Thursday, October 26, 2017

Amish Christmas Twins







Amish Christmas Twins

By Patricia Davids

Published by Love Inspired/Harlequin, September 2017

With the death of her Englisch husband, Willa Chase returns to her Amish roots to see if her grandfather will shelter her, her young twin daughters and her soon-to-arrive infant. He will not do so and encourages her to seek out other family members.

 An encounter with the kindly but introspective and grieving blacksmith John Miller seems destined never to be repeated, but as chance would have it, their paths cross again in a dramatic fashion and soon John Miller finds his life changing as the energetic and curious twins encounter farm animals and Amish ways for the very first time as the family seeks shelter at his home.

Willa is convinced she is being followed and that her daughters will be taken away from her because of her past medical history, which is slowly revealed as the story unfolds. Will she let John help her? Or will John and his loving and lovable mother Vera have to stand by and watch Willa lose her children?

It's always a delight to read the first Christmas-themed books each year, and I have a real soft spot for the immensely talented Patricia Davids and her Amish stories. As always, she delivers the goods - well-crafted, filled with humour, some clever twists and quirks and characters that I would dearly love to meet, especially these precious little girls, Megan and Lucy!










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Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Catholic Hipster Handbook





The Catholic Hipster Handbook
By Tommy Tighe
Published by Ave Maria Press, September 2017

Christianity as a whole is not often regarded as cool or trendy by modern young people, but this book aims to make a dent in Catholicism's un-cool image by looking at alternative but still very traditionally Catholic attitudes, prayers and practices which have gradually fallen into disuse and attempting to popularise them again amongst youngsters and young adults. Topic chapters come from a variety of contributors ranging from clergy and religious to bloggers, parents, musicians and more.

Many topics work extremely well -  looking at beards biblically and historically, cultivating an appropriate sense of humour, looking at both ancient and modern saints in a new light and including prayers many people may not have heard of (including me!) What shoes would a Catholic Hipster wear?  The ensuing discussion about Vans or sandals leads to mention of a religious community then quite naturally to the life of St Teresa of Avila and the Discalced Carmelites. Neat and clever.

Beer, music, beards, clothing, music, people to follow on Twitter and the value of modern media give way to chapters discussing discovering the Rosary and the Scapular, valuable prayer apps for your mobile phone and ascetic practices. Coming from an Orthodox Christian background, I cannot get to grips with or enjoy Ignatian meditation. so the chapter in which Melissa Keating described imagining herself at the Last Supper struck a discordant chord for me, but that is always a potential problem reading books from differing religious traditions to one's own and does not detract from the undoubted value of the book as a whole.

Some of the activities relating to each topic covered are not quite so effective, such as making up Catholic slang and decorating the outline of a crown, which seemed to be aimed at a very much younger age group than those who would be sporting beards, but these are minor grouses and don't detract from what it is a clever and enjoyable book for anyone looking at learning more about Catholicism and how relevant it still can be in the modern world while still using its ancient traditions.










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Praying The Rosary Like Never Before




Praying The Rosary Like Never Before
By Edward Sri
Published by Franciscan Media, July 2017

 Many Christians - and not just Catholics -  like the Rosary, love the Rosary, want to pray it more often or for longer, but worry that they are somehow doing it "wrong" and that they are not getting as much out of the spiritual practice as they would have hoped.

 In this easily readable and surprisingly deep book, Dr Sri tells us he feels that two and a half minutes is enough time to pray a single decade, and that there are very, very few people who are so truly incredibly busy that they cannot give God that length of time in the course of a day.

He urges us not to fret if we struggle with praying a five decade rosary as many saintly people have found that they can only manage a few decades at a time, and that too is fine. There is no single "right way" to pray the Rosary and different people  may need different techniques or need to change techniques at different times in their lives or spiritual journeys. The Rosary has proven to be eminently adaptable to individual  and contemporary needs, but Dr Sri is careful to point out that it is important to remember not to gabble and to show reverence and due respect to the Holy Name of Jesus whenever it occurs in prayers.

He provides very nice meditations and selections from Scripture for meditative pondering which can be used before, during and/or after each Mystery, for those who find it easiest to pray in this way.
A particular problem for Orthodox Western Rite Christians would be the use of the traditional Ignatian method of using the imagination to picture scenes relating to the Mysteries, but I do know devout Western Rite Orthodox who happily use  the Scriptural Rosary technique.  I really like the sometimes unusual scripture verses for meditation and prayer using this technique at the end of the book.

This was a most interesting read, and is a useful and informative book which could be used and adapted for Anglicans, Catholics and Western Rite Orthodox alike.




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