Book Review: “Living Beyond Sunday” by Adam and Haylee Minihan and David and Pamela Niles

I am always looking for more ways to make my home and my family more “Catholic.” I don’t want the only thing that makes us Catholic to be the fact that we go to Mass on Sunday. Our faith has so much more depth than that. There is so much more that we can do with our faith. I want our lives to look Catholic. I want our homes to look Catholic. I want our faith to be more than just Sunday. I want to live my faith, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you feel the same way, then this book can help you to do it.

“Living Beyond Sunday” talks about the ways that we can make time and space sacred. It talks about the holy calling of mothers and fathers. It talks about the value of liturgical living, and gives you practical ways to do it. I don’t want my kids thinking what we’re Catholic just because we go to church on Sundays. Being Catholic does involve going to Mass on Sundays, but it can and should be so much more than that. Our homes should look Catholic. Our days should be peppered with moments of prayer. Our lives should revolve around the faith and move with the liturgical calendar. The Church has given us such a beautiful gift in her seasons and cycles. We just have to use it!

“Living Beyond Sunday” is the perfect combination of theology and practical suggestions. It explains why we should live liturgically and how we might go about doing it. If you are looking for an easy way to imbue the faith in your children, this is the book for you. If you want to teach the faith to your children by the way you live your life, this is the book for you. If you want to know why it’s important to live beyond Sundays, “Living Beyond Sunday” is the book for you.

Ability Does Not Determine Dignity

I recently had the opportunity to read Joseph Dutkowsky’s book Perfectly Human. It is a charming combination of his memoirs, an ode of love to his wife, and a testimony to the very dignity of those who might be called “the least of these,” (Matthew 25:40). Joseph Dutkowsky has spent a large portion of his life working with children, as well as adults, with various disabilities. In Perfectly Human, he does a lovely job demonstrating how these boys and girls, and men and women, are the face of Christ in the world, just as surely as Dr. Joe is the face of Christ to his patients. It is a wonderful reminder that we are all called to be Christ to others, and that we are all invited to find Christ in our fellow man.

Perfectly Human features a series of entertaining anecdotes from Dr. Joe’s life that demonstrate how he got to be where he is today. From his youth as a Polish kid growing up in New York to his days as a resident working absurd hours on very little sleep, the reader is invited to accompany Dr. Joe as he found his vocation as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the care of children with disabilities to an advocate for the rights and dignity of those same people he regularly met, treated, and loved. Dr. Joe’s stories do a great job painting a portrait of the kind of doctor he is. 

Within the pages of Perfectly Human can also be found a beautiful love story between Joseph Dutkowsky and his late wife, Karen. Even though the focus of his book is undeniably his work with children and adults with disabilities, stories of his life with Karen are beautifully interwoven throughout the pages of the book. It is clear that his love of his wife and her support of his work were pivotal in the living out of his vocations as an orthopedic surgeon and an advocate for people with disabilities. 

Finally, Dr. Joe’s book is a beautiful reminder that we all share a common humanity and a common dignity bestowed on us by Christ. Our imperfections, disabilities, and differences do not make us any less perfectly human. God can be found in the child with cerebral palsy just as He can be found in the doctor who treats her.

We are all called to imitate Christ and to give glory to God with our lives, and this is done with and through our imperfections, disabilities, and differences. Each of us carries a cross that has been perfectly crafted for us. It is this cross that will enable us to get to heaven. There is glory to be found in our crosses, even if the world does not see it. Perfectly Human is a lovely reminder that ability does not determine dignity, and that we are all created as precious children in the eyes of God, the only eyes with which we should want to see.

Book Notes for “Blessed Carlo Acutis: The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager in Heaven” by Sabrina Arena Ferrisi

Carlo Acutis is the perfect saint for the modern person. Though he lived before the arrival of the smart phone, Carlo grew up with the internet, Pokémon, and Spider-Man. He enjoyed watching TV with his family, playing video games, and … Continue reading

“Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church” by Vinita Hampton Wright

For Lent this year, I committed to completing Vinita Hampton Wright’s Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church. It was an incredible opportunity to get to know four powerhouse saints who … Continue reading

“The Catholic Mass” by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book “The Catholic Mass” is an incredible testament to the beauty and symbolism of the Catholic Mass. While some might argue that Bishop Schneider is longing for a past that has passed, I believe that he does a wonderful job of showing how the Catholic Mass has always been intended as the sacred union of the human and divine, the temporal and the eternal, the physical and the spiritual. Though he definitely has a strong preference for the Traditional Latin Mass over the Novus Ordo, many of his assertions can be applied to the new rite just as easily as they can be applied to the old.

Bishop Schneider advocates for the importance of beauty. The Catholic Mass is meant to be beautiful. Beauty, as one of the transcendentals, has the power to draw man to Truth and Goodness. It is intimately linked with man’s desire for truth, and his desire to be good. Since we live in a world that seems to be pride itself in its ability to create ugliness, it should come as no surprise that we also live in a world that embraces relativism in matters pertaining to both truth and goodness. The world tries to convince us that what is true for you might not be true for me, and what is good for you might not be good for me. The Catholic Mass should remind us that we as human persons are naturally drawn to the true, good, and beautiful. To do that, the Mass must be beautiful itself. But as long as we keep choosing ugly architecture, ugly vestments, and ugly music, man’s search for God will be hindered. And the Catholic Mass should never be a hindrance in man’s search for God.

Bishop Schneider advocates for the importance of history. One of my favorite things about this book was that Bishop Schneider backed up all of his assertions with history. Curious when Catholics began receiving Holy Communion on the hand? This book will tell you when and why the change was made (and why it shouldn’t have been made). I wasn’t convinced of every assertion he made, but I certainly can’t claim that Bishop Schneider doesn’t know his history. The Catholic Mass should be a seamless representation of the Church’s existence, both past and present. When we celebrate the Mass, we should be able to see where we’ve come from, and Mass should not be filled with innovations that make it difficult to recognize as the same Mass that was celebrated by the apostles and early martyrs, as well as the later mystics and theologians. The Catholic Mass should draw us into a Communion of Saints that spans millennia.

Bishop Schneider advocates for the importance of symbolism. Catholicism is so rich in symbolism, and the Mass is just as rich in its sacramentality. Everything is meant to communicate more than just itself to us. Water has the power to forgive sins. Bread and wine can become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Chapel veils remind us of the sacredness of the Church, the Bride of Christ. Facing East reminds us of the promise that came with the sunrise on that first Easter morning. Bishop Schneider does an incredible job of reminding us how symbolic the Mass can be, if done well. The Catholic Mass, in any form, is meant to draw man to God, and its rich symbolism has so much power to do that for us.

Finally, Bishop Schneider advocates for the importance of reverence for the sacred. Man satisfies the deepest pull of his nature when he worships God. Man was created for worship. The Catholic Mass is a sacred liturgy, the joining of heaven and earth, the gathering of the entire Church- the Church militant, the Church suffering, and the Church triumphant- for the purpose of worshipping God. Yes, the Mass is where we are filled with God’s life. Yes, we do “get something” when we go to Mass, but that’s not the whole point. We are also meant to give. We are meant to give God praise and worship, to love and adore Him. God does not need anything from us, but we need to worship Him to the best of our ability. It’s what we were made to do, and as Bishop Athanasius Schneider so beautifully demonstrates, the Mass was given to us to help us do just that. So if you’re looking to read something to remind you of your God-given call to worship, this is the book for you.

Book Notes: “They Might Be Saints: On the Path to Sainthood in America” by Michael O’Neill

When we consider some of the most popular saints- St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. John of the Cross, just to name a few- we contemplate the lives of holy men and women living in Catholic Europe. If we had to name five saints that came from America, we’d probably struggle to do so. Our nation is still young, especially when compared to countries like Spain, France, and Italy, where Catholicism has existed and dominated for millennia. We can only claim a handful of canonized saints as American.

Michael O’Neill’s new book, They Might Be Saints: On the Path to Sainthood in America, provides short biographies for all American blesseds and venerables who are currently on the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church, along with a list of all the Servants of God who have ties to the United States. Some of these men and women lived centuries ago; others died just years ago. Many of them with priests and religious, but a handful of them were single or married laypeople. All of them lived incredibly holy lives, and right here in America. If we want examples of what it means to be both Catholic and America, we need look no further.

Michael O’Neil also provides a very succinct but informative description of the history and process of canonization in the Catholic Church. He describes how the process has transformed over the years, slowly taking the form that we recognize today. He defines all the terms, outlining what exactly we mean when we consider the saints and the process of canonization. Finally, in addition to providing helpful biographies of these holy men and women, he provides prayers to them as well as the contact information for reporting favors and miracles attributed to each saint.

If you’re looking for some new saint biographies, this is a fantastic book to read. It is so encouraging to read about the lives of saints who lived right here in the United States, who were born in raised in our home states, who could have walked the same streets we walk today. America might be young, and it might not be a Catholic powerhouse like the European countries of Italy, France, and Spain, but we live in a country that has been entrusted to Our Lady and the fruits of her labors here are readily visible in the lives of the saints described in this book.

Book Review for Christopher T. Baglow’s “Creation: A Catholic’s Guide to God and the Universe”

One of the most misunderstood relationships in this world is that between faith and reason, religion and science. Many of us know people who assert that their faith in science has made the need to believe in anything else obsolete. Some of us at least know of people who consider science to be Satan’s attempt to lead God’s people astray. The relationship between faith and reason seems to be an either/or to most people. Either you’re religious, or you value science. But in reality, it’s a both/and situation. We need religion and science. As Baglow suggests at the beginning of his book, science explains the how of the universe, and faith provides the why.

Christopher T. Baglow’s book, Creation: A Catholic’s Guide to God and the Universe, does a wonderful job demonstrating how science and religion are supposed to relate to one another. He shows how these areas of study are meant to be complementary, one shining light on the other. Baglow does this by considering a handful of common topics of debate: creation and evolution, the existence of Adam and Eve, the role of sin and suffering in this world, the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of all humanity, just to name a few.

If you’re looking for a short book that explains topics relating to science and religion in simple, yet accurate, terms, this is a great book to read. Combining recent scientific findings with sound philosophical and theological insights, Baglow does a wonderful job showing that Truth lies at the center of both faith and reason, and that God, as Truth Himself, is the foundation and Creator of both science and religion.

Book Review for “Pray for Us: 75 Saints Who Sinned, Suffered, and Struggled on Their Way to Holiness” by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

When Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s “Pray for Us: 75 Saints Who Sinned, Suffered, and Struggled on Their Way to Holiness” arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to start it. Literally. I put away the book I was already halfway through, and … Continue reading

Book Review for “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord” by Fr. Edward Looney

I first came across St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” when I was in high school. I successfully completed the consecration for the first time about a decade later. In those ten years, I probably attempted the consecration … Continue reading