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Monday, 10 May 2021

The Saint Monica Club - Maggie Green - How to Hope, Wait, and Pray for Your Fallen-Away Loved Ones

The Saint Monica Club: 
How to Hope, Wait, and Pray for Your Fallen-Away Loved Ones
Maggie Green
ISBN 9781622827237
eISBN 9781622827244
ASIN B081QX7VSS


I was intrigued by this book from the first time I encountered the title. I was surprised by the book, even though I started it with no preconceived notions. I picked up this volume based on the title and subtitle alone. I had not read any reviews, the back cover or even the description. I knew it was a book I wanted to read and needed to read. The dedication of the book states:

“By a member of
the Saint Monica Club
who lives in hope,
to all other members
who likewise hope for
the day their children return”

The chapters in the volume are:

Preface: What This Book Isn’t 
The Saint Monica Club 
Being Willing to Cry Out to God, “Lord, the One We Love Is Lost!” 
There Are No Quick Fixes 
Sitting at the Feet of Jesus Is Doing Something 
Do Something Loving 
Be Kind, Not Nice 
The Daily Surrender 
Ask for Help 
Keep Inviting Them In, through Every Door You Can Find 
Keep Living Life and Sharing What You Know 
Meet Them Where They Are 
Take Up the Cross by Treating Others with Dignity in All Things 
Being an Attractive Witness to Marriage and the Family 
There Will Always Be a Test 
Your Job Is to Inform and Witness, Not to Persuade 
Hold On to the Nails, Not the Hurt 
Guard Your Heart, so as to Remain Holy 
As a Parent, You Are Never Finished Loving 
Lively Faith in Your Home Allows Divine Grace to Do Its Work 
Lord I Believe; Help My Unbelief (and Please, Please, Please Hurry Up!) 
Be Brave, Even in Little Things 
Jesus Gives Lavishly, More Than We Can Even Ask 
The Rosary Is Your Best Tool 
Find Your Consolation in Christ, and Hold Fast to the Gospel 
Watch Yourself 
Sacraments and Sacramentals 
It’s Still Hard and Will Be Until It Isn’t 
The Domestic Church Is Your Refuge 
At Best, We’re Junior Assistants 
Recognize Your Weak Points 
Walking with Them 
Love Will Break Hearts of Stone 
The Soul Stolen Away 
How Can We Be at Peace if One We Love Is Lost? 
Taking Up the Cross 
Being Honest 
Your Prodigal and the Rest of Your Family 
The Dangers of Engaging in Intellectual Combat 
Your Prodigal’s Absence May Allow You to Be More Present 
Beauty Will Save the World 
The Hope That Is Ongoing 
Not the Final Thoughts 
Prayers to Saint Monica

This book was easy to read. It is engaging. It will inspire and motivate. There is a lot of wisdom in this book. It will bring up issues you may encounter. Troubles you might encounter. It will help those of us in this club to better handle the situations that might arise. Written in regards to the parent and child relationship, the advice is sage and can be applied to any relationship. A few of the passages I highlighted my first time through are:

“Repeat as often as needed: I am not in charge. I am here to love and to cooperate with God’s will, to assist in teaching the rest of the world about God’s great, infinite, merciful love by my own obedience and my own witness of that same gift.”

“We have a solemn duty to introduce our children to God by our words, our deeds, and, yes, by our witness to the Faith. We can do all of this, and still, our whole job is merely to prepare their hearts and sow the seed; it is God’s grace that will bring forth the fruits.”

“Loving your prodigals, no matter how challenging they might be or how old, is learning how to imitate God the Father by imitating God the Son. We willingly sacrifice our hands and feet, our head and our side; we offer ourselves, or we do not love.”

“When we are generous, it prompts others to consider whether they ought to be more generous as well. So feed the hungry, house the homeless, comfort the lonely, be the source of God’s abundant mercy for your prodigal. A good teacher in graduate school drilled into my head, “All behavior is communication.” It’s your job to listen to what your prodigal has to say (or to be aware of your prodigal’s silence on certain matters) and to respond by saying and doing something that reveals love.”

So material in this book might not be new to the reader but the reminder will be excellent. I loved this book. And it was one I really needed to read. As my children have aged, I have had more concerns about them walking away from the faith. And I have prayed for years for my wife to convert to Catholicism. This book provided encouragement and support. And inspired me anew to redouble my prayers, love and service.

A fantastic book for Catholic parents, and grandparents.

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

Books about Saint Monica:
St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer - Mike Aquilina and Mark S Sullivan
Saint Monica Power of Mother Paperback - Giovanni Falbo





Friday, 7 May 2021

You're Only Old Once! - Dr. Seuss - A Book for Obsolete Children

You're Only Old Once!
A Book for Obsolete Children
Random House Books for Young Readers
1986
ISBN 9780394551906
eISBN 9780385379502
ASIN B00ESF2AH4


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 eighth of the reviews, the 6 in question and 2 of my favorites. And am now expanding and reading and reviewing some of his others. 

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 contrary to my original belief You're Only Old Once! not The Butter Battle Book. Butter Battle is a commentary on war and is often found in the children’s sections in bookstores and libraries, and sometimes in the adult section. 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. And I know many adults that still have a favorite or 2 from the collection of his works. 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.

As someone in their 50’s I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It follows a man as he goes to the doctors and is referred over and over again to others. It is a ridiculous book. But one that does capture something a few of us have experienced or likely will. 

The book ends with:

     “Is this a children’s book?
     Well … not immediately.
     You Buy a copy for your child now
     and you give it to him on his 70th birthday.

This is a fun read. I greatly enjoyed it. But it is not for kids. Unless it is for your adult children about what you are going through. Great to give to your parents or for parents to give to their adult children. When reading pay close attention to the direction signs and labels.




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 $992. 

Books by Dr. Seuss:
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
...











Thursday, 6 May 2021

Kid in the Kitchen - Melissa Clark - 100 Recipes and Tips for Young Home Cooks: A Cookbook

Kid in the Kitchen: 
100 Recipes and Tips for Young Home Cooks: A Cookbook
Clarkson Potter Publishers 
A division of
ISBN 9780593232286
eISBN 9780593232293
ASIN B08681L3CF


My youngest daughter at the age of 10 loves cooking and cooking shows. She saved up her own money and purchased herself two cookbooks, this one and The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs from America's Test Kitchen. This was the first to arrive and she loves it. She carried it around the house for days, put in sticky note tabs for recipes she wanted to try. But more on that later.

This is a beautiful cookbook. Full color glossy pages. Heavy weight paper. Solid binding. And very well designed and made. It is a great book to flip through and get ideas from. Or to plan whole meals. The chapters in the volume are:

Breakfast & Brunch
Sandwiches
Snack Like You Mean It
Noodles & Pasta
Sheet Pan Fever
Extreme Bowling:
     Grain Bowls & Salads
Food Parties for the Fun Food Fans
One-Pot Meals
Breads
Sides
Sugar Time!

Prior to the chapters on specific foods there are 5 short sections to get you started. They are:

Hi! (An introduction)
How to Cook Any Recipe
The 20 (or So) Tools to Cook Almost Anything
Insta Your Dishes: Food photography Hacks and Tips
Kitchen Decoded

My daughter picked 5 dishes she wanted to prepare and made the family brunch. We had to purchase several ingredients we did not have in house. That first foray she made:

Brown Sugar Bacon
Siracha Glazed Bacon
Mustard Glazed Bacon
BLT on Artisan Bread (with bacon from above and avocado.)
Scrambled Eggs
And French Toast

It was a smash hit. The bacon and bacon sandwich she made for me blew me away. At 10 she still needs significant help in the kitchen but is a quick learner, and eager apprentice. 

She loves this book and give it a solid 5/5 stars. And I am certain we will have many other meals prepared from this volume over the weeks and months to come.

An excellent cookbook for younger aspiring chefs. A great place to start. Melissa has contributed to or written over 50 books related to food. And this one is a good one for working with younger children, or letting older children experiment on their own.





Wednesday, 5 May 2021

The Seal of Aeolus - Manuel Alfonseca - Chronicles of the Aeolian Family Book 01

The Seal of Aeolus
Chronicles of the Aeolian Family Book 01
Manuel Alfonseca
ISBN 9798616687609
ASIN B0852KM5YL


A few years ago I read several books in translation by Manuel Alfonseca. Most I believe translated by the author himself. This is the 9th volume from his pen that I have read. I believe this book was originally published in Spanish in 2002. There have been several Spanish editions over the years, and it was published in English in 2020. I picked this up to read because it was the Catholic Book Club on Good Reads book for this month. Once I started reading it I could hardly put it down. But that should not have surprised me, I have been impressed by everything I have read from Alfonseca’s pen. Several times while reading this volume I thought of Sword and Serpent by Taylor R. Marshall and also the writings of Jack Whyte. And I believe this book is just as good as the writings from those two authors. 

This book is masterfully written and incredibly well researched. And I implore you when you read the book stick it through and read the Authors Note at the end of the text. I picked up the next two volumes in this series as soon as I finished the first. And it took all my self restraint not to start the second for a few days until I was able to write this review. The description of the volume is:

“During the war of the Roman Empire against the Parthian Empire, in the time of emperor Marcus Aurelius, the young Flavius obtains a position in the legions as a standard bearer. His father wishes to separate him from Christianity, the religion he has converted to. The boy must face many dangers, travel to far away countries and work as a spy of the Roman Empire. After finding true love, he must deal with a complex moral issue that will be solved providentially, in a way he would never have foreseen.”

A story sent in ancient Roman times. Following a solder as he embarks on his military career. He is a Christian and not ashamed of it. War, battles, a theft, love., and more. This story has a bit of it all. 

Alfonseca is the author of over 50 books, 24 of which I believe are available in English. He writes across genres and styles with great ease. His books are always entertaining. And yet they cause a reader to think. In this story and many of his others a great strength is the characters. His characters are masterfully written. And his scene work and setting really draw readers in and keep them hooked. 

A fantastic historical fiction novel of a top quality. And excellent read that I highly recommend! But be warned you will likely need to buy the whole trilogy.

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

Books by Manuel Alfonseca in English:
Descent into the Hell of Venus
Jacob's Ladder
Under an Orange Sky
The History of the Earth-9 Colony
The Ruby of the Ganges
The Last Dinosaur
Ennia in Faerie
The Heirloom of King Scorpion
Beyond the Black Hole
The Water of Life
Albatros
Operation Quatuor
A Face in Time
...

Solar System Series:
Under an Orange Sky
Descent into the Hell of Venus
...


The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition Series:
Quetzalcoatl's Zahir

The Mystery of the Haunted House
The Mystery of the Sapphire Bracelet
The Mystery of the Honeymoon
The Mystery of the Egyptian Vulture Country House
...

Chronicles of the Magic Jigsaw Puzzle Series:
The Journey of Tivo the Dauntle
The Mystery of the Black Lake
The Silver Swan
The Secret of the Ice Field
The Lost Continent

The Chronicles of the Aeolian Family Series:
The Emerald Tablet
The Tartessian Crown

Non-Fiction:
Human Cultures & Evolution
World Population: Past, Present, & Future
The Fifth Level of Evolution
...




Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Model of Faith - Leonard J. Delorenzo - Reflecting on the Litany of Saint Joseph

Model of Faith: 
Reflecting on the Litany of Saint Joseph
ISBN 9781681929484
eISBN 9781681929491
ASIN B08XS248TB
 

This is the first book by Leonard J. Delorenzo that I have read, but it will not be the last. This was an excellent read. I had read a few books about Saint Joseph prior to the Year of Saint Joseph and have a few others I plan to read. This is a wonderful volume. It is one I will likely read again and again. I have some books I have read every year for over 2 decades now. And some I read every year for a few years and then it drops off. I feel this will be in the first category. I could see myself reading it each year leading up to the feast of Saint Joseph. 

The end of the description of the volume is:

“The Litany of Saint Joseph is a powerful prayer that leads us to consider the many ways in which Joseph faithfully and diligently carried out the will of God. As the litany guides us in proclaiming the wonders of Saint Joseph, we are drawn into contemplating the mysteries of God, whom Joseph never fails to praise and serve.

Each of the reflections in this devotional focuses on one of the twenty-two names, titles, or honors of Saint Joseph that we encounter in his litany. As we pray to Saint Joseph, offering our petitions to his care, and contemplating his life and his witness, we are drawn into communion with God who yearns to dwell with each of us, and dwelt in this world in the household of his Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph, pray for us!”

The chapters in this volume are:
The Litany of Saint Joseph
Introduction: Behold
Saint Joseph
Noble Son of the House of David
Light of the Patriarchs
Husband of the Mother of God
Guardian of the Virgin
Foster Father of the Son of God
Faithful Guardian of Christ
Head of the Holy Family
Joseph, Chaste and Just
Joseph, Prudent and Brave
Joseph, Obedient and Loyal
Pattern of Patience
Lover of Poverty
Model of Workers
Example to Parents
Guardian of Virgins
Pillar of Family Life
Comfort of the Troubled
Hope of the Sick
Patron of the Dying
Terror of Evil Spirits
Protector of the Church
Epilogue: Well Done

As stated there is a chapter dedicated to each of the titles or names of Saint joseph in the litany. Twenty-two points of reflection. Twenty two meditations. Therefore, this book could be read a chapter a day over 3 and a half weeks. Though to be honest when I read it the first time, I had a hard time putting it down. It is a fantastic read. Each chapter has a reflection and ends with a prayer. For example the prayer from the chapter Model of Workers is:

“Saint Joseph, you who know what it means to work, pray that we may be strengthened for our work. You who know what it is to labor but not receive praise immediately for your labors, pray that we may persevere when recognition is delayed or withheld from us. You who know that the most important work happens in silence, out of view of the eye of the world, pray that we might be content with the portion the Lord grants to us. And you who never shied away from either the secular or the sacred work entrusted to you for the good of your family, your community, and even the salvation of the world, pray that we might be diligent and courageous in fulfilling the work we undertake for the good of others and for the greater glory of God.”

And most chapters begin with a quote for example from Pillar of Family Life:

“God alone could grant Joseph the strength to trust the Angel. God alone will give you, dear married couples, the strength to raise your family as he wants. Ask it of him! God loves to be asked for what he wishes to give. Ask him for the grace of a true and ever more faithful love patterned after his own. As the Psalm magnificently puts it: his “love is established for ever, / his loyalty will stand as long as the heavens” (Ps 88:3).”
— Pope Benedict XVI

The book is easy to engage with. And I truly believe that all who read it will benefit from it. No matter what your relationship or devotion to saint Joseph, this volume will help you grow deeper. And some might ask why bother, in the final chapter Well Done it begins with these words of wisdom:

“Joseph was not faithful over little; he was faithful over much. He was faithful as spouse of the Blessed Virgin, as father to the Son of God, and as head of the Holy Family. He was entrusted with much, and in the fullness of time, God rewarded his faithfulness by entrusting him with even more.

Joseph is to be for us Christians what he was to Mary: devoted companion and constant support. He is to be for us Christians what he was to Jesus: guardian and protector. And he is to be for us Christians what he was to the Holy Family: steward of the sacred mysteries and caretaker for all in need.”

We could all benefit from greater devotion to Saint Joseph. And I find it amazing that in todays culture, the church hierarchy, and situation in the world that a Year of Saint Joseph was proclaimed. This is a book we need. It is one I highly recommend to you. 

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

For links to articles and reviews of other books about Saint Joseph and prayers click here

Books by Leonard J. Delorenzo:
Witness
A God Who Questions
What Matters Most
Turn to the Lord
Work of Love

Edited by:
Dante, Mercy, and the Beauty of the Human Person
I Call You Friends

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
St. Joseph and His World - Mike Aquilina


Monday, 3 May 2021

Close to the Soul - Mary Jo Thayer

Close to the Soul
ISBN 9781987970234
ASIN B092NXFX2S


Wow! What a powerful and moving story. This is a book that landed on my desk at a very opportune time in my life. Full Quiver specializes in books that focus on fiction around theology of the body. And this is one that is masterfully written. It is very moving. Intense events. Faith, family, and determination are the words I would use to describe this story. The description of the story is:

“Through grit and grace, Carolyn Fandel survives being raped by someone she knows and trusts. She will not accept defeat—even when confronted by her rapist a second time. Instead, she uses her tragedy to help hundreds of others, some of whom she will never meet. Set in the era of the Vietnam War and the new feminism, this book will have you crying and cheering for Carolyn as she navigates the challenges of life after sexual assault.”

Carolyn has the support of her family. Both immediate and extended. She faces many hardships. And Learns to work and work hard to support herself and her daughter. But throughout the events there is a young man courting her. But she has a desire to learn to stand on her own feet. And life takes many turns. The dedication of the story states:

“For all the babies—born and unborn—since the
beginning of time till the end.
And for their mothers—those who have rejoiced,
those who have grieved, and those who could do neither.
You are loved forever by the One Who Is Love.”

This is a story set in a time when abortion was still against the law. It follows a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy after an assault. But we also find out about another who ended her pregnancy. Both have a lot of work ahead of them to become whole. One has the support and love of her family. The other did not. This story follows Carolyn as she is assaulted, becomes pregnant, goes away to have the baby. And learns to make her way in the world. The story begins with these words:

“Back then, no one talked about such things. It wasn’t polite to speak about them freely. It happened at a time when real men stood up, and boys disguised as men went on their way without as much as a backward glance. Girls in such circumstances were labeled as if humans could read not only minds but also hearts and souls.

The young woman often got saddled with the total responsibility—even by her parents—which she accepted without choice. Most practically, the young lady had to go into hiding—and out of town was preferable. “It” was discussed in hushed tones, cloaked terms, and shared with a select few. The key players, which generally involved those needed to help conceal the incident, were informed on a need-to-know basis. If word got out, an embarrassing black mark might be cast upon the family name.

It was a natural set-up for stuffed emotions and a gigantic web of long-running lies. Lifelong secrets were kept hidden close to the soul, often only between the young woman and God.

At least, that’s how Carolyn thought it would go—especially being raised in a conservative Catholic bloodline and given a classical education, as if this somehow made her immune to the ugliness of the world.”

It is a moving and powerful story set in the 1950’s. Life was different, and society was very different. But the story is of great value for readers today. I mentioned at the beginning that the book landed on my desk at a critical time. I had just found out I have a 25 year old daughter I did not know about. Reading this I could not help but think about this daughter and her mother. This is an amazing read. And an incredible debut novel. Christian fiction at it’s best. Excellent Catholic literature.
 
Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan