Friday, 14 July 2017

Book Review: A Priest Answers 27 Questions You Never Thought to Ask by Fr. Michael Kerper

Hello everyone! I hope you're all having a wonderful summer! We've been pretty busy on our little Green Gables on the Prairies (our house is old -- it was built around 1902 or something, and it's white with green trim, so I lovingly call it Green Gables after the famous house in L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, which is my favourite book in the world!). Swimming lessons are in full swing, and my eldest is also involved in a fun library reading challenge, and once a week she spends an hour at the library doing fun summer activities. I've been really enjoying gardening, and I'm also participating in a Bible study with a dear friend of mine. I'm also planning a fun-filled My Little Pony birthday party for my daughter, who is turning six next month.

When you add all that up to the desire to just kick back and relax in the summer, I haven't had much inclination to add anything else to my list. I currently freelance for the local paper, but I haven't submitted as much as I usually do, because I've been really enjoying my summer with my children. My daughter is going into Grade 1 in September, and then she'll be in school for the majority of the day from Monday to Friday, whereas in Kindergarten she only went every second day. Needless to say, I am happily enjoying spending time with her -- six year olds are a lot of fun -- and watching her spend time with her brother.

What does all this have to do with my latest book review? Well, I've had a lot of time to read this summer. When I'm not cooking, or cleaning, or doing laundry, or playing with my kids, I'm usually reading. I'm currently reading a delightful historical romance by Christian author Jen Turano, and I'm listening to a cozy, inter-war period mystery set in England in the form of audio book. I've also just finished a very delightful and insightful faith book.


This book is called A Priest Answers 27 Questions You Never Thought to Ask and is written by American priest Father Michael Kerper. I saw this book advertised from the Catholic Company, and it immediately piqued my interest. I held off from purchasing in on my Kindle for awhile, though, as I had enough books on the go. But about a week ago I finally got it, and I breezed through it in a few days. That's not to say there's not some very informative, educational content in it -- it's just that Father Kerper has such an easy-going, conversational writing style that it felt like I was there, having a cup of tea with him while he explained some interesting points of the faith to me.

I loved reading this book. A faith as rich in history and tradition as the Roman Catholic faith means that it's full of treasure troves of knowledge that can enrich our walk with Christ and better enable us to live out His love in our troubled world. Because ours is the true Church started by Christ Himself, and kept safe and authentic for us through apostolic tradition, it is a living faith, which unites its adherents -- those living and those who have gone before us, including angels, saints and our dearly departed. I think it would take me far more than a lifetime to discover all the joys that our faith has in store for us.

I've always had an inquisitive mind -- perhaps this is why I studied journalism in school. But I think, as humans, we all to some extent want to know the hows and whys of things -- just spending some time with my daughter proves this to me: she's constantly asking me questions that I do my best to answer, and when I don't know, we discover together. Recently, she wanted to know what a quail looked like, and how the pipes get water.

Father Kerper, in this wonderful book, answers many questions I'd always wondered about. For example, do we truly have guardian angels (yes!), what does the Church teach about ghosts, is cremation allowed for Roman Catholics, and much more. Father Kerper also explains to us how to show true charity and how to handle delicate faith situations with others. His book is divided into three parts: Part I: Fear, Trembling and Sweaty Hands: Our Life in the Church; Part 2: The New Evangelization and Old Neighbours: Our Life in the World; and Part 3: Baptize, Marry and Bury: Our Life in the World to Come.

I love reading books on my Kindle, because I can highlight sections of text and make my own notes about it. I want to share with you some quotes from this wonderful book that are really thought-provoking.

On fasting: "Obedience, of course, is not the problem. The real danger is a minimalist attitude that keeps a person from moving beyond mere external practices to a real change of heart. That's what God offers us: transformation. After all, Jesus came to give us abundant life, not an eternal parole from Hell."

"The free act of reducing, or totally eliminating, the consumption of food also fosters true humility by making us vividly aware of our total dependence on God."

On charity: ""Alms-giving that comes entirely from one's excess is nice, but true alms-giving should involve the diminishment and simplification of one's own lifestyle."

On plenary indulgences: "...God's punishments always emerge from his merciful love. As such, God's penalties act as 'medicine' to heal the self-inflicted wounds caused by personal sins, specifically the destruction of our friendship with God."

These are just tiny snippets from a truly wonderful book that can enliven our faith and make us feel blessed to be a part of God's plan.

What did I think of the book in general: I think I've already answered that: I loved it!

Is this a good book for Catholics: That goes without saying ;)

How much work is required for this book: None, for it's a complete pleasure and joy to read.

Overall score: 5/5. Pick up a copy today!


Friday, 7 July 2017

The Power of a Praying Parent: Book Review


It's my fist post in a long time! Things have been pretty busy. We had our family summer vacation in June, and shortly after that I came down with shingles -- I know, shingles at 30 years old!?

Thankfully, that's behind me. And today I finished one of the books I've been reading for the past few months -- The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Back in early April, I reviewed one of her other books: The Power of a Praying Wife. I was impressed with it, and gave it a 4.5/5. How does this one stack up? Read on and see my rating at the end of the post.

What did I think of this book, in general? I liked this book. I didn't love it, like I did the wife book. But it was still good. Omartian is heavy on the whole "the Devil is out to get your children and it's a constant onslaught of dark forces" and that's a little much for me. I don't contend with the fact that Satan is real and he does have power in this world, and uses worldly situations to gain control of people's lives. I just don't really like fear-mongering. We should be praying for our children out of an overflowing love for them -- a love that wants to see the best for them. Is part of this fear? Sure. I mean, which one of us doesn't worry about our children, or feel anxious when we look at the world we are raising children in? But fear, for me, should't be the focus. Perhaps it's because I spent many years of my life battling anxiety, but I prefer to come at things from a different approach. I believe God has a plan for everyone, my children included, but praying for them is something important I can do for them to help them spiritually -- like bringing them to Mass, having them baptized, and when the time comes, enrolling them in catechism. I love my kids, and I want the best for them. I also know that prayer is powerful and real, so of course I pray for them.

What I did really like about this book was that it got very specific about how we can pray for the different aspects of our children's lives. So many times I pray, and I feel overwhelmed by all that I have to pray about. We know that the Spirit prays for us when we can't find the words, but it's always good to pray as much as we can and bring everything to God. There are many things that parents of young children don't think about -- but this book encourages the reader to lay a firm foundation of prayer, including praying for/against/about things that are many years into the future.

Is this a good book for Catholic parents? I feel like this book, like her other books, is quite distinctly Fundamentalist Christian. There are things that go against Church teachings -- things like assurance of salvation. But this is not a theological book. If a Catholic is firm in their faith and knowledge of the Scriptures and Church teaching, I see no problem with them reading this book for insight on how to become a better prayer warrior for their children.

How much work is required for this book? Not a lot. It's not a Bible study. You read a chapter, you pray. And repeat. You can take it further, if you want. I took notes on every chapter, and then when I finished the book I crafted a large "master" prayer for my children that covers everything in the book. Or, you could write out each prayer (or buy the prayer-only version of the book) and say one a day.

Overall score: 3.5/5. It's a worthwhile read, but heavy on some fear tactics.

Until next time, happy reading! May God bless you with a safe, happy and restful summer.