Sunday 30 April 2023

The Way of the Cross - Fulton J. Sheen - 1933 Edition

The Way of the Cross 
Garden City Books
Copyright, 1932, National Council of Catholic Men

FultonJ Sheen The Way of the Cross for our Enemies 1933

I love praying the Stations of the Cross; it is one of my favourite devotions. I enjoy praying along with audio versions, and enjoy praying with a book or booklet like this time, and communally during Fridays at my Parish during Lent. This was one of three different stations I have found published by Fulton J. Sheen. It is the second I have prayed. After some extensive research I believe he only published the three and this was the second one released. I try and pray a Stations every Friday throughout the year, and strive to pray one each day during Lent. This is the longest of the three editions from the pen of Sheen I have been able to track down, it is another excellent version. 

A Sample station is:

Third Station
Jesus Falls The First Time.

We adore Thee, 0 Christ, and we praise Thee,
Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Three times Our Saviour was tempted on the mountain, and three times He fell on the way to the mountain of Calvary. Thus did He atone for our three falls to the temptations of the flesh, the world, and the devil.

After fasting forty days in the desert, Our Blessed Lord was hungry. Satan tempted Him first on the part of the flesh, by asking Him to do the natural thing when hungry, namely, to use His power and command that the stones be turned into bread. But the Master retorted that the food which satisfies the longings of our heart comes not from the flesh, but from the Spirit of God.

Many times I, too, have been tempted to give way to the demands of my lower nature when the spirit should have been served. But, unlike my Master, I fell by consenting to the promptings of the flesh instead of the urges of Grace, and by doing that which is natural when I should have done that which is supernatural. And alas! I have found it always true that giving away to lower impulses has made hungry where most it satisfies, and that with the bread of lower desires, no man can live.

Pray for us, 0 Holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

When my frame rocks beneath the power of Satan, and my flesh is buffeted by the tempter, seal my senses and keep me mindful that my body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and that only the clean of heart shall see Thee, 0 God! Grant henceforth, that by the merits of this fall under the Cross, I may be saved from falls of the flesh not by bread made from stones, but by Flesh made from the Bread of Life and by Blood made from the Wine that germinates Virgins.”

This book has an introductory prayer:

“DEDICATION Mary Mediatrix of all graces who at the foot of the cross didst bring forth in sorrow thine other children which we are. As thou didst bring forth in joy thy First Child at the crib. I offer Thee these prayers in loving gratitude and hope that as Our Mother sweet and kind thou mayest always be with us on the Royal Road of the Cross.”

And a concluding prayer:

Prayer After the Way of The Cross
Offered for the Intention of the Holy Father, Vicar of Jesus Christ.

Dear Jesus, Thou art the Word of God, and the Word of God, Thou hast told us, is a seed which bringeth forth life only on condition that it falleth to the ground. As the seed of everlasting life, Thou didst fall to the earth by Thy death on Good Friday, but Thou didst gloriously rise to Thy new life on Easter Sunday. Thus Thou hast taught us that Christian living means dying to the world in a Calvary of time, as a prelude to an eternity-long Easter in heaven. Grant that on that day when Thou wilt come in the clouds of heaven to judge the living and the dead, bearing Thy Cross as a sign of triumph and Thy scars as pledges of love, that I may show Thee my cross and my scars, and in return be privileged to hear fron1 Thy own lips: "Come, ye blessed of My Father into the Kingdom prepared for you from all eternity." Amen”

There are several pages in the introduction. Most have to do with the indulgences partial and full available at the time this volume was published. That introduction begins with:

“The author of these meditations on the Way of the Cross has a two-fold purpose in offering them in printed form. The first is that they may enkindle in souls a flaming love for the Crucified Christ who, through His passion and death, revealed to us that it is only through the Cross that we are ever ushered into glory and eternal life.

The second purpose is that those who meditate on the great love of Our Lord for sinners will be kind enough to say a prayer for the author that increase of years may bring increase of intimacy with the Love which is God.”

When I pray this station I pray for the cause of Canonization of Sheen. I really enjoyed this version of this devotion. It is an excellent edition for personal, home, or church use. I can easily recommend it.

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

For all other reviews of Stations of the Cross click here.

Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:
The Archbishop and I
Fulton Sheen - Louise Merrie - CTS Biographies

FultonJ Sheen The Way of the Cross for our Enemies 1932 Reprint

FultonJ Sheen The Way of the Cross for our Enemies 1933

FultonJ Sheen The Way of the Cross

FultonJ Sheen The Way of the Cross for our Enemies 1938

Saturday 29 April 2023

Codename Unsub - Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz - Last Survivors Book 2

Codename: Unsub
Last Survivors Book 2
Declan Finn
Allan Yoskowitz
ISBN 9781519031457

This is the thirty-eighth volume I have read from the pen of Declan Finn, and only the third that is a collaboration with another author. One of which was the first in this series, Codename Winterborn. I have read 37 of those in under the last year. I have been reading his works at a pace of about a book a week. This is another excellent read, and I am sorry the series has only two volumes. The description of this book is:

“Back in the "real world," Kevin Anderson had worn many hats: SEAL, spy, avenger, and Winterborn. Since being exiled into San Francisco of 2094, Kevin has tried to settle in as best he can. He acts as the threat that keeps Chinatown safe. He's got a friend in the local assassin. The private military contractor had agreed to stay away from him. The drugs dealers stay out of his way on fear of death. And the area death cult think that he's the second coming of Kali. So who would be dumb enough to leave a body practically on Kevin's doorstep? The murder of a local business puts Kevin's position in jeopardy. It makes him look week and ineffectual. All Kevin has to do is find the killer, and teach him the error of his ways, preferably in a permanent fashion. But the killer has left his mark, and it's of a professional killer. The suspects are few and far between, but they're all dangerous. When the next bodies start to hit the ground, it becomes clear that Kevin is dealing with something new to this San Francisco: a serial killer. And now, without modern forensics, databases, police forces, and relying purely on his wits, Kevin must delve into the underbelly of this nightmare city, in search of a man deadlier than any he has ever encountered before. The one thing neither Kevin or the serial killer knows is that they're on a collision course that will either save the world or destroy it.”

Like the first in the series it has a bit of a feel of a mashup of Jack Reacher, the Punisher, the Equalizer and MacGyver. Or like the Escape from LA and Escape from New York movies. It is a greatly entertaining read. In the first one Kevin’s team is wiped out. He survives and pursued vengeance. Now exiled in San Francisco he is fighting to protect and to not become a monster. This time he is up against a different enemy, and this time he has allies and friends. Kyle Elsen the last master assassin, and possibly the last member of the assassin guild. The triplets and others.

Kevin Anderson has very specific skills, skills the government paid to train and hone. Then a subset of that government sold out his team. His background:

“Lt. Kevin Michael Anderson. USMC Codename: Spartan. SEAL Codename: Winterborn. CID Codename: Nemesis. Airborne Rated, Ranger Qualified. Mossad Certified: Urban Warfare Specialist. Marksmanship Medal. Other Medals Classified. Current Status: Classified.”

Anderson has a new home, a home he will fight for. Kill for. And He will not rest! The characters are amazing, it has an excellent story arc, and a break neck pace. This story could easily be continued, or even spin off stories about many of the characters. 

Another excellent read from the masterful pen of Declan Finn. It is my second encounter of the works of Allan Yoskowitz, and I believe his only other is the companion volume to this Codename Winterborn. For fans of the Saint Tommy I am certain you will appreciate Kevin. Think a Jason Bourne who was raised Catholic and holds his beliefs as central to his being. An excellent read I cannot recommend this book, this series and many of Finn’s other offerings enough!   

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:
Sad Puppies Bike Back

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

Friday 28 April 2023

Eye of the Storm - Declan Finn - White Ops Book 5

Eye of the Storm
White Ops Book 5
Declan Finn
ISBN 9798390521748
eISBN 9798215493946

This is an excellent installment in an amazing series! 

This series seriously just keeps getting better and better! Wow! I could hardly put the book down I stayed up way too late and read it! I am old enough to know better. I have read 43 books by Declan Finn and 42 of them in the last year. White Ops is one of my favourite series by Finn. This one jumped to the top of my ‘to be read’ pile the day it released. It was one of 5 books by Finn that dropped in the same week, this and the 4 novels from the Live at Fist Bite series, back in print all released. The description of this story is:

“Those of the planet Renar have one rule regarding the local mafia: They do not exist.

When White Ops leader Sean Patrick Ryan uncovers its existence, he finds a world of political intrigue and corruption that stretches back years. The Mafia has cast a shadow that has touched every member of his team. Now, the Mafia wants to emerge from the shadows.

Their first target: Sean Ryan. Despite Sean being held back by local politics and diplomatic niceties, he's still the most dangerous man in the universe.

They underestimated him”

The further I get into this series the more I see echoes of Babylon 5. In most ways that enhances the stories. And I can honestly say I prefer these books now over the show that inspired them. These are not just modified fan fiction, they may have been the original bases but over time with the rewrites these have eclipsed the original. The framework that Finn uses and the characters he has written are exceptional. The pace is great, and though a lot of this story introduces us to the expanded team members of White ups, it sets up a lot of future possibilities. 

This story takes the action to yet another level. Sean Patrick Ryan and his team grows exponentially. The head of the totentanzers the Rangers the Al’na’Thra has ordered hms to accept recruits. The recruits come from many planets, numerous government agencies and from other less organized organizations. They are preparing for war, war with an entire clan. A clan that has impacted many members of the team and will try and destroy them all. So Ryan and the Rangers declare totentanz a fight to the death. Only one of them will be left standing. 

This story build and builds until a final battle that once you start reading it you will not be able to put the book down. In this story there are no travels the whole story takes place on a single planet, and in a stronghold below it. At the end of the volume is chart that contains name, rank, and code name of the members of White Ops. It is a really valuable tool. There is a lot of action, and weapons, and fights in this story. But there is also a lot of humour. Even just some of the code names, and why Ryan assigned them, will make you laugh out loud. I never thought that reading a series of job interviews would be interesting but Finn made it so. 

This was another awesome story from Finn’s masterful pen! I really enjoyed this volume and the whole series thus far. It is a great read. And leaves you wondering what happens next. This is an excellent read, I can easily recommend this book, this series and all of the books from Finn I have read to date!

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

Books by Declan Finn:
Love At First Bite Series:

The Last Survivors Series:

Convention Killings Series:

Pius Series:
A Pius Legacy
A Pius Stand
Pius History
Pius Tales (Anthology)
Pius Trilogy Short Stories:

St. Tommy Series:

Top Secret Service Series:

Dances with Werewolves Series:

White Ops 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

Thursday 27 April 2023

Paul of Tarsus - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Biographies

Paul of Tarsus
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860825774
CTS Booklet B718

Over the last few years I have read a number of books by and about Pope Benedict XVI. Of the popes in my lifetime I find his writings of immense spiritual benefit. I would state that I underappreciated him until his resignation. And since then I have read much. And with each piece I read I appreciate his wisdom, faith, and stand against modernism. This volume was of special interest to me. I hold a Religious Studies Degree with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought. The first course I did when I returned to University was Paul’s Life and Letters, taught by Dr. Peter Frick, the course was transformative for me spiritually and academically. I enjoyed the course so much that I did a fourth year directed readings in Pauline Studies as one of my final courses to graduate, again with Dr. Frick. I try and read a book on Pauline Theology and thought almost every year. Some of the academic works are out of my price point. This was an excellent read. There are two editions of this work and they are nearly identical. In Europe this volume was published by the Catholic Truth Society. In North America Ignatius Press published once called Saint Paul. I had tracked down this volume and was reading it when I picked up the eBook from Ignatius. Thus I read about half the book in each edition.

The description of the edition of the book is:

“Pope Benedict turns his attention as a theologian and Scripture scholar to one of the most important figures in the history of the Church. Reflecting on St Paul's life and times, his indefatigable missionary activity and the most important events of his life, the Holy Father then goes on to explore the most important themes and theologies of St Paul's writings including the incarnation, the cross, works, faith, and the sacraments.”

The volume is compiled from a collection of General Audiences given between July 2, 2008 and February 4, 2009, during the Jubilee year of Saint Paul which ran from June 28, 2008 to June 29th, 2009. The CTS has several booklets from the Year of Saint Paul. I could have used this volume and some of the ones from that Year for that final I did a year after the fact. 

And the chapters are:

1. Religious and Cultural Environment
2. Life of Saint Paul before and after Damascus
3. Saint Paul’s “Conversion”
4. Saint Paul’s Concept of Apostolate
5. Paul, the Twelve and the Pre-Pauline Church
6. The “Council” of Jerusalem and the Incident in Antioch
7. The Relationship with the Historical Jesus
8. Paul’s Ecclesiological Dimension
9. The Importance of Christology: Pre-existence and Incarnation
10. The Importance of Christology: The Theology of the Cross
11. The Importance of Christology: The Decisiveness of the Resurrection
12. Eschatology: The Expectation of the Parousia
13. The Doctrine of Justification: From Works to Faith
14. The Doctrine of Justification: The Apostle’s Teaching on Faith and Works
15. The Apostle’s Teaching on the Relation between Adam and Christ
16. The Theology of the Sacraments
17. Spiritual Worship
18. Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians
19. Pastoral Epistles: Letters to Timothy and Titus
20. Saint Paul’s Life and Legacy

Each chapter is from a specific General Audience. Because this is a collection for talks given there is no introduction or conclusion. I really enjoyed reading this volume. I read it just a few months after the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. And reading books by him at this time is helping me process my feelings on his passing. I once heard a theologian say that without Saint Paul there would be no Christianity. And I do not doubt that statement. This book gives a rich and deep look into the man, his life and his message. I really enjoyed the format of the CTS Edition of this book. It had wide margins for notes. Clear clean font. And perfect size for personal study. I gave my physical copy to Dr. Frick who is working on his own Paul book after teaching about Paul for 30 years.

This is an excellent read, one any Catholic, any Christian would benefit from reading. It is another excellent volume from Pope Benedict XVI, and I can easily 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.

CTS Year of St Paul Series 2008-2009:
Acts of the Apostles - Henry Wansbrough OSB (Introduction) - CTS Scriptures
Letters of Paul - Henry Wansbrough OSB (Introduction) - CTS Scriptures
Rome A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin
St Paul the Apostle - Fr Jerome Murphy-O'Connor OP,
The Gospel of Paul - Ronald Knox
The Holy Land A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin
Thoughts on St Paul - Pope Benedict XVI

Books by Benedict XVI:

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Deadly Games - K.T. Galloway - Annie O'Malley Book 6

Deadly Games
Annie O'Malley Book 6
A.W.E. Publishing
ISBN 9781915197054

This is another great read in a very good series. It is British Crime Procedural novel, mystery - thriller. This one was hard to put down. It was an addictive read. Over the last few years I have read many crime or thriller novels. I love the DCI Kett novels from Alex Smith and the DCI Will Blake novels from J.E. Mayhew. And the DCI Jack Logan books by J.D. Kirk. Alex Smith had recommended Mayhew and I ripped through that series, so when he recommended this series I had to give it a try. They have not disappointed, and this one is excellent.

Annie O’Malley is a psychotherapist and former police officer. And not only does she have baggage from her stunted police career, but even more from experiences when she was young. Now she has been drawn back, back into a world she had left behind, back to a world she was glad was behind her. Back to her own childhood and her sister who is still missing. In this one O’Malley and Swift are on a case that involves a crown attorney who is rigged with a bomb and being given tasks to do. The tasks keep getting more and more violent and illegal. Because of O’Malley’s quick thinking and improvisational skills they have an in on figuring out what is happening and why, but will it be enough?

The description of the book is:

“Tick, tick, tick... BOOM.

When Annie O’Malley and DI Joe Swift are called to the local park to investigate reports of vandalism, they begin one of the most harrowing cases of their career.

The vandal is a scared young woman with a bomb strapped to her chest and a list of games she must play.

As the games get more gruesome, the young woman has a choice to make; kill or be killed.

O’Malley, Swift, Tink, and Page find themselves racing against time to uncover who is behind the games before the bomb detonates.

But it soon becomes clear that the games-master is a thrill seeker and he’s out to have fun, no matter how deadly the consequences.”

This story again puts both O’Malley and Swift in the line of fire, this time not directly but when you are trying to save some one in a suicide vest just being in proximity is dangerous. There are a lot of suspects and a lot of misdirection. There was an incredible twist at the climax of the story. And O’Malley finally gets to sit down with her long lost sister and have a long conversation. 

Can they save the victim? Can they save themselves? To find out you will need to read this suspenseful novel. It is a good read, in a great series and leaves you waiting for the next volume One Last Breath.

Books by K.T. Galloway:
Annie O’Malley Series:

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Honor At Stake - Declan Finn - Love at First Bite Book 1

Honor At Stake
Love at First Bite Book 1
Declan Finn
ISBN 9781951768706
Honor At Stake - Declan Finn - Love at First Bite Book 1

I am so thankful to see this series back in print. Three Ravens released all four novels in under a week. And they immediately jumped to the top of my reading list. I have read the three published short stories in this series and am very thankful the novels are back in print. 

I have loved the three short stories in the Love at First Bite Series, and this first novel has exceeded all expectations. It is an amazing story! It was so good I immediately wanted to read book two, and the only thing that stopped me was commitments to review two books when they release in the next few weeks. This is the first of the 4 novels in this series they were out of print, but as of April 2023 they are back in print and available electronically and in print. This is great news for fans of Finn’s works

It has been a few years since I have really read a story or series that has centred around vampires. I seem to go through a phase about every 10 years where something catches my fancy and draws me in. These stories have completely captivated my attention. I finished this a few days ago and still keep finding myself thinking about this story.

Over the last 10 months I have read 41 stories by Declan. I have greatly enjoyed books in several other series. I have loved the Saint Tommy and the White Ops, and I cannot wait for the Pius trilogy of 5 books to be back in print. 

The description of this story is:

One is a heartless, bloodthirsty killer. The other is a vampire.

College freshman, Amanda Colt knows few people and wants to know fewer still. She enjoys fencing and prefers facing a challenge every once in a while. She is beautiful, smart, and possibly the most interesting person on campus.

Then she finds tall, intense Marco Catalano in her fencing class. With a mind like a computer and manners of a medieval knight, he scares most people - but not Amanda. They both have secrets, for they are both monsters.

As they draw closer, they must find the line between how much they can trust each other, and how much they can care for each other. Each carries a secret that can destroy the other. But they must come to grips with their personal drama soon because a darkness rises around them. Bodies keep turning up all over New York, and an army of vampires closes in on all sides.

They have only one hope - each other.”

What completely blew my mind is that this volume mentions an “Officer Nolan” whom I can only assume is the same Tommy Nolan from the Saint Tommy series. It also has Merle Kraft who is in the Dances with Werewolves stories. Which I believe means the three series are set in the same world and with overlapping time lines. Once I have finished getting caught up on all of Finn’s published stories I am going to need to go back and reread them to look for more connections and crossovers.
The action in this story is intense. The battles epic. And like most of Finn’s works the greatest strength is the characters. You will greatly appreciate the main characters and be rooting for them. 

I can’t wait to read the next three novels in this series. These stories have a bit of a feel of Blade or John Carpenter’s Vampires, and thankfully no vampires that sparkle. The stories I have read to date in this series are wonderfully written and masterfully executed.

The novels in this series are:

       Formerly Murphy's Law of Vampires

The Short Stories are:

02 Bad Date (During the main story arc)
03 Mad Dog Moon (An Epilogue Story)

Declan has created another incredible series in what I now believe to be a shared world. I am hooked. I am very thankful these novels are back in print, I look forward to reading them and sharing them with others. But be warned once you take a nip of this story you will be hooked.  It is a story with real bite, a series to really sink your teeth into! A great story in what is shaping up to be an incredible series!     

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

Books by Declan Finn:
Love At First Bite Series:
Short Stories:
     (Murphy's Law of Vampires)

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