Friday Five – Volume 116: Lists!! (plus 1)

This week shall be a week about lists.

Recently I was reading Back To Virtue by Peter Kreeft and in a section on virtues in the Sermon on the Mount (or Beatitudes) was struck by his outstanding description of what they are and how we react to them. I’ll have to post that later as time is short for me today and I would also like to keep this F5 short. Plus there are a lot of links here for you so that you may spend your time reading what I’ve linked to instead of my own blathering endlessly on. Plus as a bonus I’ve included a sixth entry.

And now on to those lists!

Friday Five-Mere Observations

— 1 —

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). Listed here because I alluded to them in the intro, and because they are among the most important and most challenging words ever written.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

— 2 —

The 7 Habits of People Who Place Radical Trust in God by Jennifer Fulwiler.

In which she lists the common threads she found between the lives of people who place their entire trust in the Lord. It is a tremendous list and there is much wisdom to by learned from considering these seven habits very carefully and applying them to our lives.

— 3 —

7 Tips Perfectionists Don’t Want to Hear by Silvana Ramos.

If you are a perfectionist as I am, this is a must read. If you know or love someone who has these tendencies it is a must read to help you understand them. Number 2, and the description she provides with it, has been the hell of my own making for as long as I can remember.

— 4 —

Within his article for Catholic World Report Thomas Doran lists The Other 10 Commandments, or as I refer to them The 10 Commandments of This World.

Unlike God’s Commandments, which are unchanging and necessary for man’s well being in every time and place, Satan’s commandments are adapted to changing cultures, so as to most effectively entice, discourage, and destroy. The devil’s commandments for our age, as I read them in this new year. Beware, they are troubling and terrible.

Click here and scroll down to read his list, though I recommend the entire article. It’s not long.

— 5 —

Within his article Hilary Mantel’s Cursed Childhood Rod Dreher lists six things that he identifies as recurrent themes in his writing that emerged from his most formative experiences. You can read the entire article if you wish, but I’m going to paste them below as they are, for me, worthy of keeping at my mind’s forefront when dealing with the world and people each day.

The world is not what we think it is. What is unseen is as real as what’s seen.

People are not who we think they are; they are not even who they think they are.

People will go to extraordinary lengths — including telling themselves outlandish lies, accepting what ought to be unacceptable and making their own lives and the lives of others miserable — to avoid facing truths that would compromise the worldview upon which they’ve settled.

The battle lines between good and evil, and between order and chaos, are not drawn where we would like them to be. The front is everywhere, most particularly within our own hearts.

Be wary of the treachery of the good man who believes in his own goodness.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

— 6 —

As a tonic I’m going to present a bonus this week: 10 Brilliant Quotes from St. Francis de Sales on Cultivating Peace.

St. Francis de Sales has become very important in my life as I’ve read and reread his classic The Introduction to the Devout Life. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Pick one or more from this list, write it down, and read it each day when you wake up. Soon you will “Be who you are and be that well.”


Friday Five – Volume 78: Summer Reading List

Sleep. I crave it having just run the parental gauntlet of graduation parties, district baseball, graduation itself, and finally state baseball.

We’ve been celebrating this at our house since it happened on May 22nd:

photo credit: Omaha World-Herald

photo credit: Omaha World-Herald

As the second baseman, Nolan was among the first to arrive at the mound and just as he was two seasons ago when they won the title he is at the bottom of the pile. In a nineteen hour span my son and his second-ranked team defeated the #1, #4 and #3 teams in the state to win it all.

Twenty-four hours after it was finished we watched our 10 year old and his team win their organization’s annual Memorial Weekend Tournament. Like big brother his team won three elimination games in one day. The two brothers had a good week on the diamond.

And then our daughter, the social butterfly of the group, started YMCA softball this week.

In order to prepare himself for Marine boot camp in the fall and enjoy his final summer at home he has passed on his summer season of legion baseball. He also wants to watch his younger siblings play, something he’s never been able to do while playing fifty-plus games in the summer. Our schedule has opened up considerably for time at home as a family.

And so he finished his baseball career on top by finishing at the bottom of the dogpile.

All I want to do is sleep.

In between naps I plan on doing some reading. Here are five books I’ve set aside until school starts again in the fall.

summer 2014 books

— 1 —

Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel

This book has sat on my shelf for a few years, along with its companion The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy also by George Weigel. A few weeks ago one of my friends and fellow baseball dads gave me his copy of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert and I have really enjoyed getting reacquainted with JPII and reliving some of the events in the era of my early adulthood. This book, along with the recent canonization of JPII as a saint, has spurred my interest in finally getting to this biography. And since I try to read at least one biography per summer this acclaimed one will do fine.

A second biography, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon will be squeezed in if I read ahead of schedule. (Insert galeful laughter here…I never read ahead of schedule.)

— 2 —

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

I loved the Russell Crowe movie that was as I understand it an adaptation of a later book in the series The Far Side of the World. Yes, this is actually a series of novels about Captain Jack Aubrey, his friend and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin and their adventures on the nineteenth century seas in the British navy during the time of the Napoleonic wars. I think I’ve put off reading this book for so long because I was scared of loving it so much I’d want to read the other nineteen books. I’ve decided to take that chance and so this summer will find me sitting outside with this book and a dram (or two).

laphroaig_glass_book 4.9.2014-cropped

— 3 —

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Fr. James Martin, SJ

This book is designed to be accessible to anyone—from those just starting to think about Jesus to those who feel they may know the topic well. It is designed for people of deep faith or no faith who want to know about Jesus … I would like to introduce you to the Jesus I know, and love, the person at the center of my life. Getting to know Jesus, like getting to know anyone, has been a pilgrimage. – from the Introduction

Released two months ago, I only recently became aware of Fr. Martin’s latest book. A few years ago I’d read My Life with the Saints and it remains one of my favorites.

Again from the Introduction:

Who is he? Why another book on this first-century Jewish man? Why have I spent years studying the life of an itinerant preacher from a backwater town? Why did I spend two weeks traipsing around Israel under the broiling sun to see places where a former carpenter lived and sites that he may (or may not) have visited?

For the structure of this book Fr. Martin presents the life of Jesus sequentially from the Gospels. As he arrives at significant places or locations during Jesus’s life he shares stories of what he saw at those sites during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, along with reflections on what those particular episodes in Jesus’s life may say to us today. It is not a Bible commentary. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

— 4 —

The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Rev. Fr. Peter J. Arnoudt, SJ

When I made a silent Ignatian retreat two years ago I learned that I was drawn to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s not something that I’ve yet learned to communicate well. It’s just one of those things that when you get it, you really get it, and the world begins to fall into place for you. While The Imitation of Christ remains one of my all-time favorite spiritual books this book has come highly recommended to me. Written by Fr. Arnoudt in 1904 as a guide for readers to conform their hearts to that of Christ, I plan on using this book as a devotional and possibly one to journal with. Like The Imitation of Christ this book presents a conversational dialogue between Jesus Christ and His disciple, the reader of the book. There are four “books” within the larger one, each with 26 chapters of four to six pages in length. If I read a chapter a day (there are 104) I should be able to finish this book before autumn and my next scheduled retreat.

— 5 —

The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler

It is easy when living out the every day busyness of our lives to become lax in our duty as parents to foster and guide our children’s prayer lives. As a father my number one goal in this life is to assist my wife on her journey to heaven and to help my children do the same by equipping them with what they need and creating a home in which they see that their faith does not stop at the doors to church. As I mentioned above this is our final summer together with our entire family and I want a kick start and reminder of the importance of our prayer time together before one of us leaves the nest and enters the world. Based upon everything I’ve read about this book it will provide that for us. Together.


What are you planning to read this summer?

Book Status – August 2012

I recently read Maggie’s “Book Status” and thought I’d give it a whirl, too. I added one question at the end to round it out at an even twenty questions.

1. The last book I’ve read is: Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope – Amy Welborn

Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope is the story of Amy Welborn’s trip to the island of Sicily with three of her children five months after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. Her journey through city and countryside, small town and ancient ruins, opens unexpected doors of memory and reflection, a pilgrimage of the heart and an exploration of the soul. It is an observant and wry memoir and travelogue, intensely personal yet speaking to universal experiences of love and loss. Along the narrow roads and hairpin turns, the narrative reveals the beauty of the ordinary and the commonplace and asks stark questions about how we fill the empty places that a loved one leaves behind. It is a meditation on the possibility of faith, one that is unflinching, uncompromising, and altogether unsentimental when confronted by the ultimate test of belief. This book is not only a well-told memoir, but a testimony to the truth that love is stronger than death.

That’s according to Amazon. To which I can only add “Ditto.”

2. The book(s) I’m currently reading: Strangers and Sojourners – Michael O’Brien

Again from Amazon:

An epic novel set in the rugged interior of British Columbia, the first volume of a trilogy which traces the lives of four generations of a family of exiles. Beginning in 1900, and concluding with the climactic events leading up to the Millennium, the series follows Anne and Stephen Delaney and their descendants as they live through the tumultuous events of this century.

Interwoven with scenes from Ireland, England, Poland, Russia, and Belgium during the War, Strangers and Sojourners is a tale of the extraordinary hidden within the ordinary. It is about courage and fear, and the triumph of the human spirit.

3. The last bestseller I’ve read is: I truly have no idea. I don’t generally follow those sort of lists.

4. The last book I’ve bought/received is: Mountain Man – Vardis Fisher

Upon learning that this is the book that the 1973 Robert Redford movie Jeremiah Johnson was based from a good friend of mine, I mentioned that in that case I needed to read this book. As it is a favorite of John’s, and we’ve been known to pick up a book for the other now and then, when I came to work a few weeks ago he presented me with my own copy as a gift. I plan to read it this winter.

5. The book(s) I’ll be buying soon is/are: I have NO idea. Probably something on the Kindle though, since that was the reason why I received it as a birthday gift in January. My wife is tired of the stacks of books around the house (and quite frankly, so am I). I currently have 195 items stored on my Amazon Wish List, of which all but a few are books in paper or electronic format. Oy.

(Update: over the weekend I bought a spiritual classic I’ve been meaning to purchase for some time because this edition contains a commentary/study guide. I’m looking forward to reading The Interior Castle: Study Edition by St. Teresa of Avila and prepared by Kieran Kavanaugh & Carol Lisi.)

6. My favorite children’s book is: Love You Forever – Robert Munsch is 1a. There are many I considered for this list, but this is really the only one that kept coming to mind. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is 1b.

7. My favorite Shakespeare piece is: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At least it is right now.

8. Best period of literature: Difficult to say. I love the 19th/early 20th centuries the most I suppose. Dickens, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Twain…even early Chesterton or Belloc.

9. Emily Brönte or Jane Austen? I’ve read neither, but own books by both and mean to read them over the coming year(s). I really enjoyed Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence though.

10. My favorite poet(s) is/are: Robert Browning & W.B. Yeats I suppose. And T.S. Eliot. I do not read much poetry but have enjoyed their work, and Eliot’s Four Quartets is a masterpiece.

11. My favorite literary character is: While Pip from Great Expectations ranks right up there along with a few others, I would have to say that far and away my favorite literary character is Josip Lista, the main character in Michael O’Brien’s masterpiece Island of the World. You are introduced to Josip when he is twelve and live his life with him and through him until his dying breath. It was exhausting, exhilarating, joyous and heartbreaking. When I finished this book I actually mourned for a week and missed my remarkable friend Josip.

12. A book I could reread a thousand times is: The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

13. A book I hated is: I started a book called Golfing With God by Roland Merullo that I had picked up on the cheap. It was awful and I stopped midway through the second chapter. Perhaps I stopped too soon, but what it appeared to be to me was the author’s bald-faced mocking of theology and of God. While I was probably too harsh and wanting to get to another book, it’s the first book I recall to have put into the recycle bin/trash. Another non-favorite would be The Shack by William P. Young. One Amazon reviewer says of this book (in a 2-star review): “If you are one of the zealot orthodox Christians who couldn’t stand “The Shack,” steer clear of this book.”

I guess I’m a zealot then. Woot!

14. My ritual when reading a book is: Coffee/cocoa or bourbon? Check. Comfortable chair? Check. Quiet surroundings? Check. Book open? Check.

15. Best places to buy books: The best source I have for books is Amazon I suppose. I have used their Wish List feature for years to store my wants/needs when I’m on the hunt. I will go to Barnes & Noble locally, though not as often as the store has changed over the years and not for the better when it comes to finding titles (or else my tastes have changed). For Catholic books I always go to Gloria Deo, a local Catholic bookstore in Lincoln. Or I’ll order them online from Ignatius Press or Roman Catholic Books. For used books I will walk a few blocks from my offices to visit A Novel Idea Bookstore. I have used New Boston Fine and Rare Books once or twice to find a rarity and have been very happy with them (warning: beware the sticker shock). The Easton Press and The Folio Society have also been sources of books that I enjoy.

And of course, there’s the Kindle.

16. The language(s) I read most of my books is: English. All of them in fact.

17. Do you write? If so, what?: Yes, I write. Though I’m not sure how I’d classify it. Mostly thoughts and observations that I’m leaving behind for my children so they are better able to know me once I’m gone.

18. Recommend a book: I truly cannot recommend Island of the World by Michael O’Brien often enough.

19. Book you want to own: I would love to own a medieval Book of Hours/Psalter one day. After reading Eamon Duffy’s book Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570 I have been very interested in obtaining my own copy, though priced at thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars I doubt I ever will. I enjoy praying the Divine Office and have toyed with the idea of recreating the practice once used by affluent families to commission their own personalized psalter. Though I’m far from affluent in relation to those medieval families, I would still love to design my own while still retaining the basic and traditional elements of the common psalter.

20. If my life were a book, it would be: I dunno, I suppose could be really pretentious here and say a combination of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, The Screwtape Letters or Dante’s Divine Comedy. Only because I am on some semblance of the journey that the main characters in each story embark upon. More likely at times, however, I am only a simple-minded Pooh Bear. And that ain’t so bad.