One Ordinary Sunday by Paula Huston
Publisher: Ave Maria Press (2016 - March 11)
eARC (256 pages)
Reading Challenges: Read 2015
The popular, award-winning writer Paula Huston draws on her spiritual wisdom and her talent as a novelist to provide both a moment-by-moment record of her experience of one particular Mass on one particular Sunday in her home parish in California and a theologically and historically rich exploration of the origin and meaning of the liturgy.
For Catholics, the Mass is the “source and summit of the Christian life,” as the documents of the Church put it. Yet many Catholics might confess to not understand in any depth what goes on in an “ordinary” celebration of the Eucharist. In perhaps her most compelling and original book to date, novelist and spiritual writer Paula Huston guides us through a Mass on the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time at her home parish in Arroyo Grande, California. Huston’s personal and spiritual reflections offer fresh and often unexpected insights into the profound mystery at the heart of the Catholic faith.
A natural storyteller, Huston deftly illuminates what might seem either mysterious to those unfamiliar with the Mass or overly familiar to those who have lost an appreciation of its mystery. In the Mass “we are healed and restored and spiritually fed,” she writes. “We are handed strong armor against evil. We are unified and made whole as a people and as a Church. We get a little taste of heaven.”
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Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson
Publisher: Ave Maria Press (2016 - original 1907)
eARC (352 pages)
Reading Challenges: Read 2015
In an airplane news conference on his return from the Philippines in January 2015, Pope Francis mentioned Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World and said, “I advise you to read it.” It wasn’t the first time the Holy Father had praised the book since becoming pope. This 1907 futuristic narrative has been hailed as the finest work of this unsung, but influential author and son of the Archbishop of Canterbury whose conversion to Catholicism rocked the Church of England in 1903. The compelling book includes a new introduction, a biography of Benson, and a theological reflection.
Popular young adult books such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, as well as literary classics such as Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, have created a growing interest in dystopian novels. In one of the first such novels of the twentieth century, Robert Hugh Benson imagines a world where belief in God has been replaced by secular humanism. Lord of the World describes a world where Catholics are falling away and priests and bishops are defecting. Only a small remnant of the faithful remains. Julian Falsenburg, a mysterious and compelling figure arises, promising peace in exchange for blind obedience. Those who resist are subjected to torture and execution. Soon the masses are in Falsenburg’s thrall and he becomes leader of the world. Into this melee steps the novel’s protagonist, Fr. Percy Franklin. Dauntless and clear-sighted, Franklin is a bastion of stability as the Catholic Church in England disintegrates around him. Benson’s harrowing plot soon brings these two charismatic men into a final apocalyptic conflict.
With an imagination to rival H. G. Wells and theological insight akin to G. K. Chesterton, Benson’s astute novel has captured the attention of many today, including Popes Benedict and Francis. This new edition makes it easily available and features an insightful introduction by Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., a brief biography of Benson by Martyn Sampson, and a theological reflection by Rev. Michael Murphy, S.J.
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I am currently reading Divine Mercy in My Soul, more commonly called The Diary, as part of my Lenten practices. I have read excerpts of The Diary before but this time, I intend to read the whole book. It is a rather large book with over 700 pages! This is primarily a book for spiritual reading and so I suspect that this book will take me quite some time to finish. Hopefully, by Easter (or at least Divine Mercy Sunday), I will be finished with my first reading of The Diary.
From Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska by Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (paragraph 56):
From the beginning I have been aware of my weakness. I know very well what I am of myself, because for this purpose Jesus has opened the eyes of my soul;
I am an abyss of misery, and hence I understand that whatever good
there is in my soul consists solely of His holy grace.
It is crazy to think that it is almost time for Lent to start. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday already! What has happened to this year! Anyway, I want to share my Lenten Sacrifices, the things I am going to give up during Lent to grow closer to Christ. Some people may be going, “Why give anything up? That sounds ridiculous.” Well, I give up something so that I can deny myself and grow deeper in my love for Christ. Here is what EWTN says on the topic:
By denying ourselves something we enjoy, we discipline our wills so that we are not slaves to our pleasures. … By disciplining the will to refuse pleasures when they are not sinful, a habit is developed which allows the will to refuse pleasures when they are sinful. There are few better ways to keep one’s priorities straight than by periodically denying ourselves things of lesser priority to show us that they are not necessary and focus our attention on what is necessary.