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.

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Tis the season…. of ADVENT!

This time of year brings out one of my greatest frustrations– the rush to reach Christmas whilst passing over Advent, as though time would move faster. Advent is probably the most under-appreciated and most forgotten liturgical season. Advent and Lent are similar liturgical seasons in that both demand an attitude of repentance (in preparation for the celebration of the coming Christmas/Easter). However, Advent is  less somber than Lent and is a season of joyful expectation. It’s also a season of waiting and patience. We join ourselves to those in the Old Testament who awaited the coming of the Messiah. Though the length of Advent is short, it’s impact is great. And while at the time of the writing of this post, Christmas is but a week away, let me remind you: IT IS STILL ADVENT! So whilst you rush around to finish your Christmas shopping and prepare for your Christmas traditions, take a few moments to remember that Christmas is not about anything other than the Incarnation of the Son of God. Nothing else matters. Nothing. So if your plans are going to keep you too busy to bear in mind that great truth, then trim your plans so you can focus on what really matters: the Infant born to bear our transgressions and pour out His Precious Blood for us.

O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear…
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go…
O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty, and awe…
O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave…
O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery…
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight…
O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace…

Good reads for Advent:
the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, especially in light of the “O Antiphons
The Incarnation Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus Living in Mary by John Saward

Happy Feast of All Saints!

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Church Triumphant– all those glorious Saints in Heaven, whether canonized or not, who have fought the good fight of faith and won. It’s a great day to pray the Litany of the Saints. Praying the Litany of the Saints always brings to mind the first verse of Hebrews 12, and when reading Hebrews 12, I call to mind the Litany of the Saints…

“And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds.”

Hebrews 12:1-3

We are not alone in the battle for sanctity. We are surrounded by the witness of those who have gone before us and left us examples of heroic virtue in faith and holiness. We look to them for guidance, strength, and encouragement knowing that we can do all things by the grace and merit of Jesus Christ.

So today, pray the Litany of the Saints… ask the Saints to intercede for you… and read up on the lives of the Saints!

Good Reads for All Saints Day:
Any biography on the lives of the Saints
Saints Who Raised the Dead by Fr. Albert Hebert
Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles: In the Lives of the Saints by Joan Carroll Cruz

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.

Good Reads on Christian Marriage

With the recent news regarding the decline in belief in the Church’s teachings on Christian Marriage (i.e., sex), I thought some might appreciate a compendium of good reads on the topic of Christian Marriage: encyclicals, books, articles, etc.

From the Popes:
Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage) — Pope Pius XI
Arcanum (On Christian Marriage) — Pope Leo XIII
Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World) — Pope John Paul II

The Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II (* a general audience, which makes up the teachings contained in the theology of the Body, is not on the same level of teaching as a Papal encyclical or Conciliar document)

From the Bishops:
Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality – Pontifical Council for the Family
Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage – Pontifical Council for the Family
Love & Life in the Divine Plan — United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Cohabitation Before Marriage — the Bishops of Kansas
Pennsylvania Bishops Document on Cohabitation — the Bishops of Pennsylvania
PDF on Fornication & other Sexual Matters — Archdiocese of Washington
Pastoral Letter on Cohabitation & Marriage in the Church — Archbishop Sheehan, Archdiocese of Santa Fe
The Vocation of Marriage in God’s Plan — Archbishop Stafford

From Priests, theologians, etc.:
Cana is Forever — Fr. Charles Hugo Doyle
Three to Get Married — Msgr. Fulton Sheen
Clean Love in Courtship – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik
Chastity: A Guide for Teens & Young Adults – Fr. Gerald Kelly, SJ
Questions Young People Ask Before Marriage – Fr. Donald Miller, CSSR
When Is Company Keeping Lawful & Prudent? – (“Company Keeping” = courtship/dating)
Little Book of Instructions for Christian Mothers – Fr. Pius Franciscus, OM Cap.
“Casti Connubii 60 Years Later” – John Kippley

Books not currently available (to my knowledge) online: (Get ‘em from your library or cool Catholic friend)
The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand
The Sins of Parents by Fr. Charles Hugo Doyle
Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) (you can catch a decent size preview on Google Books here)
Called to Love by Carl Anderson & Fr. José Grenados (I briefly reviewed it here)

This is (and will be) constantly updated. Feel free to recommend something I may have missed.


The Guardian Angels

“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 18:10

Today, October 2nd is the Feast Day for all our Guardian Angels. While there are traditionally believed to be 9 choirs of Angels in Heaven (Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, the Dominations, Virtues and Powers, the Principalities, Archangels and Angels), it is the lowest class–the Angels– who are sent to be our Guardian Angels. However, lest anyone take offense that the lowest class of Angels are given to us as Guardians we would do well to remember the great power of the Angels; and that Satan (/Lucifer) was defeated by the Archangel Michael (Revelation 12:7+).

The existence of Angels is a Biblical fact. The Old Testament shows God’s Angels as His ministers who carried out His Will, and who were at times given special commissions. In Genesis 28-29, Angels act as the executors of God’s wrath against the cities of the plain, and they also deliver Lot from danger. In Exodus 12-13, an Angel is the appointed leader of the host of Israel, and in 32:34, God tells Moses: “my Angel shall go before thee”. We also have the story of Tobias where the Angel Raphael intimately and expressly guides and helps Tobias and his family through (seemingly) ordinary human affairs (marriage, sickness). Angels are also mentioned in the Psalms: Psalm 90:11: “For he hath given his Angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Cf. Psalm 33:8 and 34:5.) Lastly, in Daniel 10 Angels are entrusted with the care of particular districts; one is called “prince of the kingdom of the Persians”, and Michael is termed “one of the chief princes”; cf. Deuteronomy 32:8; and Ecclesiasticus 17:17.

The New Testament reveals the mission of the Angels more clearly, as Hebrews 11:1 sums up nicely: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” Angels are to help us, if we let them, get to Heaven. I quoted above where Our Lord spoke directly about the Angels– and that passage is traditionally used to defend Guardian Angels. At our Baptism (some theologians argue birth), we are given an Angel to guard and protect us– to help us on our way to salvation. In Luke 22:43 an Angel strengthens Our Lord in His agony. And in Acts 5:19 an Angel of the Lord led St. Paul and the Apostles out of prison, and later on in Acts 12:7+ an Angel helps St. Peter escape from prison. It’s interesting to note that the mention of Angels in the New Testament is equal to their mention in the Old. It was the privilege of Angels to announce God’s plan of salvation to Mary, Zechariah, and the Shepherds; and Angels were present and ministering to Christ all throughout His life (He conversed with them, they ministered to Him after the Temptation, they assisted Him in His agony, and they were witnesses to His Resurrection).

(The above is most definitely not an exhaustive reference to Angels in the Sacred Scriptures… indeed, their presence is numerous!)

So, in honor of today’s feast do not forget to pray to your Guardian Angel today (and then make this [praying] a habit for every day!). To help me remember, I added the Guardian Angel prayer to the last prayers after reciting the Rosary (ex. Salve Regina, “O God whose only begotten Son…”, St. Michael Prayer, Prayer to my Guardian Angel, etc.)

(For those seeking marriage, you would also do well to remember that the Angels have played important roles in aiding some of the most important marriages in history: Isaac and Rebecca (Genesis 24:7), Tobias and Sara (Book of Tobias), and Our Lady and St. Joseph (Matthew 1:20+)… so it would be especially beneficial to remember the holy Angels!)

There are also several good philosophical reasons for believing in the existence of Angels… but I’ll save that for a later time (…and check out my reading suggestions if you are interested).

Prayer to your Holy Guardian Angel:

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide, Amen.

Latin:

Ángele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me, tibi commíssum pietáte supérna,
illúmina, custódi,
rege et gubérna.
Amen.

Good Reads for today:
The Book of Tobias (found in complete (Catholic) Bibles)
Treatise on Angels by St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica I, Q. 50-64)
The Angels and Us by Mortimer Adler

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.