Monday, March 30, 2015

The Archeology of Faith: A Personal Exploration of How We Come to Believe by Louis J. Cameli

I am fascinated by how each of us finds our faith. I wanted to read this book to learn how to unpack my faith history but what I found was so much more than this. I have the privilege of previewing the Archeology of Faith. The author can trace his faith history back 2500 years. Not many people can say this or imagine how this can help define who we are today. My history is a bit spottier than this when it comes to faith. There is a parallel history of Christianity and the author’s personal family history unpacked in each chapter. Archeology of Faith is divided into three parts. The first part of the book is the author’s personal account of his faith, through exploration of his genealogy. Although the definition of faith can be elusive, Cameli, analyzes what is faith and what is an honest faith in contrast to a distorted faith. The second part of the book is an in-depth explanation of faith as the interaction between us and God in our response to his call in faith. The third part of the book is concentrated on four biblical accounts of faith. Specifically discussed in the latter part of the book, is Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, Martha and Thomas. This is my favorite part of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion of the faith of these biblical figures and how we can see ourselves in their stories. I would have loved even more of these stories from the bible explained. This gave me more appreciation of the depth of knowledge and scripture perspective of the author. I would definitely recommend this book to you. It will help you to look beyond yourself regarding your faith. It’s been said we inherit our faith; this book opens the reader up to this idea and makes it worth exploring. Although this book is written by a priest, I think all Christians would find this book thought provoking. This deeply spiritual book will take the reader on a faith journey, looking at many different aspects of what makes faith meaningful to us all.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lectio Divina: From God’s Words to Our Lives by Enzo Bianchi

My love of scripture drew me to this book about the ancient practice that is having a resurgence in our times. I am speaking of Lectio Divina, which is a beautiful spiritual reading and praying of scripture. I am new to this practice so I wanted to read this book right away when I read the subtitle “From God’s Words to Our Lives. The original version was written in Italian in 2008. Now I have the privilege of previewing this new English translation. According to Origen (a third century church father), “There are three senses concealed in the words of scripture-literal, moral and spiritual.” We need to draw all of this out of the Bible as we read. The author tells us “The Bible as the heart of the church was rediscovered in Vatican II’s conciliar document Dei Verbum.” I love the analogy of scripture being God incarnate not just Christ (The Word) as he descends into flesh as a baby in the manger but also as he descends into the written human words of the bible. Lectio Divina first tells of the history of how we have read the bible, which has changed over time. Next is the importance of scripture in the church with the liturgy of the word. The unity of the scriptures is described from Old Testament to New Testament in light of our covenant relationship with God. The Bible calls us into an encounter with God. My favorite part is the description of the four parts of lectio divina: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. Lectio is the literal historical part. Meditatio is about discovered revelation. Oratio is prayer and dialogue with God. Contemplatio is applying what we have read to our lives. There are several examples of how to apply this to sample bible readings. I have a new reverence for the bible as relationship. It can be a vehicle to spend time with God in his word. I have learned a lot about divine reading through this book. I would highly recommend this book for those who are already experienced readers of scriptures and for those who are new to bible reading. This is a Catholic approach to bible study and prayer but all Christians would enjoy learning about this process of divine reading started during the time of the early church fathers and the beginning years of Christianity.

Monday, March 9, 2015

St. Francis and Pope Francis:Prayer, Poverty, and Joy in Jesus by Alan Schreck

St. Francis and Pope Francis, these are two men you want to know better. Pope Francis is now widely popular and his namesake St. Francis is still popular over 700 years later. Why is this? What is the fascination with each? How do they compare with each other? I have read several books about the life of St. Francis and yes this book has drawn me in and helped me to understand him so much better. The format of Dr. Schreck’s book which gives big insights into St. Francis and his history, then switching to the current Pope Francis is fresh approach. I loved the quotes from Pope Francis. The book was easy to read but not light on content. The contrasts between the two are also brought to light since Pope Francis is not Franciscan but Ignatian. Both men have changed the face of Catholicism. This book is a biography of both men and how both found Christian joy. Isn’t this what we all want? We want joy and peace. We first learn about their conversion stories, then the core of prayer, poverty and communion. We see what is church and how our mission is the same throughout the ages. It all starts and ends with authentic joy through Christ. I would definitely recommend this book to all of you. It will not just give you history facts but a look into the thought processes of both men. Catholics and non Catholics will both enjoy this book.

The Power of the Daily Mass: How Frequent Participation in the Eucharist can Transform Your Life by Bert Ghezzi

If you’re like me you wish you could attend daily mass but life gets in the way. I wanted to read “The Power of the Daily Mass” because it would convict me for the reasons I don’t go to daily mass. One of my favorite parts of the book is the great quotes from the average daily mass attendee. Each chapter unpacks the mass from “honoring the saints” to “our daily bread”. At first I thought I found the book too simplistic, but I realized its beauty. This book has deepened my appreciation of the mass, on Sunday and every day. There are quotes from saints and end chapter discussion questions in each chapter. I love the prayers included in the appendices. You can tell the author loves the daily mass. It seems to have made a big difference in his life. It was sweet hearing about his close knit group who he attends mass with everyday. But you also notice the diversity of the people who attend daily mass. I would definitely recommend this book to you. Another of my favorite parts is the discussion of the Eucharist and the exchange of gifts that happens at the mass. The author Mr. Ghezzi describes the gift of our selves to God and his return gift of himself to us in the host. It will help you fall in love with the mass all over again if you are Catholic. If you are not Catholic you will learn about the mass and why the human heart is drawn to it even everyday in daily mass.