Thursday, August 28, 2008

Booklady Goes Back to School

I have always been fascinated with the great Church Councils, but the one which interests me the most is the last and – in my mind anyway – the greatest, Vatican II.

Last night I started back to school, for the first time in many a year. Depending how you look at it, it’s been three years since I took the Spiritual Classics or twenty years since I completed my master’s degree. I wonder if I still know how to ‘go to school’. I know how to conduct school, prepare for school, prepare others for school, read, study up on a subject, teach a class, help someone else learn . . . guess I’ll muddle through.

The most important part of my new venture – of course – is the books! Here are the three books I’ll be reading. Just from a quick perusal of them, they won’t be any light reading. Wonder if I’ll be doing much blogging for awhile?!

At any rate, it is a subject which interests me very much and I hope to use the knowledge gained from this class to fill out my own understanding of my Church, its role in the world and the development of its relationship with other faith traditions; how the wisdom gained at and promulgated by the council changed the tide of history for Catholics, especially my own relationship with Jesus and others; why the council seemed to result in such devastating losses of religious and faithful and point out/widen a huge difference between the right and left within the Church and finally, what did the liturgical reform mean and where are we today?
Guess I don’t want much do I?
P.S. The wonderful thing about going to school at my age is having the freedom to go for the pure joy of learning. I'm only auditing the class. That means no papers, no tests and if I don't want to take any more classes after this, I don't have to.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Returning the Call

Nothing happens by accident with God. In fact, you can go so far as to say that everything which happens in our life is part of His plan—if not to lead us home to Him, then to bring another of His lambs safely back to the fold. If you believe that, and I do with my whole heart, then Life suddenly takes on a lustrous quality; it truly becomes a lode of luminosity.

When I visited Our Lady in Fátima, one of her favored homes, last year I was so focused on that marvelous opportunity I didn’t look ahead—or I temporarily forgot—that all with God is purpose. It would have been enough to me just to have seen Fátima, but no I was favored with a pilgrimage on the 90th Anniversary of the Final Apparition of Our Lady to the three Visionaries on October 13th 1917.*

Since then I have reflected on the times when I taught about Our Lady of Fátima to my own children as well as to my religious education classes. How many times did I show and watch movies about Marian apparitions with deep longing in my heart? A Marian Conference in Spokane in 1995 was the scene of mini-reconversion experience for me. I remember watching Gospa on a big screen with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Did Our Lord, through Our Lady, reward my devotion with that trip? Maybe. But I prefer to believe she begged her Son to fulfill a heart-felt prayer; she worked through the kindness and generosity of another of her beloved daughters, the dear friend I traveled with, Linda. In any event, I went, I saw and I was conquered.

That I thought was that. Silly me! Nothing has been the same in my life since. My dearest Heavenly Mother has been continuing to Grace my life as if the trip to see her wasn’t enough! Nor is there time or space to list – much less explain – the graces she has showered on me since. And all because I visited her?! When it was my dream fulfilled? Is this just a tiny foretaste of how Good God is? How He showers His favors on those He loves? I pray it be so!

Yesterday, the traveling statue of Our Lady of Fátima visited a local parish of the same name. It occurred to me when I first heard about Our Lady’s visit to Oklahoma that it was so wonderful–and even more special—because of my recent visit to see her.

Then I recalled the quaint old custom of ladies whereby one would visit the home of another in bygone days. This was known as ‘paying a call’. All true ladies paid and received calls. But even more importantly, when a lady received a call, she made sure to ‘return the call’.

When I saw Our Lady of the Rosary born aloft and carried into the sanctuary yesterday, my heart did a flip. I wanted to hug her. I was overjoyed. Instead I spent a quiet, loving day visiting with her. She did me a great honor in returning my call. Never mind that she made my trip overseas to see her possible in the first place or that God gives all good things. To me, it was a very special social call from one Lady to another. Indeed, the Lady of all ladies!

In Christ through Mary, booklady
* I wrote about that original visit here.
Dedicated to the lady who made my trip to Fátima so enjoyable and memorable, my traveling companion and friend, Linda.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No More Braces!

Today our Meggie

got her braces off

after two years!

And just in time

for picture day at school!

Doesn't she look lovely?!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm Not CRAZY, but i might be a carrier

Charles Marshall’s book, I’m not CRAZY, but I might be a carrier, is my first ever 'free book' to read and review; as such I had high hopes. Sadly, the book did not live up to my great expectations. It’s obvious Marshall is writing as a man's man. His humor is never off-color but is most definitely targeted to the guys, in particular married men with families. It is collection of very short chapters on a variety of subjects, most with humorous titles. Several of these chapters are grouped together in 'parts' or major categories, similiarly bedecked with titilating names. All of this effort to amuse me and yet, story after story I was only mildly amused. Not to mention I was also mildly irritated although I couldn't say why. However, given that I'm not "the funny one" in our marriage and in the effort of fairness for a review, I asked my husband for his take on it.

He did a fast read and provided the following: “OK, there is some light humor in here. It appears to me Charles is a Dave Barry fan, as he writes in much the same vein. Here, however, is the pitfall. He’s trying to include religion as a tag ending to each story. I would find these better off if he would incorporate the Lord’s message instead of making each anecdote a lead-in to a mini-sermon. I tend to stop when I see a “This is how we can tie in to God’s word” preamble to a sentence. God, I believe, has a serious sense of humor, and probably likes to be included in the party, not thrown in as an afterthought. After all, God created us humans and the Duckbill Platypus… and you don’t see the former trying to tart itself up with clothes and bling like humans do; only we are embarrassed over our appearance, which could either be offensive or funny to God depending on your point of view. (“What’s the matter? Your thighs looked good to me when I gave them to you… it was only when you overindulge in fried chicken and eat the entire bag of chocolates at one sitting day after day that you start to have a problem…”). I found the chapter on the dentist and the “fear journal” rather amusing; I also related to the Vicks Vap-0-rub ® stories, because all we 1960’s kids were subject to the poison of the medical hobby shop owners of that age. As a book, it’s a read, but not one I personally would have spent cash on. Humor is a good thing, best delivered, in my opinion, by someone who is good at it in an audio forum. I DO enjoy Dave Barry, but my comments apply to him as well... I save most of my reading time for substance, “meat” if you will, not potato crisps. This book was what I would consider a time passer, good for the waiting room, paid for by someone else…”

And so you can see what my husband thought. Personally I think Bear's review is better than Marshall's book, but then I might be a bit biased! ☺


Monday, August 11, 2008

The Shack

The Shack is a book you will thank yourself for reading. While it can be didactic at times, it is not overtly so. It’s more a story of journey and relationship—discovering who you are through learning more about who God is to you. I’m no theologian, but I do like to imagine myself as the Theophilus Luke is writing to in the Book of Acts. So I read the book as a God-Lover and I write this review in the same way.

It begins with an unspeakably horrible tragedy happening to a loving father. (By way of explanation, I cannot write this review without at least giving that much away.) It’s the sort of nightmare every devoted parent dreads and secretly fears. In the aftermath of the disaster, the main character, Mack, attempts to put his life back together but finds he cannot. The devastation is too great; the chasm created by his loss is so unfathomable, his faith in a loving God is shattered.

Mack receives a strange and seemingly preposterous invitation to meet God at the very site – the shack – the scene where the unspeakable crime against his loved one occurred. The rest of the story is about Mack’s meeting with God which is unlike any other fictional description I've read of a Divine encounter. If you have ever longed to see God you will certainly appreciate this book. If you have experienced – or are going through – your own Agony in the Garden time in your life this book may be a very cathartic aid. It is my belief that is its real purpose. As such, God is presented most beautifully as 'relationship-in-love'. God is three distinct persons whose love for each other is one and yet extends to each and every one of us, His creatures. Mack heals as we may also heal, if we need any spiritual healing, through opening to God’s love.

As I mentioned early on, I am no expert in Theology and I have no doubt there are probably theological errors in The Shack. God as God, the Almighty, Our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, the Holy Spirit, etc. who has been worshipped, studied, prayed to, fought over and died for – for millennium – was not just suddenly figured out in 2007 by William P. Young and explained in 248 pages of fiction. This book is by no means definitive or the last word on God. It is, however, wonderful. It is a moving and a loving tribute to getting to know Him better. It is a helpful way to look at how God views the tragedies that happen in our lives. He does not inflict them on us. He suffers right along with us . . . just as He did 2000 years ago.

This book was recommended to me by my dear friend and spiritual mentor Rosemary. Thank you dear one and God bless you! ~~booklady

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The July Book Blowout Wrap-up


Sadly folks, booklady did not make her goal of 8 books. In fact, she did not even come close! However, I did manage to finish 4 adult books and 2 young adult books, plus a whole bunch of little kid's books. And I've been working on some pretty tough non-fiction for my two on-line Catholic book clubs, one of which I'm moderator for. So, maybe . . . it's not as bad as it sounds?

Anyway, here are some questions Mrs. S posted that we could answer about the Book Blowout. I've put her questions in red and my answers in black.

1. Did you discover a new author? Yes, I did as a matter of fact! Her name is Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and she writes excellent young adult historical fiction! She also happens to be my friend on goodreads!!! How lucky can a booklady be?!

2. Where was the most unusual place you found yourself reading? Can't really say I read anywhere unusual...just all the same places: in bed, sitting in chairs, waiting in my car, at the kitchen table and well, of course in the official "Reading Room"!

3. Did you read more than usual? Yes! I found the challenge of having a deadline helped keep me a little more focused. Not a lot--but a little.

4. Did you give up anything in order to read more? Housework?! Does that count as something to 'give up'? LOL!

5. If you won the Amazon voucher what would you spend it on? Silly question! there anything else?!

6. Would you like to see a 2009 Book Blowout? Absolutely!

Loved it! Thanks Mrs. S! Call me or stop by next time you're having another book challenge of any kind!

Saturday, August 2, 2008