Friday 31 March 2023

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2023

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2023

It has been a very good beginning to the year. Many great reads. I have read just over a book and a half a day. I read 160 books this quarter, in comparison with the last 7 years:

     2022 – 160
     2022 – 145
     2021 – 97
     2020 – 96
     2019 – 123
     2018 – 91
     2017 – 100
     2016 – 52

In fact, I believe it is my best quarter ever. Part of it is due to my youngest two children’s reading skills really growing and they read to/with me for 20 minutes for or five days a week. And this Lent I have tried to read a different Stations of the Cross booklet each day. Looking back 2016 is a bit of an outlier as late that year I switched jobs and have since had much better work – life balance. In the spring of 2016, I worked through Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now (now available on ClaitasU). The year before that I removed all games from my phone and tablet and my reading had doubled. 

But back to this quarter. By the numbers:

Books Read: 160
First Time Reads: 128
Fiction: 71
Non-Fiction: 89
5/5 Stars: 119

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

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
 1. Books by Pope Benedict XVI
 7. Catherine de Hueck Doherty Seasonal Customs

Bonus Books:
Top Ten Fiction Books:
 3. Live At First Bite Stories by Declan Finn
 7. Last Survivors Series by Declan Finn
10. Dan Deadman Series by Barry J. Hutchison

Bonus Books:

My reading has been up over each of the last few years. And I thought last year would be a high watermark. But the beginning of this year was even better than last. Which I attribute in part to Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now, removing all games but 1 brain game from my devices. And I was commuting to work on a bus and read on the bus every day. Working from home reading took a little more discipline. 

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they are sometimes in the bonus section. But if you want more options check out my favourite books year by year list. Or this year not to flood the list with one specific author.   

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2020
438 - 2022
365 - 2021
317 - 2020 
392 - 2019
359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Thursday 30 March 2023

Our Lady of Kibeho - Immaculée Ilibagiza - Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa

Our Lady of Kibeho
Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa
ISBN  9781401927431
eISBN 9781401925871

Our Lady of Kibeho Cover

I picked this book up and read it because according to a list online it was the first volume Father Mark Goring recommended for his Saint Mark’s School of Reading, It was before he had formalized his School, and just did videos on different books each month. I was a little familiar with this apparition from the volume The World of Marian Apparitions by Wincenty Laszewski. But only really that brief introduction. The description of this volume is:

“Thirteen years before the bloody 1994 genocide that swept across Rwanda and left more than a million people dead, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ appeared to eight young people in the remote village of Kibeho. Through these visionaries, Mary and Jesus warned of the looming holocaust, which they assured could be averted if Rwandans opened their hearts to God and embraced His love.

“Much like what happened at similar sites such as Fátima and Lourdes, the messengers of Kibeho were at first mocked and disbelieved. But as miracle after miracle occurred in the tiny village, tens of thousands of Rwandans journeyed to Kibeho to behold the apparitions. For years, countless onlookers watched as the Mother and Son of God spoke through the eight seers about God’s love, sending messages that they insisted were meant not only for Rwandans, but for the entire world, to hear. Mary also sent messages to government and church leaders to instruct them how to end the ethnic hatred simmering in their country. She warned them that Rwanda would become “a river of blood”—a land of unspeakable carnage—if the hatred of the people was not quickly quelled by love.

Some leaders listened, but very few believed: the prophetic and apocalyptic warnings tragically came true during 100 horrifying days of savage bloodletting and mass murder. After the genocide, and two decades of rigorous investigation, Our Lady of Kibeho became the first and only Vatican-approved Marian (that is, related to the Virgin Mary) site in all of Africa. But the story still remains largely unknown.

Now, Immaculée Ilibagiza plans to change all that. She made many pilgrimages to Kibeho both before and after the holocaust, personally witnessed true miracles, and spoke with a number of the visionaries themselves. What she’s discovered will deeply touch your heart.”

The chapters in this book are:

Foreword by Jim Caviezel
Introduction: Show Us a Miracle
   1: My Faith Was Born in Fátima
   2: Mary Arrives in Rwanda
   3: Mary Is Accepted
   4: The First Visionary: Alphonsine
   5: The Second Visionary: Anathalie
   6: And Then There Were Three: Marie-Claire
   7: My Father’s Pilgrimage
   8: Dad Sees the Visionaries
   9: Joy in the Land, and Mary’s Seven Sorrows
   10: Jesus’s Odd Choice of Visionaries
   11: Three More Visionaries
   12: Miracles in the Sky
   13: The Mystical Journeys
   14: Mary’s Tears in a River of Blood
   15: Mary, above Kibeho and Throughout History
   16: Mary, Through Happiness, Heartache, and Horror
Epilogue: The New Jerusalem.
The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows

It was fascinating to read this book. About a young girl’s love for Mary, and her desire to experience the apparitions herself. The girl who grew into a young woman and if anything, her passion for Our Lady and her messages grew even more. About her immersing herself in the messages and knowing the stories of the different visionaries completely. It is well written and as a reader you cannot help but be infected by the passion and joy Immaculée exudes. This is a very moving read. It gives a clear history of the events in Africa between the mid 1980’s and early 2000’s. It is an incredible story and one that will move readers deeply.

This was a great read. I could hardly put it down. It is available in several different languages. It is a book that I am certain will have a lasting impact on readers. I am glad Father Mark Goring recommended it, and that I am going back through the list of books he has recommended over the last few years. I believe this was the first book he highlighted as part of his his Saint Mark’s School of Reading, and I am glad he did. A great read I can easily recommend for all Catholics.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Immaculée Ilibagiza:
A Visit From Heaven
Fruits of Forgiveness: Stories of Love, Hope, and Healing After the Rwandan Genocide
Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
The Boy Who Met Jesus: Segatashya of Kibeho
The Rosary: The Prayer That Saved My Life
The Stations of the Cross
The Story of Jesus and Mary in Kibeho

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Dances With Werewolves Part 1 - Declan Finn - Williams and Miller Book 4

Dances With Werewolves: Part 1
Williams and Miller Book 4
Declan Finn

First I listed this volume as Williams and Miller Book 4, that is not official, but Too Secret Service is a story in three parts and this is the first of two stories in this arc with the same characters. I love the three volumes in that story and this one is just as good. The different is Too Secret Service is available as three eBooks or in an Omnibus single edition. This series is two stories but the Omnibus edition is available as both eBook and in print.

I got on a Declan Finn Kick last year and have been reading about 1 a week since. I have read 34 books by Declan Finn and 33 of them in the last 10 months. I have greatly enjoyed books in several other series. This is book one of two in the second Williams and Miller series, that I am aware of. These were published a few years ago. Both the Saint Tommy and the White Ops series are greatly entertaining, and I cannot wait for the Pius trilogy of 5 books to be back in print. I am now working through his back catalogue. The first trilogy with these characters was a surprising story, with lots of action, and adventure. This one takes it to a whole new level by adding the supernatural. 

I am currently cycling through a few of Finn’s series and just decided this one was up next, I had read it was related to the other series but I was not aware how closely. The description of this story is:

“Secret Service Agent Wayne Williams is dead.

But he has to keep busy somehow.

When a coven of witches reports a threat to the President of the United States, it's the sort of threat that must be investigated. But it sounds like a vacation for Wayne.

CIA Assassin Catherine Miler is on a mission to kill Baron Samedi," a Prime Minister sacrificing American Tourists.

Author Matthew Kovach is looking for his own version of Derry Maine.

All three are about to find themselves embroiled in San Francisco pagans, want to be vampires, pharmaceutical zombies, and New Orleans.

And all three have to survive their consultants on this case -- the Kraft Brothers.”

Williams and Miller are great characters, and the supporting cast of family, friends, and coworkers are very well written. The characters are part of what I enjoy so much about Finn’s novels, the wonderfully written characters and the excellent action. At the beginning of this one Williams and Miller start off on separate missions in different parts of the world. But soon the similarities of their cases draw them to the same city and tracking the same evil.

This was a great read with Finn’s usual twists! I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the second part. This was an excellent read. Another great read from Finn’s masterful pen.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Declan Finn:
Love At First Bite Series:

Other books:

Anthologies contributed to:
Luna: Planetary Anhtology Series Book 2
Supernatural Streets
Starflight: Tales From The Starport Lounge
Mercury: Planetary Anthology Series Book 4
Venus: Planetary Anthology Series Book 5
Mars: Planetary Anthology Series Book 7
Places Beyond the Wild: A Z-Day Anthology
Shoot the Devil: Ten Tales of Humans Defeating the Demonic
Fantastic Schools, Volume 6

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Jesus, You Take Over - Father Dolindo Ruotolo - Prayers for Surrender to God's Will for Private Devotion

Jesus, You Take Over: 
Prayers for Surrender to God's Will for Private Devotion
Father Dolindo Ruotolo
ISBN 9798541960907

The devotion in the booklet and the author Father Dolindo Ruotolo was mentioned to me in the confessional, not as penance but as a devotion worth looking up. I have not been able to find a biography of Father Ruotolo in English. I did find Spanish and polish editions of several of his works, many more than appear to be available in English. There seems to be several different booklet forms of just the Surrender Novena, some stapled editions and some trifold. This booklet form contains the following chapters and sections:

About Fr. Donlindo Ruotolo
Jesus, You Take Over 
The Surrender Novena
     Day 1
     Day 2
     Day 3
     Day 4
     Day 5
     Day 6
     Day 7
     Day 8
     Day 9
The Rosary of Abandonment

The description of this booklet states:

“This peace-invoking, beautiful little prayer book includes private devotions by Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970), including the Surrender Novena, Rosary of Abandonment, and words of comfort. It is a perfect little prayer book to add to one's prayer life when one is struggling with stress and anxiety, especially during our weary present-day times. Placing one's trust in God alone is the only remedy for truly calming the soul. Padre Pio often recommended souls to Fr. Ruotolo while he was alive.”

The booklet comes in at 42 pages. For the size I found it a but pricy. But For the content worth it. Most of what is in this booklet, however, is available online if you search for it. I found several different PDF downloads of the Novena, and many have the into about Father Ruotolo. I really wish this was available as an eBook. I have a dual form of dyslexia and my son has eye tracking issues. We prefer eBooks so that we can change the font, font and page colour to make reading easier. As we can use adaptive technology and listen to help as well. 

That being said this is an excellent little booklet. If it was more reasonably priced I would keep a stack on hand to give out to friends and family. I am thankful my parish priest recommended this volume, I had previously read A Month with Mary and I will be reading some of the other volumes by Father Dolindo and will be keeping my eye out for a biography in English. This is a great little resource that I can easily recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Father Dolindo Ruotolo:
Come, O Holy Spirit
Meditations on the Holy Rosary
Surrender Novena
The Afterlife: Purgatory and Heaven Explained

Monday 27 March 2023

A Supplement to A Dictionary of Irish Saints - Pádraig Ó Riain - Containing Additions and Corrections

A Supplement to A Dictionary of Irish Saints:
Containing Additions and Corrections
ISBN 9781801510196

I must state I had A Dictionary of Irish Saints, on my wish list a long time. The price point was way above what I would normally spend on a book for pleasure reading. For a long time it was the longest standing book on my wish list. Then a few years ago my sister in law was very generous with a book gift card at Christmas. I picked it up. It migrated back and forth between my den and my bedside table for almost 2 years. I was making little progress because I greatly prefer eBooks because of a dual form of dyslexia. I had been hoping all along that an eBook edition would eventually be released. When I found out that a second edition was in the works, and that a volume had been releases, ‘A Supplement to A Dictionary of Irish Saints: Containing Additions and Corrections’ I picked it up as a way to help force myself to finally work through the dictionary volume. 

The description of this volume is:

“In the ten years since its publication by Four Courts Press in 2011, a dictionary of Irish saints has attracted a large amount of supplementary material, mainly through comments and corrections provided by readers, colleagues, and reviewers. As these are to be included in a planned second edition of the Dictionary, it is felt by both Press and author that those who own a copy of the first edition should also benefit from them through this publication.”

And the description of the dictionary is:

“Scarcely a parish in Ireland is without one or more dedications to saints - in the form of churches in ruins, holy wells, or other ecclesiastical monuments. A Dictionary of Irish Saints serves as a guide to the (mainly documentary) sources of information on the saints named in these dedications. The need for a summary biographical dictionary of Irish saints - containing information on such matters as feastdays, localizations, chronology, and genealogies - has never before been satisfied. Author Padraig O Riain has been working in the field of Irish hagiography for upwards of 40 years, and the material for the over 1,000 entries in A Dictionary of Irish Saints has come from a variety of sources, including lives of the saints, martyrologies, shorter tracts on the saints (some of them accessible only in manuscripts), annals, annates, collections of folklore, Ordnance Survey letters, and other documents.”

I try and read a few academic works every year. Most of what I read is more for a general audience. I read widely and with my own Religious Studies degree with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought, and being of Irish heritage this volume appealed to me on many levels. This volume is listed as 64 pages. The chapters in this work are:

Additional Sources 
Additions and Corrections to:
Dictionary Entries
Index of Civil Parishes 
Index of Other Places 
Index of alternate (mainly Anglicized) Names 
Index of Subjects 
Index of Feastdays

This volume is listed as 64 pages, and the original was 660, and the vast majority of additions and edits to dictionary entries. It should be noted this is a red letter edition. The additions are in red and pieces removed are in red with a strike through. See sample page below. The preface begins with:

“In the eleven years since its publication by Four Courts Press in 20122 A Dictionary of Irish Saints has rarely been far, either from my mind or from my desk. Beginning with notes added to an interleaved copy, followed by entries in red in the online copy generously provided by Four Courts Press, I have since assembled a large selection of supplementary material, which, to my mind, merits being brought to the attention of those who own a copy of the first edition. It is hoped that a future second edition of the Dictionary will include this material. In the meantime, however, the Press has kindly agreed to make available in this format the material assembled to date.”

This is very much an academic work and written after a lifetime in the field of study. And as can be seen by this addition it is study that continues to this day. It is an excellent volume, if you are passionate about Irish Saints or your Irish Catholic heritage this is volume is essential for those who own the first edition of the Dictionary. If you enjoyed the Dictionary you will enjoy this volume. I am glad I picked this up and read both the Dictionary and now the Supplement I am blessed for the effort. When the Second edition is released I can only hope there will be an eBook edition, for with my dyslexia I greatly prefer digital copies. An excellent resource and addition to the original volume.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by and edited by Pádraig Ó Riain:
A Martyrology of Four Cities: Metz, Cologne, Dublin, Lund
Beatha Aodha Ruaidh: the Life of Red Hugh O'Donnell
Feastdays of the Saints
Fled Bricrenn: Reassessments
Four Irish Martyrologies: Drummond, Turin, Cashel, York
Four Offaly Saints
Four Tipperary Saints
Irish Texts Society: The First Hundred Years
Studies in Irish Hagiography: Saints and Scholars
The Martyrology of the Regensburg Schottenkloster

Sunday 26 March 2023

Lent Easter Awaits Us Returning to the Way of God - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Books

Lent Easter Awaits Us Returning to the Way of God  
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860826290
CTS Booklet D719

There are numerous volumes by Pope Benedict XVI from the Catholic Truth Society that are currently out of print. I have been slowing tracking them down to read. This is one of two I have read during Lent in 2023. Almost every time I read a volume from the CTS I find another book or 2 I want to read. I have read a few from the Pen of Benedict XVI, have a few others, and there are several that are out of print are on my wish list. This one is another taken from a collection of homilies and it is an excellent little read. 

Over the last several years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. In fact, this is the 343rd book or booklet from the CTS that I have read several of them by or about Pope Benedict. 

The description of this volume:

“Since our happiness in this life depends largely on our being able to love others – as Christ reveals to us every Easter – then Lent is a precious time for Christians to draw close to the truth and meaning of their lives. Drawing from his homilies and addresses, this booklet offers Pope Benedict’s liberating insights into fasting, prayer, suffering, love, peace, sacrifice, hope and above all the Resurrection and the life of the Holy Spirit; - a valuable companion from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday.”

This booklet draws 1ogc1hcr homilies and addresses of Pope Benedict XVI made during Lent, Eastertide and Pentecost 2009 and draws from one piece from 2008 on Fasting.

The chapters in the volume are:

     Fasting - its true meaning 
     Return to me 
     Trials in the desert 
     Lose your life to gain it 

Holy Week
     The law of love 
     Be immersed in God's truth 
     Make us instruments of your peace 

     Love is stronger than death 
     Christ my hope is risen 
     This is the day of the Lord 

     Christ gives us his life 
     Christ's Church is alive! 

I read this volume slowly over a few weeks. I read one section at a time. I did not stick to the outlined or original dates and feasts. I highlighted several passages in each. Here are some of those highlighted passages:

“At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition - prayer, almsgiving, fasting - 10 prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God's power that, as we shal l hear in the Paschal Vigil, “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride”
(Paschal Pra:conium).”

“We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The
Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it.”

“The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Ac 13:3; 14:22; 27:2 1; 2 Co 6:5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting 10 bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age.”

“In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning. and has taken on in a culture characterised by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy'” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.”

“Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est. 15).”

“It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters, that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving.”

“But how can the baptismal vocation be brought to fulfilment so as to be victorious in the struggle between the flesh and the spirit, between good and evil, a combat that marks our existence? Ln the Gospel passage today the Lord indicates to us three useful means: prayer, almsgiving and fasting.”

“While we prepare to receive Ashes on our heads as a sign of conversion and repentance, let us open our hearts to the vivifying action of the word of God. May Lent, marked by more frequent listening to this word, by more intense prayer, by an austere and penitential lifestyle, be an incentive to conversion and to sincere love towards our brothers, especially those who are poorest and neediest. May the Apostle Paul accompany us: may Mary, the attentive Virgin of listening and the humble Handmaid of the Lord guide us. Thus spiritually renewed, we shall succeed in celebrating Easter joyfully. Amen!”

“We would be removing an important part of the Gospel were we to leave out these beings sent by God, who announce and are a sign of his presence among us. Let us invoke them frequently, so that they may sustain us in our commitment to follow Jesus to the point of identifying with him ...”

“Indeed, prayer reaches its culmination and thus becomes a source of inner light when the spirit of the human being adheres to that of God, and their respective will merge, as it were, to become a whole.”

“Together with fasting and works of mercy, prayer is the backbone of our spiritual life. Dear brothers and sisters. I urge you to find in this Lenten Season prolonged moments of silence, possibly in retreat, in order to review your own lives in the light of the loving plan of the heavenly Father.”

“Through the resurrection, Jesus surpasses the limits of space and time. As the Risen One, he is journeying towards the vast horizon of the world and of history. Yes indeed, as the Risen One he goes to the Greeks and speaks with them, he shows himself to them in such a way that they who are far away become near, and it is in their language, in their culture, that his word is carried forward in a new way and understood in a new way - his Kingdom comes.”

“Dear friends, perhaps it is relatively easy to accept this as the fundamental great vision of life, in practice, however, it is not a question of simply recognising a principle, but of living according to the truth that it contains, the truth of the cross and resurrection.”

“There is no such thing as a successful life without sacrifice. If I cast a glance back over my whole life, I have to say that it was precisely the moments when I said ''yes'' to renunciation that were the great and important moments of my life.”

“We touch the marvellous mystery of God's love, the only genuinely redemptive truth. But we also touch the fundamental law, the constitutive norm of our lives, namely the fact that without this "yes" to the Cross, without walking in communion with Christ day by day, life cannot succeed. The more we can make some sacrifice, out of love for the great truth and the great love, out of love for the truth and for God's love, the greater and richer life becomes. Anyone who wants to keep his life for himself loses it. Anyone who gives his life - day by day in small acts, which form part of the great decision - that person finds it…”

“It means not wanting to impose our own way and our own will, not desiring to become someone else, but abandoning ourselves to him however and wherever he wants to use us.”

“Then indeed we experience, amid sacrifices which can at first be painful, the growing joy of friendship with him, and all the small and sometimes great signs of his love, which he is constantly showing us, “The one who loses himself, finds himself”. When we dare to lose ourselves for the Lord, we come to experience the truth of these words.”

“True love does not come cheap, it can also prove quite costly. It resists evil in order to bring men true good. If we become one with Christ, we learn to recognise him precisely in the suffering. in the poor, in the little ones of this world: then we become people who serve, who recognise our brothers and sisters in him, and in them, we encounter him.”

“Let us pray to the Lord that the fragile flame of the candle he has lit in us. the delicate light of his word and his love an1jd the confusions of this age, will not be extinguished in us, but will become ever stronger and brighter, so that we, with him, can be people of the day, bright stars lighting up our time.”

“Man no longer wants to be an image of God but of himself; he declares himself autonomous, free and adult. Of course, this attitude reveals a relationship with God which is not authentic, the consequence of a false image which has been fabricated of him, like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel parable who believes that he can fulfil himself by distancing himself from his father's house.”

“This pure essential and personal “fire”, the fire of love, came down upon the Apostles gathered in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room, to make the Church an extension of Christ's work of renewal.”

Like many other volumes I have read by Pope Benedict XVI, this book is infused with his deep personal faith, his mastery of theological concepts, and his great wisdom. The extracts from the homilies are accessible. They can be engaged with and enjoyed by any Catholic, and I would go so far as to say any Christian would benefit from these words. 

This is another excellent little volume. It is always inspiring to read the words of Benedict XVI to see his faith infused in his teachings, his love for God and his desire for our growth. It is a great read and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Benedict XVI: