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Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada)
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The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics
The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics
by Shane Kapler
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.74
9 used & new from CDN$ 18.68

5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible read!, April 28 2016
With averaging over 100 books a year I read a few amazing books, a few great books, a lot of good book and many that I give up on and never finish. Both this book and its companion volume The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living by Dr. Kevin Vost are in the amazing category. Until now I have only read a book that Shane co-authored, Tending the Temple, some of his books have been on my to be read pile for a while and after reading this one they really jumped up that ever growing list. I literally read this through in two 3 sessions and know that I will reread it again soon.

Shane takes the book of Hebrews and breaks it down into sections teaching on core Catholic truths. The chapters in this book are:

1. The Trinity (Hebrews 1-3)
2. The Incarnation (Hebrews 2-5)
3. The Word of God (Hebrews 4-6)
4. Christ's Priesthood, Our Salvation (Hebrews 7-11)
5. The Communion of the Saints (Hebrews 11-12)
6. The Eucharist (Hebrews 13)
7. The Authority of the Church's Leaders (Hebrews 13)

Each chapter is broken down into a number of sections or teaching points, with between 3 and 8 sections per chapter. As someone who spent 20 years as an undergrad, I greatly appreciate the scholarship in this book but also its brevity. Shane writes in a succinct manner with a tight economy of words. I wish had had encountered more books like Shane's during my religious studies degree. Not only was it intellectually stimulating but was engaging and addictive to read. As a seasoned Catholic I greatly enjoyed the book, especially the chapter on the Communion of the Saints.

I have always had a great appreciation for the Eucharist, and it was pivotal in drawing me back to the Catholic Church. Shane's chapter puts into words some of what I could only feel in my heart and spirit and not adequately describe. And why it is so pivotal to what it means to be Catholic.

Before I had even finished this book I recommended it to a few friends who have also in reading it got as much out of it as I have. It is an excellent read and I can think of a single reason not to commend it to you.

This book was an amazing read and to be honest as soon as I finished it I put it back on my 'to be read list' to read through it again. There is also a companion volume by Kevin Vost The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living. Separately they are each a great read but together they are awesome. And they really should be read together for the magnifying effect the teachings of each has upon the other. So give this book a chance it will have a direct impact upon your faith and practice.

The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living
The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living
by Kevin Vost
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.74
6 used & new from CDN$ 22.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Read at risk or personal growth, April 26 2016
I have been a fan of Kevin Vost's writings since I first encountered them. And even though I seldom read physical books any more I made an exception for this book as the eBook is not yet release. For as much as I have truly loved all of Vost's book I have read to date this book has had a massive and immediate impact on my life. For in this volume Dr. Vost takes us on a whirlwind tour of stoic philosophy, specifically 4 Philosophers and how as Christians we can leverage their wisdom and help take our practice of the faith to a new level.

The stoic scholars that we encounter are: Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, Lucius Annaeus Seneca or Senica the Younger and Marcus Aurelius. No to be honest I had encountered three of our four teachers, and have read Aurelius's Meditations numerous times over the years. Vost approaches these four in a unique way, first he provides a brief biography, then he draws extensively from their own work some with more commentary than others and the a final chapter on each how in applying it we can become better at being. Then as a finale Vost ties it all together in a conclusion that unites what is good from stoic wisdom with true Christian love and how they combined can have an immense impact on our world.

While reading this book one of the biggest things that impacted me was the concept of how our reaction to an event or circumstance that drives our response. If we can learn to step back and look at the event, as just an event then often our reaction and out interpretations of those events will be radically different. From my first encounter of this though in the book I have been applying it there has been drastic change in my home life, my professional life and my social influence. By learning to look at events from the perspective of what is under my control and what is not and always moving forward towards what is best my life has already been changed. Matthew Kelly often states that God's plan for our life is "to become the best version of our self", Kevin through these four philosophers gives us numerous tools and techniques to work and strive for that one goal.

I must however give you a few warnings about this book. First if you are not open to change, to striving to be better do not bother picking up this book. Second if you do not have a true hunger and thirst for righteousness; "Blessed is he who does hunger and thirst for righteousness for he shall be filled" Matthew 5:6 leave this book on the shelf, it will challenge your beliefs about who you are, your role in the world and your calling as a Christian. And third if you simply want to read a short 200 page book, and then by all means leave in the store, for once you read you will likely reread it, or go off and read more from our 4 teachers from the porch. It will likely kick off a long reading list as you endeavor to go deeper into these lessons and work to achieve true wisdom. But if you are willing to take those risks, then this book is tremendous and can have a wonderful impact upon you; then because of the changes in you, on your family, your workplace your community. In my opinion the reward far outweighs the risk!

Kevin in quoting Mark Forstater about Marcus Aurelius quotes: "It's in the nature of books about the spirit that they can be visited again and again. How often we return to books after a gap of some years and find that, with broader experience, we are able to read them in a deeper way, to see new facets that we had previously missed. Marcus Aurelius's book is one of these - it can't be outgrown; it does not date. It reads in a different way to someone who is twenty than to someone who is sixty yet still has something profound to tell them both about living the real good life." I belive the same could be said about Kevin's books in fact reading this one has inspired me to pick up and reread some of his other books.

This book was an amazing read and to be honest as soon as I finished it I put it back on my 'to be read list' to read through it again. There is also a companion volume by Shane Kapler - The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics. Separately they are both great reads but together they pack an amazing 1, 2 punch. And should be read together for the magnifying effect the teachings of each has upon the other.

The Lost Stone (The Kingdom of Wrenly Book 1)
The Lost Stone (The Kingdom of Wrenly Book 1)
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good beginning, April 25 2016
This book was a recommendation based on other books read and reviewed. I showed the cover to my youngest two and read them the summary and they were clamouring to read it. That enthusiasm stayed through this book and we are now part way through book two. The book was so exciting to children they often did not want to stop and kept asking for one more chapter. Reading the eBook we pause and expand every picture and take a closer look at it.

This is a short story about friendship, responsibility and adventure. It is the story of Prince Lucas, and his desire to have friends, after sneaking out of the castle his father relents and allows him to play again with his only childhood friend his age, Clara the daughter of the queen's seamstress. The adventure is Lucas and Clara receive permission to hunt for the Queen's lost emerald. So together Clara and Lucas travel around the kingdom retracing the Queen's steps for the past few days, to try and find the stone. The two set out to retrace her he way through Primlox, Burth and Hobsgrove.

As an adult reading the series it seems a lot of time is setting up things for other books. There are currently 9 books out in this series and a tenth on the way in under two years. As such this story is a little slower than the next in the series. The kingdom of Wrenly is composed of a mainland and four magical islands, Each island is predominately inhabited by one type of creature, Primlox for the fairies, Hobsgrove for wizards, Burth for the trolls and Crestwood for the dragons.

Overall it was a good read. The kids loved it and love the illustrations and there are lots of them. We will continue on and see how the series progresses.

The Leadership of One: Become the leader people CHOOSE to follow ... not HAVE to follow.
The Leadership of One: Become the leader people CHOOSE to follow ... not HAVE to follow.
Price: CDN$ 5.53

4.0 out of 5 stars Great little volume, April 21 2016
With averaging over a hundred books a year I am often surprised by home some books fall into my hands. This book ended up in my hands by a chance encounter. And to be honest it is a quick and easy read, but also a very important one. The book is so important because it reminds us that the first role of a leader is self-leadership. Only through that primary role and responsibility will we develop the skills to lead others and to bring out the best in them. We will become true leaders by example.

Times they are a changing and to be effective leadership must change also, in today's workplace things are constantly changing; mergers, acquisitions, turn over and the changing demographic of the workplace are demanding it. Much like the writings from Brady Wilson or even Seth Godin - Brandau and Ross capture that changing dynamic and provide sound guidance on how to become the 21st Century leader or as they put it; the leader people choose to follow … not have to follow.

One of the first examples of this change they bring to our attention is the concept of a triple bottom line: "A triple bottom line means evaluating the company's performance in the public business world realized in profits, the private business world of their people, treating employees with respect and retaining their top people talent, and the social sphere of their community and how well they interact with the planet on environmental policies." It is no longer just about a good pay and benefits. Meaningful work has become much more than that.

Then they go on to highlight the main point, leadership begins with self. They state: "The fundamental assumption of this course is that becoming a 21st century leader is an individual growth process where each person seeking the coveted title of "leader" is first required to lead themselves into new territory of deeper self-development and professional growth." And that is done through personal growth and development: "Knowing you only have one person to lead means you focus on your professional growth, emotional intelligence evolution, and your ability to live in integrity." That development can be with books like this, through courses, group training and even one on one mentoring.

Through this book you can register online for some free assessments and tools to help you get started on this path. They offer this and if you are interested extended coaching: "The Leadership of One coaching gives you access to a variety of assessments, including identifying not only personality traits that people can observe, but hidden motivators that help explain why you make certain choices and why you value one behavior or activity over another."

This book was an awesome little read. It helped remind me of why some of us go the extra mile consistently and do the bare minimum. It all comes down to effort, or we should say discretionary effort. Through developing ourselves and through developing other we can help foster an environment that gets those results. One of the quotes from the book that had the most impact on me was "Discretionary effort is optional. It is freewill, which is an intentional choice by the employee." Most of my career, both corporately and in non-for-profits that has been a strength of mine but I did not have words for it. This book provides a framework for the language and for bringing out true leadership in self and through that to your teams and maybe even your whole organization. This was an excellent little read and I look forward to reading Discretionary Effort Leadership once it is available.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary
by Sabrina Bus
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.87
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A family favorite!, April 14 2016
This review is from: Hail Mary (Paperback)
The book is done in three parts. The first is the Hail Mary Prayer done in script across the top of the pages, the second is the illustrations, and the third is the text at the bottom of the pages explaining that specific line in the prayer.

This book has wonderful illustrations as seen from the example page spread below. It can be used to teach the Hail Mary Prayer but also to go deeper into the meaning of the words. It is a fun and engaging book.

We have had two books by Sabrina Bus in our house for over a decade, since our oldest was very young. We have both this one and its companion volume the Our Father. They were a gift from a friend of the family. Even though they are simple board books , that have been read hundreds of times, they are still often read and are treasured by our three children. I even enjoy going back and reading them which after so many years and so many readings cannot be said about many books.

I highly recommend this book and the author. Give it a try.

(Note: in doing researching for this review I found that there are number of other books by the author and illustrator available in French, it is a pity they are not available in English.)

Our Father
Our Father
by Sabrina Bus
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.68
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for the family., April 14 2016
This review is from: Our Father (Paperback)
We have had two books by Sabrina Bus in our house for over a decade, since our oldest was very young. They were a gift from a friend of the family. Even though they are simple board books they are still often read and are treasured by our three children. I myself loved the books from the first reading and even today after hundreds of readings enjoy them.

The book is sort of done in three parts. The first is the Our Father Prayer done in script across the top of the pages, the second is the illustrations, and the third is the text at the bottom of the pages explaining that specific line in the prayer.

This book is a wonderful teaching tool. As mentioned the children love it. They know the prayer by heart but still read the book. Sometimes they read through the prayer, sometimes the book text and sometimes both together. The illustrations are wonderful as you can see by the example below. I highly recommend this book and its companion Hail Mary.

(Note: in doing researching for this review I found that there are number of other books by the author and illustrator available in French, it is a pity they are not available in English.)

Why Am I Here?: A Story about Becoming The-Best-Version-Of-Yourself!
Why Am I Here?: A Story about Becoming The-Best-Version-Of-Yourself!
by Matthew Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.80
24 used & new from CDN$ 14.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, April 12 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Over the past year I have read a number of books by Matthew Kelly. While compiling a list of his books I came across this one. Having three young children at the time of writing this ages 9, 8 and 5 I really wanted to share this book with them. It arrived at work and during lunch I read it through, after that first reading I was even more excited about sharing it with my children. My middle child just completed his first communion and my oldest is altar serving. This book was a great resource for helping them understand many truths.

The illustrations are wonderfully done. The lessons flow nicely. First Max has the conversation with his grandfather, and then he shares at school. He has successes and failures. And he resolves that with God's help each day he will work at being better.

This book is great at teaching children they have the task of learning to be the best version of themselves. It also teaches children the practice of examination of conscience, at the end of the day evaluating your successes and your failures and committing to doing better tomorrow.

I loved this book so much I am planning on buying one for my children's school library and for my son's classroom. It is an amazing little read and I highly recommend it. If you are already a fan of Matthew Kelly's writings and have young children in your life you will know the message and appreciate it. If you are not you might find you check out his other writings for yourself after reading this one with your kids. Either way you cannot go wrong with this book!

Welcome Risen Jesus: Lent and Easter Reflections for Families
Welcome Risen Jesus: Lent and Easter Reflections for Families
by Sarah A. Reinhard
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 2.52
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the whole family!, April 10 2016
This is the third book by Sarah A. Reinhard that I have read and the second devotional. And I must say it is a little gem. Of the 6 devotionals I read this lent it was the only one that had daily readings for the octave of Easter. Both this and the companion volume Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families are amazing!

The more of Sarah's work I read the more impressed I become. To be honest the kids loved both of these books so much I wish she had a set of them for Ordinary time. The book is designed to help families prepare for Easter by focusing on the three pillars of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Each day contains a scripture quote, a reflection, an action for others a suggested fast for the day and then a prayer. Because we read it in the evening the fast and action became a focus for the next day. This year my children were ages 9, 8, and 5 over Lent and all three of them loved this book. In fact there were a few nights where we had been out late and I wanted to double up the next day and they always clamoured to do the reading. To the extent that twice we read them from my phone in the car on the way home instead of the ipad before bed.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is that the devotions are easy enough for children to appreciate, reflect on, and apply and yet they are deep enough that in my mid-forties I found them very moving. Another example of the power in these devotions is a few times my children asked to go back and reread part or all of the reading from the night before so they could share how they applied it. Here is a sample devotion:

Monday

Third Week Of Lent

Think: The Samaritan woman couldn't believe Jesus was being kind to her. Not only was he a Jew, but she was probably an outcast, someone no one else liked.
Jesus' tells her that God loves her and that he has the authority to share that love with her. "If you knew who I was, you'd be asking ME for a drink." He uses the image of a drink to refer to the "living water" of his saving grace.
He could be saying that to any one of us. Imagine him standing in front of you, holding your face in his hands, and telling you what he tells the Samaritan woman.

We're told that when we do something kind to the least of those among us-especially the poor and the helpless-we do it to and for Jesus.

We often have an opportunity to be nice to people and to share God's love without saying a word. Within our own family, especially, it's easy to forget that truly loving another is important and takes constant work.

In our dealings with people other than our family, we should also be aware of how we can be more like Jesus. Is there someone with whom no one plays, a person who's mean to others or who seems lonely or sad? What might you do to extend a kindness to that person?

Act: Take a drink to someone today.
Fast: Instead of making a mess, clean one up.
Pray: Help me to show compassion and kindness to those around me today, Jesus.

Give:
Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
John 4:10

If you are looking for an amazing Lenten devotional for the whole family or children you love this is an excellent choice!

Living Faith Lent 2016: Daily Catholic Devotions
Living Faith Lent 2016: Daily Catholic Devotions
Price: CDN$ 1.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Thankful I gave it a try, April 7 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was my first time reading one of the Living Faith devotionals. It was very good. I did this one during my morning coffee at work during the week and at home on the weekends. Interestingly enough I have read a number of the contributors. This one ended up on my recommended reads based on other books I had picked up. I am very thankful that I did.

To be honest it is a little simpler format than many of the other lent devotions I have experienced. There is no suggested action or penance each day. Instead you have a verse, a reflection and some reference passages. You can see an example day below.

Sample Day:

March 24 o Holy Thursday

In Communion

Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10: 16 (responsorial psalm)

My school-aged sons really enjoy doing science demonstrations and experiments, and so our learning spaces are cluttered with microscopes and other lenses, magnets, iron filings, circuits, crystal-growing substances and much more.

Electricity is a favorite area to explore. To see a light bulb powered by nothing more than a lemon, a potato or a solution of some sort is always exciting. We learn that this weird (and still, to me, mysterious) power is nothing we create from nothing- it's in things. It's there, we simply tap into it- and no more darkness.

So it is with Communion. We often hear of the need to "create community," but the reality is something different. Our Lord creates community through his life, death and resurrection. As I look around the congregation at Mass tonight, as I contemplate my brothers and sisters around the world, I am amazed and grateful that Jesus has made us one. I don't do it. I can't. It's his sacrificial love binding us in his blood, dwelling within us to bind us as brothers and sisters and powering us when, into a dark world, ite missa est- we are sent.

Loving Jesus, help me live out the true, deep communion of the cross and the Eucharist.

Amy Welborn

Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14 o Psalm 116: 12-13, 15-18 o 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 o John 13: 1-15

It was a wonderful book and I look forward to trying it again or the advent one.

2016 Magnificat Lenten Companion
2016 Magnificat Lenten Companion
Price: CDN$ 3.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificat is always amazing!, April 6 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was one of the Lenten devotionals I used this year. I have used the Magnificat over the last for seasons of lent and every time have found it extremely beneficial. The meditations are wonderful. There is a wide range of contributors from clergy, religious and the laity. There is also a great 12 pages of prayers at the end of the Lenten devotions. It also contains the full devotion of the stations of the cross as part of the Good Friday readings.

The contributors this year were:
Father Peter John Cameron, O.P.
Father Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Anthony Esolen
Father Anthony Giambrone, O.P.
Father Tim S. Hickey
John Janaro
Elizabeth M. Kelly
Heather King
Melinda Knight
Lisa Lickona
Father Ambrose Mary Little, O.P.
Monsignor Gregory E. S. Malovetz
Regis Martin
James Monti is
Father Vincent Nagle, F.S.C.B.,
Martha Reynolds
Father George William Rutler
Rita A. Simmonds
Joshua Stancil
Father Richard Veras

Father Cameron does an amazing job editing these devotionals. As Mentioned I have used the advent or Lenten devotional books from Magificat 8 times over the last 5 years. I have always been impressed with the writing. The variety of contributors and the spiritual challenge they present. Each Day is a reflection based upon a bible passage, a prayer and a suggested penance. Sometimes it takes a day or two before you can complete the penance but keeping them in mind helps with the growth through this spiritual season. For me this time around one of the most moving was Elizabeth M. Kelly's reflection on March 17th:

MONDAY, MARCH 7
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

He Believed What Jesus Said

Some years ago, my brother-in-law died in a plane crash. My nephew, another passenger and just thirteen at the time, survived but was stranded on the side of a mountain overnight awaiting rescue, all the while there with his father's body. Understandably, the night was torturous. Since then, my nephew has had numerous surgeries to repair various injuries sustained in the crash. For one of the last, my sister requested to be with her son immediately on entering recovery. She told my parents, "Sometimes, when he's coming out of anesthesia, he relives the crash. He wakes up crying, saying, 'Dad, please don't be dead!'" In private, my parents went to work. They began offering up their time in adoration for my nephew, specifically that he would wake up from this surgery thinking of something happy, maybe even wake up laughing and singing. Like the father in today's Gospel, their faith in a healing God was strong. They knew they only needed to ask with fervor and faith- and then believe what Jesus said. The father begged Jesus, Sir, come… before my child dies, and Jesus replied, Your son will live. At that very moment the boy was healed. The doctor's first words to my sister after surgery: "Boy, your son is a happy kid. He's coming out of surgery laughing and singing."
Reflection based on John 4: 43-54
Elizabeth M. Kelly

Father ever faithful, strengthen me, that my prayers may be uttered in confidence, heard in heaven, and answered in generous detail to echo the glory of your faithfulness. Today's suggested penance: Pray the rosary with the intention to renew your Marian devotion.

If you are in doubt about what to read next lent or event advent you cannot go wrong with the Magnificat Companion!

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