consecration to St. Joseph by Fr. Don Calloway that is due out later this year, this book was an excellent little volume to hold me over. This volume was originally published in 2002, and the eBook edition was released in 2017. The book was written in part to a Jubilee Year Midgley states in the introduction:

“In his Apostolic Letter ‘At the Beginning of the New Millennium’, January 2001, Pope John Paul hoped that the Great Jubilee’s legacy for the world would be an increase in holiness. At the same time, the World of Work Committee of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales published ‘A Spirituality of Work’, calling attention to the ‘Gospel of Work’ which teaches that life is not compartmentalised, and that the necessity of work is a means to the holiness for which every man and woman is created. Thoughts turn naturally to Saint Joseph, their universal patron.”

And further on:

“Today, he remains the exemplar of persevering honesty, the incomparable pattern for fathers of families, and now cares for all God’s children as they undertake their responsibilities in the world. The foster-father from whom the Carpenter of Nazareth Himself was happy to learn, is now supremely placed to support all who work for justice, peace, and well-being, within and between families and nations, for the glory of God and their own sanctification.”

The chapters in this volume are:
Devotion to Saint Joseph
Preparations for the Incarnation
Annunciation and Visitation
The Nativity
After the Nativity
The Finding in the Temple
The Hidden Life
Joseph’s Legacy
The Liturgy of Saint Joseph
The Feasts

In the section on the history of the devotion he starts with some of the history, he says:

“The nineteenth century witnessed a universal growth in devotion to Saint Joseph, especially on the part of workers who were often exploited and impoverished. In 1847, Pope Pius IX, in an early act of his pontificate, extended to the universal Church the Feast of ‘The Patronage of Saint Joseph’ to be celebrated on the third Wednesday after Easter. In 1861, he approved the establishment, in Beauvais, of the Archconfraternity of Saint Joseph which welcomed the affiliation of Associates throughout France. Its aims were to extend devotion to Saint Joseph, ask his protection for the Holy Father, the Church, the well-being of Christian family life, and his intercession for the grace of a holy death.”

I loved reading about some of the areas where Saint Joseph is the patron saint. He is the principal Patron Saint of Canada, not noted in the book. There are some great prayers to Saint Joseph, and a wonderful litany. The final section on the feats has the history of that feast, and then a reflection.  

Overall this book was a wonderful read. It leaves readers wanting to go deeper in their knowledge and devotion to Saint Joseph. A great introduction to devotion to Saint Joseph, and another book from the Catholic Truth Society that I am blessed to have read. And now I am left with a long list of books to read by Midgley and others from the Companions series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by J.B. Midgley:

Advent & Christmastide with the Saints
Antonio Rosmini
Benedict - Patron of Europe
Bernard of Clairvaux – CTS Great Saints
Charles Borromeo  - CTS Great Saints
Companion to St. Joseph
Companion to the Feasts of Mary
Companion to Saint Peter
Companion to Saint Paul
Companion to the Angels
Companion to the Feasts of Our Lord
Companion to the Passion of Our Lord
Dominic - CTS Great Saints
George: Patron of England - CTS Great Saints
Dewi Sant: St David Patron of Wales
Francis de Sales – CTS Great Saints
John Baptist de La Salle – CTS Great Saints
John Vianney – CTS Great Saints
Lent with the Saints
Nurturing the Young
Robert Bellarmine
Saint John the Baptist 
Stations of the Cross and Resurrection with the Saints
The Eucharist with the Saints
The Four Evangelists
Thomas Becket – CTS Saints of the Isles
Vincent de Paul – CTS Great Saints
Witchcraft, Sorcery and Magic

Contributed to:
First Fridays and First Saturdays The Devotions Explained 

Other books in the CTS Companions Series:
Companion to St. Joseph – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Feasts of Mary – J.B. Midgley
Companion to Saint Peter – J.B. Midgley
Companion to Saint Paul – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Angels – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Feasts of Our Lord - J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Passion of Our Lord – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Order of the Mass - Mgr Bruce Harbert
Companion to Reading the Old Testament – Adrian Graffy
Companion to Reading the New Testament – Adrian Graffy
Companion to Praying with the Bible – Z. Mattam
New Companion to Advent & Christmastide - CTS
New Companion to Prayer - Celia Wolf-Devine
New Companion to Lent - CTS

Other reviews and articles about Saint Joseph:
Consecration to St. Joseph - Fr. Donald Calloway
Favorite Prayers to St. Joseph Compiled from Traditional Sources- TAN Books
Prayer to Saint Joseph Prayer of the Day
Joseph of Nazareth - Federico Suarez
Devotion to St. Joseph - F. Declaux
Go to St. Joseph: Do Whatever He Tells You - Brian Kiczek
Saint Joseph: Help for Life's Emergencies - Kathryn J. Hermes
Feast of Saint Joseph 2018 Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary Principal Patron of Canada
Companion to Saint Joseph - J.B. Midgley - CTS Companions Series
Saints of the Roman Canon - Julien Chilcott-Monk - CTS Living the Liturgy Series
Seven Saints for Seven Virtues - Jean M. Heimann

Friday 26 April 2019

Faking a Murderer - Lee Child and Kathy Reichs

Faking a Murderer
A Jack Reacher and Temperance Brennan Short Story
Lee Child
Kathy Reichs
eISBN 9780751569063

This story also appeared in:

Match Up: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling
To Die book 7.5
Lee Child (Editor)
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 9780751569025
eISBN 9781501141614

This short story appears in the anthology Match Up: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling edited by Lee Child. In some markets it is published as a stand-alone short story. The eBook comes in at 51 pages, and it is a great little read. I have been a fan of the Bones Tv Series for years and was finally able to watch all the episodes. Over the last few months I have read and reviewed 8 novels and other Reacher books. I have yet to read any of the books by Reichs but that is about to change. 

This was a very interesting story to read. Especially as my knowledge of all things Reacher is expanding. Based on the subtitle of Temperance Brennan VS Jack Reacher I was expecting a very different story than the one that was delivered. In the introduction to the story in the anthology Lee Child states:

“I was first published in1997 when Killing Floor introduced the world to a quiet wanderer named Jack Reacher. Kathy Reichs also came along in 1997 when Déjà Dead brought us forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.”

It is an interesting fact. He also states: 

“In creating our story, Kathy and I both agreed on the rough outline, then we wrote in turns. She likes things all planned out. I prefer to wander. But we found a happy medium in which to work. … but we discovered that our actual writing styles are somewhat similar. This sometimes happens with collaborations. It helped that we’ve both written screenplays. Kathy with the television series Bones, which is based on her characters, and myself with my daughter. There’s a process to fashioning a screenplay that’s different from crafting a novel. Much more give-and-take is there between the various contributors, since rarely is a screenplay written by only one person. Luckily, we were both comfortable with that process.” 

And what a wonderful story they have produced. To be honest this story is an excellent mash up. The characters of Bones and Reacher blend together well. The story begins with Reacher hitchhiking south for the winter when he hears a news story about an event from his past and Temperance. At that same time Temperance is giving into introductory remarks at a convention. Right after her talk she is approached by two officers who want her to accompany them for questioning. And thus, begins a great story.

But reading this have left me in a dilemma, I already have plans to read all the Reacher novels in a year. I already had the Murdoch Mystery novels by Maureen Jennings on my list to read next. And now I need to slot in the Kathy Reichs novels as well. If you are unfamiliar with either character this is still a great story. If you are a fan of either Reacher or Bones this is a must read. An excellent short story.

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
The Enemy
One Shot
The Hard Way
Bad Luck and Trouble
Nothing to Lose
Gone Tomorrow
61 Hours
Worth Dying For
The Affair
A Wanted Man
Never Go Back
Make Me
Night School
The Midnight Line
Past Tense
Blue Moon

The Sentinel Jack Reacher's Rules

Reacher Short Stories and Novella’s:
No Middle Name – Complete Collected Short Stories

Stories in No Middle Name Collection:
Too Much Time
Second Son
Deep Down
Guy Walks into A Bar
James Penney’s New Identity
High Heat
Everyone Talks
Not A Drill
Small Wars
Maybe They Have A Tradition

No Room At The Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner

Other Short Stories:
The Fourth Man
The Christmas Scorpion
Faking a Murderer with Kathy Reichs
Cleaning the Gold with Karin Slaughter
Good and Valuable Consideration with Joseph Finder

Other Books by Lee Child
The Hero
Jack Reacher: A Mysterious Profile

Thursday 25 April 2019

Meditations on the Passion The Way of the Cross - Susanna Tamaro

Meditations on the Passion: The Way of the Cross
Susanna Tamaro
Scepter Publishers
eISBN 9781594172441

I picked up this book over a year ago and planned on using it during lent. But alas it slipped down in my reading list and then was forgotten. This year I was reminded of the book and planned to read and review it for lent as well. But it was not until Holy Week when I got around to reading it. I have several versions of the stations of the cross that I use throughout the year and return to again and again. And I have read other reflections that were read once and done. That will not be the case with this one. I see this as a mediation I will be returning to frequently.

The chapters in this book are:
Opening Prayer
First Station: Jesus Is Condemned to Death
Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time
Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother
Fifth Station: Jesus Is Helped by Simon of Cyrene to Carry the Cross
Sixth Station: Veronica Dries the Face of Jesus
Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time
Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time
Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross and Given to His Mother
Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Deposited in the Sepulchre

I do not know who translated this book, there is no indication within the volume. It may have even been the author herself. But however, we received the English version of this book, it is a treasure. Tamaro has 33 books available in Italian and is best known as a novelist. Some of her works have been translated into numerous languages. And maybe it is what she brings from her background in film and as an author that helps bring this version of the way of the cross to life in such a vivid and moving way.

Archbishop Gianpaolo Crepaldi of Trieste states in the preface:

“I am particularly honored to write a brief preface to these meditations and prayers on the Way of the Cross, written with profound spiritual sensibility by Susanna Tamaro, to accompany those invited on Good Friday by the young people of Catholic Action to walk the streets of Trieste, Italy to their Cathedral. They will devoutly contemplate together the scandalous and revolutionary mystery of the death of God. But, with the Easter resurrection of the Lord—he who lives—death is defeated, and therefore life, suffering, and death are not rendered meaningless, but are completed and made full.”

And further on he says:

“Susanno Tamaro helps us to discover that the Way of the Cross is, in reality, the way of consolation. It is the way of love. It is the way of life; the road of consolation and of love, the road of life.”

And those statements echo what I felt while praying with this book. There is a deep love and reverence present. But also, a moving experience of this devotion and prayer. In this English edition we have the preface, and then the opening prayer, we move through the fourteen stations, ending with the benediction. The ‘Amen’. There are no explanations, no extra chapters from the author. Just the meditation. I love the stations of the cross with Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Josemaria Escriva and ‘everyone’s way of the cross’ by Clarence Enzler. But this book by Dusanna Tamaro is now in my top 5 list for stations of the cross and will be used often. The only thing I really wished was that there was an audio version available that I could keep on my iPhone to pray with.

A wonderful version of this devotion, I am sure it will become an instant favorite! I am certain I will be using this version for years to come.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Susanna Tamaro:
Meditations on the Passion
Follow Your Heart
Answer Me
For Solo Voice
Listen to My Voice
Turning Home: A Memoir
The Tiger and the Acrobat

In Italian:
Meditaciones sobre la Pasión
Cuore di ciccia
Anima Mundi
Per sempre
Luisito: Una storia d'amore
Per voce sola
Il cerchio magico

Other Way of the Cross Reviews:
The Way of The Cross
The Way of The Cross II
The Way of the Cross – Saint Josemaria Escriva

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler

Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler 

I had two books by Father Michael E. Giesler on my two be read pile for a few years. Once I read the first one, I have been on a quest to track down and read all of his works. Father Michael is a as a priest, professor, and retreat director for one of the retreat centres of Opus Dei. He has published two academic works for his masters and graduate studies. Since then he has published four fiction and four non-fiction works. The six I have read were amazing books. I was able to track father Michael down and Father Michael E. Giesler recently took some time from his busy schedule to answer 20 questions for the readers here at Book Reviews and More. So here in his own words is father Michael.

1. You have 8 books available in English, including a historical fiction trilogy. And yet they are published under a wide variation on your name: Michael E. Giesler, Rev. Michael Giesler, Father Michael Giesler, Michael Edward Giesler and just Michael Giesler. Even Across the Historical fiction trilogy there are three variations on your name. Can I ask what name you would prefer if you could consolidate them all under one name?

In my spiritually themed books, I have preferred to use Father or Reverend before my name. For the historical Fiction trilogy, I preferred to use my untitled name, since I began writing the first of them, Junia, as a layman back in the late 70’s. Also the main characters in the early Christian stories are not priests, but men and women among the ordinary faithful of 1900 years ago.

2. Speaking of your historical fiction trilogy which is comprised of: Junia (2002), Marcus (2004), Grain Of Wheat (2008) the three books are published by Scepter, but books 1 and 3 have eBooks and Kindle editions, and book 2 Marcus, does not. Would you like to see this volume available as an eBook also?

Yes, I would like to see it as an e-book and may bring up this point with my publisher.

3. You self-published through Create Space the volume, Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests, I am wondering if you have plans to release it as an eBook?

If there were a clear surge of interest in the book, I would negotiate with Create Space and possibly Amazon to offer it as an ebook. I think it would increase accessibility.

4. Your writing career spans 41 years, from the publication of Christ the Rejected Stone in 1974 to Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship published in 2015. Do you plan time for writing around your duties as a priest, professor, and retreat director? Or When you get an idea the writing project becomes a priority?

I have been able to keep up a steady pace of writing over the years, and have found enough time between my duties as a priest and spiritual director, with the help of God’s grace. If a clear idea or motivation comes for writing a specific book, as in the case of Called by Name for the Year of Priests, or the Guidebook
for Confessors, I put those books on the “fast track”. In the case of You See Me, You Hear Me, I was specifically requested for a book on prayer, and was
able to complete it quickly over a summer vacation.

5. You have published four fictional works, and four non-fiction volumes. Do you find it easier writing fiction or non-fiction? Why?

While having to work hard at both genres of writing, I find them equally challenging as well as satisfying. As a writer, the most important consideration for me is if I have something useful or inspiring to say. That is enough motivation for me to get started and to complete the book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

The idea for a book could be generated in many different ways. Since my college days, I’ve always been interested in Greco-Roman civilization, as well as the spread of early Christianity. This was the seedbed for my novels on the early Christians. As a priest, I have always had the desire to help my brother priests, and this generated the idea of a book of meditations to help them in daily ministry, and of a practical guidebook on hearing confessions.

7. Is the process different when writing fiction compared to when writing non-fiction?

Yes, there is a far greater use of the imagination in writing fiction. I have to imagine and create the characters, the challenges they face, and the timeline of their lives. There are also dramatic effects to the story, which require several rewritings and re-focusing. In writing non-fiction, I have to pay far more attention to research and the proper framing of ideas and words. I cannot leave things for the reader’s imagination and feeling, but need to write sure and well-founded conclusions.

8. One of the greatest strengths in your fiction books are the characters, they are so solid and believable. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations?

Some of the characters, like Junia and her friend Marcia are simply drawn from my imagination and little bit of observation of young women and their interaction with one another. Other characters like Scintilla, servant of Marcia who gives Junia lessons in Christianity, are simply creations to keep the story going and alive. Junia’s father Gaius and her mother Aurelia are more based on particular characters in other novels. The character Numer is drawn from my knowledge of certain members of the Catholic institution Opus Dei, who have a combination of faith, intelligence and good humor in the way they live and react to others.

9. Which character from your fiction books is your favorite? Why?
Of them all I like Marcus the most. He has big ideals, but overthinks things and has a certain naivete which makes him a little mysterious, as well as charming. He also has a big heart for others. For this reason I was glad to put him as the main character in the last two books. I also was able to show his conversion to Christianity in a more developed way than I did with his sister Junia.

10. Which character in your novels was the hardest to write and why?

I really did not have a problem with any of the characters. As the story flowed, the characters came to me rather naturally…each with his or her own personality traits.

11. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated: "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

Though many of my characters lived 1900 years ago, and were fervent Christians, I like to imagine them being with God right now. At times I like to think that their lives more or less corresponded to the stories in my novels. And for this reason I would like to meet them some day in the afterlife … especially Junia, Marcia, Numer, and Atticus the priest who is sent to the lead mines in Dacia but has such a powerful love for his fellow Christians.

12. A few of your books are available in Spanish, are their plans to translate any of the others in to Spanish? Other Languages?

I would hope that all the novels could be translated someday into European languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and German. I would like to see Marcus translated into Spanish fairly soon, since it is the key transitional book between Junia and Grain of Wheat.

13. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to grow in their Catholic faith what books would you suggest?

Apart from a thorough reading of Sacred Scripture, I would recommend the Confessions of Saint Augustine, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and the complete Didache series published by Midwest Theological Forum in Chicago.

14. What are some of your favorite fiction authors and books that you can recommend to our readers?

I’m a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I find that most of their books are quite rewarding, though Lewis himself did not become a member of the Catholic Church, at least while he was alive on earth.

15. Can you think of a book or two that the readers are unlikely to have heard of that you would highly recommend?

A new book by Scepter Publishers comes to mind, on the life of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, a Spanish woman who is soon to be beatified in Madrid. In a simple ordinary way her life demonstrates a life of prayer and service to the Church.

(Note: Guadalupe: The Freedom of Loving by Cristina Abad Cadenas, is the book he is making reference to.)

16. What current projects are you working on or are in the back burner in some stage of development?

I am working on a long poem entitled THY KINGDOM COME, which summarizes the history of salvation from the creation of Adam and Eve until the Second Coming of Christ. As you can see, it’s a very ambitious project and I am trying to get some feedback for what I have written so far from good friends and fellow authors. I am also working on a theological study of the “Mystery of Co-redemption” … our vital union with Christ in order to redeem the world…with practical applications to our contemporary life.

17. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy or could you recommend?

I’ve always liked musicals, especially from the 1940’s and 50’s. They leave you with an upbeat feeling, a trait often lacking in today’s movies.

18. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

The goal of all education is to lead a person from ignorance into truth. One reaches the truth by a combination of personal reflection and appreciation for the thoughts and discoveries of the great minds of the past. It is not enough to simply be informed about things; the truly educated person must have the ability to look at things both deeply and “fondly”, that is with a certain amount of love, which is the classical definition of wisdom.

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

I would definitely want all 73 books of the Old and New Testament recognized as inspired by the Church; the Catholic Catechism 1994 edition; the second encyclical of Pope Emeritus Benedict on the virtue of Hope, (Spe Salvi, 2007). Finally Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian and English, particularly the Purgatorio and Paradiso sections of that poem.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?

First, be very familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and foster a particular devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart and to Mary: Most Pure his Mother.

Second, have a dream with what you would like to do with your work. Hopefully it will not simply be to express yourself, but to create something beautiful that will instruct and inspire others to become better persons, and will lead them closer to Truth and Beauty Himself.

Finally get the sincere reactions of others to what they write. This may be hard on the ego at first, but it will enhance your work in the end. As my father used to say, who was a creative writer himself, “the best writer is a re-writer.”

Thank you, Father Michael, for your time in answering the twenty question. I have loved your books I have read and encourage all readers to give them a try. I look forward to some of the pieces you are currently working on. May God continue to bless you, your ministry, and us your readers. Thank you again.

Books by Rev. Michael Giesler:
You See Me, You Hear Me
Guidebook for Confessors
Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship
Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests

Christ the Rejected Stone
How Christ Saves Souls―with Us: The Mystery of Co-Redemption

Spanish Editions:
Dios te ve y te oye


Christian Historical Fiction Trilogy:
Grain Of Wheat


Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler.