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book reviews

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 (gary@followingthetruth.com) 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!

Faith and Revelation: Scott Hahn, Scripture and Substance!

So You Wanna Learn About Scripture?

In my opinion, one of the best books that you can read is Faith and Revelation (Knowing God Through Sacred Scripture) written by Dr. Scott Hahn (copyright 2009, Midwest Theological Forum) and edited by Fr. James Socias.  Part of the Didache Semester Series, this volume delivers the same solid Catholic teaching that can be found in the other books of this series.  As stated on the back cover, the goal of the Didache Series is “to present the basic doctrinal, scriptural, moral, and sacramental tenets of the Catholic Church in a manner that is both comprehensive and accessible.”  In my mind, they accomplish that goal in a BIG way!

Some of the book’s positives are:

– Scott Hahn is the author (Do you really need other reasons for a book about Scripture?)
– A beautiful design with color reproductions of religious artwork throughout.
– Lots of substance (multiple citations from the Catechism and Church Council documents plus numerous quotes from the Church Fathers).
– Material is presented in an easy to understand manner.

Although designed to be a high school text book (spanning one academic semester), I would recommend this book to any adult who desires to learn more about the Bible, from a Catholic perspective.  The biggest mistake that Catholics often make when reading Scripture is to read it “in a vacuum”, ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church actually compiled the books of the Bible.  Faith and Revelation rectifies that mistake, by giving you Biblical insight combined with solid Catholic teaching.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this preview to see for yourself!

For more information or to order, visit the MTF website.