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book reviews

Book Review: Learning To Pray With Jesus


Catholic speaker, author and radio host Gary Zimak reviews Shane Kapler's new book about the prayer life of Jesus

“Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later known as Pope Benedict XVI)

Who doesn’t want to get to know Jesus better? As Christians, a closer personal relationship with the Lord should be a daily goal. As the above quote from Pope Benedict XVI points out, however, getting to know Jesus involves participating in His prayer life. Unfortunately, many individuals are confused by the prayer life of Jesus. In fact, many people question why Christ (who was Divine) had to pray at all. I have struggled with this question myself and, while I now understand why Jesus prayed, I need to learn more about how He prayed.

In his new book, Through, With, and In Him (The Prayer Life Of Jesus and How To Make It Our Own), author Shane Kapler does a great job unpacking the mystery of Jesus’ prayer life. He also explains that, since we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church), we are all called to participate in the prayer of Jesus to His Father. Fortunately for us, Kapler not only explains how this is possible, but he does it in very understandable language.

Using Scripture and history, Shane Kapler explores Jesus’ prayer and demonstrates how Catholic liturgy, sacraments, devotions, and practices allow us to not only understand it, but enter into it. I found the in-depth explanation of the Our Father to be especially helpful and I will never look at the Lord’s Prayer in the same way again. This book is definitely a “keeper” and one that I’ll refer to again and again. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to grow closer to Jesus.

For more information or to order Through, With, and In Him by Shane Kapler click HERE.

Win A FREE Copy Of God’s Bucket List By Teresa Tomeo!


“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another” (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

What does God want me to do with my life? All too often this question gets ignored and we simply do what WE want to do. While sometimes our will is united with God’s will, there are occasions when this is not the case. As Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman reminds us above, God has a unique plan for each of our lives. How much effort have we put into discovering that plan?

Based on her own experience, Teresa Tomeo will guide you through the process of discerning God’s will for your life. In a very open and revealing manner, she’ll explain why true peace can only be found by following God’s will in your life. Best of all, Teresa backs up her assertions with Bible verses and citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, I am honored that Teresa includes my own personal discernment story in her book! If you truly care about discovering God’s will for your life, I HIGHLY recommend that you read this book.

Would you like to win a copy of God’s Bucket List? Simply comment on this blog post and you’ll be entered in a drawing. Five winners will be chosen at random to receive a free copy of Teresa’s book. The contest closes at 12 midnight Eastern on November 30, 2013. Don’t miss out on the chance to discern God’s bucket list for YOUR life!

Listen to Gary and Teresa discuss God’s Bucket List on Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio. To listen live at 8 PM Eastern on Nov 26, 2013 or to download the podcast, click HERE.

Trusting God…Even In The Storm!


“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” (St. Francis de Sales)

Those of us who have a tendency to be anxious almost always have one weak spot. Mine has always involved death. Ever since I was a young child, I have spent many hours worrying about death…either my own or that of a family member. As I’ve struggled to overcome my anxiety, it has been necessary to face this fear multiple times. When my twin daughters were 3 years old, my wife began experiencing some unusual symptoms which required her to undergo a battery of tests. I remember thinking repeatedly, “What will I do if she dies?” I couldn’t imagine how I would be able to raise my children alone. Sadly for me at the time, I was so worried that I forgot all about God’s Divine Providence. As the saying goes, and what so many of us need to remember is “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it!” In his new book, It Is Well (Life In The Storm), Chris Faddis offers a powerful testimony reminding us just how true those words really are!

In 2011, Chris’ wife Angela was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. At the time, their children were 2 and 4 years old. Over the next 17 months, the family faced the ups and downs associated with a life threatening illness. On September 21, 2012, Angela Faddis died while holding the hand of her husband. On the surface, the story of the Faddis family appears to be a painful tragedy. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The story of their cancer journey, as told by Chris Faddis, is one of the most UPLIFTING stories that you’ll ever read. Why? Because it illustrates how faith in God can bring you peace and get you through the most difficult situations imaginable. It is a story that we all need to read!

How can a couple with two small children find peace in the midst of a cancer battle that threatened to (and ultimately did) take the life of a young wife and mother? It was possible due to their strong faith, even in the storm! I do a great deal of speaking about overcoming anxiety and this book perfectly sums up the message that I deliver…

God will always be there for you, EVEN in the storm!

If you are anxious about the future, this book will provide the perfect antidote. You’ll read a first hand account of what it means to trust God at all times. Through the writing of someone who’s “been there, done that” you will learn that it is possible to face an uncertain future with the Lord by your side. Even if you’re not someone who tends to worry, this book will inspire you. I HIGHLY recommend it!

To order the book, visit the IT IS WELL website.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle on “Listen To Your Blessed Mother”


“In Listen to Your Blessed Mother, using Scripture and personal stories, author Gary Zimak takes us by the hand and unambiguously leads us to a greater appreciation of our Mother in heaven so that we might strive to imitate her virtues while allowing Mary to take us by the hand to her Son Jesus. Highly recommended!”

(Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN TV Host and author of sixteen Catholic books including The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions)

Order your copy today and receive a limited time 25% discount!

Listen To Your Blessed Mother – She Has A Message For You!


For most of my life as a Catholic, I was confused about the role of Mary. While I accepted the fact that she was important to Catholics, I didn’t understand WHY she was important. That changed BIG TIME for me a few years ago when I finally saw the light and accepted her as my spiritual mother. As a result, my life changed drastically and she has brought me closer to Jesus than I ever thought possible. I’d like to tell you about my “Mom” by looking at what is recorded about her in the Bible. I think you’ll agree that she has a powerful message for you!

Here’s what other Catholic authors are saying about my new book, Listen To Your Blessed Mother:

“Biblical, personal, engaging, and thought provoking are just a few words that come to mind when reading this wonderful book! The Virgin Mary truly is our BLESSED Mother, and listening to her words in Scripture can help us to become blessed, too. Gary Zimak has done a great service for both Catholics and non-Catholics in offering a book that unpacks the biblical words of Mary in a very conversational and easy-to-follow style. The reflection questions and points to ponder at the end of each section will be of great benefit to the reader, too! I highly recommend this book!”

(Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, STL, Author – Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest)

“Listen to your Mother! How many times did we hear those words growing up? How many times did we roll our eyes and ignore the sage advice only to find out later on that Mom indeed did and does know best, especially our Blessed Mother. Now, straight from Scripture, Gary Zimak has given us even more reason to pay close attention to what our Mother, as in Mary has to say about living a grace filled life in this world so we can be with her and her son in the next. This book will definitely bring you closer to the heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God.”

(Teresa Tomeo,Syndicated Catholic Talk Show Host,Best Selling Catholic Author)

“In Listen to Your Blessed Mother, using Scripture and personal stories, author Gary Zimak takes us by the hand and unambiguously leads us to a greater appreciation of our Mother in heaven so that we might strive to imitate her virtues while allowing Mary to take us by the hand to her Son Jesus. Highly recommended!”

(Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN TV Host and author of sixteen Catholic books including The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions)

“With candor and simplicity, Gary Zimak reveals the power of Mary’s words in Sacred Scripture. No matter where you are in your spiritual life — or in your relationship with the Blessed Mother — this book will help you find new meaning and guidance in her words: words that Zimak shows are applicable to any of the problems or decisions you face each day.”

(Vinny Flynn, Author of 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, 7 Secrets of Confession, and 21 Ways to Worship)

“When I was given an opportunity to review Listen to your Blessed Mother, I hesitated only because of the full plate I was dealing with at the time. When I finally dove into this wonderful book, I realized that Gary Zimak has written a beautiful love story about our Blessed Mother and one which needs to be shared with everyone. His description of his growing love of Mary from his childhood to the powerful impact her intercession has had on his life as an adult is riveting. His use of scripture about the Blessed Mother and the few words spoken by her helps the reader share in her life and purpose. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter challenge us to grasp the role of the Blessed Mother in our own lives. I strongly recommend this book!”

(Randy Hain, author of Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith and co-founder of Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine)

“Jesus is our brother, and so his Father is our Father, his mother is our mother. How sad that so few Christians know the perfect maternal love that God has given us in his family. Jesus tells us beloved disciples, ‘Behold your mother.’ What a sweet command! And Gary Zimak has made it sweeter still.”

(Mike Aquilina, EWTN host and author of more than 30 books on Catholic history, doctrine and devotion)

“Gary has given us great insights about our Blessed Mother Mary in Scripture which makes this not only a wonderful book for Catholics but also a great resource for evangelizing those outside the Church. This is definitely a book you can share with your evangelical friends to help them come to know and love our Mother Mary.”

(Gail Buckley, Founder & President. Catholic Scripture Study International)

“It’s such an obvious way to follow Jesus through Mary, that I’m surprised this book was not written before. While some think going directly to Jesus is the fastest and surest way, Gary shows us how wrong that thinking is. He shares his own zig-zag journey to Mary as a way to grow closer to Christ. Though Mary in the Bible, Gary helps us to relish her role in salvation history, reflect on her life, and embrace her love for us.”

(Patti Maguire Armstrong, award-winning author and managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series)


Confused About Eucharistic Adoration? Vinny Flynn Can Help!


It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Eucharistic Adoration. I greatly look forward to the time that I spend before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When I’m with Him, I feel at peace and the time seems to fly. That wasn’t always the case with me, however. I used to be very confused about the idea of praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I had trouble understanding the point. Isn’t Jesus everywhere? Why do I need to go to the adoration chapel to speak with Him?

Fortunately for me, I was influenced by some very holy people, including my late Mother-In-Law, Betty. She would faithfully pay visits to the chapel to spend time with Jesus. After listening to her speak about the experience, I decided that I needed to give it a try. Although I’d been to adoration in the past and found it to be rather dry , I thought that things would now be different. I heard Betty speak about how great it is to spend time with Jesus, so I was all ready to experience the same thing. I signed up for a regular holy hour and when I got to the chapel, I sat down and thought to myself, “Now what”? I’ve got an hour…do I pray? Do I talk? Do I listen? Do I just sit here? I was completely frozen!

It took me a long time and a lot of research to answer those questions and, to be honest, I still wonder about these things sometimes. That’s why I was so pleased when I was asked to host the initial stop on Vinny Flynn’s blog tour for his new book, 21 Ways To Worship (A Guide To Eucharistic Adoration). I was even more pleased as I read the book and discovered that he answered ALL of my questions – past and present!

In an easy to read and entertaining way, Vinny Flynn gives us 21 different suggestions for what to do while we’re adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. More importantly, he makes a strong case for WHY we should adore Our Lord in this manner. I know it’s a well used cliche, but this is one book “you won’t be able to put down”! Once I started reading, I kept saying, “I’ll read one more chapter” and, before you know it, I was finished the book. I’m also looking forward to my next visit with Jesus so I can put some of these suggestions into practice.

Whether you’re struggling to understand why to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or simply looking for suggestions on how to worship Him once you’re there, this book will satisfy your needs in a BIG way. I highly recommend it and urge you to not only buy a copy, but to move it to the top of your “reading stack” as soon as you do!

Want to win a free copy of 21 Ways To Worship? Just comment on this post and I’ll randomly select one winner, who will receive a copy. The contest closes at 12 Midnight (Eastern Time) on Saturday, May 25, 2013.

Hearing God Speak Is Easier Than You Think!


One of the biggest mistakes many Catholics make is to treat the Bible as “just another book”. We sometimes (and I have been guilty of this for many years) ignore the fact that God does actually speak to us through the pages of Sacred Scripture. Furthermore, many people are unaware that the Bible can be used to speak with God. We can actually enter into a conversation with the Lord simply by opening up the pages of the Bible!

As many of you know, I’ve written a book A Worrier’s Guide to the Bible: 50 Verses to Ease Anxieties which provides an alternative to worry. I’ve been a worrier for many years and I wanted to provide some relief to my fellow worriers. More importantly, I want the book to be a reminder that God is waiting to speak to us in the Bible. When we open its pages and read the inspired words, the Lord is speaking directly to us and that’s powerful!

Listening to God speak through the Bible was not something that I always understood. There are 2 books, however, which helped me to first understand the idea of God speaking through Scripture. Both of these books are very easy to read and contain information that will change the way you view the Bible.

Conversing with God in Scripture: A Contemporary Approach to Lectio Divina – The title says it all! In this 150 page book, Stephen Binz presents a step by step plan for learning to converse with God using the pages of the Bible. He discusses the ancient practice of “Lectio Divina” (Latin for “Sacred Reading”), which not only allows us the hear God speak, but enables us to speak with Him using the inspired words of His Book! Some time ago, I used the concepts presented in this book in an adult faith formation class and the students were astounded. In less than an hour, they learned how God truly does speak to each one of us in the Bible and how they could use the Sacred words to speak with Him.

Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina – On the back cover of this book by Dr. Tim Gray, we’re told that this book will teach us:

How God speaks directly to each of us in His Word.

How to overcome the obstacles to a consistent and fruitful prayer life.

Strategies for reading and praying the Bible fruitfully.

What Christian meditation is and how it differs from non-Christian approaches.

This book promises a lot and it DOES deliver! This book is short (127 pages) and easy to read, but provides a wealth of information that will help you in your relationship with the Lord. In Chapter One (The Secret of the Saints), Dr. Gray starts off with a bang as he reveals, “the great – and simple – secret of the saints is that they realized that God’s word was addressed to them“. That simple, but profound, statement is the secret to unlocking the power of the Bible. Understanding that fact will completely transform your spiritual life and bring you closer to the Lord.

Learning to converse with God by using the Bible is a valuable practice that will help you every day of your life. These books have helped me and can quickly help you to master this important technique. When faced with decisions, problems and temptations, why not turn to God and ask for advice? Hearing His voice can be as simple as opening up the pages of your Bible!

Resources For New Mass Translation

As mentioned on today’s radio program, here are some resources that will help you to better understand the changes taking place at Mass beginning on November 27, 2011 in the Unites States:

Welcoming The Roman Missal by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (online resources)

A Biblical Walk Through The Mass by Dr. Edward Sri

A Guide To The New Translation of the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri

Mass Revision by Jimmy Akin

Know of any other good material?  Send me an email ( or post a comment.

Book Review: Extreme Makeover – Teresa Tomeo Really Gets It!

Be sure to listen to Following The Truth on October 26, 2011 at 8 PM Eastern as I’ll be interviewing Teresa Tomeo about Extreme Makeover!

When I first heard about Teresa Tomeo’s new book from Ignatius Press, Extreme Makeover (Women Transformed By Christ, Not Conformed To The Culture), I assumed that it would be a “woman’s book”.  Accepting that fact, I still wanted to read it in order that I could recommend it to the ladies.  After reading this book, however, I was pleased to discover that everyone (including men) can benefit from her powerful message.

One of the main reasons I appreciate Teresa Tomeo’s work is that she just flat out “gets” the Catholic Church and the culture in which we live.  More importantly, she understands that they are at odds with each other.  Society tells us to “do whatever feels good” and the Church tells us to imitate the example of Jesus.  The media tells us that the Church is “old fashioned” and that babies are an inconvenience while the Church reminds us that truth doesn’t change and that life is a precious gift from God.

I found this book difficult to put down.  In the opening chapter (What’s a Girl Like Me Doing in a Church Like This?), Teresa gives her personal testimony and offers first hand proof that “the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  That “Truth”, of course, is found in Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.  In the pursuit of happiness and freedom, Tomeo bought into the lies put forth by the media: career first, total self centeredness, and the irrelevance of the Church.  Now, after finding out for herself that this approach won’t bring happiness or even freedom, she can honestly declare that “God and His Church have it right”!

As she presents the various topics such as the “abortion distortion” and the “contraception deception”, we learn of the many instances where the media misleads us in order to further their own biased message.  Did you ever think about where the term “pro-choice” came from?  Tomeo provides a little history and enlightens us that this was a carefully selected choice of words designed to take the focus away from the horror of abortion.  Coversely, those of us who support life are consistently described by the media as being “anti-abortion” or “anti-choice”.  These terms were also deliberately chosen by abortion supporters (and the media)  in an attempt to promote their agenda and characterize us as negative and against “choice”.  As for the “contraception deception”,  Teresa doesn’t hold back as she proclaims that “the Church is spot-on when she says contraception is a barricade to true intimacy and openness between spouses and between them and God”.  She supports this argument with sound research and first-hand knowledge, providing a much needed rebuttal to the message proclaimed every day by the media.  

One of the most powerful topics in this book deals with Jesus, His Church, and the Dignity of Women.  When was the last time you heard the all male priesthood defended by the media, especially by a woman?  Teresa devotes an entire chapter to the Church as a defender of women’s dignity.  There is no way I can do it justice, so I’ll simply say that she makes her point articulately, convincingly and with lots of references to Church documents.  As further proof of the fact that she “gets” the Church, Tomeo includes the much underutilized sacrament of reconciliation as part of her Spiritual Beauty Plan for women.  Well done!

Rounding off this book are personal testimonies from several women who have come to appreciate the beauty and truth found in the Catholic Church.  As a man, I can speak to women about these topics 24 hours a day, but the message is a hundred times more powerful when it comes from other women.  I strongly recommend this book for all women as it presents the truth that you won’t get from watching TV.  As for men, I urge you to buy this book for the women in your life, but make sure you read it first…there’s a lot you can learn from it too!

Confused About The Mass? Have I Got A Book For You!

One of the most common problems among Catholics is a lack of understanding of the Mass.  A large number of Catholics believe that we go to Mass because “it’s what Catholics do” or for fellowship and preaching.  Without the proper background, most of the prayers heard at Mass don’t really help us to understand what is taking place.  What’s with all the sitting, standing and mysterious wording?  In reality, what goes on at every Mass is an incomprehensible miracle.  We are mystically transported 2,000 years in the past to Our Lord’s crucifixion at Calvary.  Even more astonishing is the fact that we not only get to witness Jesus’ sacrifice to the Father for our salvation, but we get to offer ourselves along with Him.  If that’s not enough, at Mass we receive the grace we need to one day get to Heaven!

Unfortunately, unless you already know what I just said, it’s hard to figure that out from the prayers of the Mass.  In reality, however, just about every prayer said at Mass has a Biblical origin.  Knowledge of this fact can go a long way in understanding what takes place at Mass.  Still the question remains…how can we understand the wording and the Biblical references?  One positive development is that, beginning in Advent of this year, some of the prayers of the Mass will be changing to more appropriately reflect the original Latin wording.  This is a good thing because, with proper explanation, this wording will help us to see the Biblical connection and to better understand what is taking place at Mass.

Still not excited?  Fortunately, I have some even better news!  I’ve recently run across one of the best and easiest to understand books on the Mass that I’ve ever seen.  A Biblical Walk Through The Mass by Dr. Edward Sri (2011, Ascension Press) not only explains the parts of the Mass in layman’s terms, but illustrates the Biblical origin of the prayers.  Those of you who are familiar with Dr. Sri’s work will find the same simple, but substantial, approach used in his other writings.  Divided into 24 short chapters (each corresponding to one part of the Mass), you’ll find this to be a difficult book to put down.  Time and time again, you’ll find yourself saying, “So that’s why we do that”! 

Even better is the fact that this book is part of a parish education series, which includes DVDs, CDs, student and leader guides.  It would be a perfect resource for parish study groups and will not only address the new Mass translation, but the entire liturgy.  There is a great need for a package such as this and it couldn’t be released at a better time.  With many parishes looking for resources that explain the new translation, this is the perfect answer.

I have stated before (and I still believe) that the only reason people leave the Catholic Church is due to a lack of understanding of what we believe, especially the Mass.  I hear a lot of talk about miracles and the desire to witness one.  Sadly, a miracle takes place each day on the altar of every Catholic church but is often unnoticed.  Do yourself a favor and check out this book (and all of the materials) so that you’ll have a better understanding for the greatest event that takes place on earth – the Mass!