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Monday, 31 January 2022

Saint Pius X - Father Walter Diethelm O.S.B. - The Farm Boy Who Became Pope

Saint Pius X: 
The Farm Boy Who Became Pope
Fr. Walter Diethelm O.S.B.
G.W. Thompson (Illustrator)
Vision Books
ISBN 9780898704693


This book is part of the Vision Books Biographies now published by Ignatius Press. It is the second in the series that I have read, the first was Saint Jose, Boy Cristero Martyr. I did pick up a couple of others, Father Damien and St. Katharine Drexel few years back but have not get around to reading them because I really prefer eBooks to physical because of my dyslexia. The Ignatius site lists 33 books in the series currently, but I have found at least 1 missing from that list. Which was listed in the back of the very old edition of this book that I read. I read this because I had finished the 38 books in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media. Those books are geared for a younger audience, and these are written for older readers and go deeper into the subject matters of each volume. The second was because Deacon Nick Donnelly mentioned having read and loved this volume. I am thankful I headed his recommendation and read this book. The description of this volume is:

“Another stirring tale from the Vision Books series for youth 9-15 years, this book tells the charming story of Giuseppe Sarto, "the farm boy who became Pope". Young readers will be inspired by the life of this holy man--from his youthful days of hard work and prayer to receive the education he needed; to his years as a country priest, encouraging his people to holiness; through the steady promotions to pastor, monsignor, bishop, cardinal, and archbishop, which he reluctantly accepted but in which he always became the beloved of those he served; to his days as the Holy Pontiff, Pope Pius X, the only canonized Pope of this century. This simple man who never forgot the poor will always be a timely example of holiness.   Born of very humble circumstances, young Giuseppe Sarto had one burning desire while growing up on a farm--to become a priest. But never did he or his generous parents ever dream that he would one day sit in the Chair of St. Peter. This is the inspiring story of the humble "Pope of little children," whose love for Christ and children moved him to change the requirements for First Communion so that young children as early as 7 years old could receive the Holy Eucharist. Illustrated.”

The chapters in the book are:
The Young Student
The Seminarian
Assistant at Tombolo
A Favor for Salzano
The Perpetuum Mobile
The Canon at Treviso
Best Bishop in Lombardy
The Red Hat
A Pope is Chosen
The Coronation
A Black Cassock Becomes White
Father to All the World
An Ardent Fire
The Children’s Pope
A Living Saint
The Servant’s Rest
Pius X, Saint of Our Times

This book is an incredible read. I was enthralled from beginning to end. So many moving moments in this read. From the story of his walking to school in a different town barefoot to save the wear on his shoes to the changes he made as Pope including:

Lowering the age for first communion
Having someone join his for meals
Not giving honors and titles to his sisters
Starting the code of canon law 

The list goes on and on. But what is most inspiring is his deep faith, his personal piety. His trust that God could work it all out. The miracles wrought during his lifetime, to the many after his death. I could hardly put this book down. 

This is an excellent book in what looks like an awesome series. Only 4 of the 33 volumes currently listed in the series have eBooks available. I have dyslexia and my son has eye tracking issues; I wish this whole series was available electronically. Also, as I mentioned I found reference to Fighting Father Duffy and also John Carroll Bishop and Patriot, in the back of the edition of this book I read and wonder if there are others that are no longer in print. I would love to track down a complete list of the book in the series. I would also love for Ignatius to release eBook editions for the whole series. That being said I was very blessed to have read this book and look forward to tracking down others in the series. This book was so inspiring that I challenge you to give it a read, I am certain you will be blessed. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books in the Vision Books Saints Biographies:
Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant 
The Cure of Ars 
Edmund Campion 
Florence Nightingale's Nuns 
Fr. Marquette and the Great Rivers 
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi 
Kateri Tekakwitha 
Louis and Zelie 
Maria von Trapp and Her Musical Family 
Mother Cabrini, Missionary to the World 
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity 
Our Lady Came to Fatima 
Saint Anthony and the Christ Child 
Saint Benedict 
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal 
Saint Dominic and the Rosary 
Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns 
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas 
Saint Helena and the True Cross 
Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus 
Saint Isaac and the Indians 
Saint Joan 
Saint John Bosco 
Saint Katherine Drexel 
Saint Louis and the Last Crusade 
Saint Philip of the Joyous Heart 
Saint Therese and the Roses 
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars 
Saint Thomas More of London 
Vincent De Paul: Saint of Charity 
Out of Print books in the Series:
John Carroll Bishop and Patriot





Saturday, 29 January 2022

A History of the Papacy - Father Nicholas Schofield - CTS Concise Histories

A History of the Papacy 
Father Nicholas Schofield
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860826726
CTS Booklet H510


Over the last several years, I have read over 250 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 including biographies from the Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This is the third book by Father Nicholas Schofield that I have read and it is also the third in the CTS Concise Histories Series.

The description of the booklet is:

“Over its 2000-year history, the papacy has lived the full range of human experience, including war, murder and exile. The Popes themselves have at times been men of vison and zeal – true saints – and at other times scheming politicians and great sinners; yet the institution founded by Christ himself has survived. This extraordinary booklet surveys the changing role of the Supreme Pontiff, giving an overview of the many ways it has affected the spiritual and temporal history of the world, starting with the Galilean fisherman right up to Pope Benedict XVI.”

About the series we are informed that:

“CTS Concise Histories reveal the truth behind some of the most important and controversial events in the Church’s history.”

The chapters in the book are:

Introduction
From Christ to Charlemagne
The Medieval Papacy
Exile and the Great Schism
Reformation and Revolution
The Modern Papacy
Bibliography

About the author we are informed that:

“Fr Nicholas Schofield is a Parish Priest and Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster. He has co-written ‘The English Cardinals’ and ‘The English Vicars Apostolic’ and writes a history column for ‘The Catholic Times.”

A few of the passages I highlighted my first time through this volume were:

“The papacy had not yet developed the bureaucratic structures of later centuries. However, there is little doubt that Christians recognised the bishop of Rome as having a unique authority. St Clement I (c.91 – C.101) wrote a famous letter to the church in Corinth around 95, the first surviving example of the bishop of Rome intervening in affairs beyond his own city.”

“Constantine’s conversion also added a new dimension that would dominate subsequent centuries – the relationship between Church and State, between Pope and Emperor. The potential for conflict became immediately apparent when Constantine took upon it himself to call a Council at Nicaea to examine the teachings of Arius, who denied Christ’s Divinity.”

“For several years two popes were present in Rome, one at the Lateran (Liberius), the other on the Via Aurelia (Felix), each claiming to have imperial sanction as bishop of Rome.”

“Relations between Constantinople and Rome were often strained not only by political disagreements but theological controversies. In reality, the pope had a great deal of freedom but it was felt that imperial support was needed against the Lombards, who not only threatened Rome but subscribed to the heresy of Arianism.”

“Referring to himself as servus servorum Dei (servant of the servants of God), Pope Gregory did much to reorganize the lands belonging to the papacy (the ‘patrimony of Peter’), tighten church discipline and liturgical practice and, like St Leo the Great, prevent Rome from being sacked, this time by King Agilulf the Lombard (593). Familiar with the ways of the East, he asserted the Roman primacy in his dealings with the Emperor and, like his predecessor Pelagius II (579-90), criticised the Patriarch of Constantinople’s adoption of the title ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’.”

“Moreover, when English monks such as St Boniface helped bring the Gospel to Germany and other parts of northern Europe, they took with them this love for Peter.”

“The high point of the medieval papacy was undoubtedly the reign of Innocent III (1198-1216). A Roman nobleman and lawyer, he was only thirty-eight at his election and had been made a cardinal by his uncle, Clement III (1187-91). Trained in law, he combined genuine piety and zeal with a sharp intellect and understanding of human affairs. Innocent not only claimed supreme spiritual and temporal authority, like most medieval popes, he actually exercised it.”

And the volume concludes with these words:

“Such is the mystery of the Church, that a Divine institution is administered by sinners. Despite the current obsession with ‘celebrity’, the importance of the pope lies in the office rather than the person. Even the ‘bad popes’ have safeguarded the deposit of faith and encouraged the mission of the Church.

Along with the bishops, the popes defend the truth of the Gospel and constantly teaches us in the face of indifference, secularism, doubt, and scepticism that we encounter in the modern world. We need Peter today just as much as the first followers of Christ. And so let us pray:

Lord Jesus, shelter our Holy Father the Pope under the protection of Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou his light, his strength and his consolation.”

Therefore I challenge you to be praying for the pope, bishops, cardinals, and all priests. And to learn about the popes and the history of the papacy, use this book to start then branch out.

This is an excellent book in a great series. It is perfect for dipping your toes. But I have a feeling you will come away from this book with two or three Popes that you want to learn more about or some writings from Popes that you will want to pursue. It is well written, engaging, and honest. It does not sanitize the history. It is fairly balanced. The only drawback is that Father Schofield covered so much in such a limited space. I feel he could have written a concise history on each of the periods the chapters in the volume cover. That being said it is still a great little read! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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

Books by Nicholas Schofield:
The English Cardinals
Saints of the Roman Calendar
A Brief History of English Catholicism
The English Vicars Apostolic (1688-1850)
Roman Miscellany
History of the Papacy
William Lockhart
A History of the Papacy 
...








Friday, 28 January 2022

Lepanto’s Lady - Laurie Schmitt

Champions of the Rosary
ISBN 9781645851578
eISBN 9781645851585
ASIN B09JL259B1


This was the second volume by Laurie Schmitt I have read but it will not be the last. I read the first two that are available electronically just week’s apart. I hope the third has an eBook edition released shortly. I have read about the battle of Lepanto in several textbooks, history and church history books over the years. I have also read about Saint Camillus de Lillis previously. I have also read about the Barbary slave trade. This book ties those themes together in a wonderful historical fiction novel. This story also received the Nihil Obstat: from Rev. Jesse Burish on October 25th 2020 and the Imprimatur from the Most Rev. William Patrick Callahan on the 26th. This book was incredibly hard to put down once I began it. It is a story that catches the reader's attention and does not let go. 

The description of this book is:

“Every October 7, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. What many may not know is that this title was bestowed on the Blessed Mother after the Battle of Lepanto in 1571—the most epic sea battle in the history of Christendom.

Lepanto’s Lady is based on the real-life events of the Battle of Lepanto and introduces readers to Rosa, a young girl from Amalfi who must use her strength and cunning to stay clear of slave traders and ruffians as she travels alone in search of her father, who has been captured by enemies.

Can Rosa manage this treacherous journey with the help of newfound friends? How will she find and save her father? Lepanto’s Lady is a riveting tale that demonstrates the undeniable power of the Rosary.”

I loved the way this story is written. The characters are masterfully crafted. The pace is excellent. And the ploy though it might seem out of myth and legends is based on real events. The book is written for tweens and teens, but can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a faith filed adventure. The chapters in the story are:

 1: Amalfi Coast
 2: Valle dei Mulini
 3: Holy League
 4: Celebration Day
 5: Pirates
 6: Disguised
 7: Monastery
 8: Dancer
 9: Discovered
 10: The Holy Cross Sails.
 11: Battle at Sea
 12: Bound for Home
A Historical Note for Readers.

The final section of the story informs readers about the real battle. The legend of a female warrior and others who were actually in the battle. The cast of historical characters is:

Pope Pius V
Don John of Austria
Miguel Cervantes
Camillus patterned after St. Camillus de Lellis 

As mentioned this is an excellent read and it was hard to put down once I got going. Parts of the story may be fictional but it revolves around real events and a true miracle. It is wonderfully written. It is an excellent novel for Middle Grade readers right on up. I am in my 50’s and absolutely loved it. And I added to both my son’s and youngest daughter’s reading lists. I have mentioned this story and the other by Schmitt to several friends. This is an excellent read no matter your age. A story filled with family, faith, and a deep love of church.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Other books by Laurie Schmitt:
Giorgio's Miracle





Thursday, 27 January 2022

Praying the Rosary with the Saints - Nick Donnelly - CTS Devotions

Praying the Rosary with the Saints
Nick Donnelly
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 
9781860822582
eISBN 9781784694388
ASIN B073GZ1N9L
CTS Booklet D664


This is the eighth title from the pen of Deacon Nick Donnelly that I have read over the last three years. Most of them I have read more than once. This booklet is another excellent offering from his pen. I read it over 5 days, doing a set of mysteries each of the first four and then the biographies of the saints quoted on the fifth. I know this is a way of praying the rosary I will return to often. I have read over 250 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society over the last several years. Several of them penned by Deacon Nick Donnelly. The description of this volume is:

“The Rosary contains the essence of the Gospel, particularly with the new Mysteries of Light, which enable us to meditate on the public ministry of Jesus. This way of prayer has been loved by countless saints, who found it a genuine path to growth in holiness, offering them and us a privileged means for daily conversation with the Lord. Our communion with the saints joins us closer to Christ. They appeal to so many of us because of the love, truth, and sincerity of their lives. In their personalities and actions we see a reflection of the face of Christ, and in their words we hear his voice speaking to us. This eBook enables us to pray with them to Jesus, with Mary.”

The chapters in this small volume are:

Introduction
How to use this book
The Joyful Mysteries
The Mysteries of Light
The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Glorious Mysteries
Lives of the Saints

The book is split almost exactly at 50 percent the rosary and 50 percent on the biographies. This volume was first published in 2004 and the eBook was released in 2017. This is a great method of praying the Rosary either personally or corporately. Great for home devotion, prayer group or in the parish. I have used many different ‘Scriptural Rosaries’ over the years, but this volume with Quotes from Saints is very different. Deacon Nick states in the Acknowledgements:

“This form of scriptural rosary is inspired by Peter Huyck’s A Scriptural Rosary - 1596, itself based on Henry Garnet’s The Societie of the Rosarie, composed during Penal times when possession of a rosary was illegal, under pain of death. The bible quotations are taken from the NRSV and King James Version translations. Quotations from the saints and others have, where it facilitates ease of reading, been edited or abbreviated, without prejudice to the original meaning.”

And in the beginning of the introduction, he states:

“The saints appeal to so many of us because of the love, truth, and sincerity of their lives. In their personalities and actions we see a reflection of the face of Christ, and in their words we hear His voice speaking to us. The saints are living proof that Christ fulfills His promise to remain with His people to the end of time.

During our time, which can seem one of moral confusion, loss of the sense of God, and failure of purpose, we have the opportunity to draw closer to Christ through the saints. Blessed Pope John Paul II beatified and canonised more saints during the 25 years of his pontificate than all his predecessors put together. His urgency came from the certainty that the power of the Church resides in the witness of the saints, who make real in everyday life God’s call to each one of us to become holy. By bringing so many saints to our attention the Holy Father wanted to encourage us to follow the example of their way of life, to share in their fellowship, and to find help through their intercession.

Saints come from every walk of life - teachers, tailors, soldiers, cleaners, farmers, and lawyers. Saints are ordinary men, women and children who come to a moment of grace in their lives when they give themselves totally to God, some as young as 5, some as mothers and fathers, some as widows. Many have to overcome, with the help of God, the objections of their families, misunderstandings from fellow Catholics, and persecution at the hands of the State. But in so doing, they become extraordinary in faith, courage, wisdom, and love.”

A sample of one of the mysteries in this format is:

The Third Sorrowful Mystery - The Crowning with Thorns

Intention: that the holy passion of Jesus is impressed deeply on our souls as we allow ourselves to be immersed in His bitter sufferings, for through these the love of God is enkindled in us and we will then be plunged in the abyss of the divinity. (Paul of the Cross)

1. So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (John 19:5)

2. He goes crowned: but His very crown is a torture to Him and wounds with a thousand punctures. (Anselm)

3. They worship before Him with bowed knee; they hail Him king: but forthwith they leap up to spit upon His cheeks. (Anselm)

4. In His passion He almost lost the appearance of a man. (Vincent de Paul)

5. Grant that Your crown of prickling thorns, which You for me did wear, may make me willing for Your sake all shame and pain to bear. (Philip Howard)

6. The path I have to tread is full of thorns. Is there a thorn in it that He has not reddened with His own blood? (Claude de la Colombiere)

7. Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, wants all Christians to imitate Him. Now, Jesus has offered this chalice to me also. (Padre Pio)

8. This is the gift proper to the Passion - sorrow in company with Christ in His sorrow, being crushed with the pain that crushed Christ. (Ignatius of Loyola)

9. By the passion, death and merits of Christ Jesu I must be saved. (Margaret Clitherow)

10. The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next. (Philip Howard)”

And the list of saints he draws from is:

Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787). 
Angela Merici (1474-1540). 
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). 
Anthony of Padua (1195-1231). 
Bede the Venerable (673-735). 
Benedict (480-543). 
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). 
Bonaventure (1221-1274). 
Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373). 
Clare of Assisi (1193-1253). 
Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682). 
Columba (Colum Cille) (521-597
Columba Marmion (Blessed) (1858-1923). 
Cuthbert (634-687
David (Dewi Sant) (520-589). 
Dominic (1170-1221). 
Dominic Barberi (Blessed) (1792-1849). 
Edmund Arrowsmith (1585-1628
Edmund Campion (1540-1581). 
Francis de Sales (1567-1622). 
Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). 
Gerard Majella (1726-1755). 
Henry Suso (Blessed) (1295-1366). 
Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). 
Jeanne Jugan (Blessed) (1792-1879). 
Jean Vianney (Curé d’Ars) (1786-1859). 
John Baptist de la Salle (1651-1719). 
John Bosco (1815-1888). 
John Fisher (1469-1535). 
John Henry Newman (Blessed) (1801-1890). 
John Southworth (1592-1654). 
Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975). 
Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) 
Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586). 
Margaret Sinclair (Venerable) (1900-1925). 
Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Blessed) (1910-1997). 
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968). 
Patrick (389-461). 
Paul of the Cross (1694-1775). 
Philip Howard (1557-1595). 
Philip Neri (1515-1595). 
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253). 
Robert Southwell (1562-1595). 
Simon Stock (1165-1265). 
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). 
Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897). 
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). 
Thomas Becket (1118-1170). 
Thomas More (1478-1535
Vincent de Paul (1581-1660).

And there are a few biblical passages across the 20 mysteries. A couple sample biographies are:

“Columba (Colum Cille) (521-597). Abbot. An exile from Ireland, Columba founded the famous monastic community on Iona, a remote island off the West Coast of Scotland. From here, he led the mission among the Picts, described as ‘the governing fact of Scottish history’. Experiencing at first hand the horrors of war as a young man in Ireland, his dying words were about peace: ‘I commend to you, O my sons, that ye have mutual and unfeigned charity among yourselves, with peace’.”

“David (Dewi Sant) (520-589). Bishop and Patron of Wales. A disciple of St Paulinus, David established many monasteries in SW Wales. It is recorded that he went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with two friends, St Padarn and St Teilo, where he was consecrated bishop. Elected primate of the Cambrian Church, he moved the Episcopal seat to Mynyw, which led to the foundation of St David’s Cathedral. His last words, ‘Do the little things that you have seen me do’ (Gwnewch y pethau bychain) are remembered to this day.”

“Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586). Wife and martyr. Brought up in Yorkshire in the new Protestant religion, Margaret married John Clitherow, a lapsed Catholic, at the age of 18. By 21, Margaret converted to Catholicism, and spent the next 12 years assisting the missionary priests visiting York. Arrested many times over the period of her apostolic activity, Margaret spent 3 years in prison. Finally arrested in 1586, Margaret was cruelly executed by being crushed to death, her agony lasting 15 minutes. One of her final acts was to pray for the Catholic Church, the Pope, and ‘especially for Elizabeth, Queen of England, that God turn her to the Catholic faith. For I wish as much good to Her Majesty’s soul as to my own.’”

This is a book that I greatly enjoyed. I loved praying the rosary reflecting on the quotes from the saints for each of the Hail Mary’s. I know I will use this book often and look forward to reading and praying my way through the companion volume, Praying the Rosary with the Martyrs. This is a booklet I am certain readers would benefit from. I continue to tray and tracked down some of Deacon Nick’s other older works that are out of print. I look forward to reading more from his pen. Another great read from the CTS, and the pen of Deacon Nick Donnelly.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Nick Donnelly:
Finding God Series:

Finding God in Anger and Bitterness
Finding God in Doubt and Disbelief
Finding God When Prayer Doesn't Work
Finding God When a Loved One Loses Faith

Other Books by Nick Donelly:
Living with Illness and Suffering
Loving Mary: What Pope Francis Says
Finding Forgiveness with Pope Francis
Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis
Who Is the Devil?
Hope and Healing: Living with Illness and Suffering
Prayers for Grieving Parents: Help After a Miscarriage or Still Birth
Praying the Rosary with the Martyrs
Praying The Creed In The Year Of Faith
Praying the Rosary with the Saints
Our Journey to Christmas: With Pope Francis








Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Our Daily Bread - Karina Fabian and Robert Fabian - A Rescue Sisters Story

Our Daily Bread
A Rescue Sisters Story
Karina Fabian
Robert Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ASIN B09PKMB2H2


Wow! Talk about saving the best for last! This is the fourth of the Rescue Sisters short stories to publish over the last six months. And it is a powerful story. 

Before the story begins there is a dedication and a bible verse. The dedication is:

“Dedicated to the wonderful deacons as they balance their callings for the deaconate and the family.”

And the verse is Ephesians 5:25:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” 

The two tie together and to the story in very meaningful ways. About the history of the Rescue Sisters we are told:

“The order started on the L5 station, which is on the LaGrange trailing the moon. Gillian (Later St. Gillian of L5) was the wife of the inventor of artificial gravity. Ironically, he was so severely injured in an accident with his machine that he could no longer manage in Earth’s gravity, so she left Earth to join him on L5. After his death, she took holy vows and petitioned to start an order of religious sisters in outer space. 

While they do many things, Gillian chose search and rescue for the mission because it was a high-demand, high-risk operation that commanded high prices. By doing the work for “air, supplies and the love of God,” they paved the way for their religious order to grow. 

Skirts would be inconvenient and potentially embarrassing if the artificial gravity cut out, so Gillian chose wide-legged pants and a simple T-shirt under the skinsuit. The practical habit caused some scandal but was eventually accepted on stations and low-gravity environments, and grudgingly allowed “dirtside.”

Under Gillian’s leadership, the order grew to several locations, including L5 and Phobos, where there’s a training convent. When she died, spacers claimed to have seen her apparition and credited her with saving them from accidents or other perils. Many of these miracles were confirmed and she was sainted.”

The other three together were number 5 on my top ten fiction books of 2021 in which I read over 365 books. And this story in is just as good if not better than the others.  But it is different than the others. It is set in the same universe but does not have a rescue sister directly in the story. Nor a rescue or mission for them specifically. We are informed that:

“This story was inspired by Karina’s father, Deacon Steve Lumbert, and her mom, Socorro Lumbert. They had many years navigating the balance between Dad’s calling as a deacon and his call as a husband.”

And in part that is what we get a story of a deacon who serves as a chaplain in space on a mining mission. A role he has been filling for a while. But the family’s circumstances have changed, and this trip is different than many others. Fabian does an amazing job writing about a mixed marriage of a Catholic and non-Catholic. It is also about the role and responsibilities of deacons, and their finding balance between work, ministry and family life. And it is a story about Eucharistic miracles in space. The description of the story is:

“Spending six months a year in space mining asteroids is tough, but for Personnel Supervisor Ray McHenry, there are compensations. His role as a Catholic deacon means the majority of the strong Catholics in the Company have flocked to Blair Asteroid Mining Station--the only station in the Company where weekly Eucharist provides solace and strength. When Blair’s shipment of Host is lost in an accident, Ray is ready for tough times--but not nearly as tough as when the Host start mysteriously multiplying.”

This is an excellent story in an amazing series. Fabian has several series that I love. But the Rescue sisters are among my favourites. Many years ago I read Sacred Visions that was edited by Father Andrew M. Greeley, since that time I have read some terrible stories and some truly inspired fiction. Some of my all-time favourite stories now are religious, and specifically Catholic Fiction. Fabian is one of the best!

I know I will return to the Rescue Sisters series again and reread the novel and the stories. This is an excellent work of short fiction and I highly recommend it! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karina Fabian:
Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Perfect Ten
Frightliner
Jobian Heat
They Also Serve
42 Years of Summer
Marathon to Mordor
...

Rescue Sisters Series:
Falling Up
...

Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way
...

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland


DragonEye PI Series:
DragonEye PI Novels:
3.0 Nun of My Business
3.6 Christmas Spirits
4.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
5.0 Live and Let Fly (Revised edition)
... 

DragonEye PI Short Stories:
...

DragonEye PI Original First Editions:
Live and Let Fly
...

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3
...
Space Traipse Stories

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind


Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II


Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity
...










Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Prison Journal Volume 3 - George Cardinal Pell - The High Court Frees an Innocent Man

Prison Journal Volume 2
The State Court Rejects the Appeal
14 July 2019 – 30 November 2019
George Weigel (Afterward)
ISBN 9781621644507
eISBN 9781642291438
ASIN B094T948G6


The long awaited third volume. Volume 1 The Cardinal Makes His Appeal was an incredible read. Volume 2 The State Court Rejects the Appeal was deeply moving. I stated of Volume 1 that: “Not since reading the works of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen van Thuan and Alfred Delp have I been so moved.” This book is in some ways an easier read than the first two volumes. The chapters in this volume are:

Chronology
Week 41: Advent Begins
Week 42: Breaking News at the Vatican
Week 43: A Blessing beyond Anticipation
Week 44: Christmas in Prison
Week 45: Appeal Moves Forward
Week 46: A New Jail
Week 47: Solitary No Longer
Week 48: Our Unusual Situation
Week 49: Australian Sympathies
Week 50: Currents for Good and Ill
Week 51: Optimism but No Certainty
Week 52: A Devastating Argument
Week 53: Lent Again
Week 54: The Path of Forgiveness
Week 55: A Final Appeal
Week 56: Awaiting the Decision
Week 57: Silence So Far
Week 58: Old Accusations Resurface
Week 59: Convictions Quashed
Afterword

This story has intrigue, galore. And unfortunately leaves many questions unanswered. But in the end Cardinal Pell was vindicated by a unanimous 7-0 decision to overturn all previous charges. Once cannot help but wonder about money that changes hands, and the lack of integrity shown in this case by the police, prosecutors and even the Victoria Supreme Court that original upheld the decisions against Pell in a split decisions. In part reading this story was like watching an episode of CSI or Law and Order, except this time it is Pell and his team working through the evidence to prove his innocence, and the overwhelming improbability and even impossibility of his have committed the crimes he was convicted of. 

This journal tracks what he was reading, what he was writing and even what he was watching. It was interesting to follow Pell’s assessments of evangelical preachers he watch Joseph Prince and Joel Osteen. I was impressed by Pell’s openness in sharing his struggles to forgive, and move forward in grace. In this volume it was very interesting to follow Pell’s observations on the spread of Covid-19 from his prison cell. His commentary as it spread around the nations, the impact it was having, and how being a man set aside, he was looking at it critically and also with clearer eyes than much of the commentary I have seen. 

Pell is open and honest about many who supported him, and a few whose lack of support he felt deeply. He states: 

“Deacon Nick Donnelly from Cumbria, UK, one of my foremost champions in social media, told me he is walking beside me in my sufferings, while I also received a kind message of support from Caroline Farey in Worcester. It was my privilege to support both of them in their brave attempts to set up the School of the Annunciation for catechesis at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.”

Deacon Nick speaks from his heart, and I have read several of his books and been blessed by them. It was also moving to read how upon his release he was set free into a place with tight Covid restrictions.  He states:

“The Australian this weekend had an eight-page supplement on Covid-19, the coronavirus pandemic, full of excellent and informative articles. That gave me a wake-up call because I had been hoping the number of deaths and seriously ill would be kept low, that the lockdown, limited or severe, would last weeks, not months, that the economic decline might be 2 to 5 percent, not 25 percent as Goldman Sachs is now predicting for the US, and that unemployment might rise to 5 or 10 percent, not 20 percent plus, as is quite possible. The personal consequence is that if I am released after more than twelve months in solitary confinement, I face the prospect of another six months in comparative seclusion.”

And he further states:

“Originally, I had planned to stay in Melbourne for up to a week after my release to see my close friends and family and visit my oldest surviving cousin, Bob Burke, who is in Nazareth House. Press interest made this impossible, and I decided to leave immediately for home in Sydney with Chris Meney as my driver.”

And his foresight here was to be realized. In the afterward George Weigel states:

“Thanks to these journals, and thanks to the dignity and equanimity with which he has borne himself since his release from prison (not least in an hour-long interview with Australian broadcaster Andrew Bolt), George Cardinal Pell has become a spiritual hero to many. That this is to the consternation and fury of the cardinal’s many enemies is a source of considerable satisfaction to his friends. But not, I think, to George Pell himself. For as these journals have revealed, he is a much bigger man than his persecutors and his rabid critics. He holds no grudges. That they do is to their further shame.”

And I completely agree. Each of the three volumes can be read on their own. The writing and insights are powerful enough. But when taken as a whole it is deeply moving. These books have the power to become spiritual classics. And Pell’s insights, faith, devotion and his open honesty in the books is an inspiration. I do home he will release a fourth volume, of his thoughts and journals through the Covid lockdowns and adjusting to life back in society. 

This volume and all three are excellent reads. I highly recommend them. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by George Cardinal Pell:
God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society
Test Everything
Be Not Afraid: Collected Writing
Contemplating Christ with Luke
Rerum Novarum: One Hundred Years Later
...

Prison Journals:




Monday, 24 January 2022

J.R.R. Tolkien: His life, Work and Faith - Raymond Edwards - CTS Biographies

J.R.R. Tolkien: His life, Work and Faith
Raymond Edwards
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860828270
eISBN 9781784694678
ASIN B075P2XP84
CTS Booklet B750


I bumped this way up my reading list after reading C.S. Lewis Apostle to the Sceptics by Walter Hooper from the same series. I have read several books by and about Tolkien. I have also read several by Dr Raymond Edwards from the Catholic Truth Society. I have read over 250 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society over the last handful of years. I was greatly surprised by this booklet and have recommended it to a few friends whom I know are fans of Tolkien and his works, both Catholic’s and non-Catholics. And I have added Edwards longer work on Tolkien to my ‘to be read’ list. But back to this booklet, the description of it is:

“J.R.R Tolkien (1892-1973) is best known as the author of the enduringly popular fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, now made into a series of well-regarded blockbuster films. He was also a world-renowned scholar of ancient language, who married the childhood sweetheart who inspired his stories, and was father to four children. He was also a devout Catholic whose faith was central to his writing. This booklet shows how an orphan from Birmingham came to write books that forever changed the way we read.”

And the chapters are:

Introduction
The Making of a Philologist
The Young Scholar
Oxford and Storytelling
A Wilderness of Dragons - Beowulf and The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings
Last Years
Posthumous Publications
Tolkien the Catholic
Further Reading
Endnotes

This volume was published in 2012 and the eBook edition released in 2017. This volume begins with two quotes from Tolkien’s Letters, it stated:

 “Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste - or foretaste - of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.”

“The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.”

These quotes are from the volume The Letters of JRR Tolkien, pp. 53-54, 338-339. And they set the tone for the work that follows. Having read several works by Dr Edwards I had high expectations for this volume, they were met and exceeded. The introduction begins with these words:

“It is late in the year; under the vast domed Great Hall of the new University of Birmingham, rows of temporary beds are set up, filled with sick men, most newly back from France. One of them is writing in a small school exercise book.

The year is 1916, and he has been some months with his battalion on the Somme. Already many of his school and university friends have been killed. Compared with them, he is lucky; he has been struck down with a debilitating persistent fever, spread through the trenches by the ubiquitous lice. He is getting better, now, although still weak and exhausted and unfit to return to his unit. Soon, he will be discharged, and able to go to a Staffordshire village to stay with the wife he had married only eight months ago, two months before he was sent to France. Meanwhile, he is writing: stories of an age of myth, of elves and dragons and love and despair and hope lost and renewed. His name is Ronald Tolkien.

The stories he wrote at this time were not published for another seventy years; but the themes and characters he described in them gradually found shape and led directly to his famous books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Here, whilst first recovering in hospital, then on a series of home service postings, began his life’s work: a corpus of imaginative writing whose overmastering theme, he declared late in life, was Death.”

This book does an amazing job of examining the life of Tolkien and doing so through his own faith and devotional practices. It looks at the successes and the failures, the highs and lows, and his struggles personally and professionally. It examines his and his wife’s health issues and the impact they had upon is output. And it does a good job showing us his riff with C.S. Lewis It is easily read in a sitting or two. 

This is a great read for fans of Lewis, Tolkien and the inklings. It is excellent for those who appreciate Tolkien’s fiction, or even just fans of the movies. Well written, engaging and entertaining. It presents a man of great intellect, deep faith, sincere devotion. And a man who struggled with confidence in his works, and who did so many different things, some of what he wanted to do it started was never finished. A great read in an excellent series from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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