On Barb’s Bookshelf: Papal Encyclicals Plus, from Ave Maria Press

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Who’s supposed to read what the Pope writes? Priests and bishops? Catholic journalists? Secular journalists? Historians?

Yes, but that’s not all. The Pope’s encyclicals and other writings are meant for all the faithful. They are addressed to all of us–and if we really want to understand the Pope’s message, there’s nothing like going straight to the primary source. (That’s true of any message. Here’s the English major in me talking: the more intermediaries you have, the better the chance of misinterpretation.)

pope-francis-encyclicals

I read a lot of things online (on websites or on my Kindle) but for me, nonfiction demands a hard copy I can mark up, underline, highlight, and hang Post-it tabs all over. I’m all about the idea of a “collected writings” of the Pope–and Ave Maria has put that together with a new book covering the first 3 years of Pope Francis’ papacy (the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia was published just after the third anniversary of the Pope’s election.) The title tells it all: The Complete Encyclicals, Bulls and Apostolic Exhortations of Pope Francis.

According to Ave Maria Press, the publisher of Volume 1, the book includes:

  • Lumen Fidei, June 29, 2013: The Light of Faith is an encyclical on the centrality of faith, the relationship between reason and faith, the Church’s role in the transmission of faith, and how faith results in redeeming the world.
  • Evangelii Gaudium, Nov. 24, 2013: The apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel has been called Pope Francis’s manifesto. It challenges all Christians to approach evangelization anew and overcome complacency in order to fulfill Christ’s great mission.
  • Misericordiae Vultus, April 11, 2015: In The Face of Mercy, the papal bull for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, the pope urges Catholics, “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.”
  • Laudato Si’, May 24, 2015: Praise Be to You: On Care for Our Common Home is the landmark encyclical in which Pope Francis issued a call to the entire Church—and the world—on climate change, human responsibility, the role of faith in how we live among God’s entire creation, and the future of the planet.
  • Amoris Laetitia, March 19, 2016: Love in the Family is an exhortation published after the Synods on the Family. In it, Pope Francis ranges in his quotations and examples from St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther King Jr. to the film Babette’s Feast.

I admit to having skimmed Laudato Si’ and Amoris Laetitia online when they came out, but I haven’t really put in the time to really read and learn from Pope Francis’ writings. My plan is to dive into Evangelii Gaudium, because I work in the field of Catholic media and evangelization. But you don’t need a job in such a field to read that apostolic exhortation: Pope Francis makes it clear right up front that he is inviting “all Christians, everywhere . . . to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ” (p. 57) which is “the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization” (p. 60). Yes, there are specific sections if that exhortation that are directed toward priests, rather than the lay faithful, but there is much to be learned.

If you’re taking part in the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge, this book provides all of Pope Francis’ major writings in one place and will help you check off that “papal encyclical” box. (Yes, I’m stretching it a bit by reading an exhortation instead of an encyclical, but to be fair, it’s 3 times the length.)

So who should read the Pope’s encyclicals and other writings? If you’re Catholic, YOU should!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

Barb's Book shelf blog title

On Barb’s Bookshelf: “Fearless” by Sonja Corbitt

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Sonja Corbitt’s Fearless puts fear and anxiety into a different perspective, framing them as spiritual attacks and providing tools with which to vanquish them. In short, Fearless is all about spiritual warfare.

Before reading Sonja’s book, I thought of spiritual warfare as something that was undertaken by the clergy or exorcists or very holy people. Fearless brings home the point that we are all subject to attack. “At its deepest root,” Sonja explains, “fear is a spiritual battle with a spiritual enemy.” (6)

Fear comes from the enemy: my enemy, your enemy, and God’s enemy. In affirming the spiritual basis of my fear I am not blaming myself for struggling with it; I am simply acknowledging that I am somehow being manipulated. As St. Anthony [of Padua] said, ‘Fear not. ‘Tis but an artifice of the Evil One to distract you.'” (7; emphasis mine)

fearless-lg-cover

A mix of personal testimony, quotes from Scripture and the saints and plenty of wise counsel round out this book, which begs to be read (and reread) slowly and with pen and journal close by. Each chapter of the book is divided into sections that are a good length for personal meditation or group discussion. At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a review, an invitation to further action, and a God Prompt, followed by group-discussion questions.

Sonja Corbitt challenges readers to use love as a weapon against destructive fear. Advent is the perfect time to read a book like Fearless: to take up the challenge of fighting the enemy behind the fear and embracing life with confidence.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

#WorthRevisit: Book News

featured CM Prayer Companion cover art

A few months ago, I mentioned that I’m a contributor to a new devotional in the CatholicMom.com line of books from Ave Maria Press. Well, the publication date is coming up, so I’m going to revisit that story again and remind you to preorder your copy now–this way you can have it as soon as it’s released!

One of the cool things about writing for CatholicMom.com is the group of terrific contributors. Every single one brings something different to the table, and it’s wonderful to be a part of this group.

Even more wonderful is the opportunity to participate in writing a book with these talented authors! Coming this August, The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion features the work of over 80 CM contributors, including the site’s founder, Lisa M. Hendey.

I wrote four reflections for this book of short daily devotions which publishes August 29 from Ave Maria Press. Preorder your copy now and you’ll have it on the first day it’s available.

I’ve had the chance to peek at an advance reader copy of this book, and it’s absolutely wonderful! It’s a privilege to be a part of this spiritual resource.

In just one week, I’ll be in the Chicago area for the Catholic Writers Guild/Catholic Marketing Network conference, and we’ll be meeting at the Ave Maria Press booth for an author photo. Unfortunately, not every contributor will be able to be there, but I’m looking forward to seeing many of the writers behind this excellent book.

CM Prayer Companion cover art

Your purchase of The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion through my Amazon affiliate link helps support FranciscanMom. Thanks!
worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

On Barb’s Bookshelf: Keep Your Kids Catholic

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Exactly whose job is it to teach your children about the Faith? Is it your parish priest’s responsibility? The second-grade catechist? The parochial-school teacher?

While all of these people have a natural hand in passing on the faith to your children, Marc Cardonarella maintains that you are the one who is your child’s primary catechist in his new book, Keep Your Kids Catholic.

keep your kids catholic

I love the subtitle of this book: “Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick.” Just sharing isn’t enough.

Faith should lead to changed lives and changed behaviors–new life in Christ. Children need other types of formation in addition to education for Christian faith to be sustainable, and parents are the only ones who can provide it (104).

There is one teenager remaining in my household. He was just confirmed two months ago. Now is my chance to examine what I can do better as I strive to pass along the faith, to help him stay Catholic despite the influences he faces from his peers, the media, and adults who don’t always set the best example.

I remember a post-soccer-practice huddle one evening, when Coach announced that he’d rescheduled a rained-out game for the following Sunday morning. My kid spoke up: “Um, we go to church…” and after a few seconds of silence, several other boys chimed in to say the same. Coach found another time to play that game. Now is my chance to make sure he continues to speak up for what is right and begins to take ownership of his life as a Catholic.

I am grateful for the faithful priests and teachers in my son’s life, but Marc Cardonarella’s book drives home the point that I can’t leave it all to them. It is my job to examine the example I set, the conversations I have, the way the faith is lived in my family. Cardonarella shares concrete ways parents can secure their own faith, then structure their lives (and their teens’) to support growth in faith.

The Fine Print:
Your purchase of Keep Your Kids Catholic through my Amazon affiliate link supports Franciscanmom.com!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Ave Maria Press, for the purpose of this review. Opinions expressed here are mine alone and I received no compensation for publishing this review.

Monday Recap: February 2016

Monday recap 2016 edition

At CatholicMom.com

Lent-2016-CRS-Rice-Bowl-and-CM-Meatless-Fridays-702x336Meatless Fridays with CRS Rice Bowl: Rice and Lentil Mash

This Lent, CatholicMom.com is partnering with CRS Rice Bowl in a special way, sharing the CRS Rice Bowl featured recipes on each Lenten Friday. I sampled Rice and Lentil Mash, a recipe from Laos.

touched by an angel box setNow on DVD: a TV Series that Proclaims God’s Mercy and Love

I reviewed the Touched By an Angel Complete Series boxed set of DVDs, a program with a message of mercy that’s needed even more now than when the show first aired.

 

 

bread upon the waterBook Notes: Bread Upon the Water

I reviewed Bread Upon the Water, a story of perseverance that was written for the young adult audience but which will inspire adults as well.

 

 

 

Magnificat Lenten Companion app collageTech Talk: Magnificat Lenten Companion App

If you prefer to use a digital resource for your Lenten prayer and meditation, you’ll definitely want to explore the Magnificat Lenten Companion app for iOS. I examined its many features in my monthly Tech Talk column.

 

Inheritance album artRejoicing in the Dark Places: Inheritance by Audrey Assad

Praising God when you can’t see the light? Amazingly, it helps more than you might think! The music on Audrey Assad’s new CD, Inheritance, is a gentle reminder that we’re not in this alone.

 

3 Bean Chili Mac small T CMeatless Friday: 3-Bean Chili Mac

My recipe for meatless Chili Mac is Snow Day food at its best: it’s warm, tasty and fills you up. You probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry!

Kiss of JesusBook Notes: The Kiss of Jesus

Catholicmom contributor Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle has written a memoir that views suffering through the lens of faith. I reviewed “The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross.”

At Cook and Count

sesame chicken tenders (2)Sesame Chicken Tenders: Crispy chicken tenders are always a family favorite. These no-fry chicken tenders get a little extra crunch from the sesame seeds, but don’t dry out in the oven thanks to a sour-cream-based marinade.

gnocchi e fagioli 2Gnocchi e Fagioli: Here’s a meatless dish that comes together in about 20 minutes! It’s easy to make and very heart-healthy. You won’t even miss the meat in this simple meal. Add other quick-cooking fresh vegetables to change up the flavor.

 

 

 

lazy duchess (2) cCooking with Kids – Lazy Duchess Potatoes: These potatoes might not look fancy, but they’re fun for kids to make and an easy way to use up your leftover mashed potatoes.

 

Blueprint- Crumb Crusted ChickenBlueprint Recipe – Crumb Crusted Chicken: This 3-ingredient “blueprint recipe” is a favorite around here and easy to change up by swapping in different varieties of one ingredient!

 

 

maple brown sugar chicken C (2)Maple – Brown Sugar Chicken Thighs: The sauce on this chicken has a subtle sweetness. While the recipe’s a little more complex than my usual cooking repertoire (because I’m lazy), this is definitely worth the extra effort. It goes with any of your favorite side dishes.

honey lime fish fillets with spinach garlic bow tiesMeatless Friday – Honey-Lime Fish Fillets: Fish fillets are an easy way to make a Meatless Friday meal. Try this simple and flavorful dish!

At Dynamic Women of Faith

Book Review: 3 New Lenten Resources from Ave Maria Press

Book Review: A Single Bead by Stephanie Engelman

Book Review: The Kiss of Jesus by Donna Marie Cooper-O’Boyle

On Barb’s Bookshelf: Lenten Resources from Ave Maria Press

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Lent sure is sneaking up on me this year; it comes very early! Ash Wednesday is next week, February 10. Here are a few excellent resources for personal and family devotions, brought to you by Ave Maria Press.

sacred reading lent 2016Sacred Reading for Lent 2016, from the Apostleship of Prayer, is a pocket- or purse-sized version of the full-year edition of Sacred Reading, reviewed here. It runs from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday and contains the Gospel for the day, followed by prayer prompts in the Lectio Divina prayer method. Down-to-earth and simple to use, this book takes the mystery out of this prayer process. It’s priced at only $1.75–a bargain, considering all that is contained in the book.

 

 

stations of the cross with the eucharistic heart of jesusStations of the Cross with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus by William Prospero, S.J., is a unique take on the age-old Lenten devotion. I know many people who pray this devotion year-round, and these meditations can be used in either private prayer or a group Stations of the Cross prayer service. The meditations include quotes from Scripture and the Saints, and are focused on the Eucharist, bringing home the truth of Jesus’ bodily sacrifice on the Cross and in the Eucharist. This book sells for $5.95.

bringing lent home with pope francisBringing Lent Home with Pope Francis: Prayers, Reflections and Activities for Families by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is the Lenten resource I needed when my kids were younger! It’s ideal for families with school-age children and could be used in elementary-school classrooms as well as in the home. For each day of Lent, this book contains:

  • a quote from Pope Francis (from homilies, General Audiences, letters and addresses, and even Twitter)
  • a Parent Reflection to ponder in advance of praying together as a family
  • a short Family Prayer to pray together (this would work well at the breakfast table)
  • a short story from Pope Francis’ life
  • suggestions for fasting and almsgiving, focused on Pope Francis’ exhortation to keep mercy in mind
  • a concluding prayer, including a special intention and a full-day focus

The Parent Reflections in this book are classic Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle: quietly encouraging and deeply faithful. Throughout the book, the fasting and almsgiving prompts are often accompanied with concrete ways to help both children and adults achieve those spiritual goals.

This book is not tied to the 2016 calendar, so the purchase price of $3.50 is a true bargain for a prayer book that can be used in Lenten seasons for years to come.

Buy these books through my Amazon links to support Franciscanmom.com!

I received review copies of these books from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Word by Word: One-Day Preorder Special

I’m excited to announce that there’s about to be a new book in town! It’s called Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary and it’s almost ready for release.

Preorder Word by Word one day saleI’m extra excited because I am one of the contributors to this book, which was organized and edited by Sarah Reinhard. Here’s the background on the idea behind the book, in Sarah’s own words:

This book was inspired by my favorite prayer, the one I call my “blankie prayer.” I got an idea in my head that every word of the prayer was important, and that, of course, I should ask 40 or so of my favorite writers to explain that.

The book will be out on October 16, but since today is the day when the Church observes the Birthday of Mary, Ave Maria Press is having a one-day preorder special! You can order your copy of the book for $10, including shipping. The book is usually $14.95 plus shipping, so this is a very special deal indeed.

word by word coverYou can preorder the book directly from Ave Maria Press for $10 (including shipping) by using coupon code MARY at checkout.

And isn’t Jen Norton‘s beautiful cover art the perfect complement for this book? That drawing is, itself, a prayer.

This offer is good September 8 only, and only through Ave Maria Press.

 

Grace of YES Day

grace of yes day header

grace of yes day header
Good morning, class! Today is Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

It’s Grace of YES Day.

grace of yes day classroom photo

A few weeks ago, I said “YES” to a long-term substitute-teaching assignment. I’ll be there through Christmas. I’ve gone into more detail on the subject here, but a “YES” to any teaching job is a “YES” to a gratifying, frustrating, entertaining, saddening experience. It’s not just a job; it’s a ministry.

The students and I keep their Regular Teacher in our prayers each day. She is dearly missed and we all hope she will return to good health, and her classroom, as soon as she can.

I pray for my foster-second-graders as I

  • hand out birthday pencils
  • give spelling tests
  • grade spelling tests
  • read chapters from Ramona the Pest
  • encourage reverence during Grace Before Snack
  • redirect children who use the wrong hand to salute the flag
  • line up the class for the bathroom. Again.
  • conduct science experiments involving rocks, water and flimsy plastic containers
  • enforce the “no sharing snacks” rule (we have allergies)
  • invent the “no shaking down other kids for snacks” rule
  • make sure the two Imaginary Students are not disrupting the class

This job saps my energy, creativity, and voice like no other.

And I love it. Even when I have outside lunch duty on 35-degree days and my hair is up because there’s a Head Lice Epidemic on the first floor and, well, I’m not willing to make that sacrifice for the kids…

Little Brother leaves notes on the board for my class before they arrive in the morning and visits us on his way to the nurse for his pre-snack insulin at midmorning. This “YES” has been good for him. I think he likes having me around his school. (He even hugs me in front of my class. Don’t tell him I told you this.)

It’s grace, pure and simple, that is getting me through these challenging days and weeks.

What’s your “YES” and how is grace making it possible? Share on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #graceofyesday

Want to learn more about the Grace of Yes? Read my review of the book here and join the discussion at CatholicMom.com!