Pentecost, Jean II Restout, 1732, Louvre. From Wikimedia, in the public domain.

It happens to me all the time. I have the best of intentions, I mean to start the novena with everybody else. Yet somehow I manage to begin a day or two late. This time I missed the beginning of the novena leading up to Pentecost. Was it Ascension being observed on Sunday instead of Thursday that threw me? I dunno. Probably not, it’s just the way I am, a flaw to work on. Sigh. But if you’re ever in the same situation, below are some helpful tips I’ve found.

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Something About Mary Every Day In May
This is a post in the Something About Mary Every Day In May series.*

I was browsing the web, wondering what to write about tonight for the series. I was re-reading an article at Catholic Answers titled Mary, the Mother of God,** and a window popped up in the lower right-hand corner asking if I have devotion to Mary. Well, yes, I do, I replied. Then it said, Let’s celebrate, and offered me a free ebook about Mary. I ❤️ ebooks and the Blessed Virgin Mary so I said, YES. A few seconds later I was glancing through 20 Answers: Mary, by Tim Staples. Thank you, Blessed Mother and Catholic Answers!

I’ll just give you a couple of samples here. First, something most of us Catholics have heard at some point from non-Catholic family, friends, or even strangers: that the Bible expressly forbids praying to Mary and the Saints because it condemns all communication with the dead. Period. 

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(Update, June 25, 2019: I can’t find the book listed anymore on the CTS website, so that link is caput. There are other edits at the end of the post.) I stumbled across a book a few days ago: Meditations and Catechesis on the Psalms and Canticles of Morning and Evening Prayer, by Pope St. John Paul II and Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI. It’s published in the UK by Catholic Truth Society, and doesn’t ship to the US. I had to get a copy through AbeBooks and they got it from Blackwell’s in the UK. (To add to the fun, my bank at first declined the transaction because it involved sending payment overseas. A phone call got them to lift the ban—for one day. Oy vey.) But I’ve got it now and it’s mine, all mine!


Join me on Twitter as Pope St John Paul II reflects on the psalms and canticles of Lauds and Vespers. [This is an old post, the Tweets may or may not pull up and the links in them may be broken.]

Morning and Evening Prayer-jpii-bxvi

Ahem. Back to what I was talking about. What was I talking about anyway? Oh! The book! Well, even if you can’t get hold of the book, you can still read the meditations and catechesis on the web. These took place at the general audiences held by the popes on Wednesdays. Pope St. John Paul II began the series by covering Morning Prayer (Lauds) and then covering Evening Prayer (Vespers). But he passed away before he could finish and Pope Benedict picked up where he left off. Pope St. John Paul II went through each day of the four-week Psalter and discussed each day in three parts, one part per Wednesday audience. (Pope Benedict didn’t adhere to that schedule the way his predecessor did.)

I’m sharing quotes and notes from the audiences (using the web versions rather than the book mainly because it’s easier) on Twitter using the hashtag #PsalmsJPII beginning with Lauds and going through Vespers. Join me and join in. Feel free to comment, too. Each session is also up at Storify — four, so far — so you don’t have to miss a scintillating minute of it. ;) See links below.

St. Augustine (hey, #CivDei peeps!) is mentioned quite a bit in the talks. Not surprising since he did write that Enarrationes in Psalmos thingy and he is a beloved Church Father and Doctor of the Church. I’ll be bringing special attention to the good doctor when we get to him, you can be sure of that! (What in the world is #CivDei, you say? Well, that’s a story for another day. Post in the works e’en now.)


Notes and Links

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disciple96
Follow the project on Twitter: #PsalmsJPII
Follow my projects on Storify: [Sadly, Storify closed down May 16, 2018.]

Morning and Evening Prayer: Meditations and Catechesis on Psalms and Canticles:

Augustine's Expositions On the Psalms, digital, Logos-Verbum format

Also see these books/sets in the Logos/Verbum format (works with either):

(I listed those here because I pulled quotes from those sources, and others, when I was tweeting the #PsalmsJPII Project.)

Spiritual Theology Course by Dr Brant PitreOf all the things I’d hoped to do during Lent, I’ve managed only to prove to myself that I am even weaker than I already knew. But, lucky for you, I have also spent some time listening to an audio course in Spiritual Theology taught by Dr. Brant Pitre. It’s available in DVD, CD or MP3 formats. (I bought the MP3 set so I could download it immediately and have been listening to it on my iPhone in GoodReader.)

TheThreeAgesoftheInteriorLifeOne of the earliest purchases I made after becoming attracted to the Catholic Church in the ’90s was Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s marvelous two-volume work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life. This was the first Christian work of its kind I had ever seen and I’m so glad I got it then in a clothbound edition. I have read and re-read Volume One, and have read Volume Two through at least once.

Why do I mention Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s book? Because Dr. Pitre uses it in his course! How exciting! For me, it is. (Stop looking at me like that. I know I’m a nerd. And you do, too, if you’ve even glanced at this site before. So there.) And that’s not all. Dr. Pitre uses several others that either I had in print or Kindle format, in my Verbum library or found online in PDF or other downloadable eBook formats for free. And, before you ask, of course I’ll give you links. Kind of me, yes? (Okay, my aforementioned weakness has engendered not quite enough humility in me. Yet.)


Video Introduction to Spiritual Theology Course

SouloftheApostolateCWPSources used in the course include those in the list below. I’ve listed Kindle and print formats; eBook refers to various formats available mostly through the Internet Archive for free. On the course page there’s a link to a PDF outline of the course (scroll down). I strongly recommend that you download the outline even if only as a guide for your own study. What an amazing amount of teaching and work Dr. Pitre has put together for us! Btw, this is not a complete list. But if you get the free PDFs, Fr. Dubay’s Fire Within, and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s books listed (PDFs or Kindle), then I reckon you’ll be fine. I also reckon you already have a good and well-worn Catholic Bible and, of course, a much dog-eared copy of the Catechism. (You do, don’t you?)

  • Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM, Fire Within, Kindle, Paper
  • Fr. Adolphe Tanqueray, The Spiritual Life, Hardcover, eBook
  • Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP, Spiritual Theology, Kindle, PrinteBook
  • Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Kindle, Print Set (TAN Books & Publishers), eBook
  • Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life, Kindle, Print (now published as The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life)
  • St. John of the Cross, OCD, Collected Works, ICS edition (in one volume), Kindle, Print
  • St. Teresa of Avila, OCD, Collected Works, ICS edition, Vol 2, Kindle, Print
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux, OCD, Story of a Soul, ICS edition, Kindle, Print
  • St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Kindle, Print Translated by John K Ryan, Print TAN edition, eBook
  • St. Louis de Montfort, Secret of the Rosary, Kindle, Print, eBook
  • St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Online
  • St. Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey to God (or Journey of the Mind into God), Kindle, Print, PDF
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, Summa Theologica (or Theologia), Kindle, PDFOnline, Print (Seriously? Wow. Go for it! All my copies are digital.)
  • Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO, The Soul of the Apostolate, Kindle, Print
  • The Holy Bible. I highly recommend the RSV-CE or RSV-SCE*
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (online free, Kindle or paperback under $10)

Notes
verbum_mobile*The RSV is available in two different Catholic editions, the RSV-CE (Catholic Edition) and the RSV-SCE (Second Catholic Edition). I use both because I like the SCE but the CE is available in interlinear format in my Verbum software. Can I read the interlinear Biblical Hebrew or Greek? Heck, no. But I like to explore and learn so I do use it. A little. I hope to learn to use it more as time goes on.

study-bible-nt-brownAnother form of the RSV for Catholics is the Ignatius Study Bible RSV-SCE, but is only complete through the New Testament as of this writing. You can buy the NT in separate booklets or the whole NT in paperback, hardback or leatherbound. (Several books of the Old Testament are available now in booklet format, but I don’t know when the entire OT study edition will be available.) This is such a great study help because it’s the work of Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.

Understanding the Our FatherIn honor of fathers everywhere I’d like to offer something beautiful and profound to you. So I’m going to post something from Scott Hahn’s book, Understanding the Our Father. [1] It’s more beautiful and profound than anything I can write and I really want to share it with you. Happy Father’s Day! May your day be richly blessed, and the rest of your days also! :)

The “Our” of Power

This is why Tradition tells us we must go beyond our earthly experiences and memories of fatherhood when we pray, “Our Father.” For though He is a provider, begetter, and protector, God is more unlike than like any human father, patriarch, or paternal figure. The Catechism puts it this way: “God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area ‘upon him’ would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us” (no. 2779).

How has Jesus, God the Son, revealed the Father to us? As “[o]ur Father who art in heaven” (Mt. 6:9). By adding that prepositional phrase “in heaven,” Jesus emphasizes the difference in God’s fatherhood. The Father to Whom we pray is not an earthly father. He is “above” us; He is the One we profess in the creed as “Father Almighty”—that is, all powerful. Though we are weak, limited, and prone to mistakes, nothing is impossible for God (cf. Lk. 1:37).

God’s power, then, sets His fatherhood apart from any fatherhood we have known or imagined. His “fatherhood and power shed light on one another” (Catechism, no. 270). Unlike earthly fathers, He always has the best intentions for His children, and He always has the ability to carry them out. Jesus wanted us to know this, so that we could always approach our heavenly Father with childlike trust and confidence: “[W]hatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Mt. 21:22).

The Catechism teaches that “God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care of our needs” (no. 270). We know God as Father because, over a lifetime of prayer, we experience His care for us. We come to see for ourselves that He is mighty, and that He will deny us nothing that is good for us. [2]

From Heir to Paternity

Earthly fatherhood sometimes reflects these characteristics, as do those offices that assume fatherly roles in society: the priesthood, for example, and the government. Yet earthly fathers can perfect their fatherhood only by purifying themselves of earthly motives—such as greed, envy, pride, and the desire to control. They can become true fathers only by conforming themselves to the image of their heavenly Father, and that Image is His firstborn Son, Jesus Christ.

In governing, in parenting, or in priesthood, we come to exercise a more perfect fatherly role as we “grow up” in the Family of God: “[W]e are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). This process is a divine corrective to the world’s distorted notions of patriarchy and hierarchy.

An ancient Christian writer, Dionysius the Areopagite, described hierarchy as something that originates in heaven, where divine light passes through the angels and the saints as if all were transparent.2 God’s gifts, then, are passed from one person to the next, undiluted. Those who are closest to God—and so higher in the hierarchy—serve those who are lower. At each stage, they give as God gives, keeping nothing to themselves.

Notice, here, how spiritual goods differ from material goods. If I have sole ownership of something—say, a sport coat or a tie—someone else can’t own it and use it at the same time. The higher goods, however, are spiritual; and spiritual goods—such as faith, hope, love, liturgy, the merits of the saints—can be shared and owned completely by all. That’s how the hierarchy works with the angels and saints in heaven.

For this sharing to take place “on earth as it is in heaven” requires the perfection of earthly fatherhood, which can take place only if we earnestly pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” God is the primordial Father, “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:15, Douay Rheims Version). He is the eternal model by which all human fathers must be measured. [3]

A Father Who Keeps His PromisesNotes

[1] Get a copy of Understanding the Our Father at Amazon (Kindle or print) or for Verbum. Also excellent is Hahn’s A Father Who Keeps His Promises. Get it at Amazon (Kindle or print) or for Verbum. (I’ll add the Verbum links later, their site is down right now. Oy.)
[2] Hahn, S. (2002). Understanding “Our Father”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, pp. 14–15. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.
[3] Ibid., pp. 15–16.

In Conversation with God, Lent, Holy Week, EasterNow that I’m recovering from the plague (ugh!) I hope do some writing. Oh, I’ve been posting to Twitter but that’s about it. (Funny how much time one can waste–er, I mean, how time can fly when arguing–er, discussing things on Twitter.) I’ll be spending some time digging out from the clutter and mess that amassed while I was indisposed, then I’ll be tackling some projects I’ve been itching to work on. Itching, I say! (Or that could be the codeine. Double ugh!) Have some things I want to share with you, some things I’ve learned, some (more) books I’ve found. Also getting ready for another session of Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in April. Hopefully I’ll be able to participate. Planning to, anyway. Well, perhaps “planning” is too strong a word for what I’ve been doing. Perhaps “procrastinating” would be nearer the mark. ;)

Meditations for Lent by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Hope you’re having a blessed Lenten season. I’ve been enjoying some meditation books: my old standby, In Conversation with God for Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide; and also Meditations for Lent by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet. And this year I’m also receiving Fr. Robert Barron’s Lent Reflections. Am I behind in all of this reading and reflecting? Heck, yeah, you know I am! But I’m still enjoying it. Tend to get more out of it every year, too. Every year I see something I missed before even when I use the same book over and over, year after year. And I do. That In Conversation with God series is wonderful. Highly recommended!

Author Francis Fernandez-Carvajal makes generous use of the writings of the great saints as he brings you focused and moving meditations on themes taken from the Mass readings for that day, the liturgical season, and more. This work is rich and extensive enough to serve as your spiritual reading for a lifetime, as it helps you relate the particulars of the message of Christ to the ordinary circumstances of your day. Each volume is small enough for you to carry to Adoration or some other suitable place for meditation. The whole set comes with a handsome slipcase that prevents wear-and-tear on the individual volumes.

Print copy: In Conversation with God, Vol 2 Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide. (Amazon’s description says paperback but mine is some sort of vinyl with a pretty dust cover and I suspect that’s what this is, too. Third party sellers.) Also available (for less $) at the EWTN Religious Catalogue for $19, item #213. Or get the full set: Amazon (starting at $96.97 from third party sellers), EWTN #6138 (for $130).

eBooks: Please note that the Kindle ebook Vol 2 is split into two separate books: Part 1 Lent & Holy Week and Part 2 Eastertide.

Meditations for Lent by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Amazon print or Kindle.

And, no, I don’t make one red cent for recommending any of these books or anything else here on the site. I just like sharing what I’ve found, what I like, what I love. (Sometimes I have to share things I’m not so wild about, too, but that’s a post for another time.) Thanks for visiting and for reading. Leave me a comment, recommend prayer and meditation books that have helped you (Catholic Christian, please) or say Hi. I look forward to hearing from you. (And you guys who keep emailing me with messages for Scott Hahn, I wish I could pass them along but I only met him once, we’re not best buds, ya know. Track him down yourselves or I’ll be forced to figure out how to filter you out!) ;) Peace!

I hope you’ll have a happy Fourth of July. Enjoy the fireworks, remember the little doggies who don’t enjoy the loud noises so much. Take some time to pray for our country, we’re in the middle of a spiritual war and our enemy is prowling around like a hungry lion seeking our souls to devour. And please, if you will, pray a prayer for my Dad who spent the last few days in the hospital with heart problems. Well, pray for my whole family while you’re at it. And know that I pray for every one who reads the blog or follows on Twitter. Thank you. You all mean a lot to me. Even if we don’t agree about something, you matter to me. Thank you for being there.

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