Book Review: Manual of Practical Devotion to St. Joseph

I freely admit that this title first struck me because it boasted of being “practical”. After all, what good is something to me if it’s unpractical? We can theorize all day long, but it won’t benefit us unless we can put it into practice. Thus, I am happy to report that ‘A Manual of Practical Devotion to St. Joseph’ fulfills its claim. The work is divided into three parts: the first part is dedicated to telling the motives for devotion to Saint Joseph, the second describes the protection and patronage of Saint Joseph, and the third and final part consists of practices, prayers, hymns, etc. in honor of Saint Joseph.

Father Patrignani does an excellent job. After Our Lady, St. Josephis the man we should turn to in our need. His patronage is extensive and effective, as Fr. Patrignani outlines in the first two parts. St. Teresa of Avila had a great love and devotion to St. Joseph which Fr. Patrignani describes well in the first part. St. Theresa said of St. Joseph that,

“Among all those who are sincerely devoted to him, and who make an open profession of honoring him, I know not a single individual who does not daily advance in virtue, so powerfully does he assist all those who place themselves under his protection.” (p. 85).

St. Joseph has granted numerous gifts and favors to those devoted to him, and Fr. Patrignani gives plenty of examples. Once we have been sufficiently convinced of the motives and efficacy of devotion to St. Joseph, the third part of ‘A Manual of Practical Devotion to St. Joseph’ provides practices for every day, particular seasons, numerous prayers and hymns (some in Latin!) to honor St. Joseph. Especially helpful is the breakdown for the month of March, traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph. Fr. Patrignani provides a short meditation (taken from the motives for devotion to St. Joseph), a hymn, and a prayer toSt. Joseph for each day in March.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of A Manual Of Practical Devotion To St. Joseph for the free Catholic book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and First Communion Gifts.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: YOUCAT

Bottom Line: There are some major concerns regarding this catechism, which desperately needs a revision! Don’t let your children read this until these issues are fixed!

I hate to be a Debbie Downer when everyone is so excited over this youth catechism, but I can’t let the concerns I have go unnoticed.

Let me start off by saying that I had such high hopes for this catechism. Especially in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s foreward which exhorts youth to “study this catechism”. I can’t say that I agree with our Holy Father’s opinion here… and I wonder whether he read it or simply gave it a quick flip through. When I first received the catechism, I was excited and as I flipped through quickly I couldn’t help but thinking that this was a great idea. Aim a catechism towards the younger generation to help catechize and get them interested in their Catholic faith. The format is appealing–it doesn’t look like a lot to read, and it has fun little stick figures among the pictures, and quotes in the margins supporting the Catholic teachings discussed in the text. Sounds awesome, right?

Here’s where disappointment sets in. There are a few pictures which are questionable. Some are immodest: a girl wearing a spaghetti strap tank with an undergarment which does not hide certain parts best left unnoticed (pg. 55), and in the section on marriage a picture depicting a couple having a moment of intimacy–while not revealing anything, it is a close-up that shocks you when you first see it (pg. 226)– it’s just odd. There is also a group picture where a young man is making a gesture with his hand, I don’t know what it is–is it a gang sign? An inside joke?Who knows? (pg. 168). And while the stick figures were amusing towards the beginning, once you sit and read through the catechism, the stick figures only seem to trivialize whatever point the catechism is trying to make. In one instance, a stick figure is depicted with a gun pointed at a kneeling sweating/crying stick figure– execution style– under the section on the fifth commandment. Yes, the fifth commandment commands us to respect human life, and thus not kill… but cartoon violence does not get that point across effectively.

   

More troublesome than the pictures, are some of the marginal quotes. Many of them are obscure to today’s youth, and many of them aren’t even from Catholics or persons of good moral character. Martin Luther is quoted in a positive light, alongside several other Lutherans–and while I do acknowledge that some other Christian faiths have not completely repudiated the entirety of the Catholic faith, we are trying to catechize young Catholics about Catholicism– we want them to stay in the Church, not leave it because the Lutherans have similar enough beliefs! A Chinese policitian (identified as a philsopher in the catechism) who led an (objectively) sinful lifestyle and then committed suicide is quoted in support of the family (pg. 204)! Sure, he’s most likely unknown to the youth and most who would read the catechism would have no idea who he is or what sort of life he led or how he died… but that information is all readily accesible on the internet to those with an inclination to Google. As a last example (I could go on), some British actor is quoted in the section on Confession as saying “the closest thing to a father confessor is probably a bartender” (pg. 139)… WHAT?!?! If that doesn’t trivialize the Sacrament, I don’t know what does. That quote is completely out of place, inappropriate, and entirely unsuitable for a youth catechism.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience recommend or praise this catechism. We have so many wonderful Catholic Saints, philosophers, writers, etc. who remained faithful to the Church who could (and ought) to have been quoted instead. I hope they revise the quotes and perhaps rethink some of the pictures/illustrations and reissue the catechism.

I wrote this review of  YOUCAT for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Storeonline. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament

“Though an assent of Catholic faith be not due to them (miracles), they deserve a human assent according to the rules of prudence by which they are probable and piously credible.” Pope Benedict XIV

Moments Divine’ is a little book (pocket sized) of about thirty chapters containing accounts of Eucharistic miracles, prayers, and act of contrition, a reading regarding the Sacred Heart, and a prayer for spiritual communion. The end also contains a small section with litanies and other prayers, as well as prayers for Benediction. And at the very end there are a few pages with quotes from various Saints and theologians on visions and miracles. ‘Moments Divine’ can be a good preparation for Adoration, especially if you need a little something to help you turn your mind to God and holy things. Its size is fairly compact, which makes it easy to keep in your car, purse, or pocket.

Both the miraculous accounts and the Sacred Heart readings are documented by way of footnotes, and the Eucharistic miracles are titled by location and date such that it would be relatively easy to look up more information about a particular account at a later time.

“There are two sorts of apparitions, and both of them true, supernatural and divine, the handiwork of God. First of all, God by His absolute power can make such an impression on the senses of His servant, that while others see the absolute whiteness, roundness, thinness and quality of the sacramental species, he beholds a beautiful vision of the Babe of Bethlehem presented to him by the Divine Will; and it is no deceit; for as St. Augustine says, a fiction which is referred to as signification is not a falsehood, but a figure of the truth. Or again, when it is God’s will that a whole multitude should behold the vision, instead of miraculously impressing their senses, He may please to change all the accidents of the Host, its commensurable quantity excepted– which is the root and support of all the accidents– and may convert them into this appearance; and thus the laws of the Sacrament are not injured, falsified, or fundamentally disturbed, the dimensions remaining inviolate… These, as appearances of flesh and blood, are astounding evidences of the truth of the Blessed Sacrament; these apparitions of an infant are literally types, figures of its spirit, manifestations of its sweetness, disclosures of the devotional character which is apt to form.”Father Frederick Faber

I wrote this review of Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament for the free Catholic book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and First Communion Gifts.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: True Devotion to Mary

How can one praise this book enough? St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary is a must-read on  Marian devotion in the Catholic Church. Next to the Eucharist and the Papacy, Marian devotion is probably one of the most misunderstood teachings of the Catholic Church. Most Protestants accuse Catholics of paying too much attention to Mary, and too often in response Catholics will downplay or outright deny the necessity of Marian devotion in the teachings of the Church and the spiritual life. Yes, necessity.

“It was through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that He has to reign in the world.”

St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary is the handbook on Marian devotion– what it is, in what it consists, why such devotion is necessary, and he also distinguishes between true and false devotions. St. Louis de Montfort demonstrates that those who would accuse the Catholic Church of being excessive in her devotion to Mary are confused, and that the Church is right and obliged to reveal the truth about the necessity of devotion to Mary. Mary’s role in the history of our salvation is far greater than simply giving birth to Jesus Christ. Is her role utterly, completely, and entirely dependent upon the grace of God? Of course! But this does not diminish her role. Mary is but a mere creature of the Creator; but she is a creature to whom great graces have been given. She is our means of finding Jesus, and we go to her only that we may more perfectly find and love her Son, Jesus.

“The Son of God became man for our salvation; but it was in Mary and by Mary. God the Holy Ghost formed Jesus Christ in Mary; but it was only after having asked her consent by the one of the first ministers of His court.”

We cannot find Jesus without Mary. And the more perfectly conformed and united to Mary that we are, the more perfectly conformed and united we are to her Son. This is the essential truth of authentic Marian devotion: it leads to a deeper understanding of and union with Jesus, necessarily. Just as Mary led the servants to her Son in the Bible (cf. John 2:5, “Do whatever [Jesus] tells you”), so too, does she lead us to God when we become the servant of the handmaid of the Lord. It was her will to do the holy will of God, and this is what she will teach us through imitation and prayer.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of  True Devotion to Mary for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: A Father Who Keeps His Promises

Scott Hahn’s A Father Who Keeps His Promises is a good introduction to Covenant Theology. For anyone familiar with the popular “Bible Timeline” series by Jeff Cavins, or the earlier “Our Father’s Plan”, Hahn’s book will sound very familiar. A Father Who Keeps His Promises goes through each of the six main covenants in Sacred Scripture: God’s covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus. The goal is to paint the “big picture” of salvation history as recorded in the Sacred Scriptures. Hahn hits the main characters and main events that “tell the story” of salvation so the reader can see a cohesive whole instead of a scattered and confusing book that seems to jump all over the place.

Hahn’s book is a simple introduction, written in very easy to understand language–very casual at times. This is why I say it’s a good introduction, since it will be easy for those who have little or no Scriptural background (especially lapsed and cradle Catholics unfamiliar with their faith) to see what he’s talking about and where he’s going. For the majority of  Catholics, navigating the Sacred Scriptures, much less retelling the big picture is next to impossible. Hahn’s book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, is the solution  for their ignorance.

That said, Hahn’s book is not solely for beginners to reading the Sacred Scriptures. This book is also the introduction to the “kinship by Covenant” theme which Hahn introduces right away. Namely, that God establishes familial relationships through His covenants in Scripture. Covenant is not simply a mere legal contract, but establishing a familial relationship: God’s family. In His love, God incorporates us into His family through covenant. It’s personal. There is also more than thirty pages of notes which include a bibliography for those wanting to delve into deeper study of particular covenants or themes.

 

 

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of  A Father Who Keeps His Promises for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

 

Book Review: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible is the long awaited single-volume edition of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (New Testament) series edited by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Rest assured, this single-volume edition contains all the study notes from the individual volumes, this version is not an abridged single-volume… it has it all! Text size is roughly the same as a regular Bible, and the study notes are the size of typical footnotes. I find it to be very readable. The study notes are also accompanied by mini icons, each of which corresponds to a particular point of the Church’s criteria for Biblical interpretation: “content and unity”, “living tradition”, and “analogy of faith”. The Scriptures take up roughly the top half of the page, and the study notes fill up the remainder. It is a good balance that I found to be a bit more readable than some of the Navarre Study Bible series which occasionally fit only a few verses on one page; having a good balance makes it easier to read passages in context.

As a personal note, Aquinas & More was awesome enough to send me the leather bound version, and after also seeing the paperback Bible, I think the leather bound version is a better choice for two reasons. The first is because of the size. This Bible is big (nearly 10 ½ by 7 ½!), so it is a lot to handle when you are sifting through the pages. The leather binding is flexible enough to be comfortable and (my second reason for recommending the leather bound version:) it will be more durable than the paperback. The leather bound Bible also comes with two gold ribbons to help you mark your place—very handy! And has gold edges. While the gold edges make the Bible look pretty, it’s not what you’d expect from a Study Bible and personally I find it unnecessary. You want to mark up your Study Bibles (or at least I do), and yet here’s this nice pretty gold edging that makes you feel like it should be a coffee table Bible instead of your sturdy Study Bible. On that note, the margins are also a bit small to accommodate much writing. However, considering the size of the Bible and the readable text size, I do not think that the margins could have been made any larger without making the overall size of the Bible too cumbersome to lug around.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of  The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Storeonline. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: Conversation with Christ

Overall: Interesting “how-to” book on prayer and meditation. Points for practicality.

Peter Thomas Rorhbach’s book Conversation with Christ seeks to help the reder understand meditation (and personal prayer) according to St. Theresa of Avila. It is a rather short, practical “how-to” type manual that really lays out clearly not only the utter importance of meditation and personal prayer in the spiritual life, but also gives the reader a concrete example to draw from.

The general outline for practicing meditation includes: a period of preparation, the selection of the material (something to read or a holy picture), consideration, conversation, and conclusion. Preparation mainly consists in placing oneself in the presence of Christ. The selection of the material, either a picture or a book (the various accounts of Our Lord’s Passion from the Gospels are highly recommended) is designed to open the mind and provide direction for the meditation. The consideration consists in asking the main questions: who, what, where, when, how, etc. to reflect upon the material selected. The conversation is really the heart of the meditation where we converse with Christ. The author says in this conversation we ought to employ the affections of love, sorrow, contrition, thanksgiving, petition, etc. towards Our Lord. Lastly, the conclusion consists in thanking Christ for the favors we have received, and examining our success(es)/failure(s), and making a resolution to keep at it and strive for continual and better conversation with Our Lord in the future.

Regarding the necessity of meditation and preparation the author says,

The best over-all preparation for successful meditation is a personal conviction of its importance and a staunch determination to persevere in its practice. Is one has acquired this attitude of mind, he has made a splendid preparation for his meditation.

St. Teresa gives us this important admonition:
It is essential, I maintain, to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution to persevere in it.

If one be not convinced of the necessity of meditation in his own life, nor resolved never to omit its daily exercise, he will soon give it up on one pretext or another. Therefore, one should not adopt the practice of meditation with the intention of “giving it a try”; but rather, one must undertake the exercise with a firm belief that it is of the utmost importance that he begin and persevere in it. Our mental attitude towards any enterprise will determine, to a large, extent, our success in it; meditation is no exception.

and later,

Meditation, naturally, consumes time. But this is not time lost; rather, the time expended in meditation aids in the ultimate conservation of time. This is true, first of all, because it places the soul under the direct influence of Christ, Who will then take complete charge of a person’s activities. And, further, the added perspective gained in meditation will enable one to better regulate his life by the separation of the non-essential from the essential. Dom Chautard, in his magnificent book, Soul of the Apostolate, relates this enlightening incident:
One of our great bishops, overburdened with his duties, explained this to a statesmen, who also had too much to do. The latter had asked the bishop the secret of his constant work. “My dear friend,” said the bishop, “add to you other occupations half an hour’s meditation every morning. Not only will you get through your business, but you will find time for still more.”

Finally, St. Peter of Alcantara sums up for us the benefits of meditation in a vibrant passage:
In mental prayer the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, and strengthened in hope; the mind expands, the affections dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; the senses are renovated; drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases; the rust of vices disappears. out of mental prayer issues forth, like living sparks, those desires of heaven which the soul conceives when inflamed with the fire of divine love. Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer heaven is opened; to mental prayer heavenly secrets are manifested and tear of God ever attentive.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of Conversation with Christ for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.