Monday, 19 April 2021

Saint Bernard Abbot of Clairvaux Doctor of the Church - Alice Curtayne

Saint Bernard Abbot of Clairvaux Doctor of the Church
The Anthonian Press
Dublin (1931)

A few years back I encountered the works of Alice Curtayne. I became fascinated by them. I was able to track down about a dozen of the 32 books and booklets I believe she wrote. But it became harder and harder to find them, let alone at a reasonable price. The version I was able to track down literally crumbled as I read it. By the time I had finished this booklet twice both covers were off, and every of the other pages had split. And every time it moved it left crumbles of paper. But it was so worth tracking down and reading.

The book was first published in 1931 by the Anthonian Press, Temple Street, Dublin, C.14. And was printed in Ireland. It received:
     Nihil Obstat: Michael L. Dempsey S.T.L., Cnsor Theol. Dept
     Imprimi potest: Eduardus, Archiep. Dublinen., Hiberniae Primas.
     Dublini, die 12 Julii, 1933.

So the edition I laid my hands on is from at least 1933. The first half of this booklet is about Bernard and his role in the Cistercians and all of Europe during his lifetime. The second half is about his friendship with Saint Malachy and the founding of Cistercians in Ireland. It makes reference to another volume being needed on that friendship and in 1954 penned, Saint Bernard and His Friend Saint Malachy. Which I have yet been able to lay my hands on.

The cover of this booklet does not even contain Curtayne’s name. The title on the cover is St Bernard Doctor of the Church, the title on the title page is Saint Bernard Abbot of Clairvaux and Doctor of the Church. The back cover has No. 31 and something below that has been obliterated over time. The inside front cover has a prayer by Jas. A. McDermott it is Sr. Bernard’s MeMorare. The inside of the back cover has an image I believe of a flower or plant with these words:

 “O Clement 
O Pious
O Sweet

The book also contains several Illustrations:

Authentic Portrait of St. Bernard
St. Malachy Archbishop of Armagh, Friend of St. Bernard
St. Christian O’Connarchy
Blessed Eugene III.Pope 
Alexander III.

It also contains 2 Photo reproductions:

Mellifont Abbey was the Scene of one of the Emancipation Celebrations of 1929.
The Centenery

If this had been an eBook there were several passages I would have highlighted. Some of them are:

“It would be impossible within the space of the present booklet to relate all Bernard’s activities, but his three main enterprises must be told in order to convey some ide of his towering importance in European life. These were: his healing of schism in the Church; the episode of his duel with Abelard; and his preaching of the Crusade.”

“His monastic foundations increased to a total that is nearly as incredible as his written output. During his forty years as a Cistercian, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries all over Europe, directing and largely organizing himself this chain of religious houses. These increased to the number of three hundred and forty-three before his death.

“From this life, bewildering in the very complexity of its achievements, I want the reader to grasp one single quality chiefly, what I can only describe as the Roman-ness of Bernard. The soul of orthodoxy, he was the greatest protagonist of the Faith in Europe, and a director of ecclesiastical affairs from their very center. While being a most obedient child of the Papacy, circumstances made him the counsellor of Honorius, the staunch defender of Innocent II, and the spiritual director of Eugenius III. He was, therefore, a sure interpreter of the mind of the church; his opinion counted in Christendom; his word had more authority and weight than that of any other living man in Europe.”

“Malachy was in the prime of life, probably in his forty-sixth year, when he first met Bernard. There is a strange conformity in the lives of the two Saints, which could be extended to great length if set out in its fulness.”

“After Malachy’s return to Ireland the two Saints corresponded, of necessity, about the foundation of a Clairvaux in Ireland. Saint Bernard trained his four Gaelic disciples for two years, and then he sent them back to their country, accompanied by nine Frenchmen, to form the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland.”

This was a wonderful little booklet to read. And every time I track down one of Curtayne’s works, I wish that they were all back in print. Thankfully Cluny Media has been working on that and has reprinted 6 of her works and one she contributed to. If you get the chance to read this I strongly encourage you to do so. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Alice Curtayne:
St. Catherine of Siena
A Recall to Dante
Saint Brigid of Ireland
Saint Bernard Abbot Of Clairvaux And Doctor Of The Church
Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Columcille: the Dove of the Church
St Francis of Assisi: Founder of the Franciscan Order
St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland
House of Cards
Borne of the Wind
Lough Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory
Twenty Tales of Irish Saints
More Tales of Irish Saints
Irish Saints for Boys and Girls
Jean-Baptiste Debrabant
Patrick Sarsfield
Saint Bernard and His Friend Saint Malachy
The Trial of Oliver Plunkett
The Irish Story
Francis Ledwidge: A Life of the Poet

Booklets by Alice Curtayne:
(Catholic Truth Society and others)
Saint Philomena
Saint Brigid, The Mary of Ireland
St. Bernard Doctor of The Church 1933
Saint Catherine Of Siena A Woman Who Changed The World
The Story of Knock

The servant of God, Mother Mary Aikenhead
The Holy Man of Dublin; or, the Silence of Matt Talbot
Croagh Patrick. An account of the great national pilgrimage to Ireland's holy mount. 
The New Woman Transcript of a Talk

Books Edited by Alice Curtayne:
The Complete works of Francis Ledwidge

Books Translated by Alice Curtayne:
Labours in the Vineyard by Giovanni Papin

Books Contributed to by Alice Curtayne:

Friday, 16 April 2021

If I Ran the Zoo - Dr. Seuss

If I Ran the Zoo
Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN 0394800818
ISBN 9780394800813

Recently because of some media spotlight on Dr. Seuss and his works. I decided to reread the 6 books in question and two others. But alas only had 5 of the 6 on hand. This is the fourth of the reviews.

Dr. Seuss is famous for his many children’s books. Books that spark the imagination. Surprise, and amaze. There is a large collection of old animated shorts based on them. And these has been several movies both animated and life action. He also wrote two books that though written and illustrated in a similar style and format are considered adult books they are The Seven Lady Godivas and The Butter Battle Book. Butter Battle is a commentary on war and is often found in the children’s sections in bookstores and libraries. Godivas I believe is long out of print, I believe the last printing was in 1988. And I am only aware of it because it is the favorite book of a friend.  

I do not know a child who has not engaged with these books on some level. My youngest and my wife have a few of them memorized. And recite them to each other before bed, as much as read. My children loved the old, animated shorts, and like most of the movies. I was less fond of the live action movies but appreciate most of the animated ones. But back to this book.

This is yet another story about imagination. A young boy, Gerald McGrew is visiting the Zoo. And it is a perfectly good and respectable zoo. But young Gerald imagines what he would do if he ran the zoo. And soon it is a super, wonderous stupendous zoo filled with zany and crazy animals. Each bigger, better, and stranger than the last. 

Seuss at his best creating new animals with crazy names!

Note: I recently heard that 6 of the books by Dr. Seuss were being taken out of print. The 6 are: And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat's Quizzer. We had 5 of the 6 in our collection so I gave them a reread. The 6th The Cat's Quizzer I can only find used in Canada, the lowest price is $740. 

Books by Dr. Seuss:
McElligot's Pool 
The Cat's Quizzer

Thursday, 15 April 2021

An Easy Way To Become A Saint - Father Paul O'Sullivan

An Easy Way To Become A Saint
Father Paul O'Sullivan
ISBN 9780895553980
eISBN 9781505102376

This was the seventh volume from Father Paul that I have read, so far this year. I picked the first book, The Wonders of the Mass, up because it was promoted by TAN books in an email blast. They were promoting a bundle of books by Father Paul O'Sullivan. I know I have seen the covers before. After reading the first one I picked up a few more. And I realizes I should have grabbed the whole bundle. Each of the books I have read so far has been great. And this is another excellent read. The shorter description of this book is:

“A very optimistic book showing how an "ordinary" Catholic can become a great saint without ever doing anything "extraordinary"--just by using the many opportunities for holiness that to most people lie hidden in each day. Written with an assurance of success that is totally convincing and infectious. Many easy but infallible means of reaching great sanctity.”

And the chapters are:

Publisher's Note 
Foreword: An Easy Way to Become a Saint 

1. Two Kinds of Saints 
2. How to Love God 
3. The Wonderful Things God Has Done for Us 
4. God's Greatest Proof of Love 
5. The Passion 
6. After His Ascension 
7. We Must Do Everything for the Love of God 
8. The Principal Duties of the Day 
9. Reading 
10. Meditation 

How to Go to Confession 
The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart

This is a shorter read. And about the middle of the pack of Father Paul’s books I have read to date. It comes in at 82 pages for the eBook and only 120 for the print edition. It is a very good book. That is well written. It has excellent spiritual advice. One of the chapters that had a great impact on me was Chapter 9 Reading. Father Paul states:

“We have pointed out that the reason for so little sanctity in many souls is not weakness or malice, but ignorance. Spiritual reading dispels this ignorance and helps us to feel all the charm and consolation of God's blessed love.

Every Catholic should without fail make spiritual reading daily for ten or fifteen minutes. The neglect of this duty is disastrous.”

He makes some recommendations about reading:

Read books that appeal to you.
Pray before reading.
Read your book not once but many times.

This section also has a quote or summary of several of Father Paul’s books, as well as makes reference to several other good options.

I believe I have now read all the books from TAN that are currently in print by Father Paul. There appears to be two other volumes that do not seem to be in print. Which I believe is a great pity. If they are anywhere as good as this one or the others I have read, it is a great loss that they are not still available. 

Father Paul writes in an easy and engaging way. It took everything I had to not consume his books back to back. Another fantastic read from the pen of Father Paul O’Sullivan. This book helps us realize the call to be saints, or as Matthew Kelly always puts it “To become the best version of ourselves.”. It is an excellent volume that any Catholic would benefit from reading. I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Father Paul Henry O'Sullivan, O.P:
All About the Angels
How to Avoid Purgatory
My Lord and My God, Or, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
Our Lady of Fatima
Read Me or Rue It
St. Patrick and the Irish
The Divine Office: How to Say it Devoutly, How to Make it a Pleasure
The Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Story of a Great Man: Doctor Antonio de Oliveira Salazar
The Ten Commandments: For Real - For Now
What Ireland Owes to Portugal

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Work Play Love - Mike Aquilina

Work Play Love
How the Mass Changed the Life of the First Christians 
ISBN 9781640604254
eISBN 9781640604278

This is the twelfth volume from the pen of Mike Aquilina that I have read. And it is one of my favorites. This is one of those books that every Catholic, every Christian should read. And if we were to read and live it, it truly would transform our families, our workplaces, our nations and our world. I know more than a few converts to Catholicism, who were greatly influenced once they started learning about the early church. This volume delves deeply into the early church and what made it different, and how it transformed the world. The description of the book states:

“…The Mass was the reality most essential to the life of believers, and it deeply affected everything they did. In Work Play Love popular author Mike Aquilina shows how the Eucharist shaped three basic dimensions of life for the early Christians. Work. Christians brought the fruits of their labor to the altar—not only bread and wine, but also cheese, olives, honey, dried fish, and freshly pressed oil. As they worshiped, they consecrated the world itself to God. In turn, this affected the way they approached their work. It was not just toil. It was an act of love, undertaken for the Father. They labored in imitation of Jesus the laborer. Made one with Christians in the Eucharist, Jesus worked through them and in them. Play. The Mass was a leisurely, contemplative act, but it was celebrated on a normal workday in the Roman world. It was useless by the standards of the city. And yet it called forth—gently, gradually—the most creative responses. The Mass inspired new forms of music, poetry, architecture, and painting. At liturgy Christians stood back and reconsidered the cosmos from God’s perspective. They saw their lives as part of a profoundly new and different narrative. This made for new and different art. Love. Christian ritual demanded personal and communal acts of charity. The earliest descriptions of the Mass show the importance of the collection and its distribution to the poor, the imprisoned, and the home-bound sick. Deacons and deaconesses were dismissed to take Communion to the same people in need. The fruits of the Mass extended beyond the time of liturgy—and the bounds of Christian community. Christians took care even of their persecutors. …”

One of the passages in the book that hit me most was:

“The Mass makes Christians—that’s what this book is about. The Eucharistic liturgy isn’t just a nice little ceremony we made up to remember a historical event, like fireworks on the Fourth of July. The Mass makes our lives whole. All the useful work we do is bound up in it. All our playful joy comes out of it. And all our Christian love funnels through it.”

The mass is so central to our faith. It is about placing the mass first, and through that transforming our work and our play. It is a book that will help us find greater fulfillment at work, with our family and friends, in all we do. And should be central to our life. Mike writes so powerfully and passionately. That it is hard to not want to aspire to more. To life the life he is describing in this volume. This is a book that will leave you fundamentally changed. I will leave you with one final quote:

“Everything is measured against the Eucharist. This meal we share is what forms us as Christians.”

And so, I challenge you to read this book, and through the guidance grow in understanding, and be formed. Be well formed. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Mike Aquilina:
A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God
A Year With The Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living
Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts
Companion Guide to Pope Benedict's 'The Fathers' 
Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will
Fire of God's Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist
Good Pope, Bad Pope: Their Lives, Our Lessons 
Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life
Ministers & Martyrs: The Ultimate Catholic Guide to the Apostolic Age
Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: With St. Thomas Aquinas
Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You
Sharing Christ's Priesthood: A Bible Study for Catholics
Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
Sweet Gridlock: Selected Love Poems 
Terms and Conditions: Assorted Poems
The Apostles and Their Times
The Church and the Roman Empire
The Fathers of the Church Bible
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers
The Mass of the Early Christians
The Resilient Church: The Glory, the Shame, & the Hope for Tomorrow
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church
The Way of the Fathers: Praying With the Early Christians
The Witness of Early Christian Women: Mothers of the Church
Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers
Why Me? When Bad Things Happen
Yours Is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes Our World

Books co-written by Mike Aquilina:
A Pocket Catechism for Kids - Fr. Kris Stubna
Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth - Dion DiMucci
Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady through the Ages - Fr. Frederick Gruber
Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians - Scott Hahn
Praying the Psalms the Early Christians - Christopher Bailey
Saint Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer - Mark W. Sullivan
Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again - James Papandrea
Something More Pastoral: The Mission of Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl - Ann Rodgers
Take Five: Meditations John Henry Newman - Fr. Juan Velez
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Fr. Kris Stubna
Take Five: On the Job Meditations With St. Ignatius - Fr. Kris Stubna
Talking to Youth About Sexuality: A Parents' Guide - Fr. Kris Stubna
The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today - John Michael Talbot
The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Doubter's Novena: Nine Steps to Trust the Apostle Thomas - Christopher Bailey
The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence - Christopher Bailey
The Great Life: Essays on Doctrine and Holiness in Honor of Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap. - Kenneth Ogorek
The Holy Land: A Guide for Pilgrims - Fr. Dave Halaiko
The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions - Regis J. Flaherty
The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The World's First Christmas: Jubilee 2000 - Regis J. Flaherty
Weapons of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Father John Hugo - David Scott
What Catholics Believe: A Pocket Catechism - Fr. Kris Stubna

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Manual for Marriage - Dan and Danielle Bean

Manual for Marriage
ISBN 9781505116625
eISBN 9781505116649

I have read a couple of the “Manual For’s” from TAN Books. I greatly enjoyed and benefitted from reading the previous two and the same can be said for this volume. The previous volumes I have read in the series were Manual for Spiritual Warfare and Manual for Men. And this one was a logical progression. I honestly believe any marriage even the best of them could use work, and effort. I also believe that this book is an excellent volume towards that end. The beginning of the description of the book states:

“Dan and Danielle Bean, married for 25 years and veteran parents of 8 children, offer a modern take on an ancient idea: in marriage, we are called to something greater than ourselves. What can that mean in a modern world that abhors sacrifice, rejects the concept of permanence, and devalues the sacrament of marriage?”

And the description ends with:

“A thoughtful gift for engaged couples and newlyweds, this book is also a practical resource that can inspire and rejuvenate long-married and even struggling couples.”

I absolutely agree. This is an excellent resource for those engaged, for newlyweds and for those in longstanding marriages. The book begins with a quote from Chesterton that I have come across several times lately, it states:

“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary
man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

And that is true even more so today. The sections in the book are:

Publisher’s Note
Part One: Made in Heaven: The Extraordinary Vocation to Marriage
 1 Marriage as Vocation
 2 Marriage as Sacrament
 3 Two Become One
 4 Love Is a Choice
 5 Mutual Love
 6 Home and Family Life

Part Two: Wisdom and Prayers for Marriage
 7 Wisdom of the Church
     From Councils and Conferences
     From the Catechism
     From the Popes
 8 Scripture for Marriage and Family
     Marriage and Family
     Love and Friendship
     Virtue in Marriage
 9 Holy Men and Women
     Venerables and Blesseds
     Faithful Scholars
10 Prayers
     For Parents
     For the Family

I would say this book is worth the price for many of the chapters even if they were stand alone. I know that I will be returning to the book often. Especially the second section. And the chapters on Holy Men and Women and Prayers. When I first started reading this, we have friends going through a separation. I found myself copying passages and sharing them with the husband often. I only highlighted a few passages on my first read through. Some of them are:

“Wherever this book finds you, it’s important to recognize that the call to marriage is ongoing. Marriage is a call we must hear and respond to again and again, over and over, getting it right, and then messing it up, and then getting it right again. Marriage can be a mess, and it can be beautifully perfect. It’s simple, and it’s complex. It’s easy, and it’s hard. It’s all of these things for all of us generally, but it’s all of these things uniquely in your own marriage too.”

“Father Jarrett writes, “The married life is as much a vocation as the life of the cloister, and marriage should dominate the life of the married.”3 What does this mean and how do we achieve it? You and your spouse are made for each other, and you have a duty, through God’s grace, to bring each other to holiness in this world. That great responsibility comes from God, and the special grace he dispenses to spouses is ultimately ordered to eternal life with him in heaven.”

“So what is this “highest calling”? What is this noble work God sets before you inside of the vocation to marriage? It is nothing less than the salvation of your spouse’s soul. That is the great work you are called to in the married life. You are not made for yourself; you are made for your spouse, and your goal is heaven.”

“Find new ways to receive and appreciate the sacraments together. Look for opportunities to receive the Eucharist and sacrament of Penance together.”

“St. John Paul II teaches, “When they become parents, spouses receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God, ‘from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.’”

“When our children are very small, we are all they know. We are like God to them, and our task is to teach them to know and love the one true God. Does that worry you? It shouldn’t. Right there, in the heart of your family, is the perfect place for your child to grow to know God. Through your marriage, God created your family just for that purpose. Your unique family, in the heart of your home, is a sacred thing.”

I hope these few quotes and ringing endorsements inspire you to pick this book up. To either read yourself, or to give as gifts. I would love to see churches adopt the book and give it to all couple in marriage prep. It is a fantastic volume. Give it a read I am certain you will benefit from the time and effort.

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

Books by Danielle Bean:
From Heaven To Manger: Family Prayers and Activities for Advent
Giving Thanks and Letting Go
Manual for Women
Mom to Mom, Day to Day
Momnipotent: The Not-So Perfect Woman's Guide to Catholic Motherhood
My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom
Peace on Earth: Family Devotions for Advent
Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Think. Pray. Act. Every Day.
You Are Enough: 
You're Worth It!

Manuals from Tan Books:
Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin - Rev. Fr. Dennis Kolinski, S.J.C.
Manual for Eucharistic Adoration - The Poor Clares Of Perpetual Adoration
Manual for Marian Devotion - The Dominican Sisters Of Mary
Manual for Men - Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted
Manual for Women - Danielle Bean

Monday, 12 April 2021

Romeo & Juliet - William Shakespeare - Oxford School Shakespeare

Romeo & Juliet
Oxford School Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
Roma Goll (Editor)
ISBN 9780198321668
eISBN 9780199137602

Some might wonder why write a review of Romeo and Juliet. For who does not know about the story of the two star crossed lovers and their fate. And it would be a good question to ask. I have always enjoyed Shakespeare, to read, to listen to, and to watch. My 14-year-old daughter is reading this in grade 9 English. So, I got the eBook of the same edition she was reading to read along with her. I realized I have only read a single play in the last few years, and it has been over a decade since I had read a Shakespeare play. So this review will be more about this edition than the story itself. 

The description of this edition is:

“Oxford School Shakespeare is an acclaimed edition especially designed for students, with accessible on-page notes and explanatory illustrations, clear background information, and rigorous but accessible scholarly credentials. This edition of Romeo and Juliet includes illustrations, preliminary notes, reading lists (including websites) and classroom notes. Romeo and Juliet is a set text for KS3 in England, and remains one of the most popular texts for study by secondary students the world over.”

And depending on where you check it is based on either 1982 or 2009 edition. With the eBook version releasing in 2012. There are some features I like and some I do not about this edition. When I was in school the main versions in use were the Signet Classic, Pelican Classic or the Penguin Classic versions. The chapters as they appear in this volume are:

 About the Play
 Leading Characters in the Play
 Romeo and Juliet: Commentary
 Shakespeare’s Verse
 Source, Text, and Date

Characters in the Play

The Prologue

Act 1
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5

Act 2
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5
 Scene 6

Act 3
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5

Act 4
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5

Act 5
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3

Extracts from Romeus and Juliet

 England in 1597

William Shakespeare, 1564–1616

Approximate Dates of Composition of Shakespeare’s works

Exploring Romeo and Juliet in the classroom
 Ways into the Play
 Setting the Scene
 Keeping Track of the Action
 Shakespeare’s Language
 Exploring with Drama
 Writing about Romeo and Juliet

Further Reading and Resources

The features and section before the play and after are awesome. Way more background than any other edition I have read. And much more than the versions we read in school back in the 1980’s. It is an excellent learning edition from that perspective. What I found frustrating with this edition was the sheer volume of footnotes. Most scenes have over 100 footnotes and the highest Act 5 Scene 3 had over 300. It was ludicrous, and frustrating while reading. Especially in the eBook edition have to copies of the play one with footnotes and one without. They broke up the text so much. 

I have read many different editions of Shakespeare’s plays over the years. And have a beautiful hard bound collection of his complete works. I found this specific edition one of the worst for reading the play. And one of the best for supplemental material. For the price I would pick up this edition in eBook for the next one that one of my kids read in school. But I would only read before and after the play in this edition, and find a better version for just reading the play.

5 stars for the academic material, and 1 star for the play formatting.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

On Beyond Zebra - Dr. Seuss

On Beyond Zebra!
Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN 0394900847
ISBN 9780394900841

Recently because of some media spotlight on Dr. Seuss and his works. I decided to reread the 6 books in question and two others. But alas only had 5 of the 6 on hand. This is the first of the reviews.

Dr. Seuss is famous for his many children’s books. Books that spark the imagination. Surprise, and amaze. There is a large collection of old animated shorts based on them. And these has been several movies both animated and life action. He also wrote two books that though written and illustrated in a similar style and format are considered adult books they are The Seven Lady Godivas and The Butter Battle Book. Butter Battle is a commentary on war and is often found in the children’s sections in bookstores and libraries. Godivas I believe is long out of print, I believe the last printing was in 1988. And I am only aware of it because it is the favorite book of a friend.  

I do not know a child who has not engaged with these books on some level. My youngest and my wife have a few of them memorized. And recite them to each other before bed, as much as read. My children loved the old, animated shorts, and like most of the movies. I was less fond of the live action movies but appreciate most of the animated ones. But back to this book.

This is another story about imagination. A young boy explains to a friend that his alphabet does not end at Z but just begins there. He then outlines the letters in his alphabet and the words they start. They are all animals and wild creatures. The illustrations are among his craziest. 

I am not certain I had read this before, but it is a favorite from Dr. Seuss!

Note: I recently heard that 6 of the books by Dr. Seuss were being taken out of print. The 6 are: And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat's Quizzer. We had 5 of the 6 in our collection so I gave them a reread. The 6th The Cat's Quizzer I can only find used in Canada, the lowest price is $740. 

Books by Dr. Seuss:
McElligot's Pool 
The Cat's Quizzer

Friday, 9 April 2021

Paul VI Pilgrim Pope - Michael Collins - People of God

Paul VI Pilgrim Pope
People of God Series
ISBN 9780814646694
eISBN 9780814646939

This was the third book in the People of God Series that I have read. One of the other’s has since been pulled and I believe is being rewritten. It is also the first book by Father Michael Collins that I have read. I plan to read a number of other books by Collins, and also in this series. The books in this series have so far been fairly easy reads. They could be used in secondary school as texts. And are easily accessible to most teen, and adult readers. This is one of several books I have read about Saint Pope Paul VI in the last few years. A few before his canonization and a few since. 

The chapters in this volume are:

The Birth and Youth of John Baptist Montini 
The Call to Rome 
Pius XII, the Postwar Years, and the Departure for Milan 
John XXIII, the Council, and the Election of John Baptist 
The Missionary Pope 
Paul and the Postconciliar Church 
A Pontificate Drawing to a Close 

The description of this book is:

“Pope Paul VI (1963-78) was one of the most important and influential pontiffs of the twentieth century. In this engaging biography, Michael Collins examines this deeply spiritual man who is remembered as a reformer, evangelizer, and pilgrim.
Pope Paul’s pontificate was marked by an unprecedented series of international journeys, establishing a practice that his successors developed even further. These brought him face-to-face with modern life throughout the globe and the challenge of making the Christian message relevant in a secular world. Paul VI is regarded for his efforts to reduce poverty in the developing world, bolster the church’s rejection of artificial birth control, and foster better relations between Catholics and Orthodox and Reformed Christians. He was beatified in 2014 by Pope Francis.”

This is by no means a detailed or exhaustive biography. It is a brief volume covering many of the high points. It is an excellent brief biography. One that can be read in a few hours over a couple of mugs of coffee. It was a very enjoyable read. And great even for those who read much about Saint Pope Paul VI.

This book is an engaging read. It was difficult to put down. Even with the other books that I have read about Paul IV, I am grateful that I gave this one a read. Father Michael has several books about popes, pontificates, and the Vatican. If they are as god and enjoyable as this volume, they will be excellent reads. I have already added a few to my wish list. I also still have plans to read several more volumes from this series. A great read. I highly recommend it. I read it one day when I found my self home alone foe the day. I read part indoors and retired to the deck to finish it in the afternoon sun.  

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

Books by Father Michael Collins:
Crazy Chronicles of a Parish Life
Death of a Saviour: Reflections on Good Friday
Francis, Bishop of Rome: A Short Biography: Jorge Bergoglio on Heaven and Earth
Good Pope John: Pope John XXIII
John Paul II: The Path to Sainthood
Paul VI: Pilgrim Pope
Pope Benedict XVI: Successor to Peter
Pope Benedict XVI: The First Five Years
Pope Francis: A Photographic Portrait of the People's Pope
Remarkable Books: The World's Most Beautiful and Historic Works
Secrets And Treasures of The Holy City
The Fisherman's Net: The Influence of the Papacy on History
The Secrets of the Popes
The Story of Christianity
The Vatican
What the World Believes: A Detailed Look at the Religions of the World

Other books by or about Pope Paul VI:

People of God Series:
John XXIII - Massimo Faggioli
Oscar Romero - Kevin Clarke
Megan Rice - Dennis Coday
Francis - Michael Collins
Flannery O’Connor - Angela O’Donnell
Martin Sheen - Rose Pacatte
Dorothy Day - Patrick Jordan
Luis Antonio Tagle - Cindy Wooden
Georges and Pauline Vanier - Mary Francis Coadyn
Joseph Bernardin - Steven P. Millies
Corita Kent - Rose Pacatte
Daniel Rudd - Gary B. Agee
Helen Prejean - Joyce Duriga
Thea Bowman - J. Nutt

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Looking for Alaska - John Green

Looking for Alaska
ISBN 9780142402511
eISBN 9781101434208

This is not a book I would have likely picked up. But someone important to me recommended it, my oldest daughter, a daughter I did not know I had until she was 25, stating it has had a huge impact on her life. I have heard about controversary around this book for years. And that it is one of the most banned books. That being said, it does deal with some intense topics. And issues. Having two teenagers in the house and a preteen I can see both sides of the debate around this book. 

There is one very graphic sex seen, and a lot of talk about sex and sexuality. There is a lot of underage drinking, and smoking. And reference to drug use. It is clear that some of the characters abuse alcohol, and reference to others at the boarding school that abuse drugs. 

But the story deals with coming of age. Learning to fit in. Finding your place. And dealing with grief. Yet with the age of our children and friends’ children these are issues they are dealing with. 

When I finished Looking for Alaska. My first thought was that it is well written. I can also understand why it is a very challenged and banned books. If I were asked about a tween or teen reading this book, I would not recommend it for most tweens, and for more mature teens it would depend on the teen. But that would be my answer about many books. I think it would be a great book to read and have discussions about. It reminds me a bit of Dead Poets Society or School Ties. It does have at the core a good message. It brought back memories of friends who have committed suicide and one in High School who was murdered. But most of all it reminds me of God and I Broke Up by Katarina Mazetti. The way it is counted in days. The recall of the friendship, the loss, and the what comes next. 

It is a book I am glad that I have read. And in the right circumstances would recommend to other parents or to young adult readers. And if you have tweens or teens reading this book, I would encourage you to read it as well and be open to any discussions, that arise. 

Books by John Green:
The Fault in Our Stars
Paper Towns
An Abundance of Katherines
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Turtles All the Way Down
The War for Banks Island
Double On-Call and Other Stories
The Sequel
The Price of Dawn
The Space & The Cat and the Mouse
The Anthropocene Reviewed
Beyond the Elephant
The Time Traveler's Nephew

Contributed to:
Let it Snow
21 Proms
Who Done It?
You Are Not Alone


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Praying the Our Father in Lent - Carl E. Olson - CTS Devotions

Praying the Our Father in Lent
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784696719
CTS Booklet D834

Over the last several years, I have read over 175 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. I have read many books for Lent and Easter both from the CTS and other sources. This however is the first by Carl E. Olson that I have read, and I believe it is his only book with the CTS. The description of the booklet is:

“When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he taught them the Our Father. These meditations illuminate the words of the Lord’s Prayer as an essential part of the spiritual journey from Lent to Easter.

“This is the best collection of Lenten reflections I have come across. Olson writes in a style that is accessible to anyone but the text is not dumbed down to the lowest denominator. It is rich in sources and insights and tidbits of theological information that really add flavour to each reflection. The style is engaging and the tone is that of one intelligent friend speaking to another intelligent friend – 'sheep to sheep' – as it were.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Part One: Lent And The “Our Father”
An Introduction
True Love Means Knowing His Name
The End is Here
Supernatural Will Power
Everlasting Daily Bread
Forgive, For Eucharist’s Sake
Please, Don’t Tempt Me!
Easter Delivers Us From Evil

Part Two: Praying Your Way Through Lent
A Week-By-Week Scriptural Guide
Ash Wednesday
First Week of Lent
Second Week of Lent
Third Week of Lent
Fourth Week of Lent
Fifth Week of Lent

The book begins with these words:

“Ashes. Prayer. Fasting. Confession. Supplication. Repentance. 

This is the language of Lent, that sacred time of reflection and self-examination, a forty-day journey into the desert. It begins on Ash Wednesday, when a charred cross is traced across our brows, a reminder of our mortality: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That simple act is also a reminder that the brow of the Son of Man was marked with thorns and blood, with love and sacrifice. At Lent, the disciple is called to follow more closely in the steps of his master, to take up the cross, and to follow him into the wilderness in preparation for the Paschal Triduum.”

And that sets up the purpose and tone for the volume. Later in that introduction Olsen states:

“His forty days and nights revisited the forty years spent by the Israelites in the desert following their passage through the Red Sea. The three temptations Jesus faced were the same temptations faced by the chosen people of the Old Covenant: choosing physical comfort over obedience to God, loudly demanding God’s miraculous intervention rather than quietly trusting in him, and attempting to succeed without suffering. 

These ancient temptations are timeless, as attractive and deadly today as they were centuries ago.”

And As the book is written around the Our Father he says:

“Prayer and fasting are companions on the Lenten path. Fasting from bodily food during Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday, demands an increase in spiritual food. The hunger felt by the body should intensify the hunger felt for the Word of God, for Holy Communion, and for the presence of the Spirit. The work of the Son and the Holy Spirit is to bring hungering humanity to the Father, and the Our Father orientates the thirsting soul towards the Father’s will and kingdom.

From there the first part of the book is a study of the Our Father and the Second is guided Prayer through Lent. In the first chapter it is stated:

“The Christian life, including Lent, is about true and eternal love, and true love longs to be in the presence of the one loved. So, when we pray the Our Father, we first place ourselves in his presence. This is what Jesus does when he journeys in the desert: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days.” If Lent is going to take us into a deeper relationship with the Father, we need to begin by first being in that relationship.”

Each chapter in the first part of the book ends with a multipoint reflection. A sample is:


• Each of us wants to know what God’s will is for our lives. But how often do we think of God’s will in terms of redemption and salvation? Are we open to sharing the gospel with friends and colleagues? 

• Are we sometimes silent about our love for Jesus when someone mocks Christianity? This week, try to spend some time in prayer asking God to give you strength and encouragement in those situations. Consider how you can spread the Good News with those around you. 

• Is there an area of your life that you still haven’t given to God? If so, why not? What is holding you back from surrendering that part of your life to him? Pray and meditate on the prayer of Jesus: “Father, not my will, but yours be done. Amen.””

That second part of the book follows the readings of the three-year cycle. We are told:

“What follows is a scripture-based guide to praying during Lent, drawing on the readings for Ash Wednesday and the five Sunday of Lent from all three Cycles (A, B, and C). Each short reflection is meant for personal contemplation and prayer, and to accompany the public, communal, and liturgical prayers of the Church, all of which are ultimately focused upon and find their deepest meaning in the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324).”

These reflections vary from a few paragraphs to a few pages. And each ends with a prayer.

I really enjoyed reading this volume. And know I will work through it again next year over Lent. It was a great book to work through. But I would love to see Olsen do a daily devotion for Lent or Advent. But if you are looking for a great volume to read over Lent, I can highly recommend this one. It is another great resource from the Catholic Truth Society! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Devotions series click here.

Books by Carl E. Olson:
Will Catholics Be Left Behind?
The Da Vinci Hoax
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
Catholicism Study Guide
Called to Be the Children of God