Take a Devotional Journey For Lent

Devotional Journey Books

What do you know about the Mass? Whether you are a new Catholic or have been Catholic for decades, it is a good bet that you could stand to learn more about the Mass. I was baptized as a baby, went to Catholic school for awhile, did CCD, left for awhile, and have been a very serious and involved “revert” for over 20 years, and still felt that I just didn’t get it. I was there every Sunday and many, many weekdays, but I didn’t really know more than that I was supposed to show up and say some prayers, receive the Eucharist and go home.

Other people seemed to get a lot out of it. People told me how they couldn’t wait to go to Mass. Others want to start every big Church event with a Mass – and I just didn’t get why. To me it was a yawn. I had heard that it didn’t matter if you got anything out of it, showing up thanking God for one hour a week for everything in your life was the point.

I knew it had to be more than that. But I didn’t know a great deal about it until I started listening to the Liturgy Guys Podcast. And while some things are over my head, I’m fascinated by all the info about the Liturgy, the guidelines, and the incredible symbolism. One of the hosts, Christopher Carstens, is a liturgy expert with tons of credentials. A few years ago, he wrote an amazing little book called A Devotional Journey into the Mass: How Mass Can Become a Time of Grace, Nourishment, and Devotion.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that this little book completely changed my understanding of the Mass and propelled my spiritual life way forward. Written for your average “pew-sitter,” it is completely understandable, and explains in an amazing way, from the time you get to the front door until you leave, what is happening in the Mass and your role in participating in it. I truly think this wonderful book should be required reading for every Catholic. In fact, I wish it was its own parish video study.

Fast forward now to today. Well, actually last year. About a year ago, Carstens wrote another lovely book A Devotional Journey Into the Easter Mystery. I purchased it in early March with the happy intention of starting to read through Lent and into Easter. And then, well you know…2020 happened…and family tragedy, and I decided to put it aside until this year.

This book is specifically to help you understand the Mass during Lent and the Easter Season. It starts with understanding Ash Wednesday and Lent and why we needed Jesus and His redemption. The greatest part of the book is devoted to Palm Sunday into Holy Week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil and the sacraments, and onto Easter Sunday. It finishes up with the Easter Season and how to answer God’s call to sanctity through Easter, Pentecost, and for the rest of your life. This will be my main reading for Lent, though I have already started reading the first chapters about Ash Wednesday, so as to understand the whole experience this coming week. I’m also going to be revisiting the first book as a refresher. I always pick up things I didn’t see before when I re-read a book.

So, do I understand everything about the Mass? No. I don’t think anyone could understand everything, because it is so deep on so many levels. But now I understand a great a deal more and I understand my role at Mass is to also offer sacrifice, which is so incredibly deep.

Which book would it be best to start off with? I think either one stands on its own. If you are a fast reader, or have the time, I would try to read both for Lent because they will definitely help you whatever stage you are in as a Catholic.

Have a Blessed Lent!

*Some of the above links lead to Amazon, which helps to mitigate the costs of this blog. Thanks!

Pray With St. Faustina and Jesus During Lent & Difficult Times

Praying with Jesus & Faustina cover

One of the benefits of being Catholic Book Lady on social media is that occasionally I unexpectedly get review copies of books. A nice perk I must say. A couple of weeks ago, I received a lovely little book by the wonderful author, Susan Tassone. Well known as the “Purgatory Lady,” because of all the books she has written about the topic, Susan has written several of her latest books about St. Faustina Kowalska and the Divine Mercy devotion. St. Faustina wrote the famous Diary which is the basis for one of the most popular devotions in the Catholic Church. It would not surprise me in the least if St. Faustina became a Doctor of the Church.

This latest book, Praying With Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering, truly has to be my favorite of the ones she has written, and I will absolutely be praying with it every day this Lent. What I like about the book is that it is set up like a conversation between Faustina and Jesus using quotes from the book. Each day is short and simple with a prayer, followed by a section you can use during times of suffering. So many of us could have used this book in 2020.

Because it uses mostly the text from St. Faustina’s Diary, it is an incredibly profound book. Next to the Bible, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul is my favorite spiritual book, and sits right next to my bed. The Diary and the Divine Mercy devotion has been an incredible comfort during the extremely painful times our family has suffered this past year.

If you are looking for “a little something” to both challenge and comfort you in your busy life during Lent, this could be the book. You could also use this in addition to any Bible or other Lenten studies you may be participating in, which is what I’m doing. Order soon because Lent is coming fast. This is my second early book recommendation for Lent, so you can order your books to arrive before Ash Wednesday.

If you don’t have St. Faustina’s Diary, I highly recommend the leather-bound edition. Yes, it’s more money, but if you read it a lot, and yours is getting a bit long in the tooth (falling apart!) like mine was, or you want something that is more pocket-sized, it is worth the money.

Update: If you purchase the leather version of St. Faustina’s Diary from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, you will be supporting their wonderful apostolate. You also have the option of blue leather for the Diary, as well as the usual burgundy, and both have gold edging. I love this little book!

*Some of the above links lead to Amazon, and if you purchase with my links I would be very grateful, as it allows me to pay the fees to host this blog.

Review: “Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family”

When I was a child my favorite movie was the The Sound of Music. I think being an only child, living with just my mother, made me appreciate a large, loving, two-parent family enormously. My favorite book, Cheaper By The Dozen, about a fun-loving family of twelve children, settles it.

Maria Von Trapp, the mother of the large family in The Sound of Music, wrote her book of memoirs that the movie was based on, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers in 1946. Author of several books, she has an exuberant writing style that is natural, pulls you in, and makes you want to be right there in the action.

Originally from Austria, the family who were a very talented folk singing group, fled during World War II to escape the Nazis and came to America in 1938. The family built, mostly on their own, a large home in rural Vermont, and a lodge for visitors to stay and hear their concerts. They toured the world singing, and some, including Maria, became Catholic missionaries to Papua New Guinea. They were always on the go and had seemingly endless energy. Once they decided on a project, whether it was a family singing tour, building a barn, clearing land, or creating a restaurant, they all pitched in and got it done in short order.

In 1955, Maria published “Around the World With the Trapp Family.” She wrote about how their family lived their Catholic faith in Austria throughout the year. I’ve read a few of her books, but this has been long out of print. Sophia Institute Press, has now republished it, so this wonderful Catholic life can be enjoyed by everyone.

My first impression upon receiving it was that this is one substantial book. Hardcover and beautifully printed, this book is meant to be kept for years, and meant to be used all through the year.

The contents follow the liturgical year, explaining the seasons and why we celebrate them. Each feast day is lovingly explored with songs and music, recipes, and simple crafts, along with wonderful memories of Catholic family life in Austria before WWII.

A separate section elaborates on how to celebrate each Sacrament within the family, anniversaries, birthdays and other special family moments, including how to handle sickness and death within the family. There is a definite focus on the spiritual life and the life beyond. I found the section on how they actually lived Sundays to be particularly significant in our culture that treats Sunday with no sense of the sacred. 

What is so lovely about this book is that Maria explains the faith and how to incorporate it into your family’s life so beautifully. It makes one long for a time past when faith was seamlessly woven into the tapestry of the community. We can, at least, weave it into our own family’s life now. It would be great to start the New Year with this book.

I really enjoyed it and recommend it to you. Sophia Institute Press is having a 25% off sale for Christmas, but you have to act on it now. Use the
Use Discount Code radio25 when ordering the book using this link:  http://sophiainstitute.com/aroundtheyear.




You Need A Makeover!

Let me tell you about a new book – my favorite thing to tell you about!  I have had a chance to look at a great new book by Teresa Tomeo.  Her book Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture is coming out October 7th and it is great.

Teresa Tomeo is a former secular news reporter and anchor who came back to the Church.  She is a successful author with several books, and is an EWTN host on radio and TV, and is a host on Ave Maria Radio.  I have to admit I did not know much about Teresa Tomeo and had not had the opportunity to read her work before, but she is wonderful.  Very down to earth and enjoyable.

Extreme Makeover seems to have two purposes, one is to show some of the common deceptions of our culture and how it – and the media – have betrayed us.  Teresa shows us the truth with hard facts about  radical feminism, abortion, “free sex”, etc. and relates those to Church teaching.  Body image and eating disorders are SO common among women, and all that really plays into how women relate to others and God.  Her point is to really show you the truth and gives you lots of resources to show others too.

The second part of her book is how to transform yourself to how Christ wants you to be – to have a spiritual “makeover.”  We as women need to find our true beauty. We need to discover how God truly loves us, how we are his beloved daughters, and he made us for beauty outside and inside too.  Our culture promotes a different kind of woman – self-centered, selfish, even cruel.  What I love about this book is the personal testimonies of how Teresa, and other women, found the truth – how their journeys happened and how it changed their lives.

I really think you will benefit from this book and I urge you to order it.  It would make a great Christmas gift.  I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to think ahead this year – for once!  If you want to read a deeper review of this book, Cheryl Dickow over at Catholic Lane has a good one.  And also head on over to Teresa Tomeo’s website, where she has her other great books too.