-->

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2020

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2020

This quarter I have read 96 books, which was one more than Q4 2019. It was a good start to the year. And may excellent reads. Seventy-Seven of those books were first time reads. And 66 received 5/5 stars. Only 15 were fiction and 51 were non-fiction. And 8 of those had been read before. I am reading at the pace of about a book a day. 

Here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the first quarter of 2020.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. Books by J.B. Midgley
link to all review of books by Midgley
2. Consecration to St. Joseph - Donald H. Calloway
3. Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits - Dan Burke
4.  From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church - Pope Benedict XVI and Robert Cardinal Sarah
5. Epic Saints Wild, Wonderful, and Weird Stories of God's Heroes - Shaun McAfee
6. CTS Biographies
7. Lenten Journey with Mother Mary - Fr. Edward Looney
8. CTS Great Saints
Saint Ignatius of Loyola - J.A. Philips
9. The Passion of St. Edward, King and Martyr - Goscelin of Saint-Bertin and Eric Sammons
10. Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross

Bonus:
In Conversation with God - Francis Fernandez
everyone's way of the cross - Clarance Enzler
Way of the Cross - Saint Josemaria Escriva
Sr. Elizabeth Prout - Sister Dominic Savio Hamer CP - CTS Saints of the Isles

Top Ten Fiction Books:
1. The Cassandra Curse - Fiorella De Maria
2. The Ghosts of Midgard Manor: And Other Stories - Roger Thomas
3. See No Evil - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mystery Book 3
4. The Tattered Web - Roger Thomas - Watchful Sky Series Book 4
5. Stay With Me Series - Carolyn Astfalk
6. The Lucifer Ego - T.M. Doran - The Sequel to Toward the Gleam
7. A Channel of Your Peace - Veronica Smallhorn
8. A Conspiracy of Bones - Kathy Reichs - Temperance Brennan Book 19
9. Level 13 - Gordon Korman - Slacker Book 2
10. Dragon Assassin 7 Hidden Powers - Arthur Slade

Bonus:
Mystic Informant - Carissa Douglas - Douglings Adventures Book 1
Extreme Blindside - Leslea Wahl

My reading has been consistent at about a book a day over the last few years. I attribute part of it to Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now, removing all games but 1 brain game from my devices. And I now commute to work on a bus and read on the bus every day. Though I am working from home now because of Covid-19 This quarter was 80% non-fiction. There are so many great series I am reading from the Catholic Truth Society, I have had to make an effort to actually fit in some fiction.

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they are in the bonus section. It was no easy task making this quarter. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list


Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2020
... 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

96 - 2019 January-March
392 - 2019
359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996




Monday, 30 March 2020

Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley - CTS Great Saints

Benedict Patron of Europe
CTS Great Saints
J.B. Midgley
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823275
CTS Booklet B782


To start with I am a huge fan of the Catholic Truth Society and the writings of J.B. Midgley. I have been working on tracking down and reading all 28 books by J.B. Midgley. Twenty-six of those books were for the Catholic Truth Society.  And 6 of those were from the CTS Great Saints Series. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have loved almost all of them. Lately I have been focused more on this series, and a couple of others, almost alternating books in each series, and still have over a dozen in this series I want to read.  On top of finishing all the books written by Midgley. This volume was published in 2005 and as of the date of this review there is no eBook edition. I can easily that this is a great book, by an excellent author in an amazing series! 

The description on the back of the book is:

“By taking the name Benedict XVI, the new Pope underlines the power and legacy of one of Christendom’s – and Europe’s – greatest saints. This booklet tells the story of St Benedict’s life, monasteries and famous followers down the centuries.

The unfolding influence of his celebrated ‘Rule’ on sixth and twenty-first century Europe is explored, particularly in the light of current concerns over a pervading de-Christianisation of Europe, its institutions, and its soul.”

And the chapters in the volume are:

Introduction
The Life of Benedict
Benedict’s Rule
Benedict’s Legacy

The first half of the book is about the man and his rule. The second half is the impact of the rule through the lives of successive saints and holy men down through the ages to today. Those eminent Benedictines are are:

St Augustine of Canterbury d.c.604
St Cuthbert, 634-687
St Bede the Venerable, 673-735
St Boniface, 675-754
St Dunstan, 909-988
St Bruno and the Carthusians, 1030-1101
St Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109
St Bernard of Clairvaux. 1090-1153

And Midgley has written biographies on at least 1 of those and others mentioned in the book. This book also begins and ends with prayers. Which is imminently fitting for a book on Saint Benedict. The book opens with a prayer written for the feast day of Benedict and ends with a novena prayer to Benedict. I have added both prayers into my daily devotions. I added the prayer at the beginning the day the book arrived when I was flipping through it. 

Midgley finds a way to tie most of his writings back to the impact on Wales, England or the British Isles and he does the same in this volume. The book was an excellent little read. It has left me with an even greater appreciation for this Saint, his rule, and as mentioned a prayer devotion to him intercession. 

A great volume that I give top marks!   

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 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 
...

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B.Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B.Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B.Midgley
Dominic - J.B.Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B.Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B.Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B.Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B.Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Rita of Cascia - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Robert Bellarmine - J.B.Midgley
Saint Anthony of Padua - Jude Winkler
Saint Dominic and the Order of Preachers - Richard Finn
Saint Francis of Assisi - Jennifer Moorcroft
Saint Ignatius of Loyola – J.A. Philips
Saint John the Baptist - J.B.Midgley
Saint Padre Pio A Holy Priest - Jim Gallagher
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux - Vernon Johnson
Thomas Aquinas - Vivian Boland
Vincent de Paul - J.B.Midgley














Saturday, 28 March 2020

Way of the Cross Uniting Our Sufferings to Christ - Michael Campbell

Way of the Cross: Uniting Our Sufferings to Christ
Michael Campbell
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 
9781860828980
eISBN 9781784694395
ASIN B073H1TMW4
CTS Booklet 


Every lent I pick a few different versions of the Stations of the Cross or Way of the Cross to be part of my Lenten journey. And since over the last few years I have read and reviewed over 100 books from the Catholic Truth Society I decided to pick up a few of their offerings. This specific version was published in 2014 and the eBook in 2017. Currently the print edition appears to be out of print. But the eBook is still readily available. For which I am extremely grateful. In the introduction Michael Campbell OSA, Bishop of Lancaster states:

“The Stations of the Cross have long been a popular and much-loved Catholic devotion. To walk the way of the cross with the suffering Christ, prayerfully contemplating his humiliation and suffering, gives us the courage to accept and bear our own particular share of the cross, whatever form that may take. 

This cherished devotional practice teaches us the profound and mysterious lesson that it was through his suffering and cross that the Son of God redeemed the world. The Stations offer the sick and frail, those who are oppressed and downcast, the opportunity to unite their sufferings with those of Christ and to make their own the sentiments of St Paul, “to complete what is lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” (Col 1:24) 

I offer these meditations on the Stations of the Cross in the hope that all who use them will draw closer to our blessed Lord who loves each one of us in our weakness and frailty. Through walking the way to Calvary with Christ may we be brought to the glory of his resurrection.”

And that is what he has crafted is an excellent devotion for us to use personally, or corporately. 

The chapters in this volume are:
Introduction 
Tree of Paradise 
First Station 
Second Station 
Third Station 
Fourth Station 
Fifth Station 
Sixth Station 
Seventh Station 
Eighth Station 
Ninth Station 
Tenth Station 
Eleventh Station 
Twelfth Station 
Thirteenth Station 
Fourteenth Station

This volume likesome other versions contains a fifteenth station a reflection on the Resurrection. A sample meditation is:

Sixth Station
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

P. (Kneeling) We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
C. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

“Without beauty, without majesty we saw him, no looks to attract our eyes; despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.” (Is 53:2-4)

Veronica, moved with pity for the despised and suffering Christ, steps forward and wipes his face with a towel. Her act of kindness and great compassion would never be forgotten.

Reflection
Lord Jesus, in the midst of your suffering and distress you found someone to take pity on you. Veronica had the courage to reach out to you in your affliction. May we never fail to feel the sufferings of others, and seek to lighten their burden. Make us compassionate as our heavenly Father is compassionate, for he is close to the afflicted and broken-hearted.
C. I love you, Jesus, my love above all things. I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will.

Our Father…Hail Mary...Glory be…”

And this volume has artwork between each of the stations. The artwork is by Josef Piens Cooreman and Rene de Cramer. And in the eBook they are full color prints. It is an excellent version of the way. I am thankful I have it and will use it over.

Another excellent resource from the Catholic Truth Society!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Link to other Lent Resources.






Friday, 27 March 2020

Lionheart Catholic: How to Become a Saint in These Dark Times - Devin Rose

Lionheart Catholic:
How to Become a Saint in These Dark Times
Devin Rose
ISBN 9780578539140



I requested a review copy of this book because an author I know, and respect recommended it. It took me a while to track the book down because currently it is only available directly from the author. But I can tell you it is well worth tracking down. Usually when I finish a book, I write my review within a day or 2. That was not the case this time. I have had a hard time starting. I would state that I highly recommend this book. It is an excellent read for all Catholics, and especially for men. I have a hard time quantifying that though. And so after more than  a week I am finally writing this review and hope it will encourage or challenge you enough to give the book a try.

The chapters in this volume are:

      1 A Time of Confusion
      2 Stalked By Anxiety
      3 Unity in the Truth
      4 Called to the Priesthood?
      5 Slavery to Sin
      6 Courtship to Marriage
      7 A Faith Worth Defending
      8 Infertility and Miscarriage
      9 A Princess Is Born
      10 Green Acres
      11 Sued!
      12 Small Groups, Big Blessings
      13 A Princess in Peril
      14 The Father’s Embrace
      15 Praying Like the Saints
      16 The Brotherhood
      17 Following the Recipe
      18 The Lionheart Catholic

This book is not a Catholic version of Wild at Heart by John Eldredge though parts of it feel that way. Nor is it a version of The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson repackaged for Catholics either. But the content in this book does resonate and echo those two works but with a Catholic world and spiritual world view.

One of the great strengths of this book is Devin’s openness, honesty and vulnerability. He draws heavily from examples from his own life. Based on some of the titles of his other books some of the material may have appeared before, like the attempted farm. I am sure most readers will fad a few chapters that speak to them where they are today and be immediately of benefit. I am also just as certain that other chapters will come back to mind in time of need. There may even be chapters you immediately share with a friend or two. There was one chapter I had a co-worker read and it was exactly what he needed.

This book has had a lasting impression on me. More than a week later I am still thinking about it and pondering. And have started making some small changes. It is a book that will not leave you the same. But it will be well worth the challenges the book presents and the changes you enact. A great read.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Devin Rose:
The Protestant's Dilemma
If Protestantism is True
Navigating the Tiber
Defending Your Faith Against Protestants
Love Is For The Painters
Farm Flop: A City Dweller's Guide to Failing on a Farm in Two Years Or Less
Lionheart Catholic: How to Become a Saint in These Dark Times
The Catholic Novena Book
Bumper Sticker Catholicism (with Douglas Beaumont)


Contributed to:
One Body, Many Blogs: A Guide for Christian Bloggers




Thursday, 26 March 2020

Dewi Sant: St David Patron of Wales - J.B. Midgley

Dewi Sant: St David Patron of Wales 
J.B. Midgley 
Gracewing
ISBN 9780852447581


I have become a huge fan of J.B. Midgley’s work. Over the last several months I have read 17 of his books and tracked down the other 11. He wrote 26 volumes for the Catholic Truth Society, this book and one other. And this volume is significantly different than many of the others I have read to date. I can state I do not recall encountering the name Dewi Sant or saint David of Wales prior to reading this book. I have only visited Wales once and that was for a Rugby tour back in 86. But the people I met, and the churches I visited showed a similar faith as that present in this volume.

The sections in this book are:
Forward
Chapter 1 Patron Saints
     Patriotism and Nationhood
Chapter 2 Evangelisation in Europe
Chapter 3 Celtic Spirituality
     Ninian, Samson, Illtyd and Paulinus
     The Pelagian Heresy
     Saint Patrick and Menevia
Chapter 4 Saint David
     The Written Life of Saint David (Dewi, Dafydd)
     Birth and Parentage
Chapter 5 David, monk and Reformer
     Early Education
     The Reformer
     The Synods
     The Good and Faithful Servant
Chapter 6 Canonisation and Cult
     Miracle and Legend
Chapter 7 Devotion to Saint David
     Saint David in Art, Poetry and Music
     The national Emblem of Wales
     Pilgrimage to St David’s Shrine
Epilogue
     The Reformation and after
     The Welsh Martyrs
     The Continuing Welsh Mission
Acknowledgements

We are told in the forward by Archbishop Peter R. Smith of Southwark that:

“Few contemporary records survive of the life of Saint David, the Patron Saint of Wales, yet Barry Midgley has drawn up a very well researched and fascinating account of the life and influence of this great Celtic Saint. It is set in the context of the developing Celtic spirituality in the firth and sixth centuries strongly influenced by monastic tradition. It is a story of extraordinary faith and courage in preaching the Gospel in the very difficult circumstances of the Barbarian invasions and the collapse of civil authority. It is the story of ecclesiastic reform, or loyalty to the one Church of Christ and a commitment to orthodox teaching livid out day by day in a life of vibrant faith and hope, of personal discipline and self-sacrifice.”

And that is a good part of what we find in this book. An example of a life lived, that we desperately need in this day and age. But the forward concludes with these words:

“Saint David’s example should be an inspiration to all of us who try day by day to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Through his intercession may we, like him, remain ever faithful to the gift of faith which we share with this great Welsh Saint.”

And that is another part of what we get in this little volume. We have an exploration of this saint through the ages in music, art, poetry and prayer. The front cover of this volume is the design for a mosaic of this saint, that was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. The back cover has a detail image of the finished mosaic. The book is truly wonderfully researched. And Midgley does give a balanced look at historical sources, and the pros and cons of some of them. 

The only thing I believe the book was missing was more visual examples of churches or artwork dedicated to this saint. Other than that, it is an exceptional volume. I do wish an eBook edition was available to make it easier to get in North America. But that being said.  It was a fascinating read and thoroughly enjoyed it and benefited from reading it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

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 
...











Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The Book of Jotham - Arthur Powers

The Book of Jotham
Arthur Powers
Tuscany Press
ISBN 9781939627001
eISBN 9781939627025
ASIN B00B1Z7VWI

 


Very few books completely surprise me. This book has been on my radar for several years and been on my kindle for a few. I finally got around to reading it, when a different Catholic author I respect asked if anyone has read it. So, it jumped to the top of my to be read pile.

It is an easy book to read, and an easy book to understand. But it is not an easy book to process. I have been thinking about it a lot over the last few days. And it is not just the story, but how the story is told that is having a lasting impact upon me. The writing reminds me of the styles of both Noah ben Shea and Paulo Coelho. There are books by both of those authors that I have returned to time and time again. And this book feels like it might fall into that practice.

The description of the volume is:

“Jotham is a mentally challenged man-child who, like the other apostles, follows Jesus as Christ carries out his ministry and experiences death by crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Yet the other apostles—the dedicated Mary, Peter, Thomas, and the rest—while they care for Jotham and look out for him, don’t understand why Jesus loves him so. Thomas even says, after Jesus offers a parable, “I don’t see why all the pots can’t be strong and beautiful.”

Jotham may be different, but through him, we come to see Jesus and Jotham not just with our eyes, but also with our hearts.”

Some reviewers speculate that Jotham has Downs Syndrome, I think it just as likely that he is on the Autism spectrum. But the specific challenge he faced are not the issue. It is his interactions with Jesus, the disciples, Mary the mother of god, and Mary of Magdala. The power in the story is both the portrayal of Jotham’s view of events, but also how others in Jesus’s circle saw and interacted with Jotham. There is immense power in the story of his being cleaned up. And also having his feet shod.

I myself have a dual form of dyslexia, and throughout my schooling from grad 2 to 20 years in university I interacted often with special needs students, or students with disabilities depending on the school and what was politically correct at the time. My disability is not physical and is not obvious to many. Others were more like Jotham, it was clear that there were differences physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Reading this book has me reflecting back on some of the other students I encountered more often. Thinking about how they saw and interpreted those interactions, and how I myself behaved. And to be honest the book will have a lasting impact on my interactions with people going forward.

I am grateful that I finally got around to reading this book. It is not an easy book to review. But I can state that I highly recommend it and challenge you to give it a read and see what sort of impact it has on your life.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Arthur Powers:
The Book of Jotham
A Hero for the People
Sketches/Rio de Janeiro & Other Poems
Edgewater


Contributed to:
Just So Stories
Sky Songs II: Spiritual SF



Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Reason for the Seasons - Fr. James V. Schall - Why Christians Celebrate What and When They Do

The Reason for the Seasons:
Why Christians Celebrate What and When They Do
Fr. James V. Schall
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781622826902
eISBN 9781622826919
ASIN B07JQ94JRY



This version of this book was published in 2018. It looks to be a revised and expanded version of Rejoice and Be Glad (ISBN 9781622822966) that was published in Match of 2017. The subtitle of that earlier edition was ‘Celebrating the Great Feasts of the Church’. Both subtitles work. I will admit the book is not nearly what I was expecting, I was expecting something along the lines of The Church's Year: Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ by David W. Fagerberg. But this book is a collection of 52 essays and articles. And there are some real gems in this collection. Many of the pieces appeared previously across 10 publications and websites. The pieces had appeared in:  The Catholic Thing, Catholic World Report, Gilbert Magazine, Crisis Magazine, MercatorNet, Aleteia.org, The Hoya, National Review, Inside Catholic, and The University Bookman. And as with any anthology or collection like this one there are pieces you will absolutely love, some you will like and maybe a few that just do not do it for you. I can state that many deeply impacted me and I will likely return to the volume and reread it following the seasonality of the pieces.

In the introduction Father Schall states:

“Over the years, I have written a number of relatively short essays on various Church feasts. These feasts are always an occasion to ask: “What is the point of the celebration?” “Why is it a case, not just of rejoicing, but of knowing the truth that makes real joy possible?” We cannot be joyful without ultimately knowing why we should be joyful, without having something to be joyful about.

In particular, I have written (and include here) many reflections on Christmas, Easter, and the days surrounding them. Also in this text are considerations of Pentecost, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day as well as of the “End Times” that come up in the last Sundays of the Liturgical Year.”


And that is evidenced by the weighting in the sections. The book is broken into 5 sections, and the sections have between 21 and 3 reflections. They are:

Part 1 From Christmas to New Year’s (21)
Part 2 From Ash Wednesday to Easter (15)
Part 3 From the Ascension to Pentecost (5)
Part 4 Ordinary Time (3)
Part 5 From All Saints to the Immaculate Conception (8)

At the end of each piece that was previously published it references the source and publication date. In the conclusion Schall states:

“At the beginning of this book, I quoted five authors — Josef Pieper, G. K. Chesterton, Samuel Johnson, St. Augustine, and Karl Adam. My selections were not arbitrary. They are designed to anticipate, to alert the reader to the flavor and thought that goes into the various texts that follow. As the reader goes through the book, the themes found in these initial citations keep recurring.”

And he does just that. There is part of me that wishes the sections in the volume were more evenly balanced. Or that Lend received as much weight as Christmas. But Father Schall has his reasons. And as the author of over 70 books there is much I could read across other subjects. In that conclusion he also states:

“Each year the liturgical cycle, in contrast to the chronological counting of days, but reflective of it, leads us through the history and nature of our salvation. No doubt, in one year, we can but touch on the riches that are found in each of the events of our redemption. As can be seen in these chapters, each year, each feast or memorial becomes a new starting point. We look again, with the new events of our own life and times, at the fact of Christ’s presence in this world, during the time of Caesar Augustus.”

And further along:

“No better way can be found to make sense of our own lives than to see them in the light of the drama of God’s calling us through Abraham, through the Incarnation and Redemption of Christ on the Cross, through the awareness we have that neither we ourselves nor the world itself is made fully to satisfy us, even though it can satisfy us in many good things.”

One of the pieces that impacted me most was his essay on Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s novel The Lord of the World, and that pieces and some of his references to C.S. Lewis have stirred in me a desire to return to the writings of Lewis, Benson and Chesterton.

This was one of those books I could hardly put down. But it is also one that I should have taken more time with. I will likely return to it and next time only read an essay every day or two. It is an excellent volume that any Catholic would benefit from reading.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!
 




Monday, 23 March 2020

Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer - Jacques Philippe

Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer
Jacques Philippe
Timothée Berthon (Editor)
Neal Carter (Translator)
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 
9781594173363
eISBN 9781594173356
ASIN B07NBVWJRN


My introduction to the writings of father Jacques Philippe was Time For God, which I first read 12 years ago. I have reread that book four times now and every time I read it, I get something more out of it. And when he has a new book come out in French, I eagerly await it being available in English. This time it looks like the two editions are publishing at the same time, and this is the second book I have read in the Nine Days Series. Nine Days to Welcome Peace, was an excellent read, and this one was also. I picked it up even before I finished this one, and will be extra diligent about keeping my eyes open for other books in this series. Father Philippe states about this series that:

“The “Nine Days to” collection offers a guided retreat to be lived at home or on vacation, in the subway or on the train, for people who have little time but wish to devote ten minutes a day to spiritual growth.

Each book in the collection offers nine days of inspiring meditations that surround a specific theme for advancement in the spiritual life. Each serves as both a school of prayer and an authentic tool of self-transformation.

Two meditations are offered for each day. One can be experienced in the morning and the other at any opportune moment during the day or evening.

The journey includes reflection exercises, the Word of God, a meditation from a saint or another great spiritual author, and a resolution—all geared to help the participant dive into an authentic spiritual experience.”

When I read this book the first time time I did part in the morning and part at lunch. Returning to it at lunch helped to focus my afternoon in a new way. 

The chapters in this volume are:
First Day:
Responding To A Call
Second Day:
 Putting God First
Third Day:
 Praying Freely
Fourth Day:
 Living Heaven On Earth
Fifth Day:
 Prayer Makes Me Know God
Sixth Day:
 Discovering My Profound Identity
Seventh Day:
 Prayer Makes Me Capable Of Loving My Neighbor
Eighth Day:
 The More I Pray, The More I Become Free
Ninth Day:
 Unifying My Life

And each of the nine days follows this pattern:

Introduction
Invitation To Contemplation
Sign Of The Cross
Prayer To The Holy Spirit
The Word of God
Meditation From Fr. Jacques Philippe
Prayer
Light From A Faithful Witness
The Light Of The Saints

The sections in each day vary slightly from the other volume currently available in the series. The section The Light of the Saints sometimes comprises quotes from more than one source. Each day is preceded by a full color photo and in this volume, they appear to all be photo’s of mosaics. We are not told where the excerpts from Father Phillipe are from, or if they were written specifically for this book, or this series. But in the grand scheme of things that does not matter. In the preface to the other volume it states that these meditations are available as a pamphlet or on CD. So I assume the original French versions come from retreats that Father Philippe has lead. And even if in English we do not have access to the audio, the book itself makes a wonderful 9-day personal retreat. Or it could even be used by a group or family. 

This is another wonderful resource for spiritual growth from Father Philippe. And I know I will be reading them all as the series becomes available and will return to them again and again. An excellent little volume. I highly recommend this and also the other Nine Days book that is available.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan

Other Books By Fr. Jacques Philippe
From Scepter:

Called to Life
Time For God
Interior Freedom
In the School of the Holy Spirit
The Way of Trust and Love - A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux
Thirsting for Prayer
Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust

Fire and Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God
The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes
Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer
Nine Days to Welcome Peace


St Paul's Alba House:
Searching for and Maintaining Peace
Discerning Your Vocation: A Catholic Guide for Young Adults (Forward)

Pauline Books and Media:

Time For God

SingTala:
Time For God
I Choose to be Free: the Power of Faith Hope & Charity (a different edition of Interior Freedom)