Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest Post: Holding on to Hope

I'm importing this post from because it is a review of a fellow Pauline's most recent title (a helpful title, too, for difficult times).

By Anne Bender • Nov 13th, 2010 • 
Holding on to Hope: The Journey Beyond Darkness by Sister Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP

I have been a fan of Sister Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, ever since I read her books Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach and Making Peace with Yourself. Her words in these books brought me comfort and a sense of community in my darkness, helping me to realize that depression can happen to anybody, but it doesn’t have to define who we are or lead to restrictions in our lives.
In Holding on to Hope I found the same sense of comfort and support that I have come to acquaint with Sr. Hermes. The book is set up with sections on images, scripture, reflection questions, contemplative exercises, resting and inner healing exercises (written by Sr. Helene Cote, PM, MTS.) Throughout each chapter, the reader is lead into a spiritual healing experience based on the life of Christ.
Some passages that I found to be especially helpful for me were those that dealt with the realization that God is always present, holding us as we heal, and supporting us in those moments when we fall back into darkness, such as:
“This is the way it is. We cannot escape the waves of consolation and desolation that wash through our souls…we need to be able to dip back into the darkness here and there with graciousness and without fear in order to learn to relax there, where God is also present.” (p. 74)
But perhaps, the most hopeful and helpful section of all was Appendix Two: A Process for Putting on Christ in Seven Stages. This section dealt with the letters of St. Paul that show his transformation as he “put on Christ.” We, too, are called to put on Christ and can accomplish this by following the example of this great saint. I plan to follow Sr. Hermes’ lead here by praying with her hopeful and serene words: “I want only Jesus, not my perfection or security or happiness. Knowing Jesus is more important to me than any of this. To share His sufferings is my greatest joy because I know He will let me share His resurrection.” (p. 142)
As a wife and mother who has fallen in and out of depression many times in the past few years, I found that Sr. Hermes book, Holding on to Hope, will be a great resource for me to use whenever life becomes difficult and despair seems so near. In those dark times, I will reach for this book and hold on to hope.

Many thanks to Sally Feller at Pauline Books and Media for this opportunity to review Holding on to HopeOrder Holding on to Hope and support with your purchase

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mailbox time!

From Michael:

Subject: I want a good life changing book.

Hi, I stumbed led upon your blog when I googled "Catholic books that can change your life."

I am not a rapacious reader as I get bored quickly.  But when I find a good book, I will read it through like a hungry kid eats popcorn.  Most of the Catholic books I have read failed to capture my attention this way.    I have had "epiphanies" when reading books before that have motivated me to change some aspect of my life, but I have yet to find a genuinely modern Catholic book that has been successful in pushing me to the next level spiritually. 

I am a Catholic husband and father of a one-year old, and I work as a professional.  I am trying to build a stronger prayer life as I receive spiritual direction and pray with my wife regularly.  But I am seeking grace anywhere I can get it, even if it means it is in a book (something besides your standard prayer books or the Bible).  So if you know of something that will appeal to someone in my state of life and keep my attention, by all means, please recommend it.

Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Interactive ChristologyAnd my answer: 

There are a lot of books, but the first one that comes to mind is "Fully Human, Fully Divine" by Michael Casey.  I've read it at least five times, underlined, hi-lighted, it's definitely worth reading if you have a chance.  Say a prayer before you go book-hunting.  There are so many books, a little Divine inspiration couldn't hurt!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The God of our Deepest Longings

The God of Our Deepest Longings: Seven Biblical MeditationsA friend sent me this book and I put it in chapel with my prayerbooks. You never know when you need something new and different! I picked it up a while back and couldn't put it down. It was easy to read-only about a hundred pages, but I'm on my second time, much-slower, let's-relish-this reading. Even the chapter titles are worthy of a long meditation: "What are you looking for?" "Where do you live?" "What Supports you?" "Becoming Transparent."
It's a thin book, but I guarantee that if you, say, started it on Ash Wednesday, you would probably still not be through it by Pentecost :) Or longer, depending on how much you get out of it, between the suggested Scripture readings, the questions for reflection.... But don't wait until Lent to get started: the end of summer is a perfect time to kick-start a resolution to spend more time in prayerful reading.
I love finding new treasures and passing them on. This one would be an easy one to miss, but please don't. It covers the most basic desires of our heart and reveals the God of our deepest longings through the most beautiful passages of Scripture.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Feature

We just finished recording a new album of inspirational songs; it won't be completely ready for quite some time (the instruments haven't been done yet), but just so you know.
We're testing a CafePress site that will allow you to support the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul and get some unique (and generally practical) items. Just so happens we are launching this trial balloon during a "free shipping" promotion at CafePress ("free" for orders over $40). So far there are only two main themes: Books (you knew that, right?) and New Orleans (you probably guessed that much, too).
Here are a few samples:

The mug and the book bag have a quote from Chesterton: "Literature is a luxury; Fiction a necessity." The apron says, "I'd rather be reading!"

And from the "Geaux Getters" department:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

don't judge a book... its cover! I had to really overcome my distaste for orange in order to discover a couple of great books. (Don't make the same mistake.)

Two books in this video:

Lots of books by Fr. James Martin without orange covers:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Jesuit Guide...

My Facebook conversations with Jim (and his appeal to keep the blog updated) have convinced me to move from Facebook to Blogger for a few minutes to write about my current read.
Orange is my least favourite colour, so on that very superficial observation I almost didn’t pick up the best book I’ve read so far this year! I’m now more than halfway through Fr. James Martin’s excellent new book, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and I should have known it would be hard to put down after gobbling up his last book, My Life With the Saints! It is SO readable; you could compare it to an easy going conversation with a good friend. Considering the topics covered, that’s saying a lot! (Lectio Divina, the Spiritual Exercises, the Vows, discernment, how to find God, how to pray, where to start etc.) I took it to chapel for spiritual reading, and almost (but not enough to stop) felt guilty for enjoying it so much.
The Ignatian goal is to “find God in all things”. If you want practical and realistic ways to apply this to your own life, please get a copy of the book. I loved the stories, the examples, the humour, and the wisdom that can be applied right now where you are. Fr. Martin is able to take the gems of Jesuit Spirituality and translate them for absolutely anyone.
If you want to know how you can find God – and how God can find you– in your messy, busy, difficult, complicated life, this book would be a good place to start. Books like these are worth their weight in gold, even if they’re orange.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A conversation on Facebook

I just heard from a new lover of Catholic Books. Jim starting looking for "Catholic books"; that's how he came across my many recommendations. Now we're continuing the conversation on Facebook. Since I haven't been able to update my blog very much, I thought you'd like to join in!

Jim: How I love your absolutely wonderful website! I am a Catholic inquirer, and earlier tonight did a google search for "Catholic books." Hours later, my Amazon Wish List is ridiculous thanks to you! Truly, your love of books and your love for God leaps off the page and I just wanted to express a thousand thanks. I remember browsing in the Alexandria Paulist Press shop, and chatting with a similarly enthusiastic Sister. You've made my night.

Jim: I just discovered Fr. Barron on your website, and found his Word On Fire site, which is outstanding. His videos are the finest explanations of the faith I've ever come across. I was knocked out by the interview with Mitch Pacwa, where he talks about truth and beauty, using Notre Dame Cathedral as an example. Nine years ago I visited Paris, and was simply overcome with emotion when entering ND. Fr. Barron describes precisely what happened to me. Truth was beauty and beauty was truth!
It's just so rare to find art experts who aren't pretentious, and frequently on the snobby side, and that's why I love the work that both of you are doing. I'd like to see you have your own show on EWTN!

Me: Fr. Barron is great, isn't he? I really love the way he writes.
Have you read "The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything" by Fr. James Martin? I'm in the middle of it right now and I'm really enjoying it!

Jim: I just re-read the Reed (of God, by Carryl Houselander) at Christmas, and it hit me even harder this time, and, I read The Way of The Cross every Advent. She deserves a much "wider audience" as they say. btw....your fans are eager for a blog update!