Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I am reviewing Saint Clare: Beyond the Legend by Marco Bartoli as part of the review program with The Catholic Company. The Catholic Company has provided this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.
So here's the honest part: I saw this book just before my daughter was Confirmed and since she took St Clare as her Confirmation name, I figured this would be a great book for her. I snagged it on the new product page as soon as I could. And since I am being honest here, I'll admit to being very disappointed when it arrived. This book was not at all what I had expected.
My "in a nutshell" biographical knowledge of Clare was basically this: She grew up in an aristocratic family in Assisi and was greatly influenced by St. Francis. She left her comfortable life behind to begin an order of Franciscan nuns, to be known as "The Poor Clares". The end. My daughter obviously knew more. She had to write a paper on her saint and did quite a bit of research on her. I expected that this book would include more "behind the scenes" type of information and would increase the knowledge of both of us.
This Sunday, we were helping with our annual Stewarship appeal at our parish. Our daughter tags along mostly because she doesn't like to be home alone all day. (I actually LIKE to be alone all day, but I get where she is coming from). I handed her the book and told her that she could read it while we worked. She sat with it for about ten minutes before she sat it aside. "This is not a biography of St. Clare, " she said, "It's . . . . boring." Well, she's in 8th grade, so I took her review with a grain of salt. Later that day when our stewarshipping duties were over, I picked up the book to read.
She was right.
It's not a traditional biography of St. Clare. If you didn't know anything of her life, you wouldn't learn much from this book. However, if you are a Secular Franciscan, for example, or a Franciscan scholar, this is the book for you. The book is a scholarly study of the printed knowledge of St Clare. It compares what is written about her with what is NOT written or what has been written out of various histories. If you are an academic, this book would be a very helpful resource. If you are looking for some basic or even beyond basic information about St Clare, you'd be better to look elsewhere. I found Marco Bartoli's writing style to be ponderous and heavy. Maybe it's because I picked it up after a long day of work, but I literally fell asleep reading it.
Thank you to The Catholic Company for providing this book to me for my review. I appreciated the nap. : )
I have become a lazy blogger. Occasionally I think of a topic that I'd like to blog about, but I just don't do it. Life has become incredibly busy, but honestly I COULD find the time to blog if I made it a priority. I'm not sure what my problem is. Yes, I am hooked on Facebook and spend waaay too much time on it. But I could still do this blog and Facebook too if I wanted to. Why don't I want to? I have seriously considered not blogging anymore. I have 13 followers and I doubt anyone would miss me terribly (especially considering the erratic nature of my posting). Yet I haven't done that yet. Yet. (Boy that's a lot of "yets") I have another book to review for the Catholic Company, so I have at least one post left in me. What happens after that is up in the air. I hate to say goodbye, but I'm not doing a very good job of keeping up with other blogs and am doing an even worse job of keeping up on my own. So now I've made my musings public here. (well, as public as 13 people can be!) You now know where my feeble little mind is wandering. So we will see what I decide. Right now, I'll continue with this silly blog and see what the future brings.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Thank you to The Catholic Company for providing the book to me free of charge in exchange for my review.
Never Give Up - My Life and God's Mercy is written by John Janaro, a professor at Christendom College and a father of five children. Throughout all of his life, Janaro has suffered from chronic depression with episodes of Obsessive Complusive Disorder. Within the last decade, he was also diagnosed with Lyme Disease, a condition caused by deer ticks that is marked by severe pain that can be so bad as to be crippling. And if that weren't enough, Janaro's youngest child, born during a relatively symptom-free time period in his life, had severe intestinal problems and she spent her first seven months of life in the hospital. I think it is clear that this man knows what it means to suffer.
How does a Catholic Christian deal with such suffering? He turns to God's mercy.
This book is a testimony to God's love and mercy. Part chronicle of his illnesses and part devotional, Janaro explains how he can praise God because of his sufferings.
On a somewhat personal note, I must tell you that I understand pain and the effects of pain on a person's quality of life. I certainly understand the horror and the worry that occurs when a child is sick. I am less successful in understanding mental illness. Intellectually, I understand that some/many/all mental illnesses are caused as the result of a chemical imbalance, yet I have to confess that part of me still belongs to the " Oh, get over it!" school of thought. Reading Janaro's first person account of depression and OCD has helped me take another step on the way to complete understanding of this medical problem. I think that deep inside most of us is the feeling that people should be able to reach down and pull themselves up by their boot straps and when that simply cannot be done, it adds another layer of frustration and the feeling of failure to the sufferer.
So what to do?
Don't lose faith in God, says Janaro. Even when life is at it's blackest and you feel alone and lost, God is there by your side. Our sufferings are " the reverberations of His great heart suffering because of the smallness of our love." Janaro concludes that "you must let Him suffer your pain and create within it a space for love." God's mercy endures forever and all we need to do is ask for it.
I mentioned earlier that this book is part devotional. Interspersed throughout the book are verses of prayers that Janaro wrote during times of trial. Beautiful and poetic, these prayers can be a starting point for our own prayers for help and mercy.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
This is our elderly blue van covered in a most appropriate shroud of snow. We got this van just before Becky was born. We could fit all 7 of us in it and it has served us well. However, age has caught up with this non-clunker (it supposedly gets 19 mpg and therefore got ONE stinking mile a gallon more than what qualified for the Cash for Clunkers program last year) and it is nearly time for it to limp into that big car lot in the sky. I took it for a routine oil change on Monday and while there, the brake line on one side sprung a leak and we were told that the serpentine belt was about to go. We discussed price and decided to get both fixed. We need two cars, unfortunately. However, while trying to fix the serp. belt, it was discovered that several other parts were on the verge of failure. We opted to just fix the brakes and just hope for the best.
So now we are looking. At first we thought we go with a used car, but we've had such bad luck buying used. Now we are looking for a smaller, fuel efficient car with payments that we can afford. We think we know what we want but are open for suggestions. Anyone have any??