Saturday 30 April 2022

Dragon Assassin 11 The Golden Spear - Arthur Slade - Dragon Assassin Book 11

Dragon Assassin 11: The Golden Spear
Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises

Wow! This story was action from beginning to end. Before we get into the review proper here are some musings from a bibliophile. This is the second time this series has been expanded. Twice I thought we were at the conclusion, and now this is the first of 2 more books. It is beginning to feel like Douglas Adams trilogy, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, of 6 books. Or like Piers Anthony’s Xanth which started as a trilogy and now has 45 books in print and 3 more announced. As a fan of Slade’s works and specifically of this series, I am thankful, and may this series run for many, many, many more volumes. Anthony has stated he will now write Xanth novels as long as he is alive, and may Slade write Dragon Assassin and Amber Fang novels till he parts.

The first 8 books make a complete story and are excellent reads. Then the next two books make a story and go in a completely different direction. This one begins with a mysterious attack that nearly takes out both Carmen and Braxx. And they soon find out there have been multiple attacks, around the whole world. Half the Kings, Queen’s and rulers on Ellos are taken out before anyone really knows what is going on. A mysterious woman on a silver dragon of unknown species attack with a magical golden spear is the attacker. She has the ability to appear and disappear through red smoke. Her attacks can come from anywhere and he spear returns to her as if on command. Brax is severely wounded, and Carmen is given the quest of finding out who the woman is and ending her. But first her brother, her friend Megan and Thord, he who has a bear’s heart head off after the killer. 

This series has a lot of action, and a fair number of twists. And this book tops them all. The writing is clean and crisp. The pace is breakneck. And it will absolutely leave you desperate for the next volume, Deathwings. It is another excellent story for the masterful and ever entertaining pen of Arthur Slade.

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)
Mr. Universe (2021)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

Northern Frights Reprint Editions:
Draugr (2020)
Drang (2020)
Loki Wolf (2020)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)

Friday 29 April 2022

Sink or Swim - Sarah Mlynowski - Whatever After Book 3

Sink or Swim
Whatever After Book 3
Sarah Mlynowski
eISBN 9780545540278

This is the tenth time I have read a story in this series. About 6 years ago I read a few of these stories with my oldest. Now my youngest is reading them to me, and her sister has handed down the first several stories in the series. For some reason we skipped this story when I was reading them with my oldest. But so far it is one of my youngest daughter’s favourite story. These stories have great staying power. Even as an adult I can enjoy these books, not only the first time but rereading them again and again.

Mlynowski does aa great job with this book and with all we have read in the series. My oldest was a reluctant reader. Back then when we read, I would read two pages for every page she read to me. Later she read a few of the books in the series to her aunt and gram on a road trip. And She got to the point where she could rip through one of these in a few sittings. Our whole family loves these stories from 10-year old’s to 79 year old’s. It is a wonderful series. 

It was interesting reading this one for the first time with my youngest. Usually I have an idea of what is coming, and can answer her pressing questions. Not this time. It is another excellent take on a familiar fairy tale. My daughter’s favourite parts were the mermaid being taught to read and write. And that he sisters and father stepped up and saved her from the Witch, and in a very surprising way. There was far more humour in this story than some of the others. It was a really fun read.

The writings in this story and the whole series is excellent. My daughters and I love reading them together. And again in this one the retelling of this story is full of surprises. It is a great book in an excellent series. My daughter wishes she could give it more than 5 stars. 

Books by Sarah Mlynowski:
Magic in Manhattan Series:

Bras & Broomsticks
Frogs & French Kisses
Spells & Sleeping Bags
Parties & Potions

Whatever After Special Editions:
Abby in Wonderland
Abby in Oz

Upside-Down Magic Series:
Upside-Down Magic #1
Sticks and Stones #2
Showing Off #3

Other Books by Sarah:
Monkey Business
As Seen on TV
Me Vs. Me
Gimme a Call
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Don't Even Think About It
Think Twice
Know It All
A Nice Fling is Hard to Find
A Little Bit Broken
Party Girls
The Two-Month Itch

Books Coauthored:
See Jane Write (with Farrin Jacobs)
How to Be Bad (with E. Lockhart and Lauren Myracle)

Books Contributed To:
Girls' Night In
Girls Night Out
American Girls About Town
Vacations from Hell


Thursday 28 April 2022

Coached By Joan of Arc - Alexandre Havard - Lessons in Virtuous Leadership

Coached By Joan of Arc
Lessons in Virtuous Leadership
Anthony T. Salvia (Translator)
ISBN 9781594174506
eISBN 9781594174513

I have read a few books now from the pen of Alexandre Havard and I believe this is the third translated by Anthony T. Salvia. I have yet to read one that I did not benefit from. They are always challenging to my spiritual life, how I see myself, and where I see myself going. They are books that really make me pause and think. They are well worth the time and effort to read. The description of this volume is:

“This book is a dialogue between the reader and Joan of Arc, the woman Mark Twain called “easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.”

As we explore her virtue-infused life, this astonishingly modern woman takes us by the hand, coaches us, whispers wise advice in our ear. Far from being anachronistic, her way of life and virtuous example is eternally new, for she follows precepts that are above human weakness.

Joan is for all of us – men and women of today, living and working in the midst of the world. She is for us all a coach, a mother, and an excellent teacher of the elevated, virtuous, and courageous life.”

And the chapters are:

One: Finding Victory in Defeat
Two: Be Aware of Your Strength
Three: Magnanimity Trumps Self-Esteem
Four: Create a Plan for Personal Growth
Five: Cultivate Filial Piety
Six: Help Yourself and Heaven Will Help You
Seven: Put Your Intelligence into Everything You Do
Eight: Discover Your Mission
Nine: Do Not Confuse Your Objectives with Your Mission
Ten: Work for the Long Term
Eleven: Flee from Voluntarism
Twelve: Banish Sentimentalism
Thirteen: Purify Your Intentions
Fourteen: Do Not Fear Public Opinion
Fifteen: Reject Perfectionism
Chronology of Joan’s Life

We are informed at the beginning of this volume that:

“Alexandre Havard created the Virtuous Leadership system, which is now taught in countries the world over. His books Virtuous Leadership (2007), Created for Greatness (2011), From Temperament to Character (2018), and Free Hearts (2019) have been translated into some twenty languages. After graduating from Paris Descartes University with a degree in law, he served as a barrister in Strasbourg and Helsinki. He is the founder of the Virtuous Leadership Institute, which has affiliates in numerous countries on five continents.”

Then the volume opens with a quote from Saint Josemaría Escrivá:

“There are many Christians who are persuaded that the Redemption will be completed in all environments of the world, and that there have to be some souls—they do not know which ones—who will contribute to carrying it out with Christ. But they think it will take centuries, many centuries. It would be an eternity, if it were to take place at the rate of their self-giving. That was the way you yourself thought, until someone came to “wake you up.””

Before the main text of the book Alexandre shares with us a revelation. That revelation relates to his life, leaving the practice of law, founding Virtuous Leadership, and specifically why Joan. He atets:

“An insipid-looking girl mounted on a muscular war horse, nearly asphyxiated and crushed by her armor—that was the way I imagined Joan of Arc during my years at school and in college. Joan of Arc did not move me at all. After all, it was no longer the patriotic time of 1914. Rather, it was “The Deserter,” written by the eccentric Boris Vian and sung by the very melancholic Serge Reggiani, which I retain in my memory from that time. His magnificent despair grabbed me in the gut.

Joan of Arc entered into my life at the turn of the millennium. I was approaching my forties. I had been living in Finland for more than ten years. France was far away. And suddenly, in the icy darkness of a winter’s night very much like so many others, I perceived a face radiating light and purity!

The face of Joan. A smiling, rather mischievous face said to me, “Let’s go.” She said it in English. These words resonated in the deepest, most intimate part of my soul with a power preventing me from doubting for a single instant.

A grace of God—I have never had the slightest doubt, so much had her presence filled me with joy and peace. This grace led me to give up the practice of law and devote myself to the teaching of virtuous leadership all over the world.”

He has lived out that revelation and this book goes back to the beginning and gives us leadership examples from the life of Saint Joan of Arc. This volume has 15 leadership lessons, each chapter ends with a section called “Some practical advice”, and the book would be worth the price just for these 15 exercises. This is followed by an image of Joan from art work, a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, etchings, and prints. I highlighted several passages my first time through this book, some of them were:

“It is thanks to my trial, and this testimony—the like of which history had never seen—that today I continue to work in the hearts of men. It is thanks to my judges, to the often absurd and humiliating questions they posed, that the whole world knows of my life and spirit. Bishop Pierre Cauchon, the head of the tribunal and the main negotiator of the Treaty of Troyes, which gave France to the English, wanted to preside over a “beautiful trial,” as he said. And it is because he wanted the trial to be “beautiful” that my words were recorded, timed, and sealed. He wanted to tarnish my memory forever, but the more he tarnished it, the more it served the plans of God. Unknowingly, he was building a monument to my glory.”

“Put your trust in God, as I trusted in him. Where you see defeat, God sees victory.”

“Some practical advice: Identify three major defeats in your life and discover in them all of the victories you derived or could have derived from them: 1) for your personal growth; 2) for the benefit of others; 3) for the quality of your professional, familial, and social life.”

“I was confident in my talents. Everyone who knew me agreed that I was tall and beautiful, strong and at the same time profoundly feminine. I had a soft voice and spoke in a way admired by others. I was sensitive and did not hide my tears. I liked to laugh and make others laugh. I had a proud look and a joyous face. I took care over my appearance when necessary. I had a religious soul in a robust, magnificent, and healthy body. I was conscious of all of these gifts, of all of these qualities of body and spirit.”

“In recognizing our talents, we give thanks to God, who created us. Refusing to recognize our talents is not humility but ingratitude.”

“Recognizing our talents, increasing them, and using them well is the virtue of magnanimity, the virtue of the great.”

“I expected everything of God as if I could do nothing myself, and I expected everything of myself as if God did not exist. I was a child before God, but a giant before men.”

“This is what I wanted to tell you today. Be aware of your talents. Multiply them. Live at full tilt. May your humility not be pusillanimity! May your humility never deviate from your magnanimity! Develop your human potential to the point of exhaustion, and do not be afraid of humanists spewing hatred.”

“We have been talking about humility in the wrong way. It is true that man by himself is absolute nothingness, a non-being, but the man who was created in the image of God, ransomed by the Son and divinized by the Holy Spirit, is a true wonder. Man was constituted as a son of God. This intimate truth, this sublime reality, should impel you to accomplish great things. You are a son of God—there is no greater dignity than that. This dignity should encourage you to dream and convert your dream into a mission.”

“Remember: evil is not what others do, it is the good that you, personally, do not do.”

“I was aware that without God I was nothing. I constantly sought his presence and naturally had recourse to him. I did not confine myself to the requirements religion prescribed. I passionately sought the face of God and communion with him. I was a pious and religious soul from my earliest childhood. I owe my piety to my mother, Isabelle. Everything I knew about Christian life I took from her teaching and example.”

“Piety begins with the truth. The great truth is that without God, you do not exist. Anyone not understanding this simple fact cannot be humble or pious. If life is a gift of God, religious indifference is an abomination. If God wanted you to be, justice demands that you love him with all of your heart, all of your mind, and all of your soul. So, I encourage you to be pious. May your piety be that of a child—natural, sincere, and trusting.”

“You have to pray, but you also have to act. “Help yourself and heaven will help you.” I often repeat these words. They have entered into history. When the theologians of Poitiers asked me why I needed an army if it was the will of God to deliver the French people, I told them, “The soldiers will fight, and God will grant the victory.” They were stupefied by the profundity and simplicity of my theology.”

“The war in which you are engaged is a total war. It is no longer a question of saving France from the English; it is a question of saving humanity from self-destruction. Your world sacrifices the dignity and freedom of millions of human beings on the altar of pleasure every day.”

“Many would like to make me a symbol of patriotism. That is because they do not, or do not want, to understand me. The Church canonized me very late—five hundred years after the annulment of my trial—to avoid all confusion in this regard. I am not a “patriot.” I am someone who loves the will of God.”

“If I were above all a patriot, my name would not have spread through the whole world; men like Winston Churchill, G. K. Chesterton, and Mark Twain would probably never have been interested in my story. I was a gift of God to all of humanity. To make me into the incarnation of nationalist sentiment is not only unjust, it is also blasphemy.”

“For you, things are different. What God expects of you, he communicates through the usual channels of the interior life, not through angels, visions, or voices. Although he uses ordinary means, therein lies their interest. They presume that you will bring to bear your heart, mind, will, imagination, and memory, and that you will free yourself once and for all of the thirst for certainty and security that is devouring you.”

“You will always have doubts about your mission and how to accomplish it. If you are pious, God will not abandon you. He will grant you his grace and light, as you make choices bringing you closer to achieving your mission. This mission demands imagination and creativity on your part. Even if it does not descend from heaven, it is an integral part of God’s plan for you.”

“You are a voluntarist, and probably think I was, too. You think I submitted coldly to God’s will like the heroine in a Greek tragedy, who submits stoically to her fate. I am not a stoic but a Christian. I loved the will of God more than I submitted to it. I rejoiced in his will much more than in my submission to it. I did good with my will, most certainly, but I did it also and above all with my heart—with my feelings and emotions, with my senses and flesh. I had learned from earliest childhood to revel in the good. I knew sorrow, but I learned to discover charm, transcendence, and mystery in every moment.”

“Some practical advice: Learn to be happy. Be convinced that happiness is not a sin! Refuse to base your life on things that have nothing to do with you, your interests or nature, and which serve a task or moral obligation existing only in your imagination. Know yourself; discover your own substance and God’s will for you. Love God, love yourself, and love others in your own way. Learn to live.”

“Some practical advice: Does the image you give of yourself correspond to reality? Do you take care that the impression you make faithfully reveals your intentions, virtues, and talents? Are you doing too much, or not enough? Are you prepared to sacrifice your image in the name of truth and the good, in the name of your conscience?”

“Some practical advice: Are you demoralized by failure? Are you overwhelmed by your mistakes, weaknesses, and shortcomings? At the end of each day, put your miseries in the hands of God. Submerge yourself in his mercy. Forget the past. Renew yourself. Get up each morning with a healthy enthusiasm, which is not a reflection of naivete, but of a warrior spirit full of faith, hope, and charity.”

“In making Joan your coach, you cannot go wrong. Joan, as you will have noticed, is a universal model accessible to all men and women, whatever their cultural or religious background. The interest Joan arouses today in all parts of the world comes as no surprise. The heroine of Orléans is an astonishingly modern woman. There is nothing strange about her, nothing inappropriate or anachronistic. Joan is eternally new. The “Case of Joan of Arc” is unique in history. We know everything about her life, even though it was lived in the fifteenth century. Nothing we know about her is the stuff of legend; our knowledge is based on archival documents. God wanted it to be so. He wanted Joan to be for all of us—men and women working at the very heart of society and worldly affairs—a coach, a teacher, and a mother. May 16, 2020 Centennial of Joan of Arc’s canonization.”

I hope at least a few of the passages that really spoke to me, will also speak to you, and inspire you to pick up this volume and give it a read. It is another excellent volume from the pen of Harvard, and I am certain if you read with an open heart your life will be changed. An excellent offering from the masterful pen of Harvard!

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

Books in the Scepter Coached by Series:
Coached by Josemaría Escrivá - Henry Hanson, O. Praem.
Coached By Joan of Arc - Alexandre Havard

Books by Alexandre Havard:
Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence
Created for Greatness: The Power of Magnanimity

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Our Friends in Heaven, Volume 1 Saints for Every Day January to June - Daughters of St Paul and Edited by Sister Allison Gliot

Our Friends in Heaven, Volume 1: 
Saints for Every Day January to June
Sister Allison Gliot (Editor) 
Tim Foley (Illustrator)
ISBN 9780819855213
eISBN 9780819855497

I have read many books from Pauline Books and Media over the years. As a family we have read and reviewed all the books in the Encounter the Saints Series, and many other excellent books. I was very excited when I saw this new set Our Friends in Heaven, with Volume 1 spanning from January 1st to June 31st, and Volume 2 from July 1st to December 31st. There is even an entry for February 29th for Leap years. I had originally planned on reading this volume at the pace of a saint a day, but found I often could not put it down and read 2 or 3 days at a time. My son who is 14 has been sticking to the reading plan and only doing a single saint each day. My youngest daughter has been flipping around and getting ides for her confirmation saints. But, back to this volume, the description of this book is:

“The saints are friends of God, and they want to become your friends, too! Some saints played soccer or rode horses. Others stood up for those who were being bullied and bravely worked for justice. Every saint has a unique story to share. Introduce intermediate readers to the amazing life stories of the saints. In print for decades, this fourth edition of a classic, bestselling, two-volume set of books contains engaging stories on a variety of saints for each day of the year.”

The beginning of the chapter ‘How to Use This Book’ states:

“This book is the first volume of a two-part set. Volume I covers January through June. Volume II covers July through December. In these pages, you will find stories about lots of saints. Some lived long lives; others died when they were young. Some were close to God from their childhood and teenage years. Others learned the hard way that only God can make us happy.

There are saints from every part of the world. They lived in many different centuries, from the time of Jesus to our own times. You will come to know saintly kings and laborers, queens and housemaids, popes and priests, nuns and religious brothers. They were mothers and fathers, teenagers and children. They were doctors and farmers, soldiers and lawyers.

Saints are not just one type of person. They were as different from each other as we are. They were as human as we are. They lived on this earth, experienced temptations, and faced problems. They became saints because they used their willpower to make right choices and they prayed. Even when they made mistakes, they never gave up trusting in Jesus’ love for them.”

We are also informed that:

“At the top of each biography, it says when that saint was alive, which day his or her feast is celebrated on, and what he or she is the patron of. At the end, there is a short prayer to help you get to know the saint better and ask them for help in your everyday life.”

We are also informed that:

“Note: This book is not intended to be used as a liturgical calendar of Church celebrations. Sometimes, the reading for the saint is on his or her feast day, but not always.”

The chapters in this volume are:

How to Use This Book
1. Mary, Mother of God
2. Saint Basil and Saint Gregory Nazianzen
3. Saint Genevieve
4. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
5. Saint John Neumann
6. Saint André Bessette
7. Saint Raymond of Peñafort
8. Saint Apollinaris Claudius
9. Blessed Alix Le Clerc
10. Saint Gregory of Nyssa
11. Blessed William Carter
12. Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
13. Saint Hilary of Poitiers
14. Blessed Peter Donders
15. Saint Arnold Janssen
16. Blessed Giuseppe Tovini
17. Saint Anthony of Egypt
18. Saint Jaime Hilario Barbal
19. Saint Canute
20. Saint Sebastian
21. Saint Agnes
22. Blessed Laura Vicuña
23. Saint Marianne Cope
24. Saint Francis de Sales
25. Conversion of Saint Paul
26. Saint Timothy and Saint Titus
27. Saint Angela Merici
28. Saint Thomas Aquinas
29. Blessed Villana de’ Botti
30. Saint David Galván Bermúdez
31. Saint John Bosco

1. Saint Brigid of Kildare
2. Blessed Benedict Daswa
3. Saint Blaise
4. Saint Gilbert of Sempringham
5. Saint Agatha
6. Saint Paul Miki and Companions
7. Saint Giles Mary-of-Saint-Joseph
8. Saint Josephine Bakhita
9. Saint Apollonia and the Martyrs of Alexandria
10. Saint Scholastica
11. Our Lady of Lourdes
12. Saint José Sánchez del Río
13. Blessed Jordan of Saxony
14. Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius
15. Saint Claude de la Colombière
16. Blessed Giuseppe Allamano
17. Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order
18. Blessed Fra Angelico
19. Saint Lucy Yi Zhenmei
20. Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta Marto
21. Saint Peter Damian
22. Saint Margaret of Cortona
23. Saint Polycarp
24. Blessed Josefa Naval Girbés
25. Blessed Rani Maria Vattalil
26. Saint Porphyry
27. Saint Anne Line
28. Blessed Daniel Brottier
29. Saint Oswald of Worcester

1. Saint Albinus of Angers
2. Saint Angela of the Cross
3. Saint Katharine Drexel
4. Saint Casimir
5. Saint John Joseph of the Cross
6. Saint Colette
7. Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity
8. Saint John of God
9. Saint Frances of Rome
10. Saint John Ogilvie
11. Saint Mark Chŏng Ui-Bae and Saint Alexius U Se-Yŏng
12. Blessed Aniela Salawa
13. Saint Dulce Pontes
14. Saint Matilda
15. Saint Louise de Marillac
16. Blessed Torello of Poppi
17. Saint Patrick
18. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
19. Saint Joseph
20. Saint Józef Bilczewski
21. Saint Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès
22. Saint Deogratias
23. Saint Toribio of Mogrovejo
24. Saint Oscar Romero
25. Saint Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas
26. Saint Margaret Clitherow
27. Saint John of Egypt
28. Blessed Jeanne-Marie of Maillé
29. Saint Jonas and Saint Barachisius
30. Saint John Climacus
31. Blessed Joan of Toulouse

1. Saint Hugh of Grenoble
2. Saint Francis of Paola
3. Saint Richard of Chichester
4. Saint Isidore of Seville
5. Saint Vincent Ferrer
6. Blessed Notker
7. Saint John Baptist de la Salle
8. Saint Julie Billiart
9. Blessed Antonio Pavoni
10. Saint Magdalene of Canossa
11. Saint Gemma Galgani
12. Saint Joseph Moscati
13. Blessed Margaret of Castello
14. Saint Peter Gonzales
15. Blessed Lucien Botovasoa
16. Saint Bernadette Soubirous
17. Blessed Savina Petrilli
18. Saint Marie of the Incarnation
19. Blessed James Duckett
20. Saint Agnes of Montepulciano
21. Saint Anselm
22. Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu
23. Saint George
24. Saint Pedro de San José Betancur
25. Saint Mark the Evangelist
26. Saint Peter Chanel
27. Saint Zita
28. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
29. Saint Catherine of Siena
30. Saint Pius V

1. Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska
2. Saint Athanasius
3. Saint Philip and Saint James
4. Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis
5. Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice
6. Saint Dominic Savio
7. Saint Rosa Venerini
8. Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich
9. Blessed Mary Theresa Gerhardinger
10. Saint Damien of Molokai
11. Saint Ignatius of Laconi
12. Blessed Imelda Lambertini
13. Our Lady of Fátima
14. Saint Théodore Guérin
15. Saint Isidore the Farmer
16. Saint Simon Stock
17. Saint Paschal Baylón
18. Saint Felix of Cantalice
19. Blessed Raphaël Louis Rafiringa
20. Saint Bernardine of Siena
21. Blessed Franz Jägerstätter
22. Saint Rita of Cascia
23. Saint John Baptist de Rossi
24. Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi
25. Saint Bede the Venerable
26. Saint Philip Neri
27. Saint Augustine of Canterbury
28. Blessed Margaret Pole
29. Blessed Joseph Gérard
30. Saint Joan of Arc
31. Saint Michael Hồ Đình Hy

1. Saint Justin Martyr
2. Saint Marcellinus and Saint Peter
3. Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions
4. Saint Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad
5. Saint Boniface
6. Saint Norbert
7. Blessed Ana of Saint Bartholomew
8. Saint Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan
9. Saint Ephrem
10. Saint José de Anchieta
11. Saint Barnabas
12. Saint Juan de Sahagún
13. Saint Anthony of Padua
14. Saint Methodius I of Constantinople
15. Blessed Clement Vismara
16. Blessed Maria Theresa Scherer
17. Saint Émilie de Vialar
18. Saint Gregory Barbarigo
19. Saint Romuald
20. Blessed Michelina of Pesaro
21. Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
22. Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More
23. Saint Joseph Cafasso
24. Saint John the Baptist
25. Saint William of Vercelli
26. Saint Josemaría Escrivá
27. Saint Cyril of Alexandria
28. Saint Irenaeus
29. Saint Peter
30. Saint Paul

A sample days is:

February 29
Saint Oswald of Worcester
(Unknown–February 29, 992)

Feast Day: February 28 (February 29 in leap years)

Oswald’s parents were from Denmark, but he was raised in England. His holy uncle, Saint Odo, was the archbishop of Canterbury. Odo helped raise Oswald, and they were very close. Oswald also had another uncle who was the archbishop of York. When Oswald was older, he wanted to become a monk. He traveled to France, where he entered a Benedictine monastery in Fleury. He studied there and was ordained a priest.

After some years Oswald went back to England. His uncle Odo had died, and Saint Dunstan was the new archbishop of Canterbury. Dunstan met Oswald and was impressed by his holiness. Oswald wanted to reform the monastic life in England because monasteries there had become lazy in some respects. Dunstan recommended that Oswald be appointed a bishop. So, in 961, Oswald became the bishop of Worcester. Later on, Oswald was made the archbishop of York in addition to being the bishop of Worcester.

As bishop, Oswald started some new monasteries. In 971, he built a large monastery in Ramsey that became famous and flourished for centuries. He was also devoted to reforming the clergy in his dioceses. Some priests had been abusing their privileges as ordained ministers. Oswald reminded them of what it meant to follow Jesus as a priest. He helped them lead holier lives. Oswald improved the education of the priests, too. He invited scholars from France to come to England and teach them.

Besides his work of reform, Oswald was known for loving the poor and helping them with their needs. During Lent, he would wash the feet of twelve poor men every day. He also provided food and clothing for them. Oswald was greatly loved because of his goodness to people. His holy life gave everyone a good example of how to see Jesus in each person.

Saint Oswald, pray for us that we might see where the world needs reform. Help us to remember that if we want to change the world, we must first change ourselves with the help and mercy of Jesus. Amen.”

And another is:

January 24
Saint Francis de Sales
(August 21, 1567–December 28, 1622)

Feast Day: January 24

Patron of deaf people, writers, and the Catholic press

Francis was born at the de Sales castle in Savoy, France. His wealthy family provided him with an excellent education. By the age of twenty-four, Francis was a doctor of law. He returned to Savoy and led a hardworking life. He did not seem interested in important positions or a social life. In his heart, Francis was listening to a call that kept coming back like an echo. It seemed to be an invitation from God to become a priest. Francis finally tried to explain his struggle to his family. His father was very disappointed. He wanted Francis to be a great man of the world. Instead, Francis became a priest on December 18, 1593.

Francis lived in times when Christians were bitterly divided. He volunteered to go to a dangerous area of France to win back Catholics who had become Protestants. His father protested. He said it was bad enough that he had permitted Francis to become a priest. He was not going to let him be a martyr as well. But Francis believed that God would protect him. He and his cousin, Father Louis de Sales, set out on foot for the Duchy of Chablis. The two priests soon learned how to live with insults and physical discomforts. Their lives were frequently in danger. Little by little, however, people returned to the Church.

Francis eventually became the bishop of Geneva, Switzerland. With the help of Saint Jane de Chantal, he started a religious order of sisters in 1610. These women are called the Order of the Visitation. Francis wrote wonderful books about the spiritual life and the way to become holy. The books, Treatise on the Love of God and Introduction to the Devout Life, are still in print today. They are considered spiritual “classics.”

Francis died at the age of fifty-six. He was declared a saint by Pope Innocent X in 1665. Because of his heroic dedication to the Church, he was given the special title “doctor of the Church.”

Saint Francis, you knew what God wanted for you, and you patiently awaited your earthly father’s approval. Pray that I may be firm in my beliefs but patient and gentle with those who do not share them. Amen.”

This is a wonderful volume and one I know I will reread next year and try and stick to a single saint a day. It is another excellent offering from Pauline Books and Media. I hope the samples above inspire you to pick up these volumes and discover many new friends in heaven. Excellent to read to younger children, and for older children, tweens, teens, and even us adults. I highly recommend this book for family, church, or school libraries. I am certain it will not disappoint.

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

Saints books for young readers from Pauline Books and Media:
In Caelo Et In Terra 365 Days With The Saints
Our Friends in Heaven, Volume 2: Saints for Every Day July to December
Encounter the Saints Series (Currently 38 volumes)
Saints Alive!: The Faith Proclaimed
Saints Alive!: The Gospel Witnessed
57 Saints

Tuesday 26 April 2022

How They Love Mary - Father Edward Looney - 28 Life-Changing Stories of Devotion to Our Lady

How They Love Mary 
28 Life-Changing Stories of Devotion to Our Lady
Fr. Edward Looney
ISBN 9781644135808

This is the fifth volume from Father Looney and it is my favourite it is an excellent volume. This is a very inspiring book, certain to help you grow in love for Our Mother. Journey with Father Looney through 28 profiles of saints and blesseds, and men and women of faith, and how they love Mary, and how their examples can inspire and challenge us. You will be exposed to many books, devotions and spiritual practices. A wonderful volume, well worth picking up! The description of this book is:

Could your love and reverence for the Mother of God use a boost? Here’s a powerful 30-day devotional to help you invigorate your love for Our Lady by exploring the many ways in which holy men and women have venerated Mary throughout time. From St. Damian of Molokai to Padre Pio, from St. Francis of Assisi to St. Thomas Aquinas, you’ll learn new ways of honoring Mary that you hadn’t considered previously, and you’ll be heartened toward a holiness and love of God that only these illustrious spiritual teachers can inspire.

Here’s a book that will be of particular value to those who are either beginning their devotion to Our Lady or whose devotion has become stagnant over time.

You’ll learn how St. Kateri Tekakwitha imitated Mary’s life as a consecrated virgin and offered Marian prayers that bore fruit. You’ll explore St. Faustina’s mystical experiences of Mary and how St. Francis de Sales’s depression was healed through Our Lady’s intercession. You’ll also learn how Bishop Fulton Sheen relied on Mary to remain celibate, how St. Thérèse of Lisieux was healed by her smile, and how Mother Angelica would pray the Rosary.

Author Fr. Looney also includes excerpts from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as a host of exquisite prayers and litanies to Our Lady.

Here’s the single book you need in this life to periodically strengthen your devotion to Our Lady by following the examples of the holy men and women who came before us and on whose shoulders we stand.

The chapters in this book are:

1 Every Saint is Devoted to Mary in Some Way—St. Damien of Molokai
2 A Greeting for Mary—St. Francis of Assisi 
3 Love Our Lady and Make Her Loved--Padre Pio 
4 Mary Knows our Suffering- Mother Angelica
5 Relying on Mary’s Prayers- Adele Brise
6 A Childlike Love for Mary- St. Therese of Lisieux
7 Catechesis about Mary Impacted Her Life—St. Kateri Tekakwitha
8 Streams of Grace—St. Faustina
9 Dedicated to and Protected by Mary—Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
10 A Love for Mary’s Many Names- Mother Mary Francis, PCC
11 Sincerity in Devotion- Fr. Lukas Etlin, OSB
12 A New Way to Pray- St. Ignatius of Loyola
13 He Preached the Virgin’s Mother’s Glory- St. Bernard of Clairvaux
14 Mary is our Lifelong Friend- Francis Cardinal George, OMI
15 The Goodness of Devotion to Mary—Blessed Columba Marmion
16 A Life of Union with Jesus and Mary—Fr. Emile Neubert
17 The Realness and Relatability of Mary- Caryll Houselander
18 Lead with Mary- Pope Francis
19 Challenging Words to Live—Chiara Lubich
20 To Think Deeply About Mary—St. Thomas Aquinas
21 Mary Was With Her— St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified 
22 The Rosary is Meant for Family Prayer- Fr. Patrick Peyton 
23 The Use of Imaginative Prayer When Receiving Holy Communion- Fr. Daniel Lord, SJ
24 A Simple Approach to Marian Devotion- Blessed Solanus Casey
25 What Mary’s Feasts Mean For Us—St. Francis de Sales
26 Give Your Life to Mary- Venerable Aloysius Schwartz  
27 By Joyful with Mary—Sr. Clare Crockett
28 The Little Way of Confidence in Mary—Sister Teresa (of Jesus) Quevedo
29  You Have a Story
Appendix One: Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Excerpt
Appendix Two: Common Marian Prayers 
Appendix Three: Litanies 

The subtitle of the book is '28 Life-Changing Stories of Devotion to Our Lady' the original draft subtitle was 'Lessons I Learned from Holy Men and Women Along the Way' both work, but the second focuses on what Father Looney learned, the first on what those profiled learned. 

This is one of those books that will change your spiritual life. I read an advanced copy over a few days prior to publication. The version I read had two more days, which the publisher choose not to include. I think both would have been good additions. But back to this version of the book. It is an excellent read. I read through it fairly quickly, but have plans to go back and reread it doing one of the lessons per day. 

Each of the days presents us a person and their devotional practices or how they related to Mary. The chapters vary significantly in length. As do the recommendations at the ends of the chapter. These sections ‘How to Love Mary like …’ have between 3 and 8 points. Some are devotional practices, some art actions like pilgrimage, others as simple as saying specific prayers. A few samples are:

How to Love Mary like Blessed Columba Marmion

Reflect on your reasons for loving Mary.  
Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of Marian devotions possible?  Which ones have had pride of place in your life?  Are there new ones you want to try? 
Pray the Rosary, Angelus, or one of Mary’s litanies. 
Think of Mary when you attend Mass next. 
Pray the Hail Mary slowly.  Don’t rush through it.  Just pray one.”

How to Love Mary like St. Francis of Assisi 

Recite the Office of the Passion. 
Pray the Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pray the Franciscan Crown- just use your rosary beads and add two additional decades.”

How to Love Mary like St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri learned the Litany of Loreto and was inspired by the title Queen of Virgins.  Is there a title that inspires you and can impact your life?  If you are a mother, look at the Mother titles and see if there is one that you can imitate?  
Pray the Angelus each day.  Try to do so three times a day.  Traditionally it is prayed at 6, 12, and 6.  If you need to, simply pray it sometime in the morning, afternoon, and evening. 
How can you keep Saturday in honor of Our Lady?  Think of a practical way to always be reminded of Mary’s presence on her special day of the week.”    

How to Love Mary like Fr. Emile Neubert

What are ways you can become aware of living your life in union with Mary right now? 
How can Mary encourage you in your state of life? 
What ways can you cooperate with Mary in the salvation of souls?  Is it by prayer, sacrifice, or labor? 
What can Mary teach you about your life?  What lesson do you need help with the most?  
Begin and end your day with three Hail Mary’s.  
Formulate a short prayer that you can pray throughout the day.  It could be as simple as, “Mary, help me.”  

The final lesson is our story. We are encourage to follow the 28 holy men and women profiled in this book and grow in our own devotion to Mary. I came away from this book with a handful of new practices to try. About a dozen books I have added to my reading list, and a desire to deepen my Marian devotion. It is a book I know I will read again, and one I will be sharing with many friends and family.

This is a great resource for growing in knowledge, love and devotion to Mary, and through that to living life better. An excellent book for spiritual growth.

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

Books by Fr. Edward Looney:
A Heart Like Mary's: 31 Daily Meditations to Help You Live and Love as She Does
Our Lady of Good Help Mary's Message and Mission for Adele Brise and the World
A Rosary Litany
Our Lady of Good Help Prayer Book For Pilgrims

Lenten Journey with Mother Mary
Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary
Praying with the Church Through Advent
Praying with the Church Through Lent

Children’s Books:
Little Chapels, Grateful Hearts
The Story of Sister Adele and Our Lady of Champion
Breakfast in Bethlehem
Fr. Looney's Christmas Stories