Love and last words – a book review and giveway

PrintWhen I was newly returned to the Catholic church, I bought a book on the seven last words of Christ during Lent. I’m not sure what book it was, the title now long forgotten, but I read it and struggled with it, finally bringing to to my priest, who was also my spiritual director. The look on his face when it handed to him was quite clear, something was wrong. As it happened, it was a reprint of a much older book, and the essence of the volume in my hands was harsh. Let’s face it, the Crucifixion is harsh, but the book offered a theology that was focused on nothing but suffering. The priest then gave me a much better book on the topic and my reading continued.

Needless to say, I cautiously approached all other books with the words “last words of Jesus” on the cover, rarely finding one that fully fed me. When I saw that Dan Horan OFM, had written a book about Jesus’ last words, I was instantly curious. The Last Words of Jesus, A Meditation on Love and Suffering from Franciscan Media, is an updated look offering us a fresh way of seeing the Cross.

In conversation with someone recently, I said precisely that, that this book is “updated” and “offers us a chance to see the Cross in a fresh way.” Those comments were met with a rebuttal about how there is no Continue reading

Lenten Workout for Your Soul – Book Review and Giveaway

404616_LARGEAbout six years ago, I found myself reading The Ignatian Workout by Tim Muldoon. In all honesty, I did not take to the book. At the time, I was still “working out” my relationship with Ignatius! Then I picked the same book up about a year ago, and got a lot out of it. Funny what time does, along with an open mind, right?

This is precisely why I was very interested in reading his latest offering, The Ignatian Workout for Lent, 40 Days of Prayer, Reflection, and Action, from Loyola Press. It did not disappoint!

Muldoon skillfully employs the athletic references of St. Paul, which we know are many. That kind of theme turn hackneyed and a-bit-too-clever in the hands of a lesser author, but not so with this one.

For me, another potential challenge with using the “running the race” motif is that spiritual pursuit can be turned into something that we have the power to do for ourselves, and by ourselves. Oh yes, if only we train hard enough and stay focused! Where is the room for God’s action and mercy in that?

In setting the tone for Lent in particular, but truly for our lives, Muldoon expresses some real insight about that thought in the introduction, reminding us of the “ecclesial” dimensions of lives of faith. Everything we do is not by and for ourselves, but should be ordered to the “good of the whole people of God.” It is this sort of wisdom, given at the beginning, that orients this resource towards a wide audience.

Other connections and contrasts, to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are set forth. This guide is organized around four “weeks.” For those familiar with the Exercises, this is a time frame used by St. Ignatius. My own experience with the Exercises, limited as it is, reminds me that my own need to “accomplish” this “race” in what I perceive four weeks to be, is not spiritually healthy.

The primary intent is on themed weeks, but the book is set in an Ignatian style, with 40 days of “exercises” for the holy season of our 40 days of Lent. They are not dated and do not refer to the mass readings.

So sports fans and non-sports fans alike, those who are immersed in Ignatian spirituality and those who have curiosity about how it might work in their own lives, please consider buying this book. It may just be the helpful foundation needed to get you going. And for all of us looking to deepen our Lent, this book has the potential be rich resource to turn to this year. And the next year, and the next year… It could have a very long life in your Lenten collection!

The Ignatian Workout for Lent is a little bigger that some of the other resources reviewed this week, perhaps the “largest.”  It is still very portable, so the idea of taking it with you is not a problem, nor is taking up room on your nightstand. This volume is available in both paperback and several eBook formats. Visit the Loyola Press website, for more details and purchase, as well as web resources for whatever particular ebook format might be.

Today is the last review and as always, leaving a comment, however brief, puts you in the running to win. Please feel free to share this post with others, all are welcome to read and enter!

Here is to a great Lent for us, one in which we find ways to quiet down, strip down, and grow closer to God. My prayers are for one and all, and I am most thankful for your reading and journeying with me out here!

Change Our Hearts – Lenten book review and giveway

finaledit3A new book from Franciscan Media has entered the Lenten resource genre this year, written by liturgical composer and musician Rory Cooney. Named after one of his songs for Lent, Change Our Hearts, Daily Meditations for Lent is a fine addition to the list. Once again, we find a book small enough for a pocket or purse, yet big enough to help us journey towards the Cross with wisdom, courage, and strength. An autographed copy awaits the one who wins this, so see details about entry at the end of the post, but please read on first!

Many resources are meant to be used in a particular liturgical year, but this book begins each daily reflection with the lectionary readings for each year for Sundays, which I really like. The daily readings remain the same, but Sundays are different. If your parish RCIA program uses the Scrutinies, then it does not matter what cycle it is, the readings from Year A are always used. (It just so happens that we are in Year A, so there will be no difference this year.)

There is a reflection for every day of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday and concluding on Easter Sunday. If you are familiar with Cooney’s work through his songs, this book will introduce you to the depth that is that is within every composition. Even if you think you are not familiar with his work, you most likely would be if you heard some of his songs at church. (See the end of this post, or should I say, hear the end of this post!)

This book is a bit more expensive, at $3.99 a copy, but as I said, it has a longer shelf life; I can see mine getting marked up with thoughts and folded back from use over the years. It would make an excellent companion to anyone on their annual Lenten trek, and to those in RCIA in particular. This book promises to be a well-loved resource for many Lenten season’s to come.

This book, is available at Franciscan Media. A slightly less expensive version, along with a Kindle edition are available at Amazon.

Book Giveaway Rules – You may comment as many times as you like, and on multiple blogs, but your name will only be entered once! (This blog is published in two locations, here and at the Albany Times Union blogging platform, and the reviews will also be posted on my two parish blogs, The Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor and Pastoral Postings of Immaculate Conception Glenville.)

Names will be randomly drawn and you will be informed by email if you are a winner. You will need to provide me with your full name and address in order to receive your book. On double book posting days such as this, I can not guarantee which book you will win. Thank you for reading and entering. Please feel free to share this post via social media!

And now, Change Our Hearts, written by Rory Cooney along with Gary Daigle and Theresa Donahoo, sung by Theresa Donahoo.

The Living Gospel and The Way of the Cross – Lenten reviews and giveaways

Today we begin a series of book reviews of Lenten resources, starting with two books from Ave Maria Press.  Anyone who leaves a comment on this post will have their name entered into a drawing to win a copy of one of these books. You can leave as many comments as you would like, but you will only be entered once a day, for the book(s) that are reviewed that day. All rules will be detailed at the end of the blog post.

9781594714313.jpg.105xThe Living Gospel, Daily Devotions for Lent 2014, by Theresa Rickard, O.P.
Begin, Pray, Listen, Act, Pray. These are the guiding words of this deceptively slim volume, that is overflowing with opportunities for grace this Lent.

Following a daily format that includes those words as headings, we are invited to begin in quiet, putting aside distractions. We pray with a few brief words, is followed by a selection from that day’s Gospel for us to listen to in our hearts, along with a short daily reflection by the author. We are then given an idea to act upon, ways to make our Lenten journey real. In conclusion, once more we do what we are called to in Christ – pray.

This is a practical little book that will fit in your pocket or purse, the console of your car,  or take up a small space in your prayer area. Its size does not denote its power, this is a very lovely Lenten companion. In fact, as much as I liked the Advent 2013 version, by a different author, I can tell that I like this one even more. Highly recommended. You can purchase The Living Gospel by visiting the Ave Maria Press website.  Priced at 1.95, it is a great value. Highly Recommended.

9781594714306.jpg.105xEveryone’s Way of the Cross by Clarence Enzler, illustrated by Annika Nelson and Gertrud Mueller Nelson.
A very battered copy of an old edition of this book sits amidst my personal Lenten resources, and I am very happy to have this new one in my hand.

We tend to think of the Stations of the Cross as a communal activity done in church on Fridays during Lent – which is a good thing! That said, it has been most beneficial for me, to have a book like this to pray with as I struggle on my own journey. Short, simple, sweet- and yet very deep, I suspect that this copy will soon be as well-worn as my last one. The block print illustrations get right to the point, and offer their own visual gifts and prompts for prayer.

This book would make an excellent parish resource for those weekly Lenten gatherings. Additional it will work well as a tool for small faith-sharing groups, or friends who pray together – or again, for our individual reflection during this holy season of Lent. It is $1.50 a copy, and other editions are available in Large Print, and in Spanish as well! This is an excellent purchase that will last for years. Books are available via the Ave Maria Press website.

Both books are also available via Kindle at Amazon.

Book Giveaway Rules – You may comment as many times as you like, and on multiple blogs, but your name will only be entered once!  (This blog is published in two locations, here and at the Albany Times Union blogging platform, and the reviews will also be posted on my two parish blogs, The Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor and Pastoral Postings of Immaculate Conception Glenville.)

Names will be randomly drawn and you will be informed by email if you are a winner. You will need to provide me with your full name and address in order to receive your book. On double book posting days such as this, I can not guarantee which book you will win. Thank you for reading and entering. Please feel free to share this post via social media!