Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Art of Christmas {book review}

This is a book review of Sister Wendy on the Art of Christmas by Sister Wendy Beckett for The Catholic Company.

Sister Wendy, once again, manages to draw us into unique works of art and through her meditations
teaches us how to pray and reflect using art.

This book contains the various art works of Christmas with chapters such as Advent, Journey to Bethlehem, Mystic Nativity, Epiphany, and the Transfiguration.  Each chapter contains works that are both well and lesser known with a short interpretation and reflection on each of the fourteen pieces included in this edition.

This has become part of our homeschool curriculum.  My daughter loves looking at the pictures while I read to her.  The beauty of art is that it prompts those contemplative questions that are part of every child...and adult.

This would make a wonderful little Christmas gift for young and old alike.

"When you look at the pictures in this book, really look, opening your heart to take in what is there before you, you're not only responding to a particular work of art, you are practicing the habit of openness to the beauty of God as he illuminates every moment of your every day."

{This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Sister Wendy on the Art of Saints. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.}

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Ascent of Mt. Carmel: Reflections {book review}

This book review is not done on behalf of any publisher.  I just wanted to share what a treasure this book has been and to get the word out.

Fr. Marc Foley has done what very few authors have been able to accomplish...making St. John of the Cross's "Ascent" accessible to all. I have read several commentaries on the writings on St. John of the Cross, and this has been, by far, one of the best.

It is tempting to consume this book in a few sittings as I found myself unable to put it down. But it is not meant to be read in that context. It is a book composed of many short meditations on "The Ascent of Mt. Carmel" with reflection questions following each meditation. I found these very good to reflect upon and much needed for those who wish to progress further in the spiritual life. It could very easily be used during prayer time.

This would also make an excellent companion to read along with St. John of the Cross's "Ascent". It is divided into the three books of "Ascent" with multiple meditations listed under each Book making it easy to follow and reference.

If you been hesitant to delve into St. John's writings, this is an excellent book to start with. St. John of the Cross has always been my favorite saint and I appreciate this book as it has brought me even closer to him. Thank you Fr. Foley!

{We are blessed to have Fr. Foley as our retreat director this year in October!}

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours {book review}

I was very pleased to be able to review The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by fellow blogger, Daria Sockey over at Coffee and Canticles.

Even though I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Divine Office as it was known at one time, for 14 years as a Secular Carmelite, I found this a very valuable resource even for those of us who have been praying it for some time.  It will be a great addition to those wanting to learn *how to*, those who have begun and may have trouble keeping to the commitment and for those veterans who have been praying many of the Hours for years.

This book has some wonderful chapters on subjects such as the history, the reasons for praying the LOH, resources, and even chapters that break down each Hour piece by piece so one can easily grasp the *how to*...but also just as important, the *why*.  I learned quite a few new elements that were never taught to me as I was learning.

One of the most helpful chapters is More Help for Making the Liturgy of the Hours Your Own...this has given me an even great appreciation for the grace that has God has given me to remain faithful to my commitment to pray the LOH.

After reading this, I have been more attuned to the prayers in the LOH.  I now go a bit slower and pay attention to the words and feel called to pray more Hours than the standard Morning and Evening Prayer...even the Office of Readings!

I am grateful for this new resource and it will be one I will use when I am called to instruct those coming into the Secular Carmelites...and also to share with our current community.

**Note to author: "Daria...I am getting that Mundelein Psalter one of these days!"  

What is a Mundelien Psalter you may ask?  Read the book and find out!

{This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of th. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.}

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Inspiration::Jean Petit

{The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini}

"The roses I offer consist not in choosing a particular sacrifice but, rather, in confining myself to the present time and place.  In contrast with the universality of time and space of my aspirations and my apostolate, my quest for sacrifice will consist especially in loving the present moment and place.  I will not pass judgment on them; I will think neither of the past nor of the future; I will live each day my daily bread, and I will repeat interiorly my old short prescription: 'Do everything, my God.  You will this...'.  Those are my roses.

"I love these two words: here and now.  Of all the moments, past or future, of the whole living universe and all the places in the entire world, the best ones for me are the present moment and the present place, since these are the only things that place me in divine love.  I will retain this essential principle: If sometimes, or often, from the depth of my inner solitude I feel the need to throw myself headlong into some activity, I will think of the two words - here and now - to which one day God will answer by two opposite expressions: everywhere and always.

"I must live in naked faith and naked hope without light and with no possessions.  At every moment, I must remain as if suspended between earth and Heaven, clinging to the Father's good pleasure.  What happiness it is to feel that I depend on Divine Mercy alone, and to be able at each moment to offer God this total dependence!"
~Jean Petit
Descending Fire: The Journal of a Soul Aflame

Thanks to Patricia from I Want to See God for this book recommendation.  She whet the appetite of all of us book gluttons with her excerpt!  The above is one of my favorite so far.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Inspiration::Jacques Philippe

"God is a God of peace.  He does not speak and does not operate except in peace, not in trouble and agitation.  Let us remember the experience of the prophet Elijah of Horeb: God was not in the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the whisper of a gentle breeze. (1 Kings 19)!

"Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow Him to act and work in us with His wisdom and power, which are infinitely superior to ours.

"It is an invitation to act...under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, which is a gentle and peaceful spirit."

~Jacques Philippe
"Searching For and Maintaining Peace"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Power of Healing Prayer {book review}

This is a book review on The Power of Healing Prayer: Overcoming Emotional and Psychological Blocks by Fr. Richard McAlear OMI.

Father Richard McAlear has been in the healing ministry for decades.  In his book, he recognizes that healing can occur on many levels and in many different areas extending beyond just the physical: anger, anxiety, self-pity, resentment, negative self-image, fear.  Fr. takes a beautifully holistic approach realizing the connection between mind, body, and spirit; relying on scripture and rooted in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a practical, simple book that would be informative for those who are involved with the healing ministry and also for those that are in need of healing.

Some chapter headings include: Who Can Minister Healing?, Inner Healing, The Decision to Be Healed, Accepting Oneself, Overcoming Anxiety, Confronting the Evil One, The Mystery of Suffering...and many more!

Each chapter is concluded with a beautiful prayer with guided imagery to soothe any soul.

Father shares psychological insights that are easy to grasp.  If you are looking to delve a bit deeper into the spiritual aspect of healing in psychology, this may not be the book for you.  On the other hand, if you are not familiar with this God given ministry in the Catholic Church and want to learn more about this gift and its applications to various areas that need healing, then this may be the perfect book for you!

Examples of cases are scattered through each chapter which I appreciated very much.  I learned much about my own need for inner healing and through Providence, was able to attend a healing Mass in the midst of reading this book.

I thank Father for bringing to light this much misunderstood ministry in our Church.

"Healing prayer is about bringing the active dominion of Jesus Christ to bear on every sickness, brokenness, and pain.  Jesus embraces and transforms every conceivable aspect of life."

(This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Power of Healing Prayer. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Christian Alphabet Book {book review}

What a treat to share a review for a book for my youngest daughter who is 8 years old.

The Christian Alphabet Book: Teaching Children about Jesus, Prayer, and the Bible is written and illustrated by Tracy Sands, a Catholic author, artist, wife, and mother to three boys. As you can see from above, this book is a visual delight for children.  It is geared to children ages 4 to 10.

At first glance, I thought this might be on the *young* side for my 8 year old, but once we started reading, I realized how wonderfully this appealed to her.  The younger children can enjoy the pictures as well as the simple seek and finds within the lesson.

"Love", the dove from above, guides the child from A to Z.  Each *lesson* contains a letter that encompasses beautiful Christian symbolism (with symbolic meanings explained in the back of book).  For example, "A" is for ALWAYS...Jesus is ALWAYS with us.  Included under each letter is a brief Christian lesson, a prayer, a scripture quote, a short seek and find and with some lessons, prompts to look up scripture passages that are relevant to the word or message.

We have started using this during our night prayer and it is a wonderful addition.  The lessons allow for a contemplative spirit during prayer since it does not overload the child with information, just simple yet profound beautiful truths pertaining to our Faith. I recommend this to all parents who are striving to instill a sense of awe, appreciation for God's Word and the awareness of God's presence, not just at prayer time...but throughout the entire day.

{Book can be purchased at Amazon or through the their website. The Christian Alphabet ABC CD can be purchased also at their website. You can listen to a sample there as well.}

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Better Part {book review}

I have been quite blessed to have received this gift of The Better Part: A Christ-centered Resource for Personal Prayer by Fr. John Bartunek of RC Spiritual Direction.  Often, I will share a book review because  there are many books out there that are *hidden treasures* of sorts and I like to get the word out.

This is one of those treasures.

After we fall into a daily pattern of prayer, there may be times (almost always) when it becomes dry,  distracted, and just plain routine.  We pick up scripture and put it down, we pick up the rosary and put it down, then switch to yet another book on spiritual meditations.  And yet, we are still unfocused and distracted.

I was experiencing this type of *desert* when I received The Better Part.  

Fr. Bartunek addresses the aim of solid Catholic meditation in the beginning of the book.  I found this section extremely informative and it reinforced the solid teaching on meditation I have received as a Secular Carmelite. He uses the four components of Concentrate, Consider, Converse and Commit.

The crux of this book is the inclusion of all four Gospels with points of meditation following under these titles:
Christ the Lord, Christ the Teacher, Christ the Friend,  and Christ in My Life.  One is free to follow the calendar of the Liturgical year or to read straight through each Gospel.  The topics above contain more than enough food for meditation and I have found through prayer, many times, that I only reached as far as Christ the Lord without feeling the need to read further.  I love that this book can be used again and again and the next time I approach the same reading, I can focus on a different point.  I have appreciated that I have been more focused during my meditation...there may not always be a need for words but I can sit in His presence in silence and when the distractions threaten to pull me away from prayer, I can return once again to the Gospel reading or meditation point.

It is a beautiful book that includes fold out reminders inside the cover as well as a ribbon marker.  For those seeking to deepen their prayer life through Lectio, this book is an indispensable means to practice this.  St. Teresa of Avila continually stressed the need to keep the humanity of Christ before us no matter how advanced we are in the spiritual life.  This book is a great aid in living in Christ's presence...always.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Navigating the Interior Life {a book review}

I am reviewing Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God as a Secular Carmelite with a Rule of Life as well as one who has been in a director/directee relationship for seven years.

The author, Daniel Burke, is well known from the inspirational blog, Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.  This book is the fruit of his Spirit-led work that he offers there along with Fr. Bartunek.

Navigating the Interior Life is a guide written to assist those seeking to deepen their interior prayer life, especially through spiritual direction.  I found the book easy to follow without feeling bogged down with too much information.  There are enough books written on the interior life by our great Saints for those wanting to delve deeper.

The first half of the book covers subjects such as: what spiritual direction is and is not, finding and selecting a spiritual director, preparation for spiritual direction and what to do if you cannot find one.

The second half includes chapters on: progress in the spiritual life, evaluating our root sin (including helpful checklists) and developing the virtue to combat it.

I truly appreciated the many references to St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, as well as a well thought out glossary of terms. Another excellent inclusion is Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict XVI) letter on "Some Aspects of Christian Meditation".

Navigating the Interior Life is a wonderful beginning compass for those looking to deepen their interior life and are actively searching for a director. This is also a great resource for directors.

{This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Navigating the Interior Life. The Catholic Company is the best resource for gifts for every Sacrament celebration, such as First Communion gifts and Baptism gifts, as well as a great selection of limited-time Year of Faith gifts and resources.}

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Surviving Depression {book review}

This is a review of the 10th anniversary edition of Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach by Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP.  I read this book many years ago and lent it to someone, so I was quite happy for the opportunity to review this updated edition which includes more than the original edition.  It is nice to find a book on depression from a Catholic perspective.

Sr. Kathryn speaks from her own struggle with depression.  She writes from her heart with compassion.  I appreciated her experience and honesty. I also appreciated the various saint stories as well as experiences from ordinary people throughout her book.

She addresses many topics such as: causes and symptoms of depression, treatments, the importance of support and friendships, the use of the sacraments and prayer as an aid in healing, negative thinking patterns and the importance of faith during the process.

At the end of every chapter there is a suggestion for prayer (my favorite is the Stations of the Cross to combat negative thinking) along with little bits of wisdom for the one suffering depression and the ones who have a relationship with someone who is suffering depression.  This would be an excellent resource not just for the depressed individual but also for those involved.

A wonderful addition to this 10th anniversary book is the Eight Steps to Inner Peace at the end of the book with excellent suggestions.

Also, for those who may be interested, a journal and book of prayers can be purchased to accompany this.

Overall, I am very happy with the new edition and find it a wonderful resource especially for those who are Catholic and suffering the effects of depression as well as family members and friends that are there to support them.

{This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach . The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your family Advent activities and supplies this year, such as Advent wreaths and calendars for kids, as well as Christmas decorations such as nativity scene sets and religious Christmas gifts for the whole family.}

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Praying Scripture for a Change {book review}

This is a review for Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina by Dr. Tim Gray, an author known for working with Jeff Cavins to produce the popular The Great Adventure bible study series.

I received this book when I was inundated with so many books to read.  Once I picked it up and started to read to get a sense of the content though, I was hooked.  Dr. Tim Gray draws one in immediately:

"A lover separated who is separated from the beloved doesn't let a love letter just sit on the kitchen table unopened for days on end...but instead quickly and eagerly opens it upon arrival, reading and re-reading it until the ink is nearly worn off from use." {page 17}

Scripture is our love letter from God, our beloved and it beckons to be opened every day to be read and re-read, to be pondered, and kept in our heart.

Dr. Tim Gray is a wonderful guide in this journey of Lectio Divina taking the reader through each step and using the analogy of tending a vineyard to praying Lectio.  I especially appreciated the examples he has chosen throughout the book to give a better understanding and his suggestions for how to choose what to read.

When I finished this book, I was excited about opening my bible.  I began that very night and have developed a greater appreciation for this ancient form of prayer.  I am still a beginner in the journey of Lectio Divina even after being a Secular Carmelite for 12 years but I pray that I will never tire of re-reading scripture...this love letter from my Beloved.

**This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Praying Scripture for a Change. The Catholic Company is a great resource for tools to help you participate in the Year of Faith, including Year of Faith bible studies and exclusive Year of Faith personalized gifts. The Catholic Company also has all your Advent needs in stock, such as Advent calendars and Advent wreaths.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

33 Days to Morning Glory {book review}

When our online book club decided to read 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC, I declined at first since I had quite enough reading to catch up on and thought "yet another book on devotion to Mary".  I already had St. Louis deMonfort's book on my shelf and made my Marian Consecration over 10 years ago.

After I read some of the comments and excerpts from the book club and saw it was available for review, I felt led to read it...and how very grateful I am!

33 Days to Morning Glory is written by the well know author of Consoling the Heart of Jesus.  In sharing the treasures of St. Louis deMontfort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and Blessed JP II, Father has compiled one of the best books I have read on Marian Consecration.

The book is broken down into 33 daily meditations, each week focusing on a one of the above mentioned saints.  There is also extensive resources in the back of the book which I found interesting as well as helpful.

Father explains in simple yet profound words the beauty of Marian Consecration and easily convinces one of the efficacy of it.  He makes it accessible to everyone.

33 Days has rekindled my love and devotion to our Blessed Mother and I look forward to using this as a preparation to renew my consecration every year.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on 33 Days to Morning Glory. This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism.
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